FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper is a fictional character from the television series Twin Peaks, portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan. He is the lead protagonist of the series and also briefly appears in the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
Cooper is an FBI agent who arrives in Twin Peaks to investigate the brutal murder of the popular highschool student, Laura Palmer, and ends up falling in love with the town and gaining a great deal of acceptance within the normally tight-knit community. He displays an array of quirky mannerisms such as giving a 'thumbs up' when satisfied, quoting sage-like sayings, a distinct sense of humor, and a passionate love for the Double R's cherry pie and a "damn fine cup of coffee". One of his most popular habits is keeping a tape-recorded journal with his portable microcassette recorder and addressing all entries to a mysterious woman named "Diane". These entries range from important observations/notes regarding the case to the often energetic, yet superfluous observations of everyday life.
Born on April 19, 1954, Cooper is a graduate of Haverford College. According to the series companion book, The Autobiography of Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes, Dale Cooper got his first tape recorder for Christmas at age 13, and has continued to keep his audio journal (to "Diane") ever since. He is also revealed to be something of an introspective personality, due to his profound interest in the mystical, particularly in the Tibetan and Native American mythologies. Much of his work is based on intuition and even dreams; this is in contrast to other fictional detectives who use logic to solve their cases. On joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dale Cooper was based at the Bureau offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked under the authority of FBI Chief Gordon Cole. Under Chief Cole, he became part of the investigation into the mysterious 'Blue Rose' cases. It was around this time that Cooper was partnered with senior agent Windom Earle. Some time afterwards, Earle's wife, Caroline, became a witness to a federal crime and Earle and Cooper were assigned to protect her. Cooper, however, began having an affair with Caroline and Earle quickly became mentally unhinged. One night, whilst in Pittsburgh, Cooper let his guard down — which resulted in Caroline's murder at the hands of Earle. Cooper's former partner was subsequently caught and sent to a mental institution. Cooper, however, was absolutely devastated by the loss of the woman he would later refer to as the love of his life, and swore to never again get involved with someone who was a part of a case he was assigned to.
On February 24, 1989, Cooper comes to the town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer.
Cooper is awake at 6:18 in the morning and addresses a tape to Diane about the exceptional conditions of his room at the Great Northern Hotel and two things that trouble him: what really went on between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys and who really pulled the trigger on JFK. He then has breakfast at the hotel, where he highly approves of the coffee and meets Audrey Horne, who tells him about her brother, Johnny, who had been tutored by Laura Palmer prior to her death.
Cooper goes to the Sheriff's Department, where William "Doc" Hayward emotionally delivers the post-mortem report on Laura Palmer to he and Truman. They then question James Hurley on his connection to the murder, specifically the secret relationship he had with Laura and their activities together on the night of the crime.
Cooper later meets Ed Hurley and confirms with him that James has been cleared as a suspect of the murder. He then gets a call from Albert Rosenfield, who is coming up to Twin Peaks for the investigation. He releases Mike and Bobby, but first warns them not to touch James.
He and Truman then head to the Packard Sawmill, where he meets Josie Packard -- who had been tutored in English by Laura Palmer -- and asks her about Laura's actions during the last time they met. Cooper deduces that Truman and Josie are romantically involved, much to Harry's chagrin.
Cooper enters his room at the Great Northern with his flute and receives a phone call from Deputy Hawk, who informs him on Ronette's condition and what he learned from her parents: that she recently quit her job at the perfume counter at Horne's Department Store. He also tells him about the One-Armed Man's presence at the intensive care unit, so Cooper tells him to keep watch on Ronette.
There is then a knock on the door, but nobody is there when Cooper answers it. However, they leave a note reading "Jack with One Eye."
The next morning, he gathers Sheriff Truman, Hawk, Andy, and Lucy to eliminate suspects by throwing a stone at a bottle placed 60 feet and 6 inches away, which he calls the "Tibetan method," an idea he got from a dream. This narrows down his suspicion to Dr. Lawrence Jacoby and Leo Johnson. Truman also informs him that the "Jack with One Eye" may refer to the casino up north called One-Eyed Jack's.
Cooper and Truman examine a bloody rag found by Hawk just as Albert Rosenfield arrives with his team. Albert immediately displays his impatience and distaste with the Twin Peaks Sheriff's Department, which Cooper finds entertaining, though Truman is not amused in the least.
Cooper lies in bed and drifts off to sleep. He begins dreaming and has visions of a red room, a small man, the One-Armed Man (who identifies himself as MIKE), and of a mysterious man called BOB. The vision of the red room continues and he sees Laura Palmer, who kisses him and whispers in his ear. Cooper suddenly wakes up and calls Harry, telling him to meet him for breakfast, for he knows who killed Laura.
Cooper enters the evil Black Lodge to rescue his love interest, Annie Blackburn. In the Black Lodge, he encounters his evil doppelganger, who eventually leaves the Black Lodge while Cooper remains there, his ultimate fate unknown.
Fire Walk with MeEdit
The feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me subtly expands on the events of Cooper's fate in the series finale, while at the same time functioning as a prequel that details the last week of Laura Palmer's life.
Three years before his arrival to Twin Peaks, Cooper has a dream involving the plight of the Tibetan people, and revealed to him the deductive technique of the Tibetan method. Deeply moved by what he saw in this dream, it is indicated it was this event that formed the basis of his unconventional methods of investigation. Cooper reveals to his boss, Cole, of the portents of a strange dream. While in the meantime Special Agent Chester Desmond disappeared while investigating a bizarre murder case. Cooper picks up the case, but is unable to find any evidence which could lead to the discovery of what happened to Desmond or Theresa Banks, the murder victim. Roughly a year later, in 1989, Cooper tells Albert Rosenfield in the Philadelphia offices of how he senses Banks' killer will strike again soon, and that his victim will be a young woman, who has blonde hair, is sexually active, using drugs, and is crying out for help. Rosenfield is quick to dismiss Cooper's notion.
