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March 24, 2009 at 11:48 PM EDT

Monk’s original Girl Friday is returning to bid him adieu.

Bitty Schram has finalized a deal to reprise her role as sidekick to Tony Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive detective during Monk‘s eighth and final season, sources confirm to me exclusively.

Schram left Monk midway through the show’s third season reportedly due to a contract dispute. Producers, however, insisted at the time that they simply wanted to take the show in a different direction. Whatever triggered her exit, it’s apparently water under the bridge.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to help wrap up the series than with the return of Bitty’s character,” said Shalhoub. “Bringing some closure to Sharona is long overdue.”

Monk explained Schram’s absence by having Sharona move back to New Jersey with her son and ex-husband, Trevor. It’s not clear how she’ll be reintroduced, but a show insider says her visit will be brief: Schram’s only slated to appear in one episode.

What do you think? Happy to be getting one final Sharona fix before Monk signs off for good? Share with the class below!

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