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West Wing - An Amazing Television Show

Updated on October 17, 2014

West Wing - Hail To The Chief!

Are you a fan of The West Wing?

I sure am, and have been for many years. No matter how often I see an episode, I always take a little something new away from it.

Aaron Sorkin wrote a remarkable show for an incredible cast. Every actor in The West Wing is given a full character to play and time to shine.

So - welcome fellow West Wing fans!

(Photo Source:

The West Wing
The West Wing
The West Wing
The West Wing

About The West Wing

The West Wing is an American television serial drama created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999 to May 14, 2006.

The series is set in the West Wing of the White House-where the Oval Office and offices of presidential senior staff are located-during the fictional Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen).

The West Wing was produced by Warner Bros. Television.

For the first four seasons, there were three executive producers, Aaron Sorkin (lead writer of almost all those first four seasons), Thomas Schlamme and John Wells.

After Sorkin left the program, John Wells became the sole executive producer.

It first aired on NBC in 1999, and has been broadcast by many networks in several other countries. The series ended its seven-year run on May 14, 2006.

The show received positive reviews from critics, political science professors, and former White House staffers.

In total, The West Wing won three Golden Globe Awards and 27 Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Drama Series, which it won four consecutive times from 2000 through 2003.

The show's ratings waned in later years, following the departure of series creator Aaron Sorkin (who wrote or co-wrote 85 of the first 88 episodes) after the fourth season, yet it remained popular among high-income viewers, with around 16 million viewers, a key demographic for the show and its advertisers.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The West Wing Sam Seabrook
The West Wing Sam Seabrook

Some Favorite West Wing Quotes - Sam

Laurie: Tell your friend POTUS he's got a funny name, and he should learn how to ride a bicycle.

Sam: I would, but he's not my friend, he's my boss. And it's not his name, it's his title.

Laurie: POTUS?

Sam: President of the United States.

Sam: Ms. O'Brien, I understand your feelings, but please believe me when I tell you that I'm a nice guy having a bad day. I just found out the Times is publishing a poll that says a considerable portion of Americans feel the White House has lost energy and focus. A perception that's not likely to be altered by the video footage of the President riding his bicycle into a tree. As we speak, the Coast Guard is fishing Cubans out of the Atlantic Ocean while the Governor of Florida wants to blockade the Port of Miami. A good friend of mine's about to get fired for going on television and making sense, and it turns out I accidentally slept with a prostitute last night. Now would you please, in the name of compassion, tell me which one of those kids is my boss's daughter?

Mallory: That would be me.

Sam: You.

Mallory: Yes.

Sam: Leo's daughter's fourth grade class.

Mallory: Yes.

Sam: Well, this is bad on so many levels.

Bob: We're a little nerdy, I'll admit.

Sam: You camouflage it well with your clothing.

Bob: I'm used to that, Sam.

Sam: What can I do for you, Bob?

Bob: In a nutshell?

Sam: So to speak.

Bob: We'd like the White House to pay a little more attention to UFOs.

Sam: Are we paying any attention at all right now?

Bob: No.

Sam: Thank God. Like we don't have enough problems with the First Lady and her Ouija board.

Sam: In 1787, there was a sizable block of delegates who were initially opposed to the Bill of Rights. This is what a member of the Georgia delegation had to say by way of opposition; 'If we list a set of rights, some fools in the future are going to claim that people are entitled only to those rights enumerated and no others.' So the Framers knew...

Harrison: Were you just calling me a fool, Mr. Seaborn?

Sam: I wasn't calling you a fool, sir. The brand new state of Georgia was.

Sam: (giving his friend a tour) Well, that's my office over there and the President works in that round room over there and nobody else really matters.

The West Wing Trivia
The West Wing Trivia

West Wing Trivia

Did You Know:

That the radical group mentioned in the Pilot episode "The Lambs of God" are based on a real life group "The Lambs of Christ"?

That when it is said in The Birnam Wood that the U.S. has bombed a terrorist training camp "in the Kingdom of Syria" that Syria is not a kingdom; it is a Republic.

