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Characters: Malcolm in the Middle
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    The Family 

Malcolm

Played by: Frankie Muniz


Reese

Played by: Justin Berfield


Dewey

Played by: Erik Per Sullivan

  • Annoying Younger Sibling
  • Beware the Nice Ones
  • Big Brother Worship: For Francis (well, sort of. They barely interacted before he was deported to Military School, so he doesn't have as much personal worship as Malcolm and Reese).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He's possibly the most devious family member.
  • Calling The Parents Out: He frequently manages to get revenge against Hal and Lois whenever they neglect him or treat him unfairly. Hal forgot his birthday led to Dewey publicly shaming him in front of every single attendee at a Bridal expo. Lois saying she couldn't get a vital component to a science experiment (which led to Dewey failing) resulted in Dewey Gaslighting her. And for the most part, he actually gets away with it.
  • Character Development: Undergoes this more than any other character (with the possible exception of Francis). Over the course of the series, he evolves from a ditzy Cloudcuckoolander with an overactive imagination into a Wise Beyond His Years child prodigy who is just as smart as (if not moreso than) Malcolm. Justified, given that he ages through the most critical period of child development during the time course of the series (going from a pre-adolescent child in the pilot to a young teenager in the finale).
  • The Chessmaster: He shows shades of this in later seasons.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Early in the series. Comes back a couple of times in later seasons when he loses himself in his own fantasies while telling stories to Jamie.
  • Creepy Child
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Ditzy Genius
  • Gender Bender
  • Guile Hero
  • Ignored Epiphany: Tried to explain one to Reese and Malcolm in Buseys Run Away. After finally being put in a normal classroom, Dewey lacks the drive to commit heinous pranks with his brothers like he used to. Therefore, he starts bonding with Lois while Malcolm and Reese keep getting punished. They don't understand what's going on, and Dewey tries to explain that the reason Lois is acting so nice to him, is that he hasn't done anything stupid or destructive, so she hasn't needed to punish him. "It's not her, it's us." His brothers didn't get what he was saying and automatically assumed he's become Lois' spy.
    • The epiphany turns out to be wrong when it turns out Lois is treating him differently only because he managed to move back to the regular class.
  • Karmic Trickster
  • Knight in Sour Armor <—> Pragmatic Hero: Depends on the episode.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Is a master at playing head games; even manages to drive Lois of all people insane in one episode. His favorite victims are his father and Reese though.
  • Mouthy Kid
  • Mr. Imagination
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Only Sane Man: Later in the series.
  • Papa Wolf: Dewey will do everything in his power to protect and nurture the kids in the special classroom, because no one else is willing to.
    • Also to his younger brother, even tricking his own parents to ensure that the younger brother gets the attention from his parents that he himself never got because they were always to busy dealing with their more troublesome kids.
  • The Stoic
  • Too Dumb to Live: In a flashback: while one of his brothers is cranking the pedal of an overturned bicycle, he takes a bite out of the spinning wheel. He grows out of this much quicker than his brothers, and starts to take pleasure in hurting and manipulating others instead.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Was willing to do anything to ensure that his brother got even a decent childhood, even if it meant tricking or humiliating his parents in the process.
  • Wicked Cultured: Dewey is clearly the second most intelligent member of his family, the most cultured and sophisticated, and arguably the most devious.
    • Lois realizes it's likely Dewey that was Gas Lighting her because she knew Reese couldn't possibly have kept it a secret for so long and Malcolm didn't have the patience he did.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years


