|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2008)|
Production still of Traylor Howard in character in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert"
|First appearance||"Mr. Monk and the Red Herring"|
|Last appearance||"Mr. Monk and the End – Part II"|
|Created by||David Hoberman|
|Portrayed by||Traylor Howard (2005–2009)|
"The Eager Ms. Teeger"
|Occupation||Current: Adrian Monk's personal assistant
|Family||Bobby Davenport (father)
Peggy Davenport (mother)
Jonathan Davenport (brother)
|Spouse(s)||Mitch Teeger (deceased)|
|Children||Julie Teeger (daughter)|
Natalie Jane Teeger (née Davenport) is a fictional character on the American crime drama/comedy Monk. She becomes Adrian Monk's personal assistant midway through season three. She is portrayed by Traylor Howard.
Traylor Howard was introduced after USA Network released actress Bitty Schram, who portrayed Sharona Fleming, mid-way through the show's third season, stating they wanted to take the character in new directions. Natalie was hence introduced in the role of Monk's assistant to fill in the void left by Schram's departure.
Relationship with Adrian Monk
Natalie first meets Monk in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring", after two men break into her house. The first man pretends to be a water meter inspector, but she catches him snooping in the living room. The second guy, Brian Lemmon, breaks in through a side window. Natalie happens to walk in on him and unintentionally kills him in self-defense with a pair of scissors. Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher, baffled, suggest to Natalie to take her case to Monk. Monk's former assistant Sharona has just left, and Monk asks Natalie if she would become his new assistant. Initially, she refuses, but over the course of the investigation, Monk proves himself kind to Natalie's daughter Julie, which makes Natalie change her mind and accept the position (not to mention, an opportunity to get out of her current job as a bartender, which she admits to hating).
However, the transition from Sharona to Natalie is not a very smooth transition, as Monk and Natalie's chemistry is shown to be uneasy until at least the end of the episode "Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic." In the novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, Natalie mentions that for a while, Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher frequently compared her to Sharona, but finally accepted her for who she was.
Over the course of the show, Natalie becomes an extremely devoted friend, as well as a devoted assistant. On several occasions, Natalie says explicitly that she loves him, though she might mean that in a platonic sense. Such an example of this is in "Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa Claus".
There have been occasions where Natalie is the only person to support Monk's ideas (such as in "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective," when Monk suspects loser-private eye Marty Eels of cheating), and she hence proves a valuable ally in helping him gather the evidence needed to make an arrest. She is also shown to be rather cunning, and is able to trick other people into doing things that help Monk with a case. In "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend," when Monk suspects Linda Fusco of murdering her partner, Natalie lures Linda away from her house by pretending to look at an apartment listing, giving Monk time to search her place. Later, at Linda and Stottlemeyer's going away party, Monk and Natalie set up an ingenious sting operation to arrest Linda, where Monk pretends to talk to Natalie from Linda's house on a webcam (though in actuality, he is sitting in the back of an impounded rental truck that Linda had used to trick Monk, Natalie and Stottlemeyer into supplying her with an airtight alibi). In the season seven episode "Mr. Monk and the Bully," when Monk and Natalie are trailing Roderick Brody's wife, Natalie tricks a businessman at a bar into taking a photo of their target. The episode also establishes that she has picked up some basic legal knowledge working with Monk, as evidenced in a scene where Natalie tries to withhold Roderick's name from Captain Stottlemeyer on the grounds of client confidentiality.
Despite their platonic relationship, there have been instances throughout the series where other characters believe that Natalie suppresses romantic feelings for Monk through gestures and comments, or even think they are a couple, though Natalie herself tends to be highly amused by the suggestion: for instance, in "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion", when Dianne Brooks (Cynthia Stevenson) first spots Monk and Natalie together, Dianne asks "Ahhh, oh, so you two aren't..." and points between them as if to indicate "dating"; Natalie grins and firmly replies "No!" In the season seven episode "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever," when Natalie (as a lottery hostess) is signing autographs and Monk grabs some wipes from her, one of Natalie's fans asks her if Monk is her boyfriend, only for Natalie to correct her.
Usually, when the two deny these comments, the asker will look suspiciously at Natalie, as if he or she thought there was something more in her denial. There are even instances when Stottlemeyer and Disher will give each other looks as if they think they see something in Natalie's reactions to Monk's situation or how she talks about him. Natalie's family has also given similar reactions, as well as characters from various episodes. While this may be a coincidence of Traylor Howard's acting style, it is definitely a noteworthy aspect of Natalie's relationship with Monk.
