West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl

Ever wondered about the props in Goldfish Gail’s fishbowl? I have answers.

Fans of The West Wing know a little secret: C.J. Cregg’s pet goldfish, Gail, often has her bowl decorated with props that wink at episode themes. Panda bears, cash, flags, cabbages, flamingos, a love bed, a space shuttle, a telephone, and a fire engine. They are planted just for our delight (and hopefully Gail’s as well). The trick is to try and spot them. And this friends, became my obsession recently.

Below, for the first time, is a complete list of all of Goldfish Gail’s adventures alongside C.J., Danny, and the rest of the West Wing gang. Let’s get swimmin’!

And, hey, if you think you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment. If you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!

Season 1

Gail 1.9

Season 1, Episode 9
  • Prop: Nothing. Welcome, Gail!
  • Gravel: None? Oh, com’on, Danny.
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a new fish! (And Danny loves C.J.)

Gail 1.10.png

Season 1, Episode 10
  • Prop: Christmas tree, with some festive poinsettias atop
  • Gravel: White, like snow. Snow with fish poop.
  • Nod to Plot: Christmas episode!

WW S1 Ep11a

Season 1, Episode 11
  • Prop: What appears to be a military helicopter
  • Gravel: Red, like blood
  • Nod to Plot: India-Pakistan conflict

Gail 1.12.png

Season 1, Episode 12
  • Prop: A little wooden lectern and two American flags
  • Gravel: Red, white, and blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the State of the Union address!

WW S1 Ep13

Season 1, Episode 13
  • Prop: [uncertain, best guess] Quill pen, a small yellow television, and behind the television some dark design on a poster/easel
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: This episode is full of communication themes! A bill is signed (hence the quill), the TV salutes Toby’s defense of PBS, and the easel…could be anything.

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 8.22.48 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 8.07.49 PM.png

Season 1, Episode 14
  • Prop: A sunken sailboat and [unknown , and driving me bonkers to figure it out!] perhaps a horse miniature floating at top left? And some kind of disc that has a white bottom, and has a triangular slice out of its edge. Some red points on its blue/gray top. It’s making me crazy!
  • Gravel: Black or brown
  • Nod to Plot: I’m just at a loss. It looks like a dead horse and a crashed flying saucer.

UPDATE #1: Reader Mark C. has helped me to see that the “disc” I thought I saw is in fact a sailboat tipped over, so that we see it’s white bottom (hull? I’m not nautical). The top bit of the boat is a red, white, and blue flag. The disc illusion was created by the curve of the bowl. I see it now! The idea being that Josh says Sam should stay in the boat this time. Mark C. also believes the “horse” is a man with his arms outstretched, but I’m still iffy on that.

UPDATE #2: Reader Derek has suggested that the floating object is a “dead fish” figure, darkly referencing the capital punishment theme, and that this has been posited by other forums and sites discussing Gail. I, however, am not at all convinced. I am having trouble seeing it as a fish, and generally the prop masters don’t go that gruesome with their Gail commentary. With thanks, I’m leaving it classified as a mystery!

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 8.54.06 PM.png
Season 1, Episode 15
  • Prop: [kind of uncertain] Perhaps a treasure chest and diver man (with a secret plan to fight inflation?) and some vases maybe, that were purchased in a Connecticut antiques shop?
  • Gravel: Blood red (like C.J.’s gums–she had a woot canal!)
  • Nod to Plot: Dental hijinks and Josh Lyman getting hostoh with the press

UPDATE: Reader Misti S. has suggested that it might be a treasure chest (with diver man attached, presumably), relating to the secret plan to fight inflation. She also suggests that there may be a pill bottle with a black lid for C.J.’s woot canal. I’m on-board with the treasure chest notion, but I’m not quite convinced on the pill bottle–though it would be cute!

Season 1, Episode 16

No Gail.

Season 1, Episode 17

No Gail. Again! So sad. I hope she’s on vacation some place fabulous.

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 9.34.44 PM

Season 1, Episode 18

  • Prop: Two panda bears! Gail has friends today. I hope she had bamboo cake on-hand.
  • Gravel: Black
  • Nod to Plot: Mandy is pushing for the adoption of a panda bear couple.

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 9.48.06 PM

Season 1, Episode 19

  • Prop: The Easter Bunny and colorful plastic eggs!
  • Gravel: None. Who needs it when you have plastic eggs?
  • Nod to Plot: It’s Easter, and C.J. is briefing the press on White House festivities.

Season 1, Episode 20

No Gail. 

Here it is.png
Season 1, Episode 21
  • Prop: A black telephone on a clear lucite stand
  • Gravel: None.
  • Nod to Plot: President Bartlet’s favorability is being polled via telephone. I hope Gail answers and only has nice things to say. Even though she can’t vote. Try as she might.

Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 10.29.38 PM
Season 1, Episode 22
  • Prop: A space shuttle
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Pretending that we aren’t worried about Gina seeing a shooter, we’re trying to be worried about Toby’s astronaut brother’s safety in outer space.

