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  • Episode 3 of Season 1, A Proportional Response has possibly one of the best Heartwarming moments, as well as a perfect Establishing Character Moment for Jed Bartlett as he meets Charlie for the first time.

 Bartlet: I'm Jed Bartlett.

Charlie: I'm Charles Young.

Bartlet: But you prefer Charlie, right? Listen, Leo McGarry filled me in on the situation with your mother, I’m so very sorry. I hope you don’t mind but I took the liberty of calling Tom Connolly, the FBI Director. We had the computer spit out some quick information. Your mother was killed by a Western .38 Revolver firing K.T.W.s, or what are known as ‘Cop Killer Bullets’. Now we have not had a whole lot of success in banning that weapon and those bullets off the streets, but we’re planning on taking a big whack at it when Congress gets back from recess. So, what do you say, you wanna come help us out?

Charlie: Yes sir, I do!

    • Note that at this point, Bartlett just had a very emotional and agonizing few days organizing his first military operation as President, had barely been introduced to Charlie, and had just snapped at Charlie due to crankiness after losing people he liked in a terrorist attack. Within minutes after being calmed down by Leo and being told of Charlie's tragic recent history, he has called up the freakin' FBI director to learned more about Charlie's situation, despite having to make a press announcement within the next few minutes. Bartlett does this for one total stranger, because he's that nice a guy. The following exchange sums up why he's the President of the United States:

 Charlie: I've never felt like this before.

Josh: It doesn't go away.

  • The West Wing has managed this on many occasions, but for a notable example: when Jed Bartlet, lying in a hospital bed, call Leo over and kisses him on the cheek.
    • This troper always loses all composure during the same episode when Josh is being wheeled into surgery after being shot, and Sam comes running into the group surrounding the gurney and frantically shouts, "Josh, I'm here!" Actually, most scenes from both parts of "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen" qualify for this trope, especially the flashbacks.
    • In particular, this Troper gets warm and fuzzy during the flashback when then-candidate Bartlet and Josh discuss the death of Mr. Lyman. While a ballroom full of people is waiting for Bartlet to give an acceptance speech. Jed goes out of his way for his friends and colleagues so often, that trait itself is a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • And how 'bout that episode where Jed Bartlet sends his aide Charlie high and low to find a carving knife for Thanksgiving, finding some complaint with each of many knives that he dutifully brings. When Charlie finally vents a little of his frustration, the president reveals that he's giving away the knife that he already has--which was made by Paul Revere--to Charlie.
    • The cherry on top is that Bartlet implies that a carving knife is supposed to be passed from father to son.

 "I got it from my father, he got it from his father, and now, I'm giving it to you."

  • After being encouraged to get immunity during the investigation into Bartlet's non disclosure because of the cost of lawyers, Charlie implicitly refuses, mentioning that accepting immunity implies lack of trust, and that he sticks to his team no matter what.
  • This troper always mists up a little at the moment in Bartlet's famous "Two Cathedrals" monologue where he refers to Josh as his son.
  • Or the scene where Bartlet gives his Secretary of Agriculture advice on how to run the country should something happen at the State of the Union.

 Bartlet: You have a best friend?

Tribby: Yes, sir.

Bartlet: Is he smarter than you?

Tribby: Yes, sir.

Bartlet: Would you trust him with your life?

Tribby:: Yes, sir.

Bartlet: That's your chief of staff.

    • The reason this scene is truly touching is because Leo, Bartlett's Chief of Staff, was standing nearby and heard the whole thing.
      • This was during the story arc where Leo's alcoholism went public and he was getting pilloried by the President's more vocal critics.
  • When Toby's ex-wife is expecting her children, he speaks to Leo about his concern that he won't truly love his children. Leo says that's ridiculous, not because all fathers love their children, but because he knows Toby will.
    • Later, when Toby meets his kids for the first time, he tells them: "This isn't gonna mean anything to you, but -- Leo was right. Leo was right."
  • How about in "In Excelsis Deo" when Toby uses the President's name in order to make sure a homeless Korean War veteran gets a burial with honors at Arlington.

 Bartlet: "Toby, if we start pulling strings like this, you don't think every homeless veteran would come out of the woodwork?"

Toby: "I can only hope, sir."

    • Mrs Landingham scolds Toby for it ("You should not have done that, Toby" "I know." "You absolutely should not have done that."), then attends the funeral with him. She earlier told Charlie that she gets depressed this time of year because her sons both died in Vietnam around this time.

  Mrs Landingham: I miss my boys.

