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Quantum Leap

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Created by
Theme music composer
First episode date
26 March 1989

Theme song
Quantum Leap: Main Title


Narrated by
Final episode date
5 May 1993

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Scott BakulaDean Stockwell


Quantum Leap is an American science-fiction television series that originally aired on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, it starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who leaps through spacetime during an experiment in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people to correct historical mistakes. Dean Stockwell co-stars as Admiral Al Calavicci, Sam's womanizing, cigar-smoking companion and best friend, who appears to him as a hologram.


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The series features a mix of humor, drama, romance, social commentary, and science fiction, and was named one of TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever".

Quantum Leap 10 episodes that show how Quantum Leap set right what once went

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Quantum Leap follows the narrative of Dr. Sam Beckett (Bakula), a brilliant scientist who has become stuck in the past as a result of a time travel experiment gone wrong, and his attempts to return to his present, the late 20th century, by altering events in the past for the better, with the aid of a hologram of his friend Admiral Al Calavicci (Stockwell), monitoring him from Sam's present.

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In the series premiere, Sam has theorized the ability to travel in one's own lifetime and is the lead of the government-funded Project Quantum Leap, operating from a secret laboratory in New Mexico; Al oversees the project for the government. When Al learns that funding for the project is in danger of being pulled because no demonstrable results have come from the project, Sam takes it upon himself to step into the Quantum Leap accelerator to prove the project works and is sent into the past. When Sam gains consciousness, he finds himself suffering from partial amnesia, and is more surprised to find that his appearance to others, including what he sees in the mirror, is not his own face. He finds that Al has come to his aid as a hologram that only Sam can see and hear, as it is tuned to his brainwaves. Al, working with the project's artificial intelligence Ziggy (voiced by Deborah Pratt), determines that Sam must alter an event in the current period he is in so as to re-engage the Quantum Leap process and return home. Al helps Sam overcome some facets of his "Swiss-cheese memory" and provides information on history as it originally happened. He also updates Sam on future events and relates possible outcome probabilities using a handheld communication device in contact with Ziggy. The device is often temperamental and must be struck a few times as it emits electronic beeping and whirring sounds before the information is revealed. With Al and Ziggy's help, Sam is able to successfully change history and then leaps out, only to find himself in the life of someone else in a different period of time.

Quantum Leap Quantum Leap Theme by Mike Post This Is My Jam

Episodes in the series subsequently follow Sam's reaction to each leap (typically ending the cold open with him uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), and then working with Al and Ziggy to figure out his new identity and whom he needs to help to "set right what once went wrong" and trigger the next leap. An episode typically ends as a cliffhanger showing the first few moments of Sam's next leap (along with him again uttering "Oh, boy!" on discovering his situation), which is repeated in the following episode's cold open. Though initially Sam's leaping is believed by Al and the others on the Quantum Leap team to be random, the characters come to believe in later seasons that someone or something is controlling Sam's leaping, and this is a central focus of the show's finale episode, "Mirror Image".

When Sam leaps, his body is physically present in the past, although he appears to others as the person into whom he leaped. In one case, after leaping into a Vietnam veteran who has lost both legs, Sam is still able to walk normally, but appears to others as if he is floating. Sam's body and mind may become jumbled with those into whom he has leaped. In one situation, he leaps into a woman near the end of her pregnancy and feels her birth pains, while in another episode, he leaps into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and feels an intense pressure to assassinate John F. Kennedy, despite knowing that it is the wrong thing to do. Similarly, the persons into whom Sam has leaped are brought into the future, where they appear as Sam to the others; they are normally kept in an isolated waiting room to prevent them from learning anything about the future, and they return to their own time when Sam leaps.

In most of Sam's leaps, the changes he makes are small on the grand scale, such as saving the life of a person who might otherwise have died, or helping making someone's life better. Selected episodes, however, demonstrate more dramatic effects of his time travels. In one episode, Sam's actions ultimately lead to Al's death prior to the project, and Sam finds himself suddenly aided by a new hologram, "Edward St. John V" (played by Roddy McDowall), and must work to prevent Al's death. In another episode, when again the project's funding is threatened, Sam helps a young woman successfully pass the bar; this results in her becoming one of the members of Congress who oversees the project and aids in the restoration of its funding. In the episode involving Lee Harvey Oswald, while Sam and Al do not prevent the assassination of Kennedy, Sam's actions prevent Oswald from making a second shot that killed Jacqueline Kennedy in the original fictional history.

