West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Characters * Toby Zachary Ziegler

NBC Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler © NBC Photo: Kevin Foley
Position: White House Director of Communications
Age: said he was 44 in May 2002, born December 23, 1954 (those don't correspond if the year on the show is the year the episode was broadcast, but could if the year was three years earlier, though that doesn't seem likely from other indications. See our analysis of what year it is on the show.)
Played By: Richard Schiff - Won an Emmy for the role

Spouse: He has an ex-wife who is in Congress, Andrea (Andy) Wyatt, but during the mcu of the first season, at least, he wears a wedding ring.
Children: Twins [#423]
  • Huck (Huckleberry, named after Andy's grandfather)
  • Molly (named after the Secret Service agent who was killed the day the twins were born)
Mother: He speaks of her in the present tense as in "That's what my mother calls it too. . . ." [#104], but then says she's been dead for 12 years. [#54] (pointed out by Rachel Stirba)
Father: He is retired. "He made ladies raincoats and before that he worked for Murder Incorporated." [411] He's "been convicted of multiple felonies." See also more information on Fathers in general on this show.
Siblings: Brother named David who is an astronaut (actually, a payload specialist) and has post graduate degrees in both physiology and biology. There is some problem between them. [#22] Also as Rachel Stirba points out: Toby has at least two sisters, as he mentions that they "took him to protests" in "Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to Jail".
Grandfather: "My grandfather lived to be ninety-six, but the last twenty years he thought the Habsburgs still lived in a big palace in Vienna." [507] (editor's note: did he only have one grandfather that he should say "my grandfather" instead of "one of my grandfathers"?)

Education: He has been seen in a CCNY (City College of New York) sweat shirt [#5] so he may have gone there for part of his college (or law school - do they have a Law School?).

Religion: Jewish. Although Toby seems cynical about everything, Sam assumes that Toby will probably be at Temple first thing Saturday morning. [#14] (The Rabbi of his temple wears a yarmulke though most of the men in the congregation don't. Michael Singer writes us that wouldn't be Conservative in his part of the country: "being a Conservative Jew and having gone to a conservative temple my whole life, I can tell you that not only do most people bring their own yarmulkes, but if someone doesnt have one on, someone will politely remind them or actually bring them one. I believe more accurately that almost all denominations wear them and it might have just been an oversight by Sorkin. but, if it wasn't, then most probably it was a Reform or Reconstructionist temple with my guess being Reform.")

Office Decoration: On the Wall of his office Toby displays an Amnesty International poster - Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 50th Anniversay poster, which used to be available for $15 from the Amnesty International shop.

Military Service: He seems to have spent a tour of duty in Korea --- if he did it would have been late 70s or early 80s, (enough to be able to identify a tattoo as indicating that a homeless man was there during the war. [#110]) Also, he says, "I've seen shooting before." [#25] (Now this doesn't mean he was in Korea during the "War" in the 50s. No peace treaty was signed when "hostilities" ended. And there were numerous clashes for the next several decades and we still have a huge military presence in South Korea that has to always be ready for a new invasion from the North. Well past the end of the Vietnam war there were armed clashes in Korea every year and our servicemen died there from hostile incursions up until recently.)
  • In [#110], Toby says, "I [Sorkin says he was supposed to say "The Guy"] got better treatment at Paanmunjom."
    --- He could have served in Korea in the late 70s, early 80s. He could have been shot at over the "De-militarized zone" while on patrol or he could have been attacked by the incursions that were still happening at that time. He could have felt that those who served in Korea (even 25-30 years later) had not been treated well by the "Peace Talks" which were carried out and concluded at Panmunjom. So he could have said "I got better treatment at Panmumjom" no matter what Sorkin meant him to say. So until we learn something else that contradicts this, there is this possibility.)
  • Toby flinches strongly at the sound of gun fire. [#110]

      --- Above link on Panmunjom was originally posted at Television Without Pity's West Wing Forum by Christina Leone.
Work History: Claims to have been a professional political operative his whole life but never was on a winning campaign until Bartlet's Presidential bid in 1998. [#23&24] (So, it seems he also never helped in his wife's campaigns for the Congress.)
"The first election I ever worked, you know, was Bronx Borough President. There was some question about my guy's tax returns so we called a press conference. It was 104 degrees that day on Bronx Boulevard. And I thought with the tax thing ,the shorter the better so I turned off the air-conditioning."
"Did the press end it fast?" Sam asks.
"Not the press so much as the candidate fainting."
Where From: New York, (Brighton Beach [#401-402](

Personality Traits: A rough sense of humor. And he does tend to drink a lot occasionally:
"I'm gonna be over there at the bar, drinking a lot, if anybody needs me." --- Toby [#16]
"I'm just guessing, I'm pretty drunk." --- Toby [#23-24]

Nickname: ex-wife Andrea calls him Pokey (supplied by Robyn).
Where his office is:: "Exactly 63 feet from the Oval Office. If you think we don't measure it, you're out of your mind." [#60]

Romantic Interests: He wore a wedding ring in the first couple of seasons well after he was divorced. He was still married in the early days when the Bartlet Administration took over the White House and later again asks his ex-wife to marry him [#405].

