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 "Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

This episode is the series finale of The West Wing.

Santos and his staff prepare for the inauguration as Bartlet and his team look back on their years in the White House.


It is the final day of Jed Bartlet's term, and Washington D.C. prepares for Matt Santos' inauguration. At the White House, Jed and Abby share a private moment in the residence, with Abby assuring Jed that he "did a lot of good."

While the President Elect and his wife are preparing for the Inauguration, C.J. Cregg is greeted by Charlie Young upon her arrival to the White House that there are ice storm warnings for parts of New England, and that the pardon attorney is waiting for the presidential pardons. When they reach her office, Will is there, advising about the weather in New England, and they discuss some housekeeping issues, the final briefing, the pardons and the tradition of the Press Secretary’s Flack Jacket. The Chief Usher arrives, detailing how the Bartlet’s possessions will be removed from the White House during the Inauguration.

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Bram briefing the Santos'.

The Santos’ are being briefed on the Inauguration schedule and protocol, including how the President Elect will be sharing a limo with President Bartlet and that well after the ceremony that they will be attending a total of nine Inauguration Balls. Helen voices her displeasure at all the pomp and circumstance, but her husband playfully reminds her that it is an adventure. Once this conversation has been completed, they head off to a church service to begin the Inauguration festivities.

Meanwhile, Margaret and C.J. are talking about final issues and the fact that they will have to vacate their parking spaces by 2pm. Will has given one of his final briefings and is disappointed that it went so well. He discussed the pardons (specifically “Granny Pot”) and the fact that there was a train derailment due to weather in New England. Charlie interrupts with the final copies of the pardons that await signatures.  Apparently, President Bartlet placed a call and added a name to the list: Toby Ziegler.  C.J. tells Will that he may get his chance for “a final pasting on national television,” after all.

President Bartlet arrives in the Oval Office for his last few hours of work. Purposefully, the only issue of concern is the train derailment. Deputy NSA Advisor, Kate Harper, has arrived to brief on the situation: apparently because of the train’s location, the two state governors are debating who should send out the National Guard. President Bartlet has Debbie get both of the governors on the line and after a random selection tells one of them to send out the National Guard. Situation resolved: the room empties with the exception of C.J., timidly offering the pardons. The President tells her that he hasn’t decided on anything yet. "I'm sure you'll do whatever you think is best. Toby's is the last one in the folder," she says, and is dismissed.

Later that morning, C.J. meets with Mallory, who has a gift for President Bartlet. C.J. is surprised that Mallory is giving the gift to her for delivery, offering to let Mallory deliver it herself. Mallory is unwilling to do so, stating that the gift is “sentimental” and indicating that the loss of her father after these last few weeks is still fresh on her mind.

Meanwhile, President Bartlet is subconsciously dragging out the morning. He has less than an hour, as Debbie reminds him, before he has to get ready to go to the Inauguration himself. He has signed most of the pardons, except one, (Toby’s), that is purposely on the far corner of his desk. Debbie comes to collect the signed pardons.  She asks about the last one, and he indicates that he hasn’t decided yet. Debbie reminds him that he needs to write his note for the President Elect, another tradition much like the Press Secretary’s.

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C.J. offers advice to Josh.

Back in C.J.’s office, Will asks about the pardons: one in particular. She is honest in her response to Will: she doesn’t know if it will be signed or not. Josh drops in for a visit, and the question about the Flack Jacket note comes up. Will admits writer’s block and Josh tells him that it's not critical, as long as it's humorous. Will leaves Josh and C.J. and she questions his early arrival. Josh didn’t attend the church services. Josh makes a final attempt to have C.J. stay on as a Senior Advisor to President Santos, and she declines, saying that Danny is waiting for her. Josh is understandably nervous about becoming White House Chief of Staff, but C.J. alleviates his fear. In the meantime, President Bartlet is on a walking tour of the White House, thanking all the staff and making small talk.

