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The Best Episodes Of Monk According To IMDb

Everyone's favorite obsessive detective, Adrian Monk, is one of television's most memorable protagonists. Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is the main character of — what else — the USA show Monk. He has a knack for solving unsolvable cases for the San Francisco police department as a consultant, but comes with an Achilles heel — he has obsessive tendencies and a long list of phobias that often distract him from work. This rich combination of characteristics combined to create some of the most hilarious situations on television. Monk requests hand wipes from his assistant every time he shakes someone's hand and simply cannot function after seeing something as appalling as a dog drinking from a toilet.

Despite being a comedy, Monk also made room for a lot of serious and even tear-jerking scenes. Monk is haunted by his inability to solve the murder of his beloved late wife, Trudy. He struggles to make sense of his relationship with his absent father and equally strange brother, Ambrose. He longs to become a police detective again but is reduced to a consultant due to his obsessive behaviors. And Monk, despite being aloof, deeply craves human connection. 

The character is a bundle of contradictions, but one thing is for sure: Monk has given us a lot of amazing episodes of television. Let's revisit some of the best moments from the series and relive the experience. These are the best episodes of Monk, according to IMDb.

Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike (S5E2)

This is a dark episode for our obsessive-compulsive hero as he must face his arch-nemesis in life: garbage. The sanitation workers of San Francisco go on strike, which naturally appalls Monk, who can only function well at optimal cleanliness levels. Garbage begins to pile up everywhere in the city, throwing Monk off his detective skills and basically his whole life. He can't do work or even look outside the window of his car because the sight is too disgusting and traumatizing.

Matters become worse when the head of the sanitary workers' union is murdered, which will prolong the strike even further. Monk desperately hunts the murderer — but it isn't about bringing the murderer to justice, it's about getting all of this nasty trash off the streets so his own personal nightmare can finally end. Monk becomes so distraught from all the garbage, he can't even function anymore. Luckily, Monk's good friend and boss Leland (Ted Levine) knows the solution: Leland takes Monk to the cleanest room in all of San Francisco to clear his head, which gives our hero some much-needed mental clarity to figure out the murder.

Mr. Monk and the Kid (S3E16)

This episode is a break from the police procedural-style stories we typically see in Monk — instead, it focuses on a relationship that restores some of Monk's humanity. A severed finger is found in a park and the only person who may have any information is a two-year-old boy. Monk begins a father/son-like relationship with the boy, which brings out a side we haven't seen in him before. Most of the episode's hilarity comes from Monk's struggle to babysit this boy, and it's downright hysterical. On one occasion, Monk must change a diaper and he calls 911 for assistance, giving fans some entertaining dialogue:

Monk: Yes, okay, I've got the straps.

911 Operator: Now rip 'em open.

Monk: Oh! Oooohhh! Oh, my God! Oh, the humanity!

That's only the tip of the comedic iceberg. Monk makes the boy wear a helmet the entire time, insisting that he'll get used to it because, after all, Monk had to wear one when he was at that age. Still, Monk insists, "I mean, he could do a lot worse than me for a father. What if he were adopted by... wolves?" Despite this comedic goldmine of a situation, this episode has an element of drama to it as well. We get to see Monk in a role we never expected to — as a parent. And while Monk has shortcomings, he's obviously a loving man and it reminds viewers of what he was robbed of all those years ago when his wife was killed — the love and fulfillment of a family.

Mr. Monk and the End: Parts 1 & 2 (S8E15 & E16)

It's no surprise that the series finale found its way into this list. Not only is it an emotional and powerful goodbye to a beloved series, but it also ties up a lot of loose ends that viewers were looking forward to seeing resolved for many years. As previously mentioned, Monk was a police detective until his wife Trudy was killed by a car bomb. He suffered a mental breakdown, lost his job, and in one sense never recovered. Trudy's death was his only unsolved case... until the last two episodes of the series. 

Trudy left a present for Monk, which he never opens until the series finale — it's kind of like the package in Cast Away, only you learn what's in it at the end. The present contains a recording of Trudy explaining the situation before her death, which finally gives Monk the evidence he needs to find and face his wife's killer: A California state judge named Ethan Rickover, who hired a hit man to kill Trudy so she couldn't expose Rickover's dirty secrets and end his political career.

It's a satisfying and emotional ending. Even though Monk catches the man who killed his wife, he'll never get Trudy back. But Monk does discover that Trudy had a daughter, who he gets to meet.

Mr. Monk Is Up All Night (S6E9)

This episode is a bit of a psychological mind bend. When leaving a haircut appointment, Monk sees a woman who looks very familiar and chases her a few blocks, which is rather out of character for the careful and slow Adrian Monk. She disappears and Monk can't quite place his finger on where he's seen her before. He loses sleep thinking about her and goes on a walk at night to deal with his insomnia, at which point he sees the mysterious woman yet again — but she drives off into the night before Monk has a chance to talk with her, at which point, he witnesses a drug deal and a murder.

