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Villain Overview

Well, a boy's best friend is his mother.
~ Norman Bates' most famous quote.
She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes.
~ Norman Bates on his mother, foreshadowing his true nature.

Norman Bates is a fictional American serial killer and keeper of the fictional Bates Motel in California.

Bates suffered from psychosis and Dissociative Identity Disorder, believing himself to be his controlling Mother. At the same time, he suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations, in which his mother apparently talked him into committing acts of violence in order to appease her. When the Mother personality took over, Bates would fly into murderous rages targeting women who aroused him, usually whilst dressed in her clothing. He is known to have eventually slaughtered his mother and kept her mummified corpse in the basement of his house for many years.

He is the titular main antagonist of the 1959 suspense novel Psycho and the 1960 film of the same name and appears as the titular anti-heroic protagonist of the three sequels.

Portrayals

Related Media

  1. A 1987 TV pilot titled Bates Motel was produced following the release of Psycho III, which had Norman Bates [played by Kurt Paul] in a minor part alongside fellow psychopath Alex West. It was filmed in black and white in keeping with the style of the original film. The pilot was poorly received and any plans for syndication were abandoned. Of note, the story had Bates die whilst incarcerated, and the new protagonist West inherits the motel and house.
  2. In 1990 (the same year Psycho IV: The Beginning was released) Perkins appeared as Norman in a commercial for Oatmeal Crisp & Oatmeal Raisin Crisp cereal. This along with Psycho IV would be the final time he portrayed the character.
  3. A three-part comic adaptation of Psycho was released in 1992. Although a colorized adaptation of the Hitchcock film, Norman did not look like Anthony Perkins due to the actor refusing his likeness to be used. Instead, Norman appears like he did in the novel: a middle-aged, overweight, balding man.
  4. Vince Vaughn portrays Norman in the 1998 shot-for-shot remake of Psycho.
  5. In 2016 a fourth Psycho book titled Robert Bloch's Psycho: Sanitarium was released and written by Chet Williamson. The book takes place after the events of the original Psycho novel (and before Psycho II) and explores Norman's stay at the asylum.

List of Norman Bates Victims

Book Series

  1. Norma Bates - poisoned by arsenic in Ice Tea.
  2. Joe Considine - poisoned by arsenic in Ice Tea.
  3. Mary Crane - decapitated with a butcher knife in the shower.
  4. Detective Milton Arbogast - stabbed to death with a razor.
  5. 1st Nun - strangled to death with rosary beads.
  6. 2nd Nun - hit in the head a tire iron.

Film Series

  1. Norma Bates - poisoned by arsenic in Ice Tea.
  2. Chet Rudolph - poisoned by arsenic in Ice Tea.
  3. Holly - stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.
  4. Gloria - strangled with a rope and drowned in a swamp.
  5. Marion Crane - stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in the shower.
  6. Detective Milton Arbogast - stabbed to death with a kitchen knife. 
  7. Emma Spool - hit over the head with a shovel.
  8. Maureen Coyle - head impaled. 
  9. Patsy Boyle - stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.
  10. Duane Duke - hit over the head and left to drown in the swamp. 
  11. Red - stabbed to death with a kitchen knife.

