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Headscratchers: Quantum Leap
The Headscratchers page for Quantum Leap: Violating Bellisario's Maxim since 2009.

  • Has Sam ever leapt into a person who met him while leaping, at the same time? Would he be able to see both Als? Would each Al be able to see the other? Aside from special effects budget providing the obvious answer, could each Sam see the other as himself?
    • As far as I know, Sam never leaped into another participant in one of his own leaps. The closest he came was leaping from one person directly into another person in the same place (as in "Double Identity"), but the leaps were still linear rather than crossing over.
      • In the finale, he leaps, deliberately, as himself, to tell Beth to wait for Al. Technically, the earlier version of himself from the first time he met her was still in that time period, but he wasn't in the house. In that scenario, the earlier Sam would have seen himself as himself, and the later Sam would have been able to see Al, as their brainwaves are linked.
    • I have a theory that, at one point several years after the finale, Sam leapt into his father during the events of "The Leap Home: Part 1". This is the only in-universe explanation I can think of for why John is played by Scott Bakula instead of the guy who played him in the pilot.
  • Bellisario's Maxim and all that, but... When the show first debuted, everyone assumed that Sam was taking over the body of those he leapt into. Then this was altered to Sam switching places with someone, but their "aura" surrounding Sam (and vice-versa) making him look and sound like the person he replaced. All of which is a roundabout way of asking how the hell Sam could wear clothing that was often vastly too large or small for him? Or why people who touched him couldn't spot the disparity in the way Sam's built and the way the real person should be - especially when Sam leapt into a woman.
    • The aura was also supposed to extend to touch (people thought that bits of him that they touched were closer or further way than they really were), though it could have been creatively interpreted as the aura making him shaped like the person except for things that would have harmed him (missing a leg or eyesight). In at least the first episode where he leapt into a woman's body, the clothing was visibly altered to fit him- which just makes things worse. It Headscratchers that they changed it from Grand Theft Me to an Alternate Appearance Aura just to make it easier to wrap up certain plots (The original blind pianist episode could have been handwaved/justified by Sam seeing things without having to filter it through the body, or leaving it as his mind thinking instead of Jimmy's brain, and avoiding all this in the first place).
    • Well, there is something to the physical body thing, Sam was able to recognize Alia (The Evil Leaper) when he runs into her (but oddly enough he can't see through is own aura). Of course, a hole in the physical body transferring thing has shown up a few times. One I can remember specifically was when he lept into the chimpanzee and was able to fit in various chimp-sized devices (and couldn't swim due to the low body fat of a chimp).
      • Incorrect: Sam could swim while he was leaped into the chimp. He did so in order to save the Girl of the Week, and it got remarked on afterwards. He did still fit into the chimp-sized gear, but this is really nothing new; his host's clothes always fit him as though made for him whether he leaps into a teenager or a wrestler. It's just more noticeable when the host is a woman or a chimpanzee.
      • If Sam's body is leaping, and he winds up in a chimp meaning his body has to shrink, wouldn't that cause his body's density to go up, presumably higher than that of water, since his mass would be the same, but his volume would go down, which means that would cause him to sink—ah never mind...
      • If that's the case, then why was it that Sam could still fight really well no matter what person's body he inhabited. There were times when he was in a woman's body and he'd still be able to fight off several attackers, a feat that would not be likely to be accomplished by most men.
    • What bugged me about this was that it went through a few changes. Over the seasons, it wasn't consistent. First, there was no mention of the person being in the chamber back in the lab, then it was the person being in the chamber, then it even became the person looking like Sam in the chamber.
