Due to many liberties taken with the original material, this character page is distinct from that of Psycho. BEWARE OF SPOILERS. TROPE NAMES ARE NOT WHITED OUT.
"Maybe some people don't get to start over."
Played By: Freddie Highmore
A smart, quietly funny, handsome and sometimes shy seventeen-year-old boy with an intensely close bond to his mother. Norman is resistant to starting over in a new town, but begins to change his mind as he spread his wings a little.
Adorkable: Norman is awkward around others but means well. As long as you're not trying to hurt his mother that is...
Bad Liar: Whenever he tries to lie, he avoids eye contact, stammers and even becomes outright aggressive.
Adverted when he passes the polygraph test ordered by Sheriff Romero.
Berserk Button: Insult Norma in front of Norman, just try it. If you're lucky, you'll be able to defend yourself from a killing blow.
Anytime a member of the opposite sex shows interest in Norma in front of him.
Beware the Nice Ones: Norman is polite and nice to most everybody he meets. Most characters don't realize that this shy momma's boy is who they should be worried about angering.
The Dutiful Son: In contrast to disobedient rebel Dylan, Norman is usually at his mother's beck and call.
Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The show took cues from Anthony Perkins' appearance in the original film and cast the tall, pale, dark-haired Freddie Highmore.
Extreme Doormat: Mostly when it comes to his mother. Norman has a hard time saying no to her though he tries sometimes when he believes Norma has really crossed the line. He also goes along with most things others ask him to do as well.
Incest Subtext: He checks out his mother through a window when she's getting dressed.
In the Blood: Every living member of the Bates family has murdered at least one person in a rage.
Momma's Boy: He's practically the poster boy. Norman can't help but act like a jealous, possessive lover with her...and she's the same with him. They both seem to want some measure of freedom from each other, but won't allow the other to have it.
Mommy Issues: After Norma gets raped, Norman keeps the rapist's tool belt as a memento of it. Even he is unsure of why he did this.
Oedipus Complex: He hates it when men show attraction to his mother, and is fiercely protective of her even when she doesn't need it.
Patricide: Norman killed his father while he was in a trance.
Took a Level in Badass: Norman fares much better in his second fight with Dylan, so much so that one wonders if he's been secretly attending wrestling school.
Split Personality: Just like in the original movie, Norman seems to be developing a split personality that takes over whenever Norma is in trouble. Afterwards, Norman can't remember what he did but when he gets into these states he's always violent, refuses to talk to anyone, and very, very dangerous.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: With a manipulative mother and a town that keeps threatening to kill him, it's hard not to feel sorry for him even if he killed his father and most likely killed Miss Watson.
Norma Bates (née Calhoun)
"We came here to start over, I am starting over!"
Played By: Vera Farmiga
"What's important is that we're together. As long as we're together, nothing bad can really happen. Right, Norman?"
The resilient, intelligent, beautiful, complicated and mercurial mother of seventeen-year-old Norman Bates. A contemporary single mother, she is emotionally complex and utterly devoted to her son, constantly juggling her own needs and some hardcore baggage while trying to create a new home in a new town for herself and Norman.
Ambiguously Evil: She's willing to cover up murder and emotionally blackmail her sons to get what she wants, but she's also motivated by love and devotion. So far, she hasn't intentionally sought out an illegal situation.
Badass: She's more than willing to take care of things, even if she's frightened. She was ready to kill or die in a confrontation with Abernathy.
Berserk Button: Anytime a member of the opposite sex shows interest in Norman in front of her.
Broken Bird: She's had a horrible past, and terrible things keep happening to her. She was sexually abused by her brother, abused by her husband, raped by Keith Summers, betrayed by Zach Shelby and threatened with death by Jake Abernathy.
"Can I give you some advice? You gotta cut that shit out. "Mother?" Seriously, it... it's just weird."
Norma’s son by her first marriage and half-brother to Norman, Dylan is an edgy outsider in the Norma/Norman tea party. He’s a lost soul and a drifter who finds himself, by necessity, drifting back into the troubled lives of his mother and brother.
Aloof Big Brother: To Norman. Though honestly it's probably just a "played with" example since Norman really isn't looking for any closeness with him, at least at the start.
Badass: Dylan shows himself to be very competent and skilled; he becomes the unofficial 'muscle' of the Bates family.
He kills the man who shot Ethan. With a car.
He manages to kill Shelby even after being shot himself.
Fights Remo to a standstill while still in recovery from a gunshot wound.
