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Originally there were four brothers (although Malcolm's oldest brother attended a military school away from home, so Malcolm was still the middle sibling left at home). A fifth son was introduced in the show's fourth season, a boy named Jamie. The boys are, from eldest to youngest: Francis, Reese, Malcolm, Dewey, and Jamie. In the final episode, Lois discovered she was pregnant with a sixth child. In the third season, Francis travels home (to celebrate his father's birthday) with an Alaskan girl named Piama, and reveals that they are married. It is implied in "Hal's Christmas Gift" that the popularity order with the brothers is: Francis, Dewey, Reese, Jamie, then Malcolm. Throughout many of the series' episodes, the family is shown to be extremely loathed and despised by their neighbors. Because of Lois and Hal's Extremely low level incomes, Money is constantly tight, Bills are always late and they virtually can't afford luxuries.
During the first season, the writers decided to keep the family's last name a mystery. However, a last name had already been revealed on the show. In the pilot episode, as Francis speaks to his mother on the phone, his name tag says 'Wilkerson.' There was also a joke in the original pilot script that was cut – Malcolm, walking to school, is confronted by a boy who says "Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm. I was talking to my parents last night – I was listening to them talk, and what's your last name?" "Wilkerson, why?" Malcolm replied. "Oh. Who are the Pariahs?" said the boy. In the fifth season episode "Reese Joins the Army (1)", Reese uses a fake ID by the name of "Jetson" to lie about his age. In the series finale, "Graduation", Francis' employee ID reads "Nolastname" (or "No Last Name", a joke referring to the fact that the family name was never spoken aloud). In the same episode when Malcolm was introduced to give the graduation speech, the speaker announces Malcolm's name, but microphone feedback makes his surname inaudible, even though he does appear to mouth the phrase "No last name".
It should also be noted that the only characters to appear in every single episode are Hal, Dewey, and Reese . Lois was absent in "Clip Show" (except for flashbacks), as well as for several episodes in the fourth season, Francis appeared infrequently during the sixth and seventh seasons, and Malcolm did not appear at all during "Clip Show II" (except flashbacks).
Malcolm Wilkerson, portrayed by Frankie Muniz (151 episodes), is the titular protagonist of the series. He is shown to have a rather unjustified superiority complex, though much of his misfortunes he brings upon himself. His lack of friends and popularity is mostly due to his parents and home situation, as well as his own ego and need for fairness and truth. An extreme example of this is in the fourth season episode "Malcolm Holds His Tongue", in which he gets kicked off his basketball team for stating the flaws in his coach's game plan, and thus attempts to keep his thoughts to himself, only to get a peptic ulcer by the end, after continually listening to what people had to say and not speaking his mind.
Malcolm puts much, if not all, of the blame on his family for everything wrong in his life. He is constantly embarrassed by them and often tries to disassociate himself from them as much as possible. His personality causes him to occasionally put his own best interests ahead of others, despite the cost. He has been shown to leave his best friend Stevie Kenarban more than once, and often ran out on his Krelboyne classmates in favor of a more popular crowd (although, it is shown the Krelboynes have no true problem selling Malcolm out themselves).
Malcolm has an incredible memory, Though it usually revolves around things he resents as he states "I remember anything that ruins my life." He will also hold a grudge for years, as seen in "Morp".
Malcolm is the only one who seems bothered that the whole neighborhood hates their family.
Malcolm's relationship with his brothers is one of seeming animosity at most times, though there have been several instances of much unity and friendship between them. Though he had felt great guilt after having cheated with Reese's girlfriend (prompting Reese to join the army) the following season he compiled a list of things Reese did to him that he insisted were much worse. While he enjoys pulverizing Dewey and making him miserable, he occasionally attempts to help him, although it usually goes wrong (such as when it becomes apparent Dewey may also have a genius-level intellect, and Malcolm attempts to keep him from being transferred into the Krelboyne class, but instead manages to get him sent to a class for emotionally disturbed children after sabotaging his answers for his IQ test).
Malcolm has had five jobs in the series. His first was as a babysitter for a wealthy family to earn money to purchase a robotics kit, but he quit after learning that the parents were spying on him. In the fourth season, he worked as a tutor to a girl named Nikki, whom he eventually dated for a few episodes. Later, in the fifth season, Lois forced Malcolm to take a job with her at the Lucky Aide, as a way to have him under her control. While he hated the job and tried to quit many times, Lois would not let him; he finally quit at approximately the time he graduated high school. In the sixth season, he had a job betting on horses. In the final episode, he gets a job as a janitor at Harvard to help with his tuition.
Throughout the show, Malcolm's intellect has been more of a burden than a blessing as he is the first person the family goes to when faced with a problem as was seen when Hal refused to let him go to a school out of the country (Malcolm was hoping to use it to get away from his family). His genius also alienates him from other kids and he is often viewed as weird as seen in the episode "Krelboyne Fair". His genius is a major reason as to why Lois constantly tries to control his life and live up to her high level expectations for as she believes Malcolm is the only one of her children with a chance of amounting to anything.
