YMMV / Bates Motel

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: For as many people who enjoyed Sam Loomis being the one getting killed in the shower, quite a few felt that it was quite a bit more than he deserved, including show co-creator Carlton Cuse.
    Cuse: And even though Sam is a [jerk] he doesn’t deserve to be murdered.
    • Norman himself agrees in 'Inseparables'.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The point of the show. In the movie, we only saw Norman's interpretation of his mother, and it strongly implied that her control of him caused his mental problems. The show implies it's the other way around: Norma was controlling because Norman was ALWAYS unstable.
    • Chick, being a real bastard and a skilled manipulator despite being erudite and charming, tends to invite this, particularly in his treatment of Norma. Did he really plan to spread her secrets all over town, or was he just riling her up so she'd drive Romero out of her life herself?
    • Does Romero want to kill Norman to avenge the death of his wife Norma and for the sake of others, or does he want revenge against him for self-satisfaction for ruining his life?
  • Badass Decay: Dylan was previously a tough, street smart gang member who worked with a brutal drug cartel, being one of the last surviving members in a violent turf war and killing a few major villains himself. However, by the final season Dylan gave up on his tough guy persona in order to become a stay-at-home father raising his baby and is too afraid to stand up to his half-brother Norman, choosing to stay away from him because he's too scared to do anything to change things for the better.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Emma Decody. Either you'll view her as an adorable, lovable girl who's normal personality plays off of the eccentric characters in the show for comic relief or you may view her as a bland, boring Flat Character who has ultimately contributed nothing of great importance throughout the entire show's run.
    • Marion Crane too. Some view her as a tragic Anti-Hero who truly wanted a life of happiness with Sam Loomis, a man who deceived her, despite life problems holding her back and argue that she deserved a chance to start a new life. However, others found her much too unsympathetic since unlike her film counterpart she has zero regret over actions and essentially gets away scot-free with $400,000 in the end.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The scene where Norman visualizes his mother making out with a stripper. At first you'd think that this is going to lead into him undergoing another Split-Personality Takeover and murder the stripper, but instead even his split personality seems to enjoy making out with a strange woman dancing with her. This moment never comes up ever again.
  • Broken Base: Norman's death in the series finale is this. Some fans view it as a the tragic ending to a sympathetic man who was never truly evil and just wanted a peaceful life with his family, serving as a fitting conclusion to a great series. However, others are upset over this because the original film version of Norman was able to overcome his insanity and achieved happiness in the end, which could've been adapted for the show, making it seem like his struggle was all for nothing in the end. There's not much room for a middle ground on this argument.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Season 1’s Big Bad, Jake Abernathy, AKA Joe Fioretti, the boss of a Sex Slave trade, operates his business out of several towns and supplies some of his subordinates with girls as a special compensation. When he learns that the operation in White Pine Bay is compromised, Abernathy begins to stalk Norma Bates and threaten her to get the money he believes she has. When he is confronted by Sheriff Romero, Abernathy attempts to establish a new partnership with him to continue the slavery business and keep it going in White Pine Bay.
    • Zach Shelby seems at first like a charming, likable guy who wants to help Norma Bates and her family out. It is soon revealed Shelby is a deadly, violent man who participates (along with Keith Summers, who is killed early on) in the sex slave operation under the direction of Jake Abernathy and just helped out the family so he could sleep with Norma. Shelby keeps an Asian sex slave named Jiao locked in terrible conditions in his basement where he regularly rapes her, and when he discovers the Bates family have helped her escaped, he attempts to murder them all. When he sees Jiao again, he tries to murder her as well, presumably succeeding, before he forces Norma, Norman and Dylan Bates into the motel so that he can kill them.
