Aaron Sorkin is one of the film industry’s most well-known and respected screenwriters. Sorkin has proven equally adept at writing for feature films, television shows, and even for the Broadway stage. His recent leap into directing his own scripts has likewise been met with major acclaim and awards attention. Sorkin has a reputation as one of if not the finest screenwriter when it comes to dialogue, though his style certainly isn’t for everyone. In this post, we’ll be breaking down all of the screenplays by Aaron Sorkin in chronological order and offering up PDF downloads for every script.
Aaron Sorkin screenwriting tips
A Few Good Men (1992)
Aaron Sorkin blasted onto the scene with A Few Good Men. Sorkin actually wrote A Few Good Men as a stage play which first ran on Broadway in 1989. Rob Reiner directed the film adaptation, and Sorkin adapted his own writing from the stage to the screen. The adaptation would wind up earning four Oscar nominations, though best adaptation screenplay was NOT one of them.
Below you can download and read the entire script using StudioBinder's screenwriting software. Click the script image for the complete screenplay.
The line “you can’t handle the truth!” is undoubtedly one of the most iconic lines of all time. It is a quote that has been referenced and parodied ad nauseum since A Few Good Men hit theaters in 1992.
Here is a supercut of references to this iconic line. Fair warning, some of them are more than a little cringey.
The courtroom drama is one of many movie genres that is perfectly tailored to Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue-heavy approach to writing. Also, it's a genre that he returned to later in his career. Coming from the world of theater makes sense when examining the rest of Sorkin’s career, as dialogue is typically far more prominent in theater than in film with Sorkin’s screenplays serving as outliers.
Aaron Sorkin Screenplays
The American President (1995)
We’ll mostly skip over Malice from 1993 since Aaron Sorkin is just one of three credited writers on the project. Sorkin also served as a script doctor on a number of projects throughout the 90s including Schindler’s List, The Rock, and Enemy of the State, but we’ll be focusing mainly on his essential works.
Read the complete script for The American President below.
Sorkin’s trademark snappy and witty dialogue is in full effect right from the opening pages. Sorkin’s first draft of the script for The American President became notorious for its length. While the script that wound up getting produced — the one you can download above — clocked in at 150 pages, the first draft was a staggering 385 pages; longer than many novels.
Needless to say, a great deal of material needed to be cut from the script, but none of it was in vain. The excised material from The American President would end up serving as the foundation for The West Wing television series to follow a few years later.
Aaron Sorkin writing style
Sports Night (1998-2000)
Aaron Sorkin’s first foray into the world of television was the 1998 sitcom Sports Night. Sorkin created the series and is one of few showrunners to receive story, teleplay, and written by credit on every single episode of the show’s 45-episode run.
The Sports Night pilot sets the tone of the rapid-fire comedic banter right off the bat. Throughout the show’s two seasons, Sports Night racked up eight Emmy nominations with three wins for multi-cam cinematography, editing, and directing. Sorkin was nominated for Outstanding Writing For a Comedy Series during the first season but the series lost out to Frasier in what some considered to be an Emmy snub.
The West Wing (1999-2006)
The West Wing is the most beloved and enduring of all of Aaron Sorkin’s television projects. As previously mentioned, the series took life from leftover material from The American President. Sorkin found writing within the White House setting to be fascinating and, as TV series are far more setting driven than films often are, it made perfect sense to pen a series which takes place almost entirely within The West Wing of the White House.
The West Wing is packed with witty dialogue that crackles so especially well because of the chemistry amongst the large cast of characters. The series ran for seven seasons with 155 total episodes and won a whopping total of 26 Primetime Emmys throughout its entire run.
Six of those Emmys went to Aaron Sorkin himself, often shared with the other executive producers of the show.
Aaron Sorkin writing style
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-07)
Aaron Sorkin created a third television series before making his return to feature films. Before it became Studio 60, you will see in the script excerpt below that the pilot was titled Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a comedy set behind the scenes of a fictional sketch comedy show, which is a premise that might sound familiar to fans of 30 Rock. Here's a quick snippet of Sorkin's cameo on 30 Rock parodying his love of the "walk-n-talk" and a little jab at Studio 60.
Despite being nominated for five Emmys and winning one of them, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was the shortest-lived of all of Aaron Sorkin’s television shows running for just one 22-episode season.
