West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / #40 "17 People" * When was the Shooting & What Year is it?

The shooting in Episode #22 "What Kind of Day Has it Been" was broadcast at the end of the First Season in May 2000. But when did it really take place?
  • May (like Toby says in #40 "17 People" and what it first seems like since it follows closely after George Washington's Law School Graduation)?
  • Or August (since at the beginning of #25 "The Midterms" C.J. says, "A week ago the job approval's at 51. We get shot at and it's at 81. Yeah, I think the numbers are soft." and the meeting she says that in has an on screen date projected that says "August 14th. 12 weeks before Election Day" and that episode ends on election day in November and they count out the weeks in between to make it obvious; so, one week after the shooting was in mid-August)?
  • Or some other time?
Jennie Dailey-O'Cain noticed Toby's comment about May in Episode #40 "17 People" before we did.
She writes: "My pet theory is that "What Kind of Day Has It Been" must have taken place in May, and "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" in August, with time freezing for several months in between. ;-)"
Indeed, maybe June and July don't exist in Sorkin's world and that is why the elections are held in different years than in our world without any changes in the Presidency up to the 90s or so.
Another note about Toby's comments about the shooting in May from Episode #40:
Toby is talking about May (which would mean the previous May) but also claiming that "it is seven and a half months to the Iowa caucus" [#40] (which is in February), but he is talking in April. But that would put the Iowa caucus in November which it isn't.

What Year is it at various times in the series?
There are reasons to think that the series takes place in years that correspond to the year each episode is first broadcast:
  • The issue of George Magazine in Josh's in box in the pilot (with him on the cover) is dated April 1999. [#6]
  • Talk of the coming new century in a 1999 episode. [#6]
  • Talk of when the millennium starts in an episode at the end of 1999 (an argument that was taking place in 1999 in many places but hardly ever before or after) [#110]
  • The days of the week corresponded to 1999 in an episode in 1999 in which the day of the week was mentioned on the days before Christmas and the overlap was exact. [#110]
  • At least two mentions during the 2001 season of the 107th Congress. [#33]
  • Amy speaks at "Agenda 2002" in "The Two Bartlet's" broadcast January 30, 2002. (The "Agenda 2002" was seen and pointed out to us by Christian Volk)
  • In The Black Vera Wang C.J.'s current email messages shown on the the computer screen are all dated 2002
  • When Charlie talks to Zoey about her trip in the morning to France, he says she'll be on the Concorde. Air France's final flight of the Concorde was May 31, 2003. (However, William Anderson points out that British Airlines was still flying Concordes until the 24th of October and "Zoey could have hopped from JFK to Heathrow on a British Airlines Concorde flight, then jumped on a Heathrow to CDG flight to make it to France"). [#423]
  • During an episode shown in 2003 and set on the Fourth of July, Bartlet says, Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven years ago a bunch of guys got together on the fourth of July and decided... they would declare some self-evident truths." [#503] July 4, 1776 was 227 years before July 4, 2003.
And there are reasons to think that the series takes place in years that don't correspond to the year the episode is first broadcast:
  • The fact that December 23 is a Sunday in 2001 and since a full House Committee Meeting was scheduled for that day --- something that wouldn't have been done on a Sunday --- one might think it couldn't have been 2001 BUT then full House Committee Meetings wouldn't be held so near Christmas on any day of the week: Congress takes off for a holiday recess well before Christmas. [#53]
  • A Verizon phone booth in a flashback that would have had to take place before Verizon was formed [#23]
  • 2000 cars on the road during a flashback that would have had to take place years before that year if years corresponded [#23]
  • And as John Spier points out "In 'Bartlet For America', Leo comments that October 30th, the day of the last debate, was 'eight days before the election'. However, if Bartlet was elected in 1998, and the 'first Tuesday after the first Monday' (U.S. Constitution) in November of 1998 was the 4th. that was only five days later." [#53]

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