  • Creepy Cute: Norman is still an Adorkable Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds despite his slow fall into villainy.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Given that the series is mainly detailing the Start of Darkness of Norman Bates' destiny as a Serial Killer, you can't really blame people for getting turned off by the depressing themes featured throughout the show. It certainly doesn't help that our Villain Protagonist doubles as a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant. This ultimately gets taken Up to Eleven in the series finale where Norman's life slowly begins to fall apart and he ends up mercy killed by his own brother when Dylan realizes that there is no way to save him.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Sheriff Romero to some. In short, the guy pulls a lot of strings to get his way, allows multiple drug cartels to occupy his own town, turns a blind eye towards most crimes that don't involve Norman in some way, was a childhood friend to a drug dealer, and even takes it upon himself to kill multiple villains and cover it up. However, usually the arc villains are presented to make him look good in comparison. Taken Up to Eleven in the final season, where Romero repeatedly commits multiple felonies all for the goal of gaining personal revenge against his stepson and coldly gunning down Chick for no real reason whatsoever.
    • Marion Crane is meant to be seen as a tragic victim who was manipulated by a jerkass who ruined her life, but she did rob $400,000 from her boss since he denied her a promotion and she she completely gets away with it in end, never once showing a shred of regret for her actions. Nevertheless, we're supposed to feel sorry for her.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Norman, and Chick.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
  • Epileptic Trees: A recent theory regarding the final season has fans believing that Chick is actually Robert Bloch, the author of the Psycho novel, since he implies that he's going to write a crime novel inspired by Norman's life. Though this was completely shot down when Romero kills him before he can even finish his novel.
  • Evil Is Cool: Chick instantly became one of the show's popular villains due to the character's completely wild and unpredictable personality. The fact that he has numerous Pet the Dog moments also shape him into a more likable character. He eventually pulls a Heel–Face Turn and becomes a Cool Old Guy.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Norman's Split Personality Mother is considered attractive due to be played by the same actress for Norma.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • After Norman gets taken into a mental hospital, Norma asks others how she should take in the situation. Emma advises her to forget her son and focus on herself since Norman should grow up on his own. So apparently, Norma should have fun with her own life over worrying about her own son's mental health.
    • The Series finale episode "The Cord" seems to imply that the police force thinks that mentally insane people are dangerous and must be killed or locked away in prison instead of a mental hospital. This isn't helped that Dylan's murder of his psychotic brother is treated as a mercy kill since he believes Norman's beyond help.
  • Follow the Leader: Much like Duck Dynasty, A&E's success with this series has led to other attempts to adapt classic horror franchises for television, as they introduced Damien, based off The Omen, in 2016.
  • Friendly Fandoms: The show's fans have some respect for the Hannibal series and the fanbase following it due to both shows remaining surprisingly popular among modern audiences and successfully maintaining the dignity of two of cinema's biggest horror villains.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment Norma and Romero make a joke about how she could potentially fall down her home's stairs and die if she's not careful. This is exactly how Arbogast, Dr. Raymond, and Maureen Coyle die.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Every heartwarming moment between Norman and his mother is this if you're familiar with the original film.
    • Norman tells his mother to never send him to a mental institution because it scared him when he was temporarily held there. In Psycho II, Norman tells the other characters how the mental institution scarred him for life and continues fearing the possibility of being locked up in it again. Then he gets sent to a different mental institution in the episode Goodbye, Mother.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Sam Loomis getting stabbed to death by a notorious psychopath he badly underestimated and left to bleed out can come across as this when you remember that his actor Austin Nichols played a character on The Walking Dead who suffered a similar fate only a few months before his death on this show.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Dylan. He's living with two unstable people and puts up with a death threat from drug cartels everyday, but he still tries to live a normal life.
    • Emma, who is suffering from a serious illness and undergoing major treatment so she won't die still manages to be a chipper girl as always.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Norman Bates of course. Though to be fair, this is mostly due to the trailers portraying him as outright evil rather than the Tragic Villain he actually is.
  • Moe: Norman and Emma are seen as the cutest characters thanks to their Adorkable personalities.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • In the season three finale, Norman passes it when he murders his Love Interest Bradley while under control of his Split Personality. Made all the more worse when she was planning to start a new life with Norman and help him get away from his mother, but ended up being horrifically murdered by the man she loved. Norman even buries her body in a lake to make sure that no one ever knows how she really died.
    • Romero finally crosses this when he coldly shoots Chick dead for simply showing sympathy for Norman, which he views as him standing in the way of his quest for vengeance.
