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The Many Incarnations of Wednesday Addams

Guest writer Grace Anderson takes a look at the many, many incarnations of inspirational goth girl fave Wednesday Addams.

From numerous television shows to blockbuster movies, there’s no denying the impact Wednesday Addams has had on popular media in the past decades. With her wonderful weird ways and sarcastic dry wit, Wednesday Addams has had a deep effect on many of our childhoods, across the generations. Whether you grew up watching the 1960s sitcom or the 90s film series, we have fond memories of Wednesday. She has garnered quite a number of film and TV appearances in the decades since her 1938 debut.

She has also gained a sizeable fan base, both from those who’ve been watching her since childhood and those who just discovered her. In honour of the well-received Netflix series, we will dive into the many versions of Wednesday Addams that have graced our screens over the decades, as well as explore the lasting cultural impact she’s had on so many viewers and on pop culture as a whole. So settle into your favorite comfy chair and  grab a warm drink. It’s time to learn everything there is to know about our favourite goth girl.

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A Brief History

The Addams Family has been gracing print and screen for nearly a century. The quirky gothic family consists of parents Morticia and Gomez, siblings Wednesday and Pugsley, and an ensemble of strange and unusual extended family members. They live in a gothic mansion with Frankenstein’s-monster-esque butler Lurch, and a disembodied hand known as Thing. Their misadventures often involve visits from their eccentric family members and the baffled reactions they invoke from the outside world.

Wednesday Addams is one of the quintessential characters in the Addams Family franchise. She is the daughter of Morticia and Gomez Addams and sister to Pugsley Addams. She’s depicted wearing all black with her signature long braided pigtails. She has had many personalities and designs over the years but has always been one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the Addams Family franchise.

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1938 Comic Strip

Created by cartoonist Charles Addams, the Addams Family first appeared in the New Yorker as a comic strip in 1938. This satirical take on the All-American family, showcased a strange but loving family, engrossed in the macabre, based on Addams’ own family. The comic strip drummed up a devoted reader base and cult following. Charles Addams was good friends with author Ray Bradbury. Addams and his work were said to be the main inspiration for Bradbury’s novel, From the Dust Returned.

As was the style of the time, Wednesday was made of exaggerated shapes and had simple but highly expressive facial features. She was named for a line in the nursery rhyme ‘Monday’s Child: “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”. It is revealed in later entries of the comic strip that Wednesday’s middle name is Friday, making her full name Wednesday Friday Addams.

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Television Adaptations (1964-1992)

Sitcom (1964)

© 1965 ABC & Filmways Television.

In 1964, the long running Addams Family comic was given its first television adaptation with Carolyn Jones as Morticia and John Astin as Gomez. The original run of The Addams Family sitcom was a smash hit. Described by Stephen Cox as “more zany than spooky”,  The Addams Family went on to become one of the most popular family sitcoms of the  era.

The influence of The Addams Family sitcom stretched far beyond the television screen. Lurch inspired dance moves that remained popular throughout the 1960s, Morticia and Wednesday Halloween costumes exploded in popularity throughout the decade, and re-runs of the show would continuously air on various networks until the early 1990s.

This incarnation of Wednesday Addams, played by Lisa Loring, was much younger than other versions of her character, at only six years old. She has a more cheery disposition than her more recent counterparts, also seeming to have mainstream interests as well as morbid ones. She even taught Lurch a trendy dance in one episode. She was essentially the embodiment of the sweet, wholesome young girl archetype that was popular on television at that time, just with a quirky gothic twist.

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Scooby Doo appearance (1972)

In 1972, the Addams Family made a one-off appearance in an episode of Scooby Doo titled ‘Scooby Doo Meets the Addams Family’. The plot involves the Scooby Doo gang house-sitting in the Addams Family’s mansion while they’re away on vacation. Wacky hijinks ensue.

Animated series (1973)

© 1973 NBC & Hanna-Barbera.

Coming off the success of the Scooby Doo appearance, the Addams Family was given its first  animated series in 1973. With an art style reminiscent of the original comic strip, the animated series had taken many liberties departing from the 1964 sitcom, including cutting out the iconic theme song, instead opting for an instrumental intro with no finger snapping. Much of the cast of the original sitcom was replaced with an unknown cast of voice actors. It ran on Saturday mornings from 1973-1975.

Wednesday’s character in this version was still in the phase of being the wholesome sweet little girl that still remained just as  popular in 1970s television as it was in the decade prior. She was also quite one dimensional and got minimal screen time. We wouldn’t get a fully fleshed out version of Wednesday until the 1991 movie.

Animated series (1992)

© 1992 ABC & Hanna-Barbera.

