In an interview with EGM, Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya said his inspiration for the character came from the fact that he had already created really badass male characters with Dante (Devil May Cry) and Joe (Viewtiful Joe) and he wanted to make a really badass female character. He also stated that he thinks all women should use their hair as their clothing.
Before the Witch Hunts
Bayonetta is the daughter of an Umbran Witch of darkness and a Lumen Sage of Light. The two clans believed that light and dark should not be intertwined so Bayonetta was shunned as a child and left in a cell. It is implied that she had found ways to get out of the cell. As a child she was not known as Bayonetta, but instead Cereza. Jeanne was a childhood friend and rival of Bayonetta, seeing as they were always sparring and teasing each other. Jeanne and Bayonetta were the last of the Umbran Witches by the time Bayonetta was put in slumber to keep the Left Eye out of the hands of an outsider.
At some point in her childhood she was transported to the present timeline by her father, Balder. Balder did this to have the innocent soul Cereza remind Bayonetta of her past so she can be awakened as the Left Eye. Cereza warmed up almost instantly to her older counter-part .
Referring to Bayonetta as "Mummy" and copying her movements, claiming she wants to be like her someday. The angels seem to know her origin as they always aim for her over Bayonetta when they are in the same area. Cereza also knows of her father and recognizes him by sight and sound. Balder absorbed her to gain more power until Bayonetta defeated him. The last time she is seen, Bayonetta takes Cereza back to her own time giving her a jewel and singing her "Fly Me To The Moon".
500 years after the witch hunts, a journalist and father of Luka finds her resting place. His reward is being ripped apart by Balder's angels. Bayonetta dispatches the angels but doesn't have enough time to save him. The hibernation process has erased many of her memories before her slumber. This has caused her to abandon the name Cereza and be known as Bayonetta.
Looking for a way to remember her past she obtains information on the Right Eye, the other half of "The Eyes of The World." This takes her to Vigrid, a place with plenty of spiritual power that weighs heavily in the favor of Paradiso. In this town she meets up with Luka, whom she refers to as "Cheshire," Jeanne, and her childhood form Cereza. While there, she is attacked by the Virtue Fortitudo who destroys the town of Vigrid. She defeats the angel who reveals that he is a sacrifice to revive the Creator Jubileus.
She makes it to The Crescent and Sun Valleys, and then stumbles into Jeanne having a conference with the second Cardinal Virtue Temperantia. They fight again, with Bayonetta coming out the victor. Bayonetta then sets off to kill the next big angel. She meets up with Cereza, who had taken a liking to her and follows her around. When she sees Luka again, she leaves the child in his care and continues on her path. She defeats the second Virtue and moves on.
She meets up with Luka and Cereza a few more times, and each time Luka begins to doubt her involvement with his father's death. They end up at the air-force base in Vigrid where they are attacked by the third Cardinal Virtue Iustitia. After Iustitia is defeated, Luka finally believes that Bayonetta did not kill his father. However, he is still wary of her. He directs her to a plane which could take them to Isla Del Sol, the place that the Right Eye is believed to be held. During the flight, there is an explosion, and Cereza is lost within the giant plane.
In the Sky and Sea
Bayonetta searches for Cereza within the plane but is attacked again by Jeanne and the fourth Cardinal Virtue Sapientia. Jeanne does not feel she needs his help and knocks him out for a bit. The fight damages the plane and Bayonetta runs away to find Cereza after defeating Jeanne yet again. The plane begins to sink into the ocean when Bayonetta rescues Cereza. Before the plane falls into the ocean for good, Luka, in his helicopter, finds them and takes Cereza so Bayonetta can finish Sapientia. They battle in the ocean until Sapientia is defeated, revealing the rock that is in Bayonetta's possession is not the Left Eye at all.
Isla Del Sol
Bayonetta, Cereza, and Luka fly to Isla Del Sol when they are attacked by missiles. Bayonetta hijacks one and uses it to reach the island. When she gets there she sees that Jeanne has been launching the missiles and explains to Bayonetta about her unwanted birth. Luka takes a jeep to get Cereza and the missile launching device away from the battle, but the jeep explodes, pissing Bayonetta off. After defeating Jeanne once more, she returns to her former self and explains that no one else should have the Left Eye before the missiles strike her down.
Luka and Cereza reveal themselves as not dead in the Ithavoll Tower. When they reach the double doors, an ominous voice tells Bayonetta and Cereza to come to him. Cereza instantly recognizes him as her dad and runs up to see him. Bayonetta follows after her.
