|Family & Friends|
|Parents|| Hal Wilkerson (father)|
Lois Wilkerson (mother)
|Siblings|| Malcolm (brother)|
|Enemies||Commandant Spangler, Lavernia|
|Portrayed by||Christopher Masterson|
Francis Wilkerson, (born 1983) played by Christopher Masterson, is the oldest of the brothers and the biggest troublemaker. Francis is a regular character on the show for the first five seasons, although he has lived outside the house from the series' beginning. His mother, Lois, was in labor with Francis in the middle of her wedding to Hal. Francis was a troublemaker from a young age; he broke curfew, drank, smoked and slept around. Lois exiled him to a military academy after he was caught in bed with his girlfriend, and crashed the neighbor's car (which proceeded to burn up), and got 4 nose rings (Lois told him he would go to military academy if he got one nose piercing). From afar, Francis provides fodder for many subplots. Francis is shown (in frequent flashbacks) dating girls of which his parents did not approve, although he claims to be in love. He has been shown to be obsessive and going out of his way to show Lois she has no control over him, something which enrages the controlling woman immensely, as she believes she has total control over every facet of her family's lives.
Even from the earliest age, Francis has been driven by a strong though extremely misguided need for freedom and independence. This is basically the driving force of his antics against Lois. With Francis absolutely refusing to allow himself to be controlled by her. According to Hal, Francis' first words were "You shut up!", which was directed at Lois. They even got into a sword fight at the Military School.
Francis blames his mother for most of his problems rather than accepting responsibility for them, to the degree that when he is asked to name one thing wrong with his life that he doesn't blame on Lois, he is unable to comprehend the question.
Though Francis and Lois state that they love each other. Neither of them can truly forgive each other for the misery they've caused each other over the years.
Despite his wrecklessness, Francis is sometimes seen as a more thoughtful person, compared to his collegues. For example, when at the logging camp, he tells Eric that there is more life than just boozing off. He also, at first, refuses to fight Lavernia when she challenges him to duel, after he insults her. Only fighting her when she claims he should crawl back to his mother. Francis also has more violent interaction with Malcolm and Reese, but is very kind to Dewey.
From the moment he was born, Francis and Lois have been at war with each other. When Francis was 5 years old, Lois was in labor with Malcolm and tried to drive herself to hospital, but Francis belived she was lying and was actually trying to take him to the hospital to give him injections. Francis locked himself in the car singing "Mommy's a liar, Mommy's a liar!", and Lois couldn't get in. As a result, Lois gave birth to Malcolm in her own garden.
During the first two seasons, at the military academy, rebellious Francis finds a formidable adversary in Commandant Edwin Spangler, whose hook-for-a-hand proved a valuable comic device as he sows insurrection in the student ranks. After the second season, at only 17 years old, Francis legally emancipates himself with the help of forged signatures and an unscrupulous Alabama lawyer. He then leaves the academy, accidentally cutting off Spangler's remaining hand in the process, and heads to Alaska to find work as a logger. This incurs Lois' wrath, because she was against Francis leaving school from the start. There, he meets an even bigger foe in Lavernia who runs a tight ship in a logging cabin. He soon finds out that the job isn't as great as Eric said. By the end of Season 3, he leaves him to hitchhike back home as revenge for even suggesting Alaska.
While in Alaska, he marries a local woman, Piama Tananahaakna, after dating her for only two weeks. Lois reacts hysterically and continues to be somewhat hostile towards her for some time. Piama, like Lois, is hot-tempered and does not shrink when Lois goes after her. By Season 4 Francis and Piama have left Alaska, and Francis finds work as a farmhand at a New Mexico dude ranch owned by a German couple. Here, Francis becomes more of a responsible adult: he even begins to discipline his younger brothers, who always regarded him as a rule-breaking role model. He helps his boss, Otto, deal with the estrangement of his son, Rutger, when he reveals that he was an expert on pointless family conflicts. A little over two years after he begins working at the ranch, however, he is fired because the ATM he used to deposit the ranch's funds was not actually an ATM.
