Bates Motel, A&E’s horror-drama television series, is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho and focuses on the lives of Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. After the death of Norma’s husband, she moves her family to a new little town and buys a motel, hoping to start anew. However, Norman’s creepy actions lead to uncomfortable situations, inappropriate behavior and multiple deaths.
The show premiered on March 18, 2013, and the fifth and final season premiered on February 20, 2017, making Bates Motel A&E’s longest-running original-scripted drama series. The series has also won three People’s Choice Awards, been voted a Favorite Cable TV Drama and led to the stars, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, being called Favorite Cable TV Actress and Actor.
The 15 moments below prove that Norman Bates is creepy AF...and the fact that Bates Motel has seen so much success sort of proves that we fans are also pretty creepy and twisted ourselves (meaning we are so glad this show is back!)...
15 When He Sang A Little Tune Like There Were No Cares In The World
Deep down, Norma and Norman Bates are the typical mother and son, doing typical mother and son things, like gathering around the piano to sing and play and dance together, since Norma wants the two to be in a local musical together. One of the creepiest and most memorable moments from Bates Motel was first seen as the trailer for Season 2. Norma and Norman are singing “Mr. Sandman”, but then...Lightning. Alcohol. Sex. Spying. Undressing. Echoes. Blood. Buried. Crash. Scenes of what is to come flash before our eyes, and we hear Norma say, "You're a good boy, Norman." How’s that for foreshadowing??
P.S. - Vera Farmiga is a classically trained pianist AND a semi-professional folk dancer! If we are dealing with all these scary moments, it’s a good thing we at least get to also enjoy her musical talent.
14 Norman Places The Blame On His Mother
The basis of this story is a mother and son who love each other too much, but when Norman turns on Norma...That’s scary. In Season 3, he says, “I think one of us has a problem, and I’m tired of the assumption being that it’s me.” At one point, Norma says she believes her son didn't kill anyone, which prompts him to scream, “Don't lie to me!”, “What game are we playing today, Mother?” and “Don't touch me! Go away, please!”
In Goodnight, Mother, Norma says, “I’m afraid of you and I love you, and that’s a bad combination.” Her finally admitting this, combined with Norman finding out that his mother wants to put him in a mental institution, causes him to start saying that SHE is the one that has been murdering people. No one believes him, though, as everyone has started to see that the kid needs professional help.
13 Norman As Norma
In Season 2, Episode 4, Norman confronts his uncle Caleb about all the inappropriate things he did to Norma...but he does so AS Norma; Norman says he remembers Caleb coming into his (her!) room and even pulls a knife on Caleb. He slowly becomes more and more violent, until he finally explodes and begins crying about not being protected as Caleb’s little sister, which causes Caleb to kick Norman out and bail out of the hotel room setting. While we appreciate Norman trying to stand up for his mother, we also admit that it is scary seeing this young man think as and act like his own mother - even if his intentions started out on a good note. Furthermore, seeing Freddie Highmore act like a middle-aged woman is so disturbing that it’s entertaining; this show knows how to pull us in - so scroll down for even more on this!
12 A Relationship Gone Too Far
What is even creepier than seeing our male protagonist think he is our female protagonist? Seeing him become attracted to her. In Season 3, viewers find Norman watching his mother undress. It’s only for a brief moment (not that it matters, since the kisses and cuddling and watching in general are weird), but we see a longing in Norman’s eyes, as he stares at Norma’s bare back. This theme gets taken further when Norman appears to be trying to help Norma undress. Fortunately, Dylan steps in and tries to explain that the behavior is off...but unfortunately, no one listens to him
We’re only on our fourth item and we’re definitely getting creep vibes from Norman...but this is exacerbated by his mom who always wants them to be together. We're starting to get a better picture of his strange behavior.
11 He's Born To Kill
In the first episode, audiences are introduced to Miss Watson, Norman’s language arts teacher, who tries to help a young, introverted boy transition into a new place and a new school. One evening, she spots Norman walking home in the rain and offers to drive him home - but first they stop at her place to bandage a wound he received in a school fight. Suddenly Norman begins to have one of his hallucinations and the episode ends with Miss Watson dead on the floor, with her throat slit. Poor Norman also has a vision of Norma saying she killed Miss Watson and a vision of an argument with imaginary Norma at Miss Watson’s house. In the end, though, Kyle Miller was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder.
10 Mother Has Competition - And Has Norman Take Care Of It
Beautiful Bradley Martin, a popular girl at school, has to watch her father die in front of her, so she turns to Norman for support and even ends up sleeping with him. Rumors spread about her, a complicated home life, attempts to kill herself and placement into a mental hospital push Bradley further down into a hole, so, later, she writes a suicide note and runs away. When she shockingly returns in Season 3, she and Norman pick up right where they left off...except this time, Norman keeps seeing his mother over him, scolding him for his actions. “Norma” is just getting started, though, as she rips Bradley out of a car, bashes her head against rocks and has Norman dispose of her body in the water along with the car.
9 He's Obsessed With The Dead
Norman Bates is an odd boy, and everyone is entitled to their own hobbies and interests. The fact that he has dead animals all around him, though...Creepy AF.
We suppose, however, that he has them around for company and would much rather be alone in his basement with them than out in the real world with people (people he would just kill). These specimen are also trophies of sorts, since all good killers keep prized possessions of their most precious moments...like time spent with their mothers.
Viewers were happy to see Norman happy after finding and adopting a dog, Juno. Of course, though, tragedy strikes, and Juno dies, but Emma’s father - a taxidermist - stuffs him for Norman to keep forever.
Bonus: Juno is the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth, so perhaps this name was chosen very carefully (by Norman and/or the writers;).