 Season 2

C.J. Cregg’s office has never been more exciting, and a lot of scary and surprising things happen to Gail–she is mobbed by turkeys, interrogated by White House lawyers, and has a missile land in her bowl. But still she finds time for love and to make a new elephant friend.

Season 2, Episode 1

No Gail. But she does send her best wishes to President Bartlet and Josh for speedy recoveries.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 8.04.38 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 2
  • Prop: Completely no idea. The bowl is barely visible, and only for a moment. There is some sort of large monolith in the bowl, but it could be anything.
  • Gravel: Brown
  • Nod to Plot: Unknown

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 8.32.18 PM
Season 2, Episode 3
  • Prop: It’s a little ballot box with Gail’s ballot ready to drop in!
  • Gravel: Rainbow
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the midterm elections and Gail is ready to vote.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 8.44.34 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 4
  • Prop: An elephant
  • Gravel: Black and white
  • Nod to Plot: Republican Ainsley Hayes was just hired, and Gail wants her to feel welcome among friends.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 8.53.17 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 5
  • Prop: A pink and white bed, perfect for love. Plus, what looks like a candlelit nightstand with a curious little sign. And a second goldfish! A male caller for Gail.
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: POTUS and FLOTUS are anxious for a little love time together, and Gail must have the same idea about her fella. Naughty!

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 9.12.20 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 6
  • Prop: It’s barely visible in the episode, but look closely and you’ll see the U.S. Capitol building.
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: President Bartlet is considering legislating with a lame duck Congress, and Gail thinks she could help.

Season 2, Episode 7

No Gail. While C.J.’s on the Portland trip, Gail’s taking a little time off from men shouting at her mama.

Season 2, Episode 8

No Gail. Sort of. She and her bowl are vaguely, fuzzily present when C.J. first meets Troy and Eric. Don’t worry, Donna put her bowl up on a high shelf! But then as Troy and Eric got more comfortable, it seems Gail had to go live with (presumably) Carol for a little while. We don’t want her to be turkey food.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 9.37.32 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 9
  • Prop: Itty bitty space vehicles
  • Gravel: Red, like the surface of Mars
  • Nod to Plot: The Galileo space probe is poised to send back data from Mars…if only it will talk to us.
  • Also: It’s a new bowl with a very different flat shape! Maybe that’s the type of bowl that Martian goldfish live in.

Season 2, Episode 10

No Gail. But she was devastated when she heard about Josh’s suffering. No more bagpipes in her bowl!

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 10.10.48 PM
Season 2, Episode 11
  • Prop: A fire engine
  • Gravel: White, and lots of it (Gail, are you okay?)
  • Nod to Plot: Gail’s worried about Josh and Sam starting a fire to stay warm. She knows to have emergency services on-hand.

Screen Shot 2019-01-30 at 10.36.00 PM.png
Season 2, Episode 12
  • Prop: A missile
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Gail does not approve of Leo’s missile defense system, as a missile has already landed in her bowl, and Leo didn’t stop it.

Season 2, Episode 13

No Gail. She has one too many pink squirrels and is busy blaming it on the Bossa Nova.

Season 2, Episode 14

No Gail again. Too much State of the Union partying wipes a fish out. She needed more of a break.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.11.37 AM
Season 2, Episode 15
  • Prop: Unknown large object–maybe a Doobie Brothers record? Or a DVD of Dial M For Murder?
  • Gravel: White or pale blue
  • Nod to Plot: Unknown! We get barely a blurry glimpse of Gail, so she can’t really weigh in on marijuana or Ellie’s relationship with her dad.

Season 2, Episode 16

No Gail again. Yeesh. She’s missing Big Block of Cheese Day. Or maybe she has a meeting with oceanographers for social equality.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.46.17 AM.png
Season 2, Episode 17
  • Prop: What appears to be a skinny black cat statue in honor of Bast
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: C.J. had the heart to tell Charlie that she superglued the priceless statue together, but kept mum that she was using it as a fishbowl decoration. That’s some goldfish loyalty. And Gail forgives C.J. for bumping her desk and making the water audibly sploosh in her bowl. That was scary.

Season 2, Episode 18

No Gail again. In fact, there isn’t any C.J. in this episode either. You think Gail handled the press briefings while she was away?

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 11.05.18 AM.png
Season 2, Episode 19
  • Prop: A corner of PVC pipe
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Gail heard that C.J. is worried about a leak in the White House, so she is prepared to do some plumbing.

And then…

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 11.07.11 AM.png
  • Prop: A billfold stuffed with dollars
  • Gravel: Glass gems
  • Nod to Plot: Mexico is getting the financial relief it needs. Gail is ready to pony up, now that Donna is convinced.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 11.19.11 AM.png
Season 2, Episode 20
  • Prop: A folding chair and microphone
  • Gravel: None
  • Nod to Plot: Why, oh why would Congress and that horrible Oliver Blabbish want to interrogate our Gail? Give her back her gravel and leave her in peace!

Season 2, Episode 21

No Gail. I think Oliver Blabbish scared her away. 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 11.32.26 AM.png
Season 2, Episode 22
  • Prop: What appears to be a white rose with black trim or fencing around it
  • Gravel: Teal
  • Nod to Plot: It’s Mrs. Landingham’s funeral. If Gail’s decoration is a flower, then she is trying to pay her respects in a dignified and elegant way.

 Season 3

Gail gets active in the re-election campaign, launches a protest for women’s rights, meets some diseased livestock, and has a close encounter of the Charlie kind! Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 3.



Season 3, Episode 1

No Gail. She is still in shock over the tragedy that occurred at the World Trade Center.

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 9.18.47 PM
Season 3, Episode 2
  • Prop: Curious. Appears to be the same decoration as the Season 2 finale. Back then I thought it was a white flower commemorating Delores Landingham. Now? In the brighter light it looks more Pagoda-like.
  • Gravel: Dark green and white
  • Nod to Plot: Now I’m really puzzled.

Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 9.52.22 PM.png
Season 3, Episode 3
  • Prop: Complete mystery. A shark? Some sort of Veto item? We never get very close to Gail. I blame Blabbish.
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: If it is maybe a toy shark, it would be because that’s what CJ needs coming after the Bartlet administration.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 10.jpg
Season 3, Episode 4
  • Prop: A whiteboard on an easel. It appears that Gail is helping out Sam, tracking the House votes.
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: President Bartlet wants to veto a repeal of the Estate Tax, but House shenanigans threaten a veto override.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 10.56.17 AM.png
Season 3, Episode 5
  • Prop: A whole bunch of American flags planted in the gravel
  • Gravel: Green and white
  • Nod to Plot: ‘Merica!

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 11.25.54 AM.png
Season 3, Episode 6
  • Prop: A “Bartlet for America” campaign button!
  • Gravel: Royal blue
  • Nod to Plot: The reelection race is heating up, and the question hangs in the air: Why does anyone want to be President?

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 11.33.22 AM.png
Season 3, Episode 7
  • Prop: A turkey!
  • Gravel: Green
  • Nod to Plot: It’s Thanksgiving! (Gail stands with the visitors in the lobby)

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 11.53.53 AM.png
Season 3, Episode 8
  • Prop: A big ol’ cow
  • Gravel: Green
  • Nod to Plot: Oh no! It’s Mad Cow Disease, and the Bartlet Administration debates how to handle public knowledge of it.

Season 3, Episode 9

No Gail. She’s off drinking egg nog and photocopying her fins to pass around at the Christmas party.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 12.06.29 PM.png
Season 3, Episode 10
  • Prop: What looks like a piece of paper on a little stand with some writing?
  • Gravel: Deep red
  • Nod to Plot: Could it be a page from the tell-all book that has Sam in a tizzy? Could it be a “Bartlet for America” napkin? Could it be 1709 map of the Holy Land that can’t be displayed in the White House? If only Toby would keep his newspaper lower, we might know for sure.

Season 3, Episode 11

No Gail. She thinks this is a terrible episode, too, and hides behind Carol.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 12.34.59 PM
Season 3, Episode 12
  • Prop: It’s a little model of a schoolhouse and a yellow pencil flagpole next to it.
  • Gravel: Dark green (they must have bought that color in bulk this season)
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a tribute to C.J.’s dad and his work as a teacher.

Season 3, Episode 13

No Gail. Out of respect for the grieving widow.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 1.19.14 PM.png
Season 3, Episode 14
  • Prop: None visible
  • Gravel: Red and black
  • Nod to Plot: Gail is living on the bookcase at the side of the room to keep her safe while Charlie makes C.J. his bitch.

Season 3, Episode 15

No Gail. She’s mingling at Abigail’s birthday party.

Season 3, Episode 16

No Gail. Again. 

Season 3, Episode 17

No Gail. Again! This is getting ridiculous. If Gail got hurt when C.J.’s desk collapsed, he’s gonna have a lot more to worry about that paying taxes!

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 1.52.37 PM
Season 3, Episode 18
  • Prop: Two Venus symbols 
  • Gravel: Multi-colored
  • Nod to Plot: Gail is showing solidarity for C.J. and her outrage over the girls who burned in the school. Women must stand (and swim) together!

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 2.21.30 PM.png
Season 3, Episode 19 AND Episode 20
  • Prop: What looks like a little fashion doll wearing a white (or light pink) dress
  • Gravel: Transluscent
  • Nod to Plot: Gail is ready for her junior prom!

Season 3, Episode 21

No Gail. We will just have to wait to see her next season!

Season 4

Gail the Goldfish, friend to C.J. Cregg and the rest of the gang at The West Wing, is in for a bowlful of drama during season 4. Boats, cows, flamingos, and more major closeups than ever before. Her Papa, Danny, is back and he’s bringing all sorts of new stress into C.J.’s life. It’s the beginning of President Bartlet’s second term and things are about to get crazy.

By the way, if you’re enjoying these posts I’m doing about Gail, a great way to say thanks is to head over to Heifer International and make a donation. Thank you!

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 9.56.10 AM.png

Season 4, Episode 1
  • Prop: A boat labeled “Washington D.C.” is dominating Gail’s space
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: Josh, Toby, and Donna missed the motorcade. So either Gail’s building them a boat to get them home to D.C., or she’s making sure she’s covered for transport in case she’s ever left behind.


Season 4, Episode 2

No Gail. We believe she has launched her D.C. boat to retrieve Toby, Josh, and Donna.


Season 4, Episode 3

No Gail. Again. She was too busy out rockin’ the vote.


Season 4, Episode 4

No Gail. Again! I know she’s busy living her life out-loud, but we miss her.

Season 4, Episode 5

No Gail. This is ridiculous. I hope C.J. reminds Carol to feed Gail while she’s away at debate camp.


Season 4, Episode 6

No Gail. Listen, I get that C.J. is preoccupied with the re-election campaign, but I’m trying to make a post for my website here. BRING BACK GAIL!


Season 4, Episode 7

No Gail. We now have an A.P.B. out for a cute goldfish on the loose. Name’s “Gail”. We believe she may have been abducted. She may be armed and dangerous. Approach with extreme caution.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 10.26.30 AM.png

Season 4, Episode 8
  • Prop: Uncertain–may be a coffee cup
  • Gravel: Dark green
  • Nod to Plot: She’s BACK! And just in time to celebrate in the House of the Rising Sun. Tough to say who Gail thinks might need a little sobering up with some coffee–C.J.? Josh? Or maybe it’s for Gail. We know she can hit the sauce pretty hard.


Season 4, Episode 9

No Gail. We should let her sleep it off.

Season 4, Episode 10

No Gail. This season is noticeably light on scenes inside C.J.’s office. And we’re all the poorer for it.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 10.51.14 AM.png
Season 4, Episode 11
  • Prop: Mystery! It appears to be transparent. And though it appears in the still frame to have two holes in it, when you watch the camera pan around the bowl, the holes seem like an illusion of the light and what we’re seeing are stripes (trust me, I watched it at least a dozen times). My best guess? It’s a cricket ball.
  • Gravel: White, like snow
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a Christmas episode and Gail gets a special closeup while Danny is enthralled with the Shareef story and the lead he has on it based on the tale of a Bermuda cricket devotee. This leads me to believe that the odd crystal-like sphere in her bowl is a cricket ball. Also note: This is the episode where C.J. receives and wears a goldfish pin from Danny. Awww!

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 11.07.44 AM.png
Season 4, Episode 12
  • Prop: Cows, and maybe a lamb
  • Gravel: Green, like grass in a pasture
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the Heifer International episode! Gail supports this group completely and is making friends in the process.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 11.14.30 AM.png
Season 4, Episode 13
  • Prop: What appears to be two flamingo figures
  • Gravel: Unknown–can’t quite see it.
  • Nod to Plot: Hmmm. If my guess is right that it’s two flamingos, it isn’t a big stretch (pardon the tall pun) to tie it to our favorite Press Secretary with the codename “Flamingo”. This is her episode entirely, and we watch her go home to visit her dad and explore the promise of a generation.


Season 4, Episode 14

No Gail. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 11.35.55 AM.png
Season 4, Episode 15
  • Prop: The Presidential lectern is back!
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s inauguration time. Here comes the second term!


Season 4, Episode 16

No Gail. I’m a little worried. Gail isn’t on C.J.’s desk at all. Hopefully she’s vacationing at Carol’s desk while C.J. heads to California.


Season 4, Episode 17

No Gail. The California slog continues.


Season 4, Episode 18

No Gail. She’s afraid of Mrs. Marion Coatesworth Hooter-Tooter Marblehay.


Season 4, Episode 19

No Gail. Again! We need to keep C.J.’s feet on the ground so Gail doesn’t feel ignored. This is goldfish neglect!

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.01.19 PM.png
Season 4, Episode 20
  • Prop: It’s the White House grounds
  • Gravel: Various shades of green
  • Nod to Plot: Oh no! There’s a shooter outside the White House! Gail’s on guard, though. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.05.20 PM.png
Season 4, Episode 21
  • Prop: No effing clue. Despite an extraordinary amount of time spent in C.J.’s office, Gail is barely visible. And whatever that is (some sort of erotic mermaid scene?), it has me baffled.
  • Gravel: Green, possibly with some blue
  • Nod to Plot: No idea. There’s talk about water on Mars. The Veep resigning. A bird tapping at a window. Toby eats a salad. I don’t know.

Screen Shot 2019-06-20 at 12.25.40 PM.png
Season 4, Episode 22
  • Prop: Nothing. It’s an empty bowl
  • Gravel: No gravel.
  • Nod to Plot: That’s the head-scratcher. Zoe graduates and is kidnapped, Charlie digs up champagne, the Shareef story is breaking, Donna and Amy share awkwardness, President Bartlet lifts his graduation gown, and Toby’s babies are born.  Are the life events and drama causing Gail to go through some kind of nihilistic angst? 

Let’s just hope that Gail gets back to her materialistic ways by the time the new season begins!

Season 5

Gail the Goldfish has a splashy season 5. She plays Monopoly (to help Donna, of course), goes overboard for cabbages, and rightfully panics over C.J.’s new fishing hobby. It’s a rough season for the whole gang, since we start with Zoey missing and end with Donna being blowed up. So it’s anything but calm waters for our favorite little goldfish.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 1.59.43 PM.png

Season 5, Episode 1
  • Prop: Maybe…probably…a little elephant figure
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: GOP President Walken is in charge and Gail might just be showing a nod of respect to the new Commander-in-Chief.


Season 5, Episode 2

No Gail. She is too worried about Zoe Bartlet to make an appearance.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 2.20.58 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 3
  • Prop: A HUGE American flag
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the Fourth of July!

WW GAil Han

Season 5, Episode 4
  • Prop: Not sure–some glass or crystal object sitting on the gravel
  • Gravel: Dark Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Could it be related to a piano? I’m guessing it isn’t a nod to Bob Russell. All I know is that this not knowing is giving me han.
    (Many thanks to reader Sara J. who helped to point out Gail’s very brief appearance!)

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 2.36.37 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 5
  • Prop: A model of the White House. 
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Ummm…well, the show takes place…in the White House.


Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 2.40.42 PM.png
  • Prop: It’s one of Toby’s message calendars! Notice that there is a blank column for Fridays, because Toby says no one watches news on Fridays.
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Toby and Will have been working hard to push a positive message to move the agenda forward, mostly via a series of color-coded message calendars. Gail is on board!


Season 5, Episode 6

No Gail. Her mama is off comforting tornado victims.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 3.12.04 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 7
  • Prop: A black book with a white label on the front
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: Well, Angela Blake [blrrp] is leading budget negotiations, so I suspect it may be a copy of the budget that Gail is reviewing. She thinks the tuition initiative is a great idea and should be a much higher priority. I also heard through the grapevine that Gail doesn’t like Angela Blake at all.


Season 5, Episode 8

No Gail. She’s been furloughed during the shutdown.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 3.41.17 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 9
  • Prop: Gail has a Christmas tree! Just like Mama.
  • Gravel: White (I think), you know, like snow!
  • Nod to Plot: Christmas episode!

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 3.52.23 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 10
  • Prop: Some sort of flag prop. It almost looks like…could it be a little flag-draped coffin? Morbid, Gail. Morbid.
  • Gravel: Unknown
  • Nod to Plot: President Lassiter died. So probably the flag…object…is some sort of tribute to him.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 4.19.19 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 11
  • Prop: A business card holder is propping up a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from the game Monopoly. 
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: Poor Donna is reviewing pardon candidates. Gail seems to think that this might help some of the people on the list.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 4.27.09 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 12
  • Prop: A bowl full of cabbages
  • Gravel: None
  • Nod to Plot: C.J. had a very interesting conversation with an Argentinian diplomat about cabbages. Gail thought the diplomat was really handsome, so she’s hoping to lure him back with lots and lots of mini cabbages.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 4.39.52 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 13
  • Prop: Is that a cow or a horse?
  • Gravel: Green
  • Nod to Plot: If I’m right and there are some farmyard animals, they could be a nod to Taylor Reid taunting C.J. that she is a chicken.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 4.57.01 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 14
  • Prop: It appears that Gail has some plants and maybe a tree or two
  • Gravel: Brown
  • Nod to Plot: This is probably a facet of Leo’s ‘Nam flashbacks. Gail sees “Charlie” in her trees, too.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 5.10.27 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 15
  • Prop: A familiar sight! It’s the same schoolhouse figure with a pencil flagpole that we saw in Season 3, Episode 12.
  • Gravel: Green
  • Nod to Plot: Gail is interested in the school voucher debate that is ongoing.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 5.23.47 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 16
  • Prop: Dang, for the life of me I just can’t figure it out. There is some type of blue tower. What IS that?
  • Gravel: Green
  • Nod to Plot: Completely uncertain. There are two main themes to the episode–Sesame Street and science. Couldn’t they have just put Snuffy in the bowl? It would’ve saved me a lot of squinting.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 5.50.18 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 17
  • Prop: Double dang. This is another head scratcher for me, mostly because of the angle of the bowl–I keep getting a double image from the curve of the glass.
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: Wellllll, there is the Supreme Court nomination up for grabs. And Donna’s mom’s cats. And cookies. And the song “American Pie”. But all I see is a horse or some upright dolphins.

