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The Addams Family and the Munsters aren't the same thing... except, maybe they kind of are?

One Popverse writer keeps getting the two mixed up, and is trying in vain to convince us he's not just easily confused

The Addams Family/The Munsters
Image credit: ABC/CBS

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Here’s one of my (many) nerd confessions: I have a hard time telling the Addams Family and the Munsters apart.

In my defense, I was born after both shows - the '60s Addams Family sitcom and the original Munsters series - were off the air, but at a time where both were seemingly in a constant state of reruns at irregular times, which made it easier to get the two confused. After all, to the untrained eye (which is to say, mine when I was a kid), the two are virtually identical: they’re both black and white sitcoms starring classic monsters as all-American families with intrusive laugh tracks and lots of jokes that I didn’t get at the time. I’d argue, from today’s perspective, that neither show is actually particularly funny, despite some sterling performances from a number of actors, but that’s the kind of thing that might draw hate mail (even from other Popverse staffers) if said too loudly.

Nonetheless, the shows blurred together for me so much as a kid that I struggle to pull them apart even now. I mean, I can tell you the primary players in the Addams Family because I’ve since learned more about the original Charles Addams cartoons and, of course, watched the subsequent revivals of the show on the big and small screens. Similarly, I’ve kept up with the Munsters in their more complicated subsequent appearances — I really liked Mockingbird Lane, I was less wild about the Rob Zombie movie reboot from a couple of years ago. So, in that sense, I can tell the difference between the two; I know my Morticia and Gomez from my Herman and Lily, and I know that Lurch and Wednesday are Addams, while Grandpa is one of the Munsters. But beyond that, I genuinely struggle to remember which one has Marilyn, and whether Eddie is the name of the little kid in the Munsters or the Addams family. I also wouldn’t be willing to bet my life on whether or not Cousin Itt was in The Addams Family or The Munsters, even though I’m pretty sure it’s the former.

Before all of you throw rotten fruit and soft furnishings to protest my stupidity, I do want to point out that this crossover is not only not a figment of my imagination, but also not unintentional; in the 2013 book Funny You Should Ask: Oral Histories of Classic Sitcom Storytellers, Allan Burns — who helped create The Munsters, as well as the animated classic The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle — said, “we sort of stole the idea from Charles Addams and his New Yorker cartoons,” with Universal choosing the original concept which was based around characters they owned the rights to — Frankenstein’s Monster, The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula — instead of the show they’d have to pay licensing fees for.

The two shows aired essentially simultaneously, curiously enough. The Addams Family debuted September 18, 1964, less than a week before the debut of The Munsters, which first aired September 24. The Addams Family ended first, as well, with its last episode going out April 8, 1966; The Munsters finished a month later, on May 12. There’s something to be said about how oddly interrelated the two are that goes beyond my youthful confusion — a connection that perhaps pushes both shows together in a more meaningful, lasting pop cultural sense.

Despite all this, one thing has never happened, somewhat shockingly: there’s never been an Addams Family/Munsters crossover. (Something even more unexpected when you discover that Universal Pictures, which owns the Munsters, is responsible for international distribution of the Addams Family movies these days; there’s even a corporate connection!) It cold be the Marvel vs. DC of the comedy horror genre… and, more importantly, it would finally offer a textual explanation of just who belongs to which family, and why they’re different. The world needs this to happen — and if it does, if anyone from Universal is reading this, I’ll take 10% of the gross, thank you very much.

Weird is relative, and the iconic comic-turned-tv-turned-movie franchise that is Addams Family is the perfect picture of that. Several of the cast of the '90s movie franchise are coming to Seattle's ECCC 2024, and you can get first dibs on photo ops and autographs and watch their panel for free here at Popverse. You can also get to know Charles Addams' iconic family with our Addams Family watch guide, and stories on how Wednesday's Jenna Ortega thinks her character is "a creepy little freak" and how the Addams family got their names.

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Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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The Addams Family

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