The church service is at an end, and the Santos’ are on their way to collect the Bartlets for the Inauguration ceremony. By now, President Bartlet is in his office, putting the finishing touches on his note to future President Santos. He announces to Debbie that he’s finished, and she asks him pointedly about the remaining pardon. He makes an excuse that he still has time when C.J. arrives with Mallory’s gift. He laments that Mallory didn’t come visit him and deliver this himself as he accepts the gift. Debbie, in an effort to keep him on schedule takes the present away and reminds him that he needs to get changed for the Inauguration. When C.J. and Debbie leave the office, President Bartlet signs Toby’s pardon and takes it with him as he leaves to deliver it to Debbie.

The President and the First Lady emerge from the Residence for the last time. She chastises him for being late; he argues that they are not late because the Santoses are not even there yet. She then tells them that the Santos’ are also late. Then begins a conversation where she states her concern that he might have "re-entry issues in returning to live among us mere mortals." The Bartlet daughters are going to be at the farm when they get there later this evening, and when he balks her point is made.

Before the ceremony begins, Margaret comes to C.J. with a folder telling her that it needs to get to the pardon attorney. C.J. looks at the document inside for confirmation:  it is Toby’s. Despite herself, she is pleased. In the course of the ceremony, the staffers pack the last of their offices, watch snippets of the Inauguration and watch as the mementos of the Bartlet era replaced with the beginnings of the Santos era.

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Arrival of the Santos staff.

The show comes to a close showing everyone’s transition: the mass arrival of the new staff, and the exodus of the old. C.J. leaves from the front gate of the White House, and, as she is walking, a tourist asks her if she works at the White House. She tells him simply no, and he comments that it must be something to work there. Charlie, Will and Kate all leave together, wondering what it is that they could do at two in the afternoon with no prospects of work in the near future. They decide to go to the movies.

Finally, we see Jed and Abbey on the plane. He is reminded of the gift from Mallory, and opens it to discover that it is a framed napkin, with the simple phrase from Leo that started Jed on this journey: "Bartlet For America." As the plane carries them home, Abbey asks Jed what it is that he’s thinking about.  He replies with one word: “Tomorrow.”



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]

Special Musical Appearance[]



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Aaron Sorkin at the Inauguration.

President Bartlet does a final walk through the West Wing thanking all his staff. During this, he stops and speaks with Nancy and asks about her mother. "Tell her I'm looking forward to seeing her again soon. Will you, please?" he says to her. Nancy is played by Renée Estevez, Martin Sheen's daughter.

The series creator, Aaron Sorkin, is one of the distinguished guests at the Inauguration. In addtion, Nora Paradiso and Schuster Vance provide cameos.

Glenn Close did not reprise her role as Evelyn Baker Lang for the Inauguration scene. The Chief Justice is played by actress Ann Ryerson.

President Bartlet's letter to President Santos reads as follows:

"Dear President Santos:

"Congratulations to you and your family. May your wisdom and experience guide you thru the next four years.

"Remember we [unintelligible] always do great things but [unintelligible] do all things with great love [unnintelligible].

"Best Wishes, Jed Bartlet"

The unintelligible words likely form a paraphrased quote from Mother Teresa, a Catholic saint of the 20th century, known for her charity: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."

Other than Mandy Hampton (Season 1) and Leo McGarry (deceased), Toby Ziegler is the only main character of any season who does not appear in the finale. Toby's full name, though, appears in print more than any other character's in this episode. His pardon is also President Bartlet's last official act as President.

The letter of pardon for Toby Ziegler reads, in part, "His trial is pending." In the previous episode, Institutional Memory, Toby told C.J. that he was reporting to minimum security prison on the 26th, and Andi Wyatt also referred to his sentencing in that episode.