    • An unrelated scene from the same episode: Leo scolding Josh and Sam for visiting Sam's call-girl friend to see if she has any dirt on any Republicans they can use to fight the impending revelations about Leo's addictions (saying "that's not what we do" and that he specifically asked them not to). They're all contrite. As Leo goes to leave, Josh blurts out, "We meant well." Leo: "Is that supposed to mean something to me?" Josh, quickly correcting himself: "No." Leo, after a beat: "It does."
  • The entire subplot with Bartlet's daughter Ellie in the episode of the same name. It's clear that she and Bartlet have a difficult relationship, and after he accuses her of deliberately provoking a media fuss to make him unhappy ("You sure didn't do it to make me happy!"), she bitterly responds "I don't know how to make you happy, Dad." Later, during a screening of Dial M For Murder, Bartlet tries to make up with her, and eventually gets through to her by gently-but-sincerely saying "The only thing you ever had to do to make me happy was come home at the end of the day." Upon hearing this, Ellie is visibly trying to hold back tears. She wasn't the only one.
  • Or the subplot in the episode "Stirred" where Donna tries to get a proclamation in honor her favorite teacher, who is retiring. Bartlet calls her into the Oval Office to personally tell her that the teacher deserves one, but that he can't give it to her for political reasons... and then reveals that he has had Charlie place a call to the teacher so that Donna and he could talk to her from the Oval Office to thank her for all that she's done:

 Bartlet: Tell her where you are.

Donna: Mrs. Marillo, I'm in the Oval Office with the President of the United States, and it's because of you.

    • Also heartwarming is the fact that Josh wrote the President a memo on Donna's behalf, despite knowing full well that there was no way the teacher was going to receive the honor Donna wanted her to.
  • At the end of "The Women of Qumar", when CJ has to dispassionately report the renewal of a military base in Qumar, a decision she was upset about the whole episode because of Qumar's barbaric treatment of women. She falters for a moment, near tears, and looks up at Toby, who is standing in his usual spot behind the back window where only she can see him, in support of her. He catches her eye and taps himself over the heart with both hands, giving her the strength to continue the briefing.
  • Or the classic guy-in-the-hole speech from Leo.
    • And the callback it gets later in the series from Josh.

 Josh: I'm gonna help you out, you know why?

Leo:Because you're so obsessed with everyone you love dying that you're a compulsive fixer?

Josh: *smiles* No, Leo, it's because a guy's walking down the street and he falls in a hole, see.

  • Bartlet's gift to Leo at the end of "Bartlet for America." "That was awfully nice of you." And it ends with Leo crying. Leo. Crying.
    • In the final shot of the series, we see Bartlet flying home from the White House, looking at the same gift. It was returned to him following Leo's death, still pristine in its beautiful frame.
      • The gift in question is a bar napkin. Leo had been stumbling about for days, struggling to figure out who - the one that Leo could trust above all others - could run for President. And he finds himself writing the same thing down over and over. On that napkin are the words "Bartlet For America".
  • Toby to Sam on the eve of the special election in California: "They're gonna throw rocks at you next week, and I wanted to be standing next to you when they did."
    • Sam when he decided to run, especially his little story about the Republican wingnut candidate he met who wouldn't let go of his doomed campaign platform because "this is what I believe, and no candidate gets to run in my district without speaking to my issues."
  • Abbey to Bartlet on the night of his reelection, after letting him know that she knew his MS was getting worse: "You've got lots of nights. Smart people who love you are gonna have your back."
  • Leo re-hiring the girl who had leaked the story of his drug addiction to the press.
  • In "Two Cathedrals," Charlie comes out to the portico where Bartlet is standing in the storm to tell him that it's time to leave for the press conference. He's wearing a coat and holding one for Bartlet, but Bartlet walks by without putting it on. Back inside, before catching up to him, Charlie lays Bartlet's coat on his desk... and takes off his own coat and goes back out into the rain and wind in just his suit jacket. All of the other staffers wear their coats.
  • From the Saga of Josh and Donna: The episode 17 People. Donna tells Josh a story about how she was once in a car accident, and her then-boyfriend stopped for a beer with his buddies on his way to see her in the hospital. Later in the episode, Josh says, "I'm just sayin'. If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for a beer." Aww, right? Yeah, that isn't it. Donna replies: "If you were in an accident, I wouldn't stop for red lights."
    • This troper wibbles a little in that scene when Josh is outraged that she didn't tell him in the first place, especially because of the look on his face. "You told me it was a... late thaw."
    • Of course, in a later season, when Donna is critically injured by a car bomb, Josh does everything up to and including pulling diplomatic rank to get to her side as fast as he can.
      • Josh's expression when she wakes up, so concerned and hopeful, gets me every time.
  • The scene in "Inauguration: Over There" where Josh, Toby, Danny, Will and Charlie all go to get Donna at her apartment.

  Josh: You look amazing.

