Monk

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"Here's what happened..."

Monk is a Detective Drama that aired on USA Network from 2002 to 2009. The show was about Adrian Monk, a former San Francisco police inspector who suffered a nervous breakdown after the murder of his wife, Trudy. He is a lifelong sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and has many phobias, and those obsessions became crippling after his breakdown, forcing his retirement; he recovers throughout the series, though he is never fully "cured". His OCD is also the reason Monk was such a successful policeman; one of his compulsions is paying amazing attention to details.

Thanks to his breakdown, Monk was discharged from his department, but is frequently called in to consult on cases which baffle the police, often some kind of Locked Room Mystery, by his friend and former commander Captain Stottlemeyer. His disorders are part and parcel of his unique mind; without them, he wouldn't be able to solve these cases. Of course, the one case Monk's been trying to solve since his breakdown is Trudy's murder, and each season of the show brings him a little closer to finally solving the mystery behind her death (with the show's final season bringing the case to a close for good).

Monk is notable for subverting pretty much every Perp Sweating convention; due to Monk's disorder and the invariable intelligent cockiness of the bad guy, he's always the one in any round of questioning who's uncomfortable and making mistakes.

Many of the comedic situations in the series would not exist if Monk or one of his friends would explain his issues to others. So they don't. However, despite the occasional perpetual comedy at his expense, he is largely portrayed sympathetically. Viewers come to believe that his condition is, as Monk himself puts it, "a gift...and a curse".

This show was a turning point for the USA Network. USA was previously a channel with a lineup consisting mainly of reruns and game shows (and, of course, Duckman). Monk was the first major hit show for the network, launching what has become a string of popular, critically-acclaimed series.

Monk is notable for putting main actors like Tony Shalhoub and Traylor Howard in the limelight after careers filled with supporting roles.


Tropes used in Monk include:
  • 20% More Awesome: "Mr. Monk and the Big Game" uses the standard "give 110%" cliche, although Monk tries to settle with 100% as he claims that 110% is mathematically impossible.
  • Absence of Evidence: In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival", Stottlemeyer recalls a the case of a prostitute whose death looked like suicide until Monk pointed out that there was no water for the overly-large pills on which the victim had OD'd.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: On at least one occasion, Monk hits something by accident. In the fifth season he quickly jerks the gun off to the side to fire off a warning shot and, in another one, despite not having bothered to aim at anything, kills a bird.
  • Actor Allusion: In the episode Mr. Monk Is Someone Else, Reed Diamond plays an FBI agent who works for Team Alpha, who work to identify and track high profile targets/dangerous individuals.
    • In the episode where Monk flies in a plane, Sharona makes a reference to Wings. Monk replies that he never watched it. It's an in-joke: Tony Shalhoub had a role on Wings. However, since no one wonders why Monk looks like Antonio, we must assume that another actor portrays Shalhoub's character on that show.
      • For added fun in this, one of Shalhoub's co-stars from Wings, Tim Daly, was there and did a double take on seeing Monk.
    • The episode where Monk learns of a potential lead to Trudy's murderer has Tim Curry playing a Manipulative Bastard who for various reasons is unable to move around much and is immobile, just like Forte.
    • Monk's standoff with Winston Brenner in Monk's darkened apartment in "Mr. Monk and the Blackout", with Monk wearing nightvision goggles, might remind you of a scene in The Silence of the Lambs where Ted Levine's character is stalking Jodie Foster's character through a dark basement. Coincidentally, Ted Levine and another actor from that movie, Scott Glenn, would later reunite in "Mr. Monk Is On the Run," but in reverse, with Glenn playing the villain and Levine being a supporting protagonist.
    • Natalie's parents are Bobby and Peggy Davenport. Their first names are the exact same as the first names of Traylor Howard's real parents, Peggy E. Traylor and Robert M. Howard, Jr.
    • In "Mr. Monk Is Someone Else", when Monk is going through the crash course on his doppelganger's background with FBI Agent Stone, he says his doppelgangers' parents' names were Joseph and Helen. What a coincidence that those are the names of Tony Shalhoub's parents.
  • Adult Child: Monk becomes one through hypnosis. He gets better, though. Its also hinted that even during this state, he still innately could find clues about the actual murder, although his way of expressing these facts is much different - like tasting a piece of gum taken off someone's shoe.
  • Afraid of Needles: one of Monk's phobias.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert" in season 5, the girlfriend of a deceased roadie convinces Monk and Natalie that there was foul play in his death because he had a pathological fear of needles, despite the fact that his body was found with a syringe in his right arm.
  • Air Hugging: Though this is less Monk being uncomfortable with men (specifically, his brother) and more his being uncomfortable with touching.
  • Always Someone Better: Mr. Monk and the Other Detective involves Monk accusing a detective of cheating. He is.
  • Amoral Attorney: Garrett Price shows up a few times. "But what about the bomb?"
  • And the Adventure Continues...: How the series ends.
  • And Now for Something Completely Different: Although most of the episodes deal with a murder, there are two episodes that stand out to not have murder involved at all, the first being Mr. Monk and the Missing Granny (although it does have attempted murder) and the second being Mr. Monk and the Kid. Coincidentially, both episodes involve a kidnapping. Episodes Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized and Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine answer the question of "How would Monk solve a case if there was something to impair his abilities?
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Sort of: The animals don't actually speak the English language (and yes, animals are not allowed to testify in open court), but a few episodes relating to animals seem to depict the animals with an almost human understanding. In Mr. Monk and the Dog, the dog Monk has to raise after its owner ends up missing (who is also pregnant) seems to be genuinely sorrowful upon learning that her owner died, and her reaction when giving birth is similar to a human. Likewise, in the episode where Monk goes on a camping trip, the method in which Monk manages to calm a bear down was telling it the murder, and the bear's reactions indicated that it understood fully well what was going on in the story and reacting accordingly.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: I'm looking at you, Stottlemeyer.
  • Art Shift: The second of two 2006 Christmas specials, "Mr. Monk and the Leper" was broadcast in Film Noir black-and-white, and again in color. Noticeably, a black-and-white shot in the color version was done in color in the B&W version rather than the usual B&W.
    • In Mr. Monk's Favorite Show, Monk delivers the summation in his dream while knocked out, which is presented in the style of a sitcom TV show, complete with laugh track.
  • Artifact Title: Inverted; every episode title, except for the ninth episode in the eighth season, begins with "Mr. Monk," which nobody referred to him as until Natalie came along. She kinda got locked into calling him that (in "Mr. Monk and Sharona", when Sharona asks Monk about this, Natalie tries calling Monk by his first name but it doesn't feel right to her).
  • As Himself:
    • Willie Nelson is accused of murder in "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger," which itself takes a lot of references from Columbo episodes (especially the episode that featured Johnny Cash).
    • Tim Daly is in "Mr. Monk and the Airplane"
    • Danny Bonaduce is present in "Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy" as one of Dex's golfing buddies
    • Bob Costas features as the commentator in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoff"
  • Asshole Victim / Sympathetic Murderer: It doesn't happen quite as often as many other crime shows of the time, but there are still a couple;
    • One episode involves a woman who lost her parents and her sight following a car accident caused by a drunk driver. She slowly regained her sight after many many years, but she pretended she was still blind, believing that to put her in the perfect position to find and kill the man who destroyed her life. It would've worked if she hadn't made it clear that she knew which arm Stottlemeyer had in a sling.
    • In another episode, the "victim" turns out to be a brutal warlord who was hiding out incognito as a cab driver. One of his fares turned out to be a former citizen of the country he terrorized. Guess what happens next...
  • Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: Monk solves impossible cases regularly once per episode, but he often solves cases in under a minute when he's barely paying attention, since he's already distracted by another case. Often he solves four or five cases within fifteen minutes like this, or cases so obscure that nobody actually cares about them. He once determined while working on another case in a museum that the body on display was actually hit in the skull rather than dying from the cause declared by the museum, effectively solving a 30,000 year-old case. Stottlemeyer actually exploits this, calling out the facts of various cases while he's distracted.
    • The closer a case comes to his own life, the more trouble he has solving it. For example, there was one case ("Mr Monk and the Garbage Strike") that involved his pet peeve, cleanliness, that literally drove him insane trying to solve, and took three tries and actually going into a computer cleanroom before he did it. Likewise, he had problems to a lesser degree in a case that involved the son of "Inspector Number 8" of his shirts. Here, however, his problems vanish once he gets enough evidence to make a solid start on the case.
    • The ultimate example of course being the case of his wife, Trudy, and her car bombing.
  • Author Appeal: Majority of the cases involve murdered wives, and some murdered husbands as well.
  • Badass Mustache: Stottlemeyer wears one with such pride that in "Mr. Monk and the Miracle," Monk has trouble recognizing him when he shaves it off and becomes a monk (the only way Monk can identify him is to use the feather on a quill). When Leland is out of action, Randy grows one in response (Monk and Natalie are dumbstruck when they first notice it). After Leland returns to the force, he gives Randy a safety razor as an implied way of ordering him to shave it off.
  • Bad Bad Acting: In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater," where an actor is murdered on stage Monk ends up taking the dead man's place... it goes as well as you'd expect.
    • Also averted in that he did manage to act out the events quite well to recreate the crime scene... When the stage was empty. In fact, literally the only reason he was not acting well was due to stage fright.
    • Don't forget where he acts like Sharona's his wife, and does such a bad job of it that the couple's therapist is relieved to hear they aren't married.
  • Batman Gambit: The chessmaster in "Mr. Monk and the Genius" uses one of these to kill his wife.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • In "Mr. Monk is Someone Else", Monk adopts the persona of a dead hit man in order to save the life of his target. He ends up playing his role a little bit too well.
    • Also, in "Mr. Monk and the Actor," method actor David Ruskin (played by Stanley Tucci; coincidentally one of three candidates for Monk alongside Tony Shalhoub and Alfred Molina) is hired to portray Monk in a movie. In the course of developing the Monk 'character' he acquires many of Monk's various psychoses, eventually suffering a breakdown of his own and halting production of the movie.
      • Though this time it wasn't Monk's fault, as earlier in the episode, Natalie notes that said actor already had a history of Becoming the Mask multiple times in the past, having once had to spend three months in a rehabilitation clinic despite not drinking because he played an alcoholic character.
    • There was also another time ("Mr. Monk Is At Your Service") where Monk went undercover as the head butler, and seems to enjoy it more than solving crimes. At least he pretended not to recognize Natalie when she showed up.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • In episodes related to Trudy's death, Monk can take on some Knight Templar traits.
    • In one episode with a thief dressing as Santa, Monk was in an emotionally bad state and ended up having to shoot the man in self-defense with his own revolver when the perp tried to kill him.
    • Monk shows throughout the series that he is quite capable of defending himself when the situation demands, to the point of completely ignoring his phobias -- including shooting and severely wounding a murderer in self-defense while temporarily blind, overpowering a deranged man with a gun, or fending off a perp with dirty bags when being ill.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Badge" Monk fights off a murderer on an unstable window-washing platform and stabs the man in the leg with said badge.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Blackout" - "Be careful, your left shoelace is untied."
  • Berserk Button: For Adrian, it could be anything, really, but his true Berserk Button is Trudy's death. Anything that threatens his memory of her, or implies anything about what happened, causes Adrian to snap, leading to Beware the Nice Ones, as above.
    • That particular Berserk Button caused Monk to protest the demolition of the parking garage where Trudy was murdered in the Season Seven finale, "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall"; the structure was being demolished to make way for a children's playground, and Monk was worried that the demolition could destroy any remaining potential evidence. However, the councilwoman who helps bring the matter before the city council is killed, leaving Monk to solve her murder and reveal that her vote would keep the parking garage standing; unfortunately, Monk insults the councilwoman's replacement during The Summation, which causes the replacement to change the deciding vote out of spite. A sign shown after Monk leaves the structure for the last time shows that the playground replacing the parking garage will be named in Trudy's honor.
    • Can't forget the memorable moment in "Mr. Monk Is on the Air" when the DJ made cruel jokes about Trudy's death (to the point his heckling yes men were disturbed by it). The yes men even tried to stop their boss before Monk simply jumped over the table and beat him up.
    • In the series finale, when Monk confronts Trudy's killer, Ethan Rickover, he claims that Trudy was unstable and crazy, prompting Monk to beat the crap out of him. Mind you, at this point, Monk was poisoned and dying. The cool bit was that the Judge wanted to make him look crazy. When he tries to get Monk killed by the cops using the same method at the end of the episode, Monk doesn't fall for it.
    • Stottlemeyer, while he was still married to Karen, also had a severe berserk button when it came to his wife either being hurt or someone managing to see his wife. The first instance of this was in Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife, where he started losing his sanity when his wife was hospitalized for severe injuries relating to a car crash caused when she collided with a tow truck after the truck's driver got shot, and even ended up coming very close to losing his badge just to do so. The second time was in Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage when a fellow police officer makes comments that implies that Karen was cheating on Stottlemeyer by dating him. That one ends very badly in regards to the Captain's marriage, resulting in their divorce.
    • Disher has a berserk button relating to people not taking him seriously especially when he actually did witness a murder, resulting in him quitting his job in Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist. Similarly, he doesn't like it when people diss his music, or being called "Cracker."
  • Big Applesauce: "Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan" happens, well, you probably know where.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Averted, at least when it came to viewer expectations of what was going to happen in the Grand Finale.
  • Black Widow: In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding", Natalie's brother was about to marry a Black Widow, and she murdered a cameraman who had recognized her and was blackmailing her.
  • Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome: "It's a gift...and a curse."
  • Blood on These Hands: Said by Salvatore Lucarelli in "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather".
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Inverted in Mr. Monk Meets The Godfather, where Monk actually did intend to have the FBI catch his confession on tape, but it backfired because they got static (Monk washed the tie containing the bug in the washing machine due to spilling it with food earlier, and since the bug wasn't waterproof... which is why you don't want to do this to electronics.)
  • Boring but Practical: It is implied that while Disher lacks Monk's ability to solve impossible cases, he is very efficient when it comes to managing ordinary homicides. Stottlemeyer mentions this in Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, a tie-in novel to the series.
  • Bottle Episode: The season 1 finale Mr. Monk and the Airplane. It's so well-written most people don't even notice.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the second season ("Mr. Monk and the TV Star"), Marci Maven (Sarah Silverman) becomes a fan of Monk's work. At the end of the episode, she says something about how he's such a great detective "one day you'll get your own TV show." And then she ask him "if you ever do get your own TV show, don't change the opening song." When the credits roll, rather than the second season song, they're playing the first season theme.
  • Brick Joke: In Part 2 of the Final Episode: Near the very end of the episode, just before he and Natalie leave his house to go to the crime scene, Monk checks his stove to make sure its off. Rewind 8 seasons ago to the first episode, and Monk is in the middle of a crime scene and suddenly remembers that he might not have turned the stove off.
    • There's another one. In "Mr Monk and the Game Show" he talks to Trudy's mother about how she dealt with her grief, she says, "I was buried alive." Three episodes later, in "Mr Monk vs. the Cobra," he is Buried Alive - literally.
    • And yet another one (though it may not qualify, as it's in-episode), "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk" a guy sits at his table, and the guests say that he reeks of aqua velva, such that it smells like he's been swimming in it. Later in the episode, Natalie remarks about how the alcohol tastes funny. The reason Natalie's wine tasted funny was because the man's dead body was hidden in the wine cask! (Rendering this a case of Chekhov's Aftershave)
  • Broken Pedestal: When a former child actress writes a tell-all book about Monk's favorite TV show - the only thing that made him happy as a child - there isn't enough Brain Bleach in the world to help him.
    • If the rest of the book was bad, I seriously wonder what was on page 73, the page Natalie ate.
  • Buffy-Speak: When Monk tells people to pause or fast forward something on a TV in later episodes, he says "picture freeze" or "picture go fast". Ironically, he didn't do this in earlier episodes.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Monk, and to a lesser degree Randy.
  • Busman's Holiday: Monk cannot seem to go on vacation anywhere without a few dead bodies involved.
    • In "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation," Sharona takes Monk on a vacation against his will, where he is incredibly uncomfortable and simply sits on the beach fully clothed. When a murder mystery pops up he couldn't be happier, and drags Sharona into helping him solve it. Upon their return Sharona asks that they never go on vacation again, then says "I can't believe I just said that!"
    • Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever":

