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Season 7 was the final on-air season of The West Wing. It consisted of twenty-two episodes, the first of which aired on September 25, 2005 and the last on May 14, 2006.
A special episode, The Debate, was broadcast live in both the Eastern/Central and Pacific Time zones and used the format of an actual Presidential debate, with News Anchor Forrest Sawyer as moderator. The season also saw the death of cast member John Spencer and subsequent death of his character, Leo McGarry. Unlike the previous seasons of the show, which mostly followed the calendar year over the course of several months, this season closely followed the post-convention week-to-week behind-the-scenes operations of both the Santos and Vinnick campaigns, and the Bartlet administration's efforts to cement its legacy. It was the first season that did not feature all of the regular cast members in the opening credits of every episode. Alda, Janney, McCormack, Whitford, Smits, and Sheen are credited in every episode whether or not they appear. Spencer continued to be credited as a main character even in the episodes that were filmed after he died.
As the season opens, Congressman Matt Santos has just received the Democratic party's presidential nomination and begins his campaign in earnest against Republican party nominee Senator Arnold Vinick for the presidency. Santos begins his season 9 points down against his opponent, and must struggle to catch him throughout the season. A pivotal point in the campaign comes when both candidates engage in a single debate, which was depicted in a special episode that was aired live on both the East and West Coasts of the United States.
Meanwhile, the lame duck Bartlet administration struggles to maintain a balance between establishing its own legacy while simultaneously ensuring a Democratic victory. While doing this, the President attempts to avert a war between Russia and China over who controls an oil-rich former Soviet state, a war which could escalate into a much larger conflict. On a lighter note, the President's middle daughter, Ellie, marries her fiancee in a hastily arranged White House ceremony after revealing that the couple is expecting a baby.
Leo McGarry, a veteran of conducting campaigns behind the scenes, must deal with being thrust into the spotlight as a nationally recognized political figure. He must learn not only to campaign effectively but also to learn how to deal with handling ambushes from the Press and debating a skilled political opponent.
As the Santos campaign continues to lag consistently in the polls, an accident at a Nuclear power plant in California suddenly swings the balance in favor of them when it is revealed that Vinick pushed hard to get the same plant up and running. The presidency is suddenly completely up for grabs.
On election day, the race is neck and neck. As both campaigns await the outcome of the close election, it is revealed that Leo McGarry (played by John Spencer, who had died earlier in the year) has died from a heart attack on the night of the election. At the end, Matt Santos wins an extremely narrow Electoral College victory.
Following the election, both the White House staff and the President-elect's staff mourn Leo's death, and look for someone who can take his place as VP. The remaining episodes of the series deal with the transition to the new administration, including the selection of the new cabinet and senior staff, the incoming first family's adjustment to their new living conditions, and the outgoing staff's future careers. The season - and series - ends with the inauguration of President Santos
- Alan Alda as Senator Arnold Vinick
- Stockard Channing as Abigail Bartlet
- Kristin Chenoweth as Annabeth Schott
- Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
- Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
- Joshua Malina as Will Bailey
- Mary McCormack as Kate Harper
- Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
- Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
- John Spencer as Leo McGarry
- Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
- with Jimmy Smits as Matthew Santos
- and Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet
- Mary-Louise Parker as Amy Gardner
- Oliver Platt as Oliver Babish
- Marlee Matlin as Joey Lucas
- Lily Tomlin as Deborah Fiderer
- Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
- Gary Cole as Bob Russell
- Emily Procter as Ainsley Hayes
- Teri Polo as Helen Santos
- Timothy Busfield as Danny Concannon
- Janeane Garofalo as Louise Thornton
- Patricia Richardson as Sheila Brooks
- Ron Silver as Bruno Gianelli
- Allison Smith as Mallory O'Brien
- Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally
- Kathleen York as Rep. Andy Wyatt
- Stephen Root as Bob Mayer
- Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield
- Xander Berkeley as Franklin Hollis
- Brett Cullen as Ray Sullivan
- Tom Everett as Charles Frost
- Mitch Pileggi as Senator Dresden
- J.K. Simmons as Harry Ravitch
- Chris Ellis as Congressman Tim Fields
- Sam Robards as Greg Brock
- Annabeth Gish as Elizabeth Bartlet Westin
- Steven Eckholdt as Doug Westin
- Nina Siemaszko as Ellie Bartlet
- Ben Weber as Vic Faison
- NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper
- Renée Estevez as Nancy
- John Aylward as Barry Goodwin
- Matthew Del Negro as Bram Howard
- Karis Campbell as Ronna Beckman
- Evan Arnold as Ned Carlson
- Diana-Maria Riva as Edie Ortega
- Ramón De Ocampo as Otto
- Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman
- John Aylward as Barry Goodwin
- Ron Canada as Ted Barrow
- Steve Ryan as Miles Hutchinson
- Thomas Kopache as Bob Slatterly
- Ryan Cutrona as George Sliger
|Seasons of The West Wing|
|Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3 • Season 4 • Season 5 • Season 6 • Season 7|