|Portrayed by:||Vera Farmiga|
|First appearance:||First You Dream, Then You Die|
|Home:|| White Pine Bay, Oregon |
Akron, Ohio (childhood)
|Occupation:|| Motel owner|
|Relatives:|| Francine Calhoun (mother)†|
Dylan Massett (son)
Norman Bates (son)
Caleb Calhoun (brother)
|Significant Other/s:|| Sam Bates (second husband)† |
John Massett (first ex-husband)
Zack Shelby (ex-lover)
George Heldens (ex-lover)
Christine Heldens (ex-friend)
|“||We came here to start over, and I am starting over.||”|
Norma Louise Bates is the resilient, beautiful and mercurial mother of her eighteen-year-old son, Norman Bates. She is emotionally complex and, as a single mother, utterly devoted to her son. Norma constantly juggles her own needs and some serious baggage while also trying to create a new home in a new town for herself and Norman.
Norma had a horrible childhood experience because her father was abusive while her mother was always sedated. Norma was forced to be under the danger of her brother Caleb Calhoun. When she was 13 years old, Caleb would force Norma to have sex with him every single day. This would last until the day she left home with John Massett, whom she later married. John raised Norma's son Dylan Massett as his own, unaware that Caleb actually was Dylan's biological father.
About 17 years before the start of the series, Norma cheated on her then-husband, John Massett, with Sam Bates. She eventually left John to marry Sam, with whom she had Norman, and the Bates family lived in Arizona for years.
Because she replaced John with Sam, she never had a good relationship with her first son, Dylan, as apparently his last words to her before the start of the series were, "Drop dead, bitch".
After Norman found his father's body crushed under a shelf in their garage, the two remaining Bates moved to White Pine Bay. There, they planned to start a new life and run an old motel together. The former owner of the motel, Keith Summers, believed that the property was rightfully his, so he raped Norma in her house one night. Norman saved her, but she still killed Summers out of rage. The two covered up Summers' death the best they could, but were still suspected by the town's sheriff, Alex Romero. (First You Dream, Then You Die)
Dylan showed up at Norma's doorstep one day, saying that he has no other place to stay. She and Norman were visibly unhappy with Dylan's arrival, and he later blackmailed Norma so he could stay living there. (Nice Town You Picked, Norma...)
Zack Shelby, the town's Deputy, stole all evidence of Norma's crime, although Romero was convinced that she is guilty. Shelby revealed his actions to Norma, explaining that he loves her. Norma was warned by Norman that Deputy Shelby is a shady person, but Norma continued to trust him. (What's Wrong With Norman)
Norman told Norma that he broke into Shelby's house and found a slave locked in his basement, but Norma didn't believe him (she checked Shelby's basement and found no proof). Norman eventually freed the slave and proved it to Norma. (Ocean View)
She refused to turn Shelby in until Keith's belt, which Shelby had stolen in order to clear Norma's name, was retrieved. As a result, Norman and Dylan threw the belt into the bay. Shelby then found Jiao at the motel and turned against Norma, holding the Bates family at gunpoint. He struck her, causing Norman to attack him; Norma and Norman eventually got outside, while Dylan defeated Shelby in a gunfight. Norma then told Dylan how Sam died, as Romero shows up. He learned the full story, but didn't arrest the family. (The Truth)
A mysterious man, Jake Abernathy, tried to enter Room 9 of the motel, and Norma found him. She allowed him to be the motel's first guest as long as he didn't mind the renovation. She hired Norman's friend Emma Decody to work in the motel. (The Man In Number 9)
Norma bought Norman to a psychologist, who suggested that Norma has control issues over Norman, and that she should get herself an appointment. She was also upset to learn that Norman was learning taxidermy from Will Decody, Emma's father. Jake told Norma that he knew the full story of Keith and Shelby, so she kicked him out of the motel. Dylan later brought co-workers to stay at the motel, and Norma decided to take him to dinner to thank him. However, she was horrified to see that Jake has placed Shelby's corpse on her bed. (A Boy And His Dog)
Norma decided to leave White Pine Bay after receiving a threatening note in the mail. Norman made it clear that he wouldn't leave, but she reminded him that he had to as long as she wanted to. She bought a house in Hawaii (after searching for safe places online) for them to move into. However, her realtor told her that the motel won't go up for sale (meaning that she can't sell it and the family can't move). Norma hit the realtor with her purse and left the building angrily. Jake appeared in her car and told her that Shelby owed him money, and that if Norma didn't deliver Shelby's money to him at the docks on midnight the next night, he would kill her sons and her. (Underwater)
Norma told Romero about Jake's threat; he promised to "take care of it", which Norma was unsatisfied with. She asked Dylan to get her a gun and teach her how to use it. He refused at first, but eventually gave her one. During the lesson in target-shooting that he gave her, he called her "Mom" for the first time in years (although he had said it sarcastically before). She then told Norman about the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her brother Caleb Calhoun, and regretted telling him afterward. At midnight, she secretly went to the docks with the gun, and watched as Romero told Jake that he would allow Jake's illegal business to continue in White Pine Bay in exchange for 50% of the profits. Norma opened fire on Romero, who then shot four bullets into Jake (who then fell into the bay). As Romero left, he shouted that Norma was supposed to trust him. Norma drove home and nearly hit Norman in the driveway. She told him that everything was going to be fine from that point on, and they went inside. (Midnight)
Norma attended Blaire Watson's funeral, and learned that a bypass would be built in front of the motel (despite being told that it was a canceled project in Season 1). Norma appeared at a city council meeting and voiced her disapproval, but was ignored; she subsequently insulted numerous members of the council. She also began to fear that Norman killed Blaire, but reassured herself when Norman told her what he remembered from the night that Blaire died. (Gone but Not Forgotten)
While at the doctor Norma asked the doctor about what causes blackouts. She lied and said her sister has been having them to cover up for Norman. Later on she was at the library getting books researching blackouts. When she came home she looked for Norman and almost caught Bradley in the basement until Norman called her up just in time.