Quotes

Exploring the blackness of the subconscious man!
~ One of the original film's taglines.
[As Norman and Marion are having dinner] Norman: Where are you going? [Marion looks slightly shocked] I didn't mean to pry.
Marion: I'm looking for a private island.
Norman: What are you running away from? [Marion freezes, given the 40000 dollars she stole that morning]
Marion: Wh-why do you ask that?
Norman: I don't know... People never run away from anything.
~ Norman and Marion.
Norman: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.
Marion: Sometimes, we deliberately step into those traps.
Norman: I was born in mine. I don't mind it anymore.
Marion: Oh, but you should! You should mind it!
Norman: Oh, I do, [laughs] but I say I don't.
~ Norman and Marion on people's personal "traps".
Marion: You know, if anyone ever talked to me the way I heard — the way she spoke to you...
Norman: Sometimes — when she talks to me like that — I feel I'd like to go up there, and curse her, and-and-and leave her forever! Or at least defy her! But I know I can't. She's ill.
Marion: She sounded strong.
Norman: No, I mean... ill. She had to raise me all by herself after my father died. I was only five and it must have been quite a strain for her. She didn't have to go to work or anything like that. He left her a little money. Anyway, a few years ago, Mother met this man, and he talked her into building this motel. He could have talked her into anything. And when he died too, it was just too great a shock for her. And, and the way he died. I guess it's nothing to talk about while you're eating. Anyway, it was just too great a loss for her. She had nothing left.
Marion: Except you.
Norman: A son is a poor substitute for a lover.
Marion: Why don't you go away?
Norman: To a private island, like you?
Marion: No, not like me.
Norman: I couldn't do that. Who'd look after her? She'd be alone up there. The fire would go out. It'd be cold and damp like a grave. If you love someone, you don't do that to them - even if you hate them. You understand that I don't hate her. I hate what she's become. I hate the illness.
Marion: Wouldn't it be better if you put her... someplace?
Marion Crane: Wouldn't it be better if you put her... someplace?
Norman Bates: You mean an institution? A madhouse? People always call a madhouse "someplace", don't they? "Put her in someplace."
Marion Crane: I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to sound so uncaring.
Norman Bates: What do you know about caring? Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing, and the tears, and the cruel eyes studying you? My mother there? Oh, but she's harmless! She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds!
Marion Crane: I am sorry. I only felt... it seems she's hurting you. I meant well.
Norman Bates: People always mean well. They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest oh, so very delicately! Of course, I've suggested it myself. But I hate to even think about it. She needs me. It-it's not as if she were a maniac -- a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you.
Marion Crane: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough. Thank you.
Norman Bates: Thank you, Norman.
Marion Crane: Norman.
~ Norman and Marion regarding Norman's mother.
Arbogast: Let's say, for the sake of argument, she wanted you to gallantly protect her. You'd know you were being used. You wouldn't be made a fool of, would ya?
Norman: But I'm not a fool. And I'm not capable of being fooled, not even by a woman.
Arbogast: Well, this is not a slur on your manhood. I'm sorry...
Norman: Let's put it this way. She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother.
~ Norman to Arbogast about his mother's knowledge on Marion's whereabouts.
Norman Bates: Now mother, I'm going to uh, bring something up...
Mother: Haha... I am sorry, boy, but you do manage to look ludicrous when you give me orders.
Norman Bates: Please, mother.
Mother: No! I will not hide in the fruit cellar! Ha! You think I'm fruity, huh? I'm staying right here. This is my room and noone will drag me out of it, least of all my big, bold son!
Norman Bates: They'll come now, mother! He came after the girl and now someone will come after him. Please mother, it's just for a few days, just for a few days so they won't find you!
Mother: 'Just for a few days'? In that dark, dank fruit cellar? No! You hid me there once boy, and you'll not do it again, not ever again, now get out! I told you to get out, boy.
Norman Bates: I'll carry you, mother.
Mother: Norman! What do you think you're doing? Don't you touch me, don't! NORMAN! Put me down, put me down, I can walk on my own...
~ Norman has a conversation with himself and his Mother persona.
This place? This place happens to be my only world. I grew up in that house up there. I had a very happy childhood. My mother and I were more than happy!
~ Norman to Sam regarding the motel.
It's sad when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son, but I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls, and that man, as if I could do anything, except just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. Oh, they know I can't even move a finger and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet just in case they do... suspect me. [pause] They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly." [Norman Bates smiles evilly.]
~ Norman's voice-over at the end of the original film.

Trivia

  • Norman Bates was presumably based on the American murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein, though the author, Robert Bloch, stated that he'd started writing Psycho before becoming aware Gein, and was struck by "how closely the imaginary character I'd created resembled the real Ed Gein both in overt act and apparent motivation." Bloch inserted a line alluding to Gein into one of the final chapters after learning of Gein's initial crimes (before learning that Gein also had lived in isolation with a religiously fanatical mother and had been trying to make a "woman suit" to wear so he could pretend to be his dead mother).
    • Norman's usage of the alias "Ed" in the last Psycho film may be a nod to their similarities.
  • Psycho IV and The Godfather Part III came out in 1990. They were also the final films in their respective sagas.
  • Norman Bates' incestuous relationship with his mother is an exaggerated interpretation of the human Oedipus Complex. The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud coined the term to describe the theoretical psychosexual desires of a child, whom during his development desires his mother's love. Freud theorized that this could manifest in both male and female infants, with the female iteration being the Electra Complex.
  • Interestingly, the film Scream 3 would explore a similar concept depicted the original novel's sequel decades later, with a spree of killings occurring on a film set intended to emulate the environment of the original film's murders. The Scream series itself was, in part, inspired by Psycho, with references made to the films in dialogue.
  • Norman's pattern of killing those who arouse him is plausible in the psychological development of sociopaths. Real life murderers such as Andrei Chikatilo were known to enact extreme forms of violence in order to achieve full sexual gratification.
  • The character of Norman Bates and the Psycho mythos has been said to have inspired dozens of other horror films and is considered as the benchmark for slasher movies. The character name of Sam Loomis in Halloween was taken directly from Psycho, with the character of Billy Loomis in Scream being inspired by both characters of the same name, and even quotes Bates in the final act of the film.
  • When Norman kills Duane Duke in Psycho III, this is the only time that he is not seen acting up as "Mother."
  • Anthony Perkins was diagnosed with HIV during the filming of Psycho IV. That aside, the film's director, Mick Garris, described Perkins as one of the most difficult actors he has ever worked with.
  • It was rumored that the middle initial of Norman Bates is "F.", because of the coincidence that the license plate on the rear of Marion Crane's vehicle is titled "NFB 418".

