Monk (TV series)

Monk is an American comedy-drama detective mystery television series created by Andy Breckman and starring Tony Shalhoub as the title character, Adrian Monk. It originally ran from 2002 to 2009 and is primarily a police procedural series, but also exhibits comic and dramatic tones in its exploration of the main characters' personal lives. The series was produced by Mandeville Films and Touchstone Television in association with Universal Television.

Created byAndy Breckman
Opening themeInstrumental theme by Jeff Beal (season 1)
"It's a Jungle Out There" by Randy Newman (seasons 2–8)
Ending themeInstrumental theme by Jeff Beal (season 1; season 2, episode 12)
"It's a Jungle Out There" (instrumental) (seasons 2–8)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes125 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Camera setupFilm; Single-camera
Running time40–45 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original networkUSA Network
Picture format480i (NTSC), 1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseJuly 12, 2002 (2002-07-12) 
December 4, 2009 (2009-12-04)
External links

The series debuted on July 12, 2002, on USA Network. It continued for eight seasons, with the final season concluding on December 4, 2009. The series held the record for the most-watched scripted drama episode in cable television history from 2009 through 2012 (broken by The Walking Dead) with "Mr. Monk and the End – Part II", its series finale, with 9.4 million viewers, 3.2 million of them in the 18–49 demographic.[1]


Adrian Monk was a detective for the San Francisco Police Department until his wife, Trudy, was killed by a car bomb in a parking garage. He believes that Trudy's death was part of a larger conspiracy that she had uncovered during her time as a journalist. Trudy's death led Monk to suffer a nervous breakdown. He was then discharged from the force and became a recluse, refusing to leave his house for three and a half years. Until the final episode, Trudy's death was Monk's only unsolved case.

He is finally able to leave the house with the help of his nurse/assistant, Sharona Fleming. The breakthrough allows him to work as a private detective and a consultant for the homicide unit, despite limitations rooted in his obsessive–compulsive disorder, which has heightened since Trudy's death.

Monk's numerous compulsive habits and a number of phobias compound his situation, such as his fear of germs. Monk is afraid of 312 things, including milk, ladybugs, harmonicas, heights, asymmetry, enclosed spaces, foods touching on his plate, messes, and risk. (He has a breakthrough from claustrophobia later in the series.) The OCD and phobias cause problems for Monk and anyone around him as he investigates cases. These same personal struggles, particularly the OCD, are what aid him in solving cases: his sharp memory, specific mindset, and attention to detail. In one episode, "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", Marci Maven has compiled a list of all of Adrian's fears. In another episode, he tries to conquer his fears by doing various activities which involve his phobias. For example, he tries drinking milk, climbing a ladder, and putting a ladybug on his hand, but when things are scattered unorganized across a table, he cannot resist the compulsion to arrange them neatly.

Captain Leland Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Randy Disher call on Monk when they have trouble with investigations. Stottlemeyer is often irritated by Monk's behavior, but respects his friend and former colleague's amazing insight and observational abilities, as does Disher. Ever since childhood, Monk's obsessive attention to detail has allowed him to spot tiny discrepancies, find patterns, and make connections that others often miss. Something someone says or does usually triggers Monk to make the connection.

In his spare time, Monk continues to search for information about his wife's death, and is plagued with the idea that he may never determine who killed Trudy. He dedicates his life to solving other murders because he feels a moral obligation, even when the outcome disrupts him personally or affects his friends or him negatively, which happens periodically throughout the series. Monk becomes especially intrigued when a woman is killed, or when someone is killed with some type of bomb, because this reminds him of Trudy's murder.

In the middle of season three, Sharona decides to remarry her ex-husband and move back to New Jersey, prompting Monk to hire Natalie Teeger as his new assistant. Natalie is a widow and mother of an 11-year-old daughter, Julie. Monk discovers Natalie when she is involved in a homicide case herself, in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring". Natalie is able to understand and bond with Monk better than most people, largely due to sharing his grief over the loss of a spouse.

Monk has a brother Ambrose and a half-brother, Jack Jr., about whom Monk first learns when his father tells him in season five.[2] He later meets Jack Jr. in the episode "Mr. Monk's Other Brother" during season seven.