Natalie Teeger: Everywhere you go, every time you turn around, somebody is killing somebody else!
Captain Stottlemeyer: That's true.
Adrian Monk: What?
Captain Stottlemeyer: There was the time you went on vacation, and then on the airplane...

Adrian Monk: These things happen!

Captain Stottlemeyer: And that stage play...

Adrian Monk: It happens!

Natalie Teeger: To you!

    • Natalie even concludes at the end of the episode that fate makes Monk go to these places JUST SO he will be there to solve the murders...
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," who'd think it be pure coincidence that Monk and Natalie just happen to be by the port-a-potties when a dead body falls out of one of them?
    • Played straight in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs" when Monk and Stottlemeyer go to a playoff game with tickets for the press box with Bob Costas (As Himself), but Monk discovers an attempted murder and a murdered quarterback Hidden in Plain Sight by being dressed as a passed out fan.
    • The Expanded Universe novels did this better.
      • In Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, Monk takes Dioxynl to follow Natalie to Hawaii. After the drug wears off and he's back to being himself, he ruins Natalie's friend's wedding by exposing her groom-to-be as a bigamist, stumbles upon a homicide and drags Natalie along, while trying to find evidence to arrest a television medium for fraud, and solving a rash of mysterious burglaries and car accidents on the way.
      • In Mr. Monk Is Miserable, Natalie uses emotional blackmail to get Monk to come along with her to Paris. He finds a skull in the catacombs that was not dumped there a few hundred years ago, but less than twelve months ago. Later, Monk and Natalie are at a blind restaurant (eat in pitch-black darkness). Another woman sits down, and is about to talk to them when a shadowy assailant stabs and kills her with a steak knife, then escapes in a matter of a few seconds.
  • The Bus Came Back: Sharona returns for season 8's "Mr. Monk and Sharona".
  • Butt Monkey: Randy Disher. The one time he didn't accept his status, it was a Tear Jerker. Then back to status quo.
  • California Doubling (for itself): Los Angeles doubles for San Francisco (the orange bus with "Culver" written in giant cursive letters doesn't help in "Mr. Monk Joins a Cult"). Season 1 is guilty of Vancouver Doubling and Toronto Doubling (the pilot was filmed in Vancouver, while the rest of the season was filmed in Toronto).
    • Examples of California Doubling proper:
    • The Metrolink train that appeared in "Mr. Monk and the Buried Treasure" didn't help either. San Francisco has BART and Caltrain; Metrolink runs throughout San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, and LA counties.
    • One episode rather explicitly showed Union Station, a landmark any Los Angeles native would recognize.
      • However, they might have thought it was cooler. Would've worked if it weren't for the fact that a body turns up on the LACMTA Red Line station platform. Any railfan enthusiast or actual commuter will recognize the station.
      • This happened again in the finale, with LA Union Station being used for Fourth/Townsend station.
    • A body is dumped near the San Bruno train station in "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective", supposedly on a hillside in the woods. You couldn't dump a body within 50 yards of the real train station without being noticed.
    • In "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head," which is supposed to be in Wyoming, some of the backdrops look suspiciously like California hills and don't appear as dusty as Wyoming.
    • A few episodes have managed to avert this:
      • "Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan", the Big Applesauce episode, averts this issue, having been filmed entirely on location in New York City.
    • Some season 4 filming happened on-location in San Francisco.
      • In "Mr. Monk and the Big Reward," the scenes of the MacMillan Museum were done on location. The climatic scene where Monk and Natalie are chased by three bounty hunters has them running up and down San Francisco's hills (the appearance of a cable car going up Jackson Street suggests that they are in North Beach).
      • Although most of the scenes in "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty" were filmed in Los Angeles (for the courthouse), the opening was revised, showing Stottlemeyer and Disher chasing Miguel Escobar along Jackson Street through Chinatown.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut" subverts this by setting the climatic scene at the fictitious Paxton Air Force Base, which most will clearly recognize as Edwards Air Force Base.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Monk. Supposedly he tells two jokes during the entire series, both times shocking everyone around him; this doesn't stop him from snarking, especially early in the series.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Monk's mental breakdown that ended his career as a police officer.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "You'll thank me later."
    • "Unless I'm wrong, which, you know, I'm not..."
    • "Here's what happened..."
    • "Here's the thing..."
    • "I don't know how he did it, but he did it."
    • "He's the guy."
    • "It's a gift...and a curse."
    • "Wipe."
    • "It doesn't have to be perfect." (every character that works with Monk.)
  • The Character Died with Him: After Stanley Kamel died of a sudden heart attack in April 2008 in between seasons 6 and 7, the same thing was done to Dr. Kroger. As a result, "Mr. Monk Buys a House" has Monk finding a new therapist, and is dedicated to Stanley Kamel.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Irony: At the end of "Mr Monk and The End (Part 1)", Monk finally opens Trudy's final Christmas present. It's a powerful moment, since it means, as pointed out earlier, that he's finally accepting her death. (He's also coming to terms with the possibility that he himself may be dead within a couple of days.) It turns out to be an "If I Do Not Return" video made by Trudy, and it contains all the information Monk ever needed to find her killer. Yes, that's right: the Gun has been sitting, loaded, on the mantle for 12 years and 8 seasons, and has been regularly pointed out by the characters.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Played straight in "Mr. Monk Buys a House", where Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher are revealed to be proficient in Morse code. There's even a moment where Stottlemeyer and Disher amuse themselves by tapping messages to each other on the door of a suspect's house. This proficient knowledge in Morse code comes in handy when Monk and Natalie are taken hostage at the end of the episode and Natalie sends up smoke signals in Morse code that Stottlemeyer correctly interprets as an "SOS".
  • Chinese Launderer: Mrs. Ling in "Mr. Monk and the Twelfth Man".
  • Christmas Episode: There are four: "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa" (2005), "Mr. Monk Meets His Dad" (2006), "Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa Claus" (2007), "Mr. Monk and the Miracle" (2008)
  • Chronically Crashed Car: In "Mr. Monk And The Three Julies", Stottlemeyer's new 2008 Dodge Charger falls victim to this trope.
  • City of Adventure: San Francisco.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Played straight with the FBI, although usually just barely, as there was at least one instance where the FBI agent for the episode (like Colmes in Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather; or Thorpe in "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy") was a jerk, even though he is technically one of the good guys.
  • Claustrophobia: One of Monk's big phobias. In one episode, he is trapped in a coffin, and memories of Trudy keep him from completely freaking out. In another episode, he's caught in a submarine (he was convinced he's only be in there for a few minutes but they went under while he was on board), and only solves the problem by hallucinating that Dr. Bell is with him.
    • And in season 8, he gets over the fear trapped in a car trunk. With Harold, no less.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Willie Nelson, accused of shooting his partner in an alleyway ("Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger")
    • Sharona's sister, accused of stabbing a co-actor on-stage in a performance ("Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater")
    • A Hispanic delivery boy framed for the beating death of a fashion model ("Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show")
    • A rapper accused of blowing up his rival and later killing the driver in the hospital ("Mr. Monk and the Rapper")
    • Monk's own half-brother ("Mr. Monk's Other Brother")
    • Natalie and Sharona (Expanded Universe novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants)
    • Stottlemeyer himself (Expanded Universe novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop)
    • Monk ("Mr. Monk Is On the Run")
  • Clingy Jealous Girl/Loony Fan: Marci Maven.
  • Clueless Deputy: Lieutenant Randy Disher.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Monk is a pathetic cheapskate.
    • On one occasion ("Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater") he attempts to bribe a doorman with four dollars. Then Sharona gives him $40. Then Monk asks for his four dollars back. Then says "We have four dollars in credit for future information!" as Sharona drags him away.
    • In season seven, "Mr. Monk and the Bully," he tries to bribe a barman with a picture of General Washington (a dollar bill). Then he ups the bribe with another General Washington (a quarter). He and Natalie have to use another patron to give them information.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Monk can often figure out the crime this way before he has any solid evidence and spends the rest of the episode obtaining said evidence. Lampshaded once, when someone questions the validity of how he phrased a sentence as evidence.
  • Media Research Failure: The official book series includes basic errors such as Monk drinking milk.
  • Crapsack World: At first it seems this is just Monk's opinion, but think about it: he discovers murders and dead bodies almost everywhere, half the time when not on a case, and he's never wrong. Guess it really is a jungle out there.
  • Credits Gag: In the season six episode "Mr. Monk and the Rapper", the normal Randy Newman version of the opening theme is replaced with a rap version performed by Snoop Dogg (who also stars in the episode).
  • Criminal Doppelganger: Adrian happened to be a dead ringer for a mob hit-man. Inverted, in that the police didn't mix him up, but instead recruited him to make the other criminals think he was the hit-man.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Despite his phobias and neuroses, Monk can and will take physical action if necessary, disarming criminals holding him at gunpoint, shooting at least two suspects (one while blind), and knocking a hit man unconscious with a bottle (while drunk). Despite being visibly terrified, he does things like standing in front of an F-22 fighter jet about to take off. In the finale he beats up the judge who murdered Trudy.
    • Randy Disher's continued employment as a police lieutenant often mystifies; in "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies" he seriously considered the possibility of a robot from the future murdering women named Julie Teeger. Yet he has his moments, especially in "Mr. Monk Gets Married" and "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever" (even though the latter example was his own damn fault).
  • Cult: With a dash of Church of Happyology for flavor.
    • There was also the time when Monk, undergoing severe trauma from getting lost in New York, ended up being "converted" by a street preacher attempting to warn everyone about the apocalypse and preaching about "cleaning" the city of it's sin.
      • Monk, to the street preacher: "Don't listen to her, Jor-El! I know her--she's a fornicator!"
  • A Day in the Limelight: Dr. Kroger, Benjy Fleming, Julie Teeger, and Harold Krenshaw all have their days.
  • Dead Person Conversation
  • Deadpan Snarker: Captain Stottlemeyer. Monk himself has his moments as well.
  • Death in the Clouds: Played with. The actual murder occurred in the airport, but Monk was on the plane with the murderer and only had as long as the flight lasted to solve the crime.
    • Played straight, the murderer poisons a man on the plane too.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Kevin.
  • Deceased Fall Guy Gambit: used in the episode Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike.
  • Deconstruction: One of the primary points of the ending was that murder is often carried out for banal and petty reasons. Rickover murdered two innocent people not because of some grand conspiracy but to keep his job safe. Monk even lampshades this.
  • Defective Detective: The show even used to be marketed as such, and this is what Randy refers to Monk as when first meeting him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Monk's brother (an agoraphobia sufferer) comes up with a classic example when talking about the police.

