With the benefit of hindsight, much scholarship across political science, law, and economics has told the story of the international trade regime as if it had been pulled all along by a definite aim. By contrast, this article emphasizes the contingent aspects of the trade regime's development, looking especially to its dispute settlement mechanism. The very creation of the Appellate Body had by no means a certain outcome, and once created, the tribunal's evolution was largely unanticipated by states. An often-overlooked actor played a key role in that development: the WTO Secretariat. Drawing on recent findings, this article lays out the full extent of the Secretariat's role in dispute settlement, which remains largely hidden from view, and deliberately so. From appointing adjudicators and managing their remuneration, to providing them with legal arguments and drafting final rulings, the Secretariat of the WTO looms larger than in any comparable tribunal. Making its influence more transparent, I argue, would go a long way to returning the system to the shape it was designed to have at its outset.