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USA Insider Monk

Why Did Sharona Actress Bitty Schram Leave Monk?

Adrian Monk's dutiful nurse/assistant, Sharona, left the show after Season 3. Here's why. 

By James Grebey
ony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Bitty Schram as Sharona Fleming

If it wasn’t for Sharona Fleming, Adrian Monk wouldn’t have ever overcome his nervous breakdown following the murder of his wife. It was Sharona who helped Monk get over his agoraphobia and re-enter society, where he became the mystery-solving, OCD-having sleuth that Monk fans came to love over the course of the show’s eight seasons (and upcoming films, Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie, which hits Peacock on December 8).

However, Sharona doesn’t stick around for all eight of those seasons, because the actress who played her, Bitty Schram, left the show after the third season, returning only in a guest capacity in the final season. Here’s the answer to the mystery of why Schram left Monk

Who Is Bitty Schram?

Close up of Bitty Schram as Sharona Fleming

Schram, who was born in Mountainside, New Jersey, on July 17, 1968, is best known for her role in Monk and for playing Evelyn Gardner, the right fielder with a brat for a son, in 1992’s baseball classic A League of Their Own. It was Schram who Tom Hanks famously scolded that there was “no crying in baseball” in the movie. Though she’s appeared in many other movies and shows, including a one-episode role in Roswell and a three-episode stint in Felicity, A League of Their Own and Monk are her most notable roles. 

RELATED: What Else Has Monk Star Tony Shalhoub Been In?

Who Was Sharona Fleming?

Bitty Schram as Sharona Fleming addressing a student sitting at a desk in a classroom

For Monk’s first three seasons, Schram played Sharona, Monk’s nurse and assistant who helped the neurotic detective when he was a shut-in for years following his wife’s murder. With Sharona’s help, Monk was able to pick up detective work again. That said, he relied on her help in this endeavor, too, as Sharona would frequently take part in his investigations. Often, she would take on tasks that Monk's OCD and phobias prevented him from doing. 

Why Did Bitty Schram Leave Monk?

Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Bitty Schram as Sharona Fleming, Jason Gray-Stanford as Lt. Randall Disher

In the fiction of the show, Sharona — who frequently threatened to quit working for Monk — actually did quit for real at the end of Season 3 to remarry her ex-husband, Trevor, and move back to New Jersey with him. The reality of Schram’s leaving is perhaps more complicated. 

In 2004 when Schram left, a USA Network spokesperson said it was a creative choice. 

Monk has decided to go in a different creative direction with some of its characters,” the spokesperson said, according to a Today story from the time. “Bitty will not continue with the cast and we thank her for her notable contributions and wish her the very best.”

However, that same Today story — and later reports — suggested that the departure was due in large part to contract disputes. Schram, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the show, was asking for more money to return, as were co-stars Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford. Levine and Gray-Stanford did continue to star in the show as Lieutenant Randy Disher and Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, but Schram did not. 

Instead, her character was replaced with a new assistant, Natalie Teeger, played by Traylor Howard. 

Monk Sharona Fleming Leave5

Does Sharona Return To Monk?

If there were hard feelings, it didn’t stop Schram from returning for an episode in Season 8.

"We couldn't think of a better way to help wrap up the series than with the return of Bitty's character," star Tony Shalhoub said at the time, according to Entertainment Weekly. "Bringing some closure to Sharona is long overdue."

So far, it has not been announced if Schram will be in the upcoming movie. 

Catch up on all of Monk on Peacock ahead of the premiere of Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie on December 8, 2023.

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