Many television and movie creatives cite the influence of David Lynch, but it isn’t just like-minded or daring visionaries who have been able to draw from his work or even have their ideas receive the green light because of his work. Perhaps his magnum opus enforcing his standing among the entertainment elite is still Twin Peaks.

The relatively short television series that ran for two series in 1990 and 1991, with a film in 1992 and a final series in 2017, continues to be hailed for its influence on television. Not only did it showcase top-draw performances from all of its actors, including Harry Goaz, Kyle MacLachlan, and Mädchen Amick, but Twin Peaks essentially rewrote what could be done on the once-termed “idiot box.”

Now, it’s remembered fondly as a pioneer of television. It was the original colossal hit even before The Sopranos, with it all hinging on just one question: “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Introducing audiences to so many new ideas and methods for a TV series, the influence of Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking show can still be seen today.

Television meets film

In the 1980s, there was a stark difference between film and television. At the cinema, you could expect to see something new, a work of art, and a high-quality product that would be worth the ticket price. Television, on the other hand, was considered to feature content that mostly passed the time or only dealt with tepid ideas. Twin Peaks was a colossal step towards blurring the lines between the two mediums, as explained in the anniversary look from Nerdist.

A succinct first series of eight episodes that lasted around an hour each delivered so much in such a short time and all while exploring one key storyline. It kept audiences hooked, with the cinematic style shining throughout to deliver something not experienced before. Now, an ever-increasing emphasis is on big-budget TV shows powered by filmmakers and movie actors. The step to make the prequel film Fire Walk With Me has also convinced more TV shows to follow up with a film, as Veronica Mars and Spooks have done.

Origins of the “Mystery Box”

Twin Peaks was very much ground zero for truly mysterious storytelling on TV, with the overarching question being just one of many. Each time the audience found the answer to what they were looking for, it led to another, slowly unraveling the true scope of what was going on in this little town. Up to the point when TV executives forced answers to be revealed early, Lynch and Frost showcased perfection of what would now be termed the mystery box method. The creative who has undoubtedly benefitted the most from replicating the storytelling method of Twin Peaks is J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias), with his co-writer citing as such to Entertainment Weekly. Lost became a titan of TV all because it kept answering questions with more questions. Abrams set up the Star Wars sequel trilogy by infusing an array of mysteries and questions into his films to up the intrigue.

Many have said that revealing the killer in the middle of season two killed Twin Peaks’ momentum, but creators would learn the value in the mystery that Lynch and Frost wished to keep running. A fine example is the similarly tight, supremely underrated series Banshee, in which the mystery of who the protagonist is – and even what his real name is – are teased out or even held on to forever.

Making the setting the character

Set in the fictional town of Twin Peaks in Washington, the story made the town a leading character in the show. Every strange, supernatural twist felt normal because of how bizarre the place was, as SYFY Wire details, particularly in the context of the other TV settings of the time. Places like One Eyed Jacks and the casino on the other side of the border added to the quirkiness of the setting, particularly as many would have seen gambling houses as being greatly limited to Las Vegas at the time. It’s a tool that certainly helped the show to come back so triumphantly for its finale with The Return, set 25 years later but still very much in the self-contained setting.

One Eyed Jacks doesn’t even get a mention in this third season, but Mr. Jackpots does. This subtly moves the series into the present, with a new landscape for land-based casinos and the wider gambling industry. You only have to look to the best online casinos in New Jersey to see this change. Not only is the best casino gaming not limited to Sin City anymore, but it’s gone digital. Anyone in a state like New Jersey can claim bonuses and play the games without needing to travel. So, going to a place like One Eyed Jacks isn’t as impactful, due to the ease of access to the best online casinos.

Happy endings and answers aren’t necessary on TV

Not answering the headline question in the first season was a bold move by Lynch and Frost, but it paid off immensely. What didn’t so much was them being strong-armed into answering it somewhat suddenly in the middle of the second season. However, they managed to claw back and make an important point for TV shows with the finale to The Return. In typical Lynch fashion, audiences don’t get their nice, rounded-off, happy ending, rather a harsh lesson that better reflects real life than a story set in a supernatural town.

Twin Peaks rocked the world of TV in the 90s, and thanks to a very well-thought-out last series some 25 years later, it can be hailed as one of the best and most influential shows of all time.