Movies written by Aaron Sorkin
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Aaron Sorkin’s return from television to feature films was in 2007 with Charlie Wilson’s War. This marked Sorkin’s first time bringing a true story to the screen. Sorkin’s screenplay was an adaptation of George Crile III’s non-fiction book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History.
Charlie Wilson’s War was the final film from Mike Nichols, director of The Graduate. Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for both the Oscar and the BAFTA for his supporting role as Gust Avrakotos. This would not be the last time that Aaron Sorkin brought a true story to the silver screen. In fact, he did it again with his very next script.
Aaron Sorkin The Social Network screenplay
The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is the film that earned Aaron Sorkin his first — and so far only — Oscar win in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, though he has been nominated for three additional Oscars since. As one of Sorkin’s best scripts and David Fincher's best movies, The Social Network is an incredible piece of work.
The opening scene of The Social Network is perhaps the most quintessential “Aaron Sorkin” scene ever written. His trademark dialogue, digressions, and character interactions are in full-force from the very start of the film. The only way it could be anymore on-brand is if the characters were walking down a hallway during the conversation.
Here's our breakdown of The Social Network screenplay and how Sorkin crafts the perfect "Fall" character arc.
Check out our extended breakdown of The Social Network’s screenplay for further analysis and to pick up a few Aaron Sorkin screenwriting tips.
Movies written by Aaron Sorkin
Just one year after The Social Network, another film with an Aaron Sorkin script became an Oscar darling: Moneyball. Racking up six Oscar nominations— though winning none of them — Moneyball is another true story adapted from a non-fiction book.
This time around, Sorkin shared the writing duties with Steven Zaillian, another screenwriter who has worked with some of the best directors in the business like David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. Sorkin and Zaillian were both Oscar and BAFTA nominated for their work on Moneyball.
The Newsroom (2012-2014)
After about five years away from television, Aaron Sorkin returned to the small screen with The Newsroom. This HBO series ran for three seasons and earned Jeff Daniels an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series along with a handful of other nominations.
Focusing on current events, The Newsroom at times got more political than even The West Wing. The tone and stance of the show is brilliantly established in this lengthy monologue, which appears on page 51 of the pilot script but was bumped all the way up to the start in the broadcast episode to get the show started with a bang.
Aaron Sorkin Steve Jobs screenplay
Steve Jobs (2015)
Similar to The Social Network, Steve Jobs is another true story book adaptation about an influential tech figure. Sorkin really excels in this particular niche. He earned another BAFTA nomination for his work alongside actors Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, the latter of whom won the prestigious award. Learn how to write an adaptation and how to write fiction based on true events.
The structure of Steve Jobs has Sorkin jumping between the moments leading up to three important Apple product launches. It’s an interesting structure to utilize in telling a biopic, and with Danny Boyle’s stylized direction, it works perfectly. This is easily one of the best Aaron Sorkin screenplays. Steve Jobs has marked the last film — at least so far — that Sorkin served as solely the screenwriter for.
Aaron Sorkin screenplays
Molly’s Game (2017)
After writing Molly’s Game, another true story book adaptation, Sorkin spoke to a few directors about them possibly bringing the script to the big screen. Eventually, Sorkin decided to make the film himself and to take the leap from writer to writer-director.
The script for Molly’s Game clocked in at a massive 201 pages but it’s full of great, contained moments. For example, this three years of therapy in three minutes scene which manages to be funny, emotional, and compress what feels like an entire character arc for Molly’s father into the shortest amount of screen time possible.
Sorkin earned another Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for Molly’s Game. He had a good enough experience with his first directed film that he decided to direct his next script as well.
Aaron Sorkin Screenplays
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
Aaron Sorkin’s second at bat as a director received even more critical adulation, earning six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
The courtroom setting where much of The Trial of the Chicago 7 takes place makes the film feel like somewhat of a return to Sorkin’s roots harkening back to A Few Good Men. The measured proceedings of a court trial are perfectly suited to Sorkin’s crackling dialogue.
Sorkin’s career continues to impress as he finds himself directing his scripts regularly. He is once again in the director’s chair for his upcoming project Being the Ricardos, which tells the true story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Read and download more scripts
Reading through Aaron Sorkin screenplays is a great exercise for anyone who wants to learn how to become a screenwriter. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like Citizen Kane, Parasite, and Fight Club in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.