Toby Ziegler

Toby Ziegler

    The West Wing
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew up… in a Yiddish-speaking family in Brooklyn. Toby learned how to stay alive on the rough streets of Brighton Beach from his father, who was a soldier for the Jewish mob.

Living… in his own dour world in Washington, D.C. Toby is known for being excessively morose. He constantly complains about his job, despite the fact that he loves it. “Who needs Dante?” he asks as he boards Air Force One. “I’m on my way to hell at 30,000 feet.”

Profession… White House Communications Director. Toby’s official job is to write speeches, but his de facto occupation is something a bit closer to political watchdog. Toby is relentless when it comes to his political beliefs, and he’s the senior staff member who is most willing to confront the President when he believes that a wrong is being done.

Interests… pie. One thing that Toby absolutely loves in this world is a good piece of pie.

Relationship Status… precarious. Toby’s marriage has been in a rough patch since President Bartlet’s election. Apparently Toby is “too sad” for his wife, a Congresswoman from Baltimore. She has a point.

Challenge… learning to compromise. It’s to Toby’s credit that he stays true to his beliefs, but sometimes his unwillingness to lose makes him difficult to be with. He’s prone to be slightly overdramatic when he doesn’t get his way, saying things like, “There’s literally no one in the world that I don’t hate right now.”

Personality… sullen and moody, though darkly humorous. Toby does not suffer fools lightly. His world-weary attitude stems from his belief that the United States is not living up to its own potential. His high-minded ideals weigh heavily on his psyche. Even he admits, “I’m told that on my sunniest of days I’m not that fun to be around.” But he’s invaluable to the Bartlet administration as its moral conscience and internal gadfly.


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