Laura Palmer is a fictional character from the television series Twin Peaks, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Her death was the catalyst for the events of the series. She is the main character of Lynch’s prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which depicts the seven days leading up to her murder.
Laura (played by Sheryl Lee, who also played her cousin Maddy Ferguson) was her town’s favorite daughter; she volunteered at Meals on Wheels, was the high school Homecoming queen, and was (apparently) the darling of her parents, Sarah and Leland. However, Laura led a double life — she was a cocaine user, a victim of child abuse and had briefly worked at One Eyed Jacks, a casino/brothel just north of the Canadian border. Officially involved with Bobby Briggs, the High School Football team captain, she was also engaged in a secret relationship with James Hurley. She had also had sexual encounters with other Twin Peaks citizens, such as businessman Ben Horne and trucker/drug dealer Leo Johnson.
The discovery of Laura’s body in the pilot episode of Twin Peaks brought Special Agent Dale Cooper to town and the investigation of her death, and the effects it had on those around her, propelled the first season and the first 8 episodes of the second season. Laura remained prominent afterward, as her death had exposed many secrets related to her, and also — in some cases — unrelated, such as the Packard mill conspiracy. Laura also appears in Cooper’s dreams, offering cryptic clues as to the identity of her killer.
Laura’s diary was uncovered in the first episode, but her secret diary was not recovered until later, and it contained passages suggesting that she had long been the victim — sometimes willingly — of abuse from a malevolent entity named BOB, who wanted to be close to her, or even be her.
During the second season, the identity of her murderer was revealed: her father, Leland, who had been possessed by BOB and made to molest, rape, and kill his own daughter. When Leland dies in police custody, it is implied that Laura appears before him in a vision, forgiving him and welcoming him to the afterlife.
Laura appears inside the Black Lodge during the series finale, as both herself and an evil doppelganger version.