The Ticket was the first episode that Kristin Chenoweth is listed in the main opening credits.

Running Mates was the first episode of the series to air after the death of John Spencer on December 16, 2005.

During the filming of Eppur Si Muove, PBS also filmed Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, and Lily Tomlin dancing to the song Boogie Woogie Sheep for their special "Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On"

President Bartlet has nominated 3 Supreme Court justices, including Roberto Mendoza, Christopher Mulready and Evelyn Baker Lang.

The Pilot episode has also been titled "A Sudden, Arboreal Stop"

In the episode Shutdown, a girl on TV Says that her family came to Washington to see her Grandma and the Constitution. "But the Smithsonian's closed. Now we only get to see Grandma." The Constitution is in the National Archives, not the Smithsonian.

The West Wing CJ
The West Wing CJ

Some Favorite West Wing Quotes - CJ

C.J.: Excuse me, Toby. I'm heading out to lunch and I'm a little short. You wouldn't happen to have $125,000 I could borrow?

C.J.: There's an article I want you to read in The New Yorker.

Josh: What's it about?

C.J.: Smallpox.

Josh: The disease?

C.J.: No, the dessert topping, Josh.

Mandy: You guys are idiots. Did you know that?

C.J.: In our own defense, we actually do know that.

C.J.: First of all, you're wrong. Second of all, shut up. Third, I went to Hoynes with your thing and he said he wasn't the one who talked to you and I believe him and he's really pissed at me and he's right. And fourth...shut up again!

C.J.: (leaving a press briefing) Set fire to the room. Do it now.

Sam: Grant Samuels died.

CJ: Really?

Sam: Yes.

CJ: He's really dead this time?

Sam: Yeah.

CJ: 'Cause last time you told me he was dead and he wasn't.

Sam: He's dead this time.

CJ: Somebody poked him a little to see...

Sam: He died, CJ!

CJ: We have at our disposal a captive audience of school children. Some of them don't go to the blackboard or raise their hand cause they think they're going to be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, 'You think you get it wrong sometimes, you should come down here and see how the big boys do it'. I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope, and that it may turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in the room, and you want them to start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh and most of them won't care but for some they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand.

CJ: [auditioning turkeys] Okay, it's show time guys. I've observed you under a number of conditions, and this is the final. I don't like you wigging out in the President's face, I just don't like the photo, so... You both did fine. Troy, I want you know it was neck-and-neck but I'm giving it to Eric. You were in it right to the end but it's the flapping thing you've got going on. I'll tell you what's of some concern to me, that I've been talking out loud this whole time, that's very unsettling.

CJ: Our numbers are less than yeasty.

Reporter: Was he physically and emotionally prepared to make a life and death decision after what he'd just been through?

CJ: He'd been through a TV interview and a press conference. The President finds you all annoying but not prohibitively debilitating.

West Wing Trivia
West Wing Trivia

More West Wing Trivia

Episode #1: Pilot

In the argument over the commandment "Honor thy father", it is first claimed that it is the first commandment, and Toby corrects them and says that it is the third. In fact, neither is correct, "Honor thy father and thy mother" is the *fifth* commandment (Exodus 20, verse 12).

Sam tells the fourth grade class that the Roosevelt Room was named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mallory corrects him, saying that it was named for Theodore Roosevelt, whose picture is on the wall behind him. In fact, the room is named in honor of both men.

Sam mispronounces Toby's last name when he talks to the fourth graders.

Episode #2: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

Josh and Donna are talking about football bets involving Central Indiana State. This is a fictitious institution. There is only an Indiana State.

Episode #3: A Proportional Response

Debbie, played by Lily Tomlin, who later becomes a regular cast member is referred to in this episode as "Miss DiLaguardia."

Episode #4: Five Votes Down

Toby: Women can't get enough of my 1993 Dodge Dart.

Dodge stopped making the Dart in 1976.

