The West Wing

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Name: The West Wing
Abbreviation(s): TWW, WW
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Date(s): 1999-2006
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB
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The West Wing was an American political drama TV series created by Aaron Sorkin. The story centers primarily on President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), his wife Abbey Bartlet and his staff Leo McGarry, Josh Lyman, CJ Cregg, Toby Ziegler, Charlie Young, Sam Seaborn, Will Bailey and Donna Moss. The series was known for its fast-paced and often witty dialogue, a trademark of Sorkin's.

The show ran for seven seasons over 1999 to 2006; creator and head writer Aaron Sorkin left after four, at which point John Wells took over. Fandom is divided as to the merit of the "Wells seasons". A general consensus is that the show suffers in season five when the new writers fail to accurately mimic the Sorkin style, only to improve when the focus of the show changes (with significant cast overhaul) to the Presidential campaigns to replace Bartlet. However, it is not uncommon to find active members of the fandom who have either never seen the "Wells seasons" or actively deny the events that occurred. It is also not uncommon to find people who prefer the later seasons.

In addition to the large cast overhaul that takes place in the "Wells seasons", The West Wing has a massive secondary cast of characters who appear and disappear from the show seemingly at random.


The West Wing takes place in a subtly altered timeline from our own. Arguably an alternate universe, the most noticeable changes include a changed Presidential election timeline, with election campaigns occuring in what would be midterm years in our universe. Common shared fanon is that a special election was held after Nixon's resignation, although every President up to Reagan is mentioned in the course of the series.

In addition, world-changing events that did occur in our universe during the course of the show did not happen. The most notable of these is 9/11. Fictional countries in the West Wing universe include Qumar and Equatorial Kundu.

Real Life & The West Wing

From the beginning, West Wing employed several famous former staffers and pundits to add realism and verisimilitude to the show's politics and storylines. Among these were Dee Dee Meyers, President Clinton's former Press Secretary (and inspiration for CJ Cregg) and Lawrence O'Donnell, a former speechwriter and MSNBC pundit. At the height of the show's popularity, creator Aaron Sorkin was often lobbied to include issues on an episode of the show to influence the political debate.

Much like Star Trek and NASA, West Wing is also said to have a positive influence on encouraging people to pursue courses of political science and civics.

The sixth and seventh season Presidential campaign arc is noted for the eerie ways it seems to foreshadow actual events in the 2008 Presidential Election. President-elect Barack Obama was the inspiration for the character of Matt Santos.[1] Clinton's former Deputy and Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel is said to be the basis for Josh Lyman.[2]

Fan Fiction

The West Wing has a fair amount of gen, including many missing scenes, as well as a healthy amount of pairing-oriented fic. Due to the show's basis on the American Presidential cycle, several special labels exist in this fandom: pre-administration (or pre-admin) - fic which explores the backstory and mostly unseen first Bartlet Presidential campaign, and post-admin, speculative fic on what happens to the characters after the end of the Bartlet Presidency.

It is important to note that much post-admin fic in this fandom was written prior to the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons, when the focus of the show changed to the campaign to find Bartlet's successor. Fics dealing with this era of the show are known as "Santos Campaign" or "Santos Administration" stories.

Due to the show's roots in the American political process, the fandom has strong ties to pundit RPS and Political RPF. It is also frequently crossed over with the wider Sorkinverse. The Bartlet and Santos Presidencies are often used in other crossovers if there is a need to show government processes and the author prefers not to depict the real American government. Since several cast members play similar roles in other shows and films they are often used as the springboard for crossovers; for instance, Clark Gregg's roles as FBI Agent Mike Casper and as SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson have resulted in stories in which Casper is actually Coulson under cover or vice versa.




With a huge, diverse, and highly overworked cast of characters, almost everybody on the West Wing has been shipped or slashed with everybody else.[3] However, there are some dominant ships. On the slash side, Josh/Sam is probably the most widely written, though there are many Jed/Leo fans also; both of these often extend into threesomes: Sam/Josh/Donna and Jed/Leo/Abbey. Popular femslash pairings include Abby/CJ, Amy/Donna, and CJ with Gina Toscano, who was on Zoey's security detail in the first season. On the het side, pairings include all the canon ships and some noncanonical ships, including: Josh/Donna, Josh/Amy, CJ/Toby, CJ/Simon, Sam/Ainsley, and others. Fan reviewers (such as on Television Without Pity) joke about Josh Lyman/Matt Santos.

Mailing Lists

  • Abbey Bartlet (mailing list) archive link "A fanfiction/discussion list for the character of Dr. Abigail Bartlet (Stockard Channing) on The West Wing. Any pairing, any rating! If you are under the age of majority, please choose what you read wisely. That said, enjoy!"
  • Sam_and_Toby archive link "This group is dedicated to Sam and Toby. There are a lot of lists out there for Josh and Sam, now you can enjoy talk and fanfiction on Sam and Toby. Anything is allowed, Slash is welcome, just label please. Please join and feel free to post anything."
  • West Wing Uncon archive link "A list for 'West Wing' stories featuring unconventional pairings. Whether it be Josh/Abbey, or CJ/Donna, or Jed/Sam, or threesomes -- anything you won't normally find in everyday fanfiction for this fandom. Please note that some of these stories are rated NC-17. Stay away, kiddies!"
  • All Manner Of Things archive link "A place where people can feel free to discuss a plethoria of topics in addition to discussing "The West Wing", Richard Schiff and anything else. Anything goes, however the first sign of negativity will be dealt with with a strong hand."
  • West Wing Slash Fan Fic [ archive link] "A slash fan fiction and discussion list dedicated to the magnificent TV show West Wing and its many characters. Stories in all possible pairings, both m/m and f/f, are encouraged. All fiction posted on the list can also be found at our new archive: The Big Block of Cheese: The West Wing Slash Archive. This is an adult list, so by subscribing you indicate that you are of legal age, 18 or higher. If you however are not, please unsubscribe yourself immediately."


The West Wing is often considered a difficult fandom to vid, possibly because of the "walk and talks". However, there have been some vidders up to the challenge, and there are also many many shipper vids, particularly Josh/Donna shipping vids.

  • Circles by Laura Shapiro: a daring instrumental vid that uses the interplay of instruments to orchestrate the complex emotional dynamics between the characters during the MS plot.
  • One Week by Apocalypse West: uses the rapid-fire lyrics of the Bare Naked Ladies song to capture the fast-paced Sorkinesque action of the show.
  • I Hear Bells by Xandra: the upbeat lyrics of Mike Doughty contrast with the viewer's knowledge that Josh's PTSD is set off by music.

Terms coined by the fandom

  • Mandyville: Named after Mandy Hampton, a supporting character from the first season of the series who was inexplicably never seen again after the season ended, the term "the character went to Mandyville" describes when a character in ensemble cast disappears from a series/franchise with no in-universe explanation and is never seen, heard from, or mentioned again. In real life, Mandy's actress Moira Kelly departed the series after she and Aaron Sorkin mutually agreed that she didn't fit in with the rest of the show but no explanation for how and when the character left was ever provided in the story. An alternate name for this phenomenon is "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome", named so after the Happy Days character who abruptly disappeared from the series after the first Christmas special and seemed to be completely forgotten about.

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