"I love that nothing in my life is complete till I've shared it with you."
"You look me in the eye, and you tell me you can't do it."
When Ida actually jumps into the street and loses her leg to save Dewey from being run over by a truck. It's one of the only nice things she's ever done for anyone.
"Malcolm, I'm an average guy, in the middle of my life, in a job that can replace me in an hour. I was never an important man. You're the only important thing I've ever done."
The episode where the boys all unite to get revenge on Hal's family for reducing Lois to tears, her transgression being simply to exist and yet repeatedly suffering Kick the Dog moments whenever she genuinely tried to be nice to them.
Even more heartwarming than that. After seeing their mother reduced to tears, without any hesitation at all, the boys simultaneously get up and proceed to enact their Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which they conduct in complete silence and wearing looks of utmost serenity. It's safe to say, they got the message across that you do NOT mess with Lois (even if she is a hard-assed shrew)!
A smaller moment at the end, when Lois — who's spent the entire episode, not to mention their entire relationship, being equally hostile to Piama — considerately asks her if she's comfortable during the drive back. Everyone in the car catches it without saying a thing.
Best of all: the parents don't even punish them.
Hal: If you boys EVER drive a golf cart over a catered table and into a swimming pool again, there will be consequences!
The episode where Reese and Malcolm are tricked into believing the other is gay, and in an attempt to prove their acceptance, they're nice to each other for a change. This even leads to them dancing to an ABBA song together in one amazing moment. Like many heartwarming moments, it also doubles a funny one, too: Malcolm and Reese each wear an extremely uncomfortable rictus grin as they pretend to like and dance a song they both hate to humor one another, but then they start getting into it. Really getting into it, to the point that the rest of the family has to stop and stare in confusion, surprise and —in Dewey's case— maniacal glee.
In Dirty Magazine, Malcolm becomes the editor of the school's literary magazine, and as he chooses stories, he's impressed by a serious, albeit vulgar, short story from the school's Butch Lesbian. However, the administration refuses to run the piece due to its strong language. Malcolm, moved by the story and seeing how much it means to the student, works as hard as he can to try to get the piece published. Though the school employs a slew of pressure tactics to force Malcolm to not run the story, including forcing the student to tell him not to run it, he ends up publishing it anyway — in an independent magazine distributed just feet outside of the school ground. It's one of the few episodes where Malcolm is completely selfless.
The episode where Lois, who had increasingly grown stressed as the boys ruin a trip to the mall, as well as her own fantasies of having daughters instead of sons begins to crumble, ends with all of them including Hal giving Lois gifts in their own way to show that they care about her.
In the same episode: Reese immediately jumps to Malcolm and Dewey's defense after they're threatened by an old woman at the mall. Granted, he ends up getting into a fight with an octogenarian - but he did it for his younger brothers, which can't help but be a little heartwarming.
After Malcolm gets a head injury in "Home Alone 4," Francis's big brother instincts kick in and he immediately gives Malcolm medical attention, eventually driving him to the hospital; the brothers then work together to guilt-trip Malcolm's teacher into paying for his medical bill, and it works.
After discovering that Hal and Lois have absolutely no photos of Dewey growing up, he takes Hal's wallet and puts the two on an elaborate scavenger hunt to get it back. Along the way they have to pick up party supplies from the people who've got the contents of Hal's wallet (who also take the opportunity to mock the two for how they've treated Dewey). Eventually, they find Dewey at a video arcade he's paid to keep open after hours. Hal and Lois assume he wants them to throw a party just for him. But it's not, it's for Jamie, who's there with a babysitter. Dewey accepts that Hal and Lois neglected him, but he's not going to let Jamie go through the same thing, and has provided them an opportunity to shower Jamie with attention. Lois even consents that what Dewey has done is an incredibly nice thing for his brother... before telling him that everything he eats after the party will be soaked in sardine juice.
The episode where Lois loses confidence in her mothering abilities, and the flashback with her attempt at parenting Francis as a toddler (An Enfant Terrible one at that) was pretty heartwarming, especially compared to their regular interactions. She catches him as he's trying to set a teddy, doused in lighter fluid on fire, takes it and holds it in the fireplace. Then she turns on the flame, still holding her hand in the fire, and gives a speech to the toddler about how she'll do anything to keep him safe - even if it means having him hate her later.
After fighting with her sister and acting childish and crazy the whole episode, Lois learns that Susan has a fatal kidney disease. Lois then undergoes surgery and gives up her own kidney to save her.