In the season six episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank," when Monk goes undercover as a guard at his bank to determine which employee might be an inside man, Natalie is impressed enough that she spends several minutes complimenting Monk on his appearance while wearing the uniform. She asks if he will be allowed to keep it after he ends his assignment. While this adds to the ambiguity in any potential attraction, it could also be interpreted as being that Natalie is attracted to men in uniform.
Over the course of her relationship with Monk, Natalie is shown to also pick up a few detective instincts of her own on the way. In fact, in the novel Mr. Monk in Outer Space, Stottlemeyer asks Natalie to try to figure out what happened at one crime scene, and she makes an accurate guess of what happened (without making much of an effort, mostly because this particular murder happened to be a straightforward shooting). By the time of the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, Natalie has picked up enough skills to start asking herself questions about the case at hand. In the 2011 novel Mr. Monk on the Couch, a subplot has Natalie attempting to figure out the identity of a man found dead in a seedy hotel room with a phony ID. Monk and the police are not interested in pursuing the case, given that said man is determined to have died of natural causes. At the same time, Natalie helps Monk investigate a series of violent knifings occurring in the general vicinity of her neighborhood.
Natalie's past is filled with instances of youthful devilry, in a seeming deviation from her strict posh upbringing. Certain elements of her backstory are revealed in a number of different novels and episodes:
- In the season three episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas", Natalie reveals that she worked as a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas for two years while Mitch was still alive, and she is a recovering gambling addict. At the time her husband died, she lived in base housing on a base in South Carolina.
- In the season four episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Office", Natalie mentions to Monk that she worked in an office for two weeks before quitting; she claimed she was unable to stand the "same routine" every day, and she tells stock analyst Warren Kemp that she spent time in a jail in Vermont for throwing a man through a window in order to protect a friend.
- In the season four episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa", it is mentioned that the summer after she completed high school, Natalie worked in a shopping mall where her boss "liked [her] a bit too much." Natalie uses this to convince her old boss to hire Monk and her as respectively a store Santa and his elf in an attempt to bring missing criminal Frank Prager out of hiding.
- During a conversation between Monk and Natalie in the season five episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert", Natalie mentions having studied about how the Spanish Inquisition locked people in outhouses as a form of torture, after Monk likens accidentally locking himself into a port-a-potty to a medieval torture device.
- In the season five episode "Mr. Monk is At Your Service", it is revealed that Paul Buchanan (Sean Astin), a neighbor just up the road from Natalie's parents, had a crush on Natalie through high school. Monk, undercover as Paul's butler, is shocked when Paul tells him that Natalie has a tattoo stamped on her lower back. However, Natalie is disgusted with Paul Buchanan, as he stalked her through high school and she believes he was responsible for beating up her senior prom date, leading her to think that he is responsible for murdering his parents.
- In the season six episode "Mr. Monk and the Naked Man", it is revealed that Natalie was an exchange student in Greece when she was 19 years old.
- In the season six episode "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies", Natalie mentions that Mitch took her to a firing range all the time, so she knows how to use a gun. This would give the impression that Natalie has good aim, but her experience in using loaded firearms is called into question in the season seven episode "Mr. Monk on Wheels", where she accidentally discharges a round into Monk's leg after picking up Sarah Longson's pistol.
- In the season seven premiere episode "Mr. Monk Buys a House", it is revealed that Natalie knows Morse code. When Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher accompany Monk and Natalie to Cassie Drake's house, Stottlemeyer and Disher amuse themselves by tapping Morse code messages on the front door. Natalie immediately chastises both of them, telling them "That's not the way I heard it. My husband was in the Navy, remember?" This knowledge proves useful later, as when Monk and Natalie are taken hostage by "Honest" Jake Phillips, with no form of communication to the outside world to call for help available, Natalie lights some rags, puts them in the fireplace, and opens and closes the flue to emit smoke signals that Stottlemeyer and Disher (who are a few blocks away) notice and interpret as Morse for "SOS" (although Randy almost misinterprets the signals as a soda advertisement).