In the final episode, it is revealed that Hal and Lois do not plan for him to have an easy life. Because Malcolm consistently exceeds his parents' expectations, because of his intellect, his character, and sense of ethics, by the time he graduates from high school, they have the highest of expectations for him: that he will become President of the United States. Pursuant to this, instead of letting Malcolm take a six-figure salary job out of high school, his parents force him to follow through on plans to attend college as part of an elaborate plan for his future. Lois says that at Harvard, Malcolm will have to work harder than his classmates and will accomplish more than they do, but they will continue to look down upon him. When Malcolm argues that he could have taken the job and "bought [his] way into office", Lois concludes that Malcolm "wouldn't have suffered enough". Because of the struggles he's forced to endure, Malcolm will realize that there is more to life than flaunting how intelligent he is. After college, the plan provides for him to channel his energies into a political career, and after starting off as a district attorney or running a foundation, he will be elected governor of a mid-size state, and then President. They envision that he would then become one of the greatest Presidents ever because he would represent, understand, and, more importantly, show empathy with the interests of people like his family, which, his parents say, no other President has. (Though this seems unlikely due Malcolm's selfishness.) It appears that his brothers and grandmother are aware of these plans, as when Malcolm looks around at his family after being told this, they all nod at him, and Francis simply states, "Thought you knew". After hearing this Malcolm ultimately understands that, even if he does move out of the house, he will never truly be free of his family, will not know happiness (or at least any of his own choosing), and will be constantly cursed by his genius. And with this he ultimately understands that despite the miseries he's endured throughout his childhood, his hardships have only just begun. Although he recognizes that his parents' plans are outlandish and improbable, and complains that they are making decisions for him that are rightfully his to make, he signals that he has accepted their vision for him and will carry it in his valedictorian(Which he gets no applause for) speech at his graduation ceremony. The series ends in a rather mediocre way for him, as while he does maintain contact with his family (as evidenced from a phone conversation with Reese), he is shown to be working as a janitor while attending Harvard. Despite this, it should be taken into account that Malcolm does seem to have realized the good this will do for himself and the world, accepts he can do it, and has comes to terms with his future. Further, he realizes this is his role when his mother asked him to look her in the eye and tell her he could not do it, could not do all these things, but he cannot, knowing it well within his ability.
The character was originally written to be nine years old, and Muniz was sure this would prevent him from getting the role, as he himself was thirteen at the time. However, the makers of the show liked his acting so much that they bumped up the age of the character to twelve.
Lois Welker-Wilkerson, played by Jane Kaczmarek (146 episodes), is Francis, Reese, Malcolm, Dewey, and Jamie's mother. She is described as hard-nosed, manipulative, crazy, and a complete embarrassment to her five sons and devoted husband, Hal. She is very rarely cowed by authority figures and has faced down Edwin Spangler, the extremely strict commandant of the military academy to which she sent Francis.
Although she has a great sense of morality, she has a tendency to impose it on others, more often than not complete bystanders, leading her to be disliked by many but revered by some due to her outspokenness, like the other cadets at Marlin Academy. She and Hal celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary in the second episode of Season 1. Lois' birthday reveals she turns 40 in 2000.
Lois had a very miserable childhood due to her hateful parents. They bullied and ignored her during her entire young life. As a teenager she had a lot of dreams that never came to be. Her controlling and abrasive behavior and short temper soon grew from this. Lois has an extremely unhealthy need to control and win every argument, no matter how outlandish or petty.
Despite the sacrifices she has made, her sons are not grateful. As far as they are concerned (particularly Francis and Malcolm) she is to blame for everything that has gone wrong in their lives. Indeed, Lois often appears unsympathetic to her sons' problems. She has been shown to be quite merciless, which frightens people, including police when they were trying to talk Reese out of a low speed car chase.
One of the main reasons for her controlling Malcolm's life is because, despite loving Hal, she is greatly aware that their own poor decisions ruined both their lives.
While she was having Jamie, Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey felt sorry for her and while they were at the hospital, they tried to learn how to take care of babies so they could help. However their resentment towards Lois came back when Malcolm says "MOM NEVER DID ANY OF THIS".
Lois and Hal deeply love each other. But their obsession with one another is also the main reason their home is in such a terrible state since they put sex above all else. They even forced their sons to build a Cabana in the garage, and then banned them from it. Their love for each other often disturbs people(Their kids most of all) Because their of advanced age and the inappropriate places where they make love.
Lois had once imagined that life would be sweeter if she had all girls. However that fantasy turned sour as the bad parts of girls came to mind. This ultimately made Lois realize that no matter what, any child she bears will be a nightmare, and that she is not destined for a happy, peaceful life.
She went into labor with Francis in the middle of her wedding to Hal. Lois had Reese in the hospital and pushed him out hours before he would have come out naturally, because he kicked her so hard. Malcolm was born on the lawn when Francis locked her out of the car. Dewey was presumably born in the back yard, because the family had to exit the house after Malcolm, in a failed attempt to make invisible ink with a chemistry set, created chlorine gas. Jamie was born in her bedroom and Francis delivered him because the paramedics did not come due to taking a coffee break.
Lois at times can even be abusive towards her children, usually for when they refuse to do something important, or when they are punished, or even for selfish desires. She kicked Francis out of the house for refusing to fix the roof, eliminated Reese's basic needs (such as food, use of the bathroom, clothing, and shelter by forcing him to live in the backyard) for refusing to find a job, humiliated Malcolm in public every chance she got when he was grounded, and forced Dewey to shower outside in the cold while she took a warm bubble bath.
