8 surprising little things you never knew about Monk

By: H&I Staff    Posted: August 24, 2018, 8:01AM

Image: The Everett Collection

It doesn't take keen detective skills to know a few things about Monk right off the bat. He's got obsessive-compulsive disorder. He lives in San Francisco. He's essentially based on Sherlock Holmes. And Tony Shalhoub is brilliant in the role.

But we dug up some details that might even surprise those who watch the detective series with regularity. Let's examine the facts.

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Kramer was originally supposed to be Monk — and Monk was almost Kramer!

Monk was originally pitched as a bumbling Inspector Clouseau–like detective to ABC. Michael Richards, no stranger to pratfalls and best known as Kramer on Seinfeld, was attached to star in the comedy. When Richards backed out of the project, ABC decided to kick it from network television over to cable. In a surreal piece of casting coincidence, Tony Shalhoub had auditioned to play Kramer on Seinfeld. In some alternate universe, their roles are reversed.

Image: Sony Pictures Television


Sorry, that's Canada, not San Francisco.

While, yes, some iconic, obvious shots of San Francisco are inserted for authenticity's sake, the bulk of the scenes were filmed in other cities. The pilot episode, seen here, was shot in Vancouver, as you can tell by those majestic evergreens. The rest of season one was shot in Toronto. Later seasons shifted production to Los Angeles.


The first season theme song won an Emmy. And then they tossed it.

The show's composer Jeff Beal crafted a jazzy instrumental for the original theme song, as performed by guitarist Grant Geissman. It won the 2003 Emmy for Best Main Title Music. Then, the producers ditched it. Legendary songwriter Randy Newman, hot off all those Pixar films, penned "It's a Jungle Out There." It was somewhat divisive at first, but "Jungle" took home the 2004 Emmy Award for Best Main Title Music. Winners all around!


It's probably the only time you'll hear Snoop Dogg cover a Randy Newman song.

In the early season six episode "Mr. Monk and the Rapper," Snoop Dogg, the primary guest star of the hour, also re-recorded "It's a Jungle Out There" for the opening credits. Randy Newman is more hip-hop than you thought.


There was a little spin-off about a little Monk called 'Little Monk.'

In 2009, the USA Network premiered an online microseries called Little Monk, which showed Adrian Monk as a tween. He solves "crimes" at his school, cases like a bandit throwing rubber balls at people and foul play at a Geography Bee. Aaron Linker, who portrayed the young Monk, pops up in one Monk episode, in a flashback during "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk."


There are 19 novels, two of which became episodes.

Those looking for more Monk mysteries should turn to their local bookstore. There are 19 books in the Monk series, published between 2006–2015. There were not adaptations of the show. In fact, it went the other way. Two of the first three, Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse and Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, were adapted into episodes, "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing" and "Mr. Monk and the Badge."


Monk only drinks one kind of bottled water. Until he doesn't.

Like we said, Monk is obsessive. That carries over into his choice of beverage. Monk will only drink Sierra Springs bottled water. It's occasionally a plot point, like when he dragged dozens of bottles with him to Mexico, raising the suspicions of the border police. Sierra Springs is a real brand of bottled water. In season six, however, Monk switches to the fictional brand "Summit Creek," perhaps to avoid the product placement. There is some narrative explanation, however. In season four's "Mr. Monk Gets a Bump on the Head," Monk… well, bumps his head and forgets his favorite brand. A diner waitress brings him Summit Creek, which he enjoys.


It was the first basic cable series ever nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Comedy.

It lost to The Office — the original British version.