Because of the time-travel aspect, many episodes allude to famous people or incidents indirectly, such as Sam suggesting to young Donald Trump that New York real estate will be valuable in the future, suggesting the lyrics of "Peggy Sue" to a teenaged Buddy Holly, showing young Michael Jackson his signature moonwalk dance for the first time, giving Dr. Henry Heimlich the idea for his namesake maneuver by saving him from choking, and setting in place actions that lead to the discovery of the Watergate scandal. Two notable episodes place Sam directly at the center of significant historical events, one being the leap into Oswald. In "Goodbye Norma Jean", Sam appears as Marilyn Monroe's bodyguard, who saves her life and convinces Marilyn to remain alive for her starring role in The Misfits. Other episodes explore the past of the main characters, such as Sam saving his brother from being killed in the Vietnam War, and saving Al's marriage to Beth.

In the final episode, "Mirror Image", Sam leaps through spacetime as himself (without replacing another person), arriving at the exact time of his birth, where he meets a mysterious barkeep (Bruce McGill, who also appeared in the first episode in a different role). The barkeep is aware of Sam's situation and assures him that Sam himself controls the very nature and destinations of his leaps ("to make the world a better place"), and that Sam is always able to return home at any time he truly wants. In the final episode's epilogue, Sam is shown to leap back to visit Al's wife Beth as himself again, assuring her that her husband (who was a prisoner of war at the time) will return home to her; this results in Al and Beth remaining happily married in the future, while Sam continues leaping, never returning home.

Cast and characters

  • Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) is a quantum scientist with six doctoral degrees. He grew up on his parents' farm in Elk Ridge, Indiana, with an older brother (Tom) and a younger sister (Katie). Sam's idol is Albert Einstein.
  • Albert "Al" Calavicci, USN (played by Dean Stockwell) is a womanizing U.S. Navy rear admiral and Sam's best friend, who grew up in an orphanage and was later active in the Civil Rights Movement. At the time of Sam's leaps, Al spends his free time with his lover and the project's medical technician Tina Martinez (played by Gigi Rice), who appears in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back".
  • Ziggy (voiced by the narrator and co-executive producer Deborah Pratt) is the self-aware artificial intelligence "parallel hybrid computer with an ego" that runs the Project Quantum Leap, and helps Sam throughout his leaps; appearing in the fourth-season episode "The Leap Back".
  • Irving "Gooshie" Gushman (played by Dennis Wolfberg) is the project's often-mentioned head programmer, who is said to have bad breath. He appears in five episodes, including the finale.
  • Dr. Verbena Beeks (played by Candy Ann Brown) is often mentioned as the project's psychiatrist. She appears in two episodes throughout the series.
  • In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears, mostly the ones whom Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other characters are referred to regularly throughout the series, but are mostly unseen.

    Development and production

    The main premise for Quantum Leap was inspired by such movies as Heaven Can Wait and Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario saw its concept as a way of developing an original anthology series, as anthologies were unpopular with the networks.

    The series ran on NBC for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993.


    The theme for the series was written by Mike Post. It was later rearranged for the fifth season, except for the series finale episode, which featured the original theme music. Scores for the episodes were composed by Post and Velton Ray Bunch.

    A soundtrack album was first released in 1993, titled "Music from the Television Series Quantum Leap", dedicated to John Anderson, who played Pat Knight in "The Last Gunfighter". It was released by GNP Crescendo on CD and cassette tape.

    Broadcast history

    The Quantum Leap series was initially moved from Friday nights to Wednesdays. It was later moved twice away from Wednesdays to Fridays in late 1990, and to Tuesdays in late 1992. The series finale aired in its Wednesday slot in May 1993.

    The most frequent time-slot for the series is indicated by italics:

  • Sunday at 9:00–11:00 PM on NBC: March 26, 1989
  • Friday at 9:00–10:00 PM on NBC: March 31, 1989 – April 21, 1989
  • Wednesday at 10:00–11:00 PM on NBC: May 3—17, 1989; September 20, 1989 – May 9, 1990; March 6, 1991 – May 20, 1992
  • Friday at 8:00–9:00 PM on NBC: September 28, 1990 – January 4, 1991
  • Tuesday at 8:00–9:00 PM on NBC: September 22, 1992 – April 20, 1993
  • Wednesday at 9:00–10:00 PM on NBC: May 4, 1993
  • On 16 June 2016, Scott Bakula made a brief reprise of his role as Sam Beckett on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert makes reference to an episode where Sam Beckett has leapt into the body of a 1950s New York cab driver, whose comment about investing in New York real estate is heard by a young Donald Trump. Using a handset to talk to Ziggy, Stephen Colbert leaps back as a hologram to help Sam Beckett attempt to change the future.