And when Susan accuses Lois of never loving her, Lois gives this speech.
When Lois finds out that she is pregnant with Jamie, it is at an awful time; Ida injured herself outside their house and is suing them over it, when they're already horribly in debt. When Malcolm, Reese and Dewey find out about the pregnancy, they get angry and storm to their room. While Lois is still having to deal with Ida, they come back down, and, having had a change of heart, tell her they don't mind sharing their stuff with the baby.
There's the matter of how the boys (and Piama) came to this conclusion. Up in the boys room, Francis is incredulous, Reese and Dewey are cranky, and Malcolm is concerned about the bigger picture. Then Malcolm inadvertently calls the future sibling their baby brother. All five of them go quiet, and Dewey asks "Brother?"
In "Academic Octathlon," Dewey saving Hal's life and asserting that he loves him after he spent the whole episode refusing to say it.
The episode where Hal visits Francis in military school. Hal is disappointed that Francis hasn't achieved anything during his stay and gets the impression that Francis was nothing but a trouble maker. Francis then criticizes Spengler for yelling at a fellow cadet simply for hugging his father goodbye. Spengler uses this to explain Hal that Francis was always trying to challenge his authority. Hal then realizes that even though Francis doesn't have any awards, he found another reason to be proud of him.
In Malcolm Films Reese, when Reese confesses on camera, after Malcolm gets him to open up to him for a school project, that he hopes he and Malcolm will be his best friend forever. Sure, it's used by Mr. Herkabe to humiliate both Reese and Malcolm, but it's still a shockingly sweet moment by Reese.
At the end of a late night of looking at their finances and trying to write a will, Hal and Lois concede that they're terrible parents and the latter even breaks down in tears about it. As if on cue, there's a loud noise in the boys' room and Dewey emerges with a bump on his head. The parents promptly and lovingly attend to their injured son as Hal rushes out of the house to take him to the hospital. Lois, alone, ironically echoes her belief that they're terrible parents.
I don't think that this description does justice to that scene. After he rushes down to them, they morph into a perfect team of perfect parents, distracting Dewey from the pain with math while checking his eye movements. They immediately decide to drive to the hospital and know exactly which one: One is preferred for their child-accidents but they know that the doctor they consider most competent is absent (which shows that they keep track of such kind of information). While they carry Dewey out, he asks for some apple juice but it turns out they only have apple-cherry juice at the moment. It is only then that Lois breaks out of that perfect "kid-in-emergency"-routine to note: "Of course we don't have apple juice - we're such terrible parents".
After failing music class, Malcolm reluctantly seeks tutoring from Dewey. After trying and failing to teach him, Dewey gets frustrated and tells Malcolm that he simply has no appreciation for music. This leads Malcolm to take revenge with a prank that leaves them both temporarily deaf. A few days later, Malcolm wakes up and, after turning on a classical music CD, joyously realises that his hearing is back. The episode ends with Malcolm listening to the music with a deeply thoughtful look on his face.
Early in the series, Malcolm's class is having a sort of fair, where each of his peers display a talent. Malcolm hides his when his family shows up, until the fair starts to fail. He goes onto a stage to show his talent, which is an absolutely absurd ability to calculate large numbers very quickly, like the product of 2 credit card number times 9 squared, in as long as it takes to read that equation. After this goes on for about a minute, we cut to a scene in the car, driving home. It's silent, Malcolm feels like his family thinks he's a freak. After Dewey asks if he's a robot, and Hal telling him Malcolm is just very very very smart, Francis makes a joke, shortly followed by a few more, and everyone laughing.
Reese: Hey! Analyze my lunch, buttface! *burps in his face*
This moment really has even more of an impact when you see Hal and Lois' faces during the math scene, where they have a look of intense discomfort about how their son is much smarter than them.
"Red Dress" has a strange platonic one that doesn't even involve a main character. It's oddly moving how Hal spent his anniversary befriending the unnamed bathroom attendant who was happy that someone made eye contact for once, and by the end of the night they're sharing the meal that was meant for Lois, over a copious amount of alchohol and hearty laughter. It's only mildly ruined when you find out it was Hal who burnt the red dress and ruined the evening for everyone else.