Ambrose Monk: They no longer respond to my complaints because I call them more often than I should. I'd like to complain to them about it, but they no longer respond to my complaints.

    • And from Monk in "Mr. Monk Joins a Cult": "She was a sex prostitute."
  • Designated Driver: Inverted. As mentioned in the Wild Teen Party section below, because Stottlemeyer let Monk plan his bachelor party, Monk supplied what amounted to 144 oz. of beer (12 partygoers times 12 oz bottles of beer), which Stottlemeyer noted that they only had enough to make each party member become slightly sleepy (and certainly not enough to require a designated driver), or give it all to one of the partygoers to make him extremely polluted and make him the "designated drunk." The majority chose the latter option, with Randy volunteering to become the designated drunk. As a result, there's a Crowning Moment of Funny when Randy stumbles in, totally plastered, asking about the owner of a police unit that's painted charcoal gray with flames on the side, and on the roof and windshield.
  • Did Not Do the Research: In "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut", the titular astronaut comments that a mission was almost aborted because he got lost driving to the launch site. Real-world astronauts have to be in a quarantine for a certain number of hours before launching on the shuttle.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Dead Guy", the obnoxious Agent Thorpe, on finding ferret hairs, orders the others to start checking "every pet shop in the city that sells ferrets"-- which is illegal in California, on the excuse that they are "Dangerous Wild Animals". And what are generic Federal Agent s doing on a murder case anyway? The criteria for a homicide to fall under serial killer cases that cross state lines or travel through multiple police jurisdictions.
    • Done in-universe at least once, where the trope can easily be averted: In Mr. Monk and the TV Star, Monk is on the set of a CSI-style show where they utilized a spectroscope to locate stain residue from a particular drug, and state that the drug, which was made in Bolivia, came from the Santorini drug cartel. Immediately after the shot is done, Monk blatantly points out that the drug cartel they're thinking about was actually stationed in Greece, not Bolivia.
    • Another example of this is in "Mr. Monk Is On the Run", where the manhunt for Monk after he escapes is only handled by local police. Most fugitive manhunts are handled by the US Marshal service.
  • Disability Superpower: Offensively so.
  • Drinking on Duty: Disher drank on duty once in the beginning of "Mr. Monk gets Married". Justified, however, when it became apparent that Disher doesn't usually do this, and had a pretty justifiable excuse for doing so, as he was shocked that his mother had not only dated, and married, a guy who is significantly younger than her, and she isn't even rich, but they are spending their honeymoon at a marriage counseling place. It was bizzare enough to hire Monk and Sharona to investigate and eventually get a fake marriage in order to do some sleuthing at the mansion. Stottlemeyer does this, although in his case, he really does actually need the alcohol in regards to solving a case.
    • Stottlemeyer and Disher share a drink on duty during the finale's darkest hour.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Sharona. Both Monk and Natalie have each done this on one occasion each - Monk when under the influence of a drug that's meant to relieve himself of his phobias, and Natalie in "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies".
    • Stottlemeyer also did the same in the final episode. Justified, as they were trying to locate Monk before he ends up doing something bad to Ethan Rickover in revenge for murdering Trudy as well as a nurse. The fact that it was stormy outside, and Disher ended up selling his siren in a garage sale shortly beforehand didn't help matters, either. Perhaps he thought that crime was over.
  • Driving Question: The Myth Arc, as well as the individual episodes.
  • Driving Test Smashers: Natalie in "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies," with a 2008 Dodge Charger.
  • Drowning Pit: The ballast tank in "Mr. Monk Is Underwater," which you can apparently access from inside the submarine.
  • Drunken Master: Stottlemeyer, when completely drunk, can actually solve cases on par with Monk, if not rival Monk in case solving ability.
    • In "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk" Monk accidentally got drunk and was able to subdue a hitman, and solve a conspiracy involving everyone in a hotel covering up a man's death so they can keep his money.
  • Dude, Not Funny: The reaction that many OCD sufferers and their loved ones have to the show.
      • YMMV on that, like all cases of this trope. This particular troper has OCD and absolutely adores the show.
    • In-Universe, when a shock jock starts making tasteless jokes about Trudy. Some of his colleagues realize what is happening, but can't prevent Monk from attacking their boss.
    • In-Universe, really any time that people openly mock Monk's problems. Happens with him any time the suspect is a performer or public figure, and they tend to do things to provoke his OCD, like the magician in "Mr. Monk and the Magician", throwing his cards across the floor and manipulating Monk into being the 'volunteer' to get inside the Zig-Zag Cabinet. His friends sometimes get frustrated with his many phobias and compulsions but they usually try to help him deal with/overcome them, rather than mock him for them.
  • Dysfunctional Family: It is heavily implied in the series starting with Mr. Monk and the Three Pies, that Adrian Monk's family was dysfunctional, and contributed to most of Monk's quirks.
  • Easy Amnesia: Monk gets hit on the head and loses his memory, but not his quirks.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: Randy Disher's garage rock band was called "The Randy Disher Project." The etymology explained in "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa" around the band's name is also pretty funny.
  • Embarrassing Slide: During "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion", while Stottlemeyer is making a request for information on a homicide to attendees at Berkeley, some very embarrassing slides appear of him in riot gear harassing and subduing protesters at an anti-nuclear demonstration in the 1970s.
  • Eureka Moment: "I think I just solved the case."
  • Exotic Detective: Monk.
  • Exasperated Perp
  • Expanded Universe: The Lee Goldberg novels, although some novels would be considered non-canon such as "Mr. Monk and the Two Assistant" and "Mr. Monk Goes to Germany". The novel "Mr. Monk on the Road" and later novels explores what could happen after the series finale.
    • By and large, the novels don't fit with the TV series canon, primarily because many storylines from the novels were later adapted into TV episodes. (To wit, the fourth episode in season 5, "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing," is a modified version of Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse; while Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu contributed two major plot points to "Mr. Monk and the Badge," where Monk rejoins the force; and both the novels and the TV show had episodes about Sharona returning.) Another problem is the fact that the novels were published at a much slower rate than episodes aired.
  • The Expy - Sherlock Holmes of course
    • The Great Detective who is the last mind sought when no one can figure out a queer situation, even called Sherlock Holmes on many occasions.
    • His assistant who's background is in medicine instead of law enforcement, but whom none-the-less proves invaluable in solving crime. Of course, here, Sharona is more equivalent to Dr. Watson with a medical background, in contrast to Natalie's background as the widow of a deceased military pilot.
    • A smug police officer who makes the actual arrest, often being quick to bring the obvious suspect into the interrogation room. (After the first season Stottlemeyer begins to move away from this, generally trusting Monk's intuition, and showing genuine detective skills.)
    • A brother who is even smarter who rarely puts it towards solving crime because of crippling shyness
    • An Arch Enemy who makes only sporadic appearances, usually preferring to stay in the background
    • Leland Stottlemeyer also bears a similarity in appearance to Chief Quimby
  • Failed Audition Plot: Monk's continued attempts to get reinstated despite being continually rejected.
  • Faking the Dead: Happens in the Season Six finale, "Mr. Monk Is On The Run". The character of Winston Brenner in "Mr. Monk and the Blackout" (Season 3) is another example of this, having done so to escape prosecution.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Averted drastically in "Mr. Monk and the Genius", when Monk and Natalie are on a stakeout. Natalie sees their suspect approaching their car, Natalie blurts out "We should kiss!" only to backpedal.
  • Fat Bastard: Morbidly obese Corrupt Corporate Executive, Complete Monster, and Manipulative Bastard Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck.
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: Natalie gets a ridiculous amount of fame from a brief stint as a lottery girl, much to Monk's chagrin.
  • Flanderization: Disher goes from goofy to borderline retarded.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine"
  • Foreshadowing: In "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", Linda Fusco asks Stottlemeyer "What does a girl have to do to get your attention, Captain? Kill someone?" Three episodes later, she shoots and kills her business partner with a shotgun. Sometimes Foreshadowing also involves the Chekhov's Gun of the episode.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Lt. Disher was Flanderized from Plucky Comic Relief to The Ditz. Thus, it fit this trope later on when he would demonstrate competent policework.
  • Found the Killer, Lost the Murderer: Happens when Monk gets close to finding Trudy's killer.
    • All things considered, there is a form of this in Katherine Kendall's character in "Mr. Monk Buys a House". She kills her senile patient by wheeling him up the stairs and shoving him down to his death. When Monk catches onto her, she is stabbed and killed by her lover, "Honest" Jake.
  • Friend on the Force: Lieutenant Disher and Captain Stottlemeyer.
  • Fright Deathtrap: The Scared Stiff variant had been attempted in "Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man".
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: In-universe, in the episode "Mr. Monk's 100th Case", there is an awkward scene where Monk and Natalie are interviewing a restaurant manager trying to act in-character while responding to Natalie's questions, made more humiliating given that Monk and Natalie are being followed by James Novak's camera crew:

Natalie Teeger: Mr. Gleckson, we'd like to talk to you about a woman named Cassandre Rank. I believe she used to work here.
Vampire Manager: [in character] Yeeessss, Cassandre Rank. She was a most delictable young girl. I remember drinking her blood; she had the most exquisite taste-
Natalie Teeger: She was killed two days ago. Somebody strangled her. [The manager breaks character]
Vampire Manager: [breaks character] What? Are-are you serious? Oh my God, you-you must have thought that- look-look you know that this is just a job, right? And this is not real blood; it's all makeup. Oh hell, and that stuff about drinking her blood? Oh crap-
Adrian Monk: When did she work here?
Vampire Manager: Uh, about a year ago. But she only worked her for about a month; 'cause she got a part in a play or something and then she split. Nobody stays here that long.
Natalie Teeger: There was another woman, a Barbara McFarland? She worked here too, didn't she?
Vampire Manager: [goes back into character mode] Yeeeesssss! Barbara McFarland, she had a very delectible neck, I'm sure in fact-
Natalie Teeger: She was killed too.

  • Fun with Palindromes: After Monk's psychiatrist passes away, he has difficulty finding a new one. Then comes Dr. Neven Bell. His first name is the same forwards as it is backwards, but Monk can't approve because the first N is capitalized, rendering the palindrome imperfect.
  • Gaslighting: Sharona was a victim of this, where her writing professor attempted to discredit her sanity by having her adulturer pose as a dying man with a knife in the chest and a screwdriver sticking out of his ear, stating that "Douglas is worried about her.", and then have him disappear when she tries to show them: Thrice. Turns out, she was doing this because earlier, Sharona wrote a mystery paper which was about a woman who kills her husband with a toxin that can emulate a heart attack, and the writing professor and the lover decided to repeat history on her husband, and thus cover themselves in case Sharona gets suspicious.
    • Also literally happens in "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School," when a science professor kills his school's groundskeeper by rigging his house to explode.
  • Gender Flip: Randy's equivalent in the tv show in season 5's "Mr Monk in the Actor." Played for Laughs as the show version of Randy and Stottlemeyer are acting out the episode "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut" and they start kissing before the actress portraying Natalie comes in. Stottlemeyer says "that never happened." Also might be interesting to note that some of the lines and dialogue from other scenes in the episode was condensed to one scene.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In "Mr. Monk Buys a House," when Jake finds a problem and realizes he'll have to run a new line through an existing wall:

Adrian Monk: Is it going to be, you know, like [imitates the sound of a drill] messy?
"Honest" Jake Phillips: Nah, no way. You won't even know I was here! [Cuts to Jake viciously hacking a hole in the wall with a hammer]

    • From "Mr. Monk Joins a Cult":

Randy Disher: [holding the Siblings of the Sun book] Monk, have you even read this thing?
Adrian Monk: Have you? [Cuts to Dr. Kroger, Natalie, and Stottlemeyer outside the room, suddenly hearing Randy singing; Dr. Kroger enters and finds Randy on the floor, shirtless, singing in harmony with Monk]

  • Girl Friday: Sharona, and then Natalie.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Subverted in "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month"; Randy's girlfriend appears to be one of these - the picture he shows Sharona is the one that came with his wallet ("She's a wallet model!") and he gives what appears to be a Line-of-Sight Name - except that at the end of the episode, we actually see her waving to him from a taxi.
  • Grand Finale: The show's two-part series finale, "Mr. Monk and the End":
    • Part One - Monk happens upon the handprint of a hired killer at the murder of someone connected to Trudy's past, and the man behind Trudy's murder tells the killer to poison Monk. Discovering he has only days to live and with the hired killer dead by the end of the episode, Monk is in a race against time to put the pieces together to find out who was ultimately behind Trudy's murder. He finally opens Trudy's last Christmas gift to him, and it ends up being an "If I Do Not Return" message to him that may ultimately give him the clues he needs to finally solve the mystery of her murder.
    • Part Two - Trudy's message reveals who she was going to meet the day she was murdered - her old law professor and her killer, Judge Rickover - and it also reveals that she had a child by the same man, a daughter, whom she believed died. Monk puts all the pieces together and escapes from the hospital to confront Rickover, revealing that he also killed the missing midwife and buried her in his backyard. Natalie is poisoned, and the source of the poison affecting Monk is found (his wipes), allowing an antidote to be made. After Rickover confesses to the crimes, he kills himself, and his last words ("Take care of her") lead Monk to find out that Trudy's daughter is still alive.
  • Green Aesop: Arguably, "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike." (By the way, the best way to deal with trash is to burn the city. Then burn the ashes and rebuild San Francisco from scratch.)
    • There's a simpler solution: Just throw all the trash into the bay, "one bag at a time. One truck at a time! One bag at a time." It might take a while, but at least you're making an effort!
  • Grilling Pyrotechnics: The murderer of the week in "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs" attempts to invoke this trope by rigging a fan's charcoal grill to explode by adding in gasoline that he siphoned out of his own car to silence this particular fan (Long story short, the murderer was afraid that the fan in question had either witnessed his murder of the backup star quarterback or was privy to the out-of-order playbook because he was in close proximity to the quarterback shortly before he was bludgeoned and killed.). Although he certainly succeeded in having the grill ignite, actually having the fan killed by the explosion wasn't nearly as successful, as the only real damage he did to the fan was burn his right hand (a good subsitute for an ice pack or bandage is to put a rubber foam glove over it). Also, unlike most uses of this trope, it wasn't Played for Laughs.
  • Hair of Gold: Trudy and her daughter, Molly Evans.
  • Handy Cuffs: "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty". When the SFPD hands off a "most wanted" fugitive to the feds, they considerately cuff him with his hands in front of him, making his escape attempt easier to accomplish.
  • Hannibal Lecture: The extra-large Mason Verger expy does this to unnerve people, especially Monk.
  • Happy Dance: Monk does the "jig" when he solves the case in "Mr. Monk Gets Fired".
  • Happy Flashback
  • Heel Face Turn: Harold Krenshaw, after years as Monk's nemesis Harold realizes (after being lock in a car trunk with Monk by the bad guy of the week) that the two are a lot alike and becomes his friend, then he makes a un-Krenshaw gesture and joins a new group therapy to allow Monk to have Dr.Bell to himself (though his insurance required him to only be in group therapy. The other members were murdered by the bad guy leaving only Harold and Monk so Harold leaving left Monk as the only member left).
  • Heroic BSOD: It is heavily implied that, although Trudy's murder via a bombing didn't cause Monk's issues, but it certainly made it a lot worse than before, suffering a mental breakdown that forced him into early retirement from the force before the start of the series, and necessitated therapy as well as finding Trudy's killer, not to mention learning that the car bomb was intended for Trudy all along and not a backfired assassination attempt on him that he ever gets better. He also has relatively minor episodes within the main Heroic BSOD, namely pertained to whether he can get his old job back or not (such as when he was not only removed from the case, but also had his detective's license revoked by the commissioner simply because he accidentially deleted a few years worth of forensic files while attempting to eliminate crumbs from the keyboard, or when a four-year hiring freeze threatened his chances of reinstatement).]]
    • Stottlemeyer also suffered through it a few times. A notable example is when, after his wife Karen Stottlemeyer was hospitalized for a car crash that left her in a coma and necessitated brain surgery, Stottlemeyer began to have an unhealthy obsession of bringing the person responsible to justice, even to the point of dismissing basic logic, such as immediately pinning the blame on a picket union because the victims, two truck drivers, were scabs, despite the fact that the assailant responsible for sniping the first one wasn't even wearing shoes when he did it, and also assaulted the head union boss's second in command that most certainly would have gotten Stottlemeyer into trouble had the boss not covered it up. Also, when the real killer was exposed, and after it was learned that the killer in question did it first to recover incriminating evidence in a repossessed car that linked him to a bank robbery that resulted in the death of a clerk, and the second to keep them off the wrong trail, he actually throws the killer onto the hood of a police car and deeply considers beating him up badly in retribution to what he nearly did with his wife. He only barely stops himself when Sharona and Disher remind him that if he does this, he'll lose his badge, and it really isn't worth it. A prior instance of this is where he has a cold case about a valedictorian student being killed by a drunk driver, and this combined with Monk's greater skill as a detective, left him frequently depressed. The fact that he was having marital problems stemming from not watching a documentary (which turned out to be a Chekhov's Gun to finding out the murderer for both their current case and his cold case) that forced him to stay with Monk didn't help matters much.
  • Hollywood Personality Disorders: The way the show portrays OCD is incredibly inaccurate.
  • "Honest" Jake's Repairman: Played with: In the episode "Mr. Monk Buys A House", Monk, as the title states, bought a house belonging to a recently murdered senior citizen (who is later revealed to have been an inside man for a depository robbery during the 1960s that netted $4 million, and was killed because, as a result of his dementia, he babbled about the heist to his nurse, who wheeled him up a stairway and shoved him to his death). While Monk is getting supplies, he finds a repairman who talks and acts like an Honest John-type character, and even (allegedly) calls himself "Honest" Jake Phillips. He is later hired by Monk to help fix the house, only to essentially demolish the house even further. Turns out he had ulterior motives in trying to help "repair" the house: He was trying to locate the stash of money stolen from the bank by the previous occupant, and was also the nurse's lover (he killed her after Monk caught on).
  • How We Got Here: "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" starts with two police officers writing a parking ticket for an illegally parked car outside a bank that has just been robbed. The camera then tracks through the bank, then the vault door, to reveal Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher trapped inside. After the credits, we go back two days and watch the events that led to the four characters being trapped in the vault.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: This happened in the second half of the fifth season when Traylor Howard was pregnant. To avoid causing problems, it was necessary for writers to position Natalie during scenes such that her midsection and below is hidden by items like bags, tables, or car doors. This is evident in "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend" and "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy". In "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service," the writers took advantage of Traylor's pregnancy by incorporating it into the episode. During the first half of the episode, Natalie stands or sits in positions to hide her chest (like behind a desk or leaning against her car with the door open). However, when she needs to rescue Monk from her old obsessive boyfriend, she wards off his advances by stuffing a pillow down her chest. For these scenes, they just filmed her like they would in any normal episode.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Monk becomes Stottelmeyer's best man, he takes his duty of keeping the wedding ring safe seriously - by holding it clenched in his fist for nine days straight. I promise you, it is the only guaranteed way that you won't lose your friend's wedding ring!
  • Hot Mom: Natalie and Sharona
  • Hurricane of Puns: When Monk participates in the interrogation of the guy who bullied him in middle school (imagine Monk's horror over getting a swirly). Monk unleashes a slew of toilet/swirly-related puns.
  • Hyper Awareness: Monk
  • Hypocritical Humor: Randy cites his astrological sign (Pisces) as a reason he isn't superstitious.
  • I Ate What?: In one episode, Natalie is afraid of a voodoo curse and Monk hires a shaman to help her "get rid" of it. He initiates a complicated ritual with a potion made of some rather questionable ingredients. She hurries to drink it, but the man, horrified, tells her it was supposed to be applied to the skin. Cue rush to the hospital with attempted homicide included.
  • I Can't Believe A Girl Like You Would Marry Me: How Monk feels about his Trudy, even years after they got married.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode has "Mr. Monk" in the title, usually at the beginning of the title (the only episode where it isn't at the beginning is "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk").
  • Idiot Ball: Disher was born with one melded to his hands.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Captain Stottlemeyer (when sober).
  • Irony: In the episode "Mr. Monk's 100th Case", Monk manages to deduce that the host of the TV magazine news show In Focus was the true murderer of one of the victims. Ironically, the host in question had just done an episode relating to Monk's 100th case since coming out of retirement.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Played with a lot, especially in the episode "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine" where Monk, under the influence of medication that makes him go loopy, actually forgets that the suspect was indeed told the details of the investigation.
    • Truth in Television, this is also used in episodes with cases where the perpetrator incriminates himself or herself by unwittingly mentioning something about a case that only the police and the perpetrator would know. This is an actual strategy that is seen in real-life police investigations. And in "Mr. Monk's 100th Case," Stottlemeyer admits in an interview that he withholds specific details from the press in order to make it easier to conclude the genuinity of any confessions.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In the second part of the series premiere, Monk manages to aim and shoot the perpetrator holding Sharona hostage in the dark. "Aiming" here is key, as that's what separates it from Accidential Aiming Skills.
  • I Resemble That Remark: in "Mr. Monk and the Actor"

