Carlton Cuse on ‘Bates Motel’ Ending: This Isn’t a Show That Should Run for 10 Years

"Bates Motel" Emmy Awards Best Drama

Super-producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin were on hand at the ATX Television Festival on Thursday to discuss the disturbing developments in season two of A&E’s “Bates Motel,” as well as the potential end of the series.

Thanks to “Psycho,” we already know the inevitable fates of Norman (Freddie Highmore) and Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), so viewers may be curious about how long the prequel series can last — something that Cuse admitted the writers are cognizant of.

“I feel like we don’t want to do a literal version of what is in the movie, because that would feel anticlimactic. The specifics of exactly what happens to them, we have some ideas that I think are good, but it’ll be part of the unique world of our story,” he said at the Austin-based festival. “This is not a show that should run for 10 years. We feel like this year, we’ll have a pretty good sense of when it’s gonna end … a couple more seasons after that, perhaps? I would hope that we could work that out with Universal and A&E and tell the audience exactly how much longer is left.”

Cuse conceded that “Bates” is “a story that has a beginning, middle and end, and we want to write to the end of it. It’s not like a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ which is sort of open-ended — there’s always another doctor or patient that’s gonna walk into the hospital.”

“Season seven, they start working in a hospital,” Ehrin quipped, admitting that she’s excited to write the show’s eventual conclusion. “It’s gonna be really fun – when you think of ‘Psycho,’ you see it all from this one point of view, (which is not) from Norman’s … What is Anthony Perkins doing in that house? What was he thinking was going on in there? It’s such a rich, fascinating world that will be super fun to dig into when the time comes.”

The season-two finale featured a shockingly intimate kiss between Norman and his mother – a development that star Freddie Highmore pitched to the writers.

Freddie has a “tendency of wanting to push the envelope on that storyline a lot,” Ehrin laughed. “It was a really fascinating idea that she would use something like that to try to control him in that moment.”

Cuse said the writers were a little surprised by the fan reaction to the kiss, admitting: “We did not expect that it would become such a buzzworthy moment coming out of the finale. It felt incremental to us, but I think it felt larger to the audience.”

The actors often contribute ideas for storylines, according to Cuse and Ehrin; In fact, Farmiga pitched what became one of the most pivotal plot points of the second season:

“The idea that she had had this allegedly incestuous relationship with her brother — and I say that just because something bad definitely happened, but the circumstances of that are meant to be somewhat shadowy still, narratively. It was her idea that Caleb, her brother, would’ve had this relationship with her. We just fell in love with that idea,” Cuse said.

Ehrin agreed: “We wanted to tell a story about him where we didn’t villainize him, where we told as two-sided a story as you can tell for a situation like that … There’s no truth (on ‘Bates Motel’); everything in the show is a perception — and I think as a writer that is so much fun, you really get to explore all the truths to different people and manipulate it.”

An audience member asked the producers whether season three would explore a relationship between Norma and enigmatic Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell), something Ehrin admitted she would like to see too: “I certainly would advocate for it. We love them; Romero’s an awesome character, and they’re very interesting as a couple because they’re so similar – they’re both control freaks. That should be really fun and explosive … There’s a lot of stuff to work with there,” she mused.

“The answer is yes,” Cuse laughed.

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  1. topnga1 says:

    Bates Motel has some of the best, complex characters on TV, and some of the best script writing. I certainly enjoy the oddest character on the show, “Chip” because he’s got some real psychosis mingled with a certain need to make the world fair. Also,, I’m very pleased to see Sheriff Romero and Norma getting together.

  2. Adam of Portland says:

    Bates is a great show that should be ending this year: Norman is disenchanted with “Mother,” the highway is already being built, Norman is 18 now and is in his late 20’s in the original movie when it’s said that his mother died 10 years ago, and states the final episode of season 3 is entitled, “Psycho.” Good job! Now walk away.

  3. Michael Cohen says:

    I love the fact that there are only 10 shows per season. Too many episodes make the season go on forever and then it becomes a chore to keep up with. I also think it is a ground breaking show in that it really is based on perceptions, just like life. We are never really sure of the truth.

  4. tj says:

    Everyone says they don’t want the show to end but it should end on a high note. Otherwise it will drag on, the story lines will become too plain and generic and overall quality will decrease over time. This happens to a lot of shows. So I greatly admire the show runners thinking ahead and having the end in mind.

    also, the 23/24 episode seasons are typically network television. Cable shows seasons/story arcs tend to be 10/12 episodes long. Or if they are 20 its typically divided. So HBO isn’t following the “BBC format”. Just standard cable.

  5. Pure Fluff says:

    Reblogged this on Pure Fluff.

  6. tammy vick says:

    I love this show I sure hope nothing happens cause I would be devistated I love this show so much I mean it is just a tv show its not reality tv what’s wrong with people please don’t let the show end I wish it came on 2 times a year love the twist the turns the everything good luck love everyone on show wish you the best

  7. Edgardo says:

    People here in the US, are so spoiled in terms of tv series. Take the BBC series 3-6 episodes per season yet they are many times of higher quality than US shows. Why? Less is more. Having 10 seasons of 24 episodes is so nauseating! HBO series work because they keep to the BBC formula, few but solid episodes. That’s why Bates Motel works. It leaves you wanting more. The problem with the Cash Cow Shows is that they are milked beyond recognition. So yes I hope these writers reach a good closure point.

  8. Randy says:

    I wish the show would never end, best show on TV. just wish they’re were 2 seasons a year and at least 13-15 shows per season. Loe the show, the only drawback is only 10 weeks a year then have to wait till next year.

  9. midwestbk says:

    I love Bates Motel, I hate the fact of its short seasons, and wish they would add another 5 eposides to each season at least. I can see that they dont want to drag it on forever, but hopefully has another good 2-4 years left in it. I dont want to see end anytime soon, (like after season 3), I am hoping to see at least it get to season 5 or 6

  10. Deborah says:

    I love this series please dont end any time soon

  11. Samantha says:

    Nooooo dnt end it! One of my favorite shows! I could watch it forever!!!!

  12. tammy ready says:


  13. Alex says:

    This show is superb. Vera Farmiga’s acting is flawless. Freddie Highmore is amazing as well.

  14. Megan says:

    I’m glad that they are not going al out and doing 11 seasons like Law & Order or something like that. (watching it now so that is why it popped in my mind lol.) But I also know that when it ends I will be sad because besided TW I don’t know what else i will have to watch. But i’m glad they are not makeing it so long that it ruins the story all together.

  15. SFSolstice says:

    The Big Bang Theory is my favorite comedy and must see TV, but the Bates Motel has captured my heart and mind as the best show on TV. What a great show ! This particular set of producers, writers and actors all working together has resulted in an edge of your seat most spectacular awesomeness!

  16. terryzxz says:

    I like the show but it needs more action & suspense in it.

  17. Billym says:

    Awesome show. Glad there will be a good progression to an ending, just like Breaking Bad. I hate when shows drag out into 6 or 7 seasons.

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