Screen Shot 2019-07-07 at 6.08.04 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 18
  • Prop: It’s a movie camera on a tripod.
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: I guess in this hellscape of an episode, Gail thinks she should get a mockumentary, too.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 3.47.44 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 19
  • Prop: Gaaa! We never get a really good look, which is nutty because we spend so much good time in C.J.’s office this episode.
  • Gravel: Royal Blue
  • Nod to Plot: C.J. is taking on the FCC and heading off to Brussels while trying to date Ben. Josh is at odds with tractors. I think there’s something small in the bowl, but there’s just no way of knowing what the heck it is.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 4.03.07 PM.png
Season 5, Episode 20
  • Prop: It looks like there’s a palm tree and a rickety sign that I *think* reads “No Fishing”
  • Gravel: Dark Green—maybe. It’s a very dark episode in C.J.’s office and she needs to declutter her desk.
  • Nod to Plot: Donna brought C.J. some fishing gear for the big Ben camping trip, and (if I’m right about the sign), Gail wants to make sure the rules are in place. No fishing! Or maybe it’s more of a general protest. Fish deserve to live.


Season 5, Episode 21

No Gail. It’s the Gaza episode and Gail is terrified for Donna.


Season 5, Episode 22

No Gail. She does send condolences out to Admiral Fitzwallace’s widow, who also happens to also be named Gail.

What’s next for Gail? Hopefully C.J. will clean off some of that desk clutter before Season 6. Us Gail fans personally want the geode bookends removed, along with the fuzzy-topped pen in the pen cup. Let’s see if we can make that happen. Oh, it’s already been filmed? A long time ago? Well, here’s hoping for the best.

Season 6

In her sixth season, Gail moves offices, hosts a visitor, gets snubbed for an invitation to an ice cream party, and ponders classic literature. She also explores a little nihilism. That is one deep fish. Here it is, a list of Gail sightings from season 6.


Season 6, Episode 1

No Gail. She’s as appalled as we all are about the beginning of season 6. Since it looks like the gang is heading to Camp David, I fear we might be missing Gail for quite some time.


Season 6, Episode 2

No Gail. But she has a bad feeling that Leo’s in trouble. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 9.17.15 PM.png

Season 6, Episode 3
  • Prop: Gail’s back, and she has a pair of doves!
  • Gravel: Blue and green
  • Nod to Plot: Gail is rooting for a successful peace brokering at Camp David.

WW - Liftoff.png
Season 6, Episode 4
  • Prop: A swim-through suitcase. I think. It’s a bit curvy for a suitcase, and there’s a hole in the center. And I’ve been staring at several screen shots of this, not to mention replay of Gail’s scenes over and over and over. I’m sticking with a pinkish-brown swim-through suitcase. 
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: They’re not in Kansas anymore. Gail and C.J. have moved into Leo’s old office.

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 10.24.14 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 5
  • Prop: It’s a windmill! 
  • Gravel: Green. Like all White House initiatives should be
  • Nod to Plot: Gail believes in wind power. Or any alternative energy sources. It’s odd she isn’t more into the whole hydro-power sector, but if Gail wants wind, she gets it. And never an SUV.

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 10.40.01 PM.png

Season 6, Episode 6
  • Prop: It’s the White House! Again. This prop has been dragged out a dozen times before.
  • Gravel: Dark Green
  • Nod to Plot: See, this is a show that largely takes place in the White House, and involves the trials and cameraderie of the White House staff.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 2.01.55 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 7
  • Prop: It’s the White House! Again. Again. 
  • Gravel: Dark Green
  • Nod to Plot: More like a nod to the set design guys that they feel about this season the way I do. Meh.


Season 6, Episode 8

No Gail. That’s okay. I don’t want any part of the China summit episodes either, Gail. 


Season 6, Episode 9

No Gail. C.J.’s still in China. Ugh.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 2.13.17 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 10
  • Prop: Another goldfish! Gail has a friend!
  • Gravel: White-ish
  • Nod to Plot: The press is peppering C.J. with questions about her sexual preferences, and Gail intends to demonstrate that love is love. No need to even ask if the other goldfish is male or female!


Season 6, Episode 11

No Gail. The episode is more interested in the new Santos campaign. Gail wanted some privacy with her new bowlmate anyhow.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 2.32.17 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 12
  • Prop: It looks like Gail’s got nothing. Maybe her team is also prepping for redecorating her office.
  • Gravel: White-ish
  • Nod to Plot: Eh, I could say something about blank slates being a theme, but I think this is all just leftovers from episode 10, sans the extra fish. Gail must be lonely. Or glad to have her bowl back to herself. Anyway, she’s very excited for Margaret’s visibly baby bump!


Season 6, Episode 13

No Gail. The odd episodes of later season 6 are all about the Dem primary campaigns. Gail thinks they need a fish.

Screen Shot 2019-08-02 at 2.50.03 PM

Season 6, Episode 14
  • Prop: It’s a string of hearts
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: It’s Valentine’s Day!