Francis

Played by: Christopher Kennedy Masterson

  • Aesop Amnesia: In season 6, after being fired from the Grotto, he's back to the way he was during the first few seasons.
  • Ax-Crazy: Before being sent to military school.
  • Big Brother Bully : He admits to Dewey that he tortured them, stole their toys, locked them in a closet, and apparently cut Reese on the shoulder deep enough to leave a scar with a Bayonet.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He assumes more this role throughout the series, though he can still have his Big Brother Bully moments from time to time.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil
  • Calling The Old Lady Out: Frequently rebels and insults Lois, and it is heavily implied that it is for no other reason than just to spite her.
    • His female equivalent, Frances, is similar, although her hate is more directed towards her dad, blaming him for none of her marriages working out.
  • Character Development: He becomes a lot more responsible as the series progress. In fact, many later episodes deal with how he fights his insane impulses (like when he warned Reese against collecting toilet rings from a dump like he did as a teen but ended up trying to beat Reese's record.) By the end, he is married and in a stable office job that, unlike Hal, he likes. It's possible though that Hal did like his job when he was the same age as Francis, but grew to resent it.
  • The Chew Toy: Especially in earlier seasons.
  • Cool Big Bro: He's seen this way by Malcolm, Reese and Dewey.
  • Enfant Terrible: In the episode Lois fights Jamie, in flashback form, we learn that Francis was absolutely horrible as a toddler. Probably the worst act he committed was using the last of the china to pour a flammable substance (lighter fluid) onto his teddy bear, and then set it on fire, which also resulted in Lois becoming the mother she currently is. It's also hinted that Lois's attempt at loving Francis (by placing the already burning teddy bear in the fireplace, burning her hand in the process) was a painful memory for him, given his reaction when he tells Lois this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He refused to fight against his boss, Lavernia, because she is a woman — until she ended up mocking his mother. He then fights back and the fight ended with a draw.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: He and Piama knew each other a very short time before getting married. Slightly deconstructed when there are several moments where they wonder whether their relationship can work out, but ultimately they remain together.
  • Free the Frogs
  • Gender Bender: In the episode where Lois imagines if his four sons were girls. Notably, Christopher also plays girl Francis while his brothers all got different actresses to portray them.
  • Generation Xerox
  • Global Ignorance
  • For the Evulz: Francis basically committed his delinquent behavior either to spite his mother (who told him not to do them) or just for the heck of it.
  • High School Hustler
  • Jerkass
  • Lack of Empathy: As evidenced in the Big Brother Bully trope, he did several heinous things, and he implies that this is what being a good brother is all about. Also, he does very terrible and destructive things during his revolts against his parents and is implied to have absolutely no remorse for any people he hurt as a result, and he actually ends up in emotional pain when he has to tell Lois how much she actually shaped his life in a memory that should be a pretty heartwarming memory.
  • Laser-Guided Karma
  • Mr. Fanservice
  • Never My Fault: He tries to pin (almost) all of his faults on his mother. In fact, he was legitimately stumped when his C.O. told him to think of one thing that he did wrong that he doesn't blame on his mother. The only time he actually did admit to wrongdoing without blaming his mother or anyone else was when he admitted that it was his fault that his brothers turned out the way they did.
    • In the final season we discover that he's a recovering alcoholic and that he has been blaming Lois for his problems in his AA meetings. Then Piama accidentally reveals that Francis is not a drunk but that he's just using AA to vent and Lois gives him a rare form of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. She tells him that he needs to grow up and stop blaming his mistakes on her or on the alcohol, and leaves him to take a look at himself in the mirror, which he does... Until he sees Piama in the reflection, then he starts blaming her.
  • Nominal Hero
  • Not So Different
  • Out of Focus: In the last two seasons.
  • Playing with Fire: This is what causes Lois to attempt to pull a complete 180 on her raising methods (he nearly set his teddy bear on fire, and the fact that he was pouring gasoline on it and then attempting to light it implied that he was doing so deliberately)
  • Rebellious Spirit
  • Screams Like a Little Girl
  • The Sociopath
  • Too Dumb to Live: Shown in a flashback throwing a knife up in the air then extending his hand out to catch it.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: While attending military school, he was forced into a hazing ritual by the other students. NONE of their humiliations or scare tactics had any effect on him. He cites that being on the receiving end of Lois' child raising-tactics him is the reason for this. The students then decide to use Lois for inspiration.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: As a toddler, Francis attempted to douse his teddy bear with gasoline and then set it on fire before Lois intervened. Later, as a child, he had locked his parents out of the car while his mom was going into labor, and he also frequently tortured his brothers, stole their toys, locked them in a closet, and at one point scarred Reese with a bayonet.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played straight, then subverted. See Even Evil Has Standards.

Jamie

Played by: James and Lukas Rodriguez

  • Enfant Terrible: He's so bad that he actually manages to break his mother's spirit.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: From stealing from the neighbors, to nearly killing his mother, he's proven himself to be as big as a threat as his brothers.

