Prickly Pear: 10 Great Moments From Richard Schiff’s Toby Ziegler On ‘The West Wing’

Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler

Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler

By Daniel Ford

I once had a conversation with Richard Schiff on Twitter that still brings a smile to my face whenever I think about it.

Yes, I also proved what a huge nerd I am for “The West Wing.”

I always want to be like Bradley Whitford’s character Josh Lyman—cool, brash, desired by Janel Moloney’s Donna Moss—but my personality matches better with Schiff’s Toby Ziegler. He plays the tortured, cranky, and self-doubting writer and political operative pitch perfectly and makes you root for the character even when he’s driving you crazy.

Choosing my favorite scenes from the show is tough, but choosing my favorite Toby Ziegler scenes proved damn near impossible. But I finally settled on these 10 to share with the Writer’s Bone audience. Feel free to share your own favorites in the comment section or tweet us @WritersBone.

Don’t Bring Me Half A Thing

“Get one. Have an idea.”

I’m inspired every time I hear it. This clip should be in any editor’s holster where it can be quickly pulled and fired at a writer struggling to come up with ideas. Joshua Molina’s line at the end provides perfect comic relief and reveals why Toby is crankier than usual. As with most writers, it’s about a woman.



Pool Side Manner

I know it’s coming and I laugh every time.

Drunk West Wing Writers

Drunk Toby singing the “M*A*S*H” theme song while trying to wrestle his scotch glass away from Dulé Hill’s Charlie Young…I mean…I can’t.

Panda Power

Toby’s good mood—which he’s not even enjoying—is ruined by Panda bears. Panda bears. (Starts at the 1:30 mark)

Suck It Vegans!

“It’s a bowl of weeds.”

Eating a salad is fine if it’s covered in barbeque sauce and falls off the bone. As in, it’s actually a rib and not a salad. That’s the only way it’s tasty and filling. No one needs to know the names.

Walk It Off

I need a whole show of Richard Schiff hitting things with a big stick.

Defining A President

Not much better than two estranged friends getting together to bicker. I’d say this will be Sean Tuohy and I one day, but we’d both be Toby, so it wouldn’t work. We’d silently brood at each other at a Starbucks before wetting ourselves.

Suck It FAA!

Toby started the push to have stupid, inane, and clueless FAA regulations changed. Atta boy!

he Art of Delegating

Josh goes for the joke and Toby burns him!

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