Bryan Cranston is one of the greatest actors of all time simply because he defined two different generations of Television. If anybody decided to watch Breaking Bad because they loved Cranston‘s portrayal of Hal in Malcolm in the Middle, they were surely horrifically surprised, as the family sitcom and the crime drama are worlds apart.
But there are a surprising amount of parallels between the two shows. Both of the series are takes on a struggling working-class family with parents in dead-end jobs and a father doing anything he can to escape his humdrum life. And though it’s done in an overtly comedic way compared to the gritty reality of Breaking Bad, Hal has done some horrific things that even Heisenberg would think is below the belt.
10 Stealing The Muscle Car
As Hal takes comfort in living on a quiet street, his tranquility is completely ruined when a muscle car with a loud engine starts speeding through the neighborhood on a daily basis. After failing to build a speed bump that will stop the car in “Halloween Approximately,” Hal goes full Heisenberg and steals it. As Hal takes it for a joyride himself, he completely gives in to his own temptations and falls in love with the rush.
However, when he realizes that he’s had the car for way too long to return, Hal ends up sinking it in the lake. It’s actually extremely similar to when Walter destroys Walt Jr’s Mustang after joyriding, as he blows it up just for the hell of it.
9 Beating Up A Child
In “Kevin,” Malcolm beats up a seven year old, and that child’s older brother comes looking for revenge, only to run into Hal. One of the differences between Walter and Hal is that Walter concocts ingenious schemes, whereas Hal largely acts on instinct, so when he starts getting shoved by a rather hefty 15 year old, Hal beats the kid to a pulp. Not even Heisenberg would lay his hands on a child, he’d just let the ricin do the job for him. In Hal’s defense, the child looked like he could play for the NFL, and it’s actually a surprise that Hal won.
8 Dropping The Couch On The Railroad
When Hal is delivering a couch to the town skip in “Evacuation,” the couch isn’t properly tied to the roof of the car and gets dropped on to a railroad. The couch leads a train, which just so happens to contain toxic waste, to derail and leak all over the town.
Though it might have been an accident, Hal never confesses that it was him who caused it, and it’s reminiscent of the plane crash at the end of season two of Breaking Bad. But it gets even worse, as when the town is quarantined in the school gymnasium, he starts collecting money for the “Toxic Orphan Fund,” and gets rather aggressive when collecting cash, almost blaming everyone else for his mistake.
7 Spending Malcolm’s Education Fund
In the episode aptly titled “Malcolm’s Money,” Hal and Lois receive Malcolm’s check for college, a total of $10,000. Instead of giving Malcolm the check, Hal is overcome with greed and convinces Lois to keep the money for themselves.
At least what Walter was doing in Breaking Bad was for his family, but this is the opposite. It isn’t the first time Hal has literally stolen money from Malcolm either, as the father stole his credit card in order to pay for a skiing trip. Even Walter had some precious father/son moments with Jesse, but Hal uses his children as his own personal bank accounts.
6 Force Feeding Lois
Being one of the most bizarre and weird episodes of the show, “Future Malcolm” sees Hal develop a fat fetish and so he begins to force-feed Lois. Lois decides to go on a diet when she notices that she’s putting on weight, which leads to Hal secretly feeding her fatty foods.
Lois unknowingly eats rice cakes that have been injected with butter by Hal, and she drinks orange juice that has had tablespoons of sugar poured into it. Interestingly enough there’s one parallel between Malcom and Breaking Bad here, as when Hal injects butter into the rice cakes, the scene plays out like he’s putting together heroin; he melts the butter on a tiny spoon and then puts the butter into a syringe.
5 Lying About Getting A Vasectomy
It wouldn’t be a 2000s family sitcom if there wasn’t a narrative about the husband getting a vasectomy, as it seemed to be one of the biggest topics of the genre. The subject might be low-hanging fruit for cheap gags and punchlines, but in Malcolm in the Middle it turns into something much more sinister.
After having their first four children who are all misbehaving pranksters, Lois forced Hal to get a vasectomy, but it’s revealed in “Reese’s Party” that he never got one. How long this secret was going on for is unknown, but it was likely not long after the birth of Dewey, meaning Hal had lied for the better part of a decade, much longer than the two years Walt had been keeping his secrets for.
4 Calling In Sick Every Friday… For 15 Years
When everybody testifies against Hal in court just because they don’t want to go to prison themselves, in “Reese Joins The Army,” Hal is falsely accused of fraud at work. However, he has proof that he didn’t do it, all of which is in his trusty memory box. As every crime he is accused of happened on a Friday, he confesses that he hasn’t worked a Friday in fifteen years, and he has a ton of alibis in the form of souvenirs to prove it.
Theme park photos, a ticket to The Nutcracker, a go-karting driving license, and so many other ridiculous things get him off the hook. However, he isn’t off the hook with Lois, who has constantly been working overtime and having sleepless nights over money troubles. There are a lot of questionable life choices that the characters of Breaking Bad made, but this one is up there.
3 Could Be Naked At Any Time
As strict as a mother and wife Lois is, she wholeheartedly loves Hal, so much so that she’s willing to shave Hal’s back when he stands completely in the nude in the kitchen. Putting aside the fact of how gross it is that she’s shaving his body hair in the same place where food is prepared, it’s one of the times Lois and Hal were couple goals.
However, with the three children all struggling to make friends as it is, every time one of the friends is invited over, they are almost immediately scared away. And it’s no wonder why the boys are embarrassed by Hal, as he could be naked or running around the street in his underwear at any time.
2 Risking Everything The Family Has On A Trip To Vegas
After Hal has a dream about winning millions of dollars on a giant slot machine in “Vegas,” he immediately plans are trip to the sin city. Believing it’s a vision of the future, he doesn’t tell his family the real reason for the trip but still cashes in his life insurance policy in order to fund the trip. Inevitably, the trip is a disaster and Hal loses all of his money to the house. It’s one of the many examples of Hal’s clear gambling problem, which is the reason the family is in so much debt in the first place.
1 Not Letting Malcolm Go To The UK With A Full Scholarship
Though he isn’t quite one of the evilest fathers on TV, after having essentially destroyed his family with his gambling problems, stealing from his children, and neglecting his wife, the worst thing that Hal did was refuse to let Malcolm move to the UK. The genius child was offered a full scholarship to one of the greatest colleges in the world, but Hal didn’t allow it out of complete selfishness. When interrogated as to why he wasn’t allowed to go, Hal simply stated, “you don’t get to leave.”
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