In "Malcolm Defends Reese", Malcolm needs almost zero deliberation before he decides to purposely tank his grades to get Mr. Herkabee to stop torturing Reese in front of the class — even after Reese responds to Malcolm's offer of sympathy by splitting his lip open. The fact that his decision is never commented on or acknowledged as a big deal is what makes it particularly heartwarming, as is the scene at the end where only a blink-and-you'll-miss it glance between the two brothers, no big confrontation or declaration of gratitude, implies that Reese knew what Malcolm did for him and that his pummeling Herkabee with the dodgeball was for Malcolm's benefit as well as his own.
"Watching the Baby," by the end of the episode, the boys sacrifice a chance of making out with beautiful girls to get back at their boyfriends, just because Reese found Jamie's binky in his pocket, and they steal the girls' limo to rush back home to give it to him.
At the end of "Softball," Lois concludes that Malcolm is acting out because of the new baby and promises to spend time with him one-on-one. Malcolm's "Thanks, Mom" is dubbed by his younger voice.
It should be noted that Lois is actually wrong. Throughout the entire episode, Malcolm has been lashing out because he feels smothered and infantilized by her. Her attempts to bond with him, however, are enough to make him swallow his embarrassment and agree to spend even more time with her. He might be an Emo Teen, and she might be a Drill Sergeant Nasty, but it's obvious that they love each other deeply.
In the series finale, Reese and Grandma Ida have surprisingly heartwarming moments as they plan out the 30-day mess to keep Reese on as a full-time janitor. She even calls him a good kid, and he says he loves her. It should also be noted that in Ida's first episode along with Victor, they hated everyone except Reese.
Hal and the boys are enjoying a camp out (in the bat-infested living room) and Hal asks Dewey how school has been. Dewey says that he was hit by another kid and didn't hit back because "he's bigger than me."
Hal: I see. Reese?
Reese: I'm on it
When the logging camp in Alaska closes down and all the work dries up, Piama stubbornly refuses to move away from their home. After spending a whole episode fighting the Tribal Council, smashing a mug over a cop's head and staring down a bulldozer, she finally breaks and admits to Francis that she doesn't want to move because she's scared.
Piama: Francis, I've been on this reservation my whole life. I don't know anything else. I'm just a hick. I'm not like you! I can't just pick up and start a new life whenever I need to. I'm not as brave as you, OK?
Francis: Brave?! I'm not brave! I just didn't know any better!
Francis: If I had had any idea of how horrible it was up here, I never would've come! And I never would have met you. I'm not brave. I'm stupid and lucky. And you're with me now so my stupid luck will take care of you.
In the cold open of "Living Will" Lois and Hal are enjoying a night in by reminiscing over photos of the boys, talking fondly about the memories, even though they are all x-ray photos from hospital visits over the years, and they then plan on reminiscing over their arrest reports. Amusing, indeed, but also quite heartwarming that they treasure even the bad times with the boys.
From "Mrs. Tri-County":
After the boys sign up Lois for a beauty contest as a joke and she decides to participate, Hal gets enraged because of this, especially because Lois thinks that they sent the form as an appreciation to her.
Lois' response that motherhood is far from getting her younger, but instead is exhausting, consuming, gets her even older and tired, and despite all this, she still considers it as a beautiful suffering she has to carry.
During the whole competition of being bullied by her competition, Lois is about to leave also because Hal's pressuring has made her feel bad about herself. What makes it more heartwarming is that Hal not only apologizes to Lois, but also reassures that the other women are bullying her because they DO see her as serious competition and all she has to do is keep being herself, which grants her the prize in the end.
One episode has Francis point out to Dewey that he could break the chain and be a good big brother to Jamie, only for Dewey to point out it wouldn't be fair. Every episode with Dewey and Jamie has Dewey being a good big brother.
The final song from the opera Dewey writes about his parents coming to grips with their new, bigger bed. In short, Hal's always been aware of Lois' severe flatulence problem after lights-out ("Oh, the instant you fall asleep, you let loose like a sailor!"), but he doesn't care about that because she's his wife, and he treasures everything about her. Love: it ain't always pretty and glamorous, folks, but that's how you can tell it's real.
"Stevie In The Hospital" has Malcolm refusing to visit Stevie there because he can't handle the reality of his friend's health. At the end of the episode, Malcolm does visit - and acts like a complete asshole. When he leaves the room, Stevie looks over to the patient next to him and says this with complete sincerity:
Stevie: I told you (breath) he'd come.
In the episode "Poker" Hal and Abe have a fight over Abe and his black friends looking down on him because he's not a professional. They decide to settle their argument with a poker match. At the end they realize they're using a faulty deck, and in their anger at each other, Hal reveals he considers Abe his best friend. Abe pretty much agrees, and they both realize the reason they are fighting each other is kind of stupid. They then have an awkward hug.