Episode #5: The Crackpots and These Women

In this episode, C.J mentions that Pluie the wolf might eat her cat. However, in the episode Dead Irish Writers in Season Three, she mentions she doesn't have a cat.

This is the first time we hear the theme music that is used for the rest of the series. Up until this episode, it was similar but not the same one.

This is the first time we see Zoey Bartlet.

Episode #6: Mr. Willis of Ohio

The sandwich Sam is eating while telling C.J. about the sentence noticeably changes from a bun to bread and back again.

At the end of the episode, when Toby is watching Mr. Willis's first and only roll call vote, the Clerk of the House is calling the members' names alphabetically. Mr. Willis's name is followed by Mr. Zantowski, yet, as we find out in subsequent episodes, there certainly should have been a "Ms. Wyatt of Maryland".


Josh & Donna

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West Wing Trivia
West Wing Trivia

Even More West Wing Trivia

Episode #7: The State Dinner

This episode is not the first time that Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler) and Lisa Edelstein (Laurie) have shared the small screen. They both starred in Relativity an ABC series that was cancelled the year before.

The home of Susan B. Anthony is in Rochester, New York.

"Indonesian" is indeed a language, albeit an invented one. It starts with Malay as its grammatical base, then adds vocabulary items from the various other languages of the islands.

Episode #8: Enemies

Bartlett says of Cabinet meetings that he finds them to be a waste of time, but that Leo "assures him that they are constitutionally required." In actual fact, the US Cabinet has no constitutional or legal basis, and is convened at the President's discretion

This episode was a 2001 WGA Award Nominee for Outstanding Achievement in Television Writing for Episodic Drama.

Episode #9: The Short List

This is the first appearance of Gail, C.J.'s goldfish.

CJ refers to reporter Katie Witt (Kris Murphy) as Kris which is her real name.

Episode #11: Lord John Marbury

If, as CJ says on the phone, his Lordship is a hereditary Earl, then he is *not* Lord John Marbury and would never introduce himself to anyone as such. He is John, Lord Marbury, and should be referred to simply as Lord Marbury. He would in fact be most accurately described as "John Marbury, Earl of Sherbourne", as Lord is how a Baron is addressed, not an Earl. The title CJ gives him is also not one of the ones he himself lists in the later episode "Dead Irish Writers", and while it is possible to gain extra titles it is not possible to lose them unless you disclaim them, which peers often do in order to be elected to the House of Commons, or if the titles are reverted to the Crown by an Act of Attainder, none of which have been passed for several centuries.

When the NRO officers review the satellite photos, the Indian naval task force consists of two CVEs and four destroyers. When Fitz briefs Jed, he says there are two destroyers and four CVEs.

A real-life Lord would never refer to the Queen as "Her Royal Majesty". She is properly called "Her Britannic Majesty" or, more usually, simply "Her Majesty".


Washington, DC - Home of The West Wing!

Washington, DC:
Washington, DC

get directions

West Wing Trivia
West Wing Trivia

Still More West Wing Trivia

Episode 12: He Shall, from Time to Time

CJ Fish Bowl decoration: A podium and two flags (as a reference to the state of the union address.)

Bartlet promises Tribby that next year it will be the Surgeon General who stays away from the State of the Union in case it is attacked. This is a goof as the Surgeon General is not part of the Presidential Line of Succession and as such cannot assume Presidential powers.

Abby tells the President that she doesn't care if Canada invades Michigan. In the 2004-2005 season, the opposite happens; some hunters from Michigan invade Canada, almost causing a Can-Am military showdown.

Episode #14: Take This Sabbath Day

The small pocket bible Father Cavanaugh uses is the same one Karl Malden used in the movie, On the Waterfront, in which he also portrayed a priest.

This wasn't the first time Martin Sheen and Karl Malden had worked together. They previously had worked together on the TV series The Streets of San Francisco in the episode "Betrayed" in 1973.

This episode was a 2001 WGA Award Winner and a 2000 Award Winner of the Humanitas Prize in the 60 Minute category.

Toby: "Even two thousand years ago, the rabbis of the Talmud couldn't stomach it."

Toby tells the President that the ancient rabbis were averse to the death penalty. This is fairly true since the Talmud states that the fundumental difference between capital crimes and property crimes is sentence reversibility. A miscarriage of justice in the latter can be reversed by returning the property to its rightful owner. But a miscarriage of justice in a capital crime can never be reversed and the Talmud warns the rabbis that the blood of the accused, and the blood of all his progeny will be upon them till the end of time. As a result they instituted impossible conditions that the state had to meet in order to execute a person (that it can be proven that he was warned that is actions carry the death penalty, that the witnesses know that if they are caught lying they will receive the same punishment they intended for the accused, that the witnesses actually saw him commit the crime, etc.).

This is taken from the Babylonian Talmud's chapter "Sanhedrin". There are many more procedural restrictions mentioned there regarding witness examination, witness reliability, the judges involved etc.


West Wing Big Block of Cheese Day
West Wing Big Block of Cheese Day

A Fave Episode: "Big Block of Cheese Day"

Big Block of Cheese Day is a fictional workday on the television program The West Wing. On Big Block of Cheese Day, the White House Chief of Staff, Leo McGarry, encourages his staff to take meetings with fringe special interest groups that normally would not get attention from the White House. Big Block of Cheese Day is "celebrated" in episodes 105 and 216.

White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler refers to it as "Throw Open Our Office Doors To People Who Want To Discuss Things That We Could Care Less About" Day, and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman refers to it as "Total Crackpot Day".

Big Block of Cheese Day is not a regular event, but periodic, at Leo's discretion, possibly as a way to keep West Wing staffers alert. Leo has a standard speech that begins, "President Andrew Jackson, in the main foyer of his White House, had a big block of cheese." In Episode 216, Leo is interrupted several times by staffers walking into the meeting late, and once by Josh adding, "And a Wheat Thin the size of Lake Tahoe."

Episode 105

In episode 105: "The Crackpots and These Women," White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg meets with a group that would like to build a highway for wolves and Sam Seaborn meets with a citizen concerned about UFOs.

Episode 216

In episode 216: "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail ," Toby Ziegler meets with the fictional group "World Policies Studies," which objects to the World Trade Organization, and C.J. Cregg meets with "The Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality", which would like legislation to support a specific map projection, namely the "Peters projection" which corrects the exaggerated representation of North America and Western Europe found in the standard Mercator projection.

The Truth about Andrew Jackson & The Block of Cheese

The origin of Big Block of Cheese Day, as told by Leo McGarry, is that America's seventh president, Andrew Jackson, had a two-ton block of cheese in the White House foyer that everyone was welcome to eat from.

The book Real Life at the White House (ISBN 0-415-92320-4), by John Whitcomb and Claire Whitcomb, confirms that Andrew Jackson did once receive a 1,400 pound, four foot in diameter, two foot thick (635 kg, 1.2 m diameter, 60 cm thick) block of cheese as a gift. After two years of aging, he held a "cheese tasting" that the public was invited to. The event was heavily attended and the cheese was consumed in two hours.

(Source: Wikipedia)

West Wing Trivia
West Wing Trivia

Yes - More West Wing Trivia

Episode #14: Take This Sabbath Day (continued)

Father Cavanaugh says to the President that God, "...sent you a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker...." How did he know about Toby's rabbi and Joey Lucas (the Quaker)? Cavanaugh appears in only one scene with no breaks, during which the president does not mention either rabbi or Quaker. Maybe that part of the conversation was cut from the final.

Episode #15: Celestial Navigation

This is the first episode of the series to contain flashbacks.

Episode #16: 20 Hours in L.A.

Marlee Matlin (Joey Lucas) and Elizabeth Moss (Zoey Bartlet) have guest starred in many of ths same series. The have both had recurring roles on, of course, The West Wing, and Picket Fences. They have even appeared on Law & Order, albeit on separate series of the francise (Matlin on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Moss on Law & Order: Trial By Jury). What's most interesting is that with the frequent recurrence in these roles they have never shared a scene on The West Wing or in Picket Fences. Take this episode for example in which they both appear but not together.

When Donna and Josh are checking in to the hotel, Josh has trouble opening his door with his key card. Years later, in the episode "King Corn", after they have both left the White House, they are checking in to rooms that are across from each other and as he is having trouble with his key card yet again, she comes over and helps him.

While Josh is talking to Joey Lucas with Kenny, Kenny says what Joey is signing a few signs before she even signed the word he said.

As the President boards Air Force One, the entire port wing is visible, including the six-foot vertical winglet at the end. The plane commonly used as Air Force One is one of two modified Boeing 747-200s; Boeing didn't add the winglet until the 747-400 model.

Episode #18: Six Meetings Before Lunch

Sam's middle name is Norman.


John Spencer Memorial - I Miss Leo!

West Wing Trivia
West Wing Trivia

Holy Cow - MORE West Wing Trivia

Episode #22: What Kind of Day Has It Been?

CJ's fish bowl decoration: The Space Shuttle, (one of the subplots of the episode is a problem on the shuttle mission Toby's brother is on)

The departure of Mandy Hampton after this episode is never really explained.

Jed and Fitz discuss how the eagle in the great seal faces the arrows during times of war, which conflicts with Truman's 1945 Executive Order 9646 that the eagle must always face the olive branch.

The assassins load their guns while standing in the windowframe, backlit by a bright red light; they are clearly visible from the street, and from other buildings, yet neither the agents on the ground, the sharpshooters on the roofs, or the agents in the helicopter notice.

Episode #23: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 1

This episode has the most guest stars out of any episode of The West Wing.

There is a lot of discussion about the President not having signed a letter turning over power to the VP and so there was no one in charge. However the 25th Amendment provides for the VP and a majority of the principal officers of the executive branch (i.e. the Cabinet) to remove the power of the presidency from the President if he is unable to perform his duties. The VP would become the Acting President until the President submits a letter to Congress saying he is ready to reassume his duties.

Episode 24: In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part 2

In the flashback with Josh and Bartlet at the airport, Josh says, "If you don't lose this election, it isn't gonna be because you don't try hard enough."

Some people think the "don't" is a goof. But in context, Josh is pointing out that by doing things like going to the airport instead of making his victory speech, Bartlet must be trying to LOSE the election. So if he doesn't lose, it won't be for lack of trying.

In one of the flashbacks, Josh uses a pay phone with a Verizon logo long before the Verizon brand name was created.

Episode #26: In This White House

C.J.: a half hour with President Bartlet and President Nimbala of the Republic of Equatorial Kuhndu who's representing the African nations.

--Kuhndu is not a real country.

During the scene on Capitol Beat, host Mark Gottfried asks "why is this bill better than the Republican package the president vetoed?" But in the season 3 episode "Ways and Means", it is stated that the President has never vetoed a bill before!


Let's Talk West Wing!

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    • MrMojo01 profile image


      6 years ago

      One of the best shows ever!

    • LabKittyDesign profile image


      6 years ago

      Most WW trivia: in the pilot, Toby tells the flight attendant they're flying on an L1011 that came off the production line 14 months ago. Lockheed stopped producing the L1011 decades ago. The more you know! (**swishy star**).

    • Rankography profile image


      7 years ago

      I loved this show and Sorkin's writing. I think he did a great job with The Social Network and it had a similar feel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is my fav show of all time! Thrilled you wrote a lens on it. I once wrote a screenplay (kind of) based on a Josh Lyman-type character it to this day I laugh every time I re-read it. GREAT idea for a lens!!!

    • javr profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Great show. I haven't seen it in a while so this lens brings back lots of memories.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      7 years ago from Iowa

      I always loved this show. I continued to watch it in syndication for many years. I guess I always wished that he really was our president. :)

    • surfingtheweb profile image


      11 years ago

      What a great very informative lense on The West Wing.


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