Adrian Monk: He's completely obsessed - and not in a good way, like me.

  • I Think You Broke Him: In one episode, Sharona's kid and his friend dump a puzzle on the floor for Monk to sort, which ends up leading the detective to a Eureka Moment, holding up two pieces and staring at them. One of the kids comments, "Uh oh. I think we broke him."
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Sharona.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Stottlemeyer in the first part of "Mr. Monk and The End." "Your computer crashed."
  • Jerkass: Monk. Probably to make him less pathetic, but the way he treated the people around him in the last few seasons, especially Natalie, makes one want to smack him. Also, 90-odd percent of perps fit this trope.
    • Perhaps a case of different writers?
      • Monk's usual level of jerkiness is nothing compared to the way he behaves in "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine," due to the side effects of his anti-OCD medication.
    • Natalie becomes somewhat of a jerkass in "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever", especially in one scene where she gets into an argument with a sound engineer that ends with the engineer being removed by two security guards. Turns out later to be a big plot point.
    • Regarding Jerkass villains, special mention must go to Max Hudson in "Mr. Monk Is On The Air". Truly one of the most hateful bastards the show has ever produced, especially since he humiliates Monk and Natalie on separate occasions.
      • To put it in perspective, Steven Weber, the actor who played Max, who formerly worked with Tony Shalhoub in Wings, after reading what his character does to Monk in regards to Trudy's car bomb accident, actually begged the producers of Monk not to have him do that scene.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sharona.
  • Jossed: The plot of at least one of the books (about a Sharona+ Natalie crossover) cannot happen thanks to the final season featuring a Sharona+ Natalie crossover.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Almost everything to do with the F-22 also qualifies in "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut": Such as Natalie mistaking a sidewinder missile for a nuclear weapon, or the warheads just being left out like that. Or... anything else in the entire sequence. Also, if you look closely, one of the Military Police officers has an AK-pattern rifle, painted black. This might be due to production problems, like the relative availability of AK-pattern prop guns.
  • Karma Houdini: The guy who bullied Monk in High School is rich, successful, having a hot wife, and believes all the cruel things he did to him where nothing more than dumb jokes on his part. And worse of all, he wasn't the killer.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The 100th episode might as well have been called Ode To Lampshades.
    • "Mr. Monk's Biggest Fan" did its fair share of hanging as well.
  • Laughing Mad: Monk briefly underwent this trope in "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike" when, after being driven insane by the continuing piling of garbage as well as his earlier failure to find the one responsible for the murder of the saniation union boss due to being wrong the first time around, hijacks a city garbage truck, is taking every trash, and is planning to dump it into the bay, and implies to do the same with every garbage truck available until the city is clean, as well as coming up with an even less credible and ridiculously hillarious theory that Alice Cooper killed the union leader due to envy over his owning a chair (In case you're wondering how it's less credible, the first theory was only wrong in that the Mayor killed the union leader, and everything else was spot on, even the Mayor visiting the union leader the night of his death. The second theory, however missed out on a lot of the evidences observed by Monk earlier, and was simply too ludicrous to be true.).
  • Licked by the Dog: "Dog...lick...hand! Boil water!"
  • Limited Wardrobe: A rare non-animated version; Mr Monk likes consistency in every aspect of his life, and this extends to wearing nearly-identical suits at almost all times, with most exceptions being when a different style is required (i.e. his old police uniform when trying to get his badge back.)
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In "Mr Monk Fights City Hall", Harold Krenshaw asks Monk for the name of his new therapist, and Monk gives the pathetic name "Dr. Door". Harold pulls him up on it and asks if he saw a fire alarm, would he say "Doctor Bell"? This is followed by a marvellous Spit Take from Natalie.
  • Living Lie Detector: Inverted in "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective," in that the lie detector is in fact faking it.
  • Locked Room Mystery: "Mr. Monk and the Panic Room," where a records producer is shot and killed in his locked panic room. The police find him dead with his own monkey holding the gun.
    • "Mr. Monk Is Underwater": Someone shoots a naval second-in-command and manages to disappear without being seen by naval officers right outside the only way into the room.
  • Lost in Character: An episode's plot.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Dale the Whale's last appearance.
    • Until he loses it trying to frame Monk when he attempted to assassinate the governor
  • Lying Creator: "Mr Monk and The End" opens with a flashback to Trudy's death. We see that Monk and Stottlemeyer had just started a case about a missing nurse when they found out about Trudy's death. Said murder had been advertised for years as "the only case Monk never solved."Except that it turns out that the missing nurse was killed by the same guy who killed Trudy, for the same reason.
  • Madness Mantra: When Monk breaks down during the garbage strike and tries to get rid of the trash himself by driving it into the sea, he keeps muttering "One bag at a time, one truck at a time" to himself.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Warrick Tennyson was hired by Frank Nunn, who worked for the Judge.
  • Mauve Shirt: Kevin Dorfman. He dies in a filler episode.
  • Make the Dog Testify: Lampshaded/Averted. Captain Stottlemeyer tells Randy that there is a law prohibiting animals from testifying.
    • Randy responds that it could easily be changed, as it is California, where stranger things happen every day.
  • Meaningful Foreground Event: Monk is obsessing over the fact that Harold Krenshaw has, apparently, lost his phobias and become a daredevil. While he and Stottlemeyer are engaged in a contest of bladders, Monk's coffee table is perfectly aligned. In an earlier season we saw that Monk always keeps it cock-eyed. That he doesn't care about that shows that he's more obsessed with this.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Quite a bit. One good example is when Monk, disguised as a strangely identical hit man, straightens a mobster's tie.
  • Mistaken for Racist: In "Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man", Monk is meeting with a group of people, and has a wipe ready to wipe his hands after all handshakes are complete. The last person to shake his hand is a black man, and Monk wipes his hands right after. This trope is played straight, racism is implied and accused. Afterwards, everyone there regards him with contempt.
  • Mood Whiplash: The show is fearless about switching between drama and comedy. The best examples, by far, are in "Mr Monk and The End", such as the doctor informing Monk he's going to die. He'll feel better, then there'll be vomiting, followed by death. Of course, Monk wants death to happen before the vomiting.
  • Murder Arson and Jaywalking: In "Mr. Monk and the Psychic"

Monk: You gotta be a little skeptical, Sharona. Otherwise you end up believing in everything. UFOs, elves... income tax rebates.