8 When He Has Scary Bath Time
A young woman, Annika, checks into the Bates Motel and Norman spies on her which upsets Norma. He then drives with Annika, to give her directions, and returns with her car...but not her. This upsets Norma and Emma since Norman was the last to see her. Annika eventually shows up at the motel, with a bullet wound and a flash drive. Before all these secrets involving sex, drugs and illegal investments are uncovered, though, Norman tries to drown himself in order to recall what happened when he was with Annika. He is obviously attracted to her, but more and more, viewers are seeing Norman black out and not remember his whereabouts...which usually involves him murdering someone. Bob Paris apparently did actually kill Annika, but the fact that Norman tried to drown himself, causing Norma to burst in and save him, is frightening.
7 Turning Into Norma Louise
Season 3's Norma Louise was the first time we saw Norman as Norma. Since most fans of the show have seen the original movie, it was predicted that Bates Motel would show Freddie Highmore acting as a woman. This was brilliant... and creepy!. Dylan hears noises in the kitchen and walks in to find Norman - in Norma’s robe - making French toast. Dylan tries to ask Norman if he’s okay, but he's ignored. “Get me the blackberries!” “Go wake your brother!” “You know Norman loves to sleep!” As we know, this is just the beginning of Norman thinking he’s Norma...but this initial introduction to it all is classic.
6 Norman v. Alex Romero
Norman has hidden stuff from this cop and he has literally run away from his questionings. Romero, being the sweet (and possibly crazy?) person that he is, marries Norma in order for her to be able to admit Norman to Pineview Institute; he would do anything to get this kid out of his town! When Norman returns home and finds his mother happily married, he obviously hates the new living situation...but doesn’t mind drilling a hole in the wall to watch his mother and Romero have sex. At an awkward dinner, Romero asks Norman if Norma could love two men, which causes Norman to go crazy with an ax (thankfully, a shed took the brunt of the attack). We were left, at the end of Season 4, with Romero punching Norman at Norma’s funeral and then being arrested for perjury.
5 Helping Out Mother (No Matter The Cost)
Back in the good ol' days of Season 1, Norman isn’t AS crazy. When Deputy Zack Shelby gets involved with the family, Norman does help in hiding evidence from him, but Shelby is the one who looks creepy; he holds Norma, Norman and Dylan at gunpoint and hits Norma, causing Norman to attack him. Dylan ends up grabbing the dropped gun and killing Shelby (who is framed by Romero and then propped up in Norma's bedroom as a threat).
All of this happens because of Norman’s - and Norma’s! - twisted ways; from the beginning, they find themselves in compromising situations, and they both dig themselves deeper. Shelby starts investigating the Bates’ family after the disappearance of Keith Summers, the original owner of the motel, who breaks into Norma’s house and rapes her. Norman returns home to see this and attacks him, which allows Norma to stab Summers to death. The two then hide his body and then dispose of him in a lake, like all good mother-and-son duos would do.
4 The Oedipus Complex
When James Finnegan, a community college professor, comes into the picture in Season 3, Norman flat-out asks him what it is like to sleep with his mother. Finnegan, in return, asks Norman if he wants to sleep with his own mother. We then see uncertainty and disgust flash across Norman's face...and then we see him attack the professor and run off. Norma, who has started taking business classes at the community college, thought that Finnegan could use his psychology degree on Norman, and Finnegan agrees that her son needs help. Before that can happen, though, Bob Paris takes the professor out and beats him until he spills secrets about the Bates family. Norma tries to talk to him again, but he packs up his belongings and tells her never to contact him again.
3 A Mother’s Love...And Death
Most of Norman’s actions, if dissected, can sort of be seen coming from a good place, such as his murder of Audrey Ellis. Ellis, Emma’s mother, turns up at the Bates Motel, after Emma is admitted to the hospital. She wants to pass along a gift for Norman to give to Emma, but Norman answers the door as Norma; he/she gets angry at Ellis for having abandoned her daughter and strangles her with a scarf (even though she is the mother of his dear friend Emma). We then see visions of Norma dragging the body down to the basement and into a freezer; Ellis’ eyes pop open, and Norma sits on the freezer, but when Norman checks the freezer, the body is gone. Norma later has a vision of the body being buried in the pit.
2 The Final Act Of Creepiness
A creepy cherry on top of all of these acts would have to be Norman finally killing his own mother. The two talk of leaving White Pine Bay and escaping to Oahu. Norma drifts off to sleep, allowing Norman to light a furnace and close all doors, windows and vents except for the one in Norma’s room. Romero returns home and tries to perform CPR, but it’s too late; Norma dies of carbon monoxide poisoning, and Romero knows that Norman is responsible, but the boy makes it clear that the sheriff is out of the picture. Only Norman will be responsible for his mother’s funeral arrangements, such as declining embalming and suggesting taxidermy. He ends up having to dig his mother’s corpse up. He takes her home, props her up on the couch and superglues her eyes open.
1 He's Too Far Gone
Based on what he know of Psycho, the death of Norma never really sets in for Norman - but it did briefly, at the end of Season 4. Chick Hogan stops by to check on Norman after hearing about the death of Norma; here, he sees Norma’s corpse on the couch and says that Norman needs to process the death any way he can. This causes Norman to go upstairs and stick a revolver in his mouth...until he hears “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and goes downstairs to find Christmas decorations and his mother - and dog! - alive again. Norma promises they’ll be together forever.
The Season 5 promo shows fans Ice Queen Norma, since, two years later, her son apparently has her propped up in a freezer, covered in icicles and fur and a crown. How...sweet...and psycho...and creepy AF...