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Villain Overview

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction—but there is no real me; only an entity, something illusory... and though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply... am not... there.
~ Patrick Bateman's infamous soliloquy.

Patrick Bateman is the titular main protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 controversial novel American Psycho and its film and stage adaptations. He is also a minor character in the novels The Rules of Attraction and Glamorama.

He is a businessman in the 1980s who lives in Manhattan, New York and works at Wall Street. The very image of a yuppie, he is obsessed with his health, cleanliness, appearance, money, and music collection; however, he has a darker side, as he is also a serial killer, rapist, cannibal, and necrophile. He is also the older brother of Sean Bateman.

In the 2000 film, he was portrayed by Christian Bale, who also played Walter Wade Jr. in Shaft, Trevor Reznik in The Machinist and Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder; in the West End musical adaptation, he was portrayed by Matt Smith, who also played Mr. Clever in Doctor Who, T-5000 in Terminator Genisys, Jack in Last Night in Soho, Milo Morbius in Morbius and Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon. In the 2015 New York musical, he was portrayed by Benjamin Walker. In the audiobook, he was voiced by Pablo Schreiber, who also played William Lewis in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Pornstache in Orange is the New Black.


Patrick Bateman was born on October 23th, 1962 in Long Island to wealthy parents, and lives in Manhattan's Upper West Side in an expensive and exclusive apartment; Tom Cruise is one of his neighbors. His father is long dead and his mother resides in a sanitarium, and his younger brother Sean Bateman (the anti-hero of Ellis' 1987 novel The Rules of Attraction) attends Camden College in New Hampshire.

Bateman is a stockbroker at Pierce & Pierce but does little actual work, instead spending his time going to trendy restaurants, bars, and clubs, using cocaine, and picking up prostitutes—many of whom end up being his victims. He usually hangs out with his coworkers at P&P but secretly hates most of them.

Bateman kills men and women, the latter for sadistic sexual pleasure and the former because they anger him and make him feel inferior. At one point in the novel, he kills a child just to see if he will enjoy it (he does not). His murders involve brutal and often complicated torture; at one point, he forcibly inserts a Habitrail into a woman's vaginal tract (which he loosened with acid) and lets an oversized rat loose in it so it will literally devour her from the inside out.

In the film[]

At one point, he met Paul Allen, who works at another firm. Mistaking Bateman as a coworker, Marcus Halberstram, Allen is lured into his apartment, where Bateman kills him with an axe because he was handling an account that Bateman wanted. He then disposes of the body, breaks into Allen's apartment, packs his clothes into a suitcase, and rerecords the answering machine's greeting to say that Allen has left for London. Later, he picks up two prostitutes, giving them his name as Paul Allen, brings them to his apartment, and has sex with both of them, while videotaping it. Just as they are about to leave, he opens a drawer full of sharp tools, takes out a coat-hanger, and growls "We're not finished yet." The prostitutes are bruised and bleeding by the time he lets them leave.

A few days later, he picks up one of the same two prostitutes, phones up a lady friend of his, and brings them to Paul Allen's apartment. He drugs their wine and gets them to make out. He then cuts up his friend with a chainsaw and sticks the body parts in the closet. He ends up chasing the prostitute out into the hallway and she makes it down the stairs ahead of him. Bateman drops the chainsaw over the edge, which hits and kills the prostitute.

Several nights later, Bateman is at the ATM when it flashes the message "FEED ME A STRAY CAT". He picks up a stray cat and pulls out his gun, but an old woman sees him and cries out. Bateman drops the cat and shoots down the old woman. Two police cars roll in with sirens blaring, and Bateman unloads his gun at them, causing the cars to explode. Bateman flees to his office, where he calls up his lawyer and leaves a message confessing everything.

Bateman awakes the next morning and is surprised that the cops are not looking for him. He goes to Allen's apartment, only to find that it is completely empty and up for sale. He goes to work and then goes for a drink with some coworkers. He meets his lawyer there, who compliments Bateman on his great "gag". When Bateman insists that he killed Paul Allen, his lawyer balks, saying that Allen had dinner with him in London recently. Bateman has an epiphany: that the punishment and notoriety he craves will forever elude him, and he is trapped in a meaningless existence—"THIS IS NOT AN EXIT".



Bateman meets his end in Lunar Park when a fictionalized version of Bret Easton Ellis writes his death as being burned alive on a boat due to feeling haunted by the character.


In the non-canon sequel to the movie American Psycho 2, Rachel Newman killed Bateman when she was 12 after he attacked and killed her babysitter.


I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.
~ Patrick Bateman.

Bateman spends much of the novel detailing the accouterments of his lifestyle, including expensive designer clothes and stereo equipment and his extensive workout and body beautification routines. He is vain, self-centered, materialistic, and shallow; he cares for nothing but his own gratification and, by his own admission, has no real personality beneath his attractive exterior. In the film, he claims that his only emotions are greed and disgust.

He is also virulently racist, sexist, classist, murderous, torturous, homophobic, and anti-Semitic, but feigns concern for equality and "traditional moral values" for the sake of his public image of modernity, or simply out of the misguided notion that this would render him more agreeable. It does not: his peers ridicule him behind his back, his equally shallow fiancé Evelyn is cheating on him, his own lawyer calls him a "bloody ass-kisser", and people outside of his social circle call him "yuppie trash".

A running theme throughout the story is that Bateman is, on the surface, virtually indistinguishable from his friends, to the point that they mistake him for someone else.

The only person in his life he has anything approaching feelings for is his secretary, Jean, who he knows is in love with him and who he passively accepts that he will probably marry one day. Even then, however, it is made clear that he sees her not as a person, but more as a beautiful object not to be destroyed. He also constantly neglects her feelings for him and talks down to her throughout the novel. Consequently, Jean is also the only person that Patrick shows visible restraint in killing, ushering her out of his apartment in fear of not being able to control himself and hurting her.

When Patrick was driven to insanity, he began to shake and seemingly feel remorse for his murder spree, which is soon shown to be little more than fear. Not fear for the damage he had seemingly caused, but fear that this time he'll be caught.

The only definitive and not negative trait Patrick seems to have for his personality is his affinity to music, as when he talks about it he is particularly engaged and knowledgeable about it as seen during his monologue just before he murders Paul Allen. He also attempts to converse with Jean about it, but when she actually indulges (something he didn't expect, hinting most people shut him down immediately) Patrick says "nevermind" and changes the subject.


In the film[]

You're a fucking ugly bi*ch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.
~ Patrick to a bartender girl.
Look at that subtle off-white coloring, the tasteful thickness of it. Oh my god, it even has a watermark.
~ Patrick reacts to Paul Allen's business card.
I like to dissect girls. Did you know I'm utterly insane?
~ Patrick to Paul Allen.
Patrick: You like Huey Lewis and the News?
Paul: Yeah... they're okay.
Patrick: Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste, but when Sports came out in '83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.
Paul: Hey, Halberstam?
Patrick: Yes, Allen?
Paul: Why are there copies of the Style section all over the place? Do you have a dog? A chow or something?
Patrick: No, Allen.
Paul: Is that a raincoat?
Patrick: Yes it is! In '87, Huey released this,
Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is "Hip to Be Square", a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends; it's also a personal statement about the band itself! Hey Paul! [Paul turns around and gets cleaved with an axe by Patrick] TRY GETTING A RESERVATION AT DORSIA NOW, YOU F-CKING STUPID BASTARD! YOU F-CKING BASTARD!
~ Patrick monologuing about Huey Lewis and brutally murdering Paul Allen.
Evelyn: You're inhuman!
Patrick: No, I'm in-I'm in touch with humanity.
~ Patrick and his fiancé arguing.
I have to return some videotapes.
~ Patrick Bateman's famous catchphrase, and his default excuse for leaving an undesirable confrontation.
Howard, it's Bateman, Patrick Bateman. You're my lawyer so I think you should know: I've killed a lot of people. Some girls in the apartment uptown uh, some homeless people maybe 5 or 10 um an NYU girl I met in Central Park. I left her in a parking lot behind some donut shop. I killed Bethany, my old girlfriend, with a nail gun, and some man uh some old fa**ot with a dog last week. I killed another girl with a chainsaw, I had to, she almost got away and uh someone else there I can't remember maybe a model, but she's dead too. And Paul Allen. I killed Paul Allen with an axe in the face, his body is dissolving in a bathtub in Hell's Kitchen. I don't want to leave anything out here. I guess I've killed maybe 20 people, maybe 40. I have tapes of a lot of it, uh some of the girls have seen the tapes. I even, um... I ate some of their brains, and I tried to cook a little. Tonight I, uh, I JUST HAD TO KILL A LOT OF PEOPLE! …And I'm not sure I'm gonna get away with it this time. I guess I'll uh, I mean, ah, I guess I'm a pretty uh, I mean I guess I'm a pretty sick guy. So, if you get back tomorrow, I may show up at Harry's Bar, so you know, keep your eyes open.
~ Patrick confessing to his lawyer on the phone.
Why isn't it possible?
~ Patrick Bateman asking his lawyer why he couldn't have killed Allen.
There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this, there is no catharsis; my punishment continues to elude me, and I gain no deeper knowledge of myself. No new knowledge can be extracted from my telling. This confession has meant nothing.
~ Patrick realizes that he is trapped in his own personal hell.