Produced by Hanna-Barbera, The Addams Family’s  second animated series was greatly inspired by the successful 1991 live action movie. Much of the macabre material from previous incarnations of the show had been toned down to accommodate a younger audience. Unlike the 1973 series, the 1992 animated Addams Family series pulled a lot from the 1964 sitcom, as well as the 1991 movie. Their influence can be felt from the character designs to the iconic finger snapping theme song. It ran for one season from 1992-1993. Since it was greatly inspired by the 1991 Addams Family movie, Wednesday Addams’ character in the 1992 show was very similar to her film counterpart. Her character design was more cartoonish, with big eyes and exaggerated movements.

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Theatrical Films

The Addams Family (1991)

© 1991 Paramount Pictures.

After years of franchise inactivity, in 1991 the Addams Family was brought to the big screen. With a brand new cast including Angelica Huston as Morticia and Raul Julia as Gomez, The Addams Family theatrical debut tells an original story involving an imposter of their beloved  long lost Uncle Fester (played by Christopher Lloyd) scheming to swindle the family out of their fortune. As the family slowly catches on to the scam, they start to test the imposter little by little, before eventually foiling the plot.

Played by the talented  Christina Ricci, Wednesday’s character is much more fleshed out here than in previous versions. She is also older, being thirteen years old instead of six. This greatly increases the potential for what can be done with the character. This is where Wednesday got her signature sarcastic, gloomy disposition. She also serves as a sort of comic relief, with her dry sarcastic humour and witty remarks. Wednesday seems to have an increased curiosity for death and the macabre in this version, going so far as to test various deadly experiments on her brother Pugsley, an aspect of her character that has been expanded upon more in later versions .

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Addams Family Values (1993)

© 1993 Paramount Pictures.

As the family prepares for the arrival of a new baby, Uncle Fester becomes romantically involved with serial killer Debbie Jellinsky, who is secretly scheming to murder him for his inheritance. Meanwhile, Wednesday and Pugsley are sent off to summer camp. Outcasted and discriminated against by the preppy, happy-go-lucky campers and counsellors, Wednesday must escape the camp and foil Debbie’s murderous plot before it’s too late.

In this sequel to the 1991 Addams Family movie we learn even more about Wednesday’s character and follow her through her interactions with peers outside of her family. She contrasts starkly with the preppy Amanda Buckman, the antagonist of the summer camp subplot, further emphasising her strangeness compared to the world outside the Addams mansion. She is given a love interest in this movie.  The love interest in Joel Glickerman is a nerdy outcast, not unlike Wednesday herself. Their relationship reveals that Wednesday is not as cold and emotionless as she may seem, adding a fascinating layer to her character.

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2019 Animated film

© 2019 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Produced in the shadow of Illumination Studios’ dominance of American animation, this computer animated Addams Family rendition by MGM was panned by critics and audiences alike. It was thought to be one of the uninspired, watered down cash grabs that the French studio had become notorious for. The plot involves a shady TV personality attempting to acquire the Addams Family mansion to assimilate it into the rest of the boring, cookie cutter neighbourhood, a general plotline recycled from an array of Illumination movies such as The Lorax and The Grinch. Overall, this take on the Addams Family was a forgettable, boring waste of potential.

Despite the disastrous results, the Addams Family animated film had a promising beginning. It was originally meant to be directed by Tim Burton and created in claymation. With the artistic merit and aesthetics of Tim Burton’s claymation films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, he seemed like the perfect person to direct the next adaptation of the Addams family. The Tim Burton version of the film was in production hell for several years, going through many script and creative revisions before it was scrapped, and MGM started production on the computer animated version.

Wednesday’s character design in the animated version is uncreative and uninspired. Which is a sad waste of potential for a character that could inspire a much more interesting design in the right hands. Her personality was also flat and stereotypical. The subplot revolving around Wednesday changing herself to be “normal” after making a new friend is highly out of character and goes against everything Wednesday has always stood for. Many fans were outraged at the complete bastardisation of her character.

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2022 Netflix series

Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Released in November 2022, Netflix’s Wednesday features Wednesday Addams (played by Jenna Ortega) navigating life at a prestigious boarding school known as Nevermore Academy. There she must master her newfound psychic abilities while solving a decades old family mystery and thwarting a murder plot.

At long last, Tim Burton has gotten his hands on the Addams Family franchise. With the unique boarding school setting and Burton flare, Netflix’s Wednesday definitely has a lot of promise. This is the first time Wednesday is the main focus of the show, creating much potential for dimension and character development. The show also showcases more of Wednesday’s interaction with like-minded peers, which leads to some highly interesting dynamics. The new psychic abilities angle makes for fresh, unique storylines that have never been explored in the Addams Family franchise before. Hopes are high for more of this new take on Wednesday Addams.

