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Norma Bates

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Norma Bates
Norma s3 pic, III
Portrayed by: Vera Farmiga
First appearance: First You Dream, Then You Die
Born: 1974
Age: 39
Status: Alive
Home: White Pine Bay, Oregon
Arizona (former)
Akron, Ohio (childhood)
Occupation: Motel owner
Relatives: Francine Calhoun (mother, deceased)
Dylan Massett (son)
Norman Bates (son)
Caleb Calhoun (brother)
Significant Other/s: Sam Bates (late husband)
John Massett (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 to Norman, First You Dream, Then You Die

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". 

Season 1

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. (?)

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. (?)

She refuses to turn Shelby in until Keith's belt, which Shelby had stolen in order to clear Norma's name, is retrieved. As a result, Norman and Dylan throw the belt into the bay. Shelby then finds Jiao at the motel and turns against Norma, holding the Bates family at gunpoint. He strikes her, causing Norman to attack him; Norma and Norman eventually get outside, while Dylan defeats Shelby in a gunfight. Norma then tells Dylan how Sam died, as Romero shows up. He learns the full story, but doesn't arrest the family. (The Truth)

A mysterious man, Jake Abernathy, tries to enter Room 9 of the motel, and Norma finds him. She allows him to be the motel's first guest as long as he doesn't mind the renovation. She hires Norman's friend Emma Decody to work in the motel. (The Man In Number 9)

Norma brings Norman to a psychologist, who suggests that Norma has control issues over Norman, and that she should get herself an appointment. She is also upset to learn that Norman is learning taxidermy from Will Decody, Emma's father. Jake tells Norma that he knows the full story of Keith and Shelby, so she kicks him out of the motel. Dylan later brings co-workers to stay at the motel, and Norma decides to take him to dinner to thank him. However, she is 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)

Season 2

Norma attends Blaire Watson's funeral, and learns that a bypass will be built in front of the motel (despite being told that it was a canceled project in Season 1). Norma appears at a city council meeting and voices her disapproval, but is ignored; she subsequently insults numerous members of the council. She also begins to fear that Norman killed Blaire, but reassures herself when Norman tells her what he remembers from the night that Blair died. (Gone but Not Forgotten)

While at the doctor Norma asks the doctor about what causes blackouts. She lies and says her sister has been having them to cover up for Norman. Later on she's seen at the library getting books researching blackouts. When she comes home she looks for Norman and almost catches Bradley in the basement until Norman calls her up just in time.

She asks for him to audition with her for a musical and then they both sing "Mr. Sandman" together. Norma auditions and her and Norman have a fight where it ends with her breaking down in tears and mentioning that she found Blaire's pearl necklace in Norman's room. Norman reassures her that he didn't kill Blaire and  they go back inside the theatre. (Shadow of a Doubt)

She goes to the theatre to check if she got the part and finds out she didn't. She then meets Christine Heldens who tells her she should have gotten the part but the casting director chose her friend instead. Christine offers to buy her a drink and she accepts, and they talk. When she comes home she sees her brother Caleb Calhoun and kicks 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 tells Norman that she saw Caleb, and then assures him that she's fine and that she shouldn't have told him. She later gets a call from Cristine who invites her to a garden party. She is socializing with people at the party when she meets Cristine's brother George Heldens and later on agrees to take things slow with him. While waiting to go home she meets Nick Ford who agrees with her about the bypass, she gets his number so he can help her. At home Dylan tries to inform her that Caleb isn't a bad guy. She then gets angry and informs him that Caleb raped her. He gets upset and think she's lying which causes them to argue. Norman comes in and starts fighting Dylan, forcing Norma to reveal Caleb is Dylan's father. (Caleb)

She was invited to a resturant 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)



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