Main characters

  • Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is a former homicide detective and a current consultant for the San Francisco Police Department. He has an extreme case of OCD and is well known for his various fears and phobias, including, but certainly not limited to, heights, snakes, crowds, glaciers, rodeos, wind, and milk. His wife Trudy was murdered in 1997, and he is haunted by her death (and the fact that it was unsolved) until the series finale.
  • Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram; seasons one-three) is Monk's nurse and later becomes his first assistant. She refuses to baby him, often forcing him to do things that are unpleasant to him. Her final appearance as a regular character is in "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine". She moves to New Jersey midway through season three, leaving only a note. However, she returns in the final season in "Mr. Monk and Sharona" to give closure to her character. By "Mr. Monk and the End (Part Two)", Randy and she have are revealed to have moved to New Jersey together.
  • Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard; seasons three-eight) is Monk's second and final assistant. Although she is more deferential to her boss than Sharona, referring to him as "Mr. Monk", she is not hesitant about telling him when his eccentricities are going too far. A young widow who lives with her daughter Julie, Natalie lost her husband Mitch when he was shot down over Kosovo in 1998. She first appears in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring". Natalie was introduced partway through season three when Bitty Schram, who played Sharona, left "precipitous[ly]", reportedly over a contract dispute. Traylor Howard had not yet seen the show and was unenthusiastic about her manager's urgings to audition as Schram's replacement. She nevertheless tried out and got the part. Despite her initial "cool" reception from fans, show co-creator Andy Breckman believes Traylor quickly and successfully filled the void. "I will always be grateful to Traylor because she came in when the show was in crisis and saved our baby […] We had to make a hurried replacement, and not every show survives that. I was scared to death."[3]
  • Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) is the head of the Homicide Division of the San Francisco Police Department. Monk and he have been good friends since Monk was on the police force, and he continues to be Monk's friend throughout the series. He does his best to help Monk, but is occasionally annoyed by Monk's phobias and the damage they can cause. In the first two seasons, Stottlemeyer is reluctant to work with Monk, seemingly annoyed by the idea that he could not handle his cases himself. By seasons three and four, his faith in Monk's contribution is well-cemented and his collaboration unquestionable.
  • Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) is a lieutenant in the Homicide Division of the SFPD. He is naive and often portrayed as slightly dim. The other characters are often irritated by him, but they also care about him. In season eight, he is seen kissing Sharona, and in the series finale, he moves to Summit, New Jersey, where they move in together. He becomes chief of police there.

Secondary characters


Season Timeslot (ET) # Ep. Premiered Ended TV season Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere
(in millions)
Date Finale
(in millions)
1 Friday 10:00 pm
(July 12, 2002 – March 17, 2006)
July 12, 2002
October 18, 2002
2 16
June 20, 2003
March 5, 2004
3 16
June 18, 2004
March 4, 2005
4.44[11] 2004–05
4 16
July 8, 2005
March 17, 2006
5.4[13] 2005–06
5 Friday 9:00 pm (July 7 – August 25, 2006)
Friday 10:00 pm (November 17, 2006)
Friday 9:00 pm
(December 22, 2006 – March 2, 2007)
July 7, 2006
March 2, 2007
5.7[15] 2006–07
6 Friday 9:00 pm
(July 13, 2007 – December 4, 2009)
July 13, 2007
February 22, 2008
6.88[17] 2007–08 5.37[18]
7 16
July 18, 2008
February 20, 2009
5.54[20] 2008–09
8 16
August 27, 2010
December 24, 2010
9.44[22] 2009

Episode titles

Much like novels in a series about a starring detective, all but one of the episodes have titles in the form of "Mr. Monk and (a person or thing)", e.g. "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend", "Mr. Monk (does something)", e.g. "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus", "Mr. Monk (is something)", e.g. "Mr. Monk Is on the Run", or "Mr. Monk Gets (something)", e.g. "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized". The one exception is the season-eight episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk".

While solving a murder is the main plot for most episodes, in a few episodes, Monk helps investigate other crimes, such as kidnappings in the season-two episode "Mr. Monk and the Missing Granny" and the season-three episode "Mr. Monk and the Kid", or a failed murder plot in the season-six episode "Mr. Monk and the Daredevil". In a few cases, the episode is not about the murder itself, but about finding evidence to arrest the killer, e.g. "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", or "Mr. Monk and the Genius", and episodes where the murder is related to the main plot, e.g. in "Mr. Monk on Wheels".

Some episodes actually start as a totally different type of case, but eventually a murder happens, e.g. a suspected abduction turns into a murder case in "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized". In season seven, in the 100th episode, Monk solved his 100th (and 101st) case since his wife's death.

In a humorous twist, in the episode "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", Marci Maven (Silverman) refers directly to cases Monk has solved by the titles of the episodes.

