Which Season of Monk is the Best – According to IMDb

What is the best season of Monk? My wife and I have been watching Monk off and on for the last few months. We are almost finished with the series, and I wanted to try and figure out what the best season of Monk is using IMDb data. I will also be looking at other elements which affected an episode’s rating (for example, how does the title of an episode affect an episode’s rating).

Monk was a TV series which ran from 2002-2009. It starred Tony Shalhoub, who plays a former police detective named Adrian Monk, who is brought on as a consultant with the San Francisco Police Department.  Monk is one of television’s most interesting characters. He is very OCD and has an endless amount of phobias. However, even with his quirks, he is the best in the business at solving crimes.

Tony Shalhoub is incredible in his acting in this series. His portrayal of Monk garnered him eight best “lead actor in a comedy series” primetime Emmy nominations, of which, he won three of them.

Tony Shalhoub in 2008. By Kristin Dos Santos. Tony Shalhoub, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

But anyway, I pulled the IMDb rankings for every episode of Monk to look at the data.

Best Season of Monk – Attempt #1

For the first attempt to determine the best season of Monk. I took the episode ratings for each season and just averaged them to arrive for the season average. When looking at the season average here is the ranking of the best Monk seasons:

  1. Season 8 – 8.29 average rating
  2. Season 3 – 8.24
  3. Season 4 – 8.19
  4. Season 2 – 8.14
  5. Season 6 – 8.06
  6. Season 5 – 8.03
  7. Season 1 – 7.98
  8. Season 7 – 7.86

Best Season of Monk – Attempt #2

According to IMDb rankings, the final episodes of Monk have some of the highest rankings of the series. Because of this, I decided to approach the data a little differently. What if I looked at what season had the most episodes above the average episode rating. This would show which season of Monk has, on average, a better number of episodes. 

The average episode ranking for an episode of Monk is 8.10 (see my note below). So I compared each season against this value, to see how many of the episodes ranked above the average.

  1. Season 3 – 69% of the episodes were greater than the average.
  2. Season 8 – 56%
  3. Season 4 – 50%
  4. Season 2 – 44%
  5. Season 5 – 31%
  6. Season 6 – 31%
  7. Season 1 – 23%
  8. Season 7 – 6%

Using this method, Season 3 is by far the best season of Monk. Season 7 only had one episode that was rated higher than average.

After calculating the best seasons I decided to look at other ways to look at episode rankings.

Sharona vs. Natalie

In the middle of season 3, Monk’s assistant Sharona Fleming leaves the show and is replaced with Natalie Teeger. Rumor has it that Sharona left the show because of a contract dispute.

I was curious to see how the average episode ranking compared between Sharona and Natalie. Sharona appeared in 36 episodes (not including an appearance in season 8). Natalie appeared in 89 episodes.

Sharona – 8.08

Natalie – 8.11

It looks like casting Traylor Howard as Natalie Teeger helped give the series a small bump in popularity.

Other Characters

After trying to solve the Sharona vs. Natalie debate, I decided I would look at some of the other recurring characters to see how their episodes were rated. At first, I looked at Dr. Kroger and Julie Teeger. Both of their ratings were average, 8.12 and 8.11, respectively. Dr. Kroger appeared in 46 episodes, and Julie appeared in 25 episodes. 

I decided to then look at other characters who didn’t appear as often to see how they compared. I wanted to find named-characters (no “Cop #4” nonsense) who appeared between 5-10 times on the show. Filtering for this criteria left me with Trudy Monk (only including Melora Hardin), Harold Krenshaw, Kevin Dorfman, and Abigail Carlyle (who is married to Tony Shalhoub in real life). Here are the results:

CharacterAverage RankingNumber of Appearances
Trudy Monk 8.5410 Episodes
Abigail Carlyle8.405 Episodes
Kevin Dorfman8.207 Episodes
Harold Krenshaw8.0910 Episodes

I always thought the Trudy story arc was a little weird. At times I felt like the show was about Monk trying to find answers about Trudy’s death. He would make progress, and then it wouldn’t be touched again for 10+ episodes.

Episode Titles

The Monk Logo

All episodes of Monk start with “Mr. Monk…”, except for one – Episode 117 – “Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk.” 

Looking at all of the episode titles I noticed a pattern of recurring titles. I was curious if the way the title was structured affected the rating of the show. To do this I isolated three common phrases: “Mr. Monk and the”, “Mr. Monk goes”, and “Mr. Monk gets”. Together, these three titles represent 65% of the titles from Monk. Interestingly, season 7 (the lowest-rated season) has the least amount of titles like these three. Coincidence?

The results:

TitleAverage RankingNumber of times used
Mr Monk Gets...8.269 episodes
Mr Monk and the...8.1155 Episodes
Other8.0742 Episodes
Mr Monk Goes...8.0519 Episodes

A Note on IMDb Ratings

If you were to search for Monk on IMDb you would see that the rating for Monk is 7.9. While doing my research I found out that IMDb presents a weighted-average ranking for every television series. IMDb doesn’t release exactly how this weighted-average is calculated. I had assumed that the overall series ranking was calculated by taking the average of every episode, which for Monk is 8.10, but that is not the case. 

On IMDb’s FAQ page they say, “although we accept and consider all votes received by users, not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating.” So IMDb does some type of filtering of the rating fans post..


So what did we learn:

  1. Season 8 has the highest average rating on IMDb
  2. If you look at what season has the most episodes above the average Monk episode rating, then Season 3 is the best season.
  3. Natalie Teeger as Monk’s assistant rates slightly higher than Sharona Fleming.
  4. Dr. Kroger and Julie Teeger are average. But they also appear often.
  5. Melora Hardin as Trudy Monk bumps an episode’s rating dramatically.
  6. Anytime Monk “gets” something in the title you can expect it to be a great episode.
  7. Nobody knows exactly how IMDb’s rating is calculated (i.e., there is some behind-the-scenes manipulation going on)

Write to me: sam@samuelpedro.com

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