Despite the family's rather poor lifestyle, Lois often tells her sons they should be thankful for what they have, though the reasons she states are quite outlandish and demeaning.
Lois hates being screwed over or ripped off, even if it was years ago. When a blender they bought 10 years earlier broke and it was still under warranty she demanded the money back and tore the garage apart trying to find the receipt. Also, after finding out that the families' favorite pizza parlor had an added gratuity cost on the bill, Lois forbid them from ever eating there again unless she got an apology, and though she later got the apology, she still refused to allow them to eat there after the manager would not comply her request to reimburse her for all the "extra money" she had spent in tipping. This seems to be due to all the unfair treatment she's been forced to endure in her life.
Lois has been a major reason for Malcolm's humiliation and misery. Several major points were when she humiliated him on the first day of high school, and when she made him wear a ridiculous costume with stilts outside the Lucky Aide.
It is very common for the boys to retaliate for her hostility by playing tricks on her. It was referenced that the worst thing they ever did to her was make her believe she had cancer in order to put perspective on their terrible report cards (the Nuclear Option). When stressed by her children, Lois often has a sudden explosion of anger usually involving insane erratic gestures, an array of curses, the occasional banishment from some location, and a cruel and unusual threat towards her sons. Jane Kaczmarek described Lois as 'a great mother'; this is probably because, although she is often portrayed as a villain, she really does love her children and what they sometimes see as hostility is merely an example of extreme parenting. In the episode Lois Battles Jamie, it is revealed that when Francis was born, Lois was a very soft mother; upon seeing her son attempt to light a bear on fire, however, she realized she would have to toughen up to stop her children from getting hurt and morphed into the person she was by the time the show began.
Lois has a very poor relationship with her oldest son Francis, and while they state that they love each other, neither of them can truly forgive the other for all the misery they have caused each other over the years.
Lois is intensely disliked by Hal's wealthy and snobby family, as seen in the fourth-season episode "Family Reunion". They consider her low-class and refer to her as "Lois Common Denominator." She, in turn, took a strong and immediate dislike to Francis's wife Piama. Both of them take every opportunity to back-bite each other, but by the end of the series they have developed a much more cordial relationship.
In addition to being a full-time mother, Lois works at 'Lucky Aide', a local drugstore (motto: "The L stands for Value"). Craig, one of her co-workers, clearly has a crush on her, which she does nothing to encourage. He often makes inept attempts to impress her. She prefers to shop at Value Village, which is mostly because of both her's and Hal's extremely low level income.
Lois and Hal continue to be sexually attracted to one another and seem eager to expand their brood. In the series finale it is hinted that she is pregnant once again. Her original plan was to have all girls.
In the episode "Tiki Lounge", she states that she does not believe in an afterlife, but later has to pay lip service to Hal by claiming she believes in heaven. The episode "Dewey's Opera" reveals that she suffers from severe flatulence every night as she goes to sleep.
She rarely sees her sister Susan (Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf), who only appears in the episode "Lois's Sister". Despite Susan's comfortable life, she is extremely resentful of Lois; their politeness to each other barely masks a simmering hostility that apparently once came to a boiling point over "the apple turnover incident." When Lois discovers that Susan is dying of kidney failure, she is shocked to find out that her sister would rather die than ask for a donation from her (Susan finally begrudgingly and ungratefully accepts a donated kidney).
Hal Wilkerson, played by Bryan Cranston (151 episodes), is married to Lois, and is father to Francis, Reese, Malcolm, Dewey, and Jamie. He is more relaxed in his parenting than Lois, mainly because he is afraid to make the wrong choice. However, he does discipline his boys; most of the time when Lois is disciplining them to back her up, and sometimes even when she is not around. Several episodes refer to him as a former rebel and troublemaker, much like his sons. He ran a pirate radio station in college under the name of Kid Charlemagne. Hal is an often immature, inept man with a habit of making underhanded decisions and is virtually lost without Lois to tell him what to do and keep him in check.
The episode Hal's Birthday reveals his birthday is in March and it is assumed he is born in the same year as Lois. He's also referred to as a "pasty middle aged white guy" by Cranston. Despite all that, Hal blends well with his neighbors, sharing similar interests. His indecisiveness supposedly stems from a childhood incident in which he accidentally caused a snake to strike a clown (as an adult he is afraid of both snakes and clowns). He has also a fear of heights. When Lois is away, he quickly loses self-control and indulges in his baser enjoyments, such as smoking, gambling, loud music, and building "killer robots" (as explored in one episode).
Even with Lois with him, in one episode, he steals a car that was speeding up and down the street in front of his house (subsequently pushing it into a lake with her help). In another episode, Hal is seen to love domino toppling and in the episode Bowling, he is seen as a skilled bowler (he almost bowls a perfect game, but Malcolm accidentally knocks down the pins, causing the results to be inconclusive). Hal has been revealed as a talented hairdresser and roller skater. There are also hints that he has a foot and fatness fetish. In "Hal Sleepwalks" it is implied that Reese is his favorite son, (he considers Reese to be 'normal, like [him]', and that Malcolm's intelligence scares him).
