Some of the exterior shots of the West Wing office were filmed on location at the South Portico of the Headquarters of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution on 1776 D Street NW in Washington D.C.
A Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire was a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence. Martin Sheen's character is supposed to be his descendant.
When he asked C.J. (Allison Janney) out on a date, Danny said, "I enjoy movies, I enjoy music, I'm not wild about ice-skating, but what the hell, I'll do it." Allison Janney trained throughout her childhood to be an Olympic figure skater.
During the first season, an episode centers around the census during the second year of the President's term. This means that in the "West Wing" universe, presidential elections took place in 1998.
Martin Sheen was originally only scheduled to appear in four episodes per season. It was only after the pilot was filmed that it was decided to make him a regular cast member.
Martin Sheen also played the president (albeit in another character's premonition) in the 1983 movie The Dead Zone. However, whereas his character in "The West Wing" is a good man and benevolent leader, in "The Dead Zone" he was a twisted, evil tyrant intent on nuclear Armageddon.
At the 2000 Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Awards (the Emmys), the show won a record nine Emmy awards - the most for any season of a television series - and it was also only in its first season.
Bradley Whitford was originally offered the part of Sam Seaborn after auditioning for Josh. He called Aaron Sorkin and got the part of Josh.
The show has a strong connection to the "Revenge of the Nerds" series of movies. Bradley Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman, played Roger in Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. Timothy Busfield, who played Danny Concannon in several episodes, was Arnold Poindexter in the first two "Revenge..." movies. Ted McGinley, who has played anchorman Mark Gottfried in several episodes, played Stan Gable in the first, third, and fourth "Revenge..." movies. James Hong, who played the Chinese ambassador in an episode, played Snotty in the second movie. John Goodman, who played President Glenallen Walken, was the football coach in Revenge of the Nerds. James Cromwell played Mr. Skolnick in all four Nerds movies played former President Newman. F. William Parker was the policeman in the first Nerds movie played Rev. Caldwell in the pilot episode.
Eugene Levy was at one time considered to play Toby Ziegler.
The drive-up "West Wing" entrance most often filmed for the show is actually a set used to cover a large door to one of the two sound stages used by the production company. It's located at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California, and can be seen from the street by looking in off Forest Lawn Drive (although often obscured by the many trailers used by the show's actors).
The set is supposedly so realistic that Warner Brothers studio tour groups are not permitted inside the sound stages where the show is filmed due to White House security concerns. (Some exterior sets, including the South Portico, may be viewed on the tour.)
Won the Best Drama Series Emmy in each of its first four seasons.
The set was the largest constructed for both a pilot and a television series to date. It was so large that during the first season it had to be housed on two stages, each with an identical yellow corridor for continuity. During the hiatus between the first and second seasons, the set was moved to a larger stage and put together, where it has remained ever since.
On the set of the series one day, Allison Janney was entertaining the cast and crew by lip-synching to an obscure spoken jazz piece called "The Jackal", by Ronnie Jordan. Aaron Sorkin liked it so much that he wrote it into the next episode of the show ("Six Meetings Before Lunch") as a ritual of C.J.'s.
This was the first American drama series to react to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Aaron Sorkin wrote a special episode ("Isaac and Ishmael") that was filmed and broadcast within only a couple of weeks. The episode, which featured the lead characters discussing a terrorist threat upon the US and being locked down inside the White House due to the name of a man on a Terrorist Watch List matching that of an (innocent) White House worker, was not considered part of "West Wing" continuity.
At the beginning of the show's sixth season, Israel's ambassador flew from Washington DC to Los Angeles to visit the set of the show. He met with most of the crew and explained to them the details of Israel's relations with the US. This helped the crew while filming, as the sixth season of the show is dedicated to Middle Eastern relations.
Aaron Sorkin resigned from his job as writer and executive producer after the fourth season following a protracted dispute with NBC executive Jeff Zucker (II).
Leo's "Big Block of Cheese" story is true. Andrew Jackson received an enormous block of cheese from the people of New York and, when he hadn't touched it in two years, gave it to the people of D.C. to celebrate Washington's birthday. They finished it in two hours.
The name Josh Lyman is from a Doonesbury strip in the 1990s. He also worked in the White House. The "West Wing" Lyman actually has the strip in his office.
In a 2006 LA Times article, real-life former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers (a consultant on the show), revealed that the relationship between press secretary C.J. Cregg and reporter Danny Concannon was based upon her own relationship with and eventual marriage to former New York Times White House correspondent Todd Purdum, although unlike C.J. and Danny, Meyers and Purdum never dated until after Myers left the White House. The same article also revealed that Josh and Donna's relationship was also based upon real White House staffers, albeit ones who never dated.
Two characters on "The West Wing" share the same distinctive names as two people involved with the Nixon presidency. Ronald L. Ziegler was Nixon's press secretary, while the Director of Communications in "The West Wing" is called Toby Zeigler. Alexander Butterfield was a deputy assistant to Nixon, while the Secret Service agent assigned to President Bartett is named Ron Butterfield.
Janel Moloney was never supposed to be a regular. Co-star Bradley Whitford pointed out the obvious chemistry between the characters of Josh and Donna, and Aaron Sorkin agreed. Nevertheless, Moloney was credited as a guest star for the entire first season. The first time her name appears in the opening credits is in Episode 2.1 "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part I"
The character of Mandy (played by Moira Kelly) was abandoned after the first season. Aaron Sorkin and Kelly both agreed that the character had run its course. However, Sorkin never explained on the show what happened to Mandy - the character just disappeared. This gave birth to the term "Mandyville", a reference to where characters go when they disappear from a series.