Graduation is the 22nd episode of the 7th season and 151st episode overall, as the final episode of Malcolm in the Middle. It was broadcast on May 14, 2006.
In the series finale, Malcolm has been accepted into Harvard and is getting prepared for his graduation of North High School. Reese is also graduating and looking to get a job as a janitor at North High School. Hal is having trouble, looking for a monetary way to cover for Malcolm's college plan.
In the cold opening, all the boys sit on the couch watching something when Reese returns with a bowl of popcorn asking what he missed. Lois tells Hal to call a repairman but he refuses claiming he can fix the television himself revealing the boys are actually entertained by watching their father's attempts to fix the television. Hal gets shocked making the boys laugh while Lois sighs in annoyance.
Malcolm struggles with his valedictorian speech, Hal finds out that the family may not have enough money to send Malcolm to college. Meanwhile, Reese is moving in with Craig. Reese reminds Craig that they won't be roommates for another two weeks, Lois aggressively emphasizes that Reese has exactly twelve days left in the house and that the second he graduates from high school he is out of his parents house forever and into Craig's.
In the boys bedroom, Malcolm, Reese, Dewey and Stevie reminisce about all the times they've had in their room and now that Reese and Malcolm are leaving home and Stevie is moving on they will no longer have them together. Abe is there as well and reflects on past endeavours before Stevie asks him to leave for oversharing. Dewey admits that although he will finally have his own bed the room will feel empty without his brothers. Reese wonders if moving out and being independent will change him and wonders if he'll get a British accent. Reese then comes to the realization that they can now get rid of their "nuclear option" causing Malcolm and Dewey to join him in getting their keys. Stevie asks about the nuclear option and Malcolm explains that it was evidence of the worst thing they ever did: fake an X-ray of Lois having cancer to sneak away with really bad report cards, and a way to destroy each other if someone had nothing to lose. They emphasize no matter how bad they misbehaved there was always a limit. Reese tells Dewey that he should destroy it since the role of oldest in the house will fall to him now and it will be good for his maturity. Dewey always knew that the day would come but thought Reese and Malcolm would be dead. Dewey then begins to feel lonely, as he believes that the nuclear option represented the bond he had with Malcolm and Reese. But comes to realize that he needs to do it because Jamie deserves to have the childhood they never got, one free of threats.
Reese tries to be a permanent janitor, enlisting Ida's help to create a mess so big, by the time he finishes cleaning it up, he will have worked long enough to be considered a full-time worker and be able to keep his position indefinitely. Ida asks him about his patsy, who he is going to blame for doing it so they can take the fall for him, Reese admits he hadn't thought about a patsy before. Malcolm and Stevie are offered a dream job in lieu of college, however Lois immediately turns down the offer for him by telling them he will be going to college, he understands since he didn't attend college himself and who knows what else he could've achieved.
When the family piles into the van to go to the ceremony Lois tells Malcolm she knows he is upset so he might as well get his anger out of his system. Before he can however, Reese's mess explodes coating the entire family in the foul gunk. In the backyard they all wash themselves off, Hal hosing Jamie off while suspended apologizing for being unaware he was upside down due to the gunk coating him. Piama claiming she is now ready to have kids since her fear of diaper changing has been reneged. Reese claims that he is the victim and everyone is scrubbing his dreams out of their cracks. Ida asks if anyone else is hungry before going back inside. Malcolm claims now his life looks exactly how it feels. Furious, Malcolm demands to know why and Lois explains that she refuses to let Malcolm throw his life away, and how being rich isn't his destined path in life. The family expect him to go to college, work harder than all of his peers (who will still look down on him), graduate, start off as a district attorney or running a foundation, be elected governor of a mid-sized state, and eventually become President of the United States of America with all of his brothers being fully aware of his future and assumed he already knew himself.
Hal explains how their expectations for him began much smaller but he continually kept raising them. When Malcolm reasons that he could've taken the job, become rich and bought his way into office, Lois explains that he can't just get rich, have fun and have an easy luxurious life (Hal stating that it's Dewey who gets to do that) but needs to struggle in order to understand, represent, and empathize with families like his own so that he can be one of this he best presidents in American history. Malcolm then becomes furious with how high his parents' expectations are for him. Lois asks him to look her in the eyes and tell her that he can't do it, he realizes he is unable to tell her and she is right.
