Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Series: Bates Motel
We hope you enjoy your stay.

Bates Motel is an American drama television series on A&E starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga. The series is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's iconic Psycho, and depicts the early years of Norman Bates whilst set in modern times.

The series kicks off with the sudden death of Norman's father, prompting Norman and his beloved mother Norma to set up a new life in the coastal town of White Pine Bay as owners of the eponymous motel. However, their relationship is far from stable and the town is hiding secrets of its own...

This show contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adorkable: Norman and Emma.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Keith Sommers, the former owner of Bates Motel, rapes Norma before she stabs him to death.
    • Deputy Zack Shelby keeps a sex slave in his basement, kills her, then is killed by Dylan while he's trying to kill the Bates family.
    • Jake Abernathy a.k.a. Joe Fioretti, who runs a sex slave ring in four ports along the Oregon coast gets shot four times by Sheriff Romero.
    • Gil, who was killed by Bradley in the season 2 premiere. She was hunting for her father's killer.
    • The guy who Dylan ran over for killing his friend.
    • Cody's father, who was pushed down the stairs by Norman after abusing Cody in front of Norman.
  • Berserk Button: Insult Norma in front of Norman, just try it.
  • Betty and Veronica: Emma, openly smitten but ignored, is Betty to Norman's Archie, while popular, unattainable Bradley is his Veronica.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Keeping with the movie, Norman is nice and quiet. He doesn't look like he'd put up much of a fight but he becomes quite scary when he sees his mother in trouble.
  • Chick Magnet: Norman. Seriously. Every teenage girl seems to want a piece of him for some reason.
  • Creepy Basement: Shelby has one in his house where he has imprisoned a young girl as his sex slave. The basement ticks many of the creepy basement expectations such as the flickering lights, dimly lit rooms, and shadows all around.
    • The fruit cellar from Psycho appears in the season 2 premiere, Norma even comments about how Norman spends a lot of time working on taxidermy down there.
  • Crapsaccharine World: At first sight White Pine Bay seems like a prosperous little town, however…
    • The town’s economy, ostensibly based on light industries like organic pig farms and artisanal cheese; is in reality based on illegal drugs.
    • Disputes related to the drug trade are dealt with brutally and publicly.
    • Some of the residents are involved in human trafficking.
    • The sheriff covers up multiple murders.
  • Daydream Surprise: See Parents Walk In at the Worst Time below.
  • Dirty Cop: Considering how many illegal activities are going on in the town it would be more surprising if there weren't any. The main culprit seen so far though is Shelby.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Keith Sommers harassing Norman and Norma because the motel and house they bought was his. It's stated outright that it wasn't even their fault, the bank was the one that foreclosed on his family's house and motel.
    • With a possible helping of Never My Fault - between the day-to-day earnings of the motel and the ostensibly lucrative slave trade just how did he lose it to the bank? He can't have been a very good businessman, and it seemed to take a lot of work to get the place presentable after the Bates moved in...
  • Dysfunction Junction: Most everyone in the cast seems to have some kind of emotional problem or the like. The Bates family takes the cake, however, in White Pines.
  • Evil Matriarch: Norma is an incredibly unstable, overly-emotional and psychologically abusive mother, but she may not be evil, just incredibly toxic.
  • Foreshadowing: Unsurprising, what with it being a prequel
    • For example, a member of Emma's family owns a taxidermy shop. There are some significant shots of the stuffed animals and Norman can't help but eye them which foreshadows how Norman will eventually get into taxidermy as and adult because he's lonely and needs a hobby.
    • Emma straight up states how traumatizing it must be "to be totally into a guy who turns out to be a monster." to Norman.
    • At the end of the final episode of the first season, we see Miss Watson is wearing a necklace that says 'B'—which is the initial of the woman Bradley's father was having an affair with.
    • "This road will ruin our lives!" Said by Norma in the season 2 premiere.
    • When Remo and Dylan disccuss why Gil hates Jerry Martin so much in the season 2 premiere, Remo claims that Miss 'Blair' Watson is the daughter of the drug family - which becomes a key storyline as season 2 progresses.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Any fan of the original series knows that eventually Norman will kill Norma.
  • Freudian Excuse
  • Gut Punch: The rape scene in the first episode.
  • Incest Subtext: If one were not aware of the premise of the show, he or she might think Norman and Norma are lovers from some of the commercials. This is not unintentional.
  • Mama Bear: Guess who.
  • Mommy Issues: And how. Turns out, however, Norman isn't the only one to have them. Despite the distance he tries to create with Norma, Dylan can't get past his issues with his mother either.
  • Monochrome Casting: It's almost too coincidental that the town is named White Pine Bay.
  • My Beloved Smother: You only get one guess at who is the biggest perpetrator of this trope. Norma will do anything to keep Norman by her side. She gets angry whenever she believes Norman has abandoned her and continually tells Norman that it's just the two of them against the world.
  • Origins Episode: The Series
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Subverted in "The Man in Number 9," in which Norman is in bed with Bradley, then Norma walks in and cheerfully asks him how he's doing. Only then is it shown that the whole sex scene was a fantasy sequence and Norman's been alone in bed the whole time.
  • Prequel: Well, sort of. The series is a contemporary account of teenage Norman's troubled relationship with Norma and it's eventual downward spiral, while Psycho, to which this show is supposedly a prequel to, was released and set in 1960. So it seems more like a Continuity Reboot or, at least, a major Retcon, that is unless the series, characters and events that follow somewhat operate on Comic Book Time.
  • Present Day: The biggest update.
  • Put on a Bus: Literally, two episodes or so after have sworned revenge to her father's death, Bradley find and kill the responsible, taking a bus in order to escape. It is done so quiclky, ending what looked like a season-wide plot because the actress who played her was casted to star in a big budget action film.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Really Gets Around: Miss Watson before her death. She had slept with Gil, Jerry Martin, a stoner named Kyle, and quite possibly another unidentified person who may have killed her.
  • The Reveal: In episode six, Norma reveals that she didn't kill her husband like Dylan and some of the audience have assumed. Turns out Norman killed his father while he was in a trance and doesn't remember any of it. Norma made the death look like an accident so Norman wouldn't have to face what he'd done and moved them away to start over and officially leave his death behind them.
    • Viewers of season 1 are left to wonder who this mysterious "B" is, who wrote to Bradley's father while they were having an affair. The season 2 premiere does not hold back, immediately revealing that it's Miss Watson, whose first name is Blair. She was also sleeping with Gil, which could motivate him to kill Bradley's father.
  • Retro Universe: While the show is set in modern times (an early shot of Norman has him listening to an iPod), it does have some nuances, characteristics and feel of the 1950s and 60s, particularly the fashion and cars. If it weren't for the technology, it could almost be any time in the last 50 years.
  • The Sheriff: Alex Romero.
  • 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. As of late, his split personality seems to have the persona of a more vicious version of Norma.
  • Start of Darkness: For Norman, of course.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy
  • Took a Level in Badass: Bradley shows she's quite competent with a gun and more than willing to use it.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: White Pine Bay apparently has several, even before the Bates Family moves in. There's certainly a reason why everyone is so well off in the small town. From what the audience sees, many people in the town seem to be in some illegal business ranging from drug trafficking to selling young girls as sex slaves.
  • Unrequited Tragic Maiden: Emma. So far.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot

Are You Afraid of the Dark?Horror SeriesBedlam
Barney MillerAmerican SeriesBatman

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy