To my mind, the dumping of The West Wing‘s Sam Seaborn remains one of the greatest TV injustices ever committed.
Sam’s greatest character trait is undeniably his persistent idealism and unhesitating devotion to the noblest political aspirations. His deep, genuine belief in the potential of the American political system to improve peoples’ everyday lives is refreshing – perhaps a sad reflection of strikingly low levels of confidence in contemporary politics.
Even more significant is Sam’s unwavering commitment to doing the right thing simply because it is right, often in spite of the political consequences. While some might see this as political naivete, Sam’s integrity should be lauded in the age of House of Cards and Game of Thrones.
Some of the most powerful moments in the show are those that fundamentally challenge Sam’s idealistic worldview. The revelations of his father’s affair and Daniel Galt’s guilt in ‘Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail’ springs particularly to mind as one of the most moving. In these moments, Sam’s character truly shines in his general refusal to abandon hope.
Rob Lowe’s Chris Traeger (Parks and Recreation) is some consolation for the loss of Sam Seaborn, but the thought that the promise of a West Wing with Sam as the lead will never be realised is sad indeed.