In the episode If Boys Were Girls when Lois imagines what her life would be like if she had four daughters as opposed to four sons, she imagines Hal as overweight, most likely because of all of the stress of having five women in the house, and overprotective. He is also blamed by Frances, the oldest daughter, for none of her marriages working out.
Although he does not show it much, he has a high temper, and usually flies into fits of rage over petty annoyances, frequently engaging in self-destructive vendettas against those who cross him. In the second-season episode Convention, when he and Lois go to a convention, he keeps getting into fist-fights with a man who stole a great idea from him long ago. Also when a clown at a batting cage insults Lois he immediately strikes the clown and continues to get the whole family involved when other clowns join the fray. Another example of his high temper is in the fifth-season episode Reese's Apartment, when he gets furious and starts speaking angry gibberish after hearing the horrible, outlandish thing that Reese did, (which is never revealed). He is also very squeamish and is terrified of cartoon characters like Rosie the Robot and "evil puppet" movies.
Because he is nowhere near as mean and intimidating as Lois is, his own sons are always quick to take advantage of him. Including in the episode "Hal Sleepwalks", Reese takes advantage by ordering him to do slave work when Hal doesn't know it.
Hal is very devoted to Lois. He likes the fact that he is "the only one who really understands" her and believes her to be his "special treasure." He also believes that both his happiness and the well-being of his sons depend largely on her. As a result, Hal supports Lois on most things and allows her to handle disciplining the boys. Hal once said that their love song is "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. However, as a man, he often understands what his sons are going through better than Lois, and helps them accordingly, sometimes behind Lois' back. (For example, he drives Francis back to military school when he runs away, preventing Lois from finding and punishing him.) Although he usually defers to Lois, he also knows when to disagree with her; he calms Lois down when she starts going overboard, as she tends to do, and provides a balance to her abrasive and intense personality. In the episode "Mono" he believes her to be the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful woman in the world. It is also said that he loves her more than she loves him.
Hal has sunk to some great lows during the course of the show. He stole money from Francis to pay for paint and stole Malcolm's new credit card to pay for a ski trip while trying to outdo the boys on Christmas, and lies to Dewey constantly. He even stole a present for Lois from someone in the mall (twice, both presents were not what he was looking for). He is shown to be quite cowardly; when he and an idiot friend knocked down his bedroom wall in a drunken haze he tried to think of some way to blame it on the boys. When he ruins something he often bribes his sons with money to take the blame.
Despite everything, the son he gets along the most with is Francis.
While he and Lois blame a lot of their misfortunes on the boys, a lot of it seems to stem from Hal's own poor work ethic. He has also been shown to be criminally negligent with his children; he almost drove off with baby Jamie on the roof of the car, and once stated that he left Dewey in Mexico. On Malcolm and Reese's prom night, he kicked Dewey out of the house so he and Lois could have sex (along with making the poor decision of giving Dewey his wallet, which Dewey took advantage of to get revenge on Hal and Lois for being so selfish and negligent). Because of this and his general incompetence as a man his boys have very little to no respect for him.
He has also shown to be quite hypocritical, such as when he scolded Francis for lying to his wife Piama that he was on vacation when he was in fact fired from his job, while at the same time Hal was lying to his children (particularly Reese, Malcolm, and Dewey) that he had a spectacular Christmas gift for them when he fact did not, which was caused by his jealously of his boys' presents. Hal even nearly sent Malcolm to a university not of his choice for an expensive ring offered to him by the university's recruiter, granted that Malcolm would certainly be sent to that university. He has even said out loud that he hates having children.
When he tries to help his sons, Hal usually only succeeds in humiliating them and himself horrendously. Hal is not above throwing tantrums or falling into complete despair. An example of this was when Lois's hateful mother Ida sued them with a new baby on the way, and already hopelessly in debt, while he put a brave face on for Lois, he assumed no one was watching when he fell into a horrendous wailing and sobbing fit (with Malcolm watching).
Hal fears Lois more than anything else (even more than the boys do). A great example of this was when he forgot to renew their health insurance (which was overdue for months). He madly tried to keep the boys from hurting themselves, only to ironically have a section of the roof fall on top of him breaking his leg. When Dewey called Lois for help, Hal ripped the line out, preferring to deal with great pain than face his wife. Hal (like everybody else in his family) is intensely disliked by almost everyone he knows, especially with his co-workers. When his company was facing scandal, his co-workers set him up to take the fall as a scapegoat.
He is quite passionate about a range of activities, such as roller-skating, painting, pirate radio, and race walking. He also has a passion for electronics and listening to old music. Many subplots involving Hal are that he becomes obsessed with a single topic (usually an activity or errand) that he hopes to do or finish, which usually (but not always) ends with failure and frustration. He comes from a large and rich family, all members of which have various (repressed) problems. They rarely visit because of their intense friction with Lois. Hal's family believes that Hal deserved a high-class woman, instead of Lois, who has a lower-class background. His father (Christopher Lloyd) never listened to him, and so he always made jokes or tickled Hal before they both could speak about Lois. His mother is mentioned but never actually seen.