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Wednesday’s appeal

© 1993 Paramount Pictures.

As with the rest of the Addams Family cast, Wednesday appeals to that deep, dark place inside of us all that’s fascinated with everything disturbing and macabre. Unlike the gritty, shock-filled takes of the horror genre, the Addams Family tackles morbidness in a comforting and friendly manner, making the dark side of life seem more approachable. With her dark sarcastic attitude and charmingly gloomy disposition, Wednesday can inspire the love of the strange and macabre in all of us. However there’s a layer of relatability to Wednesday that makes her character all the more appealing.

Wednesday has to navigate a world full of normal people who do not understand her or her interests. Anyone who grew up as an outcast or feeling different and alienated from their peers can see a bit of themselves in her. While Wednesday’s family understands and loves her, the outside world does not. In the 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values, Wednesday gets sent to a summer camp filled with other teenagers who judge and mock her for being different, an experience many of us have gone through in adolescence and beyond.

As Wednesday never caves to the pressure of fitting in or being “normal”, she can be seen as inspirational by the many  who grew up being seen as weird. Wednesday doesn’t crack under the intense scrutiny the outside world places on her and her family. She doesn’t stop donning her signature black outfit or give up her morbid interests because people may judge her. She is who she is and she doesn’t let others’ opinions affect her. That is a message that resonates deeply with a lot of people, making Wednesday an even more cherished character in the eyes of many.

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Wednesday Addams’ influence

© 2010 NBC & Universal Television.

Wednesday has had a wide influence on pop culture over the years so it is not surprising that she has inspired many other characters throughout those years. Wednesday-esque characters have become a mainstay in pop culture, gaining popularity since the 1991 movie was released. From comics to cartoons to film, goth girl characters with dry humour and sarcastic wit owe at least part of their creation to Wednesday Addams’ influence.

Emily the Strange

Dark Horse Comics‘ character Emily the Strange is greatly inspired by Wednesday Addams. Emily is a thirteen year old girl with a passion for the dark and macabre. She wears all black outfits and feels contempt and  disdain  for “normal” people. Perhaps the most telling sign of Wednesday’s influence, Emily is enamoured of morbid experiments and devices, reminiscent of the 1991 movie version of Wednesday in particular.

April Ludgate

April Ludgate from the hit NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation could also be seen as being influenced by Wednesday Addams. Obsessed with all things strange and kitschy, April has morbid fascinations similar to those of Wednesday Addams. She also has Wednesday’s signature dry wit and sarcasm that often carries the humour in the show. April would fit right into the Addams Family ensemble.

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Wednesday Addams fan content

Over the decades, Wednesday Addams has earned a dedicated cult following inspiring a wide variety of fan content. From web series to cosplay and fashion, Wednesday’s adoring fans are always inspired to create something amazing.

Adult Wednesday Addams web series


Created in 2013 by Melissa Hunter, this YouTube series follows a grown up Wednesday Addams as she navigates adulthood. Embarking on misadventures like finding an apartment and going on dates, Wednesday puts her signature morbid flare into seemingly mundane everyday activities, as she hasn’t lost her iconic dark, dry humour. This grown up version of Wednesday manages to make the audience laugh and the normal people she interacts with squirm. This portrayal of Wednesday Addams is creative, entertaining and true to character.


Wednesday Addams is not just a popular costume for Halloween. Many talented cosplay artists work tirelessly to perfect their Wednesday Addams costumes for conventions and fan events. Cosplayers from all around the world have commissioned or crafted their Wednesday Addams costume to be accurate down to the smallest detail.

Fanart and crafts

If you search “Wednesday Addams” on Etsy, thousands of  products come up.  You can find paintings, Christmas ornaments, dolls, and much more on this site. Hundreds of sellers work hard to create items inspired by Wednesday Addams to sell to other devoted fans. These crafts often including other iconic fictional goth girls such as Elvira and Nancy Downs. The influx of Wednesday Addams items on Etsy and other sites show the influence Wednesday Addams still holds over the people who watched her in childhood.

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Final thoughts

Wednesday Addams is a character beloved by many. Her influence spans across generations, a part of the childhoods of both the young and old. There have been many versions of Wednesday put to print and screen throughout the decades, some better than others. However, Wednesday, being the main focus of her own Netflix show opens the door to so many nuances and depths to her character that have never been explored before. Wednesday’s fanbase is hungry for something new, even creating their own content to satisfy their cravings. Netflix’s Wednesday is the reboot to the franchise we didn’t know we needed. Wednesday deserves a proper resurrection from the dead.

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