In order to be considered for a Presidential Pardon, there is normally a five year waiting period, documentation that must be filed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney, and an FBI investigation that must take place before a pardon can be considered by the President. The President's pardon power under the Constitution is, however, unfettered; historically, Presidents can and have issued pardons without using the standard process, particularly for individuals known personally to them or prominent individuals. This would make Toby Ziegler’s pardon historically plausible, and somewhat akin to the pardon of former President Richard Nixon. (Nixon did not go though the documented process either.) [1]

The final names in the end credits belong to re-recording mixers Dan Hiland and Gary D. Rogers.


When the President and Abbey discuss who picked January 20th as the date of the inauguration, he wrongly blames the founding fathers. Originally, the drafters of the Constitution chose March 4th. It was changed to January 20th by the 20th Amendment which was ratified January 23, 1933.

The ending scene shows President Bartlett's plane flying over a large body of water. There is no large body of water on the flight path between Washington D.C. and New Hampshire. (Very often flights into/out of MHT will go in/out over the water going up/down the coast for flights to/from the south to avoid the BOS/NYC Airspaces)

Toby’s clemency letter is addressed to Toby Ziegler. As a legal document, it should have his legal name of Tobias Zachary Ziegler.

In the limo ride to the inauguration, President Santos says he selected "Kings 3:9-11" as the biblical quotation for his oath. This is technically incomplete: the Bible contains the First Book of Kings and the Second Book of Kings. Santos' selection is from the first.

Though he omits the accent mark within the letter, President Bartlet writes an accent mark over the o in President Santós. This would lead to a third pronunciation of Santos in the series, with the emphasis on the accented vowel [sahn-TOS]. It is also possible Bartlet badly missed while crossing the t in Santos, though his previously MS-hampered penmanship seems to have returned to normal.

When President Santos opens the letter on his desk from President Bartlet, the second paragraph is missing.

When the new president’s secretary reminds Matt Santos to repair to the Residence to get dressed for the inaugural balls, she says, “it’s almost six.” This is briefly confirmed at her exit which reveals the new grandfather clock in the Oval, which shows the time to be 5:47. While late afternoon sunlight shown is streaming through the windows, in actual fact, sunset in Washington, D.C. occurs at 5:15 PM every January 20.


Deborah Fiderer: Good morning Mr. President.
President Bartlet: Morning.
Deborah Fiderer: How are you feeling this morning?
President Bartlet: Unemployed.
Deborah Fiderer: A lot of that going around the building.

Deborah Fiderer: You do realize you turn into a pumpkin at noon?

Margaret: ...and they've asked that we vacate our parking spaces by 2pm.
C.J.: Not a problem: I walked today.
Margaret: Really?
C.J.: Yes. I often walk.
Margaret: You do?
C.J.: Sometimes I walk. I'm going to walk a lot when I get back to California.
Margaret: Los Angeles being a pedestrian nirvana.

Charlie: What about see a movie?
Will: It’s two o’clock in the afternoon.
Charlie: You got anything better to do?
Kate: No, I guess, we don’t.
Will: Is there a movie theater around here?
Charlie: I have no idea.

Deborah Fiderer: (briefing Ronna on her duties) Your most important job is keeping track of who's going in and out of the Oval Office. The first thing you'll need to do is establish who'll have walk-in privileges. Usually it's just the First Lady and the Chief of Staff. At some point, the President's going to ask you to take away his wife's walk-in privileges.  Don't do it, no matter how much he begs. You have the right to attend the morning staff meeting. I never went because the senior staff were already appropriately intimidated by my stern visage and dry wit. But you're young; you have a baby face. They are going to try and walk all over you. You should go. [Stands behind Ronna as she looks into Oval Office with awe.] Your desk sits right outside this door. You prepare his schedule. You decide who goes in and who doesn't. Your most frequent response to any question will be 'no'. [Gives Ronna's arm a reassuring squeeze] Say it with empathy, and you'll be fine.

Abbey Bartlet: What are you thinking about?
President Josiah Bartlet: Tomorrow.


"The West Wing" Tomorrow (2006)
The West Wing: Tomorrow


  1. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/pardons3.htm Jurist Leagal Intelligence