The definitive ranking of every Malcolm In The Middle character from worst to best
Yes, no, maybe. Can you repeat the question?
Malcolm In The Middle was the GOAT. It ran from 2000 - 2006 and gave us an impressive total of 151 episodes to gorge on.
Many of us feel a deep and spiritual connection to Bryan Cranston's work since finishing the show, as it kind of feels like he's all of our Dad now.
Meanwhile, Frankie Muniz is just out here living life:
I have about 4 dreams a week that I get shot in. Last night, I could actually feel the burn of the bullets as they entered my chest & heart.
— Frankie Muniz (@frankiemuniz) December 3, 2014
But in all seriousness, who was the worst character? Who was the best? Who was mediocre?
Relax, I've worked it out.
With the greatest respect to this entirely fictional character, he was just a dumb and stupid baby that got in the way. The only redeemable factor about Jamie was that he allowed Hal to shine, particularly in the episode where he was on house arrest and Jamie somehow gets out onto the lawn. Hal throws out a washing basket tied to a piece of string as bait, then instructs Jamie not to get in there. Naturally, he does and finds an electrical socket to play with inside. Hal then reels in the basket with Jamie in tow. Basically, Jamie was a tool to let Hal shine but otherwise a very garbage character. Also, they blatantly added him in during the fourth series because they realised that with four kids, Malcolm wasn't technically in the middle.
Even her name was annoying, as was the way that Francis used to say it. PIAMA. It sounds like Tommy Wiseau is trying to say 'piano'. Anyway, Piama was an intruder on the show. She interrupted the precious Malcolm In The Middle inner family circle, as did Jamie. We didn't sign up for Francis to get married, we wanted to see him continue to waste his life away. Piama put structure on the previously endless entertainment supply that was Francis. Also, her fringe was always cut unevenly and she stood up to Lois which was not allowed under any circumstances.
Every time he spoke, I felt myself loudly thinking 'STFU, brace face' and that hasn't changed. Grown up Lloyd is most definitely a mansplainer who spends his life on Twitter replying to funny girls with what he deems to be funnier versions of their jokes. He was such a know-it-all and felt some kind of superiority over Malcolm because he'd been a nerd for longer. All of the Krelboynes were insufferable but he was easily the worst one.
Francis' handsome military school friend was a bit too upright for the show, but he had a good heart. All he wanted to do was breeze through school and graduate with decent enough grades to then go on and invent Facebook, which Mark Zuckerberg would subsequently steal from him. Francis was at the school for punishment, so acted accordingly, but it always seemed like Eric was living out his dream by being there. Eric is probably still a massive square to this very day, except with a wife and 2.5 kids that look exactly like him.
Dabney's iconic moment in the show came when the Krelboynes went paintballing. He'd been an absolute wet blanket up until that point, mostly due to his overbearing mother and sheep personality, but on paintball day, the boy became a man. He annihilated the competition, shouting such troubling statements as "Brush your own damn hair" and "Get your own damn towel", showing that his mother had finally been cut loose. 2018 Dabney is 100% in jail now for possession of indecent images, but that's none of our business.
Miss Miller was deeply troubled and avoiding some serious life problems by throwing herself into her work far more than was required by her employers. She was really nice, borderline pervy with Malcolm but genuinely seemed to want to help him out. Things like making house calls to a naked Lois were grossly unnecessary and probably beyond the line of duty's requirements, but she had a good heart. She was a decent character at times, but mostly very annoying and is absolutely living with 84 cats right now.
14. Commandant Spangler
He was the stereotypical villain that really emphasised the fact that military school was a living hell for Francis, but also it got a bit boring after a while. Cool, you've got an eyepatch and a giant scar, but when are we going to get to hear your Don Draper story? He was a hard ass and wore a military suit like no other, but his little foray into the musical world with the recruits' rendition of Candyman will live on as a solid Malcolm In The Middle highlight.
Francis is responsible for bringing in the worst minor characters to the show and that is an ironclad fact. Between Piama, Eric, Commandant Spangler and Otto, he should fry for what he's done. Otto was the irritatingly poor imitation at a German farmer acting as Francis' boss in the later series of the show. Otto and his wife Gretchen called their ranch 'The Grotto' after combining their names, so that's approximately all you need to know about their level of annoyance.
Malcolm's love interest was an absolute melt, and that's the nicest way I can phrase it. She didn't stop talking for a second and deprived viewers of precious screen time with Lois, Hal and just about every other character on the show. Her voice was at a very particular level that somehow seeps into your ear canal producing the most grating noise ever produced. Malcolm was far better off without Cynthia. She's making some other guy's life a living hell at present and probably has an Etsy store full to the brim with homemade trinkets going at 3 for £1.
11. Dabney's Mom
This underrated and underserved character was a great addition to a show that relied heavily on the fact that parents' neuroses quite often shape their children's' personalities. Dabney's Mom expertly created a dripping wet blanket of a son, with the hair and fashion sense to match it. He did nothing short of filing the woman's toenails and is probably enamoured with her to this very day. The role of Howard's Mom on The Big Bang Theory was very likely inspired by this masterful performance.
