Wednesday: Is the TV Show Inspired by a True Story or a Book?

Created by Tim Burton, Alfred Gough, and Miles Millar, ‘Wednesday’ is a Netflix fantasy mystery show that revolves around the titular character, a brilliant and morbid teenager whose parents enroll her at the Nevermore Academy, a boarding school for outcasts such as Wednesday. Not long after she starts attending school, Wednesday discovers that a murderous monster is lurking in the vicinity. Moreover, her destiny is tied to the destruction of the academy.

Stoic and fearless as ever, Wednesday begins investigating the history of Nevermore and the town that surrounds it. As a show, ‘Wednesday’ unfolds like a murder mystery, with the main character serving as the sleuth. If you are wondering whether ‘Wednesday’ is inspired by real people, we got you covered.

Wednesday is Based on Characters Created by Cartoonist Charles Samuel Addams

‘Wednesday’ is not based on a true story, nor is it based on a book. It has been developed from the works of cartoonist Charles Samuel Addams. The unrelated single-panel cartoons made their debut in 1938 on the pages of The New Yorker and remained there for the following five decades. The cultural impact of the macabre and grim characters of the cartoons has been nothing short of massive. It has been adapted into books, video games, music, theater, films, and TV shows.

Image Credit: Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

In Charles Addams’ original work, the Addams family members are a satirical take on the 20th-century American family. They are wealthy aristocrats who seem to have a penchant for the macabre. The show’s titular character is the daughter of Gomez and Morticia Addams. After years of keeping the characters nameless, the cartoonist gave her the name — Wednesday Addams — during the development of the 1964 television series. Interestingly, the inspiration for the name Wednesday comes from the line  — “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” — from the nursery poem, ‘Monday’s Child.’

The fantasy aspect of the series is largely the creation of Gough and Millar, who have been working together for about three decades. Reflecting on what convinced them to develop a show about Wednesday Addams, Gough stated to Gold Derby, “We were looking for an iconic character and who’s somebody that we haven’t seen on television, who is somebody that’s interesting, and how can we tell a chapter of their lives. I mean kind of like what we did with ‘Smallville.’ And we landed on Wednesday Addams.”

Gough added, “And then, it took us a while to track down who actually controlled the rights. It was MGM because they were making animated films at the time.” Gough and Millar eventually got in touch with the person who ran the Addams state. This person loved what they pitched and felt it enhanced the Charles Addams ethos. According to the creators, the collaboration with Burton felt like a match made in heaven. “Of course we’re told Tim’s never done television,” Gough explained. “We said, ‘If you don’t ask, the answer is no.’ So we sent the script to his agent, who read it and liked it and sent it to Tim.”

Gough continued, We just kept on working, thinking, okay we’ve thrown it out into the universe. Literally four days later, the universe answered. Tim read the script. He loved it.” Initially, Wednesday was supposed to attend a regular school, but the series creators and their team decided to try out a new approach because it felt like a one-joke gag otherwise. One of the reasons that they developed the concept of the Nevermore Academy was to make up for the absence of members of the Addams family, who only appear in a couple of episodes. 

Image Credit: Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

Ortega claimed that Wednesday had been the most challenging character of her career, and Millar had plenty of positive things to say about his leading lady. “She’s in 95 percent of the episodes,” Millar stated. “It’s all about her. When we sat with Tim the three of us agreed, unless we find the right Wednesday there’s no show. The search for Wednesday was our primary focus for months and we saw hundreds of actresses. Even though Jenna was on our radar almost immediately, we really wanted to do a deep dive.”

Millar added, “Al and I actually did a Zoom with Jenna. When she read the scene it was just like magic. So we called Tim and said, we think we’ve found her. So we met with her together. She just possessed the role. She was not only visually perfect, but she had the right attitude, the right intelligence.” To reiterate, as a show, ‘Wednesday’ is not based on actual events but has been adapted from the cartoons by Charles Addams with a considerable amount of creative liberty added.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Wednesday Filmed?