Natalie has held several jobs, including bartending, which she quit to become Monk's assistant. The exact number of jobs Natalie held before meeting Monk (17 in all) is mentioned in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" when Peggy asks her to sample a Bloody Mary, and Natalie has to remind her that she isn't bartending any more. It takes Peggy a few tries to get the current job right. During her tenure on the series, Natalie does temporarily take up several other careers:
- In "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever," she spends approximately two weeks working as a lottery hostess, but she is accused of scheming with Stottlemeyer to rig the lottery drawing. She quits after Monk clears their names. While working on this job, Natalie's position as Monk's assistant becomes strained, leaving her unable to concentrate on Monk's homicide investigation. Eventually, Monk becomes so fed up with her lottery antics and autograph signings that he openly mocks her in front of her fans and nearly calls her a bimbo (he stops midway and instead calls her a "bimportant person").
- In "Mr. Monk and the Badge", after Monk gets reinstated, Natalie works as assistant to a concert promoter, though Monk warns her that her new boss won't be as good as him.
Natalie is more or less a pariah of the wealthy Davenport family, owners of Davenport Toothpaste, described in the episode "Mr. Monk, Private Eye" as being the third largest toothpaste company in the world after Colgate and Crest, which was started by Natalie's entrepreneur grandfather Neville Davenport, a former assistant pharmacist. The novel Mr. Monk in Outer Space also reveals that this business almost went under when it was discovered that the original formula for their toothpaste was laced with sugar—hastening to peoples' dental decay.
However, Natalie is not on good terms with her family. Her decision to marry a "common" man like Mitch estranged her from her parents Bobby and Peggy Davenport; for years, Peggy refuses to display Natalie and Mitch's wedding photograph at her house on top of the piano where all the other photos are kept, and considered Natalie's marriage "illegitimate" even though she and the rest of the family dote on Julie. To further keep herself from the rest of her family, Natalie is revealed to have adapted Mitch's surname as her own after his death. She keeps her family ties so secret that in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding," Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher are surprised to learn about Natalie being an outcast from her family.
Natalie has a brother, Jonathan, whom she and Monk rescue from his murderous new wife, Theresa, who has married him to get at the family fortune, in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding," after they prove that Theresa also tried running down Lieutenant Disher in the parking lot because Randy would have recognized her as Darlene Coolidge, a black widow bride Randy investigated when he was a sergeant in Philadelphia. Natalie subdues Theresa at the wedding, saving her brother's life. This seems to spark a reconciliation between Natalie and the rest of her family, as she and Monk are seen later having lunch with Natalie's parents during their next on-screen appearance, in the season five episode "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service."
Mitch was a Navy fighter pilot who was killed in Kosovo in 1998 ("Mr. Monk and the Election"). They have a daughter named Julie, a teenager (she is 11 when she is introduced in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring"). Julie has been taught to believe that her father died heroically, though in reality, the details of his death are very murky and unclear, and he may have been trying to desert when he was killed, as Natalie mentions in the season three episode "Mr. Monk and the Election" and in the novel Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii. Before he died, Mitch gave Julie a pet fish named "Mr. Henry," which Natalie has secretly replaced each year (as that is the lifespan of the fish, a crimson marble) so that Julie does not realize that the original fish died.
In the episode when Monk first meets Natalie, he shows that the fish is more important to him than an actual moon rock, which is part of what causes Natalie to decide to work for Monk.
She renews her old friendship with Mitch's old friend and comrade, Lieutenant Steven Albright (Casper Van Dien) in the season seven episode "Mr. Monk Is Underwater", and in the series finale, "Mr. Monk and the End," the two are dating steadily and Natalie is planning to introduce him to Julie for the first time.
In the first few novels, Natalie has an on-again, off-again romance with a firefighter named Joe Cochran, whom she first meets when Julie asks Monk to investigate the killing of a beloved firehouse dog in Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse. The two are strongly attracted to each other, but Natalie decides not to grow too close to another man in a dangerous job. Cochran subsequently also appeared in Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants and Mr. Monk in Outer Space.
The novels also expand on Natalie's background prior to when she met Monk. In Mr. Monk is Miserable, it is known that she and Mitch went to Paris, and in Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, it is revealed that they also once spent a weekend getaway in Mexico, and she is found to be very unnerved when hack psychic Dylan Swift somehow manages to get information on her past to create "messages" from Mitch's "spirit". It also establishes that Mitch was shot down two days before his 27th birthday.
In Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants, Natalie has an epiphany – she notes that with the exception of the fact that Monk has OCD, they are actually not that different – both have lost their spouses (Mitch and Trudy, respectively) to fiery deaths (plane crash and car bomb), and they were both heavily affected by their spouse's death (Monk more considerably than Natalie), and they were only saved thanks to someone close to them (Julie in Natalie's case; Stottlemeyer, Disher, and Dr. Kroger in Monk's case).