  • Narm:
    • Norma's whole "You went and got laid" speech to her own son. The show treated it as a serious part, but the acting was so terribly cliché, it just came off as hilarious!
    • Emma's mother tries to have a normal conversation with Norman while he's dressed in his mother's clothes and undergoing his Split Personality. It's naturally weird as you'd expect. At least until the Mood Whiplash.
    • As if Audrey Decody's mistake wasn't enough, you may find yourself unable to take Norma's mistake seriously as well. When Chick shows up disguised as Norma's window repairman dressed only in a red coat with a different hat on, you can't help but laugh at how she completely falls for it.
    • After Norma and Sheriff Romero breakup, she returns home panting heavily for an uncomfortable amount of time before finally breaking down crying hysterically about it.
    • When Norman and his hallucination of his deceased mother are bonding together in the closing minutes of Norman, the camera pans out to show the Bates Motel covered in Christmas decorations. But, considering that Norman never had the time to hang up any of these decorations across the entire motel it may cause viewers to question whether or not he's hallucinating all this too.
    • Sam Loomis's death probably would've had a greater impact if the show didn't use a song in the background to lampshade that this is a turning point in the show. To make it all the more unintentionally laughable, the teaser to the episode after this moment plays out like a Black Comedy, resulting in the character's death coming across as a minor conflict.
    • Norman's argument that you can achieve whatever you want if you just believe it. Not helped by the fact that this is said in the middle of a climatic scene.
  • Not His Sled: Sam Loomis gets the iconic shower death scene instead of Marion Crane.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Norman features this in every episode.
    • When Norman admires the corpse of his dead mother, he hallucinates her eyes opening to glare at him. Then when he grave robs her coffin to bring it back to his house, he goes to great lengths to make it appear as if she's still alive.
  • The Scrappy: Sam Loomis is a hypocritical adulterer who cheats on his faithful wife Madeleine with Marion Crane while hiding his trues colors behind an affable demeanor, lying to both lovers in the process to get a cheap thrill out of it. When he's discovered to be a liar, he defends his actions by acting like he didn't do anything wrong. He also treats Norman very badly as he threatens to kill him if he told his wife about his affair and breaks into the motel without paying for his room to wait for Marion. Though to be fair, the writers seemed to have wanted this.
    • In an interview for the episode where he dies, Carlton Cuse comments "He was a jerk, but he didn't deserve to die." Considering how many people enthusiastically reacted to that scene, they overdid it by an infernal mile.
  • Stoic Woobie: Norman comes across as this due to his disconnecting with his emotions while suffering multiple tragedies in his life.
  • Take That, Audience!: The speech Mother gives to Norman to convince him to kill Sam Loomis reads like many fans' reactions to Sam and his actions. This might be the intended outcome for the Intended Audience Reaction.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Sam Loomis gets his car totaled by a vengeful Marion, gets wine tossed in his face and thrown out of the house by his wife Madeline and to top it all off, he's killed in the shower by Norman when he waits for his mistress Marion to come crawling back to him.
  • Tearjerker:
    • Goodbye, Mother features this in abundance. Norman finally snaps at his mother, forcing her to tearfully have the police send him to the institution again in order to treat his insanity. If the films are canon to the series, then this action would be All for Nothing.
    • Chick seeing the error of his ways in The Vault and apologizing to Norma out of the goodness of his heart. He even provides her the repaired stain glass window he promised to give when they first met.
    • Norma's death at the hands of Norman and his eventual breakdown over causing it afterwards. He's so traumatized by the events that he even considers suicide due to what he's done. The only thing that stops him from going through with it is when he hallucinates that his mother is still alive, meaning that Norman kept her corpse in his house just to continue the fantasy life he always wanted with her.
    • Norman's severe depression and loneliness after he killed his mother.
    • Norman's death at the hands of his own brother Dylan. As he lays dying, he sees his mother waiting for him in the next life.
      • Two words: "Thank you."
