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USA Insider Monk

Monk Creator, Producers Say To Watch These Episodes Before Mr. Monk's Last Case

The creator and producers of Monk say this is the official list of episodes to watch before viewing Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie.

By Chris Phelan

As the premiere date of Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie draws closer, many fans may want to revisit the series or get caught up for the very first time. However, with 125 episodes of the original series, many may not have time to watch them all before Adrian Monk and his friends return for another adventure. Luckily, the show's creator and producers have an official shortcut. 

Monk creator Andy Breckman and the producers involved with Mr. Monk's Last Case gave USA Insider a list of the 16 episodes they recommend people watch on Peacock in preparation for December 8. While watching all eight seasons of Monk is preferable, for those who just want the broad strokes or a refresher, the minds behind the show say these are the episodes to watch so you won't be in the dark during the premiere of Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie.

Here are the 16 must-watch Monk episodes to properly prepare you (available, of course, on Peacock):

Traylor Howard as Natalie Teeger, Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Jason Gray-Stanford as Randy Disher, and Ted Levine as Leland Stottlemeyer

1. "Mr. Monk and the Candidate" (S1, E1)

The pilot episode introduces the world to Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), the detective who is dealing with two pain points that serve as his identifying traits throughout the entire series. Audiences quickly learn that not only is he dedicated to getting to the bottom of his wife Trudy's murder, but he also is often plagued by crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder.

2. "Mr. Monk and the Airplane" (S1, E13)

Tony Shalhoub won an Emmy for his performance in the season one finale, which saw him attempting to solve a murder on a plane – while facing his fear of flying, of course. Thanks to its dramatic premise and a healthy list of unexpected guest stars, it's revered as a classic to this day. It was one of the first times viewers saw how devastating Monk's disabilities were and how he overcame them in a highly entertaining fashion.

3. "Mr. Monk and the Three Pies" (S2, E11)

As one of the most popular season two episodes among hardcore fans, "Mr. Monk and the Three Pies" serves a few purposes. Not only does it introduce some much-needed backstory into the life of Adrian Monk by way of his brother Ambrose, but it also helped the show gain national attention. Critics specifically cited the stellar performances of Shalhoub and John Turturro (who played his brother). 

4. "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring" (S3, E10)

This season three episode introduces fan-favorite Natalie (effortlessly played to perfection by Traylor Howard) as Monk's new assistant. While this polarizing episode has its detractors, it continues an integral running theme that contributed to the show's success: Monk's casting department consistently knocked it out of the park. No actor's talent was wasted in this series, and Traylor Howard's Natalie is no exception.

5. "Mr. Monk and the Kid" (S3, E16)

One of the running themes of the show is Monk constantly coming to grips with the realities of his everyday life. Whether it's realizing his love for Trudy will never dissipate or realizing he's in no shape to become a parent anytime soon (as this episode showed), Monk's consistently heartbreaking moments of self-reflection are one of the hallmarks of the show's run

6. "Mr. Monk Goes Home Again" (S4, E2)

We don't know what it is about "Mr. Monk Goes Home Again," but it's one of our favorite episodes in the series. What's not to love? From the Halloween theme running throughout the episode to another memorable appearance from John Turturro as Ambrose, this episode gives fans everything they could want from Monk. We didn't realize how much we wanted Monk to uncover the mysteries of poisoned Halloween candy so much!

7. "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head" (S4, E11)

Like many iconic TV series, a few episodes live rent-free in our heads for being jaw-droppingly emotional. "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head" checks all those boxes for us (and then some). The episode sees Monk battling amnesia and entering into a potential relationship with another woman (played by perennial scene-stealer Laurie Metcalf). Tony Shalhoub's profound realization of his undying love for his deceased wife earned the actor another Emmy win. It's a sad, somber episode, but it's a must-watch nonetheless!

8. "Mr. Monk and the Actor" (S5, Ep 1)

We're always fans of episodes that don't shy away from being "meta" – and "Mr. Monk and the Actor" is one of the best examples of this in television history. The premise of this fan-favorite episode is simple: Monk encounters an actor who will possibly portray Monk in an upcoming movie. In true Monk fashion, the episode never falls apart as it effortlessly balances comedic and dramatic elements. Guest star Stanley Tucci, who played the actor, earned an Emmy for his unforgettable performance.