Income: Bought a stock for $5000 which increased in value to $125,000 in one year. To avoid any indication of misdeeds, he was going to work for one year for $1 (Sam's idea which Toby felt was unfair but which he went along with for practical reasons).

What He Drives: 1993 Dodge Dart (he claims this [#104] but he could have been exaggerating). And it turns out that Dodge didn't make a Dart in 1993 (they only made them till 1976. Check it out: http://www.dodgedart.org/ --- was supplied by the owner of Inside the Bartlet White House and investigated by someone whose "handle" is "Bgirl") !

Plays: Basketball, Tennis and probably anything else that is highly competitive.
Watches: Indications are he is a fanatical Yankee fan. [#120]

Leisure Activities: Seems to regard arguing as both work and play: "I'm arguing now. I'll call back." [#110]

What He Likes: Pie

His Feelings about Words: "The World can move, or not, by changing some words." [#5]

What He Says About Himself:
  • "I agree with Josh and I agree with C.J. and I agree with Sam. And you know how that makes me crazy." [#101]
  • "There's literally no one in the world I don't hate right now." (Said during the time people are making jokes about him making $120,000 on a stock buy.) [#104]
  • "All of a sudden I became the kid in the classroom with his hand raised that no one wants the teacher to call on." [#5]
  • "There's literally no one in the world that I don't hate right now." [#104]
  • Happiness is my default position.[#60] - although, one should remember that Toby's first language is sarcasm and he has a very dry sense of humor. Not that people who are grumpy to others can't be happy on the inside. Then too when one feels happy, it can seem like it's normal. We're just saying. . .
  • "I've been to 441 baseball games at Yankee Stadium." [#3-23] (quote supplied by Candice, originally posted on the West Wing Forum at televisionwithoutpity.com)
  • "...I love kids and I want them and I don't have to have them." [#405]
  • "I'm told that on my sunniest of days, I'm not that fun to be around." [#411]
  • "I was nervous I wasn't going to love my kids the way other fathers love theirs.... for nine months you're hearing how this is going to change your life and you've never loved anything like this... and nothing's going to be important anymore. It just never really felt to me that I was someone who had the capacity for those feelings. Plus you know I like what's important to me. I want it to stay important. I-I want to be able to do it well." [#423]

What Others Say About Him:
  • "You're are a wise and brilliant man, Toby." --- the President [#5]
  • "I don't like your sense of humor."
    "I get that a lot." [#19]
  • "I'm glad David Rosen passed on the communications job. They couldn't have done better than you. . . ." [#5]
  • "Mr. Ziegler from the Coney Island Killjoys." --- the President [#5]
  • "You called me a paranoid nudnick." --- Toby to C.J. about what she had said. [#5]
  • "You're cute. And I love the way you write." --- The Poet Laureate of the U.S. Tabitha Fortis [#60]
  • "You know how you're always saying you wish people were more like you?" --- Congresswoman Wyatt, back when she was married to Toby [#405]
  • ". . . I know better than to stick my face in your personal life, except, you know, for sport" --- C.J. [#407]
  • "It's hard to get Toby to speak his mind." --- Bartlet (sarcastically) [#510]
  • "The cuts are reflective of the fact that Toby Ziegler's never written a five-minute speech in his life." --- C.J. [#522]

Conversations About/With Him:
  • "You know what, Toby? You're what my mother calls a pain in the ass."
    "That's what my mother calls it too, Sir." [#104]
  • "This is why you have a reputation as a pain in the ass." ---Josh
    "I cultivated that reputation." [#17]
  • "You like winning, don't you?" --- Josh to Toby
    "It saves you from having to say the word, please." [#17]
  • "You have to go to the meeting. I told them you'd be at the meeting. If you're not there they're going to start right off insulted." --- Josh to Toby
    "I go to this meeting, there's a decent chance they're going to end up insulted."[#17]
  • "Nobody likes people who know everything." --- C.J . to Toby
    "So I've discovered in my life." - Toby [#31]
  • "I think you're just being nice."
    "I think if you ask around, you'll discover that's unlikely." - Toby [#60]
  • "Believe me if we were able to enforce U.S. law around the world, I'd retire and go scuba diving." - Toby
    "You like diving?"
    "I've never done it. I've uh never done anything, but I've seen pictures and it looks fun. I've seen pictures of people out there in the world and they all look like they're glad they are. Now, granted when I'm looking at these pictures somebody's usually trying to sell me something, but I'll tell you what, I'm 44 years old and I'm buying." - Toby ["Enemies Foreign & Domestic"]
  • "You want to lighten up a little?" --- Josh
    "I am lightened up. This is me lightened up. You're saying lighter? [#401-402]

What He Says about Working for the Bartlet Administration and the Democratic Party:
  • "This administration doesn't even need an opposition party, do you know that? We do fine by ourselves." [#102]
28 Amendment
Don't miss Neal Rechtman's election thriller The 28th Amendment in which an actor
who portrays a fictional US President on television gets drawn into real-world politics
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