Malcolm in the Middle was a show that managed to combine plenty of laughs with intelligent observations about life in the suburbs, thanks to a fascinating cast of characters that were actually well-rounded instead of being simple comedic caricatures. It was the cast that was the main strength of the show and their interactions were plenty hilarious without the series resorting to the use of a laugh track.
Even more than ten years after the show left the air, we still can't forget the likes of Malcolm, his family, and the many people they annoyed with by simply existing. Here are the 10 best characters that the show introduced to us.
Malcolm is a young genius with a dysfunctional family and a different view on things. With each season, Malcolm navigates the treacherous moors of high-school social life equipped only with biting sarcasm and empathy that showed up at the most inopportune moments.
Despite many people finding him an annoying know-it-all, it was usually Malcolm that everyone almost unconsciously turned to when there was a tricky problem to solve. So much so that it is revealed in the final episode that his entire family has taken it for granted that he will one day become a US president.
The complete opposite of Malcolm is his elder brother Reese: a thuggish character who enjoys inflicting punishment on others and rarely thinks before acting. But there is a method to his madness. Reese's bullying has actually been keeping his school from descending into anarchy. He also planned to fight a wheelchair-bound Stevie, but only after paralyzing himself from the waist down to make it fair.
Reese is loyal to his family and is a cooking genius. Despite fighting with Malcolm, the two are extremely close and vow to maintain close ties once they're off on their own as adults.
For a long time, Dewey was the youngest brother and bore the brunt of his elder brother's bullying. Yet, Dewey may very well be the most intelligent son in the family, as he frequently found ways to come out on top and best everyone else.
While the world knows Dewey as a musical genius, it is his subtle gift for influencing others with a strategically placed word or remark that is a truly entertaining sight to behold in all his diabolical genius.
Before Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was Hal, the father of the family. Originally a minor role, so good was Cranston that his scenes were increased, along with a running gag of placing Hal in increasingly outrageous situations like partaking in a speed walking race dressed like The Flash to being covered in thousands of bees.
While Hal is a lovingly absent-minded father, he is absolutely devoted to his wife Lois. In fact, if he stays away from his wife for too long, Hal goes from an obliging suburban dad to an uncontrollable rebel who would blow up the entire house.
Francis, the eldest brother in the family, started out as an out-of-control delinquent whose rebellious nature military school could not suppress. He struck out on his own after getting legally separated from his family, traveling to Alaska and then out west to a cattle ranch.
Still, Francis never forgot the most important thing in life: reminding Lois of how terrible a mother she was. So committed is Francis to this that he deliberately does not tell her about his new job with a steady paycheck, pretending to be the good-for-nothing wastrel she always said he was.
Malcolm had a pretty rough dating life. His family's reputation, along with his own insecurities and habit of overthinking meant he had great trouble getting girls, and even more trouble hanging on to them. Cynthia was his perfect match. A genius herself, she had her own flaws that Malcolm understood and sympathized with.
She kept up with him intellectually and was one of the few women who pointed out his mistakes without running away. Unfortunately, her appearances were limited to only a couple of episodes. We can't help but imagine her and Malcolm getting married after becoming older and wiser.
4 Stevie Kenarben
Malcolm's best friend was Stevie, a wheelchair-bound, asthmatic kid with a genius-level IQ who was raised by doting but overprotective parents. Coming into contact with Malcolm brought out his fun and reckless side, and we got to see Stevie going off on his own wild adventures, from running away from home, participating in a luge race to kicking Reese's ass while wearing a robot-exoskeleton.
Through it all and his parent's divorce he remained a loyal friend to Malcolm and one of the few who could match his acid wit.
3 Craig Feldspar
Craig was Lois' co-worker at the supermarket, and hopelessly in love with her. His devotion took the form of doing endless favors to Lois and often getting tangled up in her family problems, like the time Reese caused him to break his hands, or when Dewey forced him, Reese and Malcolm, to dress up in drag and put on a show for him.
Through it all, Craig displayed those rare qualities of dogged determination in trying to win Lois' love. His spectacularly comical failure in every other aspect of his life made him a pathetic but enjoyable character to watch.
2 Mr. Herkabe
Most teachers recognized Malcolm's rare intelligence and loved him for it, but Lionel Herkabe was the exception. A genius former entrepreneur himself, he was forced to teach Malcolm's class after his company went under, and saw in their young, hopeful selves himself from his younger days when he had hopes and dreams which were dashed.
Understandably, Herkabe was a bitter man, and he took it out on his class. He met his match in Malcolm, and the two often engaged in a battle of wits where the student would usually come out on top, adding to Herkabe's sense of bitterness.
The matriarch of the family, and the driving force behind everyone. The interesting thing about Lois is that half the show's fandom considers her a terrible mother who bullied and repressed her son's hopes and dreams, while the other half considers her a great mom who used strict means to keep her wild sons on the straight and true path.
Lois was loud, abrasive and way too fond of punishment. But she was also kindhearted and empathetic, literally entering a warzone to rescue her son. She may not be the most model TV mom but she is the most interesting.