Lois

Played by: Jane Kaczmarek
  • Abusive Parents: Aside from the well known Financial Abuse, she is also implied to be physically abusive, given what Francis commented on what things his brothers should resist in regards to possible methods of extracting who burned her dress, and his resistance to a hazing from a cult on the military school resulted in their adopting Lois's methods. Of course, then again, given his obvious hatred for his mother, it's possible that he either lied about it or led himself to believe it.
    • She originally intended to subvert it, as she intended to make her household lax of rules specifically because she didn't want to have her children go through the life she herself had to put up with Ida. Unfortunately, Francis as a child proved how faulty that line of thought was when he did several bad things which came to a halt when he attempted to douse his teddy bear with gasoline and set it on fire.
    • In addition, she herself was a victim of parental abuse via her mother. It is implied to be far, far worse than anything she puts her own kids through, and unlike Lois (who as described bellow acts this way in order to keep her boys safe), doesn't do it to protect Lois, she's just a horrible, spiteful old woman.
    • Following the incident with the teddy bear mentioned above, Lois had calmly and firmly describe to baby Francis that from that point on she would do everything in her power to keep him and any other child she might have as safe as possible, regardless as to whether or not her kids would hate her for it. Lois knows very well how her kids feel about her parenting, but she legitimately does not care because she's willing to live with them hating her as long as they're safe and alive.
  • Action Mom
  • Anti-Hero: An Unscrupulous Hero at her best and a Nominal Hero at her worst.
  • Anti-Villain: Type II, her mother and her first son eventually led her to this.
  • Ax-Crazy: Not to Francis's or Reese's level, but she does have her moments.
  • Because You Can Cope
  • Best Years of Your Life
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Though viewers almost always see the "Bitch" part she's very good at hiding her true self from people outside of the family. It's implied that she does this to the department of child services.
  • Control Freak: To the point where a random police officer calls her out on it, along with a Resident Advisor at a school she was visiting with Malcolm, though the RA admitted he was one too.
  • Dark and Troubled Past
  • Determinator: After Reese is sent to Afghanistan she crosses half the earth in order to bring him back home.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Played frequently and famously as a major character flaw, such examples would be in Evacuation (She grounds Malcolm for being late home from studying at the library, while insisting on continuing the punishment during a neighborhood-wide evacuation) and Health Scare (where Lois grounds Malcolm and Reese for a week for simply tracking mud on the kitchen floor, even after the promised to clean it up, though it's somewhat justified as she was distracted by a potentially terminal condition Hal had).
  • Evil Matriarch: Not to Ida's level, but she does have her moments.
  • Freudian Excuse
  • Financial Abuse: Towards Malcolm.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: In "Lois Strikes Back".
  • Hypocrite: In the episode she gets Malcom a job at her store, in a variety of different way. Malcolm calls her out on it repeatedly given how strict and principled she is at home, but she is utterly remorseless about it, spinning it as him learning harsh lessons about life.
  • Jerkass
  • Jury Duty
  • Karma Houdini: Occasionally, but there are other times (i.e. Evacuation) where she gets her comeuppance.
  • Karmic Trickster
  • Knight Templar Parent
  • Lack of Empathy: Towards Malcolm, to some extent.
  • Mama Bear: Toward Reese. She also ripped off her boss's wig for insulting Dewey.
  • Manipulative Bitch
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Masculine Girl to Hal's Feminine Boy.
  • My Beloved Smother: To Malcolm and Francis.
  • Parental Favoritism: Somewhat, towards Reese. She explains that this is because she knows Malcolm is smart enough to get out of difficult situations and Reese is the one who needs help.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: The "Pitbull" in her relationship with Hal.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Considering how frequently she throws a temper tantrum.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: She's usually right about something but her line of reasoning for something being wrong is that things can't be that way because that would require her doing something wrong.
  • Sanity Slippage: Happens in the "Reese Joins the Army" trilogy, but gets over with it at the end of the second part.
  • Sociopathic Hero
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Towards Reese, and only Reese.
  • Tsundere: Type A.
  • The Unfavourite: Ida always liked Susan better.
  • The Unfettered
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
  • Verbal Tic: Tends to use the word "always" a lot.


