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The prequel show to the classic Psycho, Bates Motel has been immensely well-received by fans for its exceptional portrayal of the iconic Norman Bates in his youth. We have made a list of brilliant shows like Bates Motel that you can check out.
The American psychological horror show Bates Motel aired in 2013 and ran for 5 seasons. When I first watched Alfred Hitchcock’s thrilling Psycho, I was so intrigued by this psychopathic serial killer and I wondered why he was the way he was and Bates Motel answers that question. After the death of her husband, Norma Bates buys a motel in the town of White Pine Pay to give herself and her son Norman a new life.
Bates Motel is without a doubt a captivating, thrilling, suspenseful and beautifully written story. The acting performances by Vera Farmiga and Freddie are phenomenal, to say the least! Bates Motel’s perfect mystery built up and excellent climax are worth every praise they receive. This is easily one of our favourite shows of all time.
List of TV Shows Like Bates Motel
- The Haunting of Hill House
- Breaking Bad
- Penny Dreadful
- Sharp Objects
- The Sinner
1. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
IMDB ratings: 8.6/10
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Kate Seigel and Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Creator: Mike Flanagan
The Haunting of Hill House is my top choice for shows like Bates Motel for one main reason, this is a terrifying dysfunctional family horror classic. The show was adapted from the long-admired horror novel by Shirley Jackson of the same name. Flashing between the past and the present, The Haunting of Hill House’s tragic family confront their haunting memories, traumatic events and worst fears that are attached to the gothic and paranormal old Hill House.
The Haunting of Hill House isn’t a jumpscare-driven horror, the show slowly builds up a still, lonely and inescapable dread for us and the characters living in the creepy House. The Haunting of Hill House is not amongst the scariest shows but the performances are nerve-wracking and excellent in my opinion. You should surely check out The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix if you are looking for shows like Bates Motel.
2. Fargo (2014)
IMDB ratings: 8.9/10
Cast: Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Allison Tolman
Creator: Noah Hawley
Bates Motel and Fargo have an essential thing in common, they are both based on iconic American films. Fargo is inspired by the Coen Brothers’ 1996 Academy award-winning film with the same title. Fargo is a dark comedy crime show, set in the movie’s same cold world of Minnesota but sees an entirely new story with new characters. In our opinion, the series is without a doubt BRILLIANT.
Fargo’s first season follows a hitman Lorne Malvo ( Billy Thorton) who manipulates a local insurance salesman called Lester Nygaard ( played by talented Martin Freeman) with his violent and deceptive ways. Unlike the movie, the show Fargo is not based on real-life events but it is thrillingly violent, engaging and fun. If you need shows like Bates Motel then I would highly recommend you watch Fargo.
3. Hannibal (2013)
IMDB ratings: 8.5/10
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Hettienne Park
Creator: Bryan Fuller
Hannibal series is based on Thomas Harris’ novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising and the second show in this list (like Bates Motel) to have a classic film as its inspiration. The iconic character of Dr Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) in the Hannibal series has more in common with Harris’ books than the Silence of Lambs but many elements of the movie have inspired the show.
Dr Hannibal Lector is a former psychiatrist turned serial killer and probably the most horrifyingly intriguing fictional character ever written. This American psychological horror series does not shy away from gory imagery and it’s these extremely powerful visuals that really make it stand out. Dr Lector is sure to remind the viewers of Norman Bates and which is why if you’re looking for shows like Bates Motel then watching Hannibal is a perfect pick for you.
4. Breaking Bad (2008)
IMDB ratings: 9.5/10
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn
Creator: Vince Gilligan
There are few shows that can match up to the excellence of Breaking Bad as it’s considered to be amongst the best shows of all time. The protagonist Walter Benjamin (Bryan Cranston) is a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and so decides to get into the meth-making business where he meets a man called Jesse.
Breaking Bad’s every single episode is so engaging that it’s worth binge-watching entire seasons in one go. The acting, the direction, the storyline everything is done to such PERFECTION that I could not fault much even if I tried, the show is consistently good till the end. If you want to watch TV shows similar to Bates Motel, then the prestige drama Breaking Bad will be one of the best shows for you.
Also Read: TV Shows like The Mentalist
5. Dexter (2006)
IMDB ratings: 8.7/10
Cast: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and David Zayas
Creator: James Manos Jr
The psychological drama show Dexter became an American fan favourite when it aired. The story follows Dexter (Michael C. Hall) who is orphaned at a young age after witnessing the brutal murder of his mother. Harry Morgan, a Miami Police Officer, adopts him. Harry recognises Dexter’s trauma entails sociopathic tendencies and manipulates him to kill heinous criminals who slip through the criminal justice system.