Season 6, Episode 15

No Gail. And it isn’t because she’s a chicken.

Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 7.54.37 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 16
  • Prop: Nothing
  • Gravel: Nothing
  • Nod to Plot: No freaking clue. Gail is being deprived of any material comforts…and frankly her water level is extra low. Maybe it has something to do with Cliff’s water bill? Probably not.

Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 8.19.48 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 17
  • Prop: We barely get a glimpse of Gail’s bowl, but it looks like a model of the Capitol Building
  • Gravel: I think I glimpsed dark green gravel
  • Nod to Plot: Eh, Santos is staging a sugary sweet legislative slumber party. I guess Gail is watching the legislative shenanigans carefully.


Season 6, Episode 18

No Gail. It’s a campaign trail episode.

Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 9.04.54 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 19
  • Prop: Tough call. There appears to be rocks or debris on top of the white gravel. Or, if my imagination isn’t tricking me, I think that might even be some debris from a little rowboat wreckage. See what looks like a wooden hull toward the back of the bowl? 
  • Gravel: White-ish
  • Nod to Plot: Now, just bear with me–if what I’m seeing really is a boat wreckage, this could easily (if loosely) tie to the Ernest Hemingway/Cuba references in this episode (Leo is failing to bring Cuba into the fold and wastes our time). So could it be that this is the boat from The Old Man and the Sea? Was Leo trying to bring in his Castro marlin and failed? And was Gail mocking him by setting up a wooden boat wreckage as fishbowl metaphor?

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 7.29.39 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 20
  • Prop: It appears to be a jam jar. Or, maybe, could that be a jar of ice cream topping?
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: I admit to watching the entire episode, holding my breath waiting for a mention of jams or jellies. No luck. So perhaps this is ice cream topping (like hot fudge) as an incentive for President Bartlet and Vinick to invite Gail to their ice cream party in the White House kitchen.

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 7.49.18 PM.png
Season 6, Episode 21
  • Prop: We have a little model of a spaceship with a hose leading from it for a spacewalk. Now, the “man” figure in the bowl looks like a diver to me, instead of an astronaut. But I think we’re supposed to overlook that and think “spacewalk”.
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: The International Space Station is in crisis and is losing oxygen. I think Gail must be running simulations on repair procedures the astronauts might try.


Season 6, Episode 18

No Gail. Silly Toby kept blocking our view of her. I would like to imagine that she has a picture of dreamy Alan Alda in her bowl with little fish lipstick kisses all over it.

There it is! A full sixth season of campaigning, romance, and Margaret’s baby bump, all within the confines of Gail’s itty bitty glass home.

Season 7

Gail the Goldfish is back for an exciting and FINAL seventh season! This is sad and exciting. It’s sexciting. Wait, no. Sorry, Gail. I didn’t mean it like that.

Truly, though, Gail experiences the frost of terrifying allegations against her mama, deep loss, and the anticipation of moving. Here are Gail’s appearances in Season 7.

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 8.50.16 PM

Season 7, Episode 1
  • Prop: Gail’s opening the final season with a light bulb in her bowl
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: I’m not entirely certain. Perhaps it is Gail’s epiphany that C.J. is the focus of the intelligence leak investigation. Gail is hoping that everyone stops and listens to her horrified realization. Gail’s has a lightbulb, people! A lightbulb!

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 9.16.20 PM.png

Season 7, Episode 2
  • Prop: Some little things are stuck in her gravel. Could they be a bunch of little U.S. flags?
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Well, maybe Gail is being supportive of candidate Santos’s military service. Plus, ya know, it’s America. So, flags.
    I, for one, am disappointed that Matt and Helen’s absolutely destroyed bed wasn’t in the bowl. Gail usually has more of a sense of humor.


Season 7, Episode 3

No Gail. And I don’t think she’s feeling all the attention that’s going to the campaign trail. We all want more Gail.

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 9.29.48 PM.png

Season 7, Episode 4
  • Prop: Her bowl is full of frosty (hopefully fake) ice crystals
  • Gravel: White, and lots of it
  • Nod to Plot: Well, this episode is called “Mr. Frost”, so Gail’s getting all frosty.

Screen Shot 2019-08-04 at 9.37.58 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 5
  • Prop: Gail is still frosty.
  • Gravel: White
  • Nod to Plot: Our favorite goldfish is feeling pretty chilly toward Oliver Blabbish and the way he has failed to apologize to her mama. Frost all the way, baby.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 1.54.49 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 6
  • Prop: Ummm. Well there seems to be 3 white-ish lumps sitting in the gravel. Yeah. I’m open to suggestions here.
  • Gravel: Red
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the Al Smith Dinner. And at the White House Will is feeling haunted by Toby’s legacy. So if I had to wildly speculate on what the lumps could be–maybe little racquetballs so Gail has something to bounce off the side of her bowl? That probably isn’t right. And doesn’t explain the red gravel. Hmmm.


