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Did Monk Ever Find Trudy's Killer? Unravelling The Biggest 'Monk' Mystery
"Monk" saw its main character solve many difficult crimes over the course of the series, but it took all eight seasons to solve his biggest mystery yet.
Every week on the USA Network original series Monk, Adrian Monk used his impressive skills of deduction and his unique mind to solve countless mysteries. However, the one puzzle that vexxed him for the entirety of the series remains his greatest solve yet.
When the audience meets Monk, he’s plagued by trauma from the death of his wife, Trudy. Precious little is known about her sudden and unexpected death other than that she died as the result of the remote detonation of a car bomb. Monk always believed the bomb was a failed attempt on his life and would stop at nothing to figure out who was behind the plot.
For eight seasons, that’s exactly what he did. While solving everyday crimes around town, the dramatic throughline of the series cropped up now and then as Monk got more and more clues as to what happened on that fateful day that led to the loss of his one true love.
SPOILER ALERT: The Remainder of this article will discuss the ending of the Monk TV Show
What Happened To Trudy Monk?
When the series opens, it is revealed that Trudy Monk was the victim of a car bombing in a parking garage while she was out supposedly running errands.
Years after her death, Monk finally got some new information about the murder. His rival, Dale Biederbeck, informed him that Trudy was the intended victim of the assassination plot, not him as he always believed. He also gave him a lead on the person who built the bomb, Warrick Tennyson. Unfortunately, Tennyson was unable to lead Monk to his employer but gave him the clue that the person in question has six fingers on one hand.
Eventually, this led Monk to Frank Nunn, the man who remotely detonated the bomb, killing Trudy. Before he could reveal who hired him for the job, Frank was killed. With that, Adrian solved the “how” of the murder, but the "who" and "why" were still a huge mystery.
Who Killed Trudy Monk?
For those answers, we have to go all the way back to before Monk and Trudy ever met. It is revealed in the final season of “Monk” that Trudy had a relationship with her married law studies professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Ethan Rickover. That relationship led to Trudy getting pregnant.
Desperate to hide his affair, Rickover convinced Trudy that their baby, a daughter, died during childbirth. Heartbroken, Trudy ended the relationship and moved on with an intrepid and brilliant student she met at the library — Monk.
She kept her secret for years until Rickover was forced to re-enter Trudy’s life. After being nominated to the Court of Appeals, he was confronted by the midwife who delivered Trudy and Rickover's daughter and secretly took her to an orphanage. Worried the scandal would ruin his political endeavors, Rickover killed the midwife.
As a result, Trudy was the remaining loose end who could connect him to what was now a murder. So, he contacted her and lured her to the parking garage where the bomb he had Tennyson build was detonated by Nunn, killing her.
Little did Rickover know at the time, but Trudy suspected his invitation wasn’t on the up and up. So, she recorded a message to Monk explaining everything and left it for him as a Christmas present in case something happened to her at the meeting. That present went unopened by her husband due to his grief for 12 years.
It wasn’t until Monk inadvertently crossed paths with Rickover in 2009 while investigating a cold case that he found the motivation to finally open the gift. When he got too close, Rickover poisoned Monk. Thinking he was going to die, Monk finally opened Trudy’s gift and figured out he had the answer to the question that had been plaguing him for years all along.
Monk exposed Rickover as a killer and the villain committed suicide rather than face the consequences. With that, Monk finally solved the mystery of his wife’s death. In doing so, he learned there was a daughter out there who had never known her parents. So, he reached out to her and began a father-like relationship that helped fill the void in his life that the death of Trudy left behind.
It was a fitting and heartwarming end to a story that began with tragedy. Although Monk could never get Trudy back, he can move on with his life knowing he's taking care of her daughter just the way she would have wanted.
Originally published Nov 10, 2022.