Why Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing

Many critics consider Aaron Sorkin as one of the pre-eminent writers of this generation: his career-defining series The western wing won 26 Emmys over his television life and snagged the 2010 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay The social network, and a host of other nominations or award statues followed him almost everywhere he set foot. Unfortunately, as an individual, Sorkin has long had a reputation for being overbearing anywhere from prickly to harsh, especially towards his colleagues/employees. Sorkin’s departure follows Those of the west wing Season four was a surprising, chaotic moment, with multiple perspectives on why the author left at the questionable height of his pop culture fame – and a revisit of the situation brings to mind differing, complicated opinions about Sorkin himself.

Aaron Sorkin is reportedly not easy to deal with


Some of Sorkin’s less stellar moments in recent times include his dismissive response to being rejected from casting Javier Bardem as an actor Desi Arnez in Sorkin’s biopic Be the Ricardos. Sorkin also drew fire for defending Netflix’s decision not to take down the comedian Dave Chapelles highly controversial specials with transphobic content. In 2014, Alena Schmidta member of Sorkins The newsroom Writers Room, claimed Sorkin “yelled at her” when she objected to a sexual assault episode. In fact, the episode was controversial when it aired, drawing widespread criticism for its derogatory tone about the college campus rape epidemic. Sorkin’s response claimed that Smith would not “carry on” her concerns, so he sent her home for the day. (Smith later served as showrunner for the acclaimed series on Apple TV+ dickinson)

RELATED: The True Story Behind Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men

Also in 2014 leaked emails from the Sony images Hack revealed that Sorkin thought it was easier for female actors to win awards because male roles required more effort (and, by implication, more talent). Similarly, the author has repeatedly drawn ire for writing female characters.

To his credit, Sorkin has spoken at length about his past struggles with overcoming addiction. In the second season of The western wing In 2001, police arrested Sorkin for possession of illegal drugs. “My big fear when I quit drugs was that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore,” he shared men’s magazine. “Because when you’re a writer and you’re on a roll — and I was on a roll when I was high — you don’t want to change the way you work.” As of 2023, Sorkin has been sober for over 20 years.

Sorkin insisted on writing 99% of The West Wing episodes

President Jed Bartlet is seated in the Oval Office
Image via NBC

Since the conclusion of the series in 2006, several west wing Actors have spoken of their ringleader’s meticulous control over the series’ creative direction. Sorkin wrote or supervised almost every screenplay during this time Those of the west wing first 88 episodes. Considering the old 24 episodes per season, one season per year, that’s an inhumane task for a single person. Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlina celebrity west wing Guest star, called her time on the show a “profound experience” and praised the quality of Sorkin’s diction. But she also noted that none of the actors adjusted their dialogue or improvised during the scenes. Her role as a political polls analyst involved complex mathematical equations, so she asked Sorkin if they could adjust her lines to make it easier to translate into sign language (Matlin is deaf). Sorkin replied that it had to match the script exactly. Matlin doesn’t seem upset by this moment, but it does show the iron fist Sorkin used to rule his scripted kingdom.

As a result, Sorkin missed script deadlines, episodes repeatedly went over budget, and scheduled days of production were halted with no material to film. In a retrospective with the hollywood reporter, Sorkin revealed that he and the executive producer Thomas mud First look during the third season. “It was an impossible decision,” Sorkin said, but he and Schlemme knew it was wise and timely to pursue other professional endeavors. John Wells, one of the series’ executive producers and her showrunner after Sorkin’s departure empire online Sorkin had felt “exhausted” since at least the third season due to the Herculean task of creating each episode.

NBC wanted to change The West Wing because of Sorkin’s delays

Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman and John Spencer as Leo McGarry in the West Wing Noël episode
Image via NBC

Perhaps unsurprisingly, NBC network executives wanted to limit Sorkin’s prized scrutiny. That intention was an obvious no-no for Sorkin, which is perfectly understandable to a certain extent under certain circumstances. Many writers can attest that allowing another to rule over your creations is difficult, weird, and even frightening. Still, it made sense from NBC’s perspective as a company to streamline production and stay within budget constraints.

Season 4 in particular saw sharp clashes between Sorkin and NBC. According to Wells, “The network was very unhappy about this rob [Lowe] left and wanted Aaron to make up bigger stories for him to persuade him to stay.” A conversational writer, Sorkin refused to go beyond his signature character style of discussing moral and socio-political issues. At the end of season four, Sorkin gathered his main cast together in the Oval Office after they finished filming the cliffhanger finale and informed them he was leaving. Sorkin claimed at the time and in recent interviews that he and Thomas KMU resigned at their own request. Wells alleges the author accidentally resigned at a meeting with NBC executives.

The aftermath of Sorkin’s departure

west wing allison janney
Photo via NBC

Either way, the result was devastating for the cast. Josh Malina said “there were many tears and many protests” afterwards; Richard Schiff was also stunned, but ultimately understood and supported Sorkin’s decision. “I wouldn’t want to change the way I work if I were Aaron,” he said empire online. four times (for The western wing) Emmy winner Allison Janney expressed The Hollywood Reporter like “it was a tremendously sad day and I’m sure I’ll never fully understand all the reasons why that happened.”

There was no indication from Thomas Schleicher that he would one day reveal all of his and Sorkin’s reasons. It may have been a conflagration of intersecting factors, and there are many sides, perspectives, and feelings attached to the story. Whatever the ultimate truth, Sorkin’s departure from The western wing was complicated, controversial and remains a mystery.

https://collider.com/aaron-sorkin-the-west-wing/ Why Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing

Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: dustinhuang@24ssports.com.

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