At the school, In the class of graduates everyone (including Stevie) sits far away from Malcolm and Reese due to the horrible stench lingering on them and in the audience the same thing goes for the family as everyone sits far away from them. Hal sees that Francis has a name tag for an office cubicle job, and Hal asks why he wont tell Lois. Francis reveals that he has had the job for 2 months and loves every aspect of it including the stability, regular paycheques, parking space and receiving joke emails. Francis states that he won't tell Lois because he enjoys making her angry and arguing with her by letting her believe that he is unemployed. Hal admits how proud he is of Francis for turning himself around.
Malcolm finally makes his valedictory speech saying how all the seniors have dreamed of this day when they leave childhood behind and achieve independence. But knows that even if they move away their families will come with them so they will never truly be free but in a way they'll never truly be alone. He then looks out at Lois who looks on proud of him.
Three months later, Francis argues with Lois over the phone about how "he'll get a job when he's good and ready." He then hangs up on her, Piama hands him his lunch, and he heads off to work. Dewey and Jamie, feeling closer than ever, keep up the tradition of causing mischief in the house and hide in the closet while Lois screams in rage, Dewey informs Jamie what Lois would do if she found out it was the two of them, until he realizes that now it is just the two of them. Hal talks to Lois while she's in the bathroom, satisfied that Reese and Malcolm are out of the house and everything is going good according to plan. Lois walks out of the bathroom with a horrified look on her face and when Hal asks her why she's upset, she reveals that she is pregnant once again, leaving Hal screaming in horror. Reese and Craig are happily living together as roommates where Craig receives a 5 setting heating pad for a birthday present and is overjoyed how Reese listened to him before the oven timer dings and Reese gets up to prepare Craig's birthday cake. Over the phone Reese tells Malcolm that after an incident where Reese framed the head janitor Al for putting peepholes in the girls bathroom he was fired and Reese was promoted to a full-time position as the new head janitor claiming their grandmother was right how beneficial it is to have a patsy to take the fall for his misdeeds. He then asks how his "Ivy League big shot" brother is doing. Malcolm is also a janitor part-time at Harvard, while still maintaining his grades and attending his regular classes as a student. He then remembers he has to get to his Calculus class and promises Reese he'll talk to him later. Malcolm then hangs up the phone, grabs his textbook, and runs off to class, bringing the series to a close.
- Malcolm Wilkerson
- Reese Wilkerson
- Dewey Wilkerson
- Jamie Wilkerson
- Francis Wilkerson
- Hal Wilkerson
- Lois Wilkerson
- Stevie Kenarban
- Craig Feldspar
- Abe Kenarban
- Piama Wilkerson
- Ida Welker
- [Reese is seen coming back in the living room with popcorn in the bowl]
- Reese: So, what did I miss?
- Malcolm: There was this big flash, some fire shot out and now he's just come to.
- Reese: What, I was just gone for a second.
- Dewey: Shh, I wanna see this.
- [Lois comes in and the boys are watching Hal trying to fix the family's TV set]
- Lois: Oh, for God's sake, Hal. Pay the money and get a repairman.
- Hal: I am not wasting good money when I'm perfectly capable of....
- [Hal screams as he is being electrocuted. The boys are seen laughing, while Lois is frustrated with him again for not listening to her]
- (Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey, are all just hanging out in their room with Stevie)
- Dewey: It's weird to think about. Pretty soon, you guys will be gone.
- Reese: Yeah, and this, just sitting around, hanging out. We're not gonna have many more of these.
- (Abe is revealed to be there also)
- Abe: (chuckles loudly) No, we sure won't. (to Stevie) Seems like only yesterday, you and I were going to homecoming, putting the school paper to bed, fretting over our first big date with Sharon Hines. Hmm, that kiss went on forever.
- Malcolm: Uh, Mr. Kenarban, Stevie's supposed to help me work on my speech.
