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Netflix's Wednesday: The Biggest Differences Between The Show And The Movies

The creepy, kooky "Wednesday" series takes a closer look at one of the fan favorite characters of "The Addams Family," Wednesday Addams. The show is based on characters from The New Yorker cartoon created by Charles Addams that was first published in the late 1930s. Since then, the haunted family dynamic of the eerie Addamses has been adapted into several live action and animated iterations, including this most recent Netflix series. The titular character is played by Jenna Ortega, with Tim Burton directing and co-creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar also contributing as writers. The series features famous faces like Gwendoline Christie, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzmán, and Christina Ricci.

The casting of Ricci for "Wednesday" was no accident. Her role as Wednesday Addams in 1991's "The Addams Family" and 1993's "Addams Family Values" helped jumpstart her career when she was just 10 years old. Even at such a young age, Ricci managed to expertly capture the deadpan and expressionless demeanor of the sadistic young mischief maker.

Although plenty of people are eager to see what Netflix's "Wednesday" has in store, it has a lot to live up to. The Barry Sonnenfeld films of the early '90s were a big part of many millennial childhoods. Fans of the "The Addams Family" franchise are hoping for something new and compelling while that also maintains the spirit and fun of the original. Of course, "Wednesday" is not a carbon copy of the Sonnenfeld movies, and it's interesting to note the differences between the two. Here is a recap of some of the biggest differences between the Netflix "Wednesday" series and the beloved "Addams Family" movies of the 1990s.

Big spoilers for Season 1 of Netflix's "Wednesday" lie ahead. 

Wednesday goes from a supporting character to the main protagonist

While Christina Ricci did a lot to make Wednesday a memorable character in the 1991 and 1993 "Addams Family" movies, she was not the sole focus of the films. The plot of the first film, "The Addams Family," centered around the supposed return of Gomez's long-lost brother Fester (Christopher Lloyd). A wicked schemer named Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) and her son Gordon, who looks remarkably just like Uncle Fester, plan to con the Addamses into believing that Gordon is the real Fester so the Cravens can steal from the family vault. The twist is that Gordon is, indeed, the long-lost Fester Addams, resulting in a celebration of the fortuitous reunion and the thwarting of Abigail's evil plan.

Two years later, Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) welcome their newest little monster in "Addams Family Values" when their son Pubert is born. Scheming nanny, Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) attempts to keep the meddling kids out of the way by convincing their parents to send them to summer camp. This subplot in the sequel allows Wednesday more time in the spotlight as she struggles to maintain her sanity in the midst of a pack of optimistic go-getters. Despite the counselors' attempts to get her to join the crowd, Wednesday refuses to conform to their oppressive ways and takes her revenge accordingly.

Now in the Netflix series "Wednesday," the Addams' daughter finally gets the attention she rightfully deserves. No longer the little girl from the movies, teenaged Wednesday (Ortega) is transferred to Nevermore Academy after being expelled from public school. At Nevermore, she has to contend with an overly friendly roommate, a principal watching her every move, and a murder mystery that threatens the lives of her fellow students and entire family. 

Netflix's Wednesday has psychic visions

A notable difference between Wednesday from "The Addams Family" movies and Wednesday in the Netflix show is that Jenna Ortega's Wednesday has developed psychic powers. We discover that Wednesday's visions start just a few months before she arrives at Nevermore, though her mother gives her an amulet that seems to trigger something inside of her, causing the visions to happen more frequently.

In the Netflix show, Wednesday's first vision happens when her brother, Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez) is tied up in a locker by bullies. This helps her to identify the culprits, which leads to her exacting revenge and her subsequent expulsion from school. She later runs into a man on the street who drives an apple truck and sees him die of a broken neck due to a car accident. Throughout the series, Wednesday has psychic visions of the future that involve violent attacks by a strange monster stalking the school grounds. She also sees moments from the past of her ancestor Goody Addams and the town of Jericho's ominous founder, Joseph Crackstone (William Houston).

Though there is no explicit mention of Wednesday having psychic visions in "The Addams Family" movies, there is a moment in "Addams Family Values" that hints at the possibility of her having this supernatural ability. In the film, Debbie Jellinsky is out to marry Fester Addams for his fortune and then murder him on their wedding night. When Debbie propositions Fester at the family cemetery and Fester agrees to marry her, the movie cuts to a brief scene of Wednesday lying in her bunk at Camp Chippewa as a streak of lightning lights up the night sky from her window and she appears suddenly awake and alert. Perhaps the movie Wednesday could sense that something was amiss, even if she couldn't put her finger on exactly what.

