Quantum Leap

For the event related to subatomic physics, see Atomic electron transition. For the sculpture, see The Quantum Leap.
Quantum Leap
Genre Science fiction
Created by Donald P. Bellisario
Starring Scott Bakula
Dean Stockwell
Narrated by Deborah Pratt
Theme music composer Mike Post
Composer(s) Velton Ray Bunch
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 97 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Donald P. Bellisario
Deborah Pratt
Harker Wade
Location(s) California, USA
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) Belisarius Productions
Universal Television
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original network NBC
Picture format SD: 4:3 (broadcast/DVD release)
HD: 16:9 (streaming)
Original release March 26, 1989 (1989-03-26) – May 5, 1993 (1993-05-05)
External links
Website (NBC)

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 in order 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.

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."[1]


Quantum Leap follows the narrative of Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a brilliant scientist who has become stuck in his 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 (Dean Stockwell), monitoring him from Sam's present.[2][3]

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 consciousnesses, he finds himself suffering from partial amnesia, and 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.[4]

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 in order to "set right what once went wrong" and trigger the next leap.[5] 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 he leaped into. In one case, after leaping into a Vietnam veteran that had lost both legs, Sam could still walk normally but appeared to others as if he was floating. Sam's body and mind may become jumbled with those he has leaped into. In one situation, he leaped into a women near the end of her pregnancy and felt her birth pains, while in another episode he leaped into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and felt intense pressure to assassinate John F. Kennedy, despite knowing it was the wrong thing to do. Similarly, the person that Sam has leaped into is 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 have shown 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 oversee the Project and 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 would be valuable in the future, suggesting the lyrics of "Peggy Sue" to a teenage 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,[3] 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, like 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 to. 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,[3] while Sam continues leaping, never returning home.

Cast and characters

Dean Stockwell (left) and Scott Bakula (right), as Al Calavicci and Sam Beckett.

In each episode, a different cast of guest characters appears, mostly the ones that Sam replaces with his leaps. Several other additional 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[3][6] saw its concept as a way of developing an original anthology series, as anthologies were unpopular with the networks.[3]

The series ran on NBC[7] for five seasons, from March 1989 through May 1993.


The theme for the series was written by Mike Post.[3] It was later re-arranged 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.

No. Track[8] Composer(s) Length Episode
1 Prologue (Saga Sell) Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch
Deborah Pratt (voice over)
2 Quantum Leap (Main Title) Mike Post 1:15
3 Somewhere in the Night Scott Bakula 3:32 Piano Man
4 Suite from the Leap Home Velton Ray Bunch 3:37 The Leap Home, part 1
5 Imagine Scott Bakula 3:05 The Leap Home, Part 1
6 Sam's Prayer Velton Ray Bunch 1:52 A Single Drop of Rain
7 Blue Moon of Kentucky Scott Bakula 1:41 Memphis Melody
8 Baby, Let's Play House Scott Bakula 2:13 Memphis Melody
9 Shoot Out Velton Ray Bunch 3:03 The Last Gunfighter
10 Medley from Man of La Mancha Scott Bakula 6:18 Catch a Falling Star
11 Bite Me Velton Ray Bunch 3:29 Blood Moon
12 Alphabet Rap Dean Stockwell 2:05 Shock Theater
13 Suite from "Lee Harvey Oswald" Velton Ray Bunch 14:55 Leaping on a String
14 Fate's Wide Wheel Scott Bakula 3:05 Glitter Rock
15 A Conversation with Scott Bakula Scott Bakula (interview) 12:02
16 Quantum Leap (Prologue and Main Title Reprise) Mike Post, Velton Ray Bunch 2:20


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.[3]

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

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.[9]

Home media

In the 1990s, some episodes were released on VHS. In the United States, these included "Genesis" (two-part pilot episode), "Camikazi Kid", "The Color of Truth", "What Price Gloria?", "Catch a Falling Star", "Jimmy", "The Leap Home" (two-part episode), "Dreams", and "Shock Theater." In the United Kingdom, the episodes were mostly released in pairs, selling as "Genesis" (two-part pilot episode - on its own), "The Color of Truth" and "Camikazi Kid"; "The Americanization of Machiko" and "What Price Gloria?"; "Catch a Falling Star" and "Jimmy"; "The Leap Home" (two-part episode); "Dreams" and "Shock Theater."

Universal Studios chose not to obtain the necessary music licensing for all of the music for use in the "Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season" Region 1 DVD; subsequent releases featured music replacements, with Universal's inclusion of a disclaimer on the package indicating as such (this disclaimer also began to appear on other releases of various other Universal series). As of at least 2015, the series streams on Netflix and on Amazon.com.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the entire, digitally remastered, Quantum Leap series on DVD:[10][11]

On April 13, 2016, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment has acquired the rights to the series and will re-release the first two seasons on DVD on June 7, 2016.[12]

Season - DVD name Episodes DVD release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season 1 - The Complete First Season 9 June 8, 2004 November 8, 2004 May 2, 2005
Season 2 - The Complete Second Season 22 December 14, 2004 October 31, 2005 February 7, 2006
Season 3 - The Complete Third Season 22 May 10, 2005 December 12, 2005 June 7, 2006
Season 4 - The Complete Fourth Season 22 March 28, 2006 June 26, 2006 November 2006
Season 5 - The Complete Fifth Season 22 November 14, 2006 December 26, 2006 February 21, 2007
Seasons 1–5 - The Complete Series
(The Complete Collection)
97 November 4, 2014[10] October 8, 2007[11] N/A