Hal works as a low-level, cubicle-bound, white-collar worker in a large, scandal-ridden corporation. He was used as a scapegoat for much of the company's shady business practices, a charge that would have resulted in a lengthy prison term. However, with the help of Malcolm, Hal proved that he could not possibly be the guilty party because all of the incriminating evidence against him took place on Fridays, and Hal presented inarguable proof that he had been skipping work on Fridays for 15 years. He stated in the sixth-season episode Motivational Seminar that he works in systems management. In another episode Hal's company head stated that Hal was one of the best systems managers he ever had, however in the seventh-season episode College Recruiters (2) Hal says he could be replaced at his job in an hour.
Hal gives each of the boys "one free pass". He does so when they do something so horrible that it couldn't be told to Lois. They don't get to choose when to use it, Hal decides by how bad it is, and how Lois would punish them if she found out. Each of the boys used their pass at a fairly young age apparently. In a flash back, Hal remembers all the times he gave them their "one free pass". Francis used his when he got handcuffed to a pole on a stage at a strip club. In the flash back you see Francis trying to hand the stripper money as Hal tries to unlock the handcuffs. Reese's was when he strapped roller skates to a horse and accidentally killed it in the driveway. Malcolm used his when he mixed the wrong chemicals in his chemistry set and blew/burned his and Hal's hair off leaving their scalps red, with some smoke trailing off, and Dewey's was when Hal caught him smoking.
It is also implied that Hal (was) a heavy smoker. He has stashes of old cigarettes all around the house. When he caught Dewey smoking them, he also got addicted until Lois caught him. Lois punished him; Malcolm said: "Mom made Dad get rid of all of his cigarette stashes. He is pretty motivated; she said if she finds a cigarette tomorrow, he will have to swallow it". He finishes the line just as Hal is seen opening the air vent to pull out a hidden stash.
Reese Wilkerson, played by Justin Berfield (151 episodes), is the second oldest of the sons, and also appears to be the least intelligent and most destructive, although sometimes he appears to be more intelligent than Malcolm when devising fiendish plans. He also has scored high on tests, when he set his mind to it, and had nothing to do but study, as shown in the episode in which he is kicked out and is alone, in which he is referred to as the "most improved student ever seen" by his teacher. Despite this, Reese's stupidity might actually prove that he is (rather than Francis) the worst child. He usually doesn't use his brain. Reese is often too tied up in violence and laziness to try to learn, and appears to have immense problems focusing. He even had a mean streak in the womb; while Lois was in labor, he kicked her so hard and so often that she delivered him several hours ahead of schedule. Immediately following his delivery he kicked the doctor in the nose. His obsession with violence horrifies the family and leaves him with few friends, partly as he is a bully at school. He bullies the "Krelboynes" in Malcolm's class, (except Stevie who, because of being paraplegic, is "off limits" except in certain situations), as well as his younger brothers, especially Dewey. Reese is often seen exercising to build his muscles. He is apparently the favorite grandson of both Ida and Victor, and in "Hal Sleepwalks", is implied to be Hal's favorite as well, though most episodes show that both Lois and Hal have very little to no hope for Reese and just want him gone.
Reese has very little (if any) empathy with virtually no sense of right and wrong, and seems to enjoy doing bad things for the fun of it, despite the trouble he gets into and could even be classified as a sociopath. When he first showed a talent for cooking, he entered a cooking contest and despite being a clear winner sabotaged all of the other contestants, and when confronted about ruining an obese woman's quiche, he shows no regret on calling her fat. Reese has also been shown willing to sell out his own family to save himself. When Hal was trapped under a collapsed room while they were grounded, he was all for abandoning him and making a break for it. When Malcolm was doing badly at bowling, Reese led the whole bowling alley in making fun of him. Reese bought Dewey a new toy plane but then smashed it in front of him just to see the look on his face. Dewey said he was the worst brother ever, Reese said (excitedly), "I know, isn't it great?!". Shockingly, Reese is quite proud of the animosity he inspires in his peers.
Reese has been shown to be cowardly and is often quick to run when things turn against him.
It is very rare that his family is ever proud of him. When he was on the school wrestling team Malcolm states "We're still getting used to this whole proud-of-Reese thing". It even gets to the point where Hal and Lois openly admit that he is hopeless.
Reese's apparent ruthlessness is further explored as he is shown to be an expert (and cold blooded) hunter. He drove his supposed cousin to tears in which he said "No more... He spared nothing!"
Because of his bullying and destructive nature he gains a lot of contempt from everyone around him, including his own family (especially Malcolm and Dewey). Both Malcolm and Dewey take great pleasure from whatever befalls Reese knowing full well he deserves it. Reese has been outsmarted and manipulated by Dewey many times.
Reese takes great pride in what victories come his way no matter how petty or meaningless. He was inadvertently an integral part in an experiment with a new enzyme Malcolm and Stevie were working on for a contest a local company was working on. But while the enzyme won and would go on to make millions of dollars, the company kept all the patent rights and cut the boys off completely, and because they were minors there was nothing they could do about it and all they won was a pencil case, while Malcolm put on a happy face for the audience he was actually infuriated, but Reese was delighted at the prize.
Reese seems to find life easier the lower he keeps everyone's expectations.
