YMMV / Bates Motel

  • Alternate 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Norman, and Chick.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stoic Woobie: Norman comes across as this due to his disconnecting with his emotions while suffering multiple tragedies in his life.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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