When she finds Cereza, she is in the arms of Balder, her father. Balder explains to Bayonetta that Cereza is the younger version of her, summoned in the present day to provoke her memories and the awakening of the Left Eye. He also reveals that Bayonetta is the Left Eye. Balder seemingly kills Luka and consumes Cereza to fight Bayonetta. Bayonetta wins again and takes Cereza to her own time. However she had inadvertently awakened the Left Eye, allowing Balder to summon Jubileus.
Jubileus the Creator
Balder wanted to summon the creator to control reality and merge the three planes of existence; Inferno, Paradiso, and the Human Realm. Jeanne escaped her death narrowly and, now outside of Balder's control, she rescues Bayonetta. This causes Balder to lose control of Jubileus.
Bayonetta must defeat Jubileus to save the universe from yet another Armageddon. She summons the ruler of Inferno to combat the ruler of Paradiso and punches Jubileus into the sun. Although Jubileus is dead, she is still falling into the Earth. Near the end of her rope, Bayonetta nearly gives up, until Jeanne comes to help her break up the Creator's body into manageable chunks. Bayonetta and Jeanne stand together as they fall down to Earth.
There is a funeral held for Bayonetta with Luka and Enzo believing she had died as a result of plummeting to the Earth on the remains of the Creator. Jeanne turns out to be the nun presiding over the funeral with Bayonetta hiding in the casket, pulling the same trick as Rodin at the beginning of the game. Jeanne and Bayonetta then fight against the angels together. It's implied that there is a romantic future for Bayonetta and Luka.
Bayonetta wields swords as well as guns in combat, and can handle some weapons with her feet as opposed to just her hands. Bayonetta wields 4 guns in total, 2 in her hands and 2 on her feet. The names of these four guns, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are references to an old English folk song called Scarborough Fair, reflecting Kamiya's love for folk music. Bayonetta also wields a katana, which can be charged up to create more powerful attacks. Charging the sword up causes a heart to appear on screen that beats as it charges, and dark fumes to billow from the sword. The character also has a huge chain and sickle that she uses for both ground and air attacks. The player can equip all 4 guns at once or can opt to swap out the pistols in her hands for her sword and use the guns on her feet instead. Certain weapons are designed to be equipped for the hands, feet, or both. You can also pick up weapons that enemies drop, such as one of the more ridiculous possibilities, a tuba which doubles as a bazooka. Each weapon has a monster spirit which makes it stronger. The context of the battle situation dictates which hair monster summons appear.
When Bayonetta jumps or double jumps, gossamer butterfly wings temporarily sprout from her back. When she lands, dozens of butterflies appear at her feet. Bayonetta's outfit is not made of leather as it seems to be, but rather it is made of her magical hair that covers her entire body and is used in her attacks. During gameplay, this means that the more ferociously you attack enemies, the less clothed Bayonetta becomes. If the player keeps attacking, it's possible that she may get all the way naked. Her hair is also an indicator of her health, and when she takes damage the hair will start to wilt due to a lack of energy needed to keep it in place.
Bayonetta's bullets can ricochet off of walls damaging her enemies. Her most powerful attacks summon a giant, smoky dragon, or a giant smoky stiletto heel out of the sky to stomp on her enemies. This 'smoky' appearance is actually created by the hair that surrounds these summoned forms. You have to enter specific button commands in order to summon these advanced hair attacks. When a summon exits the area, its disappearance is punctuated by purple sparks. Bayonetta can also enter 'witch time', a bullet time-esque mechanic which slows down time and heightens her senses.
Sometimes an on-screen button prompt will appear, and these quick-time events lead to a variety of attacks and actions. Tapping the button fast enough unleashes moves called Torture Attacks, such as a guillotine dropping from the sky on your enemy with obvious results, or an Iron Maiden erupting from the ground and clamping an enemy shut inside of it. Some of the aforementioned hair summons also involve these prompts. The player may also use a spinning jump attack that allows Bayonetta to fire her guns in a 360 degree arc. She can also perform a handstand and aim her guns with her feet.
Bayonetta has the ability to shapeshift into three different animals, including a panther which increases her speed and leaves a trail of withering flowers. She can also turn into a crow in order to fly over a longer distance. When she is near death or about to be hit by a attack, she can turn into a swarm of bats and recombine to save herself. This ability is called Bat Within.
Outside the Bayonetta franchise, Bayonetta has appeared in a few other games. She's one of a number of playable characters in PlatinumGames' Anarchy Reigns, as well as an unlockable character in The Wonderful 101, alongside Jeanne and Rodin. She also makes an appearance in the Vita MMO Samurai & Dragons alongside numerous other characters from Sega franchises.
Bayonetta's English voice actor in all regions is Hellena Taylor.