During his teen years, Reese ran off to join the army (after discovering that his girlfriend was cheating on him with Malcolm) without telling his family where he had gone. He was underage at the time, but managed to enlist using a fake ID. He was successful in completing Basic Training and was praised as one of the most brilliant soldiers in his platoon after he learned to "turn his brain off" and surrender his will to his superiors. He "turned his brain back on" during a war game and utilized his past experiences with his family to allow his side to win. After being sent to Afghanistan in combat conditions, Reese immediately deserts and starts trying to make his way home, unwittingly marrying a man in the process. When Lois discovers what he has done, she informs the recruiter that he is underage, gets implicit permission to bring him back, after impressing his Drill Sergeant with new and inventive ways to punish his men and turn them against one another, then flies halfway to Kabul making friends with various tribal leaders in order to get him back. Late in Season 6, he deliberately fails all of his final exams so that he will have to repeat his entire senior year of high school, thus making sure that he can live at home for one more year.
Despite Reese's outwardly unintelligent facade, he discovered a gift for cooking in his early teen years. He is gifted at gourmet cooking and enjoys it; the only effective way his parents can find to punish him is banning him from the kitchen. He finds success in a meat-packing job, but is fired after setting all the cows free (trying to impress a girl).
Reese is depicted as a virgin with limited sexual knowledge, although he manages to go on several dates with girls. In the episode "Morp", a girl named Jeanie pays Reese to take her to the senior prom because she had been too focused on getting into college and can't find a date by normal means. Reese turns out to be a gentleman and sweeps her off her feet. Although Jeanie did not initially plan to do anything with Reese after the prom itself, she invites him to go to the beach with her and tells him, "I really want you." Before Reese can accept, his watch alarm goes off, indicating that he is "off the clock" and leaves, revealing that he was only nice to "satisfy his customer". At one point, Reese's grandmother Ida makes Malcolm and Reese fight over a teenage girlfriend named Raduca, who comes from the same village as Ida. The winner is supposed to marry Raduca. Reese ends up being together with her and subsequently moves into the family's garage with her. Raduca immediately cheats on Reese and ends up getting deported, because Reese wasn't able to answer simple questions about her, even claiming that she has a tail. He starts dating a girl named Alison in the episode "Stupid Girl", who has the same intellect as him, although he considers her to be smarter than he is. They keep dating until the prom, since Reese originally planned to have a fight with her before it and make up with her afterward, so he wouldn't have to pay the expenses for going to the prom. She makes him go anyway, but announces that she will break up with him immediately after the prom.
Though from beginning of series to end, Reese ultimately (And Proudly) proved himself a lost cause, After graduating high school, Reese moves in with Craig Feldspar and finds success as a janitor. In a telephone conversation with Malcolm in the series finale, he says that when the principal found peepholes in the bathroom, the head janitor was fired, and thus Reese got his job.
Dewey Wilkerson, played by Erik Per Sullivan (151 episodes), is portrayed as being quieter and more inclined to the arts than his brothers, at least until Jamie was born. It was noted in one episode that Dewey was exposed to radiation from a cracked microwave while in the womb. He was almost born on the lawn of the family house after everyone had to evacuate due to toxic fumes from an accident with Malcolm's chemistry set. He hides his intellect from Malcolm and Reese, in many cases cleverly taking advantage of them. But for much of the series he is frequently beaten up and picked on by them. In one episode he fools Reese into believing he is forwarding instructions from their mother when in fact he is making them up while talking to a telemarketer, Francis, a time and temperature lady, or even no one on the phone ("Hal's Friend"). Despite being a genius like his older brother Malcolm, Dewey is the opposite in terms of personality. There is a chance that Dewey downplays his intelligence where the rest of his family are concerned, perhaps so that Hal and Lois would not try to invest time in influencing his personal life, much like they do with Malcolm.
In the earlier seasons, Dewey was shown to have a very poor grip on reality. Often from his point of view when he asks his parents nicely for something while in reality throwing a horrendous tantrum. He had often been shown biting heads off his toys, eating parts of a teddy bear, marbles, coins, and even underwear. His memories and fantasy also deviated away from reality or the current situation greatly as when he remembered a car incident HE was driving while Lois was saying his name, and while Malcolm and Reese were fantasizing on how cool they would look on a motor bike, Dewey was imagining himself with six arms.
Dewey is sometimes abnormally calm and stoic in dangerous situations, as in "Zoo" when he and Malcolm are trapped in a tiger pit and the show almost ends. Dewey assures Malcolm that they will be all right even as the tigers start to close in; he is proven correct when Reese and a goat he has been fighting fall into the pit and distract the tigers. In "Bowling" when he was sent to his bedroom as punishment for killing the neighbor's parakeet, in one version of the scenario (the episode shows what happens when Hal or Lois take the boys bowling) he gets Hal to fall asleep then has fun all night, and when Lois is the one who stays at home, he acts calm enough for her to let him watch TV (though suspicious if this is a new tactic, she only lets him watch C-SPAN).
While Dewey holds a great deal of animosity for his brothers, the one he despises the most is Reese, and takes great delight in what pain comes his way.
Because of the misery he has to endure from his family, Dewey doesn't even think twice about undermining them.