Navigation

            Alfred Hitchcock Villains

Silent films

The Pleasure Garden | The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog | The Ring | Downhill | The Farmer's Wife | Easy Virtue | Champagne | The Manxman

British sound films

Blackmail | Juno and the Paycock | Murder! | Elstree Calling | The Skin Game | Mary | Rich and Strange | Number Seventeen | Waltzes from Vienna | The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) | The 39 Steps | Secret Agent | Sabotage | Young and Innocent | The Lady Vanishes | Jamaica Inn

Hollywood

Rebecca | Foreign Correspondent | Mr. & Mrs. Smith | Suspicion | Saboteur | Shadow of a Doubt | Lifeboat | Spellbound | Notorious | The Paradine Case | Rope | Under Capricorn | Stage Fright | Strangers on a Train | I Confess | Dial M for Murder | Rear Window To Catch a Thief | The Trouble with Harry | The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) | The Wrong Man | Vertigo | North by Northwest | Psycho | The Birds | Marine | Torn Curtain | Topaz | Frenzy | Family Plot

Television

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Original

Carol Arlington | Mrs. Johnson | Melinda Jensen | Iris Teleton | Sylvia Leeds Kent | Judy | Susan Harper | Marie Jensen | Wanda Ferlini | Mabel Wagner | Kate Devore | Margo | Irene Sadini

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Helen Clarvoe

Remake

Dr. Marion McGregor | Susan Forrester

            Slasher Villains

Slasher film - "a subgenre of horror films involving a killer murdering a group of people, usually by use of bladed tools. Although the term 'slasher' may occasionally be used informally as a generic term for any horror film involving murder, film analysts cite an established set of characteristics which set slasher films apart from other horror subgenres."

1940s
And Then There Were None

1960s
Berserk! | Blood and Black Lace | Blood Feast | Color Me Blood Red | Dementia 13
Devils of Darkness | Peeping Tom | Psycho | Terrified | The House That Screamed
Twisted Nerve | Violent Midnight

1970s
A Bay of Blood | A Dragonfly for Each Corpse | Alice Sweet Alice | Black Christmas
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll | Blood and Lace | Crucible of Terror | Death Line | Don't Open the Door!
Evil Come, Evil Go | Exposé | Eyeball | Eyes of Laura Mars | Fright | Frightmare | Giallo a Venezia | Halloween
Hands of the Ripper | Home for the Holidays | I Dismember Mama | Killer's Moon | Mardi Gras Massacre
Massacre at Central High | Massage Parlor Murders! | People Toys | Savage Water
Savage Weekend | Schizo | Scream Bloody Murder | Seven Blood-Stained Orchids
She's Dressed to Kill | Slaughter Hotel | Silent Night, Bloody Night | Sisters | Sisters of Death
Straw Dogs | The Comeback | The Driller Killer | The Flesh and Blood Show | The Gore Gore Girls
The House on Sorority Row | The Hills Have Eyes | The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio | The Last House On the Left
The Redeemer: Son of Satan | The Severed Arm | The Silent Scream
The Swinging Barmaids | Terror at Red Wolf Inn | The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Toolbox Murders | The Town That Dreaded Sundown | The Zodiac Killer
Three on a Meathook | Torso | Tourist Trap | Tower of Evil
When a Stranger Calls | Whiskey Mountain | Wicked, Wicked

