|“||I expect nothing and I'm still let down.||”|
— Dewey at one of his birthdays
Dewey Wilkerson (portrayed by Erik Per Sullivan) is the tritagonist of the series. Born July 12, 1993, Dewey is the fourth and youngest son of Lois and Hal during the first four seasons until the birth of Jamie.
In order to properly understand Dewey as a character, it is important to understand his position in his family: the youngest of four boys (before Jamie is born at the end of season 4), being 5 years younger than Malcolm, the next youngest, 6 years younger than Reese, and about 9 or 10 years younger than Francis, the eldest. The first time we see him he’s 6 years old and in the first grade, but in series' last season he’s 12 and in middle school. Throughout, he is forced to sleep in the same bedroom as Reese and Malcom, sharing a bed with Malcolm. As such, he is an easy target for his big brothers, especially Reese, who is renowned at school for being a bully. By the time we meet Dewey, his parents have neglected him for years, being too caught up in their own lives and tired of his brothers' antics. They had even shipped his eldest brother, Francis, off to military school because of his extreme forms of acting out.
Dewey is by far the most complex character in the show, displaying the greatest depth and growing the most as a person. Eccentric and whimsical at times, Dewey is known for his quirky behavior (e.g, Dewey often sticks things into his ears) and slightly manipulative ways. At other times Dewey is the most serious and empathetic member of his family, doing more to take care of his little brother Jamie than his parents. He is more artistically inclined than his brothers, playing piano and composing opera music in later episodes, and in general more creative and resourceful. Even his parent recognize in the end that he is the most likely to succeed.
Despite being the youngest of the Wilkerson brothers for the first half of the series, and in contrast to the whining of his older brothers (especially Malcolm), Dewey has the worst life of them all, and yet displays the most calm and dignity, showing more and more forcefully as he gets older that he expects to be treated with respect. He has experienced a life of complete neglect and deprivation from happiness. His parents, being focused on dealing with his destructive older brothers and engaging in sexual intercourse, have ignored him from the day he was born. They have not even taken pictures of him in his infancy or childhood, or even had him vaccinated, and have routinely missed his school events. His older brothers do nothing but make the situation worse and they too ignore him on the one hand, and physically and emotionally bully him on the other. Dewey sums up his life in the episode "Baby: Part 1", revealing that he gets the short end of everything and has never even experienced basic pleasures of life such as a bed to himself, a hot shower or even his own clothes. Even his birthdays are not spared from the abuse and neglect of his family as his parents either completely forget it and his brothers beat him up on it. As such Dewey has developed a resentment toward a majority of his family members, especially Reese, and is shown to take great satisfaction from whatever dose of misery he can inflict on them in return.
In earlier seasons, while a young child, Dewey was shown to have an extremely poor grasp of reality. Often, from his point, of view he asks Lois and Hal for something, while in reality he is throwing a horrendous tantrum. In that early stage, he also believes characters on TV were actually talking to him. Even his memories and fantasies stray from reality and the current situation greatly. However, as he gets older, he is comes to have perhaps the best grasp of reality of any member of his family, especially when it comes to how things work in the family. For example, he sees right through his father faking a twisted ankle when trying to brutally beat the boys in basketball (S3E3, "Lois's Makeover.")
Dewey is also revealed to be almost as intelligent as Malcolm, or perhaps even slightly more so. However Dewey's intelligence is geared more towards creative pursuits, the most notable of which is music, which he displays by teaching himself to play the piano expertly as well as writing an entire opera. He is similarly resourceful. For example, he builds an albeit crude pipe organ for himself out of scavenged parts when he dad wouldn't get him a piano.
The direction of Dewey's childhood life took something of a turn when he took an intelligence test. His brother Malcolm wanted to save him from being put in the gifted class (where he would be even more of a target) so he had Reese fill out the test to make Dewey look stupid. Unfortunately, this went too far, and Dewey was put into a class for disturbed kids known as the "Buseys"(Dewey's Special Class). Although initially angry, Dewey realized the Buseys were neglected by the school and took charge of them (as their proper teacher usually slept during class). The mistake was quickly discovered, much to Dewey's relief, and the school was prepared to move him to the mainstream class, but then Dewey saw how much the Buseys looked to him for leadership and he decided not to abandon them, faking a huge temper tantrum in front of a school official just to stay in the class.