When attacked by Nick Ford's guys, he saves Zane's life and returns fire.
Fights off Nick Ford when he is threatening him at gun point and kills him with a fire poker.
Bullying a Dragon: How much of a dragon Norman is at this point is up for debate, but he's definitely willing to go at you if you talk about his mom, as Dylan does incessantly.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Caleb can appear affable and even banal, but underneath he's a terrible human being with a streak of sadism as evidenced when Norman confronts him, and after disarming the kid Caleb needlessly kicks him when he's down.
"You and I have no connection. We're not on the same playing field. Don't ever assume that we are."
The Sheriff of White Pine Bay, Romero is the “moral” center of the town, although morality is often a shifting line here. Imposing and discerning, he gets involved in Norma Bates’ life after an unfortunate incident at the motel.
The Alcoholic: Implied; he's seen drinking in his motel room after brushing his teeth.
Badass: He successfully kills the very dangerous Jake Abernathy. He also beats the shit out of Ax-Crazy Zane.
Childhood Friends: With Keith Summers, according to Shelby. It seems like they might not have been much closer than just fishing buddies, however. Romero was born and raised in White Pine Bay, and he knows pretty much everyone.
Cowboy Cop: He protects his town by killing the biggest threat, Abernathy and his Sex Slave business. He frequently goes outside the law to deal with problems and works with the rival drug empires to maintain some kind of peace.
Dirty Cop: After Shelby's true nature is revealed, he covers everything up to make himself appear competent. He later arrests Kyle Miller for Miss Watson's murder and lets him get convicted despite being aware of the mounting evidence that throws Miller's 'guilt' into question.
It's Personal: He and Keith Summers were friends before his murder.
I Never Said It Was Poison: When questioning Norma she mentions Keith disappearing, but Romero never mentioned anything of the sort.
Jerkass: Romero is cold and uninterested. He treats others with mild disdain or outright contempt.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Possibly, given that he covers for Norma even after finding out that she killed his best friend, and when he goes out of his way to protect Norma and her family from Jake Abernathy. His methods are certainly questionable, and he's not a friendly guy, but he seems to have good intentions.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a small one to Norma when she tries to procure his help. He makes it very clear that they are not friends.
"Are you trying to say that you have something on me? Is that it? Because if you did, that really wouldn't be good for you, okay? I mean I might have to burn you down to the ground, you know? Don't ever try to intimidate me. Don't walk into my office and ask me for political favors based on nothing. You and I have no connection. We're not on the same playing field. Don't ever assume that we are. You don't know what you're doing. Go home, Mrs. Bates."
The Stoic: Norma calls him out on his taciturn nature.
Norma: "Don't you ever get tired of being so stoic?"
Team Switzerland: He is very concerned about maintaining the peace between the two rival drug families in town.
Took a Level in Kindness: In season 2, he becomes a little more tactful although he's just as stoical. Notably, after Zane burns his house down and he moves into the Bates Motel, he tells Norma about the window problem and is generally considerate of her.
Dep. Zach Shelby
"Death is profound, isn't it?"
Played By: Mike Vogel
"The people in this town, they deal with things in a different way... but it gets dealt with."
The young, handsome, clear-eyed deputy of White Pine Bay. He has an immediate attraction to Norma and finds himself drawn into her life and wanting to take care of her.
Character Death: When the Bates family discovers his secrets, Shelby tries to kill them all. Fortunately Dylan manages to outsmart him, shooting him. Shelby stumbles out of the house before collapsing dead on the steps to the motel.
Creepy Basement: Shelby keeps his sex slave Jiao in his basement. His decoration is unsettling.
Dirty Cop: He was the business partner of Keith Summers and Jake Abernathy.
Disc One Final Boss: He becomes the main villain for the first half of the season, before being killed by Dylan.
Faux Affably Evil: Shelby is charming and kind, but that's just a disguise for the violent rapist he really is.
Nice Guy: Shelby has an easy smile and accommodating manner, especially in contrast to the cold Sheriff Romero.Except it's only surface; he's actually an unhinged Dirty Cop with a sex slave in his basement.
Lawman Gone Bad: Although it's unclear if he was ever 'good' to begin with.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: She has very expressive eyes, particularly when shocked by something Norman's doing.
Really Gets Around: After her death, it transpires that she had a tendency to sleep around. Blair Watson had relationships/one-night stands with Gil Turner, Jerry Martin, a drug dealer named Kyle, and a previously undisclosed fourth person that turns out to be Norman, who killed her after encouragement from "Mother."
