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Why Did Sharona Leave Monk? Bitty Schram Exit Explained

Why Did Sharona Leave Monk? Bitty Schram Exit Explained

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14 years after the series finale of Monk, Tony Shalhoub is back again in a new streaming movie. Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie brings back Shalhoub’s neurotic police consultant Adrian Monk.

But it wasn’t just Monk that made the show iconic. It was his relationships with the other characters that really made it work.

For the first three seasons, Shalhoub was paired with actor Bitty Schram as his fiery nurse and assistant Sharona Fleming. The two were a charming mismatch of personalities, so many fans were sad to see Schram leave the show.

What’s the real reason behind Bitty Schram leaving Monk? Does she make an appearance in the streaming movie? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more below.

Why Did Bitty Schram Leave Monk?

Bitty Schram left Monk as Sharona due to a contract dispute with the producers. After earning a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Sharona, Schram asked for a pay increase.

Schram wasn’t the only one asking for a pay bump around that time. Actors Ted Levine (Captain Leland Stottlemeyer) and Jason Gray-Stanford (Lieutenant Randy Disher) also tried to renegotiate their contracts, according to Today.

Notably, of the three, Schram is the only actor to have received a nomination for her role on the show. But, however those negotiations came out, the end result was Schram leaving the show while Levine and Gray-Stanford stayed on.

Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, Bitty Schram as Sharona Fleming in MONK

At the time, a representative of USA Network simply said of Schram’s departure, “Monk has decided to go in a different creative direction with some of its characters.”

“Bitty will not continue with the cast and we thank her for her notable contributions and wish her the very best.”

Schram made a similar statement through her management firm. “Bitty Schram and USA Network have amicably decided to go their own separate ways…She wishes everyone connected with the show continued success and looks forward to pursing the various opportunities before her.”

How Was Sharona Written Off Of Monk?

Sharona Fleming initially left Monk in season 3 to reunite with her ex-husband, Trevor and move back to New Jersey.

Episode nine of season 3, “Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine,” is Sharona’s last regular appearance on Monk. The next episode, “Mr. Monk and the Red Herring,” is a time-skip, and Monk reveals that Sharona stopped working with him three months before.

She left only a note explaining that she had moved back to New Jersey with her son, Benjy, to reunite with her ex-husband, Trevor Howe.

Who Replaced Sharona On Monk?

Natalie Teeger (played by Traylor Howard) replaced Sharona (Bitty Schram) after season 3 of Monk.

Natalie meets Monk in episode 10 of season 3, “Mr. Monk and the Red Herring.” She is the target of a home invasion in which she stabs the intruder to death.

After working with her to figure out why she was a target, Monk grows to like Natalie and offers her Sharona’s previous position as his assistant.

Before appearing on Monk, Traylor Howard was known for her role as the “girl” Sharon Carter on Two Guys and a Girl (AKA Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place). She also appeared alongside Jim Carry in Me, Myself, & Irene (2000).

Did Bitty Schram Return For The Monk Movie?

Bitty Schram is not in the 2023 streaming movie Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie. However, the movie does give an update on her character since her final guest appearance in the last season of the show.

Sharona only appeared once more on Monk after season 3, during the eight and final season. The episode “Mr. Monk and Sharona” gives closure to Sharona’s character as she returns to San Francisco to deal with a death in the family.

Bitty Schram at the premiere of Absolute Wilson in 2006
Bitty Schram in 2006. Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

She meets her replacement, Natalie Teeger, and admits that although she felt she was too hard on Monk, working with him was the best job she ever had. She also explains that she split up from Trevor again, and that Benjy is looking at colleges.

The episode ends with Sharona returning to New Jersey, this time with the implication of a romantic involvement between her and Lt. Randy Disher.

Mr. Monk’s Last Case briefly mentions this plotline. While Sharona only appears in a brief flashback, Randy Disher returns in full for the movie. He mentions that Sharona, now his wife, is at home taking care of their baby.

What Is Bitty Schram Doing Now?

Bitty Schram has essentially retired from acting and refrains from appearing in the public eye.

Since leaving Monk in 2004, Bitty Schram only has seven acting credits to her name. These include single episodes of TV series such as Ghost Whisperer (2009) and two movies. Her last movie, Moments of Clarity, is also her last acting credit; she has not acted since 2016.