I See Dead People: From ‘Twin Peaks’ to ‘13 Reasons Why,’ TV Shows That Kicked Off With a Dead Girl

Victoria Leigh Miller
Writer

Showtime is bringing Twin Peaks back from the dead with an 18-episode revival set to debut Sunday. The limited series reboot has been kept tightly under wraps, but it got us thinking about how David Lynch and Mark Frost’s original ’90s series, which first posed the question “Who killed Laura Palmer?” spawned the dead-girl TV trope that has haunted us for the past 25 years.

Take a look through this slideshow to see more TV shows that started off with a dead girl but didn’t always end with one. Warning: Some spoilers included.

Twin Peaks premieres Sunday, May 21, at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

‘Twin Peaks’ (1990)

The pilot episode of the ’90s mystery drama wasted no time in showing the plastic-wrapped body of high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). It wasn’t until midway through the second season that Laura’s killer was revealed. (Photo: ABC)

‘Murder One’ (1995)

On this Stephen Bochco legal drama, Jessica Costello (Collette White) was found raped and strangled in her apartment. The teen’s dalliances with Hollywood heavy hitters paved the way for a laundry list of suspects, and it took all season for her murderer, drug lord Roberto Portalegre (Miguel Sandoval) to be caught and convicted. (Pictured: From left, Daniel Benzali as Ted Hoffman, Stanley Tucci as Richard Cross, and Mary McCormack as Justine Appleton.) (Photo: ABC)

‘Dead Like Me’ (2003)

Seattle was a grim reaper’s playground in this Showtime comedy-drama, which starred Ellen Muth and Mandy Patinkin. The pilot episode featured the freak-accident death (involving a falling toilet seat) of Georgia “George” Lass (Muth), an aloof 18-year-old who was promptly promoted to reaper status and given a to-do list that included collecting the souls of people who died in accidents or were murdered. (Photo: Showtime)

‘Desperate Housewives’ (2004)

Marc Cherry’s serial dramedy kicked off with the suicide of housewife Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong). The dead mom didn’t really rest in peace, though. She haunted Wisteria Lane for eight seasons, narrating 178 episodes of the series while looking in on her neighbors. (Photo: ABC)

‘Veronica Mars’ (2004)

Kristen Bell played the title character in this popular mystery drama about a teen private investigator who tracked down the murderer of her best friend, Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), after an ashtray was thrown at her head. This dead girl appeared in dream and hallucination sequences several times throughout the series before we found out that movie star Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin), the father of Lilly’s then-boyfriend, Logan, was the murderer. (Photo: Warner Bros. Television)

‘Pretty Little Liars’ (2010)

This teen drama, based on the book by Sara Shepard, kicked off with the alleged death of clique queen bee Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse), whose untimely demise caused her squad to go their separate ways. A series of messages from someone named “A” — could it be Alison? — forced the estranged posse to regroup and figure out who was torturing them. Seven seasons later, we’re still trying to sort through this group’s web of lies, the biggest one being that Alison is alive. (Photo: Danny Feld/ABC Family)

‘The Bridge’ (2011)

This 2011 Scandinavian crime drama gave us a complicated twist on the dead-girl trope when a body cut in half at the waist was found in the middle of the Oresund Bridge, smack on the border of Copenhagen and Malmo. It was soon discovered that the corpse was two halves from two polar-opposite women: a politician and a prostitute. A 2013 FX remake, starring Diane Kruger, was set on a bridge connecting El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico, with the split bodies of American judge Lorraine Gates and Mexican woman Cristina Fuentes. In both series, the murderer was a serial killer. (Pictured: Sofia Helin as Saga Norén.) (Photo: Filmlance International AB)

‘The Killing’ (2011)

This Seattle-set AMC series unearthed the murder investigation of 17-year-old Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay), whose dead body was found in a car connected to the mayoral campaign of city councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell). While the politician was initially implicated in the murder, in Season 2 it was revealed that Rosie’s troubled aunt Terry (Jaime Anne Allman) drowned her when she drove the car into a lake, not realizing that her niece was in the trunk. (Photo: AMC)

‘The Fall’ (2013)

On this British crime drama, all signs pointed to a serial killer after architect Alice Monroe (Gemma McCorry) was found dead, sandwiched between the similar murders of Fiona Gallagher and Sarah Kay (Tara Eagan Langley, Laura Donnelly). X-Files star Gillian Anderson played Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in this series, and Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Grey) played serial killer Paul Spector. (Photo: Netflix)

‘True Detective’ (2014)

The first season of HBO’s crime anthology focused on the murder of Dora Lange (Amanda Roe Batz), a Louisiana prostitute whose 1995 murder case was resurrected 17 years after detectives Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) first investigated it. By the end of Season 1, Dora’s death was found to be connected to dozens of missing-person cases and murders, and her killer, Errol Childress (Glenn Fleshler), was ultimately shot to death by Cohle. (Photo: HBO)

‘The Night Of’ (2016)

This eight-part HBO crime drama started with a young woman named Andrea Cornish (Sofia Black-D’Elia) hitching a ride with college student Naz Khan (Riz Ahmed) before ending up stabbed to death by the end of the night. Naz became the main suspect after a knife believed to be the murder weapon was found in his pocket, but in the end, a deadlocked jury set him free, and the dead girl’s thieving financial adviser, Ray Halle (Paulo Costanzo), was revealed to be the killer. (Photo: Barry Wetcher/HBO)

‘13 Reasons Why’ (2017)

Netflix caused controversy with this 13-part series narrated by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a bullied teen who ended her life by slitting her wrists in a bathtub. This dead girl left a parting gift for her tormentors by making a series of audiotaped recordings explaining why it was their fault that she killed herself, but some parents thought the series glamorized teen suicide. (Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

‘American Gods’ (2017)

Being in a car accident alongside her lover marked the demise of Laura Moon (Emily Browning) in this Starz series. Or did it? Viewers of the buzzy fantasy drama saw the casket of the wife of Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) being lowered into the ground after the fatal wreck, but — SPOILER ALERT! — it looks like a lucky coin could give her new life. Or maybe just a really chatty afterlife. (Photo: Jan Thijs/Starz)

‘Top of the Lake’ Season 2 (2017)

The first season of this mystery drama almost gave us a dead girl when Tui Mitcham (Jacqueline Joe) tried to drown herself in a lake. The pregnant tween survived, but in Season 2 of the show, another young lady isn’t as lucky. The upcoming second season of the series, titled China Girl, finds Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) zeroing in on the death of an unidentified Asian girl found at Biondi Beach. (Photo: Sundance TV)

‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ (2017)

In this drama coming to CBS this fall, a final FaceTime chat is the last time Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven) sees his daughter, Mia, before she’s found dead. Crowdsourced crime-solving comes into play in this series when the San Francisco tech innovator puts all his energy into solving his teen daughter’s murder. (Photo: Diyah Pera/CBS)