‘The Addams Family’: John Astin Blamed ‘Batman’ for Killing the Show

The Addams Family is one of those media franchises that just never seems to die. Perhaps that’s appropriate given the titular clan’s macabre sensibilities. Regardless, the characters first started as a series of New Yorker cartoons by artist Charles Addams. Over the years, The Addams Family’s first adaptation was taken down by none other than Batman, star John Astin claims.

Adam West and Burt Ward in 'Batman'
Adam West and Burt Ward in ‘Batman’ | Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

‘The Addams Family’ was a solid ratings hit during its first season

Debuting on ABC in 1964, The Addams Family proved to be a big hit right from the start. Armed with a snappy theme song, the show’s biting sense of humor resonated with fans. And it didn’t take long for The Addams Family to ascend to the top 30 show on television. But after its first season, things got a bit dicier. The industry began to catch up with Addams’ creation.

The Addams Family presented an alternative take on the American family. But before long, the market became saturated with variations on that approach. Sitcoms that combined fantastical or supernatural elements were popping up everywhere in the industry. In fact, Bewitched and The Munsters both began their runs the very same year as The Addams Family.

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Star John Astin attributed its demise to the premiere of TV’s ‘Batman’

The Munsters and The Addams Family in particular were pitted against each other. The two shows are fundamentally different. The former centers on a family that looks like classic monsters but acts completely normal. The latter concerns a more ordinary-looking (mostly) family who has macabre abilities and interests. But Astin — who played patriarch Gomez Addams — blames The Addams Family’s cancelation on the arrival of a much different show.

Batman had come on opposite The Munsters, and a lot of the programming people thought of Addams and Munsters as the same kind of show,” Astin once told the Television Academy Foundation, “Batman came on with a big rush, a storm that was tough to go up against. And they thought eventually The Addams Family would go away. And lots of places were programming it in prime time.”

The excitement of Adam West’s Batman, in Astin’s view, finished off both his show and The Munsters. Perhaps it was a merely a matter of poor timing, as both horror-themed family sitcoms wound up canceling each other out. Of course, The Addams Family has certainly endured over the years, much like the Dark Knight.

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That initial TV version of The Addams Family ended in 1966. But it gave way to many more adaptations of Addams’ cartoons. Just a few years later, the franchise was reborn as an animated show. Additional TV series based on the characters launched in 1992 and 1998. And filmmaker Tim Burton is also developing yet another Addams TV show.

Then, of course, there’s The Addams Family films. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston headlined two hit films in the early 1990s as Gomez and Morticia Addams. Meanwhile, Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron inherited those roles as voice actors for the 2019 animated film. A sequel, The Addams Family 2, is currently set for release on Oct. 1, 2021.