1980s
555 | A Blade in the Dark | Absurd | Alone in the Dark | American Gothic
American Nightmare | Amsterdamned | A Nightmare on Elm Street | A Night to Dismember
April Fool's Day | Bad Dreams | Bloodbeat | Blood Cult | Blood Games | Blood Harvest
Blood Hook | Blood Link | Blood Rage | Blood Song | Blood Theatre | Bloody Birthday
Bloody Moon | Boardinghouse | Body Count | Body Double | Cheerleader Camp
Chopping Mall | Child's Play | Christmas Evil | Clownhouse | Cobra | Coda | Curtains
Cutting Class | Dangerous Game | Dark Night of the Scarecrow | Deadly Blessing
Deadly Intruder | Deadly Friend | Death Screams | Death Spa | Death Valley
Delusion | Destroyer | Dial Code Santa Claus | Disconnected | Don't Answer the Phone
Don't Go in the Woods | Don't Open Till Christmas | Doom Asylum | Dressed to Kill
Edge of Sanity | Edge of the Axe | Evil Dead Trap | Evil Laugh | Eyes of a Stranger | Faceless
Fade to Black | Fatal Games | Final Exam | Friday the 13th | Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning | Funeral Home | Ghostkeeper | Girls Nite Out
Graduation Day | Grave Robbers | Grotesque | Happy Birthday to Me | He Knows You're Alone
Hell High | Hell Night | Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night III | Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer | Hide and Go Shriek | Home Sweet Home
Hospital Massacre | Houseboat Horror | Humongous | Hunter's Blood | Iced | I, Madman
Innocent Prey | Intruder | Jack's Back | Just Before Dawn | Killer Party | Killer Workout
Killing Mr. Griffin | Las Vegas Bloodbath | Madhouse | Madman | Maniac | Maniac Cop | Midnight | Moonstalker
Mortuary | Mountaintop Motel Massacre | Murder By Phone | My Bloody Valentine
New Year's Evil | Next of Kin | Nightmare | Nightmare Beach | Nightmares
Night of the Demon | Night School | Night Screams | Offerings | Office Killer | Ogroff
Open House | Opera | Party Line | Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge | Pieces | Prom Night
Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil | Psycho Cop | Puppet Master | Return to Horror High
Roadgames | Rocktober Blood | Rush Week | Satan's Blade | Scalps | Schizoid | Scream
Shadows Run Black | Shocker | Silent Madness | Silent Scream | Silent Night, Deadly Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 | Silent Rage | Slaughter High | Slaughter house | Sleepaway Camp
Sorority House Massacre | Splatter University | Spookies | StageFright
Strange Behavior | Student Bodies | Superstition | Sweet Sixteen | Symphony of Evil
Terror and Black Lace | Terror at Tenkiller | Terror Night | Terror Train | The Boogeyman
The Burning | The Carpenter | The Dead Pit | The Dorm That Dripped Blood | The Fantasist
The Final Terror | The Forest | The Ghost Dance | The Hand | The Horror Show
The House on the Edge of the Park | The Incubus | The Initiation | The Last Horror Film
The Majorettes | The Mutilator | The Nail Gun Massacre | The Outing | The Prey | The Prowler
The Slumber Party Massacre | The Slumber Party Massacre 2 | The Stepfather
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 | The Undertaker | The Unseen | The Wind | The Zero Boys
Tightrope | To All a Goodnight | Too Scared to Scream | Trapped | Trick or Treats
Truth or Dare | Twisted Nightmare | Unhinged | Unmasked Part 25 | Violent Shit
Visiting Hours | White of the Eye | Whiteboard

1990s
303 Fear Faith Revenge | Bride of Chucky | Candyman | Cube | Dance Macabre
Deadly Manor | Deadly Sins | Dolly Dearest | Dr. Giggles | Happy Hell Night | Ice Cream Man
Idle Hands | I Know What You Did Last Summer | Intensive Care | I've Been Waiting For You
Jack Frost | Jack-O | Jennifer 8 | Leprechaun | Lovers Lane | Mindhunters | Misery | Nightbreed | Night of the Dribbler
Night of the Scarecrow | Popcorn | Santa Claws | Scream | Scream 2 | Se7en | Slumber Party Massacre 3
Sorority House Massacre 2 | Sorority House Massacre 3: Hard to Die | Star Time | Suspicions
The ABC Murders | The Catcher | The Chill Factor | The Clown at Midnight | The Dentist | The Bone Collector
The First Power | The Rain Killer | Uncle Sam | Urban Legend | When a Stranger Calls Back | Zipperface

2000s
100 Tears | All the Boys Love Mandy Lane | American Psycho | American Psycho 2
Amusement | Anatomy | Ángel Negro | A Perfect Getaway | April Fool's Day | Axe Grinder
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon | Black Christmas | Bleed
Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet | Bloody Murder | Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp
Boogeyman | Bruiser | Captivity | Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman | Cheerleader Massacre | Cherry Falls | Club Dread
Cold Prey | Cry_Wolf | Cruel World | Curtain: Poirot's Last Case | Cut | Cut-Throat | Dark Harvest
Dark Nature Dark Ride | Dead Tone | Death on Demand | Deep in the Woods | Do You Like Hitchcock
Do You Wanna Know a Secret? | Drive Thru | Drowning Ghost | FearDotCom | Final Destination | Final Stab
Friday the 13th | Gutterballs | Halloween | Halloween Night | Halloweenight | Harper's Island| Hatchet
Hide and Seek | High Lane | Hollow Man | Hollow Man 2 | House of Wax | I Am the Ripper | Identity
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer | I've Been Watching You | Jack O'Lantern | Jeepers Creepers | Jigsaw
Joy Ride | Junkyard Dog | Killer Movie | Killjoy | Laid to Rest | Lake Dead | Left for Dead | Malevolence
Memories of Murder| Midnight Movie | Mirrors | Miner's Massacre | Mr. Brooks | My Soul to Take | My Little Eye | My Super Psycho Sweet 16 | Nightmare
One Missed Call | Orphan | Otis | Penny Dreadful | Perfume | Prom Night | Red Velvet | Reeker
Ripper | Santa's Slay | Scary Movie | Scream 3 | S.D.D. | Secret Window | Seed | Seed of Chucky
See No Evil | Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th | Shrooms | Shutter | Simon Says
Sivi | Slash | Slasher | Slashers | Slaughter Disc | Smash Cut | Somebody Help Me
Someone's Knocking at the Door | Sorority Row | Shredder | Staunton Hill | Storm Warning
Suicide Circle | Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street | Taking Lives | Terror Tract
ThanksKilling | The Alphabet Killer | The Backlot Murders | The Collector | The Greenskeeper
The Grudge | The Hills Have Eyes | The Hills Run Red | The Last Horror Movie
The Last House in the Woods | The Midnight Meat Train | The Pool | The Poughkeepsie Tapes
The Pumpkin Karver | The Raven | The Ring | The Stepfather | The Strangers
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre | The Tooth Fairy | The Tripper | They | The Watcher | Toolbox Murders | Tormented
Trackman | Tuno Negro | Twisted | Untraceable | Urban Legends: Bloody Mary | Urban Legends: Final Cut | Vacancy
Valentine | Venom | When a Killer Calls | When A Stranger Calls | Wolf Creek | Wrestlemaniac | Wrong Turn

2010s
All Through the House | American Gothic | Aquaslash | ATM | Bastard | Becky | Beg | Bela Kiss: Prologue| Black Cat
Blood Junkie | Bloodline | Bloody Bloody Bible Camp | Bloody Crayons | Bloody Homecoming
Better Watch Out | Billy Club | Blood Runs Cold | Bunnyman | Charlie's Farm
Cheerleader Camp: To the Death | Child's Play | Click | Clinical | Community Service: The Movie
Crazy Bitches | Countdown | Dark Shade Creek | Dead Silence | Deadly Manners | Dementia 13 | Demons Never Die
Detention | Discopath | Don't Breathe | Don't Go in the Woods | Don't Hang Up | Dude Bro Party Massacre III
Famine | Fender Bender | Fish & Cat | Fright Flick | Girl House | Happy Death Day | Happy Death Day 2U
Harper's Island | Haunt | Hazard Jack | HazMat | Hell Fest | He's Out There | House at the End of the Street | Hush | It Follows | Jacob | Julia's Eyes | Kaalo
Keep Watching | Killer Waves Kill Game | Klown Camp Massacre | Kristy | L.A. Slasher | Lights Out | Lost After Dark | Maniac
Mirrors 2 | Mischief Night | Most Likely to Die | Murder Mystery | My Bloody Valentine 3D | Nine Dead | One Missed Call
Ouija | Open 24 Hours | Playing with Dolls | Polaroid | Pool Party Massacre | President's Day
Random Acts of Violence | Reaper | Red Christmas | Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark | Scream 4
Scream (MTV) Scream Queens | Shutter | Silent Night | Sinister | Slasher (TV) | Slender Man | Smiley | Some Kind of Hate | Sparrow
Stage Fright | Star Vehicle | Stitches | Tell Me How I Die | Terrifier | The ABC Murders | The Alienist | The Axe Murders of Villisca | The Babysitter
The Banana Splits Movie | The Boy | The Den | The Editor | The Final | The Final Girls | The Funhouse Massacre
The Gallows | The Girl in the Photographs | The Iceman | The Laughing Mask | The Last House On the Left
The Lurker | The Redwood Massacre | The River Murders | The Sleeper
The Town That Dreaded Sundown | The White Vault | The Windmill Massacre | Thriller | Trick | Truth or Dare (2017)
Truth or Dare (2018) | Unsane | Varsity Blood | Villains | Wreckage | You Might Be the Killer | You're Next

2020s
Freaky | Initiation | Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight | Scream | Skull: The Mask
Smiley Face Killers | The Invisible Man

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