    • And later in the same episode, Will's utterly flabbergasted reaction to his appointment as Deputy Communications Director.
  • In the sixth season, presidential-candidate Matt Santos gives this gorgeous speech about the power of hope. It's a lovely speech, but what really makes it a Heartwarming Moment is that it's superimposed with President Bartlet slowly pulling himself with canes across the Oval Office after being nearly crippled by multiple sclerosis.
  • In "He Shall, from Time to Time...," the episode where Leo gives his press conference announcing to the country that he's a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and then both he and we find out that the president's sudden illness isn't the flu, but an MS episode.

 Leo: Jed, of all the things you could have kept from me.

Bartlet: You haven't called me Jed since I was elected.

Leo: Why didn't you tell me?

Bartlet: 'Cause I wanted to be president.

Leo: It wouldn't have stopped me from getting you here. And I could have been a friend.

Bartlet: You have been a friend.

Leo: But when it was time to really...

Bartlet: I know.

Leo: When I was lying on my face in the motel parking lot, you were the one I called.

Bartlet: When you stood up there today, I was so proud. I wanted to be with you. [sighs] I tried to get up, I fell back down again.

Leo: I know the feeling.

  • Bartlet to Sam in "Hartsfield's Landing": "You're going to run for president one day. Don't be scared. You can do it. I believe in you."
  • Bartlet to Josh in "Guns Not Butter": "You know what the difference is between you and me? I wanna be the guy. You wanna be the guy the guy counts on."
  • Bartlet to C.J. in "Manchester": "I need you too."
  • Toby letting go of his prickly-unapproachable-boss persona to be protective of Sam, such as in "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" when he's photographed with Laurie, and Toby berates him for his stupidity all the way down the hall to the Oval Office, only to tell Bartlet when they arrive that Sam hasn't done anything wrong, that he's always been completely aboveboard about his friendship with Laurie, that "Sam's word is unimpeachable," and that he thinks the White House should stand by him and "aggressively go after the people who set him up." The look on Sam's face...
  • After Josh has been shot and Sam is trying to convince him to sue the KKK, he asks Toby and Leo what they think. They tell him all the reasons they think it's a bad idea, and finish with, "That said, say the word, and we'll all take a leave of absence and join your legal team."
  • Bartlett buying Charlie the DVD player in "Stirred".
  • Joey Lucas at the end of "100,000 Airplanes": "They remembered why they liked him in the first place."
  • The end of "Institutional Memory," when C.J. - worn nearly to the bone from almost a decade of politics and sacrificing her own life for the Bartlet and Santos administrations - admits, under a little prodding from Danny, that what she really wants is to accept Frank Hollis' offer to "take ten billion dollars to go and fix the world." Not only is it something of a renaissance of the C.J. of early seasons who "hates running because it takes time away from helping," it is truly, truly heartwarming to see this devoted, dedicated woman finally put herself first for once. The next episode, what do we hear? "[Danny]'s waiting for me at LAX with a tub of sunscreen."
  • "I serve at the pleasure of the President." "I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States." "I serve at the pleasure of President Bartlett." "...I serve at the pleasure of the President."
  • In "20 Hours in America", Josh, Toby, and Donna get stranded in Indiana when the motorcade leaves them behind. Toby loses a bet with Josh and must introduce himself to everyone he meets (who, for the most part, are all Republicans) with "My name is Toby Ziegler and I work at the White House", and he's pissed off about it. He and Josh have been arguing all day about re-election and campaigning and Donna finally gets fed up, lecturing them about the Indiana voters and their individual needs and how they feel the government has failed them. Toby is drinking at the bar when a man named Matt Kelly strikes up a conversation with him about how he's just lost a lot of the money he invested for his children's college funds:

 Matt: I never imagined at $55,000 a year, I'd have trouble making ends meet. And my wife brings in another 25. My son's in public school. It's no good. I mean, there's 37 kids in the class, uh, no art and music, no advanced placement classes. Other kids, their mother has to make them practice the piano. You can't pull my son away from the piano. He needs teachers. I spend half the day thinking about what happens if I slip and fall down on my own front porch, you know? It should be hard. I like that it's hard. Putting your daughter through college, that's-that's a man's job. A man's accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. 'Cause in that difference is... everything. I'm sorry. I'm, uh, I-I'm Matt Kelley.

Toby: Toby Ziegler. [Josh catches his eye and indicates he's waiving the bet for this one]...I work at the White House. Do you have a minute to talk - we'd like to buy you a beer.

