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What happened in the Monk series finale?

 Natalie, Monk and Captain Stottlemeyer at a crime scene in Monk.
Natalie, Monk and Captain Stottlemeyer at a crime scene in Monk.

Like many fans of the awkward, yet brilliant, private detective, when Monk the TV series wrapped in 2009, we were left sad to see Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) bid farewell to the airwaves. Thankfully, Peacock is giving an early Christmas gift in 2023 by debuting Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie on Friday, December 9. The brand-new movie catches up with Monk and his core group of coworkers/friends as they join forces to solve one last big case involving his stepdaughter Molly (Caitlin McGee).

Before you watch the movie, let's take a look back at the Monk series finale and how it may stage the scene for Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie. Whether you're someone who needs a refresher of the people in Monk's inner circle or a person who is completely shocked to hear Monk has a stepdaughter, we've got the important highlights from the series finale to help you.

Let's jump into it.

Monk tracks down Trudy's killer

What initially sends Monk on his trajectory as the "oddball" private detective is the murder of his beloved wife Trudy (Melora Hardin). Her death causes him such emotional grief he's unable to continue on as a homicide detective with the San Francisco Police Department. Additionally, he made it his life's mission to find the person responsible for her death. Well, in the series' end, Monk found himself in the crosshairs of Trudy's murderer.

In the final case of the series, Monk was tasked with helping to investigate a birthing clinic, which happened to be the same clinic he was looking into years prior right before Trudy was killed. As Monk started to peel back the layers of the birthing clinic in the present-day investigation, Trudy's killer became nervous and poisoned Monk with ricin, a toxin that would later also poison Monk's assistant Natalie (Traylor Howard).

Despite being down and out, Monk and his team, which also included Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Randy (Jason Gray-Stanford), managed to put all the pieces together to discover that Trudy's killer and Monk's attempted murderer was Judge Ethan Rickover (Craig T. Nelson).

Back when Trudy was in college, she had an affair with Rickover, who was her professor at Berkeley. The affair resulted in a child, which was a huge problem for Rickover who had ambitions of being an appellate court judge. From the moment Trudy decided to give birth, he made a series of rash decisions and committed a few homicides to cover up his salacious affair, including killing Trudy and people who knew of the pregnancy at the birthing clinic. After confessing his crimes, Rickover took his own life.

Tony Shalhoub as Monk looking through a window in Monk
Tony Shalhoub as Monk looking through a window in Monk

Who is Molly?

About that baby Trudy had with her former professor. She initially believed the child died shortly after being born. In a surprise twist, the infant was placed for adoption and named Molly. Stottlemeyer managed to track her down, all grown up. From there, Monk and Molly developed a bond. It's worth noting that like Trudy, Molly became a writer.

What happened to Monk and his friends?

When the Monk series finale came to a close, a few changes looked to be on the horizon for the show regulars. Randy was embarking on the biggest change. He and his girlfriend and Monk's former assistant, Sharona (Bitty Schram), moved to Summit, N.J., together where he took on the role of chief of police.

That meant Captain Stottlemeyer was without his righthand man. However, he didn't seem to mind too much as he was still riding a romantic high with his new wife T.K. Jensen (Virginia Madsen), short for Trudy.

As for Monk, despite his entertaining the idea of retiring from the investigative business, his newfound stepdaughter convinced him he had a gift worth using to help people. So he and Natalie continued to solve crimes one disinfectant wipe at a time (although, Monk was seemingly less neurotic).

Episodes of Monk are currently available to stream on Peacock in the US, and Prime Video and Apple TV Plus in the UK.