Pilot is the first episode of the first season of the television series Malcolm in the Middle, which originally aired on the Fox Network on Sunday, January 9, 2000.
In the episode, the six primary characters are introduced, Malcolm, Lois, Hal, Reese, Dewey, and Francis (who is currently at military school), and Malcolm's struggles and fears to be placed in the accelerated learning class ('Krelboynes') even though he has an IQ of 165..
Malcolm introduces himself and his family to the viewers, explaining that the earth is 196 billion square miles and if he covered 100 miles for every hour for the rest of his life he'd still only see half. He introduces his older brother Reese who's left nostril squeaks all night long and his little brother Dewey with whom he shares a bed. His oldest brother Francis is his favourite but he got sent away to Military School. Malcolm says that the best thing about childhood is that at some point it stops.
At the breakfast table Malcolm's mother Lois tells the boys there are only two waffles left and one will have to settle for cereal. Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey fight over the remaining waffles while Lois shaves Hal's body hair in the kitchen, Malcolm explains that his father Hal has sensitive skin and he needs to be shaved every month. Lois states to her husband that he is like a monkey with so much excessive hair and finds it wasteful to throw the hair out. She tells Malcolm to come straight home after school to take a bath because he learns that he will have to spend the afternoon with Stevie Kenarban, a handicapped asthmatic who happens to be in the Krelboyne class (the high honors class) since Lois arranged a play date with him. He isn't too pleased but Lois tell him to be polite since Stevie is a human being with human feelings. Malcolm agrees in order to avoid a lecture but Lois decides to lecture all three boys about how they shouldn't take their legs for granted because doing so is wishful thinking and how every day is a lottery and first prize you don't have to scoot yourself around town on a skateboard with your hands. Dewey claims he would never do that before Lois tells him he's a good boy and to quit playing with himself.
Before leaving for school, Lois tells the boys one of them will have to have an egg salad sandwich since she ran out of ham, she warns Reese and Malcolm to walk with Dewey to school so he doesn't get kidnapped and not leave him with behind like they did last time. Reese informs Malcolm he needs to walk with Dewey because even though he did the past two days, Reese did when Dewey wet his pants. As the boys are walking to school, Malcolm tells Dewey to stay close to him and they wind up holding hands despite Malcolm claiming that it is why Dewey gets teased so much. They meet up with Richard (one of Malcolm's friends) and he asks about Francis. Malcolm explains how that everyone thinks he's some kind of rebellious freak of nature and he's not. Flashbacks reveals how Francis got to Marlin Academy because of his wrongdoings. During it, he tries to apologize to Hal as he's seen at his girlfriend's home having sex with her, burning the neighbor's car and ending it with him being brought back to the house in handcuff by the police. The flashback ends as Malcolm claims that Lois was being unfair to Francis by shipping him off to Marlin Academy immediately and didn't let him explain himself.
He, Dewey and Richard find the bully of the school and Reese's rival, Dave Spath, confronting a kid and forcing him to do embarrassing things for them. Malcolm reminds Dewey what to do if Spath gets him. He tells Malcolm he will roll up in a ball and stay there. Spath gives his victim a choice between begging for mercy on his belly, licking his shoes or take a beating and that he needs to pick two but if he picks all three, Spath will leave him alone for the next two weeks. As Malcolm, Dewey, and Richard attempt to slip past him, Dave stops for a moment and Malcolm's concerned. He ignores it and beats up the kid anyway with his friends. Malcolm, Dewey, and Richard are able to pass by without him seeing them.
We move to Malcolm's classroom in school. The class is painting pictures and Stevie's mother Kitty is there teaching. She then tells the class to be careful with the fruits on her desk because she bought them with her own money. When Malcolm takes his finished work up to the teacher, she is very impressed with it. While he is talking to the teacher, Dave places red paint on his chair. When Malcolm sits down there is an audible squish. As we see him walking down the hall toward the office we can hear the laughter of the students.
It turns out Malcolm was summoned there by Caroline Miller, the Krelboynes' teacher, because of his astounding skills. Further investigation shows that he can pass a 'What's Wrong With This Picture' test for a minute at extraordinary speed.
