I LOVE Reese because he's so daft, lol. He is so scatter brained and the things he says and his thought process is so fascinating. He's the bully of the brothers, but it doesn't bother me. He's the muscle. He's the protector.
He's more than that though. He's very sensitive and he does have a big heart. He cares about him family and his brothers deep down and I think he would do anything for them when it came down to it. Plus, he's super hot and he can cook like no other, lol. He's the funniest and that's another plus.
Malcolm is my second favorite character. I think I identify with him the most. I'm the youngest of seven and I know what it's like to feel like the "outsider" at times. Plus, I love how caring he is. So sweet!
Hal is third. He's an awesome dad and he carried most of the comedy on his shoulders. he's awesome.
I would have to say that I love each of the at-home brothers pretty much equally for all the usual reasons. Reese is just hilarious and often seems the most authentic of them all; Malcolm, for all his flaws, is still just as charismatic as our first impression back in the pilot; and Dewey is wordly beyond his age.
As for other characters, I think Hal, Otto, and Ida are fantastic. Minus his foolhardiness, Hal is actually a quality father; Otto and Ida are plain comic genius from a character standpoint.
While it truly is a difficult choice, I would have to say Reese, for several reasons that have already been mentioned.
Reese seems to be the most true to himself, and authentic, and does seem to have layers of barely touched-upon character traits. While in most episodes he seems to be nothing more than a bully (and a budding sociopath) he'll come out of the blue and do something that surprises you. For instance, in the episode 'Malcolm Films Reese', he was actually hurt that Malcolm betrayed him, which totally caught me off guard. I thought he was simply going to kick Malcolm's ass and be done with it. LoL!
Plus, he did show flashes of intelligence here and there (albeit briefly) such as in the episode where he got his own apartment, and his teacher(s) said he showed the most remarkable improvement they had ever seen, even though he made his typical foolish decisions when it came to his finances. This told me (as a viewer) that he applied himself whenever he felt like it, and (most of the time) didn't care what anyone else thought about him. (again, most of the time) Hence my opinion that he was the most 'genuine' of the characters.
They're ALL great, but Reese was definitely the most interesting, in that he not only was HILARIOUS, but he could throw a mean curve-ball at you from time time, figuritively speaking. The rest of the characters (while hilarious as well) seemed to be more linear than him. Reese just wasn't as predictable.
Seriously though, I don't think they could have picked a better cast for the show than they did. Outstanding, every last one of them.
1. Malcolm - I identified with him the most at the beginning of the series because when I was in elementary school, I was accelerated ahead 2 grades and placed in the gifted class against my wishes. My parents were thrilled, but I definitely paid the price socially by high school!
2. Hal - I love the dynamic he has with Lois.
3. Lois - I love the way she rules the home and cares for her kids in her own fierce way.
4. Reese - Mid-series, he sort of wavering between buffoon and belligerent. I liked him more as belligerent.
5. Dewey - OMG, the seething resentment / Reese rivalry is hilarious. Loved the episode when Dewey decided Reese didn't exist anymore. Just saw last nite a re-run where Reese wants to get his driver's license, so he's tied up and Dewey is ready to hit him with a sack of toys. Reese threatens him, and Dewey responds, "I have no where to go."
As far as favorite character, I'm tempted to just say Malcolm because his personality is exactly like my own. The only problem is that this is only true for the first three or four seasons.
The show starts out as Malcolm in the Middle, the title referring to how Malcolm was the only normal person in a crazy family, in the middle of all the chaos (and the fact that he is also the middle child). At around seasons three and four however, Malcolm starts to fade into craziness while Dewey fades into normalcy. Malcolm starts doing things that a normal person wouldn't do at all, and gets himself into a bunch of unnecessary trouble because of it. This is also evident by the fact that he starts getting along with Reese more and more often (going to parties together, sharing girlfriends... etc), sharing in his stupidity.
This is when the show becomes Dewey in the Middle. Dewey begins to be the one who is ostracized and singled out and treated completely unfairly by the entire family. Even by Malcolm. Most of the shows episodes even revolve around the idea that Dewey is left alone and uncared for often. He is even diagnosed as a genius just like Malcolm, and even has musical abilities above that, which Malcolm doesn't even possess. So now, Malcolm is no longer the smartest character, nor is he the most skillful.
So Dewey becomes my favorite character on an identifiable level.
As far as funniest? Probably Hal. Then Craig. Then Herkabe then Spangler.