Plot formats

Episodes about a murder generally follow one of four basic plot outlines:

  • The killer is known, and how the crime was committed is known. The episode is spent trying to find evidence to arrest that person, and these episodes are hence patterned similarly to many episodes of Columbo.
  • Monk knows who the killer is, and knows what the motive is, but the killer has a seemingly air-tight alibi. The episode is spent trying to break that alibi and find out how the killer did it.
  • In a number of episodes, the plot involves trying to find out the killer, how the murder was done, and why.
  • In some episodes, the killer's modus operandi is known, but not who did it or why.

"Here's what happened" segments

Most episodes feature a sequence in which Monk reveals how the crime was committed, almost always prefaced with the words "Here's what happened" (or a variation of that phrase) and shown in black and white. Most of these sequences are featured near the end of the episode, but have occasionally occurred at the beginning ("Mr. Monk Takes the Stand") or towards the middle. Some of these sequences are told in an unusual fashion, such as being told to a bear ("Mr. Monk Goes Camping"), in the form of a bedtime story ("Mr. Monk and the Kid"), being chanted during a ritual at a monastery ("Mr. Monk and the Miracle"), in a dream ("Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra" and "Mr. Monk's Favorite Show"), being told by someone other than Monk (by Sharona in "Mr. Monk Goes to Jail", by Natalie in "Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees", and by Disher in "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm"), being rapped out by a rapper (guest star Snoop Dogg in "Mr. Monk and the Rapper"), and being told in another language ("Mr. Monk Falls in Love"). Harold Krenshaw gives a fictitious summary about Monk in "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy." Monk states a summary twice, in flashback and in present, in "Mr. Monk and Little Monk" as himself and as young Monk. In at least three episodes ("Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike," "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized," and "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door"), Monk gives several versions of the same summary, but all except for the last one are false as a result of his being unable to concentrate. In "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever," Monk and Disher give simultaneous summaries of different crimes.

Only a few episodes do not contain a summary. The first episode not to feature a summary was the season-one episode "Mr. Monk and the Airplane."


According to an interview with executive producer David Hoberman,[23] ABC first conceived the series as a police show with an Inspector Clouseau-like character suffering from OCD. Hoberman said ABC wanted Michael Richards for the show,[23] but Richards turned it down. Hoberman brought in Andy Breckman as creator, and Breckman, inspired by Sherlock Holmes, introduced Dr. Kroger as a Doctor Watson-like character and an Inspector Lestrade-like character who eventually became Captain Stottlemeyer.

Although ABC originated the show, the network handed it off to the USA Network. USA is now owned by NBC (NBC Universal).[24] Monk was the first ABC Studios-produced show aired on USA Network instead of ABC. Although ABC initially refused Monk, they did air repeats of the show on ABC in the summer and fall of 2002, and then again in the spring of 2004. On January 12, 2006, USA Network announced that Monk had been picked up through at least season six as one of the "highest-rated series in cable history."[25] An in-joke reference to this contract renewal was also inserted into the episode "Mr. Monk and the Big Reward", which aired around this time.

Season five premiered Friday, July 7, 2006, at 9:00 pm Eastern time. This marked the first time change for the program, which aired at 10:00 pm during its first four seasons. The change allowed the show to work as a lead-in to a new USA Network series, Psych, another offbeat detective program. Monk followed a consistent format of airing half of its 16 episodes in midyear and the second half early the following year, with the exception of the first season, which broadcast entirely from July 2002 through October 2002, and the final season, which broadcast entirely between August and December 2009.

Previously aired episodes of Monk began airing on NBC Universal sibling network NBC April 6, 2008. NBC eyed the show because its block with Psych could be plugged into NBC's schedule intact. The shows were being used to increase the scripted programming on the network as production of its own scripted programming ramped back up following the writers' strike.[26] Ratings for the broadcast debut were well below NBC averages for the time period. The show came in third behind Big Brother 9 on CBS and Oprah's Big Give on ABC.[27]


Although set in the San Francisco Bay Area, Monk is for the most part shot elsewhere except for occasional exteriors featuring city landmarks. The pilot episode was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, with some location shooting in San Francisco, and the subsequent season-one episodes were shot in the Toronto, Ontario, area.[28] Most of the episodes from seasons two through six were filmed in the Los Angeles area. These include the sets for Monk's apartment, the police station and Stottlemeyer's office, Dr. Kroger's office, and Natalie's house.[29] In season two, episode eight, a building for the Toronto Star can also be seen in a cut scene.