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The show decided to make Sam Loomis a snarky adulterer cheating on his wife with Marion Crane, lying to both lovers in the process for a cheap thrill, instead of the noble Nice Guy who wanted to have a legitimate marriage with his fiancé like he did in the Hitchcock film. Needless to say, some fans weren't as happy about the character's Adaptational Villainy.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Norman's season 2 love interest Cody, who was set up as a Distaff Counterpart for him, was Put on a Bus and never came back.
    • Sam Loomis is killed off in the shower without giving him the character development that made him Norman's archenemy in the original movie.
    • Dr. Edwards is revealed to have been Dead All Along since he was apparently Killed Offscreen in between seasons. Sadly this means that his positive influence on Norman's life goes to waste as well despite being the first character to make a breakthrough providing him with a possible Heel–Face Turn in the future.
    • Emma started out as an interesting character who could've evolved into a well-rounded heroine going on dangerous adventures with the other characters, but instead she got Demoted to Satellite Love Interest for Dylan and never did anything of great interest on the show.
    • Chick is abruptly shot dead in the final season despite being one of Norman's most trusted friends and could've possibly showed up at his trial to help back him up.
  • Too Cool to Live: Charles "Chick" Hogan, a Wicked Cultured professional hunter, former criminal gun runner, a hilarious comic relief on a dark show with a Crazy Awesome personality that made him completely unpredictable, and one of Norman's few most trusted friends, ends up shot dead in the middle of a monologue justifying why Norman is not a complete monster like how Romero and the rest of the world views him to be.
  • Too Good to Last: Despite the show achieving critical acclaim and being one of the most respected prequel stories ever released, the show will be ending on the fifth (and final) season, which will at last depict the events of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The show is well-known for its dark drama orchestrating its success.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Surprisingly, Chick grew into a more tragic character for some viewers. After he was beaten by Caleb, he was crippled for life and lost his family. He tries gaining revenge on Caleb by manipulating his sister Norma, but finds himself forming a genuine admiration of her. When he apologizes to her for lying about his true agenda, she kicks him out of her life. Nevertheless, Chick gives her a new stain glass window he promised to fix for her and gives her a small kiss to show how sorry he is.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Norma's unreasonable behavior and unwillingness to accept some of the harsher aspects of real life can sometimes exceed the sympathy she earns from hell she's been living, particularly when her selfish and poorly-thought-out actions end up putting her family in danger.
    • Caleb's death was this for some viewers since the guy was a deadbeat criminal who did horrible things to his sister, was a bad influence for his son, and always treated Norman with disdain. Not many people cared about him when he eventually died since his own stupidity actually brought on his own demise in the end.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Emma is not as complex as the other, more psychologically damaged characters featured on the show are and just seems to be the everywoman that the others play off of.
  • The Woobie: Poor Norman...
    • Dylan repeatedly puts his neck on the line for everyone, as well as being a sane, stabilizing force. He gets absolutely no love.
    • Jerk Ass Woobie: Norma can be unreasonable, but she's gone through absolute hell.
    • Bradley. To make it short, she gets brutally killed by the boy she has a crush on...
    • Another Jerkass Woobie example, Chick may have been a Faux Affably Evil gun runner, but after his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Caleb, he ends up crippled for life, lost all of his money, eventually loses his house, and his family leaves him. The only reason he goes on living now is so he can get revenge on Caleb for ruining his life.
    • Madeleine Loomis feels so desperately lonely since her own cheating husband has kept her isolated while he works and has an affair behind her back. She eventually crosses the Despair Event Horizon upon realizing her husband's true colors.
    • Marion Crane is a hardworking secretary who's stuck in a rut while having a romance with an already married man. She throws away her entire life by stealing from her Mean Boss so she can live happily ever after with Sam, but soon learns that he lied to her this whole time and never really wanted to live a romantic fantasy with her since it was all just for a cheap thrill. After finding this out, Marion goes on the lam to live the rest of her life as a heartbroken fugitive.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Rihanna as Marion Crane, especially after her highly criticized performance in Battleship. The fanbase is not pleased, and even people who don't watch are laughing at the absurd casting decision.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/BatesMotel