Aaron Sorkin's best-known show, "The West Wing," has a storied legacy, even nearly a decade after its last episode aired in 2006. Beyond the snappy dialogue and nuanced plotlines that would continue to serve him well in screenplays such as "The Social Network" (which won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar) and "Moneyball" (also nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar), not to mention his latest much-lauded TV venture, "The Newsroom," Sorkin showed early that he had what it took to get the goods when it came to rising stars. He also tended to attract already recognized talent to TV. (Remember when the small screen was considered small potatoes?)
Never mind the heavy hitters of Martin Sheen and John Spencer in major roles, both well known before they set foot in the recreated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We can look beyond the fact that Allison Janney and Bradley Whitford made their names working on the series: the show is absolutely dripping with future stars and established talent alike in smaller roles.
So now, from John Goodman to Nick Offerman (yes, Ron Swanson himself), here are 21 people you probably didn't realize guest starred on "The West Wing."
1. John Goodman, recurring as Speaker Glen Allen Walken
"Relax, everybody. Breathe regular."
2. Jane Lynch as Lucy in "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen - Part I" and "Two Cathedrals"
3. David Burtka as intern Bruce, "The Black Vera Wang"
"I don't work here. Or more accurately I don't get paid to work here."
4. Sam Jaeger as Bill Kelley, "In This White House"
Joel from "Parenthood" is a reporter!
5. Clark Gregg, recurring as Agent Mike Casper
"Casper's got something."
6. Connie Britton, recurring as Connie Tate
"We can do it. We really can."
7. Ian McShane as Nickolai Ivanovich, "Enemies Foreign and Domestic"
"I don't know what 'frumpy' is but onomatopoetically sounds right."
8. Danny Pudi as Santos Aide #2, "Two Weeks Out"
"Guest list for the Cleveland event."
9. Ty Burrell as Tom Starks, "The Women Of Qumar"
"We've done driver safety, we've done food drives, we've done physical fitness."
10. John Gallagher Jr. as Tyler, "20 Hours In America"
"It's a common mistake."
11. Taye Diggs, recurring as Wesley Davis
12. Felicity Huffman as Ann Stark, "The Leadership BReakfast"
"Traditionally, the person in my job has cared what's traditional."
13. Amy Adams as Cathy, "20 Hours in America"
"These guys work for Bartlet."
14. Evan Rachel Wood as Hogan Cregg, "The Black Vera Wang"
"Over here there was a man in a coat, and I can't remember what else."
15. James Brolin, recurring as Gov. Robert Ritchie
16. Christian Slater, recurring as Jack Reese
"OK. You were shouting at no one."
17. Matthew Perry, recurring as Joe Quincy
"You guys. You think it's all a game."
18. Nick Offerman as Jerry, "The Crackpots and These Women"
"Our scientists are working on a plan."
19. Eric Stonestreet as White House Counsel Staffer, "Bad Moon Rising"
Go ahead, ask him to make you a copy.
20. Lisa Edelstein, recurring as Laurie
"It's not like I'm a drug person, I just love pot."
21. Gabrielle Union as Meeshell Anders, "The Benign Prerogative"
"Can I quote you on that?"