In the later part of season four, some on-location filming was done in San Francisco. Many portions of the episode "Mr. Monk and the Big Reward" were noticeably shot on location, including a climactic chase scene where Monk and Natalie are chased by three bounty hunters.[30] Other filming was done in Chinatown, which is shown in the opening of "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty", as Stottlemeyer and Disher chase wanted fugitive Miguel Escobar (Carlos Gomez) up Jackson Street. In "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut", some on-location filming was done at Edwards Air Force Base.

Theme music

During the first season of Monk, the series used a jazzy instrumental introduction to the show by songwriter Jeff Beal, performed by guitarist Grant Geissman.[31] The theme won the 2003 Emmy Award for Best Main Title Music.[32]

NYC actor Colter Rule was hired by USA Network to do all radio and TV promotions for the series from its inception, lending an ironic, understated tone that contributed to the show's early popularity. The original tag was "Monk! America's Favorite Defective Detective!" When season two began, the series received a new theme song, titled "It's a Jungle Out There", by Randy Newman. Reaction to the new theme was mixed. A review of season two in the New York Daily News included a wish that producers would revert to the original theme.[33] Shalhoub expressed his support for the new theme in USA Today, saying its "dark and mournful sound,… [its] tongue-in-cheek, darkly humorous side… completely fits the tone of the show."[34] Newman was awarded the 2004 Emmy Award for Best Main Title Music for "It's a Jungle Out There".[35]

The show made self-deprecating references to the theme music controversy in the episode "Mr. Monk and the TV Star", where obsessed fan Marci Maven and Sharona both express distaste for the new theme music to a CSI parody called Crime Lab: SF. In the epilogue of the story, Marci implores Monk to promise her that he will never change the theme music if he ever gets his own show. When Monk agrees to the promise (only so he can go back to bed), the original music is heard as the scene fades to credits, and it plays through the credits.

The original theme is heard in the season-three episode "Mr. Monk and the Game Show". It is also heard in several other episodes as the show enters the credits and then leads into the new theme's instrumental. In the season-five episode "Mr. Monk and the Leper", while looking around a victim's apartment, Randy doodles out the old theme song on the piano, much to Stottlemeyer's exasperation. The music was also heard in the season-seven episode "Mr. Monk and the Bully". The latest use of the original theme music was in the season-eight episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk" in 2009.

In the season-six episode "Mr. Monk and the Rapper", Snoop Dogg guest-starred as Murderuss, a rapper who is being wrongly accused of car-bombing a rival rapper. For the episode, Snoop Dogg also performed a hip-hop cover of "It's a Jungle Out There" that substitutes for Randy Newman's version in the opening credits, and later is heard at the end before transitioning into the regular credit music. The June 16, 2008, reairing of the pilot episode featured a new credit sequence with the Newman theme. The season-eight episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk" features a slower version of the original theme with a muted trumpet playing the melody.

Randy Newman also wrote a new song for the final episode entitled "When I'm Gone". The song was released on iTunes on December 1, 2009, and won the 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

For a few episodes where Trudy is featured, a somber but pleasant ending theme was used. The ending theme is last used in "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra".


The series was given many awards and nominations, including winning eight Emmy Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Other media

Little Monk

USA Network premiered a 10-episode online series entitled "Little Monk" on August 22, 2009. It includes Adrian and Ambrose Monk during their middle-school years, bringing a back story to Monk's detective skills and phobias. As they would have been middle schoolers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, viewers see anachronisms; the various cars seen in the episodes, as well as some of the clothes, do not belong to the period.

TV movie

On February 17, 2012, Andy Breckman announced that a script had been completed for a TV movie titled Mr. Monk For Mayor. Breckman stated that the film should begin production in summer 2012 in California for a release date in December 2012. Breckman also stated that he hoped a sequel would be produced, as well.[36] The idea was rejected for budgetary reasons.[37]


The show's soundtrack features its original music score, composed by Jeff Beal.


A "behind-the-scenes" audio podcast entitled "Lunch at Monk" is available for download through the USA website.[38] In the podcast, cast and crew members of the show are interviewed over lunch.