Dewey longs for attention, especially in Future Malcolm, where he tries to convince his parents that the baby is talking to him from within the womb and forcing Dewey to do crazy things such as painting a wall green, driving the family car, and breaking a stack of crockery. As the series progressed, most episodes involving Dewey would have him viewed as a manipulator when dealing with his brothers or parents. Examples of this are the episode Stevie in the Hospital, when he made Lois think she was losing her mind by messing with her clothes and daily routine, and in Dewey's Opera, when he fueled a fight between Lois and Hal so he would have better material for the opera he was writing based on their fight. In Baby Part One, Dewey was angered to learn that his parents, or possibly just Hal, had completely forgotten that the day they planned to induce labor on Jamie was his birthday. He got back at Hal when, at the Bridal Expo they were attending, Dewey went around collecting sympathy from people who were working at the expo by telling them his story. They then set it up so Dewey could reveal what Hal did to the entire convention in order to publicly shame him.
In the fourth season, Dewey begins to exhibit a high degree of intelligence, seen mainly in his talent of playing the piano and composing music. The episode "Humilition" reveals his start on the instrument: he has a piano delivered to the garage and teaches himself in a series of 15-minute daily lessons. For a short while, Dewey had a double-life, by skipping school and performing street magic in town, in which he was tipped heavily, making over $1,000, but at the time his parents were in a financial crisis and happened to discover the stash of money; Dewey showing his soft side, let them keep it. In "Malcolm Visits College," Dewey even builds a fully functioning organ out of various appliances and objects, simultaneously driving Hal insane with the disappearing items (Hal had previously refused to buy Dewey a piano to play). In one episode it shows that Dewey has memories from when he was a baby and dropped by his grandparents. Dewey is about to follow his brother into the gifted class, only to have Malcolm help him stay in normal classes. Malcolm has Reese complete Dewey's test, which accidentally gets Dewey thrown into the "Special" class, which is full of kids considered lost causes. Students in this class are known as the "Buseys" (a reference to actor Gary Busey).
Dewey has since organized the class to desire more normalized expectations, and taught them standard lessons. He has been trying to show that they are just as capable as others, and has organized them to do things such as performing an opera he wrote based on his family. By the seventh season, it seems that Dewey is no longer in the "Buseys" class; however, it is not specified whether Dewey had been restored to mainstream classes, or if he had been transferred to the Krelboynes.
Dewey spends much effort making sure his brother Jamie does not feel neglected as he did. Jamie once showed Dewey a pearl necklace, as a result Jamie and Dewey went on a treasure hunt looking for the "stash" (where Francis' hid Lois' jewelry) as part of a back story, in the end it turned out that Jamie was stealing jewelry from their neighbor's house. In Morp, Dewey learns that his parents have practically no baby photos or photos of him growing up. He then stages an elaborate scavenger hunt for his parents to complete, after Lois and Hal kicked him out of the house so that they could have sex while Malcolm and Reese were at their prom and Hal gave him his wallet. Dewey had the two collecting party supplies and food, and then spent the rest of Hal's money renting out a video arcade. Lois and Hal learned he did it so Jamie could have his own private party, and to give them an opportunity to not ignore him growing up like they did Dewey. While Lois still punished him, she admitted it was a nice thing he did for his brother.
While Dewey has many of the same intellectual gifts as Malcolm, he exhibits none of his brother's social dysfunction. His optimism and generally upbeat personality leads Lois and Hal to surmise that he will have more success and happiness in life. In "Hal Sleepwalks", Lois tells Malcolm that "Dewey is a flier; he'll just drift and float through life and things will turn out for him". This vision for his future is ultimately confirmed in the series finale, when Lois tells Malcolm "You don't get the easy path. You don't get to just have fun and be rich and live the life of luxury", leading Hal to state "That's Dewey".
Francis Wilkerson, played by Christopher Kennedy Masterson (119 episodes), is the oldest of the brothers and the biggest troublemaker. Francis is a regular character on the show for the first five seasons, although he has lived outside the house from the series' beginning. His mother, Lois, was in labor with Francis in the middle of her wedding to Hal. Francis is driven by a strong though greatly misguided need for freedom and independence. He was a troublemaker from a young age; he broke curfew, skipped class, drank, smoked and slept around. He is also known to have a big police record (since he was a young child). Lois exiled him to a military academy after he was caught in bed with his girlfriend, and crashed the neighbor's car (which proceeded to burn up), and got four nose rings (Lois warned him he would go to military academy if he got so much as one). From afar, Francis provides fodder for many subplots. Francis is shown (in frequent flashbacks) dating girls of which his parents did not approve, although he claims to be in love.
Out of all the brothers, Francis has the worst relationship with Lois. Their animosity towards each other is mostly due to Francis's refusal to be dominated by her, Which was basically the driving force of his antics.
