Joshua "Josh" Lyman is a fictional character played by Bradley Whitford on the television drama The West Wing. For the majority of the series, he was Deputy White House Chief of Staff in the Josiah Bartlet administration. Although he focused on domestic legislative affairs, the episode "Memorial Day" reveals that Josh holds the foreign diplomatic rank equivalent to that of a three-star general.
Josh is portrayed as having one of the sharpest minds on the President's staff; he is a witty, somewhat cocky, boyishly charming know-it-all. He is described by Will Bailey as "(After Leo) the finest political mind in the party" ("Opposition Research").
Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, originally wrote Josh Lyman with long-time friend Bradley Whitford in mind. An early draft of the pilot script, dated February 6, 1998, describes Josh as being aged 38 and "a highly regarded brain." After reading the script, Whitford says he loved the character immediately and "desperately wanted" the part. While his audition impressed the show's executive producers, with Sorkin describing it as "simply the best audition for anything I'd ever seen," Warner Brothers casting director John Levey was not convinced Whitford had enough sex appeal to play a lead character and executive producer Thomas Schlamme was concerned that he did not have enough depth to carry off the more dramatic scenes. After a second audition, Whitford was offered the role of Sam Seaborn. Whitford called Sorkin for help. "I just said, 'Aaron, I just feel this very strongly. This isn't about me wanting a job. This is the only time in my life I will play this card. I am this guy; I am not the other guy.'" Sorkin was impressed, and soon after Whitford was cast as Josh. In the very early episodes of the series, Josh was portrayed as overly tough and outspoken, but had mellowed by the end of season one, becoming more eager and simplistic in his personal demeanor, even switching places with Toby as the "hotheaded" one, as well as becoming much more markedly disorganized.