When Malcolm arrives at Stevie's house that afternoon, he realizes that his parents are overprotective and won't even let him watch TV. But they soon find common ground in comic books, and they realize that they have a lot in common and Malcolm thinks that his friendship with Stevie won't be so bad after all.
Meanwhile, Francis calls home claiming that he's changing and want to be home soon. However, Lois busts him for smoking on the phone and yells at him for it. She points out it took her and Hal a long time to stop smoking and to catch Francis picking up their bad habits is unacceptable.
The following Saturday, the boys are on the couch as Lois is getting ready for work and trying to find her bra, she tells The boys that two of them can have slices of pizza for lunch and the other one can have what she assumes are peas. Francis phones the house and asks his mom for his allowance but she busts him for smoking and tells him what she and Hal went through to quit but says she'll talk with his dad and maybe they can send it. There is a knock at the door and none of the boys move to answer it. Lois opens the door topless and finds Caroline Miller outside. Caroline tells Lois that she has not returned any of her calls and is desperate to talk to her about Malcolm. Lois thinks that the counselor wants to put Malcolm in a special ed class, and informs her that she would never allow it wondering why the counselors feel like they have to label everyone. A disheveled Caroline explains that she is mistaken and asks to come in and tell her more.
At dinner, Lois says they need to have a discussion. Hal assumed she wasn't going to mention Aunt Helen until after her biopsy. Lois instead announces Malcolm's outstanding IQ of 165, meaning that he will have to join Stevie in the Krelboyne class. The news baffles everyone at the table and Malcolm is more than just annoyed at the notion. He knows that he will be ridiculed for the rest of his life. Lois assures him there is nothing wrong with being smart or cut from the herd, as it will make him the only buffalo who isn't there when the Indians run the rest off a cliff, further baffling him. Malcolm states it isn't fair, and Lois tells him that it's for his own good and he cannot waste this opportunity since it is the first time anyone in their family has ever been given an edge in life. Malcolm then retreats to his room openly admitting he wants a better family. His mother then reassures him, claiming life wont leave him many opportunities to move up and how proud she is of him, and how special Malcolm and his brothers are. She compares them to their neighbors the Parker's boys whom despite being healthy are ugly enough to resemble boiled beets, and how unintelligent the children of the Henderson's are who electrocuted their dog in an attempt to get free cable. Lois reminds Malcolm that anyone who teases him is a creepy loser who'll wind up working in a car wash. Malcolm feels better.
Malcolm reluctantly accepts his fate in the class. At school, his teacher brags about him being highly gifted. Later he finds himself with the other geniuses. He accidentally insults Stevie and regrets it immediately afterwards.
At lunch, Malcolm is eating alone and is being treated as if he were radioactive by being smart. He sees Stevie and decides to make up with him, but Dave Spath appears again and throws a milk carton at his head. He insults the bully, causing him to get up and approach Malcolm. Malcolm regrets his mothers earlier warning about taking his legs for granted since he is now unable to run. As he nears, Malcolm throws a punch and misses. Then he throws chocolate pudding in his face. As the bully winds his fist up, Malcolm ducks. Spath tries to redirect his punch, but ends up slightly tapping Stevie's cheek with his knuckle. Stevie realizes what he can do with this opportunity, waits a bit, and pushes himself over, complaining about the pain. Malcolm and Stevie smile at each other. The crowd surrounding them and even Dave’s own gang rant about his beating of a crippled boy. Nobody believes Dave when he says it was an accident.
During the end credits, Malcolm explains that the principal confronted Spath for hitting Stevie who is wheelchair bound. He tries to maintain his innocence, but even the faculty didn't believe him due to the kids testifying against him which reduces him to tears. As a result to Spath's unprovoked attack on Stevie, he is expelled from school and Malcolm is seen as a hero for trying to defend his friend. Malcolm states that maybe being in the Krelboyne class won't be so bad and decides he is going to make the best of it.
- Frankie Muniz as Malcolm Wilkerson
- Jane Kaczmarek as Lois Wilkerson
- Bryan Cranston as Hal Wilkerson
- Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis Wilkerson
- Justin Berfield as Reese Wilkerson
- Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey Wilkerson
- Catherine Lloyd Burns as Caroline Miller
- Craig Lamar Traylor as Stevie Kenarban
- Landry Allbright as Julie Houlerman
- Will Jennings as Eraserhead
- Kristin Quick as Flora Mayesh (Uncredited)
- Merrin Dungey as Kitty Kenarban, Malcolm's original teacher.