She asked for him to audition with her for a musical and then they both sang "Mr. Sandman" together. Norma auditioned and she and Norman have a fight where it ended with her breaking down in tears and mentioning that she found Blaire's pearl necklace in Norman's room. Norman reassured her that he didn't kill Blaire and they go back inside the theatre. (Shadow of a Doubt)
She went to the theatre to check if she got the part and found out she didn't. She then met Christine Heldens who told her she should have gotten the part but the casting director chose her friend instead. Christine offered to buy her a drink and she accepted, and they talked. When she came home she saw her brother Caleb Calhoun and kicked him out the house, telling Dylan not to let him back in (and not saying why she was so upset by seeing Caleb).
She later told Norman that she saw Caleb, and then assured him that she's fine and that she shouldn't have told him. She later got a call from Cristine who invited her to a garden party. She was socializing with people at the party when she met Cristine's brother George Heldens and later on agreed to take things slow with him. While waiting to go home she met Nick Ford who agreed with her about the bypass, she got his number so he can help her. At home Dylan tried to inform her that Caleb wasn't a bad guy. She then got angry and informed him that Caleb raped her. He got upset and thought she was lying which caused them to argue. Norman came in and started fighting Dylan, forcing Norma to reveal Caleb was Dylan's father. (Caleb)
She was invited to a restaurant by Christine. She didn't want to go and told Christine that she wasn't feeling well, but Christine made her go anyway. George and Peter were there, and Norma talked about the bypass and her fears about it. Peter (Christine's husband) upset Norma, and George drove her home. Norma then got into an argument with Dylan about his parentage, and Dylan accused her of using his birth to get away from Caleb. She broke down in tears and admitted to this. (Check-Out)
Norma met Nick at his boat, the Amnesia IV. He gave her an ally's business card. She went to his ally, who gave her a case file about an endangered species of gophers whose natural habitat would be destroyed by the bypass. She sent this case file to the city council. She also warned Norman to avoid his new friend Cody Brennan, who she saw as a bad influence on him. Romero came to stay at the motel, and Norma nursed a cut on his eye. He told her that Nick is in the drug business, and later that one of the council's members, who she specifically disliked, was dead. (The Escape Artist)
Norma stopped her business partnership with Nick. Christine convinced her that she should replace the late councilman (Lee Burman) on the council. George helped her achieve this goal, telling her to focus less on the city facts and more on herself, the "best part". Norma did a short interview with the mayor, and later found out that she was officially a member of the council. She then took Norman to get his driver's license, only for Emma to call her and inform her that Norman had experienced two blackouts recently. Worried, Norma prevented Norman from getting his license by revealing this fact (as it would be unsafe for him to black out while driving). Norma drove Norman home, and he made her pull over to let him out. He angrily told her that he was walking home, and she accepted this. (Plunge)
Romero took Norma to see Norman, informing her that Cody's father Jimmy Brennan was dead and that "Norman's saying it was an accident". Norma became very worried about Norman, and eventually tried to convince Cody not to tell the police about Norman's blackouts. Norman was later released, and asked Norma about his blackouts. She told him not to ask her again. (Presumed Innocent)
Norman began to act "distant" from Norma due to being upset over her refusing to tell him about the blackouts. Nick showed up at the motel and asked Norma to arrange a meeting between him and Dylan, so Norma visited Dylan at his office. Dylan told her to stay away from Nick. Norma told Nick that she couldn't find Dylan. Norma later went to George's house, but left after admitting that she wasn't "educated or nice or anything". At home, she argued with Norman about the blackouts, and he locked himself in his bedroom. Norma went to George's house. (Meltdown)
At home, Norma couldn't find Norman anywhere, and eventually received a phone call from Nick, revealing that he kidnapped Norman and would release him only if Norma convinced Dylan to kill Zane Morgan. Norma asked Dylan to do this; he was reluctant. Norma, under stress, later insulted George and kicked him out of her house. As he drove away, she tried to make up for it, but he left anyway. Romero revealed to her that he found evidence connecting Norman to the Blaire Watson case. Norma told him about the kidnapping, and he promised to find Norman. (The Box)
Norma was reunited with Norman after Dylan and Romero found and saved him. Determined to leave White Pine Bay, she bought three tickets for a plane ride to Canada (for herself, Norman, and Dylan). When she told Dylan that she bought him a ticket, he was pleasantly surprised, and they embraced. She later agreed to let Romero and his friend Declan Rogers do a test on Norman to determine whether or not he killed Blaire. Their conclusion was that Norman was innocent, because he saw a vision of Norma telling him that she did it. (The Immutable Truth)