Francis blames his mother for most of his problems and, at one point, even pretends to be an alcoholic in a ploy to make her feel guilty. He has been shown to be obsessive and going out of his way to prove Lois wrong (such as getting his nose pierced multiple times just in order to spite his mother who forbade him to do so). Francis did not feel guilt for the things he did and believed his actions were justified, no matter how horrendous they were. Francis also has a very poor relationship with his grandmother Ida, as they are often seen arguing and attempting to make each other miserable, and, on occasion, even physically attacking one another (in the episode "Baby", Ida seriously hurt Francis by squeezing his testicles, and in "Graduation", Francis attempted to kill her by grabbing a fireplace poker)
During the first two seasons, at the military academy, rebellious Francis finds a formidable adversary in Commandant Edwin Spangler, whose hook-for-a-hand proved a valuable comic device as Francis sows insurrection in the student ranks. In his time there it is shown that Francis' vandalism at school is caused (at least in part) by his desire to stand up to Spangler after the Commandant's cruel treatment of other cadets. At the beginning of the third season, Francis heard about a supposedly lucrative logging job in Alaska from his friend Eric and tried to convince Lois to let him go. Lois refused, and in a rage, Francis slammed the phone off the wall, landing on his foot, and while hopping around in pain caused a display case to fall on him. Despite the 9 inch gash in his leg, Spangler insisted Francis rebuild the case himself immediately despite his injury. This was the last straw, and at only 17 years old, he legally emancipates himself with the help of forged signatures and an unscrupulous Alabama lawyer. He then leaves the academy, accidentally cutting off Spangler's remaining hand in the process, and heads to Alaska to work in the kitchen at a logging camp.
While in Alaska, Francis finds that the job is anything but what Eric described. Once there he is under the employment of the malevolent Lavernia, a cruel and brutal woman who works him to the bone for extremely little pay. Despite clearly ruining his life, Francis prefers this than proving Lois right. After several misadventures he marries a local woman, Piama, whom he had dated for one month. Lois reacts hysterically and continues to be somewhat hostile toward Piama for some time. Piama, like Lois, is hot-tempered and does not shrink when Lois goes after her. By season 4 Francis and Piama have left Alaska (due to the closure of the logging camp) and Francis finds work as a farmhand at a New Mexico dude ranch owned by a German couple. Here, Francis becomes more of a responsible adult: he even begins to discipline his younger brothers, who always regarded him as a rule-breaking role model. A little over two years after he begins working at the ranch, however, he is fired because the ATM he used to deposit the ranch's funds was not actually an ATM (it is not told what it was, though it's hinted to be a food trough).
For the remainder of seasons six and seven, Francis makes only occasional appearances, yet he is still credited in each episode. While visiting Francis, Dewey discovers that he has regressed and reverted to his old ways, living in a cheap apartment without getting a job. Here, he briefly takes a job as the manager for his friend's band and attempts to start his own business.
In the final episode, Francis and his mother fight over the fact that he remains unemployed. Later, his father discovers that Francis has been working at a large corporation called Amerisys Industries for two months. He explains that he enjoys his job of sitting in a tiny cubicle entering data into computers all day immensely, but he kept the job a secret from his family because he equally enjoys frustrating his mother by telling her that he is unemployed. Francis' final scene shows him taunting his mother over the phone with his non-existent unemployment by yelling, "You just can't stand that your son is still a free spirit!" He then picks up his briefcase, makes plans to come home right after work for dinner with Piama, kisses her, and happily heads to the office.
Francis is often shown helping the boys when they have problems with Lois and Hal; when Lois found her red dress burned in the toilet, she tried many of her tricks forcing the boys to reveal who burned the dress (which was Hal's fault), Malcolm talked with Francis over the phone, who revealed all of her tricks to dupe Lois (until she found out about it). He also helped Reese over the phone when he was chased by the police during his driver's lesson. One exception was when Lois and Hal, accompanied with Abe and Kitty, were searching for the boys and Stevie (when they went to the fair). Francis provided them with many different locations and even consulted Richie about the shows in the town to find them, proved successful.
Jamie Wilkerson was played by identical twin brothers James and Lukas Rodriguez (35 episodes). During the earlier episodes when he was a baby, he was played by twin sisters Jessica and Kara Sanford (24 episodes). The character first appeared in season four of the show on May 18, 2003. Jamie is the youngest of the family for almost all the later seasons of the series, but that changes on the series finale's Epilogue where it is revealed that Lois is pregnant again. When it was discovered that Lois was pregnant with Jamie, it was not met with happiness. Hal and Lois were hard pressed financially, even more so as Ida was suing them at the time, and their current sons were upset that she was pregnant again. However, after, talking amongst themselves and Piama, the boys become more willing to welcome their new sibling. Like his older brothers, in the episode "Lois Battles Jamie", Jamie proves to be more than a handful for Lois; refusing to eat his peas, getting himself banned from Gymboree and being able to slip away from his high chair numerous times. He is also the first of the boys to attempt to kill Lois by pushing a huge shelf on her, but is unsuccessful, as Lois rolled away just in time. (However, it was revealed that Reese had been giving him three cans of soda per day, which is why Jamie had been acting so crazy. According to Reese, "half a can makes [him] nuts.") Jamie was the first to ever actually break Lois' spirit, forcing her and Hal to call Francis so he could remember what made her the mother she was. Though Francis was in extremely emotional pain, he managed to remind Lois what made her the parent she was. Jamie has managed to remain silent for a vast majority of his time on the series. Jamie has only ever spoken twice in the series; In "Reese vs. Stevie," he does says, "shut up," when Lois, in an effort to get Jamie to start talking, filled every second with thoughts about her day and early life, most notably about her miserable adolescence. In "Blackout," Jamie can be heard saying, "Francis," when he sees that Francis has returned home. In the character's first appearance, Jamie's gender was left ambiguous. But in "Vegas", Hal tells him "Nice try, Mister," after his attempts to urinate on him, and later, Lois introduces Malcolm and Jamie as her sons, thereby confirming that Jamie is a boy.
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