- Abe: Right, right! Mr. Valedictorian. Congratulations again. I'm glad my son can help you out with your big important speech. It's probably that selflessness that got him the second spot.
- Stevie: Dad!
- Abe: I'm not insulting you salutatorian. It's quite an honour. I'm just glad that even after I got Cedric Hampton to be the school's commencement speaker, they still had the integrity to make you valedictorian and not my crippled son.
- Stevie: (angered) Go!
- Reese: I wonder if moving out and being on my own is going to change me. Do you think I'll get a British accent?
- Malcolm: ... Absolutely.
- (Lois opens the door and Piama's there)
- Piama: Lois, I really think he's gonna do it this time! You've got to stop him!
- (Francis furiously walks through and grabs a fireplace stake)
- Francis: There you are. I drove by 80 miles of blunt objects just to get to you. (screaming to Ida) I hope you run!
- (Ida comes in)
- Ida: You'd better make that first swing count, princess.
- (Lois closes the door on her)
- Lois: Hi, mom. Finish your cigarette and I'll make you some lunch. (to Francis and Piama) Come on, you can help me make your beds.
- Malcolm: (to Francis) You had to make a speech first, didn't you?
- Lois: Hal.
- Hal: Right. (to Francis) Son, don't feel bad. In some parallel universe, you did it.
- Malcolm: You know what? I'm glad. This is appropriate. Now my life looks exactly how I feel. How could you screw me over like that!?
- Lois: Because you were gonna take that job and we are not gonna let you throw your life away.
- Malcolm: How is being rich throwing my life away!?
- Lois: Because, it's not the life you're supposed to have. The life you're supposed to have is you go to Harvard and you earn every fellowship and internship they have. You graduate first in your class and you start working in public service either district attorney or running some foundation and then you become governor of a mid-sized state and then you become president.
- Malcolm: ... What!?
- Lois: of the United States!
- Malcolm: Dad!
- Hal: I'm sorry, son. It's true.
- Francis: Thought you knew.
- Hal: Our expectations started much smaller, but you just kept upping the ante.
- Malcolm: What if I don't wanna be president?
- Lois: It's too late for that. You're gonna do it.
- Malcolm: Oh, really? Have you decided my position on capital-gains tax cuts? What are my foreign policy objectives?
- Lois: That doesn't matter. What does matter is that you'll be the only person in that position who will ever give a crap about people like us. We've been getting the short end of the stick for thousands of years and I, for one, and sick of it. Now, you are going to be president, mister and that's the end of it.
- Malcolm: Did it ever occur to you that I could have taken this job, gotten really rich, and then bought my way into being president.
- Lois: Of course it did. We decided against it.
- Malcolm: What!?
- Lois: Because, then you wouldn't be a good president. You wouldn't have suffered enough.
- Malcolm: I have been suffering all my life!
- Lois: I'm sorry. It's not enough. You know what it's like to be poor and you know what it's like to work hard. Now you're gonna know what it's like to sweep floors and bust your ass and accomplish twice as much as all the kids around you and it won't mean anything because they will still look down on you and you will want so much for them to like you and they just won't and it'll break your heart and that'll make your heart bigger and open your eyes and finally, you will realize that there's more to life than proving you're the smartest person in the world. I'm sorry, Malcolm, but you don't get the easy path. You don't get to just have fun and be rich and live the life of luxury.
- Hal: That's Dewey.
- Dewey: (happily) Really?
- Malcolm: This is unbelievable. You actually expect me to be president. No, no, I'm sorry. You expect me to be one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.
- Lois: You look me in the eye, and you tell me you can't do it.
- This is the final episode of Malcolm in the Middle, and as such serves as the series finale.
- This episode marks the final appearances of Malcolm, Reese, Dewey, Francis, Piama, Jamie, Stevie, Hal, Lois, Craig, Abe, and Ida in the entire Malcolm in the Middle series.
- It is revealed that Malcolm's family may not have money to send him to college.
- Malcolm was the last character to talk in the entire show and he speaks one of the last lines of the series, and the last line was: "I'll talk to you later."