Noticing how Norman had been sleeping in the same bed as Norma, Dylan told her that it wasn't right as Norman was 18-years old. When she decided to set some boundaries, he acted coolly towards her. She received news that her mother has died and initially she didn't show emotion but then softened. When she dropped Norman off at school, he refused to go in so she unbuckled his belt and forcefully pulled him out of the car. Norman ran home after hallucinating Miss Watson while in the school cafeteria so Norma decided to homeschool him. That evening Norma gave out to him when she caught him spying on new guest Annika Johnson through an open bathroom window. He later found her crying on her bed but she told him it was because of her mother. He got into the bed next to her. (A Death in the Family)
When Norma noticed that Annika had failed to return home the previous evening, she suspected Norman had something to do with it but he denied it. Emma later revealed that Norman was the last person with Annika as he offered to show her into town. She and Emma investigated Annika's vacant room and she found an invitation to the Arcanum Club. That evening she posed as Annika in order to gain access but was turned away when she didn't know the password. She snuck in over a wall and peered through a window, where she sees two men surrounded by naked women and realizes it's a gentlemen's club. Sheriff Romero catches her and she tells him about Annika's disappearance and that Norman was the last person to see her. He told her to go home and while driving home she saw the sign for the bypass and mowed it down with her car. (The Arcanum Club)
After a body was found in the marshes, Romero asked Norma to come to the morgue to identify the body. She confirmed that it wasn't Annika's. She decided to go to a business course at a local community college, but entered a psychology class instead, where she met teacher James Finnigan, who offered her his future assistance. When Norman became increasingly frustrated that she didn't trust him a hallucination of Norma told him to take a bath. He did so hoping to recall the events before Annika's disappearance. Norma saved him, then locked up the motel as Annika arrived and stumbled into her arms, having sustained a fatal gunshot wound. She gave Norma a USB drive and told her to use it for her and Norman before she succumbed to her injury. (Persuasion)
Norma was adamant to learn what was on the flash drive but it was password protected. She asked Dylan to help with the encryption, which led to Norman becoming paranoid about their secrecy. When he told her that he and Emma were going on a picnic she told him that he couldn't have sex with Emma due to her ailing condition. When Emma learned this she was furious. (Unbreak-Able)
While driving on the open road, she was forced off it into a field by Bob Paris' man, who told her she had something that belonged to Paris. Her car was sent away for repair. Dylan was contacted by the hospital and collected her, but was surprised when she didn't mention Caleb. She went to lunch with James Finnigan and he gave her his card, telling her to contact him any time she needed to talk. Dylan later told her that he had discovered what was on the flash drive and she went to Romero, asking if she could trust him. She agreed to meet with Bob Paris but struck a deal with him about the bypass in exchange for the flash drive. When she returned home, Dylan and Norman wanted to talk to her. Dylan admitted that Caleb was back in town, staying at his cabin and was truly sorry for what he did to her. Norma stormed upstairs, packed her suitcase and grabbed a gun. She ran out of the house, got in her car and told Dylan to take care of his brother, before driving off. (The Deal)
Driving on the open road with tears in her eyes, Norma received several texts and missed calls from Dylan, who told her that Norman was freaking out and he needed her to come home. Norma drove to Portland where she went into a boutique to purchase new clothes, acting rudely to a shop assistant. She also traded in her car for a newer model and booked a room at a motel. She had a recollection of being a child and hiding under the porch of her house while her parents fought and Caleb confronted her. She headed to a bar where she was chatted up by a young man and said she had run out on her wedding. They danced together and then went out to his truck, where he attempted to assault her before she spat in his face and escaped. She decided to phone James Finnigan to ask if she could visit him for a chat. When she arrived, he gave her some tea and toast and she soon told him about Norman and parts of her past. Realizing she may have said too much, she tried to leave but James grabbed her and brought her upstairs to his room. She tried to kiss him and he told her he could lose his job. She kissed him again and he didn't hold back. The following morning, he awoke to find her dressing and she said she had to go home and be a mother. When she returned home, she woke Dylan and Norman up and told them she was going to see Caleb. When they arrived at Dylan's cabin, Norma approached Caleb's van and turned to leave when she saw him, but he broke down in front of her, apologizing for how he treated her and she hugged him back and cried. (Norma Louise)