- Vincent Berry as Dave Spath
- Martin Spanjers as Richard
- Dylan Kasch as Crony #1
- Austin Stout as Spath's Victim
- Nicholas Pappone as Nervous Kid
- Ibrahim Muhammad as Another Kid
- Jeremy Renner as Cop 1(uncredited)
- Under the Influence - Citizen King - Cold open.
- It's Your Thing - The Isley Brothers - Lois shaving Hal.
- You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate - Lois shaving Hal (Extended Pilot).
- Unknown - Flashback showing Francis' troubled past.
- Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree - Tony Orlando & Dawn - Play date with Stevie.
- Unknown - The Wilkersons eating.
- Better Days - Citizen King - Smart = Radioactive; Spath apologizing; In the epilogue.
- Pencil Rain - They Might Be Giants - Pudding incident.
- This is the first ever episode of Malcolm in the Middle.
- The extended version of this episode, which appears on the Season 1 DVD, runs for 25 minutes instead of the average 21.
- Malcolm's house is also introduced in this episode. The real-life location for this is 12334 Cantura St, Studio City, CA 91604. It's since been torn down and replaced by a modern two-story residential building.
- Dave Spath bullies the kid in the street here.
- Filming for various school scenes including the fight between Malcolm and Dave Spath took place at a real school, namely at the Colfax Charter Elementary School in Valley Village, CA 91607.
- Malcolm walks through this open corridor to get to his teacher.
- The fight between the two took place at this location of the school's playground.
- After this pilot, Malcolm's school was a set on the CBS Studio Center grounds.
- It is revealed that Malcolm's IQ is 165.
- The sets of the family's house, the military academy and the Krelboynes class room change after this episode
- 20 million people tuned in to see the Pilot when it first aired. It was the second-highest-rated episode of the series, falling short only to the second episode, Red Dress, which attracted 23 million people
- This episode won a Prime time Emmy Award, being given to Linwood Boomer for writing for a comedy series and Todd Holland for directing it. Malcolm in the Middle would have multiple future episodes that would be nominated for an Emmy Award, but this episode and Bowling would be the only two to win an Emmy as well.
- Eraserhead (a Krelboyne) played by Will Jennings is named in reference to David Lynch's bizarre film, Eraserhead, whose main character has frizzy hair similar to the Krelboyne
- Dave hitting Stevie is one of the reasons why he never appeared in later episodes during the show's run. It's implied he was expelled by the principal.
- Another reason why Spath doesn't appear after this episode is because Reese beat him up off screen for violating his bullying manual which stipulated that Stevie is off limits because he's in a wheelchair.
- This social obligation for Reese to not hit Stevie is supported in Bully and Reese vs. Stevie.
- This episode introduces Malcolm, his family, Dave Spath, Julie Houlerman, Kitty Kenarban and Stevie Kenarban.
- Aunt Helen is mentioned in this episode
- In an interview for a radio talk show Wait Wait..... Don't Tell Me! on August 28, 2021, Kaczmerek explains that Cranston didn't have a hairy body so yak hair was used in the first scene, with a body double in Teamsters working on the show.
- The theme song is different. It is the same tune, but it is slower than usual. The clips used in this episode were originally chosen as temporary clips, because the final theme was not ready by the original air date; however the crew decided they preferred the temporary theme to the prepared permanent one and so chose to stick with the original, modifying it only slightly for later episodes.
- This is the only episode to make any reference to the main family's last name being "Wilkerson". On the mailbox for the house, "The Wilkersons" was seen written on the side of the mailbox. Later in the episode, Francis' name tag can be seen to read "Francis Wilkerson". This would be the only episode to mention the family's last name; after this, the show's writers decided that the family's last name should remain unrevealed.
- There was also a joke that appeared in the original pilot script. In that script, Malcolm was walking to school when a neighborhood kid came running up shouting, 'Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm. I was talking to my parents last night - I was listening to them talk, and what's your last name?' 'Wilkerson, why?' Malcolm replied. 'Oh. Who are the Pariahs?' said the other kid. The joke was eventually cut, meaning that "Wilkerson" was never verbally mentioned in the series.
- A running joke within the cast of the show, is that the Wilkerson family's real last name is "Nolastname". This was referenced to in the series finale, Graduation, where Francis' name tag read "Francis Nolastname". Not only a reference to their running gag, but also a brick joke to Francis' last name being revealed in this episode.
- The French title of this episode is "Je ne suis pas un monstre'", which translates to "I Am Not a Monster".
- Linwood Boomer's 2nd ex-wife looked at the script for this episode and thought up some of the jokes.
- Lois telling Malcolm that being in a wheelchair is like "scooting around town with your hands on a skateboard"
- The two houses next-door to The Wilkerson house having 'For Sale' signs
- Lois about to make an announcement, only for Malcolm to instantly say "I didn't do it" and Reese saying "Yes he did, I saw him."
- Malcolm's teacher describing Malcolm as "being different in his brain."
- 'Krelboyne' is a term originating from a character in Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour Krelborn.
- Martin Spanjers, who had auditioned for the role of Malcolm, and Vincent Berry, for the role of Reese, appear in this episode, playing the secondary roles of Richard and Dave Spath, respectively.
- Merrin Dungey, the woman who played the role of Malcolm's original teacher in this episode, would later be used as the actor who plays the recurring role of Kitty Kenarban.
- The whoosh and door slam effects which are a regular theme in this show during scene changes are different in this episode. They were not originally intended to be used on a regular basis in every episode.
- In the opening, we see Dewey's cold feet. Two shots later, his feet are in a different position.
- After the titles when Lois tells Hal to raise his arms so she can shave his armpits, if you look at the bottom of the screen you can briefly see that Hal is wearing something to cover up his private area.
- When Malcolm is talking to his first teacher (Ms. Hogan), you can just see a small part of a boom microphone at the top of the screen.
- Just after Malcolm sits in the paint a girl passes behind the class, but in the next wide shot the girl is gone.
- When Malcolm is in Stevie's room eating cookies, the cookie in Malcolm's right hand disappears and reappears between shots.
- When Stevie is telling a joke, the back of Todd Hollands (Director) head and briefly fingers can be seen in the lower left in the shots facing Stevie, clearly directing him. [widescreen version only].
- In Stevie's room, when Stevie is talking you can see the boom microphone poking out at the bottom left of the screen. [widescreen version only].
- When Lois hangs up on Francis before saying 'Oh, I love you' it seems as though the line is already disconnected (as can be heard from the dial tone from Francis' side] but in a later shot, Malcolm and Reese are just about to hang up the phone.
- When Lois opens the door topless to Caroline Miller you can just see the tape that is across her chest, when shot from the back.
- As we move to Malcolm in the Krelboyne class, he slowly opens his fingers that are covering his eyes - a hand on each side of his face but when we see through his eyes the fingers are crossing each other.
- In the fight with Spath, Malcolm throws some chocolate pudding on his face. Just after hitting Stevie he still has it on his face, then in the wide shot its all gone.
- When Stevie is being picked up after being "punched" by Spath, his leg moves under his power.
- Malcolm: And its totally unfair. Everyone acts like Francis is this big troublemaker and he's not!
- [Flashbacks with Francis being brought home in handcuffs by the police.]
- Francis: Dad, I know what you're going to say and believe me, I totally agree with you. There is no excuse for what I've done. It was idiotic, immature, totally reckless and I'm really, really sorry.
- [Scene switches to Francis having sex with his girlfriend, BeeBee.]
- Francis: I'm hoping against hope you would give me another chance.
- [Scene switches to Francis destroying a neighbor's car by setting it on fire, which explained his eventual arrest.]
- Francis: Which I admit I don't deserve, but if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I know I can earn your trust back.
- [Flashback ends as Malcolm faces the audience]
- Malcolm: It's not like it was even "our" car.
- Pilot at fox.com on Wayback Machine.
- Pilot at the Internet Movie Database.
- Pilot at TV.com.
- Pilot at malcolm-france.com (on french).
- Pilot at malcolmitalia.altervista.org (on Italian).