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The Breaking Bad Theory That Changes Everything On Malcolm In The Middle

Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad make for an unlikely pair of TV shows — one's a family sitcom about a bunch of brothers growing up, and the other's a high-intensity drama about a teacher-turned-drug-kingpin — but they're forever linked by actor Bryan Cranston. In Malcolm in the Middle, Cranston plays the goofy, kind-hearted dad, and in Breaking Bad, he's Walter White, who becomes the ruthless, ambitious Heisenberg.

What if the two stories actually exist in the same universe, with an overlapping character? The obvious (and most popular) answer here is that Breaking Bad's Walt is the same person as Malcolm in the Middle's Hal: After collapsing in his lab from a gunshot wound and being found by the police in the last shot of Breaking Bad, Walt faked his death or recovered, then went into hiding as Hal and started a whole new family. It's mostly a joke, but there's another, far more plausible theory that connects the two series.

Malcolm and Walter are manipulative geniuses

Breaking Bad as a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle doesn't make sense for several reasons: Hal and Walt aren't similar in the slightest, and there's plenty of Hal's history in the show, with his wife Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) and his extended family. Walt's cancer returned in the final season, which isn't part of Hal's story.

Frankly, it makes more sense if Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) grows up to become Walt. Redditor u/robnjd broke it down on r/FanTheories.

Obviously, the biggest argument for this theory is that Malcolm will grow up to look like his dad, but the theory's deeper than that. Malcolm's well-known for being a genius. He spends the series in the gifted class and gains admission to Harvard. Walt is also known for his high intelligence and knack for chemistry. u/robnjd drew a comparison between the two, writing, "Malcolm is a genius with plenty of chemistry experience – he even uses a chemistry set to make a small explosion in one episode."

Beyond that, while Hal and Walt are "nothing alike," Malcolm and Walt are. u/robnjd writes, "Comparing the two characters personalities you see that they are both incredibly intelligent, stubborn and manipulative. They can both be violent and selfish but have some small supply of morality deep down. Malcolm often displays the ability to devise intricate plans that made Walt so successful. Also there is a small reference early on in Breaking Bad to Walt not caring too much for his mother which fits nicely."

There's even a possible reference in Breaking Bad to Malcolm in the Middle. The name of Walt's mobile meth lab mirrors Malcolm's literary magazine from high school: The Crystal Ship.

There's an explanation for the different names

The biggest problem with the theory is the two characters have different names. But, u/robnjd had an explanation for that, too. Malcolm's grandfather, who took a particular shining to him, is named Walter. Theoretically, Malcolm's middle name could be Walter, and at some point he starts going by Walt.

As for his last name, that gets a little complicated. Malcolm and his family are never truly given a last name. Many fans consider "Wilkerson" to be their name, as it was on Francis' (Christopher Masterson) military school uniform in the pilot episode and it was in the pilot's original script. However, this was retconned in the series and it became a joke that their last name is a mystery. In the series finale, the microphone cuts out as Malcolm's last name is announced and Francis' name tag reads "Francis Nolastname." Their family name could be "White."

Did spiteful young genius Malcolm grow up to be the overqualified chemistry teacher who turned into the wrathful Walt? Well, his mother certainly championed the value of providing for one's family that could manifest in Walt's misguided attempt at supporting his own. It's not that crazy.

Of course, if you go by Breaking Bad's alternate ending in the DVD set, the whole story was just Hal's nightmare all along.