The central premise of Monk is that Tony Shalhoub's character Adrian Monk experiences a nervous breakdown after his wife Trudy is killed in a car bombing. Too shattered by this tragedy, the detective retires from the force.
Behind the scenes, Shalhoub had a wife of his own whom he tried to pull into the show as often as possible.
Shalhoub married actor Brooke Adams in 1992, two years after they met doing a Pulitzer-winning play.
For Adams, she fell for Shalhoub instantly.
"I immediately got this huge crush on him... but he had a girlfriend, and he was really not prepared to dump her for me," Adams told The Alternative Press in 1992.
Shalhoub may not have been prepared to find new love, but his feelings for Adams won out.
Though both actors stayed busy filming projects in different locations, they began dating.
By 1992, they had gathered family and friends at a house overlooking the Hudson River in New York to exchange their vows and proclaim "I do."
Over the next decade, before Shalhoub was cast in Monk, both actors continued to take on popular and critically acclaimed projects, and for Adams, finding her soulmate after 40 came at what she saw as the most successful time in her life.
"Actually, my life has gotten so much better since I turned 40," Adams told The Los Angeles Times in 1992, adding, "I've gotten my career where I want it to be, I've got my romantic life really solid, and just, in myself, I feel better about everything."
Once Shalhoub joined the Monk cast in 2002, it didn’t take long before he was finding ways to invite his real wife to take on bit parts on his show.
Adams' first appearance came in the first season episode "Mr. Monk and the Airplane." She played a flight attendant who deals with Monk's neurotic ways with curtness.
In 2008, The Atlanta Constitution asked Shalhoub if Adams was used to treating him that way in the real world.
"That does seem to come naturally, doesn't it?" Shalhoub joked.
In total, Adams appears on Monk in five episodes, playing a wealthy mother to a suspicious character in "Mr. Monk and the Kid," a sheriff in "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm," and the flight attendant again in "Mr. Monk's 100th Case."
Perhaps most remarkably, in her final appearance for "Mr. Monk and the Badge," Adams becomes the first victim who calls Monk to the scene after he gets his badge back in the ninth season.
Shalhoub said these roles came about whenever his wife felt like being on the show.
"She'll say to me, I'm ready to do another one," Shalhoub said, explaining that then Adams would work with the writers to find a character in an upcoming episode that fit.
For both Shalhoub and Adams, Monk rescued them from what can be the slog of a life for a character actor, paving the way for their family to afford to say no to undesirable roles without sacrificing a lifestyle that neither actor dared to dream was possible.
The couple told The Los Angeles Times in 2014 that the "most important purchase they've made with proceeds from Monk has been their artistic freedom."
"It gives us more choices, to do things we want to do instead of things we have to do," Shalhoub said.
Frequently what Shalhoub wanted to do was find ways to work his wife into his hit show, where he knew he could always bring her on when he wanted her close, but where he also never knew how things would turn out for his character trying to get closer to solving the mystery of his wife’s death.
"[The writers] swear that they know [how Monk solves Trudy murder]," Shalhoub told The Atlanta Constitution. "They just refuse to tell me. I've bribed them, tried to humiliate them into telling me."