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Norman Bates
Norman Bates.jpg
Norman Bates
Aliases: Mrs. Bates
Continuity: Psycho
Type: Serial killer
Gender: Male
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Known relatives: Norma Bates (mother)
Status: Status unknown
Born: 1932 (Original) [1]
1970 (Remake) [2]
1996 (TV series)
Introduction: Psycho (1960)
Actor: Anthony Perkins [3]
Henry Thomas [4]
Kurt Paul [5]
Vince Vaughn[6]
Freddie Highmore [7]
Luke Roessler [8]

Norman Bates is a fictional serial killer and the primary antagonist of the Psycho film series. He was first created by author Robert Bloch and was featured in his 1959 novel Psycho. The character was largely inspired by real-life Wisconsin cannibal serial killer Ed Gein. In the film series, the role of Norman Bates was first brought to life by actor Anthony Perkins. The first Psycho movie was directed by noted crime noir and suspense thriller director Alfred Hitchcock. A young Norman Bates was also featured in the 1990 television movie Psycho IV: The Beginning where he was played by former E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial star Henry Thomas. A non-canon version of Bates appeared in the 1987 television movie Bates Motel where he was played by actor/stuntman Kurt Paul. Paul is also known for being Anthony Perkins' stunt double in Psycho II and Psycho III. In 1998, director Gus Van Sant remade Hitchcock's Psycho casting actor Vince Vaughn in the role of Norman Bates. In 2013, more than fifty years after the release of Bloch's novel, the character of Norman Bates was re-imagined for the A&E television series Bates Motel. The series examined the teenage life of Norman Bates with foreshadowing of his eventual psychological deterioriation. This version of the character was played by British former child actor Freddie Highmore.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Psycho film series[edit | edit source]

Bates Motel (1987)[edit | edit source]

The 1987 television movie Bates Motel addresses Norman Bates only briefly. The film reveals that Norman Bates was remanded to the care of Dunsmore Sanitarium in Fairvale, California and was never released. He eventually died there and bequeathed all of his personal assets to a young patient that he had befriended and mentored named Alex West. This information is contradicted in the 1990 television movie Psycho IV: The Beginning, which shows that Bates is still alive and free from the hospital and married to a nurse named Connie with a child on the way. The 1987 movie also identifies his parents as Gloria and Jake Bates. In the TV series, their names are Norma and Sam Bates.

Bates Motel (TV Series)[edit | edit source]

Norman Bates
Norman Bates - Bates Motel.jpg
Norman Bates
Continuity: Bates Motel
Type: Student
Gender: Male
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
White Pine Bay, Oregon
Born: 1996
Introduction: "First You Dream, Then You Die"
Actor: Freddie Highmore
Beckham Skodje [9]

Norman Bates is a fictional student featured in the 2013 A&E television series Bates Motel where he is played by British former child actor Freddie Highmore. The character is based on the fictional serial killer of the same name who gained cinematic immortality in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho where he was first played by actor Anthony Perkins. Another television interpretation of Norman Bates was briefly seen in a flashback sequence in the 1987 telemovie pilot Bates Motel, where he was played by actor Kurt Paul. Freddie Highmore's iteration of the character takes Norman Bates back to his teenage years before he became a psychopathic murderer and takes the viewer along his personal journey of youthful instability and psychological deterioration.

Norman Bates was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1996 to Norma Louise Bates and her husband Sam Bates. He had an older half-brother named Dylan who was several years his senior. From a young age Norman suffered from indeterminate blackouts, the origins of which remain a mystery. To his conscious mind, Norman was largely unaware of the abuse his mother suffered at the hands of his unpredictable father.

In early 2013, Norman witnessed his father attacking Norma and flew into a rage. His mind went blank and he defended his mother by murdering his father. When he snapped out of it, Norman had no memory of what had happened. Norma covered up the murder by staging Sam's body in the garage and knocking over a step-ladder and several cans of paint, making it appear as if he had an accident. She allowed Norman to "find" his body in the garage, thus providing them both with an alibi. [10][11]

Emotionally, Norman was devastated. His mother decided that they both needed a brand new start, so she sold their house and invested their money into the purchase of a motel and accompanying residence in the coastal town of White Pine Bay, Oregon.

Norman enrolled in the nearby high school and almost immediately began attracting the attention of members of the female persuasion. He befriended a teenager named Emma Decody, who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis and grew enamored with an attractive blonde-haired girl named Bradley Martin. Even Norman's teacher, Miss Watson, seemed oddly affectionate towards him.

