The Addams Family returned to the screen in Tim Burton’s Netflix series, with a new actress taking on the iconic role of Wednesday Addams — here’s every Wednesday Addams Family actress explained. The classic characters are originally based on the 1938 single-panel New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams, but it wasn’t until the 1960s sitcom that The Addams Family would become pop culture staples. Since the sitcom, The Addams Family has been adapted on numerous occasions for the big and little screens, with seven actresses having the opportunity to play Wednesday Addams in these projects.
Wednesday Addams is the daughter of Gomez and Morticia, and has inherited her parents’ fascination with homicide and torture, which she often practices on her (usually) younger brother Pugsley. With her deadpan tone and dark wit — particularly in Christina Ricci’s version of the character — Wednesday is often a highlight of The Addams Family movies and TV shows. Since The Addams Family characters have been around for nearly 85 years, Wednesday hasn’t only been portrayed on film and TV. She was notably portrayed as a young adult in The Addams Family Broadway musical, which is one of the last major iterations of the iconic gothic characters before the animated movie series. Six actresses had played Wednesday Addam’s, and in Tim Burton’s Wednesday series, Jenna Ortega joined as the seventh. Here’s every Wednesday Addams actress so far.
The first Wednesday Addams Family actress is Lisa Loring, who played the 6-year-old character in the 1960s macabre sitcom adaptation of The Addams Family. The original show ran from 1964 to 1966 for a total of 64 episodes, with this version of Wednesday being the younger sister of Pugsley rather than the older child. Loring’s Wednesday Addams was seemingly as bizarre as her family, but far more sweet-natured than the character in later adaptations.
The Lisa Loring Wednesday Addams still had a noted interest in the darker aspects of life, as she enjoyed keeping a black widow as a pet and her favorite doll was a headless Marie Antoinette. Following The Addams Family show’s cancellation, actress Lisa Loring reprised her role as an adult Wednesday Addams in the 1977 made-for-TV special Halloween with the New Addams Family. This would be the last time Loring would star in an Addams Family project alongside the original cast members, with the actress later appearing in Blood Frenzy and Iced.
The next Wednesday Addams Family actress was Cindy Henderson in the 1972 animated series The New Scooby-Doo Movies, where she voiced the character in the episode “Wednesday is Missing.” When Hanna-Barbera gave The Addams Family its own animated sitcom in 1973, Henderson reprised her voice role as Wednesday. The cartoon was also notable for featuring the voice of young Jodie Foster as Pugsley. However, The Addams Family’s 1973 series only lasted one season, after which Henderson never reprised her Wednesday Addams voice role.
Perhaps the most iconic Wednesday Addams Family actress is in the 1990s movie duology, as portrayed by Christina Ricci. The Addams Family (1991) was the first major live-action movie adaptation of the characters, with the successful campiness of the film and darker use of the Addams’ macabre interests earning it a sequel. Wednesday, in particular, was made into a more sardonic and dark character.
The 1991 Addams Family movie established Wednesday Addams as a ‘90s pop culture figure, and the breakout role for Christina Ricci. When Ricci reprised the role in 1993’s Addams Family Values, it became clear that her flawless portrayal of the iconic character would be difficult to top in the future. Ricci went on to appear in Tim Burton’s Wednesday series, but passed on the Wednesday Addams torch to Jenna Ortega, with Ricci playing Ms. Thornhill instead of Wednesday.
After the success of The Addams Family’s 1991 movie, the characters were once again adapted for an animated TV series. The show ran for two seasons from 1992-1993, with Debi Derryberry as the next Wednesday Addams Family actress. The Addams Family’s 1992 cartoon series was still fairly comic-accurate in its portrayals of the characters but had slightly new designs, such as Wednesday’s blue dress. Derryberry’s last time tackling the character Wednesday Addams was in the cartoon’s season 2 finale. Following The Addams Family, Derryberry went on to voice the title character in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, the Aliens in Toy Story, and various voices in the Despicable Me movie franchise.
There was yet another attempt to reboot The Addams Family into a live-action TV sitcom from 1998-1999, which aired in YTV in Canada and Fox Family in the U.S. The New Addams Family lasted one season for a total of 65 episodes, with original Gomez actor John Astin joining the series as Grandpapa Addams. The New Addams Family’s Wednesday was played by Nicole Fugere, who had already played the character in the 1998 made-for-TV film Addams Family Reunion.
Addams Family Reunion could almost be considered a lost 90s Addams Family movie. While it could have spiritually turned them into a trilogy, much of the satire and black comedy of the 1991 and 1993 films, and without the original movie cast returning, Addams Family Reunion was poorly received in almost every aspect but Tim Curry’s performance as Gomez. Fugere only has three acting credits, with the last two of them seeing her play Wednesday Addams.
Chloë Grace Moretz
The first big-budget adaptation of The Addams Family since the 1990s movies was with MGM’s CGI-animated films, which were released in 2019 and 2021. Again taking a more comic-accurate approach to the characters, animated The Addams Family movies’ Wednesday was still deadpan and morbid, but more sweet-natured than the figure in the 1990s duology. In these two films, middle school-aged Wednesday Addams Family actress was Chloë Grace Moretz, who is better known for her roles in Desperate Housewives, 500 Days of Summer, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, the 2013 Carrie remake, and The 5th Wave.
The next major adaptation of Wednesday Addams is played by scream queen Jenna Ortega in the 2022 Netflix series Wednesday. Following Wednesday as a high schooler at Nevermore Academy, the dark, socially awkward, torture-fascinated character helps stop a string of local murders while solving a supernatural mystery that impacted her family 25 years ago.
This was the first time that a major production of The Addams Family depicted Wednesday as a teenager, with the gothic and satirical moments certainly being emphasized under the direction of Tim Burton. Before playing Wednesday Addams, Jenna Ortega rose to prominence for her roles in Scream (2022), X, You, The Babysitter: Killer Queen, and The Fallout.
How Wednesday Changed Wednesday Addams
While the Wednesday Addams Family actress Jenna Ortega by far got some of the most live-action screen time as the character, but Wednesday herself went through a lot of changes for the series. First of all, Wednesday was aged up for the Netflix series. In the original Addams Family TV show, Wednesday was a little girl, and other iterations saw the character being middle school age at the very oldest. Wednesday, on the other hand, is set when the character is in high school. Another big change was that for Wednesday, the Addams’ daughter was given psychic visions. In other Addams Family series, the family are just normal people with an interest in the macabre. Wednesday puts a whole new spin on things by giving her visions.
Wednesday also creates a world divided, with supernatural creatures on one side and normal humans on the other. In the Wednesday universe, normal people are very aware of the supernatural creatures at Nevermore Academy, and it’s interesting considering previous Addams Family iterations avoid the supernatural topic altogether. Wednesday also seeks to further explore Wednesday Addams as a character, giving her particularly creative hobbies such as writing and playing the cello. Wednesday also focuses more on her relationships with other people than other Addams Family shows have, highlighting a rather contentious relationship with Morticia Addams and a softer one with Pugsley. Jenna Ortega will probably be the titular Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family for quite some time, now that Wednesday season 2 is on the way.