Norman accompanied Norma while she collected her cellphone. When they returned home, Norma found Romero waiting for her and he told her he needed the flash drive. She later collected him from outside a bar and brought him back to the motel, where she put him in bed in one of the rooms. James Finngan called to the house asking to meet Norman, so Norma brought him down to the basement and introduced them. Norman asked for them to be left alone so Norma went back upstairs. After Norman attacked James, James escaped and told Norma that Norman needed immediate help. Norma went down to the basement to comfort Norman. As she prepared dinner, Dylan told her about Norman making breakfast while dressed in her nightgown and said that he needed help. When she went outside for some herbs, she saw Caleb, who brought her some flowers. She invited him inside for dinner and asked Romero to join them as well. Later that night as she slept, Norman entered her room and caressed her thigh. (The Last Supper)
The following morning, Dylan told Norma that he would return to the farm to work on the barn, but still wanted to discuss Norman with her. Norma went into Norman's room to talk to him but he said he had to go down to the motel office to help Emma. They were interrupted by noise from outside and when they went to look, they saw construction workers digging. When Norma went outside to confront them, they told her they were installing the pool she requested. She was absolutely delighted when Romero arrived with her old car, which he bought back, and she kissed him before running up to the house to tell Norman. Norman later found Norma in her room and confessed that he may be sexually attracted to her, but Norma said that what he was feeling was completely normal for someone his age and they embraced each other. Romero confronted her about how her late husband Sam died, but she told him that he had died in an accident in their garage. Not believing her, he said goodbye and walked away. After trying to talk to James Finnigan, who had been badly beaten up by Bob Paris and his men, Norma confessed to Norman that she had told James about him killing his father and said that he was killing her as well, which infuriated Norman. (The Pit)
Norma decided to visit Bob Paris at home and said that she would hand over the flash drive. She pleaded with him not to say anything about Norman but he told her to talk to Romero. She went to the police station but Romero wasn't willing to hand over the flash drive and Norma said that she thought she could trust him. Norman returned home to find her in the basement clearing away his taxidermy and tools and questioned her. She told him she didn't want the investigation into his father's death to be re-opened and that it would look bad if his taxidermy tools were found lying about. He grabbed his knives and shouted at her, before she told him to go to his room and stay there.
That evening, when Romero returned home he found Norma in his ransacked house and she said that she didn't want Norman to be taken from her. Romero told her he had handed the flash drive over to the DEA and it led to a struggle between them in which Norma slapped him across the face and he pushed her up against the wall before she started crying. He attempted to get the truth again about Sam Bates' death but Norma stuck to her story that she had killed him with the blender in self defense. She told Romero not to touch her and left. She went home and started shoveling dirt into the pit before breaking down. Caleb arrived and told her about the time that Norman found him at the motel and in Norma's persona told him that he had raped her. He said that Norman would end up hurting someone and didn't want it to be her. (Crazy)
The following morning, when Dylan returned to the house he found a guitar on the coffee table and asked where it came from. Norma told him that Caleb had dropped it off and was leaving town. She also said that she had an appointment with a mental facilityso that Norman could get help, and checked in on a sleeping Norman before she left. While visiting, she asked the co-ordinator Vicki Monroe how often she could visit Norman and was told she could do so whenever she wanted. However, Norma was worried when she was informed that the full treatment would cost $20,000. After returning home, Norman greeted her and she asked if they could talk. She told him where she had been and that she was worried about him. He felt that she didn't care about him any more and stormed up to his room. While closing up the motel office that evening, Romero dropped by and attempted to make amends. Norma said that she didn't want Norman to be taken away from her. When she went upstairs to check on Norman, she saw that he was trying to conseal a suitcase under his bed. He refused to be committed to the mental facilty and told Norma he loved her, but that Bradley was waiting for him. They argued on the stairs and when Norma tried to pull the suitcase away from him, she tumbled down the stairs with it. Norman gathered his belongings but Norma managed to rouse and knocked him out with a doorstop. She dragged him down to the basement and tied his hands and legs up. Going back upstairs, she locked the door and phoned Dylan for help. When he arrived, she told him Norman was in the basement tied up but when they went to investigate, he had escaped via a small window. Norma said that he was talking nonsense about Bradley being alive and Dylan admitted that she had faked her death. (Unconscious)
- Keith Summers: Stabbed multiple times in the chest, in revenge for raping her. (in First You Dream, Then You Die)