Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing changed TV forever when it premiered in 1999. The program starring Martin Sheen as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet ran for seven seasons before going off the air in 2006. Of the award-winning series’ 150-plus episodes, IMDb rankings say the best ones are from season two.
‘In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part II’ (tie)
According to IMDb, The West Wing Season 2 Episode 2: “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part II” ranks fourth out of the show’s 156 episodes. 1,010 IMDb users voted to award it a score of 9.4 stars out of 10.
Originally aired in October 2000, the episode directed by Thomas Schlamme continued the presidential shooting storyline. The Secret Service did their best to track down suspects. Meanwhile, Bartlet’s staff waited at the hospital to hear news regarding he and Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford)’s injuries.
While everyone waited for updates, viewers went back in time. They learned how Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) became Josh’s assistant and how C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) first joined Barlet’s presidential campaign.
‘West Wing’ Season 2 Christmas episode takes third place (tie)
Already plan on watching some of the best Christmas TV episodes? Add The West Wing to the lineup. Based on IMDb user ratings, The West Wing Season 2 Episode 10: “Noël” is ranked the third best episode of the entire series. 1,276 users voted giving it 9.4 stars out of 10.
Directed by Schlamme, the episode originally aired on Dec. 20, 2000. In it, Josh spoke to a psychiatrist about the trauma of the shooting and how he hurt his hand.
Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) hired musicians to play festive music in the foyer of the West Wing and an Air Force pilot disobeyed orders. There’s also a special guest appearance by Yo-Yo Ma, who performed for President Bartlet.
‘In the Shadow of Two Gunmen: Part I’ is runner-up
The season two opener is ranked the second-best episode of the entire series. 1,188 IMDb users gave it 9.5 stars out of 10. Another episode directed by Schlamme, the episode kicks off an intense two-part story.
Originally aired on Oct. 4, 2000, the 43-minute episode showed Bartlet getting shot and the immediate aftermath. The president’s senior staff field questions from authorities and the media while worrying about their colleagues and friends. The episode is also interlaced with flashbacks about how Bartlet’s staffers joined his campaign.
“Two Cathedrals’ takes first place
The West Wing Season 2 Episode 22: “Two Cathedrals” is the political drama’s best episode, according to IMDb users. 2,384 people voted, giving it an average score of 9.8 stars out of 10.
Yet another episode directed by Schlamme, “Two Cathedrals” is considered by many to be one of the best episodes of television ever. The season two finale chronicles Mrs. Landingham’s (Kathryn Joosten) funeral interspersed with clips from her and Bartlet’s past. All the while, the president has to decide whether or not he wants to run for re-election.
Watch each of these West Wing episodes on Netflix as well as the rest of the award-winning series.