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It took 30 years (and a TV show) for the Addams Family to get their names: here's how

They were originally creepy, kooky, and very anonymous.

Addams Family
Image credit: Paramount Pictures

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What’s in a name? For The Addams Family, not a lot. Though the macabre yet surprisingly wholesome family was first introduced as a single-panel comic strip back in 1938, the individual members of the family weren’t given official names for nearly 30 years, with two main characters having to wait until the 1964 TV show to receive the name we know and love.

Even the family’s collective name wasn’t their surname at first. They were named after their creator, Charles Addams, who simply allowed them to remain anonymous through more than 50 comic strips that appeared in publications like The New Yorker. It wasn’t until the '60s sitcom was in development that it was decided that they would share a surname with their creator.

So how did each member of The Addams Family get their names? Two received it when they received licensed dolls in 1962. The origins of Morticia’s name are self-explanatory, being an obvious pun on “mortician.” Wednesday got her name from a creepy children’s nursery rhyme. “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” became a fitting origin for The Addams Family’s youngest child.

That’s right – Wednesday was originally the younger of the two Addams children. Her brother Pugsley would receive his name along with his father Gomez when the TV show was in development. According to a cultural history of the characters from The Smithsonian, Charles Addams wanted the family patriarch to be called Repelli – a play on repellent – while he championed the name Pubert for the family’s son. Thankfully both were overruled and the characters received their now-iconic names.

Along with their faithful helpers The Thing and Lurch – both of whom were played by Ted Cassidy, they didn’t get a name until the first episode of the 1964 show. Even Uncle Fester, who was originally Morticia’s brother rather than Gomez's as portrayed in the 1991 film, didn’t get a first name until this show aired. In fact, most of what we know about The Addams Family, down to the incredibly catchy theme song, comes from the short-lived TV show.

Why not name the characters? Until the original TV show, they simply didn’t matter. Charles Addams produced more than 1500 similar comic strips in his career, only a small portion of which featured the creepy and kooky family that became his namesake. Their punchlines primarily consisted of a single line that highlighted the family’s dark humor. Names simply weren’t important to the gag. It wasn’t until they got proper characterization in 1964 that they needed a way to refer to each other.

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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