Unlike his brothers, he displays a great deal more common sense and subtlety, and is more emotionally grounded: he can trick both his brothers and parents into doing things easily but seems to play down his genius in order not to be forced into things as Malcolm is, he hides his intellect from his brothers to the point that not even the viewers know he is a genius until his intellect starts to shine forth during season 4. This is supported when he is shown to have built his own homemade organ out of many tools which drives Hal to insanity, thinking someone was stealing from him, Dewey builds the piano solely because Hal wouldn't buy him one, though he is shown to have obtained his own custom made electric piano after this proving he is capable of playing one. Similar to Reese having a talent for cooking, Dewey has a talent for music and is capable of writing his own opera. He is also shown to have a talent for magic, even performing his own magic show in front of a shopping mall.
Dewey is the main victim in many of Reese and Malcolm's pranks (like tying him up and hanging him on the back of their bedroom door), and as a result has an apparent resentment toward Reese and is satisfied with any misfortune Reese suffers and has personally tortured him on numerous occasions and enjoys every minute of it. In spite of this, in season 7, Dewey and Reese are close friends. While Malcolm enjoys torturing Dewey as well, the two seems to work together well on a number of occasions such as pranking Reese. Still, Dewey enjoys it when he is able to take revenge against Malcolm for his harsh treatment.
Dewey's final scene in the series shows him and Jamie hiding from their parents after they pulled a horrible prank and Dewey realizes he and Jamie now have a shared secret to keep them bonded as brothers, just like Dewey had with his other two brothers before they destroyed the evidence when they moved out (the nuclear option). It is also noted by their parents that while Malcolm will have to work hard and suffer to make it in the world, they consider Dewey to be the one who'll get to have fun and be rich without any real effort.
Much of Dewey's behavior is a response to the family and school dynamics he faces. He is highly intelligent, brave, and can be manipulative where it suits him in order to accomplish a particular goal. Earlier on he is more gullible, immature and clumsy, but he learns from his experiences and develops a great deal of savvy. He is shown to be an overall good person and is shown to be the least destructive of his brothers. He does not take satisfaction for causing trouble just for the fun of it like his older brothers, though he does still engage in trouble alongside them at times and does take some pleasure in it. Even though he is intelligent, Dewey can still be tricked and occasionally be outsmarted by his brothers in order to take the fall for trouble or just to humiliate and bully him. This however, leads to him developing that savvy and seeking to show that he is not inferior, not to be dominated. The key to understanding where Dewey will cause trouble or inflict pain or humiliation on someone - including adults - is understanding that his actions are those of someone mindlessly lashing out hoping someone will get hurt; they calculated to get a specific result: to show others that he is not inferior, he is not a pawn, and that he will exact a price for mistreating him or others he cares about - like the Buseys.
Out of all of his brothers, Dewey has experienced the hardest life of them all having received the least amount of attention from his parents and being bullied by Reese and Malcolm from the day he was brought home from the hospital. Dewey is a rather introverted person and has shown on numerous occasions that he hates various aspects of his life and the way his family treats him and longs for improvements, though in spite of this he has demonstrated resilience in the face of his brothers' cruelty and his parent's neglect and is a strong person at heart. He remembers every horrible thing his brothers (or parents) have ever done to him, and is always ready when an opportunity for revenge knocks and is even willing to risk physical punishments by his brothers and groundings by his mother in order to cause his two brothers misery, as seen in "Carnival" and "Thanksgiving". Dewey has even shown pleasure seeing his neglectful father, Hal, suffer from injuries either caused by his own stupidity or Dewey's own doing and has shown great resentment towards him due to the years of neglect and underestimation Hal has inflicted on him. Like all his brothers, Dewey enjoys seeing his mother defeated and outsmarting her and getting away with trouble.