    Home media

    Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the entire, digitally remastered, Quantum Leap series on DVD:

    On April 13, 2016, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment has acquired the rights to the series and re-released the first two seasons on DVD on June 7, 2016.

    On February 7, 2017, Mill Creek re-released Quantum Leap- The Complete series on DVD and also released the complete series on Blu-ray for the very first time. The 18-disc set contains all 95 episodes of the series as well as most of the original music.


    Despite its struggling start with poor broadcast timings, the series had gained a large 18–49 demographics of viewers. The finale was viewed by 13 million American households. In 2004 and 2007, Quantum Leap was ranked #15 and #19 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever."


    Along with 43 nominations, Quantum Leap received 17 awards (listed below).


  • Barrett, Julie, The A–Z of Quantum Leap. Boxtree Ltd., London 1995. ISBN 0-7522-0628-1
  • Chunovic, Louis, Quantum Leap Book. Boxtree Ltd., London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-866-3
  • Schuster, Hal, The Making of Quantum Leap. HarperCollins, London 1996. ISBN 0-06-105438-0
  • Fiction
  • Robitaille, Julie, The Ghost and the Gumshoe. Corgi, London 1990. ISBN 1-85283-397-1. Re-published in U.K. by Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. (Novelization of "Play It Again, Seymour" and "A Portrait of Troian")
  • McConnell, Ashley, Quantum Leap: The Novel. Ace Books, 1992. ISBN 0-441-69322-9. Re-published in the UK as Carny Knowledge. Boxtree Limited, London 1993. ISBN 1-85283-871-X
  • McConnell, Ashley, Too Close for Comfort. Ace Books, 1993. ISBN 0-441-69323-7.
  • Robitaille, Julie, The Beginning. Boxtree Ltd., London 1994. ISBN 1-85283-392-0. (Novelization of the pilot episode)
  • McConnell, Ashley, The Wall. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00015-0.
  • McConnell, Ashley, Prelude. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00076-2.
  • Melanie Rawn: Knights of the Morningstar. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00092-4.
  • Melissa Crandall: Search and Rescue. Ace Books, 1994. ISBN 0-441-00122-X.
  • McConnell, Ashley, Random Measures. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 0-441-00182-3.
  • Storm, L. Elizabeth, Pulitzer. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-022-7.
  • Henderson, C.J. and Laura Anne Gilman, Double or Nothing. Ace Books, 1995. ISBN 1-57297-055-3.
  • Walton, Barbara E., Odyssey. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-092-8.
  • Peel, John, Independence. Boulevard, 1996. ISBN 1-57297-150-9. Re-published in the U.K. as Leap into the Unknown. Boxtree Ltd., London 1996 ISBN 0-7522-0137-9.
  • Storm, L. Elizabeth, Angels Unaware. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-206-8.
  • Davis, Carol, Obsessions. Boulevard, 1997. ISBN 1-57297-241-6.
  • Schofield, Sandy (Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch), Loch Ness Leap. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-231-9.
  • Kent, Melanie, Heat Wave. Boulevard, 1997 ISBN 1-57297-312-9.
  • DeFilippis, Christopher, Foreknowledge. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16487-X .
  • Peterman, MindySong And Dance. Boulevard, 1998 ISBN 0-425-16577-9.
  • Davis, Carol, and Esther D. Reese: Mirror's Edge. Boulevard, 2000 ISBN 0-425-17351-8.
  • Comics

    Innovation Publishing produced a series of comic books which ran for thirteen issues from September 1991 through August 1993. As with the television series, each issue ended with a teaser preview of the following issue and Sam's exclamation of "Oh, boy." Among the people Sam found himself leaping into in this series were:

    Few of the comic stories referenced episodes of the television series, with the exception of the ninth issue, "Up Against a Stonewall."

    Possible continuation

    There have been occasional announcements of plans to revisit or restart the series. In July 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel announced its development of a two-hour television film based on Quantum Leap, which it was airing in reruns at the time, that would have served as a backdoor pilot for a possible new series, with Bellisario as executive producer. During the TV Guide panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, Scott Bakula said that Bellisario was working on a script for a projected Quantum Leap feature film.


    Quantum Leap Wikipedia