Why did Sharona leave Monk?

Why did Sharona leave Monk?

But just why did Sharona leave Monk?

I’m no aficionado of the TV cop show genre, but Monk was pretty good. It was quirky enough to be funny and gritty enough to be captivating. And it lasted 8 years on TV, so plenty of people must’ve agreed with me. In fact, the show held the record for the most-watched episode of a scripted drama series, racking up more than 9 million viewers in its finale. 

Let’s face it, the history of television has not been short on cop shows. But Monk was refreshingly different and its success came from its unique spin on the classic formula sharpened by the Law & Orders and NYPD Blues of the world.

The show’s title character, Adrian Monk, is its entertainment heartbeat. He’s wonderfully eccentric with his extreme obsessive compulsive disorder and uncanny ability to harness it to solve the unsolvable crimes of his beloved San Francisco.

It was one of those crimes, that of Monk’s wife, Trudy, that caused the nervous breakdown that eventually led to his sacking from the police force and the intensification of his OCD after subsequent years in reclusion.

After many years as an ailing recluse, Monk finally returns to the beat, sort of, but as a private detective. This he achieves only with the help of his long-suffering nurse, Sharona Fleming, the reason for this article.

Sharona is a godsend for Monk, and became a wildly popular character on the show for her wonderful ability to keep Monk’s demons at bay and his detective skills in shape.

Given her popularity, it begs the question: Why did Sharona leave Monk?

The on-show reason for her leaving was to reunite with her ex-husband, Trevor, who she’d had an on-again, off-again relationship in her history (and future, it turns out, as it’s revealed in season 8 that Sharona had again divorced her ex-husband). 

But on-show reasons and off-show reasons are rarely in harmony, and online sleuths quickly took to a Monk-like investigation to work out the real reason for Sharona being written out of the show. 

And that reason, according to the scurrilous Hollywood rumours, was that Bitty Schram (the actress who played Sharona) pushed the show’s network (the USA Network) for a pay rise that they just weren’t willing to give.

The rumours deepen to suggest that when the show took off in its early years, its lead actor, Tony Shalhoub (who plays Monk), was offered a generous pay rise, while the key supporting actors, including Schram, were not. 

What followed (again according to the scurrilous rumours), is that Schram and her fellow supporting actors (including Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford) lobbied the network for their own salary increase, but were unceremoniously knocked back. What then followed was a stoush that finally ended with Schram’s exit from the show. 

We think that kinda sucks, and Schram did too, handling the impasse in the pay dispute to take her exit from the show she helped turn into a long-running hit. 

While the official reason given by both the network and Schram was that the two parties had come to go in different creative directions, many a sleuth online believe that is a friendly euphemism that large networks use in place of, “They left because we didn’t want to pay them what they’re worth.”

After her departure from the show, Sharona’s character was somewhat replaced by Natalie Teeger, played by Traylor Howard (from the ’90s classic, Two Guys and a Girl). Teeger becomes Monk’s new assistant and plays a very similar role in his life (and the show) as did Sharona. The long-suffering sidekick.

Whatever the true reason behind why Sharona left Monk, it’s always sad to see the comically relieving sidekick of a popular show’s main character depart in less than justified circumstances. In this case, Sharona’s departure was explained away by her remarrying of her ex-husband. 

A disappointing end to a much loved, indeed. 

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