Novel series

Since 2006, during the airing of season four, Lee Goldberg, a writer for the series, has produced a series of novels based on the original television series.[39] All of the novels are narrated by Natalie Teeger, Monk's second assistant. For the most part, the novels remain faithful to the television series, with slight discontinuity. Two of the novels were later adapted into regular episodes. On December 31, 2012, the last novel to be written by Lee Goldberg was released. After Goldberg left the series, Hy Conrad wrote four more books, ending with Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant.[40]

NumberTitleAuthorISBNPublication dateNotes
1 Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse Lee Goldberg 0-451-21729-2 January 3, 2006 Adapted in 2006 into the season-five episode "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing"
2 Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii 0-451-21900-7 July 5, 2006
3 Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu 0-451-22013-7 January 2, 2007 Adapted in 2009 into the season-eight episode "Mr. Monk and the Badge"
4 Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants 0-451-22097-8 July 3, 2007 First appearance of Sharona Fleming in any Monk-related media since 2004, rendered non-canon by the episode "Mr. Monk and Sharona"
5 Mr. Monk in Outer Space 0-451-22098-6 October 30, 2007
6 Mr. Monk Goes to Germany 0-451-22099-4 July 1, 2008 This novel was written before, but published after, the airing of "Mr. Monk Is on the Run", so events in this story run contrary to the series timeline. The foreword acknowledges some discontinuity.
7 Mr. Monk Is Miserable 0-451-22515-5 December 2, 2008 Direct sequel to Mr. Monk Goes to Germany
8 Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop 0-451-22698-4 July 7, 2009
9 Mr. Monk in Trouble 0-451-22905-3 December 1, 2009 Excerpt "The Case of the Piss-Poor Gold" was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, November 2009
10 Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out 0-451-23009-4 July 6, 2010[41]
11 Mr. Monk on the Road 0-451-23211-9 January 4, 2011 Excerpt "Mr. Monk and the Seventeen Steps" was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 2010
12 Mr. Monk on the Couch 0-451-23386-7 June 7, 2011 Excerpt "Mr. Monk and the Sunday Paper" was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June/July 2011
13 Mr. Monk on Patrol 0-451-23664-5 January 3, 2012[42]
14 Mr. Monk Is a Mess 0-451-23687-4 June 5, 2012[43] Direct sequel to Mr. Monk on Patrol
15 Mr. Monk Gets Even 0-451-23915-6 December 31, 2012[44] Direct sequel to Mr Monk Is a Mess
16 Mr. Monk Helps Himself Hy Conrad 0-451-24093-6 June 4, 2013
17 Mr. Monk Gets on Board 0-451-24095-2 January 7, 2014 Direct sequel to Mr. Monk Helps Himself. The novel itself was noted by Conrad to have been adapted from a never-filmed season-three script for an episode called "Mr. Monk Is At Sea", which would have had Monk and Sharona investigate a murder on a cruise ship. That episode was never filmed because no cruise line, out of sensitivity to the plot, wanted to loan a ship to the production crew to use for shooting.
18 Mr. Monk Is Open for Business 0-451-47056-7 June 3, 2014 Direct sequel to Mr. Monk Gets on Board
19 Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant 0-451-47058-3 January 6, 2015 Direct sequel to Mr. Monk Is Open for Business; Hy Conrad confirmed through his Facebook and website that New Lieutenant will be the final Monk novel he will write for the series.

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all eight seasons of Monk on DVD in Region 1. On October 5, 2010, Universal released Monk- The Complete Series: Limited edition boxset on DVD in Region 1, a 32-disc set featuring all eight seasons of the series, as well as special features and a collectible 32-page booklet.[45]

Monk episodes are also available on iTunes. All seasons are also available in HD format. The Region 2 and Region 4 DVDs of seasons one-three are in the 4:3 aspect ratio.

In Australia, Seasons 1-5 were re-released in slimmer packaging in 2010. In 2017, all eight seasons were re-issued and distributed by Shock Entertainment (previous releases were Universal). Seasons 1-3 are now in 16:9 format, and all seasons are Region 4 NTSC (previous releases were PAL Regions 2, 4 and 5). Complaints from some buyers were that there are no subtitles or episode list and episodes appearing out of order.

DVD name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season one 13 June 15, 2004[46] December 27, 2004 January 18, 2005
Season two 16 January 11, 2005[47] July 18, 2005 September 21, 2005
Season three 16 June 5, 2005[48] February 27, 2006 March 22, 2006
Season four 16 June 27, 2006[49] September 18, 2006 November 15, 2006
Season five 16 June 26, 2007[50] September 17, 2007 April 1, 2009
Season six 16 July 8, 2008[51] September 8, 2008 February 3, 2010
Season seven 16 July 21, 2009[52] August 23, 2010[53] June 30, 2010[54]
Season eight 16 March 16, 2010[55] May 9, 2011[56] December 1, 2010[57]
Season eight 16 November 23, 2010[58] May 9, 2011[59] December 1, 2010[60]
Complete series 125 December 14, 2010 August 29, 2011 December 7, 2016


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