Hal

Played by: Bryan Cranston

    Friends And Classmates 

Stevie Kenarban

Played by: Craig Lamar Traylor

Dabney Hooper and Lloyd Jensen

Played by: Kyle Sullivan and Evan Matthew Cohen

Cynthia Sanders

Played by: Tania Raymonde

Jessica

    Relatives 

Ida

Played by: Cloris Leachman

  • 0% Approval Rating: Literally nobody in her family likes her even a little bit.
    • The one exception, however, is Reese in her first and final appearances.
  • Abusive Parent: To Lois.
  • Dumb Is Good: Believes this, hence why she only likes Reese.
  • Evil Matriarch: To Lois so very, very much.
  • Evil Oldfolks
  • For the Evulz
  • Heroic Sacrifice: She does do one thing that's selfless and awesome, when she pushes Dewie out of the way of an incoming truck and loses her leg in the process.
  • JERKASS
  • The Old Country: Ida and Victor apparently immigrated to the US from an unspecified Ruritania country in Eastern Europe, possibly Poland.
  • Parental Favoritism: Towards Susan.
  • Pet the Dog: She had some sociopathic examples of esteem and self-sacrifice which help explain why Lois still cares more than she should about her.
  • Racist Grandma: To the point where Lois and Francis make a plan with their (African-American) friends to get Ida out of their house so Lois could not have her there when she gives birth. It works too, until her waters break.
    • This trope seems to be subverted when Ida reveals she's engaged to a man from Hong Kong, but it turns out she just wanted his money.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!
  • The Sociopath
  • Your Cheating Heart: She had a secret affair with a man named Radu Gogorsky, who was Lois' real biological father.

Victor

Played by: Robert Loggia

Walter

Piama Tananahaakna

Played by: Emy Coligado

    Other Adults 

Craig Feldspar

Played by: David Anthony Higgins

Abe and Kitty Kenarban

Played by: Gary Anthony Williams and Merrin Dungey

Herkabe

Played by: Chris Eigeman

    Francis' Bosses 

Commandant Edwin Spangler

Played by: Daniel von Bargen

  • The Bus Came Back: In "Dewey's Dog."
  • Dean Bitterman
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty
  • Hook Hand
  • Jerkass
    • He later becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the episode when Francis leaves the academy, acknowledging that he has developed a level of respect for his adversity.
  • Jerkass Fašade: Later on in "Dewey's Dog," it is revealed that he is actually an extremely depressed and broken man and that tormenting the cadets at military school was the only joy and purpose he had in life.
  • Old Soldier: Subverted. Despite his numerous amputations and scars, he has never actually served in a war (all of his injuries were non-combat related).
  • Worthy Opponent: He eventually comes to see Francis as this.

Lavernia

Played by: Brenda Wehle

  • Absolute Cleavage: She wears an extremely low-cut shirt and never misses an opportunity to tell the males around her to stop staring at her cleavage.
  • Bad Boss: She not only works all of her employees like dogs but also charges them high fees for rent and other basic amenities (such as bedding and hot water) and will deduct money from their paychecks when they fail to keep up with it. She does this on purpose so they have to stay and work for her until they pay her off, which she makes sure they can't do until the logging is finished
  • The Baroness: Of the Rosa Klebb type.
  • Ice Queen
  • Jerkass
  • Only One Name
  • You Work For Me Now: The moment Francis turns up to work as a lumberjack, she tells him no and forces him to start working for her.

Otto and Gretchen Mankusser

Played by: Kenneth Mars and Meagan Fay

  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign / Gratuitous German: Both are prone to this from time to time.
  • Benevolent Boss: Otto is extremely accommodating to his workers. Francis once refers to him as "the best boss he's ever had."
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: When their estranged son was a child, Otto would discipline him with "Schlupi," a sock puppet. In Gretchen's words, "Schlupi could say all the things that Otto couldn't." Francis eventually gets Otto to reconnect with said son using Schlupi, and later uses it himself to call Lois and tell her that he realizes that she always had his best interests in mind.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: Francis rewrites a scene from a porno he mistakenly allowed to be filmed at The Grotto to keep it clean for their sake, only to find out they were disappointed that the scene contained no sex.
  • Funny Foreigner
  • Happily Married
  • Horrible Judge of Character: A Running Gag was Otto's painful gullibility and naivete. He would likely have fallen for numerous cons if not for Francis intervening and stopping him.
    • Ironically, Francis was eventually fired from The Grotto after being duped by one of these cons himself and losing the ranch's deposits.
  • Nice Guy
  • Pet Heir: Otto included a cow at his will.
  • Ranchers
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist
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