Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff, and Rob Lowe in the Oval Office in 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

15 Secrets About 'The West Wing' Fans Should Know

Nowadays, political shows have become a dime a dozen. But back in the late '90s and into the early '00s — there was only The West Wing.

It's been more than 20 years since the brilliant political drama first aired. Now, in the spirit of nostalgia and paying credit where credit is due, here are 15 secrets about The West Wing that all fans should know.

Martin Sheen was only supposed to appear in a handful of episodes.

Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlett in 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

Writer Aaron Sorkin's original vision was to focus on the White House staffers and felt that the President would overshadow everything. Once he realized the caliber of Martin Sheen's performance, he quickly changed his mind.

The goldfish bowl backdrops were often a subtle way of foreshadowing the events of a particular episode.

Goldfish Gail in her bowl on 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

You can see a submarine in "Gone Quiet" which alluded that a submarine had gone missing. In "The Stormy President", there's a coffin with a flag across it — signifying that President Bartlett would attend a funeral for a former President.

Josh Malina was the resident prankster on set.

During a Zoom reunion for The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin revealed how Josh Malina was known for putting vaseline on the phone receivers. According to Allison Janey, he once his a fish in her trailer.

Writer Aaron Sorkin was completely against casting Rob Lowe, at least at first.

Rob Lowe and Allison Janey in 'The West Wing'.
Giphy |

Sorkin was able to come to terms with the fact that a bonified movie star would be portraying the American President. However, he thought that casting Lowe in the role of Sam would throw off the show's balance.

Former President Bill Clinton almost ruined everything.

Scene from 'The West Wing' aboard Air Force One.
NBC | NBC

"The Monica Lewinsky scandal was happening at the very time I was writing The West Wing pilot," Aaron Sorkin explained to Empire. "And it was hard, at least for Americans, to look at the White House and think of anything but a punch line."

The series had an incredibly high budget for the time it was produced.

Josh Lyman saying "Victory is mine!" on 'The West Wing'.
Giphy | HBO Max

The first season of The West Wing cost roughly $3 million per episode. It might sound like a lot until you compare it to a show like Game of Thrones — which cost $15 million per episode in its final season.

Allison Janey became a role model to female political pundits, everywhere.

Allison Janey behind her desk on 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

"People come up to me all the time and say they changed their majors in college, they went into public service because of C.J., and I get it," Allison told Entertainment Weekly. "She's a wonderful character, she's not afraid to speak truth to power."

Allison Janey used to lip-sync "The Jackal" in her trailer as a way of entertaining her co-stars.

Once writer Aaron Sorkin saw the stellar performance, he loved it so much that he decided to include it in the show.

Martin Sheen considers his time spent on 'The West Wing' to be one of his career highlights.

Martin Sheen looking out the window on 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

Sheen told Entertainment Weekly that playing President Josiah Bartlet was "The most satisfying thing I've ever done in my acting career. I always think of it with gratitude and humility."

The series helped pioneer the walk & talk method of shooting.

The West Wing might not have invented "Walk & Talk" but it most definitely perfected it. In the series, the longest "Walk & Talk" was well over three-minutes long.

Aaron Sorkin's cameo happened after he left the show.

Aaron Sorkin on late night TV.
Giphy | Team Coco

Fans may have spotted the Oscar-winning writer during Santos' inauguration. Ironically enough, Sorkin had already been gone from The West Wing for three whole seasons before this cameo took place.

Martin Sheen's signature jacket flip was a case of art imitating life.

President Bartlett had an undeniably cool way of putting on his jacket. It turns out that this was out of necessity, due to the fact that Martin Sheen sustained an injury to his shoulder while he was being birthed with forceps.

Aaron Sorkin never envisioned himself writing for television.

Martin Sheen as Josiah Bartlett in 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

Sorkin and his pal Akiva Goldman were sneaking a cigarette at a dinner party when Goldman pointed to a poster of The American President and remarked how it would make a great TV show. From then on, the seed was planted.

The series opening shot of President Bartlett standing at the podium was intended as an homage to another famous President.

President Bartlett banging his head on 'The West Wing'.
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If you look closely at the opening credits, you may notice a few similarities to former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. It's the same one that he took during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The cast got to drink vodka in the situation room after Bradley Whitford was recognized by a White House staffer.

Bradley Whitford on 'The West Wing'.
NBC | NBC

"Somebody had recognized Brad and said: ‘We’re doing night duty in the situation room downstairs,'" producer Tommy Schlamme said per The Hill. "When you guys get done, come down and have a drink.’”