Netflix's Wednesday is an aspiring author

Wednesday Addams may have a sadistic streak, but she also has a creative side. In "The Addams Family" movies, Wednesday's hobbies mainly include acts of torture on her brother Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), and in "Addams Family Values," baby Pubert. She can get pretty imaginative with it, too: electrocution, a crossbow, and a guillotine are just a few of the methods she uses to inflict suffering on others. It takes an inventive mind to shake things up in a torture chamber, after all.

In "Wednesday" on Netflix, without access to her go-to tools from home, she uses a typewriter as a creative outlet instead. She tells her roommate Enid (Emma Myers) that she devotes an hour every day to writing her novel. We see her hard at work on it throughout the series, with hints that the characters and plot are inspired by her own real-life murder investigation.

At Wednesday's court-ordered therapy session, Dr. Valerie Kinbott (Riki Lindome) asks Wednesday about her aspirations to be an author. We learn that Wednesday has actually written three novels, all starring a teenage girl detective named Viper de la Muerte. Wednesday describes Viper as "smart, perceptive, and chronically misunderstood." Sounds like someone we know. Unfortunately, she can't seem to get her work published. When an editor insults her work, calling it "gratuitously morbid," Wednesday sends her a box of mouse traps in response. As the saying goes, nobody likes a critic ... or, in this case, Wednesday doesn't like a critic. Maybe other people feel differently? Who can say? 

Wednesday's first kiss in the movies vs. on the show

Wednesday Addams is 15 years old in the Netflix series, and it becomes apparent that she hasn't had much time for romance. After all, regular relationships are enough of a challenge for someone with her socially awkward disposition. Yet in "Wednesday," she finds herself with two young men who are both attracted to her and competing for her attention. The first is Xavier Thorpe (Percy Hynes White), a student at Nevermore with both magical and artistic talents. The second is Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan), son of the local sheriff and a "normie."

In Episode 7, "If You Don't Woe Me By Now," Wednesday deduces that the murderous hype monster is Xavier, and she assists Sheriff Donovan (Jamie McShane) in locking him up. When she later meets with Tyler to tell him she wishes to pursue a romantic relationship, the two share a kiss. However, Wednesday is immediately hit with a vision of Tyler as the hyde, and realizes that she has made a grave error. "Of course, the first boy I kiss would turn out to be a psychotic, serial killing monster," her narration states. "I guess I have a type."

However, Wednesday's first kiss in "The Addams Family" movies happens very differently. During Pugsley and Wednesday's time at Camp Chippewa, they meet a fellow outcast named Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz). Joel is severely allergic to everything involving the outdoors and has to carry an inhaler with him everywhere he goes. Their mutual hatred of the summer camp brings Wednesday and Joel closer together, and a young romance blossoms. The two share a sweet smooch while separated by a chain link fence before Wednesday and Pugsley escape the camp. Joel later appears at the Addams' home dressed similarly to Gomez Addams, which Wednesday deems "disturbing."

Netflix's Wednesday plays cello

In "The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values," Christina Ricci's Wednesday never seems inclined toward the musical arts. She does have a leaning toward the theater, however, as we see in "The Addams Family" when she and Pugsley perform a dramatic Shakespearean scene together at the school talent show. Thanks to a little help from Uncle Fester, the Addams siblings manage to leave the audience speechless and drenched in stage blood.

However, in Netflix's "Wednesday," Wednesday turns her artistic interests to creative writing and playing the cello. She is a master of the latter, and the show treats us to two memorable performances. The first is an instrumental rendition of a somber tune first performed by The Rolling Stones, "Paint It Black." Wednesday performs the piece on the balcony outside of her room at Nevermore during the pilot episode.

The next is at a ceremony in Jericho's town square in Episode 3, "Friend or Woe." What begins as a jaunty rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" becomes a dramatic classical piece played by Wednesday as a statue of Joseph Crackstone goes up in flames. In case you were checking your phone during this episode, let us clarify that, yes, Wednesday and Thing started the fire.

Though she may not show emotions in her day-to-day routines, Wednesday's passion clearly comes out as she plays the cello. It's a change from the original movies that helps give more dimension to her character.

Pubert Addams only exists in the movies

For over 30 years, the Addams Family consisted of Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, and Granny. Of course, Thing and Lurch are also like family, but let's stick to immediate blood relations for the moment. In 1991's "The Addams Family," Morticia reveals to her beloved Gomez that they are about to welcome a new addition to the family. She holds up an adorable onesie that she's been knitting, one that has three legs instead of two ... or maybe the third leg is for a tail? Whatever the deal is with the onesie, Gomez is overjoyed, of course.