It might not have come across so far, but I firmly believe that Francis was a clown. He brought in so many shitty minor characters (most of which are listed above) and still remained a massive arsehole throughout the show. Towards the final series, he miraculously turned into this decent guy with an annoying wife and a proper desk job, but people don't forget, Francis. We saw you grow up. You're a terrible person and you've put your family through hell.
9. Stevie's Dad
Abe Kenarban was a joy and sorely lacking throughout Malcolm In The Middle. He was very much Hal's counterpart and outlet for stupidity, which culminated in the pair almost kissing after they moved in together for a short while when their wives went awol. They settled into their co-parenting roles, then almost followed through on the intimacy side of things in a hilarious twist. He was a gentle marshmallow of a man and brought a loveable dork character to the show.
Boy oh boy, that Malcom was certainly in the middle, wasn't he? Although technically, he and Reese were in the middle up until baby Jamie turned up, so the entire show is based around a massive lie. Either way, Malcolm wasn't the star of the show, nor was he meant to be. He was a facilitator, setting up plots for other characters to thrive with, but he did it very well. Anyone that's a middle child could relate, and anyone that isn't could easily fill the pieces in for themselves. Plus the amount of babies named Malcolm in the years 2000 - 2006 shot up so he must've done something right.
Full disclosure, I fancied Reese so much that my first Bebo page was basically a shrine to him. This is a biased positioning in the list, but one that I'm sticking with. Reese was the epitome of a sibling that's found himself left in the position of being the eldest now that the original elder has fled the nest. He bullied his brothers better than many could ever aspire to do, but remained loveable and fun to be around at the same time. Seeing him turn into a culinary king, sacrificing the bare skin on his hands to take a chicken out of the oven at precisely 5:38 is still one of the best Malcolm In The Middle scenes of all time.
"How much does my head weigh? Zero. Zero. Zero". Dewey was a brilliant Malcolm In The Middle character because he was an absolute sociopath with adorably large ears. He kept his head down when things kicked off, but somehow always ended up getting involved in mischief. Watching him grow up before our very eyes was a bittersweet experience, as we learned together that sometimes an adorable child can grow up to be a slightly less adorable grown boy. *hamster wheel slowly rolls past*
Everyone felt a little less disappointed with their Mam once they'd watched an episode of Malcolm In The Middle and breathed a deep sigh of relief that things weren't that bad around the house. She served as a stark reminder that no matter how many things your Mum gave out to you for, things could be a lot worse, you could have Lois to answer to. A firm highlight of Lois on MITM was the time Craig confessed his love for her and her response was "Aw, Craig. Why did you have to say that?" and then she annihilated him. A heartless goddess, our Lois.
4. Grandma Ida
Ida was a cruel bitch and although we didn't get to see very much of her throughout the show, when we did, it was dynamite. Lois' Mum was evil beyond belief and drank and smoked like a trooper, unlocking a villain status that the show was sorely lacking. Her terrifying but nonspecific Eastern European accent added to her ability to terrify all in her path, to which Lois was no exception. It was interesting to see the one person that caused both Lois and Hal to retreat into themselves and explained a lot about Lois' parenting techniques in particular.
Lois' creepy coworker somehow weaselled his way into being a regular on the show and added a perfect balance of neuroticism and irritation to proceedings. Every supermarket (and workplace) in the world has a Craig, or 'Cregg' as they referred to him, who takes massive pride in a job well done. He's got a short fuse and intolerance for people, except Lois. I often wonder what the show would've been like if Lois dumped Hal for Craig and then Malcom et al had to refer to his as 'Dad' *shudders to death*
The above clip is reference enough for Bryan Cranston's acting ability. When he landed the Breaking Bad role, many of us felt an unbridled sense of pride as we watched our TV Dad turn into a TV Dad bad guy. He was always the standout character on Malcolm In The Middle and played it beautifully, at times slipping into the background to give an understated but necessary performance that moulded the whole family's attributes, then bursting into the forefront with moments like the skating scene. Find me a better TV Dad than Hal. I'll wait.
Congratulations *inhales* to *inhales* Stevie *inhales* Kenarban. The crown is yours, pal. You're the #1 Malcolm In The Middle character until someone else writes a list like this and probably puts Hal in first place as the obvious choice. But what makes Stevie better than Hal? Excellent question, and one that I'm more than happy to answer. The actor playing Stevie undoubtedly risked his health playing this role. Breathing in so deeply at such a short intervals is not good for you. He would've been left feeling light headed at the end of each day and possibly in need of medical assistance. Bryan Cranston could never.
As a viewer, it's hard not to land yourself in convulsions of laughter every time Stevie is on screen. It takes him forty-five minutes to say 'Hi Malcolm'. It's a genius character on a genius show. Remember the time Malcolm went for a sleepover at Stevie's and they went to bed at 7pm, descending the entire house into lockdown, then setting off a blazing alarm when a teddy hit the floor? It's subtle but masterful comedy writing. Stevie Kenarban, God bless you.
All images via FOX