Naturally, Monk immediately involves his police friends, but there's a small issue this time around. When the police investigate the supposed murder, there's no evidence of it ever taking place — there's no blood, and even witnesses at the scene deny the event ever happening. It seems Monk is hallucinating due to lost sleep, but as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that he was seeing everything clearly. The murder, which was faked, turned out to be a part of an elaborate con and the police catch them in the end.

Monk finally meets the woman he saw earlier, named Maria, and discovers why she looks so familiar. As it turns out, Maria received a pair of cornea transplants many years ago which saved her sight, and Maria got them from Trudy — Monk's late wife. In the midst of everything, Monk gets to look into Trudy's eyes one last time.

Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty (S4E16)

If there's one thing Adrian Monk has a talent for, it's annoying the heck out whoever he's with, and that's exactly the premise of this episode. Monk is summoned for jury duty, and like most good Americans, he tries to get out of that responsibility.

Monk: Don't get me wrong. It's a great system. It really is the best justice system in the world.

Teeger: I agree.

Monk: I just don't want to be a part of it.

Teeger: Mr. Monk, what if everybody felt that way?

Monk: Everybody does.

And what reason does Monk give the judge for getting out of jury duty? He couldn't possibly share a toilet with 11 other jurors. Unsatisfied with the reason, the judge forces him to be a juror in the case of a man who stabbed and robbed a victim. Seemingly, the man is obviously guilty, and the rest of the jurors immediately argue this point in the deliberation room. But Monk, as the sole voice for innocence, just isn't quite satisfied with a tiny inconsistency in the man's story.

As you can probably imagine, Monk drives the rest of the jurors crazy, keeping them in deliberation for a long time as he refuses to change his vote. As conversations continue, however, Monk slowly convinces everyone else that the man is in fact innocent.

Mr. Monk Is on the Run: Parts 1 & 2 (S6E15 & E16)

In this season finale, fans get to see a whole new side of Monk. Typically, he's a slow, methodical detective who dresses well and wouldn't dirty himself in the slightest to pursue a criminal. But as viewers know, Monk will put this character trait on the back burner whenever one particularly important case is at stake.

Monk is asked to hunt down a robber who has six fingers — a physical trait shared by the man who planted the bomb that killed his late wife Trudy. For Monk, this is personal, so he retrieves his gun (a rare occurrence) and goes to meet the six-fingered man on his own, following a clue only he could decode. But unexpectedly, the man is killed before Monk's eyes — and Monk is framed for the murder. He escapes custody, goes on the run, and even fakes his own death to clear his name.

The conspiracy theory runs deep, as Monk later learns a sheriff and police lieutenant were the ones behind it, with Monk's nemesis Dale the Whale financing the whole operation. Even though Dale was in prison at the time, he used his massive wealth and network to orchestrate a master plan to exact revenge, getting himself out of prison and getting Monk in. And although Dale's plan failed, Monk lost another trail to solving Trudy's murder — the six-fingered bomber dies without telling Monk who hired him.

Mr. Monk and the Three Pies (S2E11)

The writers of Monk have a gift for crafting compelling mysteries that include strong emotional elements of character growth, and a powerful example of that is found in "Mr. Monk and the Three Pies." In the opening scenes, a woman wins a pie at a contest, but a man demands it from her in the parking lot. The situation escalates and the man kills her, which leaves viewers with an intriguing question — why would a criminal kill someone over a pie?

Meanwhile, Adrian visits his recluse brother Ambrose for the first time in seven years. It's a tense and emotional situation. Adrian is angry at Ambrose for not calling him in the years following his wife's murder, but he discovers that the reason: Ambrose felt horribly guilty because Trudy was running an errand for Ambrose when she died, and he feels responsible for her death.

The two plot lines collide. Ambrose calls Adrian to investigate his neighbor who may have killed his wife, and it turns out to be the pie-snatcher. As always, Monk eventually figures it out — the killer shot his wife and a bullet casing landed in one of the pies she baked for the contest. To cover his tracks, he had to retrieve the casing, which meant getting the pies — even if it meant committing another murder.

Mr. Monk and the Dog (S8E11)

Not only is Adrian Monk a fantastic character, but the writers also consistently did a great job of putting him in hilarious situations to bring out his personality. In this episode, the police are searching for a missing woman and her poor dog, Shelby, is left alone. Initially, Monk is disgusted with the creature, which isn't surprising knowing Monk's high standards for hygiene and order. But after learning Shelby will be killed within a month if no one claims her, Monk takes her into his care. Hilarity ensues.

Monk brings Shelby into his apartment and explains that she can only stay on one designated spot, which she immediately leaves. This isn't the only horrifying discovery that Monk makes; he soon learns that dogs shed, scratch, and even — gasp! — drink from the toilet. He "trains" Shelby to hold it in forever, expecting her to never go to the bathroom ever again. Despite all that, Shelby grows on Monk and he even admits that there are rare moments when she isn't completely unbearable.