Inferiority Superiority Complex: Romero correctly assumes that Zane is desperate to prove himself, since nobody in the Drug Ring takes him seriously. His insecurity is the main reason he's so violent and aggressive.
Jerkass: Besides being a psychotic killer, he's basically an asshole.
The Millstone: Zane's childish aggression and tendency to escalate situations has endangered the entire business by dragging them into a war with Nick Ford.
Nepotism: Remo implies the reason he got the job is because Zane is the Big Boss's brother.
Lean and Mean: He's tall and very thin, in addition to being a bloodthirsty maniac.
The Starscream: To his own sister. He ultimately kills her, but doesn't live long enough to enjoy his new position.
Stupid Crooks: Zane was arrested and spent time in prison because he was speeding while transporting a truck full of product. Remo and Dylan both lament that they have to work with someone capable of such idiocy.
Stupid Evil: When he asks Dylan what he should do in retaliation for the deaths of two henchmen, Dylan calmly points out that the best thing to do is leave it be, keep moving product, and not let the situation escalate. Zane agrees. Then he says he's going to kill as many of the other side as possible anyway.
Ungrateful Bastard: Dylan saves his life and Zane repays him by being even more of a dick. Jodi gives him a big opportunity by giving him a huge role in her business, but Zane plots to take over and eventually kills her.
Played By: Vincent Gale
The boss of Dylan Massett, Remo Wallace, and many other workers in the drug business in White Pine Bay.
Asshole Victim: Killed by Bradley in the season 2 premiere, who is hell bent on finding her father's killer.
The father of Bradley Martin and an employee of Gil Turner.
Character Death: Jerry turns up to the series driving a car while on fire. He later dies of his injuries, and the mystery of his death drives part of the plot. It's eventually revealed that the killer was Gil.
Defeat Equals Friendship: Initially Remo and Dylan didn't get along very well; their dislike of each other culminated in a bar fight. After they got out the aggression, they began to respect and like each other much more.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite having been involved in the Drug Ring for years, Remo is partnered with newcomer Dylan by Gil. As a result he feels sidelined and humiliated.
Jerkass: He's abrasive and needlessly sarcastic, especially toward Dylan.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his less-than-winning personality, he does end up with some loyalty toward Dylan and isn't truly malicious.
The Resenter: He hates that he's treated with no respect and has to work for the much younger, less experienced Dylan.
"You want some?"
Played By: Keenan Tracey
A marijuana trimmer in Dylan Massett's crew. The crew stays at the Bates Motel, where Gunner gives Emma Decody a marijuana cupcake.
Grand Romantic Gesture: To some extent, the cupcake he leaves on the desk for Emma; it was wrapped nicely for her along with a letter next to it, saying that he hoped he didn't get her in trouble, signed with his name and a peace sign.
Troubled, but Cute: On some level, as he is a stoner, and he's involved in the Drug Ring to an extent.
Played By: Terry Chen
An accomplice and friend of Dylan Massett who introduced him to the drug business in White Pine Bay.
Affably Evil: Ethan is a criminal involved in a very shady business with dangerous people, but he's also a pretty genial guy who takes Dylan under his wing and is more of a Punch Clock Villain than anything.
Love Interest: Christine pushes him and Norma toward each other and is determined to set them up.
Nice Guy: George is helpful, considerate and a perfect gentleman at all times.
Played By: Rebecca Creskoff
A feisty upper-class woman who takes a liking to Norma and tries to play match-maker for her.
Fiery Redhead: She's not an angry person, but she's very outspoken and strong-willed. She quits when Norma doesn't get the lead role in the musical she was involved in.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Norma near the end of the Season 2, calling her out on being ungrateful for all her social favors, and after she reckons Norma has revealed her true colors as a 'train-wreck'.
Played By: Diana Bang
A young Asian woman chained in a basement. She's kept as a sex slave by Zach Shelby.
"I'm not some moron like Keith Summers. He was the bottom rung, I'm on the top. You understand?"
A mysterious guest at the motel who appears to be looking for Keith Summers. He's later revealed to be a gangster and leading figure in an international sex slave industry, and the boss of Keith Summers and Zach Shelby.
Small Role, Big Impact: After dying in the first episode, he looms over the rest of the season. He causes Romero to get on Norma's back, and was part of the whole sex-slave town conspiracy. He's mentioned pretty much every episode.
Mayor Rob Woodriff
Played By: Andrew Airlie
The Mayor of White Pine Bay.
Genre Savvy: He knows what kind of town he's the Mayor of.