When we first meet Monk we think, What an odd quirky little man! His odd little quirks are amusing, so we keep watching.
Monk is a germaphobe and a classic casebook example of obsessive-compulsive disorder. While most of us have had about enough of isolating and handwashing, I think Monk would be right at home and wondering why it took the rest of us so long to get in step with him!
When we learn his tragic backstory, we know the why behind all his odd little quirks and we begin to feel sympathy for him. All his little quirks become endearing qualities that make us want to take care of him.
Then we find out that he's actually a genius sleuth, with an uncanny knack for uncovering clues the other detectives overlook, and solving all the unsolvable crimes. Now we're totally impressed with the odd quirky little man.
But he still has this ongoing problem and, although he's a genius at his job, his personal life is about nil with no signs of improvement. Who does he have to lean on? Who does he have to turn to? Who cares what happens to him? We begin to genuinely care and fret over him.
Enter his personal assistant, Sherona – and Natalie in later episodes. And the ever present Capt. Stottlemeyer who is always waiting quietly in the background like a father figure keeping a watchful eye on the odd loveable man. So we relax a little ... our quirky little guy is covered. He's going to be okay!
But Monk has another side ...
He's a bit oblivious to what is happening all around him ... that his friends and co-workers are all jumping through hoops and bending over backwards to help him make his life work. Many times at their own expense. And he just kind of expects it to be so! Our quirky little guy is more than a little self-absorbed and doesn't even realize it! I can't tell you how many times I've watched that show and in my heart I'm thinking, I am so grateful that I don't have to live with somebody like THAT! We would be laying some ground rules! Yes, sir, we would!
You'll know you're writing terrific characters when they can evoke a whole range of emotion from readers. Make them endearing with a good dose of irritating! Give them some terrific and terrible flaw. Trust me, you will have a great time writing these types of characters, and your readers will have a great time reading them! Characters like this will make your story spring to life!
And talk about character arcs ...
When we found out that the show would be ending, we were all moritfied! This poor dependent soul ... who was going to look after him? What was going to become of him? We'd all be eternally wondering if he was okay ... is he getting along? ... would some kind soul somewhere take him under their wing and look after him? It was stressful waiting for the inevitable end to come! This is the kind of stuff that keeps story nerds like me awake at night!
But not to worry ... the writers of Monk hands-down did the most outstanding job of wrapping up all the loose ends of an ending series in that last 2-part episode. In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you. But if you've ever watched and enjoyed this show even just occasionally, you owe it to yourself to go watch those last two episodes. All wrapped up and so satisfying! Ah ... I can sleep at night and not worry about what might be happening to Monk! He is a-okay and all is right with the world! If only all stories would end so well!
The fun's not over! Here's a great video of Monk in quarantine: