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The West Wing was a political drama produced for American TV by the screen writer Aaron Sorkin, which ran for 156 episodes over seven seasons. Based around the workings of the members of the federal government close to the President of the U.S.A.; each episode commonly follows a day or small number of days as members of the President's staff explore a political issue or problem facing the President or passing a law.

The majority of The West Wing takes place in the area of The White House around the Oval Office where the President and his senior staff members work. President Josiah Bartlet is the fictional leader of the free world who heads a Democratic administration; the President is played by Martin Sheen. Writer Aaron Sorkin grew the idea of The West Wing from unused plot points and themes unused from the 1995 Sorkin penned film The American President; Martin Sheen played the President in Sorkin's film. Alongside Martin Sheen the series opened with a cast including Stockard Channing as the First Lady, Abigail Bartlet and Rob Lowe as Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn.

Aaron Sorkin was responsible for writing or co-writing 85 of the first 88 episodes in the first four seasons; at the end of the fourth season Sorkin left The West Wing. After Sorkin left the show the focus slowly moved away from the characters of the first four seasons and by the sixth season the race to become the next President was the main focus of The West Wing. Jimmy Smits played the Democratic nominee for President and Alan Alda the Republican nominee to replace President Bartlet.

The West Wing is often praised for its realism, aided by the fact the producers created a large set based on the real West Wing of The White House. The seven seasons of the show ran on NBC in the U.S. between 1999 and 2006.

7 Seasons, 156 Episodes - Canceled
September 22, 1999
Drama
8.8/10
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The West Wing Full Episode Guide

  • As the Bartlet administration prepares to make their exit, the staff pauses to look back on their past 8 years working in the West Wing. Meanwhile, the incoming Santos administration nervously awaits the inauguration, and then Santos' staff take their new positions and offices in the White House.

  • With Santos' inauguration nearing and the Bartlet administration preparing to leave the White House, C.J., as well as the other staff members, has to decide what to do with her future. Meanwhile, Andy asks Bartlet to pardon Toby so he won't be faced with jail time, and C.J. and Danny talk about their relationship.

  • While Santos debates who to choose as his Vice President, Helen has to deal with her new duties as First Lady and new issues the First Family are facing. Meanwhile, Vinick has to figure out what to do now that the election is over.

  • The White House is shocked when the President-Elect calls the President of China, taking a different position on foreign policy than that of President Bartlet. Meanwhile, Josh debates who to choose as deputy Chief of Staff.

  • In the wake of Leo's death, the current staff, as well as staff members from the past, join President Bartlet at Leo's funeral. Meanwhile, Santos must deal with the loss of his running mate.

  • As the polls close and results begin to trickle in, tensions, as well as emotions, fly. Santos and Josh deal with the loss of the Vice Presidential Candidate, and Vinick argues with his campaign team. Meanwhile, the First Lady and Liz Bartlet-Westin eagerly await the results of Doug's campaign for Congress.

  • During the night before Election Day, C.J. is faced with choosing between job offers, Josh stresses over the returns, and Annabeth makes a shocking discovery.

  • Toby is pressured to reveal the source of the shuttle leak; as election day nears, Santos pushes himself to his limit while on the campaign trial.

  • As election day nears, the candidates begin to feel the strain of the campaign trail. Despite the lack of sleep and physical ailments, the candidates are forced to make difficult campaign choices. Things take an unexpected turn when Vinick finds an opportunity to hurt the Santos campaign.

  • With the possibility of a nuclear reactor exploding in California, the presidential hopefuls struggle try to come up with a strategy to deal with the impending disaster while President Bartlet faces the problem as well. Meanwhile, Kate keeps close watch on Russia and China fighting over Kazakhstan.

  • C.J., while in the middle of the China-Russia crisis, must deal with embarrassing information about a Bartlet all while monitoring the conditions in the Sudan. Meanwhile, Josh goes to Will for help with the campaign, and C.J. and Danny go to dinner together.

  • As the staff prepares for Leo's Vice-Presidential debate, they must deal with Internet criticism that Leo is weak and unfocused. Meanwhile, when Santos stops by his home while on the campaign trail, he and Helen must learn to cope with the new security surrounding their home as well as problems that Jorge Santos, Matt's brother, may cause them.

  • On the day of Ellie's wedding, Bartlet must try to help an escalating situation between China and Russia regarding oil all while preparing for his daughter wedding at the White House. Meanwhile, as Election day approaches, the Santos campaign begins to question Josh's leadership, threatening his job.

  • After the boost from the debate, Santos runs into trouble when he visits a Los Angeles community where a young African-American boy was shot and killed by a Latino police officer. Meanwhile, Ellie continues to plan her wedding, and C.J. deals with a crisis between China and Kazakhstan.

  • Santos and Vinick go head-to-head in a live, primetime debate. Two versions, one for the East coast and one for the West coast aired, moderated by Forrest Sawyer and hosted by Ellen Degeneres.

  • As the White House copes with the knowledge of the leak, Babish's questioning leads Toby to call his lawyer. Josh, with the persuasion of Lou, decides that the Santos' campaign must clean house, and is forced to make hard decisions about who out of the young, inexperienced staff should go. Meanwhile, Bartlet and Abbey meet Ellie's fiancée, and Kate confronts Frost about his ambush on C.J.

  • C.J. has to deal with issues by herself when most of the White House staff is subpoenaed to testify in the leak investigation. A Palestinian leader is assassinated and Bartlet, despite major security issues, decides to attend the funeral. Meanwhile, C.J. is given intelligence information, and the public response to Santos' answer to an intelligent design question bothers Josh, though the rest of the staff is unaffected.

  • Weeks into the campaign, Vinick decides to begin targeting immigration - an issue that Santos hasn't yet addressed. Santos pulls a stunt which leads to higher approval ratings and throws off the Vinick campaign. Meanwhile, Vinick has a meeting with Charles Frost.

  • When the Grand Jury convenes on the military leak investigation, Santos and Vinick are left to deal with the fallout. Vinick deftly handles the issue, but Santos, bound by party loyalty, is forced to take the same stance as the Bartlet administration.

  • Political commentators begin to criticize Santos' choice of running mate, but Josh remains sure of Leo as his running mate. The investigation into the leak continues and White House Council Babbish interviews C.J. about the investigation. Meanwhile, Donna approaches Josh for a job.

  • With Vinick securing the Republican nomination for president, Russell offers Santos the vice president slot in the Democratic ticket -- but Russell has yet to win the Democratic nomination. While Santos and his staff debate the offer, Bartlet gets Leo to help with the nomination stalemate. Meanwhile, the staff is put to work when a space station begins leaking oxygen and a rescue mission becomes more and more complex; and Bartlet catches Charlie leaving Zoey's bedroom at 1 in the morning.

  • Vinick wins the Republican nomination for presidency and immediately begins working tirelessly on his campaign. He brings in political operative Bruno Gianelli for advice on choosing a vice presidential candidate and the controversy over Vinick's lack of church going. Meanwhile, the Democrats have a three-way race for the nomination with Russell leading Santos and third-place Hoynes; and Bartlet tries to show party unity.

  • With rumors flying over the U.S.'s connection to Cuba, Bartlet is forced to decide whether he wants to continue talks with the communist dictator or reaffirm the sanctions that would lead to political fallout. Meanwhile, Leo and Kate find a common connection over corrupted elections and drinking habits.

  • When the Speaker of the House won't schedule the President's stem cell bill, Santos hatches a plan to pass the bill. Bartlet reluctantly meets with the economist that he split his Nobel prize with, but the meeting doesn't go well since the two are political rivals. Meanwhile, Toby takes interest in a group of middle school children who come to the White House to talk to the staff about voting age; and Kate deals with a Canadian border crisis.

  • Now that Vice President Russell appears to be the Democratic nomination front-runner, Josh is becoming increasingly annoyed that Santos is drawing less press coverage despite his strong New Hampshire finish. Josh begins to suspect that the White House is secretly backing a candidate when he finds a link between Senator Rafferty's health care plan and Bartlet's original health care plan. Meanwhile, C.J. deals with lobbyists over a Western drought; and Charlie talks with Kate Harper when a man at his gym asks about her.

  • With the New Hampshire primary quickly approaching, Josh has to find a way to get Santos into the local debate between front-runners John Hoynes and Vice President Russell. However, Santos and Josh take a gamble and stage their own debate, bringing in Amy Gardner, Josh's ex-girlfriend, leading Josh and Santos to clash over the campaign.

  • When the staff learns that the Iranian pilot had mistaken the passenger jet for a U.S. spy plane, Bartlet calls in Lord John Marbury for guidance. Meanwhile, Abbey and C.J. argue over the President's rigorous work schedule; Toby and a law professor help work out a constitution with the representatives of Belarus; and the rest of the staff attempt to avoid an appointment with Miss Universe.

  • Presidential rivals Santos and Vinick meet by chance at an Iowa motel restaurant after a day of campaigning. Earlier in the day, the two candidates, as well as Vice President Russell spoke at the Iowa Corn Growers' Expo, each having to take a stance on ethanol subsidies. By the end of the day, Santos and Vinick come to realize that they both have worthy opponents.

  • Its the day after Bartlet's final State of the Union address, but there's no time to rest with a hostage crisis looming in Bolivia that takes the staff's attention away from an agenda meeting set up by Leo. Meanwhile, as Kate works on the Bolivia situation, C.J. monitors the situation in North Korea; Annabeth tutors Abbey on NASCAR etiquette; and Toby focuses his attention the unemployment situation.

  • Santos begins to work on his Presidential campaign and sets up headquarters with Josh in New Hampshire. Together, they sort out a myriad of problems from setting up their office to the ideals and goals of the campaign. Meanwhile, Donna and Will work on Vice President Russell's campaign, but Donna has a hard time accepting that Josh is gone.

  • The press get wind of a rumor that C.J. is a lesbian, and when C.J. refuses to comment on the rumor, the media becomes increasingly suspicious that the rumors are true. While the rumors fly, a Republican candidate attaches a rider to a bill that would ban gay marriages. Meanwhile, Santos tells Josh he'll run for President -- only if Josh will run his campaign; and Abbey, as well as the staff, assess Bartlet's health.

  • In China, Bartlet is having difficulty sitting through meetings due to his paralyzing MS episode while aboard Air Force One. Back in Washington, NASA warns the staff that an asteroid is heading towards Earth, leaving Josh and Leo to decide how to prepare for the possible collision. Meanwhile, Donna confronts Josh about her future while Josh continues to search for the perfect Democratic candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections.

  • At a Bartlet family birthday party at the White House, guests Penn and Teller burn an American flag, causing a publicity catastrophe for the staff. With Bartlet's second term nearing its end, candidates for President are emerging, including Senator Arnold Vinick, who has managed to impress Josh. Meanwhile, Bartlet experiences an MS episode while aboard Air Force One; and Josh is asked to run the Vice President's campaign for President.

  • As the staff finalizes President Bartlet's visit to China, their plans are thrown a curve when Bartlet inadvertently accepts a a flag from the Taiwanese delegation representing the Taiwanese Independence Movement. His accidental action leads the Chinese to mobilize their forces, causing chaos among the White House staff.

  • After a U.S. peacekeeping compound is attacked, resulting in several American soldiers being fatally wounded, the White House struggles to contain the story when a soldier speaks out against the mission. Meanwhile, Congressman Santos attaches a patients' bill of rights to a Republican bill, setting up a strategy to add Democratic elements to a Republican agenda; Leo faces off with his nurse; and Charlie starts his job at the White House.

  • When Josh test drives an SUV and accidentally crashes into a hybrid car, Annabeth Schott, the newly named Press Secretary, must deal with the publicity as well as the general opinion that she's too young for the job. Meanwhile, Zoey throws Charlie a graduation party; Leo gives C.J. hints to succeed as Chief of Staff; and Toby worries that Annabeth may be too young to do well in her new position.

  • While Leo continues to recuperate after his heart attack, C.J. is named Chief of Staff. But her first day on the job isn't made easy when an emissary from the Republic of Georgia comes to the White House to offer the U.S. enriched uranium from a former Soviet reactor. Josh goes to the DCCC for tax cut support and meets Matthew Santos, a congressman and potential Presidential candidate from Texas. Meanwhile, Toby and Donna interview applicants to fill C.J.'s old position.

  • The staff returns after the Camp David peace settlement to chaos in the White House after Leo has a heart-attack. With Leo in the hospital, Josh and Toby are assigned to get congressional support for the peace accord. C.J. works to gain additional international support from the U.N. Security Council. Meanwhile, Donna returns home from Germany; and Charlie refuses to take a swimming test that would allow him to graduate.

  • With bombs falling on terrorist training camps in Syria, Palestine and Israel continue to talk about a resolution to the conflict. Bartlet and Leo continue to clash over the settlement, leaving the two to realize their irreconcilable differences. Meanwhile, Josh returns to Washington and begins questioning Leo's well-being.

  • With Donna remaining in critical condition in a hospital in Germany, Palestinian leaders agree to meet with the U.S. and Israel to discuss a peaceful resolution to the pending conflict. As the three nations meet, Donna's condition worsens, Colin begins to question Josh about his true feelings for Donna.

Most Popular The West Wing Episodes

  • Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot 9/22/1999
  • Season 1 Episode 6 Mr. Willis of Ohio 11/03/1999
  • Season 1 Episode 2 Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc 9/29/1999
  • Season 2 Episode 2 In the Shadow of Two Gunmen - Part 2 10/04/2000
  • Season 7 Episode 22 Tomorrow 5/14/2006

The West Wing News

'More As the Story Develops': Aaron Sorkin To Produce New Cable News Drama Pilot for HBO

When Keith Olbermann left MSNBC with a hastily announced and controversial exit last week, rumors flew that he may end up working with Aaron Sorkin on a new project. Sorkin is in the running for an Academy Award for the writing he did on “The Social Network,” and he’s perhaps best known for creating the hugely popular “The West Wing.” Oh, and his crack problem.

Now Entertainment Weekly is reporting that HBO has ordered a pilot for a new dramatic series Sorkin is producing about cable news.

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