- As of this episode, Justin Berfield (Reese), Bryan Cranston (Hal), and Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey) were the only cast members to appear in every episode.
- This episode reveals that ever since before the beginning of the series, Malcolm, Dewey, and Reese had something called "The Nuclear Option", which is code word for the worst thing the three of them ever did. The Nuclear Option happened when the three boys were very young. They all got bad grades on their report cards and they needed Lois' signature. They didn't want her to notice, so they decided to distract her by tricking her into thinking that she had cancer. They forged some X-rays and put her into an insane state of depression so that when they made her sign the report cards, she wouldn't even notice. For the rest of their times living in the house, they made a pact that no matter how horribly they'd treat each other, they'd still show at least an extremely tiny bit of mercy, because if they managed to lose everything, then they'd be able to expose the cancer scare. Now that Malcolm and Reese were leaving, there was no point in keeping it around, so they decided to get rid of it.
- Francis later found out about the boys' faking the cancer scare. However, he only agreed to drop it when Dewey mentions Jenny's name, further implying that he gotten involved with her daughter back in Pilot and in Francis Escapes.
- Linwood Boomer, the creator of the series, makes a cameo in this episode, playing the role of the loan shark that Hal tries to get money from.
- This is the only episode, aside from the Pilot to make mention of the last name of Malcolm and his family. However, in this episode, it's not mentioned to be Wilkerson. The family's name is revealed to be 'Nolastname', which is a joke on "No last name". The name is seen on Francis' name tag for his new job. It is unknown which one of these last names is meant to be considered canon. When Malcolm is called up to give his speech, microphone feedback blocks out his last name (although the Principal does mouth "Nolastname").
- The three oldest Wilkerson boys all get jobs in this episode that they supposedly keep for life.
- Francis gets a job at a huge business Amerisys Industries, but he keeps it a secret from Lois, making her believe he's still jobless, just so he can spite her.
- Reese gets a job as head janitor of North High School.
- Malcolm gets a job as a janitor for Harvard. Although it is implied that in the long run, he eventually becomes the President of the United States.
- It is also implied that Dewey's life is going to be perfect and that he'll be able to just kick back and do whatever he wants when he becomes an adult.
- Susan Welker is mentioned in this episode, but is not heard. Lois was heard, talking on the phone to her, saying that she wanted for her to come to Malcolm's graduation, but Ida bullied her out of her ticket and made her give it to her. This possibly shows that Lois and Susan are on good terms now.
- Although, it's also implied that Susan could've been lying all that time and the friction remains. She is bitter with Lois over foiling her chances of death and willingly allowed Ida to attend in her place. Hence, it's why she never made another appearance again.
- At the end of the episode, Lois reveals that she is once again pregnant with yet another child. As of this episode, The Wilkerson family now consists of six children. The name and gender of the child or any other information about it is never revealed, though.
- This is the second episode where Lois became pregnant. (Grandma Sues)
- At the graduation, nobody at the graduation would sit anywhere near Malcolm or his family because of their terrible smell. This is a callback to the Pilot episode, where nobody at Malcolm's school would sit with Malcolm because he was a genius.
- After Malcolm runs off to his calculus class, the song from the Pilot ("Better Days (and the Bottom Drops out)" by Citizen King) is also played to end the series.
- Craig is seen holding a bag that says "Beds and Baths". This is a reference to the store, Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
- In the intro: Malcolm, Reese, Dewey and Jamie are sitting on the couch, however in a back shot only Malcolm and Reese appear, and in the front shot they all appear again.
- When Malcolm says "This is unbelievable, you actually expect me to become president?", he is seen holding a towel. In the next shot, his hands are empty.
- The announcer for the graduation ceremony said that the Dalai Lama said "Wisdom is the light by day. Virtue is the protection by night." There are two inaccuracies with this. First, this quote is actually a quote by Buddha, not the Dalai Lama. Second, the quote is actually "Wisdom is the light by day. Right mindfulness is the protection by night." In defense though, he said that this was what The Dalai Lama said on his yacht last summer and not the famous quote by Buddha.