("We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.")
The Addams Family is a franchise spanning multiple media.
It has its origins in a series of whimsically grotesque one-panel cartoons by Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker beginning in the 1930s. In the 1960s these inspired a TV sitcom, which chose a set of recurring characters, named them and codified their relationships with each other, and served as the model for all subsequent versions.
A deliberate inversion of the ideal American Nuclear Family, the Addamses are an obscenely wealthy clan of borderline supernatural beings with a taste for the grotesque and macabre, possessing opinions and preferences that are mirror images or inversions of more conventional attitudes. Although very visibly different from virtually everyone they meet, they still perceive themselves as a "perfectly normal family"; in fact, they seem somewhat incapable of even noticing that their lifestyle varies widely from that of their neighbors.
They also invert various horror-movie tropes about evil families: despite their tastes and the apparent trappings of pain and horror amidst which they live, the Addamses are clearly (well, mostly in the movies) NOT evil — they are compassionate and loving, friendly to all they meet, eager to help strangers in times of need, and tolerant to a fault. In fact, they are probably more so than most families! The end result is more delightfully eccentric and endearing than disturbing.
The family is composed of:
- Gomez Addams, the clan patriarch. Ostensibly a lawyer, though the family's vast independent wealth eliminates any need for him to actually work; when he does, though, he takes great pride in the cases he's lost.
- Morticia Addams, his wife. Tall, elegant, ivory-skinned and black-tressed, and always clad in a tight, slinky black dress. Morticia is calm reason to Gomez's maniacal exuberance. Popular opinion is that she is a vampire — she rarely smiles with her teeth. Even to this day, we're still not sure...
- Pugsley Addams, their son. A young Mad Scientist in the making who once demonstrated a home-made disintegration rifle to a visiting Soviet diplomat.
- Wednesday Friday Addams, their daughter: the youngest child in the original TV series, but older in the movies, the revival TV series and the musical. In the original series, she's a sweet, happy child who loves her family, her spider, and her headless doll Marie Antoinette. In the movies, she's more of The Snark Knight and Emotionless Girl.
- Grandmama. More than just an old lady but not quite a witch, Grandmama takes a delight in doing a lot of the family's cooking and gladly acts as a secondary parental figure to the children. Gomez's mother in the live-action TV series, then switched over to Morticia's starting with the first animated series and stayed put until The New Addams Family, where she became Gomez's mother again; subject of a "My mother? I thought she was your mother!" joke in the musical.
- Uncle Fester. Blend a Mad Scientist and his Igor together, and filter them through Curly Howard of The Three Stooges, and you get Uncle Fester. Morticia's uncle in the TV series, he is rewritten as Gomez's older brother in the 1973-75 animated series, back to Morticia's uncle in the 1977 Reunion Show, and back again to Gomez's brother for the movies. Some works imply that he is a zombie.
- Lurch, their Frankensteinian butler. A man(?) of few words but many groans, Lurch may be their all-purpose servant, but he is treated as one of the family, receiving care and devotion from everyone when he needs it.
- Thing is exactly what the name implies. A thing, namely a disembodied hand. Fetches mail, plays charades, performs mime. Clearly both sentient and sapient, and like Lurch treated as a family member rather than a servant or pet. Usually seen protruding from a box in the TV series, it became fully ambulatory in later adaptations, walking on its fingers.
The Addams Family have appeared in:
- The original, sometimes extremely dark, one-panel cartoons by Charles Addams.
- The Addams Family, the distinctly Lighter and Softer TV sitcom on ABC from 1964 to 1966, starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia.
- A surprisingly good tie-in book by Jack Sharkey in 1965.
- An equally good tie-in book by W. F. Miksch.
- The Addamses crossed over with Scooby-Doo in the third episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family" in September 1972.
- Halloween With the New Addams Family, a 1977 special that reunited most of the cast of the original series.
- The Addams Family, an animated series that ran on NBC Saturday mornings from 1972 to 1975, which featured an eight-years-old Jodie Foster as Pugsley.
- The Addams Family Fun-House, a musical variety special intended as a pilot for a full-blown series. It aired on ABC in 1973, but was never elevated to series status.
- A notoriously hard 1990 NES game, Fester's Quest. The story follows Fester as he defends the Addams' hometown from an alien invasion.
- The Addams Family, a 1991 film which in terms of characterisation and tone take a middle way between the original cartoons and the TV series. A sequel, Addams Family Values, was released in 1993, and featured a broader style of humor.
- A 1992-1993 animated series on ABC spawned by the success of the 1991 movie. Notable for John Astin reprising Gomez. Also spawned a video game, Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt.
- A 1992 pinball game released by Bally. Based on the 1991 movie, it is the best-selling pinball game of all time, and was given a re-release as a special "gold" collector's edition in 1994.
- Several licenced games for various consoles. The 1991 film spawned a number of platform games on various consoles, most of them starring a Super-Deformed Gomez as he tries to save his relatives. (The TurboGrafx-16 version is unique in that you play as Tully, one of the film's antagonists.) Another top-down game (again starring Fester) was released in the wake of Addams Family Values for the SNES under the same name, though it hardly follows the movie at all.
- Addams Family Reunion, sometimes called Addams Family 3, a 1998 direct-to-video pilot movie for The New Addams Family with Daryl Hannah as Morticia and Tim Curry as Gomez. Unrelated to either of the previous films, though Carel Struycken (Lurch) and Christopher Hart (Thing) did reprise their roles.
- The New Addams Family on Fox Family, a 1998-1999 revival. Mostly "new" only in terms of title, cast and theme music — many of its episodes were recycled versions of scripts from the original series. That said, it was well-received, and featured recurring appearances by original Gomez John Astin as Grandpa Addams.
- The New Addams Family Series, a video game based on the revival, released for the Game Boy Color in 2000.
- The Addams Family, the 2010 Broadway musical, starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia. For legal reasons, it's officially based on Charles Addams' original cartoons, not on the TV series, but they're not really fooling anybody.
- An upcoming animated movie from MGM.