9. "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion" (S5, E6)

An iconic character like Adrian Monk is only as strong as his backstory, and this season five episode delivered backstory in spades! Monk attends his 25-year class reunion and goes down memory lane. For the first time, viewers learn how he met Trudy. We'll be honest: We don't consider you a true fan of Monk if you can make it through this episode without tearing up.

10. "Mr. Monk Is Up All Night" (S6, E9) 

Suffering from an unfortunate bout of insomnia, Monk spends the episode chasing after a mystery woman with a potential link to Trudy. While not altogether crucial to the show's main plot, fans nonetheless welcomed an opportunity to witness Monk run around in the middle of the night as he questions everything he's seeing. "Mr. Monk Is Up All Night" serves as a reminder of how talented Tony Shalhoub is as an actor – you can drop him into any scenario, and he'll always offer up a fantastic performance!

11. "Mr. Monk Is on the Run" (S6, E15 & E16)

The season six finale is one of the most crucial episodes of the show in regards to significant plot happenings, and "Mr. Monk Is on the Run" sets the stage for the remaining two seasons in an unforgettable fashion! Fans were shocked when Monk found himself face-to-face with the man who detonated the car bomb that ended Trudy's life, but they were even more shocked when a plan was put into motion to frame Monk for the murder of Trudy's assailant! This episode is one of those classics where we're thankful binge-watching exists. It's impossible not to power through to season seven after watching it.

12. "Mr. Monk Buys a House" (S7, E1)

The season seven premiere episode is another example of how Monk can pull at our heartstrings like no other show in television history. The episode's plot involves Monk dealing with the death of his psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger. Sadly, the actor who portrayed Dr. Kroger, Stan Kamel, passed away shortly after filming, giving the entire episode a decidedly somber and heartbreaking tone. Many fans confess this is one of the only episodes they refuse to rewatch because Monk's pain, in many ways, becomes the viewer's pain.

13. "Mr. Monk's 100th Case" (S7, E7) 

Sometimes, art imitates life. "Mr. Monk's 100th Case" marked Monk's 100th episode, and viewers were rewarded with one of the more "fun" episodes in the show's history. After hunting down a serial killer while simultaneously being celebrated in a television documentary, Monk contemplates retirement before ultimately deciding to forge on with his consulting work for the San Francisco Police Department. This episode's ending is one of the most poignant scenes in Monk history and re-establishes Monk's dedication to his overarching mission.

14. "Mr. Monk and Sharona" (S8, E10)

Sometimes, on-screen chemistry can happen in the most unlikely places, and we didn't know we needed the bickering between Monk's current and former assistants as much as we did before we watched this episode! When Sharona returns to join Monk and Natalie on a case, viewers are treated to drama of the highest order. This episode earns a spot on our must-watch list for one simple reason – this hilarious exchange between a testy Natalie and Monk himself over the issue of pay:

Natalie: "Mr. Monk! Look at me! You paid her $20 a week more than me!"

Monk: "She had a kid."

Natalie: "I've got a kid!"

Monk: "Her kid ate more."

15. "Mr. Monk and the Badge" (S8, E14)

As the penultimate episode, "Mr. Monk and the Badge," sets the stage for the unforgettable Monk finale. Thanks to his unparalleled detective work, Adrian Monk is finally reinstated to the San Francisco Police Department – welcomed back with open arms, in fact. But after being assigned to a particularly perplexing murder case, Monk makes a shocking revelation about himself, his career, and his life that fans are still discussing years later.

16. "Mr. Monk and the End" (S8, E15 & E16)

What more can we say about the series finale? After eight long years of trying to uncover the ugly truth about his wife's death, Monk finally gets the closure he needs. From standing face-to-face with the man responsible for eight years worth of pain to forging a relationship with an unexpected person, the finale serves as a love letter for all things Monk.

Of course, over a decade later, fans were happy to find out that the story of Adrian Monk did not end with "Mr. Monk and the End." 

December 8 can't come soon enough.

Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie streams on December 8 only on Peacock. Until then, catch up on the complete series of Monk, also exclusively on Peacock.

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