Background information and notes
- Natalie's age is never mentioned in the series. The best estimate of her age is given in "Mr. Monk and the Buried Treasure," Troy Kroger's pals Ridley and Pez guess her to be roughly 34. Since Traylor Howard was 38 years old when the first episodes featuring Natalie were aired, and given that Julie is 15 years old in "Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees", Natalie's age could be anywhere from 33 and 40 in "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring", about the same age as her actress.
- Natalie's parents' first names are Bobby and Peggy, which appear to be an in-show reference to the first names of Traylor Howard's real parents (Robert M. Howard and Peggy Traylor).
- Natalie has appeared in more episodes (87) of the series than Sharona (37).
- Compared to Sharona, Natalie has driven at least six different cars in the course of the series. How she can afford to switch cars so frequently, given her very low salary, is never explained:
- A silver 2005 Nissan Quest in "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever"
- A silver 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee from "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring" in season 3 to "Mr. Monk Is on the Air" in season 5
- A silver 2007 Buick Lucerne in the second half of season five, from "Mr. Monk and the Leper" through "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital". This appears to have been the result of product placement as Buick had been one of the show's major sponsors.
- A 2007 Ford Escape for the length of season six
- A 2008 Audi A3 for the first half of season seven, from "Mr. Monk Buys a House" to "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized"
- A 2008 Nissan Sentra for three episodes in the middle of season seven: "Mr. Monk and the Miracle", "Mr. Monk's Other Brother" and "Mr. Monk on Wheels"
- A 2008 Hyundai Genesis during the later part of season seven and the length of season 8, beginning in "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door"
- In the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, Monk and Natalie are hired by Intertect, a private investigation agency, and as part of Natalie's benefits plan, she drives a company car, in addition to receiving a higher salary and dental insurance. The color and model of the car are never explained in detail.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Three Julies," Natalie "borrows" Captain Stottlemeyer's new car, a midnight onyx Dodge Charger, becoming a very reckless driver. The first time Natalie does this (due to Stottlemeyer making the mistake of trusting her and Monk to hold his car keys), she breaks the passenger-side mirror, leaving it dangling precariously by a few cables; the second time, she completely smashes the hood after supposedly taking a shortcut across the creek, even though Stottlemeyer insists that there are no bridges across the creek, which Natalie clearly acknowledges awareness of. The damage gets worse when an errant bullet enters and ruins the car's engine block due to Monk diverting a sharpshooter's rifle as he fired.
- Natalie is often seen wearing 1 1/2 inch heeled Christian Louboutin shoes, as indicated by the trademark red sole (this can clearly be seen in episodes where Natalie is wearing heels). Since Christian Louboutin shoes are expensive (some pairs in excess of $1,000), and taking into account Natalie's low salary from Monk, she either has a jones for shoes, wears knockoffs, or they are gifts.
- During several episodes of season five ("Mr. Monk Makes a Friend," "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service," "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm," "Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy" and "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital"), Traylor Howard was pregnant with her son Sabu. Hence, during these episodes, it is easy to notice that scenes with Natalie were redone to hide the abnormal bulge in her chest in these episodes, such as having her wearing long trenchcoats, carrying boxes, newspapers, a bag, or something large, or sitting/standing behind something like a counter or a desk. For instance, in "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service", when Monk and Natalie are at the crash site, Natalie is seen leaning against her car in close-ups with the driver's side door open to hide her chest. In a rare exception, later in the episode, Traylor's real pregnant frame is revealed, when Natalie pretends to be pregnant by stuffing a pillow down her shirt so as to avoid advances from Paul Buchanan (Sean Astin). Noticeably, Natalie is not positioned in such ways as to hide her chest in "Mr. Monk Is on the Air", because (as can be determined from Natalie's clothing, her car model, and a calendar for July 2006 when Monk and Natalie are in Max Hudson's bedroom) that episode was filmed alongside the eight episodes in the first half of the fifth season, all filmed before Traylor's pregnancy began to show.
- Between the novels and the episodes, there are only three times in the entire series that Natalie holds a gun, and all three times they are someone else's weapon: the first is in "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service," where she and Monk train twelve-gauge shotguns on Paul Buchanan (Natalie grabs Buchanan's shotgun when he is distracted by Monk's sudden arrival). The second time is in "Mr. Monk on Wheels," when Natalie grabs Sarah Longson's Walther PPK handgun during a fight to subdue her, and accidentally shoots Monk when she turns around. The third time happens in Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, when she manages to grab Nick Slade's pistol and train it on him.