  • Also in 20 Hours In America, Bartlet has to respond to a bloody terror attack at an American university. Sam rushes out a last-minute addition to a prepared speech:

 Bartlet: More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. 44 people were killed a couple of hours ago at Kennison State University. Three swimmers from the mens team were killed and two others are in critical condition. When, after having heard the explosion from their practice facility, they ran into the fire to help get people out. Ran into the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They're our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

    • If real politicians were that inspiring, our country'd be in a better place right now.
  • The moments that always get this troper are the moments of just fundamental human decency overcoming politics, often from places the characters least expect-- Republicans stopping one of their own from outing Leo's fall off the wagon in Bartlet for America, VP Hoynes taking his name off a bill that would make great political hay for him because the legislation is important in Stirred, Sam's defense of Ainsley in And It's Surely To Their Credit, The President's refusal to fire the Surgeon General in Ellie, the staff rallying behind Stackhouse in The Stackhouse Filibuster, etcetera etcetera...
  • This troper is unsure how this list has gotten so long without a single mention of Zoe being safely returned from her kidnapping. To say nothing of Bartlett voluntarily handing over the Oval Office to a hard-line Republican until she is returned. And, despite the fears of Bartlet's staff, the hardline Republican and his staff pointedly refusing to take advantage of the situation to push through some favourable legislation.
  • During a Thanksgiving episode, Bartlet is driving Charlie crazy trying to find a new carving knife to use for the family dinner. Bartlet has a perfectly good family knife made by Paul Revere that his Declaration-signing ancestor owned... but the President wants a new one because he's giving the Paul Revere knife to Charlie.
    • This was also when Zoey and Charlie were still dating... and the gift could be interpreted as a sign from Bartlet that he hopes the knife may yet remain in the family...
  • Leo's relationship with Ainsley Hayes in And t's Surely to their Credit:
    • Going out of his way to take Ainsley down to her office in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.

 Ainsley: I'm working in the steam pipe trunk distribution venue?

Leo: No, you're working in your office.

    • Then explaining why other members of the senior staff take issue with her being hired:

 Leo: Sam Seaborn had this innocent relationship with a girl - bam. Here comes the enemy. I'm a recovering alcoholic. Bam. Radio, TV, magazines, cameras in front of my house, people shouting at my daughter at the ballgame, editorials, op-eds. "He's a drunk. He's dangerous. He should resign."

Ainsley: I wrote one of those op-ed pieces.

Leo: I know.

    • The end of that episode, (which was marked by a recurring argument about duty with was thematically represented by arguing about the Gilbert and Sullivan play HMS Pinafore), Sam, Josh, CJ, and Toby plaster the stairway to Ainsley's office with vintage HMS Pinafore stage posters, hide inside it, and blare "For He Is An Englishman" (whose lyrics provide the title drop) when Ainsley opens the door, officially welcoming her into the White House as one of them. Particularly moving as they had been testy and suspicious towards her all day for being a Republican.
  • At the end of "Dead Irish Writers", while everybody is distracted and falling all over themselves laughing when a prank results in the band belting out "O Canada" (complete with Canadian flag backdrop) instead of "The Star-Spangled Banner", Abbey tells Jed that she has decided to forfeit her medical license to avoid embroiling him in ethics investigations over his MS. The contrast between the joyous atmosphere and music and Jed's shellshocked expression and almost-tearful "I love you very, very much" is devastating as well as heartwarming.
  • At the end of "25", Toby pulls Bartlet aside for a moment and whispers in his ear "You know that there's not a person in this room who isn't willing to die rather than let you down."
  • When it comes out that Bartlet ordered the assassination of Shareef, Abbey expresses her fury with him over the fact that this may have led to the kidnapping of their daughter Zoey before leaving the room. Their eldest daughter Liz follows her without a word, but the scene ends with their middle daughter Ellie coming up behind him to hug him and him taking her hands. It's especially heartwarming because it's previously been well-established that Jed has a turbulent relationship with Ellie, and that Ellie gets along much better with Abbey.
  • At the end of "The Benign Prerogative", a man who could potentially have been given a presidential pardon but was rejected commits suicide. Donna, who met with the man's mother and strongly felt that the president should pardon him (along with all the other applicants), is deeply upset, and when Josh goes to comfort her she says that she needs to learn to keep things at arm's length. Josh responds softly that he hopes not.
  • The part that always gets me comes towards the end of Noel, when Stanley tells Josh his diagnosis.

 Stanley: You have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Josh: Well... that doesn't really sound like something they let you have if you work for the president.

Stanley: Josh...

Josh: Can we have it be something else??

  • As close as the President and Charlie are, Charlie still was under the impression that the President gets nervous speaking in front of large groups in "Manchester", and he is corrected that it's only the one-on-ones that bother him. Shortly thereafter Jed comments to Leo that there'll be a big crowd tomorrow, and Leo just calmly replies, "well, that's your kind of crowd." These two are like brothers.
  • Possibly the most low-key one of all comes in the series finale. CJ is watching the new President's inauguration on TV when the announcer says that Bartlet will be remembered for "his aggressive pursuit of peace on the world stage." Her smile as she hears what the legacy of his work--and her work, and all her friends' work--will be is just amazing.
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