Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Monk

Millions of viewers enjoyed watching Adrian Monk use his OCD and keen detective skills to solve heinous crimes week after week. But what the cameras filmed is only half of the tale—quite a few interesting stories took place behind the scenes, and we've compiled the best of the bunch for your reading pleasure. Here's what happened...

The show almost didn't air

Many fans don't realize that casting Adrian Monk was a difficult, lengthy process for producers. The show was originally developed for ABC in 1998, but the network eventually passed when an actor hadn't been cast for the role after a two-year search. After ABC bailed, a USA Network exec (and former ABC employee) expressed interest in the show and put the project back in active development. When the producers found eventual Monk star Tony Shalhoub, he didn't want to take the part, not knowing how to relate to the character. After some words of wisdom from his manager, he relented—and the rest was TV history.

Sharona was fired unceremoniously

Bitty Schram, who played Adrian Monk's nurse Sharona Fleming, had established herself as an integral part of the show by season 3, so her departure that season surprised a lot of viewers. According to some reports, she left due to creative differences between herself and the network; however, industry observers know "creative differences" is often a euphemism for wanting more money. At the time, she and two other supporting actors were renegotiating their contracts with the network. Unfortunately for Schram, the network took this opportunity to "go in a different creative direction," although the two sides mended fences long enough for her to make an appearance in the eighth and final season.

There's a lost episode

USA almost filmed a 126th episode of Monk, but circumstances beyond their control prevented it. For season 3, writers penned an episode entitled "Mr. Monk Is At Sea," and the plot involved a murder mystery on a cruise ship. Unfortunately, the network couldn't find a cruise line that wanted to participate. None wanted to loan out a ship for the set—and even worse, none of the cruise lines approached wanted to be associated with the idea of passengers being murdered aboard one of their vessels, real or fake. Eventually, the script served as the foundation for the Monk novel Mr. Monk Gets on Board.

Tony Shalhoub wasn't the first choice

Not only was Tony Shalhoub reluctant to take the role of Adrian Monk, he almost didn't have the opportunity. Originally, producers wanted to hire Michael Richards, of Seinfeld fame; fortunately for Shalhoub, Richards didn't like the script and passed on it. Interestingly, Richards did go on to play a detective in his very short-lived series The Michael Richards Show.

Theme song switch

Monk's original theme song was an award-winning jazz instrumental, which won an Emmy in 2003. Then execs hired Randy Newman to write a new theme song called "It's a Jungle Out There." As there was nothing wrong with the the original, the Newman composition rubbed some fans the wrong way; New York Daily News critic David Bianculli lamented the switch, writing, "Sometimes, change isn't an improvement. It's just a change." Producers kept Newman's song, which went on to win an Emmy of its own.

There was a spinoff

Audiences couldn't get enough of Adrian Monk, so instead of producing more episodes, USA did the next best thing: they ordered a spinoff called Little Monk. This web series followed the adventures of Adrian Monk, his brother Ambrose, and their classmate Wendy, played by a young Bella Thorne. The 10-episode series followed this gang on a bunch of kooky adventures as they investigated middle school-level offences like missing bracelets and cheating in talent shows.

There was also a sequel planned

Three brief years after Monk left the airwaves, creator Andy Breckman tried to get the gravy train rolling again. In 2012, Breckman revealed that he'd written a script for a two-hour television movie titled Mr. Monk for Mayor, which followed Monk as he campaigned to become mayor of San Francisco. If it ends up airing and does well, Breckman already has plans for a follow-up as well—unfortunately, as of this writing, there's been no further word. Someone should start a wet nap mail-in campaign to the USA Network and get this project going.

Ambrose and Adrian Monk have known each other longer than you realize

Tony Shalhoub and John Turturro, who played Adrian's agoraphobic brother Ambrose, have actually been friends for a long time. Before appearing on television as the multi-phobic brothers, they not only graduated from Yale Drama School together, they worked on numerous projects, like Barton Fink and a production of Waiting for Godot. Asked how he got his friend to take the part, Shalhoub told the New York Post, "I think he liked the sound of the character." He must have, as the prolific Turturro returned for three episodes. Not bad for a guy playing a guy who's afraid to leave the house.

Hector Elizondo fights for Alzheimer's awareness

Character actor Hector Elizondo won audiences over as Adrian Monk's second therapist, Dr. Neven Bell. And he earned their further adoration when he used his elevated profile to bring awareness to Alzheimer's disease—a cause close to his heart, as Elizondo's lost his mother and four aunts to the illness. Elizondo and Dr. Alan Dengiz, the doctor who helped his family through their struggle, conducted interviews to help raise Alzheimer's awareness.

Traylor Howard had never watched the show before she was cast

That's right: Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place alum Traylor Howard had never watched an episode of the hit basic-cable network before she landed the role of Natalie Teeger. Producers became aware of this early on while casting her for the role. According to Howard, she inadvertently clued producers in by mispronouncing the characters' names—a blunder that, fortunately for her, didn't cost her the part. Instead, the creative team gave her some DVDs to watch, and she fell in love with the show. She also won over fans, some of whom were still miffed at Bitty Schram's unceremonious ousting. Not bad.