He is at least the second most intelligent of the Wilkerson brothers, and possibly even more intelligent than Malcolm, though that's up to debate. Dewey is an expert at manipulating his less intelligent older brothers Reese and Francis, as well as his parents, and is even shown to be capable of outsmarting Malcolm on occasion. He is shown to be the polar opposite of Malcolm, who is a constant whiner over how terrible his life is (even though Dewey has suffered ten times more than him), and despite being just as intelligent as Malcolm, Dewey does not let his intelligence ruin his life. He adeptly keeps off of his domineering mother's radar in order to ensure he does not suffer the same pressure and control that Malcolm does. He does so by maintaining a cool demeanor, avoiding theatrics unless they are strategically advantageous. Even though he is underestimated by his parents and brothers (a fact highlighted in "Lois's Makeover"), Dewey displays his intelligence in the face of greater odds on numerous occasions, showing among other things, that he is a musical and creative genius. As a result, he is expected by his parents to live and life of fame, luxury, and happiness unlike his brother Malcolm. He is even shown to have better common sense than his older brothers as he understands that his mother can be a genuinely nice person if you don't get her mad and do not cause senseless trouble. He was able to form a normal mother/son relationship with her for a short while by not doing anything wrong, whereas Reese and Malcolm are unable to perceive that their mom is anything but a sadistic witch who enjoys punishing them for no reason.
Despite of their treatment of him, Dewey is a very good son who does not constantly belittle his parents for being horrible people and ruining his life like Francis and Malcolm commonly do, and has shown on numerous occasions that he loves his parents and enjoys spending time with them. He once tried to prove his love for his mother by getting her name tattooed on his chest. He is also a very good brother to his younger brother Jamie. His kindness and care towards Jamie is very evident as he has personally seen to it that Jamie is happy and not constantly neglected like he was in his childhood, once even manipulating Hal and Lois to give him a proper birthday party and not treating him like dirt like his older brothers usually do, showing that he is not a sadistic bully like his brothers and is a good person at heart. This again comes from the fact that he is not a wild animal lashing out in pain, but is acting protect himself and others from the kind of treatment he has received. He resents the treatment, but does not generally hate those who inflict it. In fact, he wants to establish a good relationship where he is respected for the capable person he is. Because of this, in spite of the poor treatment he receives a lot of the time, when it suits him he will happily ally himself with a parent or sibling.
What really sets Dewey apart from his parents, his brothers, and adults outside his family (especially his teacher in the Busey class) is that he is far more clever, he has that cool, even demeanor ( like Spock from Star Trek) instead of being dramatic about everything, he's not content to be a victim, and he does not seek to inflict pain just because he can. On the contrary, he is quite concerned about the pain suffered by others who, like he has been, are victims of domineering and/or neglectful behavior. When he gets satisfaction from an act of vengeance, it is from the knowledge that he ultimately wasn't beaten; sometimes it's the fact that he can fight back in ways that family members wouldn't even dream of. In doing so, he shows himself, and even adults like his father, that he is not inferior because he's just a kid. This is superbly exemplified when he says to his father, "What are you looking at?" after his dad is surprised that he is good at shooting baskets. In the same episode ("Lois's Makeover") he catches his dad shooting hoops when he's supposed to have a twisted ankle, and says to him with an air of one who has the upper hand, "Get your sneakers, faker." Similarly, he has no problem pointing out to his older brothers where their choices have backfired on them. Ultimately, Dewey is the quintessential leader of the oppressed. He would totally relate to eight-year-old Gavroche in a scene from Les Misérables where Gavroche, in the face of betrayal by an adult, sings, "And little people know, when little people fight, we may be easy pickings but we got some bite! So never kick a dog because he's just a pup, he'll fight like twenty armies and he won't give up, so you better run for cover when the pup grows up!"
|“||Give Reese a slice from the fuzzy side and I didn't see a thing.||”|
— Dewey to Lois after seeing her drop a roast on the floor.
