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"Snakes trump heights. It goes, germs, needles, milk, death, snakes, mushrooms, heights, crowds, elevators."
~ Adrian Monk making the list of his fears.

Adrian Geoffrey Monk is the main character of the USA Network series Monk. He is considered a legendary detective in the San Francisco area and even some places beyond, renowned for his incredible observational skills and record-setting homicide case solvings. On the other hand, Adrian Monk is plagued by the death of his wife Trudy Monk due to a car bombing, and the formerly happy man with a few quirks was transformed into someone incredibly sad and depressed, whose OCD, fears, quirks, and need for cleanliness were multiplied tenfold. This causes everyone, even his friends at times, to become annoyed, angry, or dismissive of his talents. As Monk describes his obsessive compulsive nature, "It's a gift and a curse." His obsessive-compulsive nature may cause obvious problems in his day-to-day life, but it is also in fact a major boon for his crime-solving skills, as it gives him a remarkable talent for noticing things that stick out or don't add up about a crime.

For example, an older story was told about one of the first cases Monk worked for the San Francisco P.D.: A woman was found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills. The police, examiner, and even coroner all ruled her death a suicide, but Monk took a single look at the crime scene and instantly declared it was a murder, for one simple reason; There were no glasses of water at the scene (She had taken so many pills, but apparently had not drunk any water to wash them down).

Adrian Monk requires an assistant to aid in his day-to-day life, providing emotional support for Monk, drive him around, help him with his fears, give him wipes, and help him investigate homicides. His two main assistants were Sharona Fleming and later Natalie Teeger. He considers his best friend to be Leland Stottlemeyer, Captain of the San Francisco Police Department who regularly hires Monk (who used to be Stottlemeyer's partner on the force before Trudy's death brought about his mental breakdown) as a private consultant, and they will often go to extremes for each other. In addition to his assistants, Monk sees a therapist weekly (first Dr. Charles Kroger, then after he died, Monk began seeing Dr. Neven Bell for the rest of the series).

Monk's personality as a whole is incredibly vexing to peers and friends alike. Monk can verbally and vehemently detest something or somewhere when he can see it. The antithesis of this was also proven to be true when Monk was temporarily left blind due to an altercation at a fire station house. Stottlemeyer and Disher noticed that Monk was voluntarily wading through garbage at a crime scene when he couldn't see, and were initially confused as to why, but soon realized that Monk couldn't fear what he couldn't see. His eyesight was restored just in time to save Stottlemeyer from a killer in the city morgue, and everything went back to normal for the remainder of the series. There was also a case that involved a kid that found an amputated finger, and Monk was left to temporarily act as guardian to him. Monk felt that he was initially in over his head, but quickly adjusted to the high-energy boy. The boy also had psychosomatic effects on Monk: he didn't fixate on Trudy or her murder when he was around, and he genuinely found the boy to be rather affable. Monk also developed genuine love and affection for him, even going as far as making the temporary guardianship permanent. Charles Kroger, his then psychiatrist told Monk that while this was an enormously positive step in the right direction, Monk's fears couldn't possibly allow for Monk to give the child the life that he wanted or even needed. Natalie also told him that children are a lot of work, siding with Kroger. Monk then decided to give the boy up to a more formal foster family, but not before stealing a few moments to play with him in the grass. Monk then told the family that he should get dirty, as he felt that children should get dirty, going very far against his mantra that cleanliness is friendliness.

While some of Monk's fears are relatively common, such as heights, disease, and closed spaces (though he eventually manages to overcome that last fear), others of them are uncommon or irrational to the point of being ridiculous, such as naked people, underwear, and even milk.

Monk can appear to be a cowardly person at times due to his phobias but Monk isn't afraid to tell suspected murderers to their face that they're the ones that did it, and always comes through for his friends, whether it's helping Sharona overcome her fear of elephants, saving Natalie from the back of a dump truck, revealing the truth about Stottlemeyer's murderous girlfriend to him, or gaining back Randy Disher's lost gambling money.

Throughout the series, Trudy's murder had remained a major sore spot for Monk; he absolutely abhorred any slights against his deceased wife, and he wasn't afraid to get physical revenge on anyone associated with her murder or anyone who made light of her death. One notable example of this was in Season 5, when then shock jock Max Hudson turned what looked like semi-harmless banter between him and Monk into verbal abuse aimed at both Monk and the late Trudy, which eventually provoked an enraged Monk enough to physically attack Hudson.

Another notable attribute is Monk's resolve and the drive to find Trudy's murderer that would keep an otherwise severely depressed and nearly catatonic man moving forward. For the impressive list of criminals he brought to justice, and the even more impressive list of cases he was able to solve, the one that mattered most to him, Trudy's murder, remained the only case he was never able to solve, until the series finale when he at long last figured out who was ultimately responsible for her untimely death, and eventually drove him to suicide.

It was discovered that Ethan Rickover and Trudy had conceived a child out of wedlock prior to Trudy's meeting Adrian, with the birth being kept out of the public. Monk's determination to find Trudy's daughter instilled new motivation within him to keep going, and shortly after Monk discovered who Molly was, he was able to track her down.

Upon meeting Trudy's daughter, Molly Evans, who had her adoption and upbringing kept private, Monk had found the last semblance of the deceased Trudy, even going as far as quitting police work of any capacity in order to spend as much time with her as he possibly could. Molly detested this, however, and stated that there were more Trudy Monks out there, and that the SFPD was going to need Monk's help catching their killers.

While spending time with Molly, Monk also noted that she shared some of the same tendencies as the late Trudy, with one of the more notable ones being sticking out her tongue whenever she was deep in thought. Meeting and developing the relationship with his stepdaughter did more for Monk than he could ever imagine: meeting her not only found the last semblance of Trudy, but it also allowed for Monk to finally begin healing for the first time since Trudy was stolen from him all those years ago.