In the book[]

I stare into a thin, web-like crack above the urinal's handle and think to myself that if I were to disappear into that crack, say somehow miniaturize and slip into it, the odds are good that no one would notice I was gone. No... one... would... care. In fact some, if they noticed my absence, might feel an odd, indefinable sense of relief. This is true: the world is better off with some people gone. Our lives are not all interconnected. That theory is crock. Some people truly do not need to be here.
~ Patrick Bateman begins to dissociate in the bathroom.
I had all the characteristics of a human being—flesh, blood, skin, hair—but my depersonalization was so intense, had gone so deep, that my normal ability to feel compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning.
~ Patrick Bateman casually describes his mental deterioration.
Though I am satisfied at first by my actions, I'm suddenly jolted with a mournful despair at how useless, how extraordinarily painless, it is to take a child's life. This thing before me, small and twisted and bloody, has no real history, no worthwhile past, nothing is really lost. It's so much worse (and more pleasurable) taking the life of someone who has hit his or her prime, who has the beginnings of a full history, a spouse, a network of friends, a career, whose death will upset far more people whose capacity for grief is limitless than a child's would, perhaps ruin many more lives than just the meaningless, puny death of this boy. I'm automatically seized with an almost overwhelming desire to knife the boy's mother too, who is in hysterics, but all I can do is slap her face harshly and shout for her to calm down.
~ Patrick Bateman's thoughts while murdering a small child in front of his grieving mother.
Where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to take it in. It was a vision so clear and real and vital to me that in its purity it was almost abstract. This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the tangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one’s own taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person’s love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term “generosity of spirit” applied to nothing, was a cliche, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire- meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface, was all that anyone found meaning in…this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged…
~ Patrick Bateman's nihilistic world view.
There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me, only an entity, something illusory, and though I can hide my cold gaze and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable: I simply am not there. It is hard for me to make sense on any given level. Myself is fabricated, an aberration. I am a noncontingent human being. My personality is sketchy and unformed, my heartlessness goes deep and is persistent. My conscience, my pity, my hopes disappeared a long time ago (probably at Harvard) if they ever did exist. There are no more barriers to cross. All I have in common with the uncontrollable and the insane, the vicious and the evil, all the mayhem I have caused and my utter indifference toward it, I have now surpassed. I still, though, hold on to one single bleak truth: no one is safe, nothing is redeemed. Yet I am blameless. Each model of human behavior must be assumed to have some validity. Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do? My pain is constant and sharp and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others. I want no one to escape. But even after admitting this—and I have countless times, in just about every act I’ve committed—and coming face-to-face with these truths, there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing….
~ Patrick Bateman talks about “the idea of Patrick Bateman".


  • According to Bret Easton Ellis, he himself was a disgruntled, socially alienated consumerist not too unlike Bateman and had been enveloped in such a lifestyle to the extent that it was the source of his inspiration and knowledge of yuppie culture while writing the novel, thus making leeway for the work and its commentary to be all the more scathing. Fittingly, he was also the same age as the character in the process of writing it.

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