Out of all of his brothers, Reese is the meanest to him and he is Dewey's greatest antagonist in the family. Reese has bullied and tortured Dewey physically and emotionally from the minute Lois brought him home from the hospital and enjoys every minute of it. Dewey remembers every horrible thing Reese has ever done to him and often seeks to get revenge against him. It is very evident that Dewey gets great satisfaction when Reese suffers the consequences of his own behavior and has personally targeted him on numerous occasions such as in "Reese Drives" and "Jessica Stay's Over." Dewey has gotten Reese in trouble and punished many times and has even gotten him physically beaten up as well. When Reese moves out in "Reese's Apartment", Dewey tries his hardest to make sure Reese does not return home and enjoys his absence. It is revealed that Reese also tortures Dewey by making him his personal slave. Despite his treatment of Dewey, Reese does not hate him and has shown care for him on numerous occasions. In "Ida's Boyfriend" he felt genuine remorse for breaking Dewey's ship and attempted to get Dewey to stop ignoring his existence, showing that he enjoys Dewey's company. Despite that Reese is mean to him more than Malcolm is, Dewey actually prefers Reese, as he is not a drag like Malcolm. The two have gotten along on numerous occasions and in "Hal's Christmas Gift", they get along very well when Malcolm is excluded from their activities. All of this shows that Dewey's efforts to earn respect do work with Reese.
|“||That's probably why you're such a drag to be around.||”|
— Dewey to Malcolm after learning he doesn't understand music.
Like Reese, Malcolm has bullied Dewey since he was an infant and enjoys making him miserable and is mean to him on numerous occasions and has ignored him alongside the rest of the family. Dewey does not wholly respect Malcolm, seeing him (like his brothers do) as an extremely annoying drag due to his massive ego. This is highlighted in "Hal's Christmas Gift" where he and Reese have fun together while completely excluding Malcolm. As with Reese, Dewey derives satisfaction from seeing Malcolm get his comeuppance In "Dewey's Special Class", even after Malcolm tried hard to save Dewey from the Krelboyne class, landing him instead in the class for emotionally disturbed kids, Dewey tells Lois that Malcom had sabotaged him and in all probability got him in serious trouble. Dewey has also on a few occasions outsmarted Malcolm and taken advantage of him. Despite their awkward relationship, again like with Reese, Dewey and Malcolm do work well together on at times such as when they want to pull pranks on Reese and the two have gotten along on numerous occasion, particularly where it was to Dewey's advantage to get back at someone else.
|“||How come you're the only good one in the family? Why didn't any of it rub off on Reese or Malcolm?||”|
— Dewey to Francis.
Due to their age difference, Francis did not seem to take part in Dewey's childhood torture (despite ruining one of his birthdays) and the two seem to have a decent brotherly relationship. Dewey, like the rest of his brothers, admires and respects Francis for his defiant attitude towards Lois and look up to him commonly. In "Malcolm's Job", Dewey goes to Francis to finally have a nice brother. Francis is kind to him and Dewey tells him that he is the only nice person in the whole family. Francis however has ignored Dewey on a few occasions alongside the family, notably in "Reese Joins the Army: Part 1" and in "Blackout" threatened to hurt him if he told of his presence at the house. In "Busey's Take A Hostage", Francis thought Dewey really was a special needs child and only spent time with him to study his activities to create an activity plan for other special needs children for a potential job. Some episodes have shown, notably in "Watching the Baby", that Dewey thinks Francis is an idiot somewhat and has shown disappointment in him on occasions. Francis and Dewey have also taken advantage of each other as well. However, despite this, the two have a stable relationship. Francis is his favorite brother, and he is also Francis's favorite brother.
|“||The moral of the story is that I'll screw you over in a heartbeat, the way my brothers do me. That's the way it works around here.||”|
— Dewey to baby Jamie after telling him a story.
At first, Dewey did not seem thrilled that Jamie would replace him as the youngest son but the two develop a good, strong relationship. Dewey tries to be a good brother, protecting Jamie from abuse and neglect. Dewey once even manipulated both Lois and Hal to give Jamie a proper birthday party and not destroy Jamie's childhood like they did his. While Dewey does get Jamie to do stuff for him, taking advantage of Jamie's age and size, he is not forceful and mean like Reese is to him. In "Watching the baby' Dewey does however reveal that he will screw Jamie over in a heartbeat to escape punishment and on a few occasions, Jamie has gotten Dewey in trouble. Despite this however, the two have a good relationship.
|“||You want to know the truth? You were the fourth child. By the time you came along, this house was in a state of complete chaos. The only sleep I got was when I'd nod off on the drive to work. So forgive us if we didn't get a chance to take every picture, every video, or get you every vaccination.||”|
— Lois telling Dewey why he has been neglected.