Francis and Piama then lead a life full of different events. Francis becomes an alcholic and went to AA. Afterwards, he writes a children's book, while Piama gets a job in a snow globe factory. However, Francis can't find a company to publish his book, and Piama finds her job boring and quits. The two of them are once again unemployed.
For the remainder of seasons six and seven, Francis makes only occasional appearances, yet he is still credited in each episode. Later, we find that he has regressed and reverted to his old ways, living in a cheap apartment without getting a job. Here, he briefly takes a job as the agent for his friend's band and attempts to start his own. In Ida Loses a Leg, Lois forces Francis to care for his stubborn, cranky grandmother, Ida, as he's unemployed. Francis and Ida fight like cats and dogs but eventually find common ground in that they both consider Lois a bossy control freak.
In the final episode, Francis and his mother fight over the fact that he remains unemployed. Later, his father discovers that Francis has been working at a large corporation called Amerisys Industries for two months. He explains that he enjoys his job of sitting in a tiny cubicle entering data into computers all day immensely, but he kept the job a secret from his family because he equally enjoys frustrating his mother and doesn't want to give her the satisfaction of knowing he's doing exactly what she would want. Francis' final scene shows him taunting his mother over the phone with his non-existent unemployment by yelling "I'm a FREE SPIRIT!" before he picks up his briefcase, makes plans to come home right after work for dinner with Piama, kisses her, and happily heads to the office.
Eric Hanson: Played by Eric Nenniger, is the friend of Francis who makes his first apperance in the Season 1 finale, Water Park. Eric was the reluctant sidekick to his antics and suffered the consequences during their time in Marlin Academy. When he turns 18, Eric quits school at Marlin and decides to get a job as a logger in Alaska. When Francis legally emancipates himself to join him, he discovers the job isn't great like Eric said because of Lavernia. At the end of Season 3, he and Piama leaves Eric to hitchike back home as revenge for even suggesting Alaska. Eric is never seen again.
Cadet Finley: Played by Arjay Smith, is a minor character and friend of Franics during seasons 1 and 2. Finley is reputed to have good grades and was hazed once from a cult group.
Cadet Drew: Played by Drew Powell, is a minor character and friend of Francis at Marlin Academy during seasons 1 and 2. Though physically the strongest cadets, Drew is actually emotionally weak.
Cadet Stanley: Played by Karim Prince, is Francis' friend and informal bodyguard during season 1. He has a strong appreciation for the military lifestyle. He is shown doing pull ups whilst having Francis hold on to him to add extra weight. When the majority of the school leaves on an outdoor survival trip, Stanley claims he believes strongly in the trip and threatens to break Francis' clavicles if he does not attend. Later when cadets are showing off their survival skills based on how little equipment they are bringing, Stanley enters the room completely naked except for camouflage paint over his entire body and a knife fastened to his back.
Richie: played by Todd Giebenhain, is Francis' best friend before military school, and Francis often visits him on his trips back home during the first two seasons. He is a vagabond and delinquent who was eventually shipped off to military school with Francis. Richie was Reese's boss in a fast-food restaurant called "Circus Burger", where he stole hundreds of dollars from the cash register. He framed him for the theft unil Malcolm and Barton, a classmate of his(whom Richie kept mistakenly referring to him as Dewey due to their similar age) proves his innocence. It is never explained why Richie disappears or why Francis never sees him again after the third season. He once gave Francis an injury by clipping his nasty toenails and hitting Francis in the eye with it. He is last mentioned in the season 6 episode "Stilts" by Francis, claiming he tried to dry off Reese in the oven after he had taken several different pills at once. He had two other friends named Circus and Justin. Richie is mentioned in the episode Stilts, where Reese is on drugs, and phones Francis to help him with his addiction. Francis says you're on drugs !?, haven't you learned anything from my friends, remember when Richie was babbysitting you and he put you in the oven and cooked you.
