- This article is about the film version of the character. For the Bates Motel version, see Mr. Bates (Bates Motel).
According to research conducted by Tracy Venable, as youths, both Norma and Emma Spool were in love with Bates. However, he decided to marry Norma, which caused mentally-unstable Emma to murder Bates and kidnap his and Norma's infant son, Norman, believing him to be the son Bates and Emma should have had. Norman was returned and Emma was institutionalized.
According to Norman, Bates died from being stung to death by bees when Norman was six years old. The stings disfigured him so much that his face was covered by a silk handkerchief at his funeral.
When Norman decides to poison his mother in Psycho IV, he pulls out a bottle of strychnine. The name "John Bates" appears on the label, indicating that his father had purchased the poison at some point.
Behind the scenes
In the original novel, Norman's father is not said to have died. Instead, it is stated that he abandoned his family when Norman was an infant.
There are two different accounts for the means of Bates' death. In Psycho III, it is stated that Emma Spool murdered him, while Psycho IV: The Beginning states he died from bee stings, which instigated a fatal allergic reaction.