The 1993 sequel, "Addams Family Values," begins with Morticia giving birth to baby Pubert Addams (Kaitlyn and Kristen Hooper). The bundle of joy is the spitting image of his father, complete with slicked black hair and a tiny mustache. Pubert also has the Addams' affinity for mischief, able to shoot fiery arrows from his crib and stop a falling guillotine blade in its tracks. Wednesday and Pugsley are less than thrilled with their younger sibling but grow to accept him by the end of the film.

Though the "Wednesday" series includes iconic "Addams Family" characters such as Thing (Victor Dorobantu), Lurch (George Burcea), Gomez (Guzmán), Morticia (Zeta-Jones), and Fester (Fred Armisen), Pubert has been left out altogether. It seems that while the show's creators have drawn on a few elements of the Sonnenfeld movies, have decided to stick with the original family lineup from the New Yorker cartoon.

Werewolves, sirens, and monsters, oh my

The "Addams Family" movies of the '90s are, in some ways, classic fish-out-of-water stories. Compared to the world around them, the Addamses are strange, spooky, and even at times, borderline psychotic. It's their attempts to interact with "normal" people that make for the most hilarious moments in the Sonnenfeld films. Whether it's Gomez having a sparring match with his lawyer or Morticia's eccentric gardening, fans love the quirks and curiosities that make up the Addams clan.

However, despite their eccentricities, the Addamses are still human, with possible exception of Cousin Itt. They may be creepy, but the original "Addams Family" films never fully delve into the supernatural. All of that changes in "Wednesday," though.

The students of Nevermore Academy are called "outcasts." There are sirens, werewolves, gorgons, vampires, and more. Nevermore is a safe space where they can be themselves. There is also the existence of a violent creature known as a hyde, whose identity is a mystery until Wednesday takes the case. Other supernatural elements include Wednesday's visions, as well as her connection with the ghost of her ancestor, Goody Addams. It feels organic for a show based on "The Addams Family" to explore paranormal territory, even if none of the adaptations preceding it went in that direction.

The Netflix show is much darker than the films

As mentioned before, the Sonnenfeld "Addams Family" movies clearly fall under the comedy genre. There is plenty of dark humor that accompanies the zany antics and hilarious shenanigans, but the tone is generally light. Most of the violence in the movies is either implied or happens off-screen. Even the darkest moments are carried out in an almost Looney Tunes-type style, such as Debbie's demise in "Addams Family Values."

The "Wednesday" series on Netflix, on the other hand, is not afraid to shy away from displaying a more gruesome and horror-fueled tableau. The murder and mayhem are far from implied, and we get to see some of it up close and personal. We get a taste of it in the very first episode when an unsuspecting hiker is literally torn to pieces by the mysterious monster.

The added murder mystery element in "Wednesday" also allows room for the series to branch out. The deeper her investigation goes, the more danger Wednesday finds herself traversing as she, her friends, and her family members, become targets for the killer. This is no "Scooby Doo" cartoon, either — the ghosts, demons, and blood-thirsty creatures are very real, and the lives of everyone at Nevermore hang in the balance.

Netflix's Wednesday goes deeper into the bond between Wednesday and Pugsley

Brother and sister Pugsley and Wednesday Addams are quite the dynamic duo in the "Addams Family" movies. Wednesday is the leader of the two, and Pugsley is more than happy to go along with whatever Wednesday has planned. Whether it's allowing himself to be the victim of Wednesday's sadistic devices or assisting with her devious plans, Pugsley is always a willing sidekick.

It's never fully clear why Pugsley is so amenable to Wednesday's methods in the '90s films. Is it purely his mischievous nature, or perhaps an innate masochistic streak? The relationship between the two siblings is left fairly ambiguous, so it's difficult to tell whether the two hate or love one another — or if they feel any emotion towards each other at all.

Netflix's "Wednesday" gives a bit more clarity to the relationship between the Addams siblings. First, it's established that Wednesday is older than Pugsley — a detail this is left open for interpretation in the films. It's also made apparent that Pugsley has a great deal of affection for his sister, and that Wednesday is very protective of her little brother. When Pugsley is harassed by bullies at school, Wednesday is quick to inform them that no one is allowed to torture her brother except her.

Pugsley is also less of a mischief-maker and more of a sensitive soul in the Netflix show. Wednesday criticizes him for showing emotion, calling it a weakness. But Pugsley is unafraid to show his affection for his big sister, giving her a hug when she has to leave for Nevermore, and expressing his sadness at not having her around to torture him anymore. The two share a sweet moment together when the Addamses come to visit Wednesday at Nevermore and Wednesday finally expresses her fondness for Pugsley.