Nick Bates first arrived in Beckindale in 1985, to visit his mother Caroline, whom he hadn't seen for a couple of years as he had become enstranged from her due to Nick's constant fighting with his alcoholic father Malcolm. Nick then decided to stay in Beckindale, and moved in with fellow resident Archie Brooks. In 1987, Nick's father Malcolm arrived in Beckindale to look for Caroline. After discovering Nick was in the village, Malcolm was enraged. However, Nick stood up to him, ordering Malcolm to leave Beckindale and never come back.
In the years that followed his arrival, Nick become somewhat of an annoyance in the village, and was often accused of stirring things up in the Woolpack, subsequently winding landlord Amos Brearly up. Eventually, Nick matured after being cautioned by Amos, who had eventually become tired of Nick's constant troublemaking. In September 1989, Nick and Archie set fire to Seth's Hide after their friend Jackie Merrick was killed while hunting a fox with local gamekeeper Seth Armstrong. Archie was later arrested and confessed to committing arson, but Nick was not caught and was left feeling guilty. He eventually confessed to his part in the crime to his sister and Jackie's widow Kathy Merrick, who suggested that he apologise to Seth and Archie but not turn himself in. Nick did so, and was forgiven by both. Archie was released from prison a couple of months later.
After the recent series of events, Nick decided to change his ways, and got a job as a farmhand working at Home Farm. In 1990, Nick had a drunken one-night-stand with Elsa Feldmann after enjoying a drinking session with her in The Woolpack. Although Elsa left soon after, Nick discovered that he was in fact in love with Elsa, and, as he had no contact to Elsa, phoned Elsa's mother Elizabeth Pollard. However, Nick was in for a shock when Elizabeth told him that Elsa was pregnant. Elsa returned to Beckindale and insisted that the child was in fact that of Nick's best friend Archie, although Archie had never actually had sexual intercourse with Elsa. Elsa eventually confessed that the child was Nick's. Nick then decided to do the right thing and marry Elsa, much to the disgust of Elsa's snobbish step-father Eric Pollard, who tried everything to try and prevent the wedding. Nick and Elsa were due to marry on Valentine's Day 1991, but shortly after arriving at the registry office, Elsa went into premature birth. With the help of Archie's girlfriend, vet Zoe Tate, Elsa gave birth to a girl named Alice Rose Bates.
However, Nick and Elsa's relationship was becoming rocky, and in 1991 Nick witnessed Elsa verbally abuse Alice several times, plus they also had several rows. Elsa then decided that motherhood wasn't for her as it prevented her social life, and she departed Beckindale in 1991, leaving Nick to bring up Alice on his own. However, Nick was aided in fatherhood by best friend Archie, who had become a full-time childminder. However, in December 1993, Nick and Archie were caught up in the Emmerdale plane crash, which claimed Archie's life and left Nick temporarily blind. Nick was hospitalised until 1994, and when he was discharged from hospital he learned that Elsa had returned and had pressed charges again, Nick, saying that he and the late Archie were lovers who neglected Alice's needs. However, the court ruled out that Elsa's claims were untrue, and Nick gained full custody of Alice, while Elsa again left Beckindale.
In 1996, Nick accidentally became responsible for the death of poacher Jed O'Connell, after catching Jed poaching on Home Farm land, Nick fought Jed and accidentally shot Jed with his own rifle. Nick handed himself in and was charged with manslaughter, and was subsequently sentenced to ten years in prison. Nick personally asked Kathy, and her husband Dave, to look after Alice while Nick served his sentence. Kathy and Dave agreed, and Nick was sent to prison. Nick is seen again in 1999, when Kathy goes in to visit him after learning that the family of the poacher Nick killed had been sending death threats to her and Alice. Nick agreed that Kathy should let Alice go and live with her mother in Australia. Nick is last seen on 30 September 1999.
Nick is lasted mentioned in 2001, when Kathy is going to emigrate to Australia to be closer to Alice, she mentions that Nick is still serving his prison sentence.