Dexter works as a Forensic Analyst by the day which helps him cover his tracks. The complex father and son relationship and Dexter’s tainted sense of conviction (while he tries to live a normal life like Norman Bates) at times challenged my own judgement on Good vs Bad, and I found that Dexter became an icon even though he is essentially a serial killer. The show uses dark sequences with well-balanced humour and clever twists. If you like shows like Bates Motel, then you should definitely watch Dexter.
6. You (2018)
IMDB ratings: 7.7/10
Cast: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan
Creator: Sera Gamble, Greg Berlanti
The series You is loosely based on Caroline Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg books. The story follows Penn Badgley in the role of Joe Goldberg, a New-York based bookstore manager and a serial killer. In the show, Joe falls in love with a girl and is extremely obsessed with her. ‘You’ is a vividly fascinating and romanticised dark psychological thriller.
Is Joe Goldberg a protagonist or an antagonist? It’s a fine line. The reason that makes this show so relatable for viewers is the writer’s fantastic job of creating an interesting take on the dichotomy of good and evil, societal morals, and the fear of social media stalking. In search of shows like Bates Motel, You might enjoy the show You.
7. Penny Dreadful (2014)
IMDB ratings: 8.2/10
Cast: Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Rory Kinnear
Creator: John Logan
The show Penny Dreadful’s title refers to the 19th-century British publication called Penny Dreadfuls, they were popular and cheap literary publications sold to the general population of the time. Penny dreadfuls focused on characters like Sweeny Todd and Varney the Vampire.
This psychological thriller series Penny Dreadful takes inspiration from fictional writings and gives a nod to popular Victorian Gothic Horror characters like Dr Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and Abraham Van Helsing. Eva Green’s portrayal as Vanessa Ives was a force of nature and all fans of the show unanimously agree that she DESERVED awards for her performance. Penny Dreadful is a binge-worthy show if you’re looking for shows similar to Bates Motel.
IMDB ratings: 8.7/10
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz
Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
At the beginning of the sci-fi thriller Dark, many children in the German town of Winden suspiciously disappear. These incidents bring to light the dark generational past mysteries of 4 families living in the town. The 4 Families: Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann discover a wormhole in a cave beneath a nuclear power plant. Dark’s setting spans according to time travel from 1953 to the present day (2019).
The element of supernatural forces and time travel affect the family dynamics in unimagined ways, the dysfunctionality might remind you of Norman and Norma Louise’s relationship. These eerie connections are exposed after the missing cases of children. Dark’s horror moments are intense and mind-bending. Dark’s great performances and the storyline is worth a watch if you are looking for shows similar to Bates Motel.
Sharp Objects (2011)
IMDB ratings: 8.1/10
Cast: Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Messina, Sydney Sweeney
Creator: Jean-Marc Vallée
We absolutely obsess over the complicated and messed-up relationship between Norman Bates and his mother Norma Louise and that reminded us of the show Sharp Objects. Based on the 2006 debut novel by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is BRILLIANT and one of the best shows like Bates Motel.
The story is centred around a crime reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams). Camille faces traumas at a young age that drive her out of her hometown but years later she is forced to return to investigate a crime. Now back in the town, she reunites with her strange and uptight mother and her younger sister which in turn makes her confront her own demons. The twists of the show are shocking, to say the least. If you are looking for shows similar to Bates Motel then you definitely should consider watching Sharp Objects.
Also Read: Shows like Person of Interest
The Sinner (2017)
IMDB ratings: 7.9/10
Cast: Bill Pullman, Matt Bomer and Jessica Biel
Creator: Derek Simonds
The Sinner is an anthological series and was inspired by Petra Hammeshfahr’s German novel. This investigative show follows Det. Harry Ambrose as he works on a different murder each season. He is exposed to odd crimes committed by unlikely culprits which often leads him to question morality and the motives of the criminals.
The show stays consistent with great storylines and every season highlights an element of psyche in relationships between family, friends or lovers which leads to the murder. The Sinner has an immersive and obsessive tone that gives the audience a chance of looking at the criminal state of mind in a more dynamic way. In my opinion, The Sinner is an excellent show and a great choice for you if you want to see shows like Bates Motel.
Here are a few shows like Bates Motel that didn’t make this psychological thriller list but are worth watching, check them out:
- Twin Peaks
- The Handmaid’s Tale