A decade after the series finale, Monk still remains one of the smartest and most entertaining procedural shows to ever air on television. Defined by its sharp writing and Tony Shalhoub’s impeccable performance as Adrian Monk, the show was led by a captivating and unconventional protagonist. He was brilliant, yet struggled with severe OCD and a seemingly endless list of phobias.
The real heart of the show is Monk’s love for his deceased wife Trudy, whose death is the one case he’s been unable to solve. Monk experienced tremendous character development, as did the other major players. Every episode offered drama, mystery, and humor. Despite following a case-of-the-week format, all these elements made Monk an exceptional show.
With 125 episodes and 8 seasons, it’s difficult to ascertain the best and worst episodes of Monk. Fortunately, fans have rated all the episodes on IMDb, with many of the best and worst episodes coming from the show’s later seasons.
Given Monk’s love of the number 10, we know he’d love this list of Monk: The 5 Best (And 5 Worst) Episodes According To IMDb.
10 Worst: “Mr. Monk Goes Camping” – 7.6
Other than solving Trudy’s murder, one of Monk’s main goals was to be officially reinstated as a police detective. This episode teased that Monk’s dream was finally going to become a reality. After a crazy weekend of camping and schmoozing the son of a man whose vote Monks needs to achieve his goal, Monk is denied reinstatement. This was a major disappointment for the characters and the fans, though it would be rectified a couple episodes later.
The episode also suffers from the characters on which it chooses to focus. There’s little time with Natalie or Stottlemeyer and a great deal of time is spent with the kids Monk and Randy are camping with, who generally don’t have the acting chops needed to carry the episode.
9 Best: “Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty” – 8.9
The Season 4 finale episode certainly paid tribute to the classic film 12 Angry Men, with Monk on jury duty and initially the only one to vote “not guilty” in what seems like a straightforward case. Naturally, Monk puts its own spin on the well-known premise. He inevitably drives his fellow jurors crazy with far more than convincing them to change their opinion regarding the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Monk also manages to solve two seemingly disconnected cases at the courthouse, even discovering that one of the jurors is part of the crimes.
8 Worst: “Mr. Monk Falls In Love” – 7.6
Given Monk’s undying love for Trudy, it’s difficult to see Monk falling in love with another woman. There isn’t enough chemistry between Monk and Leyla to help fans buy into what was already going to be a hard sell. Monk’s feelings cloud his judgment, as he’s convinced Leyla isn’t guilty. The episode’s mystery is largely sidelined with Monk more focused on his feelings for Leyla than the case itself.
7 Best: “Mr. Monk Is Up All Night” – 9.0
Monk’s love for Trudy is the emotional crux of the show and this is an episode that truly honors it. He bumps into a woman at the beginning of the episode and can’t stop thinking about her, feeling as though he knows her, but unable to put his finger on it. The truth is shocking and emotional, as it’s revealed that the woman’s corneas are Trudy’s, as she was an organ donor. Monk being able to look into his beloved wife’s eyes again — albeit in a different person — is thoroughly unexpected and moving. This is the key to the episode’s success, but there’s also the case itself, which is uniquely compelling as Monk witnesses crimes that all evidence suggests never happened.
6 Worst: “Mr. Monk’s Other Brother” – 7.6
This episode largely consists of half-brother Jack guilting Monk into helping him and Monk helping despite his better instincts. The episode tries too hard to make its point that Jack is the polar opposite of Monk but that despite this, they care about each other because they’re family. It’s as if the show is trying to replicate the success of past episodes with Monk and his biological family, but is unable to capture the spark that made those episodes work. It largely boils down to the fact that the choices made by Ambrose and their father heavily shaped Monk into who he is, while the complete lack of shared history with Jack has not shaped Monk at all.
5 Best: “Mr. Monk And The Kid” – 9.0
The Season 3 finale has Monk finding love and connection in an unexpected way. Two-year-old Tommy becomes essential to a case, and Monk ends up taking care of him for several days. For someone who struggles so much to connect with others, it’s beautiful to see how quickly Monk connects with Tommy and the rapport that develops between them. The episode brims with both hilarious and touching moments shared between the two characters. This sweet relationship is the heart and soul of the Season 3 finale, with their final scene together serving as one of the most emotional moments in the whole show.
4 Worst: “Mr. Monk Goes To A Rock Concert” – 7.4
Poor pacing is generally not an issue Monk deals with, yet this episode definitely suffers from it. Fans disliked how there were stretches of time of nothing happening but Monk and company wading through the crowd at the rock concert. This not only harms the pacing, but makes the episode visually confusing. The episode does have its moments, though, particularly with Stottlemeyer, whose son is at the concert and with whom he has been struggling to reconnect with for a while. Randy on the phone saying he’s sick and can’t make it into work while Stottlemeyer is close behind him in the crowd is hilarious, but certainly not enough to make it an outstanding episode.
3 Best: “Mr. Monk And The End: Part 1” – 9.2
The first part of the series finale raises the stakes like never before, offering one of the show’s most satisfying reveals and a tantalizing cliffhanger. It opens with a flashback to the last conversation between Monk and Trudy, the moment she died, and the moment Monk heard what happened as his world forever changed. The flashbacks are only the tip of the iceberg, as in the present, Monk is lethally poisoned and the identity of Trudy’s killer is finally unveiled to the audience. The satisfying reveal comes in the revelation that the Christmas gift from Trudy that Monk refuses to open every year actually contains a tape that she made for him. For a show that rarely does cliffhangers, it nails this one, as the episode ends with Trudy on tape about to tell Monk the truth he’s been after for years.
2 Worst: “Mr. Monk And The Rapper” – 7.1
This episode is full of cringey moments, particularly the parts where Monk tries to talk like a rapper. It’s meant to be funny, but it’s just painful to watch. The episode also suffers from placing too much focus on the character played by Snoop Dogg, and not enough on Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer, or Randy. Monk is generally much smarter about how it uses its famous guest stars. All these elements have ensured that “Mr. Monk and the Rapper” has not aged well and is the lowest-rated episode in the entire show.
1 Best: “Mr. Monk And The End: Part 2” – 9.4
The second part of the series finale presents a rewarding conclusion that does justice to all its core characters. Natalie uncovers the source of the lethal poisoning. Monk finally learns the truth about Trudy’s death and confronts her killer, the culmination of which honors the essence of his character, but still makes the killer pay for his heinous crime. It’s revealed that Trudy has a daughter, one that Monk meets and connects with, through which Trudy lives on and Monk finds the familial love and connection he’s needed all along. Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer, and Randy all undertake new beginnings, but the close bonds that they forged remain and continue to shape each other’s lives.
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