Norman Bates first appeared in the 1959 novel called Psycho by Robert Bloch. Just a year later, Alfred Hitchcock would adapt the book as a horror film starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Perkins would return for three Psycho sequels from 1983 to 1990, before passing away in 1992. After a forgettable TV movie called Bates Motel released in 1987, followed by an even more forgettable remake of Psycho in 1998, Norman would return once again for the TV prequel, Bates Motel.
A&E’s hit show would run from 2013 to 2017 starring Freddie Highmore as the iconic killer. The series would end after five seasons, but not before telling the haunting tale of Norman Bates’ early years. Now that all of the episodes have been out for a few years, IMDb has given the show a total of 8.2 out of 10. Here are the 5 Best And Worst Episodes Of Bates Motel (According To IMDb).
10 Best: “Forever” - 9.5
Season 4 Episode 9 of Bates Motel continues to show Alex Romero trying to get Norman back into Pineview. Romero tries numerous times to convince Norma that she isn’t thinking clearly, but that only makes her more upset since she thinks she knows what is best for her son. Seeing that she isn’t going to get through to her, Romero meets with Dylan behind Norma’s back to try to get Norman committed, as Pineview only needs two signatures from family members.
The episode finally shows Norman getting what he wants as Norma breaks it off with Romero to focus more on her son. The episode ends with Norman trying to commit a murder/suicide by lighting the broken furnace in their basement and then laying in bed with his mother. Romero tries to save them, but Norman is the only one to survive the ordeal.
9 Worst: “Nice Town You Picked, Norma…” - 8.0
Like many TV shows, Bates Motel got better as the series went on. The majority of the worst-rated episodes come from Season 1, starting with the second episode in the series called “Nice Town You Picked, Norma…” This episode introduces Norman’s half-brother/cousin named Dylan. Dylan shows up needing a place to stay, which Norma begrudgingly agrees to.
This episode also begins the bond between Emma and Norman as they are grouped together and a school project and accidentally stumble upon a marijuana field together. This episode has one of the earliest showcases of Norman's violent tendencies, as he tries to kill Dylan after he insults Norma.
8 Best: “Marion” -9.4
Bates Motel was always a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho, but Bates Motel told its own story about the character Marion Crane. In this episode, Marion (played by Rihanna) checks into the Bates Motel. A lot of the events leading up to the famous shower scene are very similar to Hitchcock’s film, but Marion actually isn’t killed by Norman. Instead, when Norman begins to feel the urge to kill Marion, he hurries her out of the motel.
The big twist of the episode is that Norman ends up killing Sam Loomis the same way Norman killed Marion back in 1960. It was an ingenious way to end the episode by paying homage to the original, but also not doing a shot for shot remake.
7 Worst: “Unbreak-Able”- 8.1
Tensions are high in Season 3's fourth chapter. “Unbreak-Able” focuses on the aftermath of Annika’s death as Norman wonders if he killed her, while Norma tries to decode the flash drive she received before Annika died. Romero also tries to figure out how Bob Paris is connected to two deaths in White Pine Bay.
Norman and Emma start to get intimate in an abandoned cabin, but when Norman mentions his mother, Emma is justifiably upset and storms off. The episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as Norman discovers that Caleb has been living with Dylan. Norman thinks Dylan has betrayed their mother and after a scuffle with his brother, he drives off to tell Norma of Dylan’s deceit.
6 Best: “Norman” - 9.3
Like most season finales of Bates Motel, Season 4's conclusion leaves little to no room for disappointment. This episode deals with the aftermath of Norma’s death, heavily focusing on Norman and Romero. Norman plans funeral arrangements by himself and when they allow him to see Norma in their parlor, Norma’s eyes open for just a brief moment.
Norman, not being able to cope with his mother’s death, digs her up, brings her home, and super glues her eyelids open. The finale also sees Romero getting arrested for perjury, so he is unable to get his revenge on Norman. The episode ends when Norman is about to kill himself, only to hear his mother playing on the piano.
5 Worst: “Underwater”- 8.1
Appropriately titled, Season 1's ninth episode begins with Norman dreaming about drowning Bradley. Norma tries to sell the motel but a realtor tells her the motel won’t sell since a highway bypass is being built that will make people avoid the road to her property.
Norman’s teacher, Blaire Watson, continues to support Norman with his writing and even goes as far as to publish his short story without getting Norma’s permission. As if Norma’s life wasn’t already in a tough spot, Jake threatens to kill Dylan and Norman if she can’t come up with $150,000 that Zack Shelby owed him from the Chinese sex slave trade.
4 Best: “The Cord”- 9.3
Many TV shows can’t quite stick the landing when it comes to series finales, but thankfully Bates Motel had no problems when it came to ending Norman Bates’ storyline. The episode begins with Regina driving Norman and Romero to the site of Norma’s corpse in the woods. After an altercation with Romero, Norman kills him and then takes Norma’s body back home. After getting stuck in the memory of moving to White Pine Bay, Norman calls Dylan to tell him the news of them moving from Arizona and invites him over for dinner.
Dylan urges Norman that he needs to get help after he sees his dead mother’s body propped up at the dinner table. Dylan then shoots Norman in self-defense, thus ending Norman’s killing spree. The series ends with shots of Dylan, Emma, and their daughter happily walking down a Seattle street, the motel being sold to another family, and finally, a shot of Norma and Norman’s tombstones.
3 Worst: “The Man In Number 9”- 8.1
“The Man in Number 9” picks up directly where the last episode left off. Romero arrives and changes the story of the incident with Shelby in order to protect Dylan. After Emma comes to visit Norman, Norma takes Emma on a drive where she finds out about Norman’s attraction to Bradley.
Oddly bothered by it, Norma decides to spy on Bradley through Emma before offering her a job at the motel. This episode introduces Jake Abernathy as the mysterious man in room 9, who would quickly prove to be a huge problem for the Bates’ since they killed Keith Summers and Zack Shelby.
2 Best: “Norma Louise”- 9.2
With the support of Norman, Dylan finally confesses to Norma that Caleb has been staying with him at the farm. Absolutely furious, Norma packs a bag and storms out of the house. She then buys new clothes, trades in her car, and tries to hook up with somebody at a bar.
This entire time, Norman is extremely worried about his mother; at one point, even blacks out and starts acting as if he is Norma. This episode marks the first time that Dylan sees Norman wearing Norma's clothes, while also showing Dylan and Emma’s romantic relationship begin to blossom.
1 Worst: “First You Dream, Then You Die”- 8.2
While the series finale is among the best episodes of Bates Motel, the very first episode of the season is among the show’s worst. The show begins with Norman finding his dead father, which - later in the series - we find out was his doing. Norma and Norman move to White Pine Bay, where Norma surprises her son with a Motel that she bought as a fresh start.
Things spiral out of control quickly as Norma is assaulted by a man whose family previously owned the property. After Norma kills him, she asks Norman to help clean up the mess and they later dump Keith’s body in a lake. While it is among the worst episodes of the show, it still started off the series with a lot of shocking moments and did its best to introduce most of the main characters.