West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Continuity * Discontinuity

New: See our new lists of consistency problems within episodes and the changes in actors and venues. Plus a page that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else which goes into why Toby wasn't right when he corrected the person in the pilot episode on the numbers of the Ten Commandments! For questions raised by information in newer episodes, see the Query Notes near the top of the episode page.
The West Wing
Nothing is ever perfect. But if you don't pay attention to the kind of mistakes you have made in the past, there is a major possibility that you will just keep repeating the same kinds of mistakes instead of going on to new and better ones.

So we list here things that seem to us to have been mistakes in the creation of the West Wing's World. Elsewhere in the site, we list the differences between West Wing's World and this one. Differences have to be accepted since their world can't be the same one in which Clinton was President for most of the 1990s . Continuity errors are contradictions. We try to explain them when we can, but they are usually due to faulty memory on the part of those involved in the creation of a complete world.

This website is also going to have mistakes and the hope is that caring people will point out those mistakes so that they can be corrected. (Join our gold star list by emailing us when you see an error, even a typo.) It must be admitted that correcting a website is easier than going back to correct something already broadcast.

Oh, there are some things that appear to be contradictions or differences in the world that are not, like the fact that Leo was Secretary of Labor during what must have been a Republican Administration. The Secretary of Defense under the Clinton Administration was a Republican!

New: A list of consistency problems within episodes and the changes in actors and venues.

There is no particular order to the following list and this is just for starters:

The Attorney General was Black is now White (Said to be Black [#3] then introduced as a white guy [#21])
So maybe the first one quit and has been replaced. But this Administration is looking pretty Republican White. Even the Republicans would have more minorities than we've seen in this cabinet & senior staff. Someone in "West Wing's" casting department has an outdated view of what a Cabinet Secretary looks like!

President has been married for 32 years [#104] but his wife had a "boyfriend" 30 years ago. [#17]
An extramarital lover wouldn't be called a boyfriend so they were referring to something that happened before they were married. He seems to pay attention to numbers and she may just round them off, but many (even, perhaps, most wives) do pay attention to anniversaries and tend to know, without figuring, just how long they've been married. . . .

Toby wears a wedding ring but when he meets with his ex-wife and she mentions a date, there is no mention of Toby's current wife. [#120]
Most likely explanation is that he gained some weight during his marriage and couldn't get the ring off and hasn't had the time or the inclination to get to a jeweler to have it cut off. It seems likely that if he had remarried, some mention would have been made to his current wife.

The Vice President claims he delivered the South in the election but he's a Texan and they lost Texas.
Maybe their Republican opponent was also from Texas and though they lost his home state, they took the rest of the South. But for the South as a whole to go for a Democrat is just about unheard of any time in the last few decades. Sometimes one wonders just how different this world is --- maybe they are just a little ahead of us.

Leo claims that the President would say "economists were put on the earth to make astrologers look good," but that seems an unlikely statement for an economist to make. [#101]
Within the world itself this is not easily explained. Maybe, Leo forgot for a moment that the President was an economist and was just using his name to express his own opinion (Leo occasionally does use the President's name to express his own opinion). But it is difficult to imagine him forgetting that the president is an economist.
However, Deborah Sullivan suggests that the explanation is simpler when she writes, "I've worked with economists (including, for a time, Nobel Laureate Larry Klein) for the past 16 years and most of them have quite a healthy sense of humor about their "science" (since they know it isn't exactly a science, more of a science/art mix). We often talk of economics as all smoke and mirrors."
Outside the fictional world, however, the explanation is probably more that the writer of the pilot (Sorkin) didn't know while writing this line that the president he was creating was going to be a Nobel Prize winning economist. This, however, is no explanation at all for what happened in this fictional world.

The President has MS but he had a doctor see him once a week and as President is expected to get a full physical exam each year and to make the results public?
MS, it seems, is fairly difficult to diagnose and if he hides his symptoms, doctors may never look for the indications. Or as Sam Stephens writes: "The only way to be certain of a diagnosis of MS is to do an MRI of the skull. If he doesn't have this done during his yearly exam (and why would he?), they would not find out he has the disease." For more information see The National Multiple Sclerosis Society which states: "There is no laboratory test, symptom, or physical finding which, when present or positive, always means a person has MS." About the type of MS Bartlet has, it says: "A relapsing-remitting course [of MS is] characterized by partial or total recovery after attacks (also called exacerbations, relapses, or flares). This is the most common form of MS."

In a Congressional roll call, the names are given before and after the name Willis and Wyatt isn't mentioned [#6] though she is a prominent member of Congress and has been for some time [#120]. (Note: in the differences between this world and that one, it is noted that in the world in which Clinton was President, the House doesn't take voice roll calls but votes electronically.)

The reason Charlie gives for not going to college is that he has to raise his little sister. But his mother died when he was 19 or 20 and he doesn't seem to have been in college up to then.
Possible explanation is that he was taking a year out before going to college. But he should have been able to go to college after his mother died. As a police officer killed in the line of duty, the children should have had all kinds of death benefits, insurance and funds that make sure these children can go to college. And he would have had more time to raise his sister if he was in college than if he had a 17 hour a day job 7 days a week being a gofer for this President! (However, Matt Tucker reminds us that Charlie wasn't applying for a 17 hour a day job, but for the messenger job. But it was August when he applied and what he wasn't was enrolled in college. There are all kinds of funds for making sure the children of police officers killed in the line of duty can go to college. He should have been able to raise his sister and go to college. Instead, he now has no time to do either.)

Leo tells Lord Marbury that "...we don't allow smoking in this part of the world." [#11], but he does allow both Toby and Sam to smoke cigars in his office for the late night poker games the staff has [#6]
Of course, at the point Leo made the remark to Lord Marbury, it was plain that his Lordship irritated Leo. In fact the Englishman had just said that he thought Leo was the butler.

The President comments that one of Abbey's friends thinks he's xenophobic because he doesn't like Mexican food [#17]. Yet in L.A., he chooses to have lunch in a Mexican restaurant [#16] (discrepancy pointed out by Andrea D. Buckley)
Of course, most Mexican restaurants offer other food (steaks, etc) and maybe he likes guacamole but not any other Mexican foods. Or maybe he wasn't being serious in his comment.

The President's Secret Service code name was "Eagle" in August of 1999 [#102], but was changed to "Liberty" in January of 2000 [#12] (perfectly acceptable since the Secret Service needs to change its code names now and then). But then they changed it back to "Eagle" in early August of 2000 (and they would never go back to an old code name though they might change to a whole new one). [#23-24] (This going back to the old code name was caught and pointed out to us by David S. Tokarski.)

In "20 Hours in L.A." someone tries to hire C.J. to "develop" projects and she says she doesn't know what that is. When she refers to "a three picture deal", she says, "what ever that is". Yet in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" in the flashback, we learn she worked in movie and television public relations (at a salary of $550,000 per year) so she should have known the industry fairly well. This discrepancy was pointed out to us by Harvey Lang & Michael Moldofsky.

No matter what C.J. remembers and Sam claims, it is clear that someone else pushed C.J. to the ground while Sam stood along side and reached out to her and then jumped in. There is a screen capture on "The West Wing Online" on a page of pictures from the episode. The relevant picture is in the fourth row from the bottom next to the one where the Secret Service agents push the President into the car! This screen capture (which proved us right on what happened to C.J. during the shooting) was pointed out to us by Lindsay Alberts. Also others reported seeing C.J. pushed down by someone else. However, the next screen shot shows Sam seeming to tackle her before the other person gets her to the ground.

Additional material added constantly. See Query notes at the top of newer pages.
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