Leo Johnson is a trucker who also moonlights as Twin Peaks' primary source of narcotics, which he obtains from the Renault Brothers, and traffics it over the Canadian/US border for distribution in Twin Peaks. Because of his criminal versatility, Sheriff Truman has never been able to obtain any evidence of his criminal dealings.
Leo is married to Shelly, one of the waitresses at the town diner. Due to his volatile temper, he regularly beats her for both real and imagined transgressions, ranging from her infidelity with high school footballer Bobby Briggs to his dissatisfaction with the way she washes the kitchen floor. Shelly once said Leo married her with the intention of having a maid he wouldn't have to pay.
On a day in mid-February 1989, Leo abused his wife, Shelly, lecturing her on how to clean the house. Bobby Briggs then called, requesting a shipment of cocaine to sell, but Leo refused, as Bobby owed him $5,000.
Leo, Jacques Renault, and Ronette Pulaski met Laura near a cabin on the night of February 23, where they engaged in sex and cocaine. At some point during the night, Leo hit Jacques in the head with a bottle and Jacques used Leo's shirt to soak up his blood. Jacques tied Laura up against her will and after he had his way with her, she requested Leo to untie her, but he angrily refused after seeing Jacques unconscious outside. He got his belongings out and drove away.
The next morning, Laura was found dead, wrapped in plastic. Later, as Shelly watched news coverage on Laura's death, Leo examined the ash tray at his home, noticing that there were different types of cigarette butts. When he questioned her, Shelly said she just smoked whatever she found at the diner, but he advised that she start smoking one brand from then on, and threatened her life if she did not so as he said.
Leo cleaned his truck then next day when Shelly came out to him. When she said she finished doing laundry, he gave her another load and commanded her to do it then. When Norma Jennings arrived to take Shelly to work, Leo told his wife to save him a piece of pie, for he possibly planned to go by the diner.
Later, he frantically searched for the shirt Jacques had used but did not find it.
He later cut open a football as Shelly got home. He put a bar of soap into a sock and questioned her about his missing shirt before beating her.
Leo went to the woods the next night to see Bobby Briggs and Mike Nelson, who owe him $10,000 but was told that Laura had the money. He said that he knows Shelly had been cheating on him, but he did not say if he knew with whom. He then told them to "go out for a pass" and threw the football in which he left some of the drugs they had paid for.
The next day, he was visited by Sheriff Harry S. Truman and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who questioned him about Laura Palmer, but he denied knowing her personally. He also denied having a criminal record, but this was quickly refuted by Cooper. He said he was on the road at the time Laura was killed and said that his wife would confirm this.
Leo came home the next night and loaded gas cans into his pickup truck. He was then beaten and threatened by Hank Jennings before he went inside. He commanded Shelly to get him a beer, but when she asked him what happened, he angrily shoved her to the floor and she pulled out a pistol. As he stalked toward her, she shot him in the arm and he fled.
From his pickup truck, Leo spied on Bobby going to the Johnson home to see Shelly, who welcomed him with a hug. He aimed a rifle, waiting for a shot at Bobby, but heard a radio transmission from the sheriff's department regarding a bird and he quickly got inside his truck.
The following night, he entered his home as Shelly washed her hair in the kitchen sink. When she reached for her towel, Leo grabbed her and took her to the mill, where he tied her up and brought gasoline into the building. He set the bomb and showed it to Shelly, noting his plans to kill Bobby before the bomb went off in an hour.
Leo went to his home and waited. Bobby soon arrived, looking for Shelly. As he tried to kill Bobby with an ax, Leo was shot through his living room window. Unable to move, Leo watched the TV, where a character was shot in Invitation to Love.
Leo was taken to the hospital and was hooked up to tubes, the bullet having been lodged in his spine. It was removed, but it was feared that he was possibly paralyzed.
Leo returned home days later as an invalid confined to a wheelchair. He was pushed through his home by Bobby, who bumped him into several objects as Leo was only capable of sitting, staring, and moaning.
Bobby and Shelly later threw a party, celebrating his current condition as he sat and breathed into a kazoo. Bobby brought over a cake and Leo fell into it.
The following day, he sat in his wheelchair at his kitchen table and began to scream. He then spat and said, "New shoes."
