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The Absolute Worst Thing That Happened To Lois On Malcolm In The Middle

For seven seasons between 2000 and 2006 on Fox, the Wilkerson family of Malcolm in the Middle loved and antagonized each other like few TV families ever have. Sure, the temporary alliances and frequent battles between oafish older brother Reese (Justin Berfield), ridiculously intelligent middle child Malcolm (Frankie Muniz), and devious younger brother Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) were always good for laughs, as were the travails of their oft-conflicted, astonishingly immature dad, Hal (Bryan Cranston). Much of the series' humor, however, was reliably generated by the deadpan snark and volcanic anger of Lois (Jane Kaczmerek), who — despite her fierce love for her family — tended to treat every situation as if it were a must-win battle in a never-ending war, especially when it came to her relationship with the three boys' absentee eldest sibling, Francis (Christopher Masterson).

One could hardly blame the boys for often responding in kind and, over the course of the show's run, Lois often found herself on the receiving end of some jaw-droppingly inappropriate pranks and shenanigans. There was the time Reese destroyed a valuable vintage computer Malcolm had found, depriving the family of a chunk of change they sorely needed; the time a session of in-house roller skating ended with Lois yelling so strenuously at the boys that she threw her back out; the time the entire family forgot her birthday ... we could go on, and these things are only scratching the surface.

One incident, though, stood out from all the rest. It took place before the series even started, we didn't find out about it until the very last episode; all the boys were in on it, and it was so unbelievably awful that it hung over their heads for their entire childhoods.

The nuclear option

By the time of the final episode of Malcolm in the Middle, "Graduation," Lois had given birth to baby Jamie, and with Reese moving out and Malcolm (hopefully) heading off to college at Harvard, the boys unanimously decide that their little brother should grow up free of the kind of worries that had hung over their own lives. As such, they decide that the time had finally come to remove the "nuclear option:" Evidence of the absolute most horrible thing they ever did, something so awful that they could have used it to destroy the entire family if one of them had ever gotten too far out of hand.

That evidence? A chest X-ray. In a flashback, we see that the boys (all played by very young kids in this scene) manipulated the X-ray to make it appear that their mother had lung cancer, and we see Lois and Hal wailing in despair at the result. Why on Earth would they do such a thing? Well, because they had all gotten crappy report cards, and they needed a distraction so that their parents would sign them without question.

Yep, that is ... just horrifying. The show left us hoping that baby Jamie would grow up to go a little easier on his mother, but that final episode also revealed, in its closing moments, that Lois was pregnant again, and none too happy about it. The poor woman simply could not win.