At one point while experiencing a strange dream involving the Black Lodge and its residents, in the non-linear realm Laura encounters Cooper at a point after he has become trapped there. Cooper implores her not to take "the ring", a mysterious object that gives its wearer a sort of connection to the Black Lodge. Shortly thereafter, Laura also has a vision of a bloody Annie Blackburn beside her in her bed, who tells her: "My name is Annie. I've been with Laura and Dale. The good Dale is in the Lodge, and he can't leave. Write it in your diary." It is unknown if Laura did in fact transcribe this to the diary in her possession at the time.
At the film's conclusion, Laura's spirit sits in the Red Room, and is looking up at Cooper whose hand is resting on her shoulder, and is smiling at her. Shortly thereafter, Laura's angel appears before them both and the film ends. The meaning behind Cooper's presence alongside Laura, and indeed, his ultimate fate — if he ever escaped the Black Lodge — is unknown. What is definitely known is that some very wrong and evil version of Cooper wakes up in Cooper's room at the Great Northern , and is now, in fact, the new vessel of Bob who reflects at him from the mirror he broke with his head and he's smiling viciously. It's evident that right before Bob re-emerges as an evil form of Cooper, Earle who entered the Black Lodge claims Cooper's soul from him in exchange for Earl's promise to let Annie live. Cooper agrees. Right then appears Bob in the room, being more powerful than Earle, states that Cooper's soul is his (Bob actually only explicitly states that Earle cannot take Cooper's soul - so he "will take his"), reclaims it, inhabits it, leaving Earle (as implied) a lonely soul trapped in the Black Lodge, without a host to represent him in the physical wold.
Kyle MacLachlan is set to reprise the role in the 2017 revival.
RelationshipsEditMuch like how he relates to the town itself, Cooper gains an instant rapport with many of the townspeople on arrival to Twin Peaks — most particularly Sheriff Harry S. Truman and his deputies, Deputy Tommy "Hawk" Hill and Deputy Andy Brennan. While Truman is initially skeptical of Cooper's unconventional investigative methods and otherworldly ideas, he is most often willing to accept Cooper's judgment (even referring to Cooper as "the finest lawman I have ever known" to agents investigating Cooper's alleged drug-running to Canada). Over time, a deep bond emerges between the two, as displayed in various scenes: when Truman assists Cooper in rescuing Audrey Horne from One-Eyed Jack's, Truman deputizing Cooper following Cooper's suspension from the Bureau, and Truman waiting patiently for two days at Glastonbury Grove for Cooper to emerge from the Black Lodge in the series finale.
Cooper's strongest relationship outside of the townspeople is that of his friendship with his colleague, Agent Albert Rosenfield. Though he has strong respect and admiration for Rosenfield's medical skills, and is seemingly undaunted by Rosenfield's sarcastic manner, he has little tolerance or patience for Rosenfield's treatment of the town's citizens — most particularly his animosity towards Sheriff Truman (which notably thaws over time).
Prior to Twin Peaks, Cooper's strongest romantic relationship was his affair with Caroline Earle, the wife of his former partner, Windom Earle. Caroline had been under Cooper and Earle's protection for witnessing a federal crime Earle committed when he lost his mind, but on one night when Cooper's guard was down, Caroline was murdered by Windom. Caroline's death and his failure to protect her continues to haunt Cooper on his arrival to Twin Peaks, referring to a "broken heart" when discussing women with Truman and his deputies. He also relates a version of the story of Caroline to the teenage Audrey Horne.
On arrival to Twin Peaks, Cooper becomes quickly aware that 18-year-old Audrey Horne, the daughter of local businessman Benjamin Horne, harbors a crush on him. The attraction appears mutual, as Cooper is clearly drawn to Audrey — but he is quick to rebuff her advances when Audrey turns up in his hotel bed. Cooper explains she is too young, but he does genuinely want to be her friend. However, following her disappearance orchestrated by Jean Renault, Cooper privately confesses to Diane that in Audrey's absence all he can think of is her smile. Following her rescue, there remains a close and affectionate friendship with the two, most notably when Audrey arrives to his hotel room for comfort following her father's arrest and her sad farewell when she believes Cooper is leaving Twin Peaks for good. Audrey later gives Cooper a surprising kiss on the cheek when she discovers evidence that clears him of drug charges, and they later slow-dance at the Milford wedding.
However, during the production of the series' second season, Kyle MacLachlan (as he notes during an interview on the 2007 Gold Edition Twin Peaks DVD set) vetoed the possibility of a romantic relationship, as he felt his character should not sleep with a high school girl. Following the series' cancellation, it is often said by the writers that the Cooper-Audrey relationship was to be the main plot following the resolution of the Laura Palmer murder mystery — forcing them to focus more on the supporting characters.
Following his reinstatement to the FBI, Cooper meets Annie Blackburn, the sister of Norma Jennings, whom he instantly falls in love with. Annie is established as being a kindred spirit, experiencing the world with curiosity and wonder. Much like Cooper's pain over Caroline Earle, Annie also nurses a broken heart from someone in her past, which is implied may have resulted in suicide attempts, and affected her decision to later attend a convent. Cooper helps her to prepare for participation in the Miss Twin Peaks contest. However, during the contest she is kidnapped by Windom Earle and taken to the Black Lodge to use her 'fear' to open the gateway.
His character makes a notable cameo appearance in the Video Game The Blair Witch Project:Episode 1:Rustin Parr. He is sitting in the Burkettsville diner eating Pie and later in the game drinking "a damn fine cup of coffee".