He later continued to spit and say "new shoes" as Bobby and Mike broke the heel off of one of Leo's boots and found a micro-cassette.
Leo was used the next day to prop up a mirror used by Bobby as he put on one of Leo's suits.
Shelly later brushed his teeth. When she went to answer a call from Bobby, Leo moved.
A few days later, Leo was fed by Shelly and he spat on her.
Later at night, he was standing on his own and grinned at Shelly as the power to their house fluctuated.
As Shelly tried to escape their home, Leo managed to keep her inside. He picked up an ax and prepared to kill her, but was stopped by Bobby. Leo pinned him against the wall with the ax handle but was then stabbed in the leg by Shelly. He escaped through a hole cut in the plastic covering the home's unfinished wall.
Leo woke the next morning to find that Earle had found his criminal history. Leo stood, but Earle knocked him down and pinned him, declaring Leo to be a pawn to him and he placed a shock collar on him.
Earle forced him to transcribe a poem and showed him pictures of Donna, Shelly, and Audrey, asking which one would be his queen.
Leo sat by while Earle listened in on a conversation at the sheriff's station through a bugged bonsai plant. Earle had Leo pick a card from a deck and announced that the winner of the Miss Twin Peaks Contest would die.
Later, Leo gave Rusty Tomasky -- a youth lured to the cabin by Earle's promises of beer -- a sip of beer while he was inside of a large chess pawn constructed by Earle. Earle then got out a crossbow and told Leo to get him an arrow. However, he refused and was promptly shocked by his collar until he complied. Earle then fired the arrow at Rusty, killing him.
Later, Earle told Leo about the Dugpas and how much he would have appreciated them. He spotted the card with Shelly's face on it and said her name. Earle asked Leo if he would mourn her death, perhaps even help him kill her if she won Miss Twin Peaks. Leo denied this and points the shock collar remote at Windom, who backed away, feigning fear until Leo shocked himself.
In a horse costume, he and Earle later incapacitated Briggs.
Leo watched as Earle interrogated Briggs, then was commanded to put him to bed.
Leo was chained up in the cabin by Earle, with Major Briggs by his side. He managed to reach a desk containing a key, but it was to Briggs' restraints. He freed him and told him to save Shelly. As Briggs left, Leo gazed at the card with Shelly's face. Earle returned to discover that Briggs was gone and he waved a bag in front of Leo while grinning.
Later, Earle left the cabin for good, with a nest of tarantulas above Leo's head, ready to fall if he were to let go of a string between his teeth.
Saturday Night Live sketchEdit
Leo (played by Chris Farley) confesses to murdering Laura and is brought to Agent Cooper's room at the Great Northern, ready to do his time, but also demanding a beer.
Leland comes in to thank Cooper for finding the man who killed Laura, but the agent says the murderer is still at large. Audrey Horne then comes in and Leo interrupts to show Cooper photos of him about to kill Laura, killing Laura, and wrapping Laura's body in plastic. The agent is still unconvinced.
Cooper picks up a rock, saying that if he breaks the window with it, Leo is innocent. He throws the rock and breaks the window, but this only irritates Leo, who says that he sent Cooper several notes in which he confessed to the crime.
As Sheriff Truman and Deputy Andy escort him out, Cooper asks who had shot him one night at the hotel, and Leo confesses.
Behind the scenesEdit
Leo was played by Eric Da Re, son of Twin Peaks casting director Johanna Ray and actor Aldo Ray, the latter having been originally cast in David Lynch's 1984 film Dune, until he was replaced by Patrick Stewart due to his alcoholism.
In the original script for Episode 29, Deputy Hawk and Major Briggs come to the cabin and Leo smiles when he sees them, which then causes the tarantulas to fall. Leo's screams and gunfire are then heard. However, since this was not filmed and he has not been confirmed to appear in the 2017 series, Leo's fate is currently unknown.
- Although agent Tamara Preston explicitely stated Ray Palmer not to be related the Palmer family of Twin Peaks and President Truman not to be related with the Twin Peaks' family, she did not write anything about a possible link between 'Liver-Eating' Johnson and Leo Johnson's family. Incidentally, a picture of mountain man is seen in Leo Johnson's house in Episode 6.