So I started this list in January, and figured nobody cared, so I never planned to publish it. However, I continued to work on it to relieve some stress throughout the school year. Since the school year is over, and I'm avoiding studying for physics, I decided to publish the list. Feel free to suggest episodes, especially from later seasons.
  1. S1E1 pilot
    It's actually an incredible pilot, as far as pilots go. All of the characters are quickly well established, and the episode ends with badass Bartlett throwing shade right from the Oval. "He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham, your president's a geek."
  2. S1E6 Mr. Willis of Ohio
    This is one of the first examples of the staff being a family. The scene where they all play poker and the President spouts off fun facts is honestly goals. The Charlie and Zoey moments in this episode are really good! The Mr. Willis storyline is adorable and makes you patriotically believe in American democracy. "There is one fruit whose seeds are on the outside. Name it please."
  3. S1E10 In Excelsis Deo
    This is the first Christmas episode, and probably the best. It's incredibly sentimental, while also being thought provoking. The final scene is one of the greatest musical moments in television history. Bonus: Rob Lowe's sons are in this episode as random child extras. "Nothing says Christmas like animal fables in iambic verse."
  4. S1E22 What Kind of Day has it Been?
    Very exciting first season finale! It certainly ends on a cliffhanger but it also sets it up so well! Bartlet giving a speech to college students, along with being a total dad to his own college age daughter makes me so happy. (Side note: real life president Barack Obama does this just like Jed Bartlett) "Decisions are made by those who show up."
  5. S2E1+2 In the Shadow of Two Gunmen
    Probably one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. I love the back stories and the character development, but I also love how much it reflects the fact the world keeps spinning even after a major tragedy. It is somehow so overtly a dramatic reinterpretation of the Reagan assassination attempt, while still being nuanced. "Because that's what men do for old friends of their fathers"
  6. S2E5 And It's Surely To Their Credit
    Though not Ainsley Hayes's introduction, it's her beginnings at the White House and I love it. Sam is loyal to a fault to the people he cares about and his temper is real bad but it comes from a good good place. Also Donna and Bartlet get some good scenes. "You know what guys, when I write something I sign my name"
  7. S2E10 Noel
    Again, the Christmas episodes have my heart. This one is so drastically different from the typical Christmas special and it works so well. Yo Yo Ma is involved, so I'm sold right from the start, but there is something so incredible about making the episode about PTSD take place on Christmas but really have nothing to do with Christmas. "I've been down here before, and I know the way out"
  8. S2E15 Ellie
    The introduction of Ellie as a character is very important, and I love when characters on the show are doing things other than politics. The whole conflict with the surgeon general is a nice little storyline, and it's just a good Jed Episode. "The only thing you ever had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day"
  9. S2E16 Somebody's going to emergency, somebody's going to jail
    This melodramatic Sam episode is a ton of fun to watch. There is a fantastic establishment of Sam and Donna's friendship, which I absolutely love. There is also the storyline about the maps, which is honestly life changing. I still don't really understand the title of the episode but whatever. "I hate these people with the heat of a nova"
  10. S2E18 17 People
    I will never get tired of it. Sam, Josh, Donna and Ainsley are writing material for the correspondents dinner, and they're all fighting. Donna is mad at Josh for getting her flowers, Ainsley is against the ERA! On top of that, Toby and Bartlett are are arguing about the MS ordeal. This is the is the episode with the sweet Josh and Donna "I wouldn't stop for red lights" moment. It's all so important! "Knock knock, who's there? Sam and his prostitute friend"
  11. S2E22 Two Cathedrals
    One of the greatest things ever put on television. No question. The mesmerizing transitions and flashbacks to young Jed are poignant and touching, the music is fab. The latin rant in the cathedral is like nothing before or after! On time I watched that scene 14 times in a row. Incredible! "Have I displeased you, you feckless thug"
  12. S3E1 Isaac and Ishmael
    This episode is not part of the actual series and it doesn't fit in to the story line in any way, but I think it's an incredible little time capsule that portrays the confusion and conflicting sentiments that resulted from 9/11. Some how this episode has better characterization than ones with actual plots. "You guys know, I guess, that I accidentally got shot a little bit or something."
  13. S3E16 Dead Irish Writers
    I love Abbey Bartlett, and this episode is all Abbey. It's her birthday and she's dealing with losing her medical license. There's also a semi tolerable Amy/Josh story line, and a great story line about Donna not being an American citizen. Lord John Marbury is there, and Hector Elizondo (Joe from the Princess Diaries) also guest stars, so that's important. "Claudia Jean, let's get drunk."
  14. S3E22 Posse Comitatus
    Another fantastic season finale. Jed deals with the decision to assassinate the Qumari defense minister, a suspected terrorist, just hours after he meets the president in the White House. Josh and Amy are on the verge of a breakup (God bless) and C.J.'s stalker drama comes to a head. The campaign is on, which causes good Bartlett sass! The music in this episode is all so good too! "Just for future reference, 'crime, boy, I don't know' is when I decided to kick your ass."
  15. S4E5 Debate Camp
    This episode has lots of cute moments. It literally has a summer camp vibe. Toby wants to get back together with Andy, so the group all plans to meet up and help him. Bartlett is preparing for the debate and there are flashbacks to the first campaign. At one point Sam does a Bartlett impression, everything is great! "See, I lent voice to thought, and that was my mistake."
  16. S4E6 Game On
    Bartlett and Ritchie debate, and Bartlett does. Not. Disappoint. This is also the introduction of Will Bailey, and there is instant chemistry between him and Sam. (Too bad it's the only episode they're in together) Also, there are multiple tie related story lines that work oddly super well. "First of all, let's clear some things up. Unfunded mandate is two words, not one big word."
  17. S4E15 Inauguration Part II - Over There
    The beginning of the end. It's really the last good episode, especially of the ones that Aaron Sorkin wrote. The Josh and Donna storyline is crazy good! I'm thoroughly convinced that they actually get together in this episode, but it's just subtext. Also, Charlie really wants to get Zoey back and it's really adorable. This episode is just full of really good quips and one liners, and everyone is dressed up all fancy! "I'd take off my shirt too but it's inappropriate with a tuxedo."
  18. S4E20 Evidence of Things Not Seen
    It's another poker game episode! Will starts to become part of the family, and joins in on the banter. Shots are fired at the White House, which creates a more nuanced storyline as everyone reacts. Matthew Perry guests stars, and Josh and Donna have a few moments (more subtext!!). C.J. is also being her optimist self, and Toby is incredibly not, and the ending is just really cute. "Yeah, but we're scrappy."
  19. S4E22
    The Zoey kidnapping storyline is not my favorite. But this episode has some damn good Dad monologues that win my heart. It's the official end of the Sorkin era and I don't know how to feel about it. Bonus: Emilio Estevez plays young Jed in in the clips they play on the news. "I didn't realize babies come with hats."
  20. S7E22 Tomorrow
    This is the series finale and I would be remiss if I didn't include it for nostalgic reasons. The mixture of everyone leaving the White House, and then all of the new people coming in and being in awe is perfect. Even though the final lines of the show weren't "what's next?", it's a pretty good finale. "Make me proud, Mr. President."