Christina Ricci’s Character in the WEDNESDAY Series, Explained

Christina Ricci is a prominent actress now, known for her roles on shows like Yellowjackets, and films like Monster. But she started out as a child star, and her breakthrough role was as the acerbic Wednesday Addams in the ’90s Addams Family films. Although the entire casts of those films are fantastic, without a doubt, it was Ricci’s Wednesday that stole the show every time. So fans were thrilled to learn she was joining the cast of the series Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega in the lead role, since she helped define the character for a whole generation.

Christina Riccia as Mrs. Thornhill on Wednesday.
Netflix

Who Does Christina Ricci Play on Wednesday?

When we first met Christina Ricci’s character in episode one of Wednesday, she was the only “normie” teacher at the Nevermore Academy, Mrs. Marilyn Thornhill. In the series, Nevermore is a school for outcasts, located near the small town of Jericho. The term outcast could mean you’re a vampire, a werewolf, a siren, or just an undefinable weirdo like the members of the Addams clan. A “normie” is just their word for the rest of us. And as far as we knew, Mrs. Thornhill was a normie.

Wednesday Addams with the students of the Nevermore Academy.
Netflix

Thornhill was also the Academy’s so-called “dorm mom,” as well as the botanical sciences teacher at the school. She’s very friendly to Wednesday at first, when no one else seemed to be, and took her under her wing. Or at least tried to. Wednesday didn’t exactly let folks get close to her. It’s also likely that Mrs. Thornhill’s first name was an Easter egg to the Addams Family’s rival series The Munsters, where the “normie” of the family was also named Marilyn.

What Is Mrs. Thornhill Really Up to in Wednesday?

Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams
Netflix/Paramount Pictures

Fans were hoping that Mrs. Thornhill might be a secret relative of Wednesday’s, perhaps her Aunt Ophelia from the old TV series. Ultimately, Mrs. Thornhill’s character wasn’t any kind of Addams relative, or time-traveling Wednesday from the future. And she didn’t have Wednesday’s best interests at heart. At all. Mrs. Thornhill’s real identity tied into the whole decades-old plot of the series, which had Wednesday investigating a murder mystery involving her parents. When her folks were students at Nevermore, Gomez had been accused of killing local rich kid Garret Gates. The notoriously anti-outcast Gates family all died under mysterious circumstances.

wednesday and sheriff galpin together in show best quotes
Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

In the final episode of season one, Wednesday realizes that Mrs. Thornhill isn’t really Mrs. Thornhill at all. Her real name was Laurel Gates, who faked her own death in a drowning accident as a child. She was the last surviving member of the powerful and outcast-hating Gates family of Jericho. Laurel changed her name and infiltrated Nevermore, waiting to exact her revenge. She used her knowledge of plants to create a chemical that would unlock the “Hyde” (hidden monster) persona of local teenage Tyler Galpin, which she planned to use as a weapon of revenge against the Nevermore Academy—and the Addams clan in particular.

Christina Ricci’s Big Villain Speech

Christina Ricci's Mrs. Thornhill meets Wednesday Addams.
Netflix

In a wonderful piece of villain monologuing, Mrs. Thornhill explained how her family was committed to serving the cause of the local town of Jericho’s founder, Joseph Crackstone, her ancestor. He was a notoriously anti-outcast bigot, from Colonial times. Thornhill used her knowledge of magic, gained from a book of spells from Wednesday’s ancestor Goody Addams, to use an incantation to resurrect Joseph Crackstone. Since Goody Addams used a blood spell to imprison the soul of Crackstone, it needed someone from the Addams bloodline to unlock the curse. That someone was Wednesday.

When Wednesday arrived at the Academy, Gates pretended to befriend her. Waiting for the night of the Blood Moon to perform the spell. Luckily, Wednesday, with the help of her Nevermore friends, was able to defeat undead Joseph Crackstone. A desperate Marilyn/Laurel tried to shoot Wednesday, but Wednesday kicked her square in the face.

Did Laurel Gates go to jail? Did she die? Wednesday‘s finale kept all of that vague, should they want to bring Christina Ricci’s evil character back. But as the season finale teased us at the end, there are still more secrets in the town of Jericho that have you to be uncovered. If Wednesday gets a second season, we may see Christina Ricci come back as Laurel Gates again.