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Sharona Fleming is a divorced practical nurse from New Jersey and a single mother with a young son named Benjy.
In the season 3 episode "Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf," Sharona mentions to Dr. Kroger how her father, Douglas, owned a hardware store and died when Sharona was twelve, after a brief bout of dementia. This left her mother, Cheryl, to raise Sharona and her younger sister, Gail.
In the season 2 episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus," Sharona mentions that when she was seven years old, saw a girl fall into an elephant pen at a zoo. Though the girl escaped unharmed, Sharona was left with a crippling phobia of elephants.
Sharona mentions in the season 2 episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy" that she married her future husband, Trevor Howe, when she was still in her late teens (eighteen or nineteen) and living in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Their son, Benjy, was born when she was only eighteen. She and Trevor married, but their marriage was not a good one: Trevor was unfaithful, addicted to gambling and alcohol, and unable to keep an honest job. It is uncertain when Sharona ended their marriage.
Sharona worked in a variety of odd jobs, to put herself through nursing school. When she was nineteen, and Benjy was only one year old, she was so desperate for money that she posed nude for a men's magazine while living in Atlantic City (she also may have taught ballroom dancing). Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck, after investigating Sharona's past, also implied that she traded sexual favors to pay her rent while living in Miami, Florida. (Actually, Dale said that he knew how Sharona paid her rent. That doesn't necessarily mean "sexual favors")
Sharona was working as a practical nurse in San Francisco when Adrian Monk's beloved wife, Trudy was murdered, causing Monk to lapse into a catatonic state for nearly three years. Captain Stottlemeyer hired her to take care of him, and she eventually nursed him back to a semi-normal mental state. Monk would later say of Sharona, "She found me when I was drowning and saved my life."
Since Monk was suspended from active duty, he began consulting on various cases with police departments around the Bay Area. Sharona assisted him during these investigations, helping to guide him around his various phobias and anxieties, and keeping him focused on his goals of solving the case and earning reinstatement to the SFPD. She also became a sort of business manager for Monk, negotiating his consulting fees and making sure to demand a contract from each of his clients.
Sharona sometimes conducted investigations herself, using her natural street smarts, and her sex appeal, to gain access to information that Monk sometimes could not. In the season 3 episode "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month", Monk's former partner, Joe Christie, remarked that Sharona "had his back" in a way that a police detective's partner normally would. In fact, in the season 2 episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater", Sharona is even emboldened enough to fib to her mother that she was actually Monk's partner, not his assistant.
Over a date, Sharona once confides her ambivalent feelings about her job: on the one hand, working for Monk was "the worst job" she'd ever had, because of the demands of dealing with such an impossible man; yet it was also the best job she'd ever had, because of the daily excitement, and the rush of helping bring criminals to justice. During this conversation, she whimsically compared herself to Lois Lane, Superman's plucky female cohort.
In 2004, Sharona reconciled with Trevor and remarried him, moving back to New Jersey with Benjy and quitting as Monk's assistant. Monk was lost without her for several months, until he met Natalie Teeger.
Sharona returned to San Francisco in 2009, in the season 8 episode "Mr. Monk and Sharona" when her Uncle Howard was killed after apparently falling down some stairs at a country club. She reunites with Monk, and informs him that she and Trevor had separated again, this time permanently, and Benjy is looking at colleges.
Initially friendly towards Natalie, Sharona becomes hostile when Monk notices suspicious signs that her uncle had actually been murdered (jeopardizing the substantial settlement being offered to her by the country club). She sees Natalie as exacerbating Monk's various phobias instead of trying to correct them, and even going so far as to accuse Natalie of manipulating Monk's opinion, out of jealousy that Monk "liked her better." Eventually, the two women reconcile and cooperate with Monk to apprehend Perry Walsh, Howard Fleming's killer. Sharona then "falls" down the same stairs her uncle had and (supposedly) breaks her arm, thus ensuring that she will have some money coming to her after all.
While back in San Francisco, Sharona also has a fond reunion with Stottlemeyer and Randy Disher. By the time of her departure back to New Jersey, Monk and Natalie are stunned to see Randy appearing to drive her to the airport, sharing a tender kiss with her before helping her into his car.
It is a recurring gag of the series that, as sharp as Sharona is in guiding Monk's life and his investigations, when it comes to men her own instincts are infallibly lousy. Apart from having Trevor in her past, the string of men that she dated while in San Francisco included a secret streaker ("Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger"), a mob enforcer ("Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather"), several married men, and sometimes (on more than one occasion) the very murderer that she and Monk are pursuing. The seeming common denominator between these and many other men was a compulsive inability to be honest with her.
Sharona and Randy Disher often trade barbs in the course of Monk's investigations. At first, Disher seems to regard her as an extension of Monk, and thus treats her with the same attitude: as a nuisance. As the series progresses on, and he grows to respect Monk's abilities, Randy continues to spar verbally with Sharona, while often finding it hard to conceal that he is attracted to her. In the season 2 episode "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy," he is embarrassed when Sharona finds out that he had taken out a personal ad in the newspaper, with a description of his ideal woman that matched her.
During her brief return to San Francisco, Disher is taken aback at how good she still looks, and consoled her while she is fuming at Monk and Natalie. Exactly how it happened is unclear, but by the time of her departure for New Jersey, the two become a couple.
When Monk had been poisoned, Randy keeps her updated over the phone, and told her "I love you, too," before ringing off.
Later, Randy accepts a job as the Chief of Police in Summit, New Jersey, and confirms that he and Sharona were moving in together. Her picture is the first thing on his desk when he settles into his new office.
Although Sharona left the show midway through the third season, she returned in the novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants by Lee Goldberg.
It seems that a short time after Sharona's departure from San Francisco, Sharona, Trevor and Benjy moved to Los Angeles, where Trevor started a landscaping business. Then Trevor Howe gets arrested by mystery author Ian Ludlow for murdering Ellen Cole, one of his clients, supposedly during a failed burglary. Disgusted, Sharona moves back to San Francisco and runs into Monk and Natalie when they bring Julie into the hospital. Sharona plans to get her job with Monk back, but Natalie convinces Monk to reexamine the case, and Monk finds that Ian Ludlow was the real killer and Trevor was the fall guy. When this is proved, Sharona reconciles with Trevor and returns with him and Benjy to Los Angeles, giving both Monk and Natalie an affectionate goodbye. (Monk: "Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants")
Background Information and NotesEdit
- Bitty Schram left the show halfway through the third season due to a contract dispute. It was explained in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring" that her character had moved back to New Jersey and remarried her ex-husband, Trevor Howe.
- Sharona has "quit" her job as Monk's assistant at least twice; in the episodes "Mr. Monk and the Candidate" and "Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger" (the latter was due to a pay dispute; she temporarily got a job at a lamp store).
- Sharona appears very briefly in the intro of the show after her departure in a clip taken from the episode "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School".