Donnie: Played by Nick Wechler, is a friend of Francis whom taken over the house with his gang of drug addicts in the hopes of turning it into a crystal meth lab. It was revealed that he has no control over Donnie and it ended up being Dewey to solve the problem by secretly calling his mother and the others. Donnie was displeased to see his mother in front of him, giving her a piece of her mind. He hasn't been seen since then.
Artie: Played by John Ennis is is a chubby, uneducated, color blind and dyslexic employee at the Alaskan lodge. Artie often hung around with his co-workers Pete, Francis and Eric. It is implied that Artie may have absorbed his twin in the womb, as he mentions that he had a boil removed, but it turned out to be the vestiges of his unborn twin. While he seems to fit in and get along with them, Eric states in "Jury Duty" that Artie is the "camp outcast". It is unknown what happened to him after the lodge was shut down.
Pete: Played by Sandy Ward, is an elderly employee at the Alaskan lodge. He usually hung around with his co-workers Artie, Francis and Eric. Pete seems to be possibly insane, or at the very least senile, as he often says bizarre, outlandish things (such as hinting he's spent a night in a caribou's stomach or believing bears can fly and lay eggs). Because of this, he is often looked upon as an "old coot". According to Eric in "Jury Duty", Pete has a family, but they apparently abandoned him and changed their names so Pete could not track them down. When the lodge is shut down, Pete wearily says that he'll probably have to move back in with his parents.
Otto Mankusser: Played by the late Kenneth Mars, is the cheery and friendly boss of Francis who owns the Grotto Ranch during seasons 4 and 5. He tries to protect his boss from being taken advantage of from his other co-workers due to his gullible nature. Otto is married to Gretchen and has an estranged son named Rutger, whom Francis helps to reconcile with using the aid of a sock puppet(Schlupi). Otto is very gullible, once even buying 200 dollars worth of sunscreen for cows, even though cows do not need sunscreen. However after working at the Grotto ranch for a little over two years, Otto fires Francis when the ATM that he was depositing his funds into was not really an ATM. Otto's actor, Kenneth Mars, died aged 75 on the 12th of February 2011. You can read his online obiturary here
Commandant Spangler: Played by Daniel von Bargen, is the strick hard-nose disciplinarian at Marlin Academy. He often buts heads with Francis because of his insurrection and rebellious nature. His last appearance was in season 3's episode, Dewey's Dog, when Franics and Eric got him a job which allows him to bully the elderly.
Lavernia: Played by Brenda Wehle, is the malevolent and heartless boss of Francis during Season 3. She runs the logging cabin with an iron fist. Lavernia had a pet parakeet that Piama secretly stole in retaliation for the way she mistreated Francis and ordered her to treat him better or else. After finding out the truth, he attempted to return the parakeet to Lavernia, but it froze to death along the way, incurring her wrath. After the loggers cut up all the trees, she fires everyone.
- In Season 4's If Boys Were Girls, Masterson is the only actor who portrayed his female couterpart, Frances. In it, she was supposed to go to college, but like her male counterpart, she rebelled against Lois' wishes by dropping out of college and marrying a trailer park man(possibly a male counterpart to Piama). Frances and her sisters all gang up on her by taking out their frustration on their mother. Also like her male counterpart, Frances blames Lois for all her marital problems just because she can't take responsibility for them herself.
- Francis is the only brother out of the 5 brothers to marry a wife on screen
- Actor Aaron Paul auditioned for the role of Francis, but did not get the part. Ironically, Aaron Paul would later get a starring role (along with Malcolm in the Middle actor Bryan Cranston) in the AMC Drama Breaking Bad.
- Francis's picture is the first face to be shown on Malcolm in the Middle, if Reese's left nostril dosen't count.