Series: Bates Motel

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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:

  • All Guys Want Bad Girls: Norman and Dylan are more attracted to morally ambiguous girls.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Anyone who stays alone with Norman doesn't fare well.
  • 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, Ethan Chang.
    • 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.
  • Broad Strokes: Putting the issues of technology aside, this movies seems to be heading for the same general destination as the movie, but taking a different route to get there. While some of the incongruities with the backstory could be explained as Norman being delusional in the movie, this show gives Norman and Norma active social lives, while the movie did not.
  • 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 the distribution of illegally farmed marijuana.
    • Disputes related to the drug trade are dealt with brutally and publicly.
    • Some of the residents, including deputy Shelby, are involved in human trafficking.
    • The sheriff covers up and commitsmultiple murders.
  • Cute and Psycho: Norman. Cute as a button and twice as crazy.
  • Dirty Cop: Considering how many illegal activities are going on in White Pine Bay, 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...
  • Dull Surprise: Nicola Peltz as Bradley Martin. The show seems to try to get around it by having her wear dark sunglasses at all times when she's supposed to be mourning her father's death, and then by turning her into an emotionless head case- before finally putting her on a bus.
  • 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 an 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. Along with the fact that Norman will never be caught, and will wind up alone with the motel.
  • Freudian Excuse: 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.
  • Gut Punch: The rape scene in the first episode.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Norman thinks his mother is really doing "bad things."
  • Idiot Ball: Thinking that Shelby had leverage against Norma because he discovered Keith Summers' belt. Even if he'd kept it in his house, it would be hard for him to convincingly explain why he had it in his possession. But the truly idiotic part happens when it comes to the boat. How hard could it be to discredit the value of it as evidence? The boat it was being kept on belonged to the victim! Just leave it there.
  • 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.
  • Irony: Norman is worried about his mother's mental state.
  • Mama Bear: Norma Bates is fiercely protective of Norman. Overprotective.
  • 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.
  • Oedipus Complex
  • Origins Episode: The series is this for Psycho.
  • 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.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: In "The Deal," Emma mentions that the password to the Wi Fi at the Bates Motel is "MOTHER, all caps."
  • Prequel: Well, sort of. The series is a contemporary account of teenage Norman's troubled relationship with Norma and its 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 she had sworn revenge to her father's death, Bradley found and kill the responsible, taking a bus in order to escape. It is done so quickly, ending what looked like a season-wide plot because the actress who played her was cast to star in a big budget action film.
  • Rape as Drama: The show seems "fond" of this trope. Between the sex slave trafficking and Norma's numerous sexual assaults.
  • 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.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The main reason Norman's a Clueless Chick Magnet to the girls of White Pine Bay. He stands out for being a nice guy who's appealingly innocent about sex. If only they knew...
  • 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.
  • Stepford Suburbia
  • There Are No Therapists: If there were then the series would never start. The closest thing to an actual acting therapist in the series was James Finnigan, but his selfish actions and romantic pursuits towards Norma only made things worse.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Bradley's death is shown through Norman's perspective. Specifically, the audience sees "Mother" killing her, not him. Word of God says this was done to keep the audience sympathetic towards Norman, showing he's not in control of his actions and trying to keep his mother safe.
  • 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.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Norman is this. His mother is doing everything in her power to prevent him from becoming a psycho and he is getting upset at her. In his defense, he assumes that she is trying to ruin his life.
  • Unrequited Tragic Maiden: Emma. So far.
  • Wham Episode: At the end of "Unconscious," "Mother" takes over Norman and kills Bradley.