Season 7, Episode 7

No Gail. The writers are trying something clever with debates. If they truly wanted to be innovative, they would’ve allowed Gail to moderate!

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 2.06.39 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 8
  • Prop: It’s the default White House figure that has appeared in Gail’s bowl close to a dozen times.
  • Gravel: Blue
  • Nod to Plot: Bratty Ellie Bartlet is planning her gross White House wedding. Plus the whole show takes place in…the White House.


Season 7, Episode 9

No Gail. Ellie didn’t invite her to the wedding either. Frankly, Ellie, you should be so lucky as to have not only Will Bailey in a tux, but a goldfish among your admirers.


Season 7, Episode 10

No Gail. And that’s just a shame. A thong of solidarity with Helen Santos would have been lovely.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 2.20.54 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 11
  • Prop: It’s a small plastic clock
  • Gravel: Green-ish
  • Nod to Plot: Well, C.J. seems like she’s battling time the whole episode–running out on two dinners with Danny, facing the time when she’ll have to fall off a cliff, waiting for the Doug Westin-nanny situation to break, and negotiating a U.N. resolution. So, I guess, Gail wants to remind her mama of the late hour.


Season 7, Episode 12

No Gail. She’s in a tizzy about the San Andreo accident and is trying to buy iodine tablets off the black market for her bowl (even though we’ve tried to assure her she is in no peril).


Season 7, Episode 13

No Gail. I’m really missing our fishy little friend.


Season 7, Episode 14

No Gail. Again. Though I’d like to imagine that back in the White House she has either a briefcase in her bowl, or some sort of hand armor for Alan Alda.


Season 7, Episode 15

No Gail. This is bonkers. Do you KNOW how much I want to see her bowl plastered with Bon Jovi pinups?


Season 7, Episode 16

No Gail. Such a sad way to go out. Not nearly enough Gail. And she is plenty worried about where she and C.J. are off to next (she votes no on Prague). 

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 2.53.25 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 17
  • Prop: I’m pretty sure that’s the White House again!
  • Gravel: Red, White, and Blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s Election Night! And before Gail learned about poor Leo, she was ready to cheer for soon-to-be President Santos.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.00.30 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 18
  • Prop: Gail seems to have a picture of Leo cut into the shape of a heart and posted in her bowl. It could be my imagination, but I could swear I’m also spotting a small little rose sitting upright in the bowl.
  • Gravel: Black and shiny beads
  • Nod to Plot: Rest in peace, Leo (John Spencer). Gail will never forget you.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.10.23 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 19
  • Prop: Whoosh! That was a blurry walk-and-talk glimpse of Gail we got. But at least we can make out that there is a truck in her bowl, presumably a moving truck!
  • Gravel: Mostly white, with a bit of green or black at the top.
  • Nod to Plot: It’s transition time and Gail’s packing up all her props in anticipation of moving day.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.16.20 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 20
  • Prop: It’s the ever-present White House model, and with two different signs attached. Now, most sources *assume* that the sign reads “FOR SALE”, but I am not so sure. The red and white sign we see in the above shot is illegible. And in the next episode there is another sign that contradicts the “for sale” assumption. I think this is a mystery and caution people against assumptions.
  • Gravel: Bright green
  • Nod to Plot: It’s almost moving day!

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.23.34 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 21
  • Prop: Super mystery! The White House model is still in place, and the mysterious red and white sign is on C.J.’s side of the model. But now there is a new red sign with yellow bars and white text. What does it say? I have no idea and it’s making me super bonkers. What is that?? It starts with an “M” or “W”. Ach, I just can’t figure it out!
  • Gravel: Bright green
  • Nod to Plot: It’s almost time for us to say goodbye.

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.47.02 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 3.49.31 PM.png
Season 7, Episode 22 – SERIES FINALE
  • Prop: This one requires two photos. The White House is still there, but the mystery signs have been replaced by a simple Looney Toons-style farewell: “That’s All Folks!”
  • Gravel: Bright green
  • Nod to Plot: Inauguration Day

It’s just all so sad and sweet. Gail lived a long and exciting life in the West Wing of the White House. Yes, I’m a little alarmed that she’s still on C.J.’s desk while she exits for the final time. Even if janitorial staff plans on wrapping and shipping picture frames, how is Gail getting to California? Hello? C.J.?

We can only assume that C.J. is coming back with a portable travel container. Damnit.

West Wing Reunion–The Return of Goldfish Gail!

It’s been years and years since we last saw our beloved goldfish–but she’s back! C.J.’s goldfish is remarkable for her longevity and spunk. It’s so great to see her doing so well and keeping up with C.J. 

WW reunion Gail

  • Prop: A mailbox with a mail-in ballot ready to go
  • Gravel: Brown
  • Nod to Plot: Gail knows that voting matters! And I think we know who she voted for….

Well, that concludes the adventures of Gail the goldfish. She has been the sweetest, loyalest character on the whole show, and she has made the West Wing positively magical. Thanks, Gail.


3 thoughts on “West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl

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