  • Murder Makes You Crazy: At least to all appearances in "Mr Monk is on the Run". When the six-fingered man is murdered to all appearances by Monk himself, he acts really disoriented and neurotic (more so than usual). Driving in circles while attempting to steal a pickup truck, and stopping to re-thread his torn prison uniform with the correct color thread, are probably good examples.
  • Myth Arc
  • Necro Cam: Brilliantly subverted on one occasion.
  • Never One Murder: Especially in the later seasons.
    • Outright lampshaded in "Mr. Monk and the Actor", where an actor inquires if the killer of the week will strike again. Stottlemeyer replies that the murder was a crime of passion, and that the killer will probably never put another toe out of line again. Cue the killer breaking into a pawn shop and accidentally shooting the owner while attempting to destroy evidence linking him to the first murder.
  • Never Suicide: There are a lot of suicides in San Francisco that turn out to be cleverly disguised murders. Yeah.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Mr. Monk on Wheels", the opening scene shows Natalie helping a boy who crashes his bike when he hits a pothole, and even fixes his chain, then compliments him on his bolt-cutters, all while unaware that the bike is stolen. She is very embarrassed when the bike's legitimate owner comes running out just as the thief rides away.
  • Noir Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Leper," broadcast in both color and black-and-white.
  • Not Me This Time: Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck III is suspected of arranging for a death row inmate to be killed before execution because he hadn't paid off a debt. However, both Monk and Dale the Whale know Dale was innocent that time around, and in fact, even he wouldn't stoop as low as to kill someone/arrange for someone to be killed for not paying their debts, especially if the sum in question was in the low thousand dollar range.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: The weapon was switched after the victim had already collapsed, due to peanut oil on the apple he had eaten. The actress accused of murder rightly points out that she would have been able to feel the difference in weight and balance between the prop knife and the real one.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In the pilot, Monk realizes that the primary suspect in an assassination case is not really a cripple because his shoes are heavily scuffed, something that would not happen to a man who had to use a wheelchair all the time. This revelation does not come in time and the assassin manages to get away.
    • In "Mr. Monk and The Red Headed Stranger", Mr. Monk realizes that the blind "witness" to the murder of Sonny Cross wasn't really blind when he remembers that she instinctively avoided shaking Sottelmeyer's injured hand, even though no one had mentioned that he was injured. In all fairness, she was actually blind - in one eye only.
  • The Other Darrin: Three actresses played Trudy Monk: Stellina Ruisch, Melora Hardin, and Lindy Newton.
  • Overly Long Gag: Monk trying to say "I guess I don't have a choice" to Stottlemeyer but being repeatedly interrupted by a jackhammer in one episode, lasting for literally a minute and a more.
  • Oh, the Humanity!: Monk yells this whenever he encounters something really nasty, in "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy" (after wiping his hands with a greasy rag) and in "Mr. Monk and the Kid".
  • Oh Crap: This happens to murder victims right before they realize they are going to be killed.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: In the season 4 episode, Monk is finally put on retainer by the police. He's guaranteed 16 homicides a year for the next two years.
  • Pet the Dog: A literal example occurs in the final season.
  • Photographic Memory: Monk has incredible memory. He can even recognize the most minute details about a man's earlobe. So if he witnesses a crime, just be aware that he'll find you.
    • Monk: I know that rock!
      • That's nothing. In the episode Mr. Monk and the Naked Man his fear of naked people is revealed to have come from Remembering his own birth
  • Playing Sick: Stottlemeyer implies in the episode Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist that the reason Disher doesn't want to go to the dentist in spite of a genuine toothache is because he wants to save his sick days on days where he isn't actually sick. This is later confirmed in Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert, where Stottlemeyer, searching for his son, catches Randy red-handed doing this. He surprises Randy by calling his cell phone, pretending to be unconvinced about Randy's excuses (like passing the music on stage off for a broken stereo) and surprises him.
  • The Picture Came with the Frame: Randy Disher claims that he has a girlfriend, and shows the picture of a beautiful woman. Sharona points out that the photo came with the wallet. Randy explains that his girlfriend is a famous "wallet photo model". It turns out to be true.
  • Played for Laughs: Monk's debilitating mental illness.
  • Playing Drunk: Brad Terry in "Mr. Monk and the TV Star" picks a fight while pretending to be drunk so as to attract paparazzi attention, which then gives him an alibi for the murder he's going to commit, and makes it seem like the murder happened seconds before it really happened.
  • Police Lineup: There are two of interest in this series.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger" features a line-up for a blind witness.
    • That lineup in "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage" became a full-scale brawl.
  • Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy: Trudy, in one Tear Jerker episode.
  • Product Placement: Pretty blatant during some seasons, when the camera would linger on the labels of Monk's favorite cleaning products. Then they started giving Natalie a new car to drive every new season, beginning with a Jeep Grand Cherokee from her introduction to halfway through season 5. She then drove a Buick Lucerne for a few episodes, then drove a Ford Escape for the duration of season 6. In season 7, she drives an Audi A3 in the first half, a Nissan Sentra in a few midway episodes, and a Hyundai Genesis from "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door" to the end of the series. How she affords this on Monk's low salary is questionable.
    • "Mr. Monk and the UFO" was a painfully unsubtle 60-minute commercial for Sleep Inn.
  • Properly Paranoid: In the beginning of "Mr. Monk and the Miracle", some bums mock their friends' seeming paranoia about someone pulling a gun on him and trying to chase him. The next day, they find his dead body in a refrigerator box.
    • Monk himself often is in this trope: In Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist, he has a crippling fear of dentists due to a bad experience, a fear so severe, in fact, that he was completely unwilling to go beyond the waiting room while Disher and Natalie investigate a murder that seemingly happened while Disher was getting his appointment regarding a seeming kidnapping of "Barry Bonds," and later had to be pried off when he was literally frozen in fear in his seat during the wait (presumably from hearing a drill whirring in the background). Turns out he was very much justified in this fear, as he ends up being abducted and then tortured by the same dentists in regards to potential clients for the bearer bonds and whether the police had them monitored (an incident that also resulted in his fear of them being heightened as a result to the extent that he refuses to go to a dentist even after one of his teeth was chipped).
      • Randy Disher was also in this trope in the same episode (the Dentist one), as during the dental procedure for a legitimate toothache, and while being placed in novacane, he ends up witnessing a brutal confrontation between the dentists and a bald man demanding for "Barry Bonds" and that "he was worth $13 billion," and tried to report it to his co-workers, only to be laughed at and/or met with disbelief (the fact that he was currently being doped up on novacane when it was happening did not help matters much on his end, either), eventually being fed up at not being believed and quitting the force. It later turned out that Randy was actually quite correct in what he saw (barring the "Barry Bonds" thing, as that was actually "bearer bonds" stolen in an armored car heist where two guards were shot and killed).
  • Put on a Bus: Sharona remarries her ex-husband and moves back to New Jersey midway through season 3.
    • And how. Monk is shown in denial in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring". After this, no mention is made until Season 8. Her image is even removed and never shown in any subsequent intro (actually, she does appear partially in an opening credit shot taken from "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School").
  • Quip to Black: Disher keeps trying to spout one off in "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever", with minimal success. It sure looks like her number came up now, didn't it?
    • Captain Stottlemeyer pulls off the occasional line that would be one if he did it with dramatic flair instead of perfect deadpan, such as referring to a dead hotel guest as having "checked out early."
    • Stottlemeyer also tries a few in "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk". Natalie promptly chews him out for being insensitive.
      • Monk unintentionally also makes Captain Stottlemeyer feel bad about them by decribing how horrible the victim's death must have been. It involved hooks ripping him apart and then being compacted in the world's deadliest trash compactor.

Monk: He must have been screaming for mercy the whole time.

  • Raised Catholic: Sharona, apparently.
  • Real Life Relative: Brooke Adams, Tony Shalhoub's wife in real life, appears several times in the series (always as different characters):
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Airplane" as Leigh Harrison, a flight attendant who is driven crazy by Monk's antics (she is later interviewed by James Novak in "Mr. Monk's 100th Case", which establishes that she has developed a fear of flying and a drinking problem)
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Kid" as Abigail Carlyle, an abducted violinist's mother
    • In "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm" as Sheriff Butterfield. This results in some interesting reactions in that scene where Monk is dancing (badly) with his real wife while bringing up mentions to Trudy
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Badge" as Edith Capriani, a crazy cat lady that Monk dislikes for pulling him away from other cases
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Stottlemeyer is rarely skeptical of Monk's intuitive leaps, having seen him in action for so long, and often makes accommodations for Monk's OCD on the crime scene.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: After fighting a suspect for a pistol in "Mr. Monk on Wheels," Natalie turns around, gun in hand. She tells Monk, who had already been shot in the leg earlier in the episode and was trying climb down some stairs to assist Natalie, that she was okay...and accidentally shot Monk in his uninjured leg.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: From the instrumental classical guitar piece to "It's a Jungle Out There".
  • The Reveal: The identity of the man who masterminded Trudy's murder, revealed in the series finale: Judge Rickover, Trudy's old law professor with whom she had an affair. Trudy had his child and believed the baby died after birth, but Monk discovers that the child lived and eventually meets her.
  • Revealing Coverup: So many layers of it in the series finale. Monk finally figures out Rickover killed Trudy because the judge ordered the murder of a doctor who was blackmailing him with proof of his involvement in two murders, including Trudy's. Plus, he killed Trudy in the first place because she linked him to the first victim, the midwife who delivered their illegitimate daughter. And he killed the midwife to stop her from revealing the truth about said daughter.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: Like in a number of Columbo episodes, Monk often figures out who the murderer is by the second act, or the killer's identity is revealed in the first scene, or both; the kicker is proving HOW they did it.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Like clockwork.
  • Sassy Black Woman: In the ep where Sharona thought she was going insane, she gets a friend from her writing class who fits basically the role of Ethnic Scrappy. She was very painful to watch.
  • Science Is Useless:
    • The police were very embarrassed in "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy" when they surrounded and almost arrested a guy brandishing a deadly harmonica, based on predictions made by state of the art computer systems. Of course, why the FBI had taken over a routine homicide case like this is beyond belief.
    • Another episode had a guy exonerated based on DNA evidence. The DNA came from an accomplice, so the guy was still guilty of murder.
    • "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan" makes you wonder how easy it is to frame a dog that has been dead for three days for a murder.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: In the "circus" episode, an elephant trainer demonstrates how the elephant can gently place its foot upon his head, on a stump. Unfortunately, the murderess has duct-taped a walkie-talkie to the elephant and gives the command for the elephant to put the foot down. A hideous crunching noise is heard. Viewers don't actually get to see his head get crushed.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Monk. Because of a bear. A big damn bear. Interestingly, though, the trailers for this scene had Tony Shalhoub screaming in his own voice. They dubbed it over because that makes it more humorous.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: One episode has the murderer intentionally winning second place in a potato sack race to win a cherry pie as part of an attempt to retrieve an incriminating shell casing.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: At least two examples.
    • One is "Mr. Monk Goes Home Again," where Monk uncovers a shooting that was staged to cover up the fact that the victim was poisoned, and where the killer had been plotting to kill several people with poisoned candy bars to cover up the murder of his wife.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy": a doctor kills a street musician in one particularly gruesome way (bludgeoning him over the head with a crowbar, then suffocating him with a plastic bag, injecting him with a vial of poison, stabbing him four times with a knife, shooting him twice with a revolver, and finally crushing him with a car) to divert the police from the murder of his date.
  • Series Continuity Error: Various details relating to Trudy's death and how Monk got the news. See the Monk Wiki entry for "Mr. Monk and the End" and the IMDb Goofs entry.
    • Another slight error happens in the second half of the fifth season: "Mr. Monk Is on the Air" was supposed to air as part of the first half of the season, but for whatever reasons ended up airing in January 2007. Unfortunately, this causes continuity errors as to the dates mentioned in the episodes before and after it. You can notice most of the telltale details through Natalie: for one thing, she is driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee instead of a Buick Lucerne, and she is never seen standing behind an object that obscures her chest (indicating that the episode was filmed before Traylor Howard's pregnancy forced her to start standing behind other objects like car doors or desks).
  • She's Dead Monk: In the series finale, Monk finally accepts Trudy's death in two different ways. The first is when he opens Trudy's Christmas present, and the second is when he sleeps in the middle of the bed (rather than sleeping on one side as if to save room for Trudy).
  • Sex Dressed: Watch the judge at the probate hearing in "Mr. Monk and the Leper". Monk's Sherlock Scan exposes his affair with his scretary.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: There are times when outsiders think that Natalie is Monk's girlfriend or the other way around. Natalie tends to find the suggestion rather amusing.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion", after Natalie introduces herself to Monk's acquaintance:

Dianne Brooks: Adrian! There you are. We've been looking for you. [Dianne looks at Natalie suspiciously]
Natalie Teeger: Hi, I'm Natalie Teeger. [She and Dianne shake hands]
Dianne Brooks: Hi. Dianne Brooks.
Natalie Teeger: I'm his assistant.
Dianne Brooks: Ahh... Oh, so you two aren't [dating]? [she points between Monk and Natalie]
Natalie Teeger: No. [smirks]

    • There is a scene in "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever" where Natalie, who is moonlighting as a lottery hostess, is signing autographs for her fans. Monk comes up to her to grab some wipes from her purse. One of Natalie's fans asks her if Monk is her boyfriend, and Natalie corrects her.
    • Happens in the Expanded Universe novel Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, where Natalie's friend initially mistakes Monk as being Natalie's boyfriend.
  • She's All Grown Up: Whenever someone comments on Julie's beauty. Although in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show," Natalie wishes she had a big, fat, hairy wart on her forehead.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Averted - Despite being constantly held at gunpoint, buried alive on a few occasions, frequently seeing the aftermath of many bloody murders (shootings, stabbings, explosions, beatings, even a few mutilations on the side), Monk is afraid of milk, handshakes, and germs, and has traumatic memories of birth.
  • Sherlock Scan: Monk is notorious for this. However, since Monk is also socially inept, he also doesn't always know that there are some details not to bring up. Just a tip: If you know that a woman is lying about her age, don't call her out on it. Or if you know that the judge at a hearing is sleeping with his secretary, don't use that as your way of proving your credibility to the judge. Or, speaking of sex, that a widow is doing it if her daughter is also standing there (though the last one turned out to be false because Monk mistook some Tic-Tacs to be birth control pills).
  • Ship Tease: In "Mr. Monk and the Genius", Monk and Natalie are on a stakeout. When their cover is threatened, Natalie briefly and inexplicably blurts out that they should kiss, and immediately wonders aloud why she said it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one episode, Monk is summoned by court for Jury Duty. Hilarity Ensues, as Monk finds himself trapped in a small room with 11 other people, persisting throughout the episode that he prefers to work alone. Anyway, the jury consists of a bunch of apathetic ignorants who immediately vote guilty just to get out of there quicker. One of whom is a Jerkass, another one has a cold, and the foreman is a StraightMan-turned-grunt. Sounds familiar, knowhatImean?
    • And of course the numerous shout outs to Sherlock Holmes. Jack read Sherlock Holmes to Monk as a child. Monk has on numerous occasions identified cigarettes and cigars from their ashes, like Sherlock does in A Study In Scarlet, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, and other stories. Amusingly, Disher's original last name in the pilot was Deacon, so the first two letters of their first and last names put together spells "Lestrade" (Leland Stottlemeyer and Randy Deacon). See Expy above to see how the characters are based on Doyle's.
    • Several shoutouts are made in the series to Columbo:
      • "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger" could be considered a mix of Columbo elements:
        • The use of the fact that the bullet hole in the jacket did not match the position of the bullet hole in the body to determine whether the victim was on good terms with the killer comes from "Fade in to Murder".
        • Johnny Cash played a sympathetic country/gospel singer accused of murder in "Swan Song." In fact, Stottlemeyer makes a remark about Cash's performances at Folsom by saying that Willie Nelson might soon be "live from Folsom Prison".
        • The idea of a blind witness with a twist was from "State of Mind."
      • In "Mr. Monk Is on the Run, Part Two", Natalie realizes that Monk is alive when she sees a newspaper article about the "Car Wash Columbo", a (supposedly) Hispanic car wash man who recently helped the local police solve the hit-and-run death of a highway safety worker single-handedly. Monk has faked his death and Stottlemeyer has made it seem that he's dead, so this might be more like an Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath case. Of course, Natalie is enraged to find that Stottlemeyer has hid this fact from her.
      • A direct shout out to Columbo is in "Mr. Monk Buys a House," when Jake says, "So what's going on, Columbo?" Some believe that Brad Garrett ad-libbed that part of the line. By coincidence, Hector Elizondo, who plays Dr. Bell, played a murderous diplomat in the Columbo episodes "A Case of Immunity".
      • Some circumstances of "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School" are based on "Etude in Black," such as the fact that the murder victim is pregnant, is having an affair with the killer, and her death is made to look like suicide.
      • Two episodes, "Mr. Monk and the Miracle" and "Mr. Monk and the End," bear some elements of "Requiem for a Falling Star," especially the latter, which features a string of murders that are tied to a body buried under a sundial, and features a killer who won't move out of his current house because of the body in the yard.
    • "Mr. Monk Is On the Run, Part One," contains a lot of similarities to The Fugitive. Sheriff John Rollins (Scott Glenn) could have been named for the sheriff seen at the train wreck site in the movie. His request for a helicopter and his orders about police checkpoints when searching for the escaped Monk are similar to the orders that Samuel Gerard gives before executing the search for Kimble. Furthermore, the main character in both is framed for a shooting.
    • Some elements of "Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse" are direct Shout Outs to The Exorcist.
  • Show, Don't Tell: In the entirety of the show's run, Monk was explicitly described as having OCD maybe twice, not counting promos.
    • This is made especially jarring on the multiple occasions where Monk gets in trouble for grossly inappropriate behavior and Natalie tries to explain to an authority figure that Monk suffers from a condition; the best she's ever able to come up with is "he's... persnickity".
  • Sick Episode: "Mr. Monk Stays in Bed".
  • Snub By Omission: In "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut", the eponymous astronaut quite pointedly leaves Monk out when saying anyone could be a hero.
  • Sock It to Them: In one episode, a guy does this to himself. He ties the sock weapon to a ceiling fan so as to give himself contusions and frame another man.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Inverted. In the final episode, Monk finds out that Trudy, some years before they met, had had an affair and a child by her old law professor. Trudy was led to believe that the child died at birth, but after her murder was solved, Monk found out that her daughter, Molly, lived after all and had been adopted. He sought her out and began a friendship with her.
  • Spit Take: Two good examples here:
    • From "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall":

[Harold is trying to figure out the identity of Monk's new therapist]
Harold Krenshaw: I'm talking about your new therapist, the mystery doctor, the genius you're always raving about. Who is he? Just tell me his name!
Adrian Monk: I can't tell you. It's privileged information.
Harold Krenshaw: No, it's not. What happens in the session is privileged. His name isn't privileged. People recommend therapists everyday. Am I right, Natalie?
Natalie Teeger: I don't know. I'm just waiting for the conversation to be over.
Adrian Monk: Okay, fine. His name is doctor... [glances at elevator doors] Door.
Harold Krenshaw: Dr. Door? Is that the best you can do? I suppose if we were standing by that alarm you would've said "Dr. Bell". [Natalie promptly spits water in Harold's face]
Natalie Teeger: Oh god, Harold! I'm so sorry!

    • Another example, from "Mr. Monk and the Genius":

Natalie Teeger: You have to admit, he's real good. [takes a sip from her lemonade] What? He was right. I am thirsty. [Monk looks at her oddly] What?
Adrian Monk: How do you feel?
Natalie Teeger: Uhhh, I feel fine. [Monk continues looking at her oddly. She takes another sip] What?
Adrian Monk: It just occurred to me: if there's poison in the lemonade, we could go to the DA and we'd have all the evidence we need. [Natalie promptly spits out her lemonade]
Natalie Teeger: "It just occurred" to you?! And you didn't say anything?! My gosh, Mr. Monk, I've never seen you like this! [Disgusted, she dumps the rest of her cup onto the pavement]
Adrian Monk: How do you feel now?
Natalie Teeger: You know I hate to disappoint you, but I feel fine!

  • Shown Their Work: In "Mr. Monk and the Big Game," Julie interviews Stottlemeyer and Disher for a project on DNA evidence. All of the information given is straight-on accurate. One example: Stottlemeyer mentions that no two siblings will have the same DNA - it's close to, but not an exact copy - except for identical twins. Another example: one of Julie's questions is why DNA cannot be used to close every case, and Stottlemeyer replies that this is for two reasons: one, DNA is not found at every crime scene, and two, even if there is DNA, there needs to be a match in the computer records to compare the DNA against. This last answer, plus the unsolved murder that Stottlemeyer uses for an example, is a Chekhov's Gun for Monk later.
  • Status Quo Is God: Whenever Monk makes a new friend, they turn out to be evil criminals manipulating him. Whenever he makes some progress in his mental health, he's back to being worse than ever at the end of the episode. It took the final episode to give him some closure.
    • The final season has him working though some of his problems.
    • An episode at the beginning of the final season had him make a friend who's wife died in the Cold Open in a hit-and-run and was not evil or manipulating. However, he wasn't from around this part of the country, so...
      • This friend was literally put on a bus at the end, too.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Office", his coworkers at the office he was working at while undercover liked him and seemed to be forming a friendship, but of course after the crime was solved he had to go back to his regular job. Making it worse, Monk had ruined his relationship with them due to not wearing proper shoes at a bowling game.
    • One episode lampshaded it by having him convinced that the elderly woman who had become a mother figure to him had to have been in on the murder, because everyone else who had become his friend in the past ended up betraying him. Things got awkward when he found out that she really was innocent, right after cruelly berating her.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Badge", Monk quits the force after having been back on it for only a few days, finding consulting to be more of his thing.
    • Monk had sparked a possible romance with a woman who is arrested for murdering an escaped war criminal. She had taken the rap for the real killer, her mother.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In one episode, nearly everyone independently comes up with the idea that Monk is an alien. Except the police, of course.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: When Monk gets his badge back. Things definitely are different being a consultant versus being an SFPD detective.
  • Straw Character: Karen Stottlemeyer is one of the worst variety of the type of liberal thinker who is almost a caricature of the majority of this set of people. She is constantly harping on Leland that he needs to be more open minded and tolerant of other things while never budging one bit from her own position and showing almost zero respect for Leland and simply assuming that her way is the right way. No wonder Leland eventually divorced her. Monk and Natalie avert this trope, though for Monk, this might be more subverted.
  • Stripper Cop Confusion: Sadly, yes, in the one where Natalie's brother gets married. Monk forgot that the guy had dollar bills sticking out of his belt.
  • The Summation: Almost always signaled with the Catch Phrase "Here's what happened..." (though not always)
    • Lampshaded in "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk": "Monk was doing his summation thing..."
    • Subverted in "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake", wherein the episode goes through all the usual bells and whistles of the summation formula (black and white flashbacks, dramatic camera shots, etc), as if totally oblivious to the fact that the voiceover supplied by an unusually-addled Monk is pure gibberish.
    • An unusual one is "Mr. Monk and the Miracle," where Monk and Natalie are telling the summation to a converted Stottlemeyer in a monastery. Unfortunately, since all of the nuns are chanting, they are forced to harmonize the summation to blend it in. It's funny to hear Tony Shalhoub and Traylor Howard speaking in harmonic, dull, emotionless monotones, especially Natalie.
    • Played with in "Mr. Monk And The Garbage Strike", where a sleep-deprived Monk has been driven crazy by the titular garbage strike and becomes convinced that the crime in question was actually committed by Alice Cooper because he wanted the victim's antique chair for himself (complete with a hilarious moment where we see Alice Cooper himself gunning down the victim and leering evilly over the chair during the summation).
    • Subverted in "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized". In the episode, Monk was hypnotized into thinking he was a 6-year-old again. When he went to the crime scene, the victim was naked, and Monk began his summation. He started the whole thing totally seriously, and then claimed that the man died of embarrassment.
    • When attempting to give the summation to Stottlemeyer in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", he has a very hard time attempting to do so and be heard because Novillero is currently playing "The Laissez Faire System" at max volume.
    • One episode had Monk and Disher giving simultaneous summations about two different topics while in the middle of a shootout.
    • Played for laughs in the episode where Sharona returns when she impatiently forces him into the suspect's closet to give the summation. Unfortunately, the killer hears every word.
    • Played rather awesomely in "Mr. Monk and The Rapper": Monk declares that music producer Denny Hodges is a murderer, but since he's doing this at Denny's party, the partygoers won't let him finish the summation, so Snoop Dogg gets up on stage and raps the summmation.
    • Also played awesomely in "Mr. Monk and the Kid" where Monk reads the summation to the one-year old boy he has temporarily adopted as a bedtime story.
  • Super OCD: Very.
    • Possibly a misdiagnosed autistic savant, instead.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Out goes Sharona, in comes Natalie. The fandom has long been locked in a battle over which one is better.
    • Also, Héctor Elizondo replaced Stanley Kamel (Dr. Kroger) after his death.
      • But it works better here because things like Natalie being similar to Sharona down to having a kid the same age can be explained by Monk trying to make things stay the same when life changes around him.
    • Several international police officers in different countries (such as Mexico and France in the TV series) that have a murder solved by Monk have a duo who acts very similarly to Stottlemeyer and Disher. It's also a running gag in the novels.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: in "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion", Monk meets an old acquaintance who asks him if he's dating anyone, which Monk fervently denies. When Monk and Natalie run into the acquaintance later, and she thinks that Natalie is Monk's girlfriend, Natalie visibly smirks.
    • This happens in several other cases where Monk and Natalie are mistaken for a couple.
    • Also used in tandem with the I Never Said It Was Poison trope.
  • Tag-Along Actor: Monk acquires one in "Mr. Monk and the Actor". It didn't work out well because of the guy's method acting.
  • Take a Third Option: When faced with hiding in either a dumpster or port-a-john, Monk declares "I choose death!"
    • Mr Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger:

Stottlemeyer: It's either (a) the blind woman who has zero motive or it's (b) your friend the red-headed stranger.
Randy: Who had motive, means, and opportunity, and was identified by the only witness at the scene.
Stottlemeyer: A or B, Monk.
Monk: I think it's C.
Stottlemeyer: What the hell is C?
Monk: I don't know yet.

  • Talking to the Dead
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Oh my... One guy stuffed his mother in "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies." And he wasn't even the killer. It's also a Shout-Out to Psycho.
  • Television Geography: Sometimes the transition from San Francisco to Los Angeles is noticeable.
  • That One Case: Trudy's murder, which is eventually solved in the show's Grand Finale.
  • Thematic Theme Tune
  • The Butler Did It: Inverted! The butler gets killed in "Mr. Monk is at Your Service."
  • The So-Called Coward: Monk is terrified of 312 specifically named, listed, and ordered things. In spite of constantly encountering them, he always gets his man. And he never gets over his fear.
  • Truth in Television: In "Mr Monk Meets The Red Headed Stranger" Monk is invited into Willie Nelson's tour bus and immediately asks "Do you smell that?" Willie answers "No, and neither do you." alluding to his well known fondness for pot. In 2006 and again in 2010 marijuana had been found and confiscated off his bus.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "BM" for "shit" and "haul bottom" for "haul ass".
  • Unconventional Smoothie: Natalie makes one in "Mr. Monk Is On the Run - Part One" with a power drill.
  • Through His Stomach: "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door".
  • Very Special Episode: Parodied in "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man", but arguably does a better job of preaching tolerance than serious uses of the trope.
    • Also in the episode "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend" about Friendship. A guy who makes friends with Monk and puts up with all his quirks and phobias. He also points out while Monk considers Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher friends, the guy tells them off in a "You Suck" speech to the three of them about how they just use Monk in a one sided manner. Turns out he was the murderer they suspected earlier and Monk desperatly wants him not to be the killer even when he threatens to kill Monk. Natalie, Stoddlemeyer and Disher save the day and Monk learns they really are his friends.
    • "Mr. Monk Buys a House" could be considered one if you factor in that the series had to adjust after Stanley Kamel died of a heart attack in April 2008.
  • Viewers are Morons: In "Mr. Monk Takes The Stand", the villain brags about how he can't be tried again because he was found not guilty. With no prompting, Stottlemeyer says it's right and says it's called double jeopardy. The only people for him to be talking to are an ex-police detective and his assistant (who, if she didn't know, would have come up many seasons ago the first time the bad guy is acquitted on one murder and found guilty on another). This bit can only be explained as the writers of that episode being unable to count on their audience to know about it before hand. Likely for the benefit of non-US audiences, however. They aren't as used to American systems.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dale the Whale in "Mr. Monk Is On the Run, part 2".
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Getting back on the police force was one of Monk's goals since the start of the show. When he finally accomplished it late in the final season, he discovered that he actually preferred the independence of being an outside consultant.
  • We Want Our OCD Detective Back: In the episode "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine", Monk ends up taking a type of medication where all of his regular quirks are being suppressed and he can live a (relatively) normal life after an incident where he was forced to let a criminal get away due to his hands being soiled. It works too well, and he ends up becoming similar to one of those jerkish college frat-boys, with Sharona and the SFPD wanting the Monk they know to be there. Eventually, Monk manages to give up on that medication when it became apparent that he'd have to choose between the medicine and his memories of Trudy.
    • Lee Goldberg brings the drug back in some of the novels, as the only way Monk can manage to make an airline flight. In Mr. Monk Goes to Germany, at one point Natalie observes that this will keep him from solving the murder. He replies that he has already solved it, and just needs to find the evidence-- indeed, it turns out that in his normal state he would not have been ABLE to handle the evidence. Unfortunately, Monk and Natalie are almost killed when a shack they enter to retrieve the evidence in question catches fire, and they barely escape the flames.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Of the Go Look At the Distraction variety: In "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine", the culprit's ex-wife commits suicide, but has written a note incriminating him in an armored car robbery and even gives out the details of his next heist. Fearing that the cops at the scene will find the incriminating note, he fires on some cops a few blocks away to lure away the cops at the suicide scene, so that he can replace the incriminating suicide note with a fake one.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend," Natalie uses the pretense of viewing a new apartment to keep Stottlemeyer's girlfriend out of her house while Monk searches it.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy", the killer takes out a street musician in a gruesome way so that the police will be drawn away from his girlfriend's death so that incriminating stomach contents that could lead back to him will be destroyed.
  • Wild Teen Party: In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert." Monk, Natalie, and Captain Stottlemeyer go to a music festival in town that week to look for Stottlemeyer's son, and the only reason why Monk goes along is because he mistakes the phrase "rock show" to mean a geology exhibit. While waiting outside due to being horrified at learning what he actually agreed to go to, two couples are making out on Stottlemeyer's car, with Monk attempting to tell them to stop, ending in failure.
    • Inverted with the episode "Mr. Monk is the Best Man.", Because Stottlemeyer let Monk plan his bachelor party (which proved to be a very big mistake), it was barely even a party, and most certainly wasn't wild (for starters, Monk placed a portapotty within the bathroom, Monk ordered pizza with literally nothing on it, not even cheese or sauce, he only got 12 ounce beers for each partygoer [12 party members, amounting to 144 oz of alcohol total], Monk told some jokes that just didn't go well, and he showed them Bachelor Party as their movie, of which the movie was implied to not be a popular choice among the cops. The closest it ever got to being a wild teen party was when the Captain's car was on fire, and it wasn't even the partygoers responsible for it, but the criminal of the week).
  • Will They or Won't They?: Randy Disher and Sharona Fleming. Teased throughout all of Bitty Schram's run with the show, seemingly dropped after she left, then confirmed that they will as of the series finale.
  • Who Dunnit to Me?: A client in "Mr. Monk and the Genius" goes to Monk because her husband, a Grand Master in chess, was planning to kill her.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the End", it's Monk himself.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: "Mr. Monk and the TV Star," where the perp is the star of a detective show; his Loony Fan Marci subsequently defects to Monk:

Marci: You are the greatest detective in the world! You are the greatest detective in the universe! You should have your own show!

    • This is made even greater by the fact that she immediately announces he should "never change his theme song" (a complaint she used against the previous actor she was obsessed with). Monk had just changed its theme song to one that fans didn't quite like as much and they played the old theme song over the end credits as a shout-out.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The timeline of certain past events revealed in the finale makes no sense and contradicts facts established previously in the series.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: a case of this is in "Mr. Monk Is On the Run," both parts. Monk is framed for shooting a six-fingered man by a corrupt sheriff (Scott Glenn) named John Rollins.
    • In the first part of the episode, Monk commits the following offenses while on the lam:
      • Escaping custody (a crime whether or not you are guilty of the crime you have been accused of committing)
      • He attempts to accelerate his journey by stealing a man's pickup truck (it doesn't work out because the club is locked around the steering wheel, so it just goes in circles around a gas pump)
      • He goes to Natalie, who provides him with clothes and takes off his shackles. If this were discovered, she could face charges of harboring a fugitive.
      • Stottlemeyer probably could face aiding and abetting for arranging with Monk to fake his death and then lying to cover it up.
    • In Part Two, a few more bad cases happen:
      • Monk probably commits ID theft to hide out in Nevada.
      • When Rollins follows Natalie to Monk and tries to arrest both of them, Monk and Natalie attack him, in an eerily The Silence of the Lambs type chase through the car wash. Natalie momentarily incapacitates Rollins by blinding him with a fire extinguisher. Even more, Monk and Natalie escape by grabbing Rollins's keys and stealing his car.
    • Very likely, however, the governor probably pardoned Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher, given that Monk had demonstrated his heroism by thwarting an assassination attempt on the governor's life. Plus, the district attorney would be hard-pressed to explain why a detective was forced to escape from jail to find the killer himself.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: In Mr. Monk and the Badge Monk realizes his goal of being reinstated in the SFPD, only to find that nothing about policing was familiar to him anymore and the episode end with him retiring from the force.
  • You Know What You Did: In "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage".
  • You Meddling Kids: Benjy and Julie
  • You Never Did That for Me: In the episode where Sharona and Natalie meet, Natalie finds out that Monk paid Sharona a lot more than he paid her. Thus she complains that Monk never paid her that much.
    • It was a difference of twenty dollars.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: In the finale, Monk sits around in a chair with his therapist at about 40 minutes in, the case apparently solved, and talks about his lack of closure.