Despite its struggling start with poor broadcast timings,[3] the series had gained a large 18–49 demographics of viewers. In 2004 and 2007, Quantum Leap was ranked #15 and #19 on TV Guide's "Top Cult Shows Ever."[1]


Along with 43 nominations, Quantum Leap received 17 awards (listed below).[13][14]

Year Award Category Winner(s) Episode
1989 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Cinematography for a Series Roy H. Wagner Genesis, Part 1
Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series Virginia Kearns Double Identity
1990 Quality TV Award Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series Scott Bakula
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series,
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
Dean Stockwell
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Cinematography for a Series Michael W. Watkins Pool Hall Blues
1991 Quality TV Award Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series Scott Bakula
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series Dean Stockwell
Edgar Award Best Television Episode Paul Brown Good Night, Dear Heart
DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night Michael Zinberg The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series Gerald Quist
Michael Mills
Jeremy Swan
The Leap Home, Part 1
Outstanding Cinematography for a Series Michael W. Watkins The Leap Home, Part 2 - Vietnam
1992 Quality TV Award Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series Scott Bakula
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Drama Scott Bakula
1993 Quality TV Award Best Actor in a Quality Drama Series Scott Bakula
Young Artist Award Best Young Actress Guest-Starring in a Television Series Kimberly Cullum
ACE Award Best Edited One Hour Series for Television Jon Koslowsky A Song for the Soul
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series,
Single Camera Production
Jon Koslowsky Lee Harvey Oswald

Other media




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:[15]

Cover of the Quantum Leap comics, issue 10.
Issue Title Person Date
1 "First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was" High school teacher named Karen Connors in Memphis, Tennessee. March 25, 1968
2 "Freedom of the Press" Death row inmate named Willie Jackson, who must prevent a murder on the outside. June 11, 1962
3A "He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good..." Part-time Santa Claus, who goes by the name of Nick. December 20, 1963
3B "The Infinite Corridor" Student at MIT named Matt Randall, who is researching quantum physics. April 2, 1968
4 "The 50,000 Quest" Contestant amid the quiz show scandals. August 15, 1958
5 "Seeing is Believing" Newspaper reporter/columnist, who responds to a girl seeing a UFO. November 14, 1957
6 "A Tale of Two Cindys" Teenage girl with an identical twin sister. February 12, 1959
7A "Lives on the Fringe" Professional golfer with mafia after him. 1974
7B "Sarah's Got a Gun" Bus driver, who discovers child abuse. May 19, 1953
8 "Getaway" Bank robber, while the leapee tours the Project with Al. 1958
9 "Up Against a Stonewall" Sequel to "Good Night, Dear Heart." Stephanie Heywood is released from prison after serving twelve years for manslaughter. June 22, 1969
10 "Too Funny For Words" Stand-up comedian, who befriends a fading silent movie star. June 13, 1966
11 "For the Good of the Nation" Doctor studying the effects of LSD on human subjects. July 1958
12 "Waiting" Gas station attendant with a lot of time on his hands. April 24, 1958
13 "One Giant Leap" An extraterrestrial aboard an orbiting spaceship. June 5, 1963

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.[16] 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.[17]


  1. 1 2 "TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever". TV Guide. June 29, 2007.
  2. Cerone, Daniel (July 15, 1990). "'Quantum Leap' is Scott Bakula's Idea of an Actor's Dream". Los Angeles Times.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Jenkins, Shelley (April 28, 2008). "Donald P. Bellisario Interview". Archive of American Television. Published in the article on April 12, 2012.
  4. Connor, John J. (March 30, 1989). "Review/Television; Comeback for Wimps in New Series". The New York Times.
  5. Chunovic, Louis, The Complete Quantum Leap Book, Citadel Press (1995)
  6. O'Connor, John J. (November 22, 1989). "Review/Television; An Actor's 'Quantum Leap' Through Times and Roles". The New York Times.
  7. Carter, Bill (October 1, 1991). "NBC Defends Move on 'Quantum Leap'". The New York Times.
  8. "Quantum Leap - Soundtrack". Amazon.com. November 19, 1993.
  9. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert's official YouTube site. Uploaded 16 June 2016. Accessed 24 June 2016
  10. 1 2 "Quantum Leap: The Complete Series (Region 1)". Amazon.com. November 4, 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Quantum Leap - The Complete Collection (Region 2)". Amazon.com. October 8, 2007.
  12. Mill Creek's Details, Artwork for 'Seasons 1 and 2' Re-Release
  13. "Quantum Leap - Awards". The New York Times.
  14. "Quantum Leap, Awards". IMDb. Based on the original citation. NBC.
  15. Zeman, Phil (January 19, 1995). "Quantum Leap Comic Guide".
  16. "New Leap, Tremors On Sci-Fi". Syfy. July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on July 9, 2006.
  17. Holbrook, Damian (July 23, 2010). "Comic-Con: Is Quantum Leaping to the Megaplex?". TV Guide.


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