The police discover the victim's body and eventually the killer, but the real focus of the episode is on Monk's relationship with this dog. Even though he can't stand the mess, Monk's love for Shelby forces him to put up with it. In the end, Shelby gives birth to a litter and Monk can't stand to see them separated, so he gives Shelby and her family to a trusted friend.

Mr. Monk and the Badge (S8E14)

Every good television show has those game-changer episodes — you know, the ones that develop characters in significant ways and there's no going back. For Monk, one of those episodes is "Mr. Monk and the Badge," which is the third to the last installment of the series.

For the entire show, Monk has functioned as a consultant for the San Francisco Police Department. One of his biggest goals is to return as a detective, but he's refused due to his obsessive-compulsive behaviors. In this episode, he's finally granted his badge and reinstated, which is a celebrated moment — but it comes with a catch.

In an unexpected twist, Monk hates being a detective. He doesn't know how to work a computer, has to answer mundane calls, and never quite feels like he's part of the pack. To make matters worse, he suspects a murdered cop was actually dirty, which makes his fellow members of the force despise him. And when Monk realizes his ex-assistant Natalie is happier at her new job, he feels more lonely than he has in the entire show. After catching the killer, he turns in his badge, realizing he's better off as a consultant. Fortunately for him, Natalie is eager to rejoin him because she missed the excitement.

Mr. Monk Goes Home Again (S4E2)

You know if any episode involves Monk's family, it's going to get emotional. While investigating a very curious shooting, Adrian and Natalie are invited to Ambrose's house. The occasion? Ambrose tells Adrian that their father will be joining them, which would be the first time Monk's seen him in several years. Coincidentally, it's also trick-or-treating night, so as the three wait for father Monk to show up, Ambrose occasionally has to answer the door to give out candy. One masked visitor aggressively shoves Ambrose to take a chocolate bar, which prompts Adrian to connect some dots: A similar candy bar was found as the scene of the shooting earlier, and he realizes that the murder is somehow connected to Ambrose.

After a series of twists and turns, it's revealed that the killer intended to murder his wife by poisoning her favorite candy bar. But to make it look less conspicuous, he poisoned a whole box of chocolate bars at a convenience store. The killer attempted to retrieve these candy bars, believing he'd been figured out, but it was too late. After the truck driver nibbled the candy bar, the killer was forced to shoot him to cover up the true nature of the murder. The last candy bar ends up in Ambrose's possession; he accidentally eats it and is rushed to the hospital, where it turns out to be a false alarm. While everyone's at the hospital, the Monk brothers' father visits Ambrose's empty house and leaves a note asking where they've gone.

Mr. Monk and the Game Show (S3E8)

Many episodes of Monk hinge on creative mysteries that keep viewers guessing until the very end, and "Mr. Monk and the Game Show" is no exception. Monk is contacted by his ex-father in law, Dwight, who works on — you guessed it — a game show. Dwight suspects the current show's champion is cheating but is unable to prove it, so he asks Monk to solve the mystery. Monk agrees to help and joins Dwight on set, but matters become more serious when Monk learns that a previous employee died in a mysterious car crash some time ago.

It's very clear the champion, Val Birch, is cheating. He is, frankly, a complete moron, often mispronouncing words, and doesn't even know basic trivia, like the name of the famous bridge in San Francisco. But no one, including Monk, can figure out how he's doing it. The questions for the game show are carefully hidden in envelopes and are only revealed when the host opens and reads them aloud.

To get closer, Monk becomes a contestant on the show, which gives us the best scene in the episode — Monk constantly accidentally buzzes in to answer because he's cleaning a smudge on his button. Eventually, Monk discovers the host is communicating the answers to the champion by holding the card by a specific corner, corresponding to answers A, B, C, or D. Birch, it turns out, was blackmailing the host because he'd found out the host had murdered the employee by cutting her car brakes.

Mr. Monk Goes to Jail (S2E16)

"Mr. Monk Goes to Jail" starts with a captivating hook and leads to one of the funniest, unlikely situations Monk has ever been in. The episode begins with an inmate on death row, about to be executed, but curiously, he's murdered 45 minutes before his execution. Who would kill someone right before they're about to die? Monk is sent to the prison to investigate. Initially, he's too disturbed by the prison's unsanitary conditions to work, but that all changes when he runs into his old nemesis, the inmate Dale the Whale. Dale promises to tell Monk everything he knows about his wife's killer if Monk solves the case. With that, Monk brings out his A game and even goes undercover as a prison inmate.

Monk's cellmate, Spyder, is a ruthless criminal who beat up a prisoner for just touching his stuff, and knowing Monk's habits, well, it's looking like he won't be able to help himself from ticking this guy off. But instead, Spyder is impressed with Monk's excessive neatness, particularly after Monk cleans and retapes his shiv. In the end, Monk discovers the murder victim had a very rare blood type and, after his execution, his organs were going to save another man's life. The killer wanted that man to die to avoid an expensive lawsuit, so she killed the inmate in such a way that his organs wouldn't be able to save him.