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Mr. Monk and the Big Game is the third episode of the fifth season of Monk.


Julie's basketball coach is murdered, and Monk must step in as the new coach while trying to solve the case.


Julie Teeger is at school basketball practice, after which the team coach, Lynn Hayden, gives them a pep talk. She tells them she is proud of them and is sure that they are ready for the championship game next week – no matter who coaches them. Confused, Julie asks what she means, but she doesn't say.

After the rest of the team has showered and left the locker room, Hayden showers alone. Unknown to her, an intruder sneaks into the locker room and lays a trap: after cutting the circuit breaker in a wall socket, he plugs a hair dryer in and lays it on the floor, then opens the S-bend of a sink and fills it, causing water to drip onto the floor, the drain of which he has blocked with a towel. Hayden finishes her shower, and the moment she steps onto the wet floor, she collapses from a fatal electric shock.

The police rule it a tragic accident, but Julie and two of her teammates (who both share the name Emily) don't believe it and they go to Adrian Monk asking for his help. Natalie feels that the girls are in denial but reasons that if Monk investigates and agrees with the police, it will help them get closure.

They enter the girls' locker room and recreate the circumstances of the so-called accident. As Monk says, Hayden seems to have run into a lot of bad luck all at once: the broken circuit breaker, the hair dryer, the towel over the drain, and the leaky sink. He starts to think the girls may be right, but Natalie is skeptical. Then Monk notices that all of the windows over the bank of lockers, except one, are covered with cobwebs. He hoists Natalie over the lockers, and she sees two footprints, where someone crawled out through the window.

Lieutenant Disher shows them the evidence from the scene of the "accident," but is skeptical about Monk's theory. The footprints could have been made by one of the workmen who were in the locker room the previous week. Moreover, there is zero motive – Hayden was liked and loved by everyone she knew, from her students to her fellow teachers to her rival coaches; she didn't have any apparent enemy in the world.

While they are at the police station, Natalie seizes the opportunity to ask Captain Stottlemeyer for a few minutes of his time, as Julie is doing a school project on DNA. He turns her down at first, claiming to be too busy. Natalie quickly comes up with a lie that her cousin could arrange for the both of them to meet Joe Montana on Thursday, tricking the captain into admitting he's available. He reluctantly agrees at last.

Natalie and Monk interview the school principal, who says that Lynn Hayden had been depressed for the last few weeks, but wouldn't say about what. However, the principal refuses to believe it was suicide. When she mentions that the team will have to forfeit the upcoming championship game without a coach, Natalie volunteers, since she played varsity basketball all four years in high school. She says she needs an assistant coach, and, with a delicious sense of turning the tables, appoints Monk.

But she gets more than she bargained for when Monk learns that all of the team and coaches will get a little trophy. Monk inherited a minor obsession with trophies from his mother, and soon throws himself wholeheartedly into his assistant duties (even though he knows nothing about basketball).

When Monk learns that Hayden liked to go hiking in her spare time, he remembers seeing a burr on her coat, of the same kind that grew near the scene of a recent brush fire in Dratch Valley. He and Natalie walk through the valley, while a ranger tells them that it was probably started by accident. An unauthorized campfire was hit by an unexpected wind shift, setting some bushes alight. The fire caused plenty of property damage, but no one was hurt. Monk finds a button from Hayden's coat on the ground and realizes that she must have been camping there, and must have been responsible for the wildfire.

Monk and Natalie interview Lynn's brother, Aaron, who lived with her. Aaron admits that Lynn started the brush fire, and was planning to turn herself in to the police. Aaron tried to talk her out of it, since no one was hurt, but she was set on doing the right thing, like always.

At the station, Julie asks Stottlemeyer and Disher some basic questions about DNA evidence. Among other questions, Julie asks why, if DNA is like fingerprinting, the police don't solve every crime. Stottlemeyer gives two reasons: one, DNA evidence is not found at every crime scene; two, even if it is, the police may not have anything to match it against. He recalls one of their cold cases, the unsolved murder of a young Irish-American woman named Paula McGoohan outside a country club: the killer left plenty of DNA evidence, but there was nothing that it could be matched against. On her way out, Julie mentions that Monk is assistant coach to her team, and Stottlemeyer and Disher both agree that this is one game they wouldn't miss for the world.

What no one knows is that Aaron Hayden is Paula McGoohan's killer. Upon seeing a newscast reporting the link between the wildfire and Lynn's death, Aaron opens one of his cabinets and then burns an ID card belonging to McGoohan and a newspaper clipping about the murder.

At the game, Monk is over-coaching and getting on everyone's nerves. However, it is Natalie who gets ejected when she gets in the referee's face over a blown call. She is left to wander around the girls' locker room, when she notices something on the bulletin board: a portrait of Lynn Hayden, donated by Aaron, has tape on its frame with a jagged edge – the same kind of tape found on the electrical cord of the killer hair dryer.

Here's What Happened[]

Natalie borrows the school mascot's costume and sneaks back onto the court, showing Monk the picture. He solves the case, but refuses to stop the game, so he calls Stottlemeyer and Disher over, calls a time-out, and has to squeeze his summation into thirty seconds:

A few years ago, Aaron Hayden killed Paula McGoohan at the country club (as Monk remembers from when he questioned Aaron, he had a golfing trophy on his mantle). He left DNA evidence all over the scene, but as Stottlemeyer mentioned to Julie earlier, the police had nothing to match the DNA against. He thought he was safe, but panicked when Lynn told him that she was planning to turn herself in for causing the brush fire. He knew that, as a felony suspect, the police would take a DNA sample from her, and knew that her DNA was close enough to his that it would tie him to the unsolved murder. He killed his sister to be sure that he would not get caught.

Just as the timeout ends, Aaron makes a break for it, and Stottlemeyer and Disher chase him, catching him outside the hallway. Disher tells Aaron that Monk has a message for him: the next time he wants to get away with two murders, he should buy a new picture frame. Inside, the game ends with Julie's team ahead, but a last-minute penalty is awarded. Natalie assures Monk that such penalties are never successful – but this one is, and as the opposing team celebrates victory, Monk trudges off the court in disappointment.

To raise his spirits, Natalie and Julie commission a set of trophies to commemorate his success as a homicide detective. Since there is one for every single homicide case he has solved (104 cases, but 100 trophies for sake of his OCD), he exults, "I'm gonna need a bigger mantle!" Natalie tells him that his mother would be very proud. Monk states she wouldn’t but it was nice of Natalie to say so.


  • Stottlemeyer points out to Julie that DNA in a case does not automatically solve cases unless there is a DNA profile on record for comparison.  It is the same with fingerprints.  Since the 1990s and even more so since 9/11 the DNA and fingerprint databases have been codified on that state, federal, some international and military under CODIS and AFIS.
  • Not all fingerprints on file are of criminals. Anyone who has served in the military, police, and state/federal agencies has been fingerprinted. Even applicants are routinely fingerprinted.
  • The cheerleader who is originally seen in the Cougars mascot is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is best known for her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
  • Stottlemeyer says that Watson and Crick were two British scientists. Francis Crick was British. James Watson is American. He was doing research at Cambridge when the discovery was made.
  • The Cougars should have won the game on Julie's last-second shot, and the Bees should not have had the opportunity for another play. In high school basketball, the clock does not stop following a made basket at any point in a game. In college basketball, the clock stops after a made basket in the final minute of the second half (men's) or fourth quarter (women's) and the final minute of every overtime period. In the NBA, the clock stops following a made basket in the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, and the last two minutes of every overtime period.