Life in White Pine Bay was not going to be easy for either Norman or his mother. The former owner of the newly acquired Bates Motel, Keith Summers, was bitter over losing the motel to the bank. A criminal and a drunk, Keith attempted to satisfy his anger by breaking into the main house and raping Norma. Unfortunately, Norman had sneaked out of the house to be with Bradley and was not present to defend his mother. Norma fought against Keith, ultimately killing him. After chastising Norman for not being there for her, she had him help her dispose of the body. First they left in the bathtub of one of the motel rooms and later moved it out to sea. [12]

The disappearance of Keith Summers garnered the attention of the town's sheriff, Alex Romero. Norman had kept the utility belt that Keith Summers had been wearing as some macabre souvenir, but neglected to inform his mother of this. Matters grew even more complicated when Norman's half-brother Dylan made a sudden appearance on the doorstep of the motel. Dylan carried a lifelong enmity towards his mother for abandoning him as a child, and only referred to her as Norma. When Norman found that Dylan's cell phone ID for his mother was "The Whore", he flew into another blind rage and tried to bludgeon Dylan with a meat tenderizer. Dylan calmed him down, but was disturbed to find that Norman had no memory of attacking him. He began to see that Norman suffered from deep-rooted psychological issues. [13]

The mystery behind the Keith Summers debacle grew even more intense when Norman found a sketchbook in one of the rooms. The book included hand-drawn illustrations of women in various states of bondage. He showed the sketchbook to Emma, who promised to look into it for him. Working together, they deduced that the illustrations were depicting scenes of actual violence that took place at the Bates Motel. After searching for clues in a mountain cabin, Norman and Emma followed the trail back to the home of Deputy Zack Shelby. Inside, Norman discovered a woman chained up in the basement and helped set her free. [14]

It was at this time, that Norman made a serious connection with Bradley Martin. Having only recently lost her father in an auto accident, she was feeling particularly vulnerable and enjoyed the safe atmosphere that she felt whenever she was around Norman. The two ended up sleeping together, but later Bradley told him that it was all a mistake and that he should just forget that it ever happened.

While all of this had been going on, Norma Bates had been cozying up to Zack Shelby, believing that he would help her erase any evidence of her involvement in the Keith Summers murder. Zack pretended to take on the role of an older brother figure to Norman, but Norman knew what Shelby was guilty of. He tried warning his mother against him, but Norma felt that he was making up stories about women locked in cellars. She revealed to him the fact that he sometimes had blackouts and that he could not always trust the things that he supposedly sees. [15]

Without warning, Sheriff Romero showed up at their home and arrested Norma Bates for the murder of Keith Summers. She was released soon after, but this convinced Dylan that Norman would be better off living with him. His efforts to separate Norman from their mother only served to drive a larger wedge between the already fractured relationship that Dylan and Norma shared. [16]

The circumstances surrounding Deputy Shelby came to a head and after being released from jail, Norma learned the truth about him. Norman and Emma had rescued the enslaved Asian girl and brought her back to the Bates Motel, forcing Norma to realize that Norman had been telling her the truth all along. Turning on them all, Deputy Shelby tried to erase all witnesses to his actions, but Dylan shot him in the eye with a handgun. When Sheriff Romero responded to the scene, he decided to cover up the affair to make it appear as if he were the one who shot Shelby, not Dylan. [17]

A short time later, Norman found a mangy old dog living underneath the house. He wanted to keep it, but Norma wouldn't allow it. He continued to feed it in secret however and named it Juno. Unfortunately, the dog was killed by an oncoming vehicle while crossing the street, breaking Norman's heart. [18]

Norman brought Juno's remains to Emma's father, Will, who was a taxidermist. Will agreed to stuff Juno upon Norman's request and offered him the chance to work with him as an apprentice. Norman took to the opportunity with some measure of zeal, but Norma greatly disapproved of his choice, fearing that he might be labeled a "freak" by his peers. [19]

Norman's girl troubles seemed to grow more intense at the this time as well. Emma had begun to fall for Norman though he hardly even noticed her beyond that of being a close friend. She told several classmates that Norman had slept with Bradley, which eventually got back to Bradley who admonished Norman for telling anyone else. Norman in turn, chastised Emma for airing out his private business. Emma felt ashamed for what she said, but was still determined to make Norman see her in a romantic light. She coaxed him into asking her to the Winter Formal dance, but when they arrived there, he could not keep his eyes off of Bradley. This ultimately resulted in Norman being punched in the nose by Bradley's boyfriend.

Distressed, Norman began walking home in the rain. His teacher, Miss Watson, picked him up and offered to bring him back to her place where she would clean him up. While at her home, Norman began hallucinating, seeing visions of his mother warning him that Miss Watson was trying to seduce him. Norman blacked out and when he came to, he was back at the motel. He had no idea that his teacher was lying dead on the floor of her home. [20]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

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