Lois and Dewey have a strained relationship and Dewey is extremely fearful of her. Lois on numerous occasions has completely ignored Dewey such as in "Malcolm's Job" when she didn't even know Dewey was absent from dinner and will harshly punish him when he breaks the rules such as in "Bowling". It is revealed that Lois has ignored Dewey since he was an infant as revealed in "Morp" when she tells Dewey she took almost no pictures of him when he was infant and even did not get him vaccinated and expresses no regret over it whatsoever. Dewey seems to dislike Lois to a degree as well and enjoys getting in trouble alongside his brothers and pissing her off, however he is the only one to recognize that Lois can be reasonable if you don't push her buttons. Dewey once even betrayed Lois in "Motivational Speaker" and began hanging out with a better mom but in the end got her name tattooed on his chest to prove that he does love her. Lois has on numerous occasions punished Malcolm and Reese for their poor treatment of Dewey.
|“||So you're neglectful, and you think I'm an idiot. That's nice.||”|
— Dewey to Hal after he attempts to pass false artwork to cheer Dewey up.
Hal and Dewey also have a strained relationship. Hal has on numerous occasions ignored Dewey and has even missed some of his birthdays as revealed in 'Malcolm's Girlfriend" and "Baby: Part 1". Hal has underestimated Dewey on numerous occasions and does not seem to enjoy spending time with him much as revealed in 'Victor's other family" in which he misses Dewey's events on purpose, and Dewey even attempted to hide an activity from him in order to spare himself the disappointment of Hal missing it on purpose. In "Chad's Sleepover" Hal is extremely nasty to Dewey when he disobeys him despite the fact Dewey only disobeyed him once. Hal has also caused Dewey to suffer complete humiliation as well.
Dewey is shown to hate the way his father treats him and in "Morp" was openly disgusted at him for attempting to pass false artwork to cheer him up. In "Baby: Part 1," Dewey went to great lengths, with equally great satisfaction, to portray Hal as a horrible, neglectful father in front of an entire convention of people due to Hal forgetting his birthday and planning to induce Jamie's birth on it. Dewey has shown on a few occasions that he enjoys seeing Hal in misery and has little respect for him. A prime example lies in the events mentioned above from "Lois's Makeover" where Hal tries to take advantage of the boys in basketball and then fakes an injured ankle when Dewey demonstrates he can shoot baskets quite well. Hal does care for his son however and tried desperately to earn Dewey's love back after he refused to give Dewey piggy backs anymore and in the series finale, Hal reveals that he has high hopes for Dewey and that he will live a life of fame and luxury. Dewey seems to prefer spending time with his dad than his mother due to her harsh personality and the two have gotten along on numerous occasions.
- The Buseys - Ever since Dewey got sent to The Busey class, he has been forced to make friends with them. Although Dewey hates being in the class, he likes the other kids there and considers them to be friends, who he genuinely cares about. Being the only kid who isn't actually emotionally disturbed, Dewey serves as the voice of reason for the entire class, and since the teacher doesn't give a crap about the kids and never does anything, Dewey is also the leader of the kids, hoping to teach them about not only academics, but the society of the real world. The Buseys legitimately want to solve their problems, and look up to Dewey for guidance. They all strongly rely on him and would be absolutely helpless without him.
- Hanson - Hanson is one of Dewey's friends in the Busey class. Dewey tries to help Hanson with his schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, and belief that he's riding a motorcycle.
- Zoe - Zoe is one of Dewey's friends in the Busey class. Dewey tries to help Zoe with her belief that she can talk to animals and her ADHD.
- Chad - Chad is one of Dewey's friends in the Busey class. Dewey tries to help Chad with his haphephobia, schizophrenia, and obsession of biting people.
- Gina - Gina is a love interest for Dewey in the episode Malcolm Defends Reese. Hal tries giving advice to him, but, ends up making things worse, such as putting chocolates on her doorstep, causing Gina to eat them, and her having an allergic reaction to the nuts in them.
- Ira Prescott: Billy's older brother, who is Reese's bully. Upon noticing the latter's fear, Dewey enlists Ira's help for revenge against Reese.