In one of the earlier episodes, Lois runs off to a bat cage at an entertainment place because she feels so unappreciated by the family. They find her, and all the boys end up getting into a fist fight with the clowns there after one of them calls Lois "Wide Ride." Also a Moment of Awesome and Moment of Funny when Lois gazes lovingly at her family punching and kicking clowns.
Francis found her by accident on his way to a keg party with a cute African tourist, and gave up the chance to get drunk and make out in order to help make things right.
When Francis delivers his little brother.
Lois (after): You can go throw up now.
Also in this episode, when she begs Francis to deliver the baby, Piama comes to her defense and helps convince Francis to do it. She also remains by her side during the birth and even encourages her.
Reese's First Job has one for Herkabee, off all people. After the Child Prodigy he was going to make his apprentice left to join NASA, Malcolm and the other Krelboynes give him a gift: a photo of the kid and his dad with Herkabee's face pasted over the dad's. Herkabee is genuinely touched by this.
Lois Strikes Back has one scene where Reese is depressed after a horrible prank played on him by a bunch of girls from school. Dewey brings out his ant farm that he had been cultivating and become attached to, and hands some bug spray to Reese to try and cheer him up in the only way Dewey knows how to. Unfortunately, Reese was too miserable to even go for it.
Lois shows that, despite all the headaches Reese undoubtedly gave her in his life, when she sees her son be wronged in his most vulnerable state. Keep in mind that he was honestly trying to impress the girl he was asked out on and Lois gave him some motherly advice to which Reese took to heart, only for the cruel prank to take effect. When her own flesh and blood was taken for a fool, she wen full Mama Bear.
In the Series Finale after sabotaging Malcolm's chance to get an easy well paid job. Malcolm explodes on his parents to find out why. They then proceed to explain that their plan for him is to go to work his way through college while his friends will be out partying he'll be working hard. And eventually graduating he'll work his way through politics to be President. When he asks if they've decided his stance on issues they admit they haven't but they know that he'll remember the low income families like theirs and having to scrape by to survive. And he'll do what it takes to make life better for people in similar life situations instead of selling out to the rich because he'll know first hand how hard life can be. All of his brothers admit they've known this all along. And his parents also admit originally they only intended him to be a senator or congressman but Malcolm constantly proving himself to be able to be better made them set their goals for him higher and higher. It's the perfect culmination of Lois's "tough love" schtick and, while ridiculous, is completely in character for her.
In this episode, Dewey was upset that he was going to be left alone and wouldn't have anyone to do crazy things with. A few months later, after he and Jamie do something horrible together, he realizes he still has a partner in crime.
In Emancipation, Francis shows up expecting to get support from his brothers. Rather than congratulating him, they chastise him for hurting Lois so deeply.
Malcolm: We've done a lot of bad things to mom, but we would never abandon her!
Despite being angry at Francis, though, the boys still let him sleep in their room (albeit on the floor)
As hard as Lois can be on her sons, she very often displays that she really does love them.
In "Hal's Christmas Gift", it turns out the reason Francis has been so extremely cheerful is because it's a front; he doesn't want Piama to know that Otto and Gretchen fired him due to unknowingly using a fake ATM to cash their checks. But by the end of the episode, Piama outright asked Francis to quit his job, due to him being "insanely happy" since they left the ranch (the implication being she thought he was too stressed out from working there). Cue Francis genuinely happily agreeing.
Reese and Dewey's presents showed a genuine level of care from them: Reese made homemade jam and candy, and Dewey went through the trouble of not only looking for a good picture of Lois in the attic, but also made the frame for it, along with a recording of a sonata he composed.
During "Experiment", as Reese retraces his steps and acts out everything he did that day (in order to figure out how he made Malcolm and Stevie's enzyme separate), he eventually reaches him doing his math homework, where he unintentionally (and calmly, given how he was retracing his steps) reveals to Malcolm and Stevie some personal problems.note After failing to get any of the problems, he starts smacking himself on the forehead, calling himself stupid, putting himself down via the bathroom mirror, before ultimately sitting on the bathtub, head in hands. Malcolm and Stevie, extremely discomforted with what they saw, give him some reassurances.
Earlier, after Reese offers to help, only for Malcolm to blow him off. This upsets Reese, as he was being genuine. In response, Malcolm and Stevie decide to have him help... by having him donate two pints of blood.