- Dewey felt a warm wave from the cracked microwave while in the womb. (Flashback)
- He has memories of being dropped as a baby by his grandparents. (The Grandparents)
- In "Garage Sale", it is hinted that Dewey has almost no positive childhood memories as shown when he finds his old baseball glove.
- In "Watching the Baby", the story Dewey tells to baby Jamie about Lois and Hal being rich implies that he believes that his parents make his life miserable on purpose. His story also reveals that he strongly desires having an unused pair of pants.
- Due to a misunderstanding, he is in a class for hopeless children in Dewey's Special Class, and Malcolm felt terrible for it because of his mistake in letting Reese take the test for their brother. However, he lead the special needs class to rebel against the teacher. Dewey later got both Malcolm and Reese grounded by Lois for interfering with his test to keep him out of the Krelboyne class. Lois once got him out of there in "Buseys Run Away" when she had to explain to the counselor he was normal. However, he faked a mental relapse and was subsequently put back in the class.
- A semi-running gag that began in season 2 would be people having the tendency to forget about Dewey when he's supposed to be with them and eventually realizing that he's been gone for a long time. (For example, in Casino, Hal and Lois woke up and realized that the day before, they punished Dewey and he had to go stand in the corner. When they went back down into the kitchen, Dewey was propped up, face flat against the wall, sleeping, having been there the whole night. Later in the episode, Hal and the Wilkerson boys escaped a hotel casino and eventually got lost in the desert and were out there for hours. It wasn't until far into their adventure out there that they realized that Dewey was gone the whole time.) This gag would have a great big blowout in the episode Morp, where Dewey gets forgotten, neglected, and completely ignored far more than usual by Hal and Lois and decides to get revenge on them by taking Hal's wallet and forcing them to go on a little scavenger hunt to collect a bunch of party material, then leading them to an arcade place. When they get there, he tells them that he's not having the party be thrown for himself, but for Jamie, who still has time to live his life, unforgotten. Lois told him that this was a very nice and selfless gesture for him, but then grounds him for a week and takes a picture of his unhappy face, saying that now they have a wonderful memory of him.
- Dewey has many diseases involved with his ears due to the fact that he sticks dirty stuff in his ears and Reese gives him wet willies when he is annoyed with him.
- In Season 4's If Boys Were Girls, Dewey's female counterpart from Lois' fantasies was named Daisy (played by Jeannette McCurdy, who would later play a classmate of Dewey's named Penelope). Like Renee and Mallory, she loves shopping and likes to go to the mall everyday for new clothes. It was Daisy who told off Lois near the end of her fantasies that they're not above using her tactics against her because they're girls.
- He wrote an opera about his parents arguing about a bed in Dewey's Opera and had the Busey Class involved in it.
- In the episodes No Motorcycles and Dewey's Dog, Dewey mentions that he is often beaten by both Reese and Malcolm.
- Dewey was exposed to a Flea Bomb while he was taking a nap in his bedroom. (Evacuation)
- His parents plan for him to have a life of luxury, unlike the other boys. (Graduation)
- Dewey's actor Erik per Sullivan, is on Twitter; see his account here.
- In Reese vs. Stevie, it was shown that he was smoking but then finding out that his dad was smoking while he was quitting coffee he started to drink coffee.
- In Academic Octathalon, it's revealed that Dewey is a rarity in that he has both book and street smarts.
- Dewey’s first line is “Come on! Give it! You cheated! Give it!” and his last line is “Man, if Mom ever found out it was the two of us... hey.”
|Dewey Wilkerson . Hal Wilkerson (father) . Lois Wilkerson (mother) . Francis Wilkerson (older brother) . Jamie Wilkerson (little brother) . Malcolm Wilkerson (younger brother) . Reese Wilkerson (older brother) . Piama Wilkerson (stepsister) . Sharon Wilkerson (grandmother) . Walter Wilkerson (grandfather) . Amelia Wilkerson (aunt) . Claire Wilkerson (aunt) . Ida Welker (grandmother) . Radu Gogorsky (grandfather) . Susan Welker (aunt) . Victor Welker (grandfather) . Pete Wilkerson (uncle) . Tom Wilkerson (uncle) . Helen Wilkerson (cousin) . Sammy Wilkerson (cousin) . Timmy Wilkerson (cousin)|