  • A pretty minor thing, maybe a case of Fridge Logic, but in the first episode of the second season, Honeymoon Express, back in 1999 Al is in court trying to get funding for another year for project Quantum Leap, however the senator says, the only proof they had to confirm the Quantum Leaping actually happens is Al's word. But I thought: What about the person in the Waiting Room, that Sam replaced in the past? Couldn't they call him to court as a witness. Of course he would look like Sam, but simple questions ("What is your name?", "What year is it?", "What's your profession?") would suffice, especially if they repeat it a few weeks later with another "leapee", that's a complete other person... Maybe a psychologist could help to determine it's really not Sam, but someone else. Instead they don't even MENTION the persons they get in exchange for Sam, who look like Sam to everyone, even though it would contradict the claim that Al is just making it all up...
    • Other times it's suggested that the people Sam replaces (who then take his place at Project Quantum Leap) don't take on his appearance whole he takes on theirs.
    • Occam's Razor being what it is, having someone who looks and sounds just like Sam Beckett claiming to be someone from the past probably wouldn't be particularly convincing. The board would either take it as an act put on by Sam out of desperation to keep his funding, or take it to mean Sam had just snapped.
    • One wonders why Al didn't just have Sam send some sort of letter to the committee from the past to verify his presence. The age of the letter or package or whatever, along with its place of origin, could be verified with some degree of ease.
      • He actually pulls this stunt in the episode where he and Al switch places and Sam ends up stuck in the imaging chamber because the handlink went back with Al. He had Al mail a letter to Project: Quantum Leap's secret location to have them unlock the chamber. (Why such a thing wouldn't have a panic button or emergency door release is a different question altogether).
      • But it did have an emergency release. The only problem was that the release was activated by the handset and so the only way that it could possibly be a problem is if somehow the leaper and the observer switched places while the observer was in the imaging room thus getting the room into lock-down which shouldn't be possible.
  • It just bugs me that Sam never got home. Does he eventually die of old age? What happens to his "host" when that happens? Without Al, what happens to the person in the waiting room?
    • Since it's Sam's body that is leaping, he is presumably still aging (as is pretty much confirmed in the last episode). So given another forty or fifty years of leaping in his subjective time, its possible he eventually does just die of old age. Assuming is isn't killed on a leap before then.
    • I would say that if Sam died while on a leap, his dead body would leap back to the future (possibly just before his actual death) and the leapee would return to their own time unaffected.
      • "Revenge of the Evil Leaper" confirms this. Zoe is shot and killed, and the man she leaps into gets up like nothing happened right after.
  • OK, so I get the whole theory behind the time travelling (Sam's life a loop, the loop is balled, Sam leaps between the strings in the ball and thus back and forth in time), but where in that does it imply that he should leap into other people? Shouldn't he leap into himself every episode? I mean, yeah he did in one episode, but that was considered extraordinary.
    • I think the idea was that the time machine was supposed to operate by letting you go back to times within your own life. Instead,the machine didn't work as intended and instead sends the user back in time to a point within their own lifetime, except it's not them. So, it's supposed to work as you detailed, but the whole premise that the machine isn't working properly is why that happens.
    • That sort of thing is probably Applied Phlebotinum or because A Wizard Did It.
      • Since the premise of the series involves Sam changing the past 'for the better' and it's often implied that there's some ultimate power at work behind Sam's leaps, it seems reasonable to assume that if this is the case, then the entity behind Sam's leaps is also responsible for him being able to swap bodies with other people in the past.
  • In one episode (I believe it was called "Killing Time") Sam leaps into a man who's taken a woman and her daughter hostage. In the present, the leapee is able to get a gun and force Al to let him out of the waiting room. On their way out, they run into Gooshie who nonchalantly says "Hello, Dr. Beckett." and becomes surprised when the leapee then points the gun at Gooshie, who still thinks it's Sam Beckett. 1) Shouldn't Gooshie know that, even though the person looks and sounds like Sam, it isn't Sam? And 2) even if he did think it was, shouldn't he be a bit more excited since it would mean Sam was back? I mean, isn't that the whole premise of the show, and the main focus of what they've been trying to do at Project Quantum Leap for the past four years?
    • That used to bug me, too, but after rewatching it recently, it dawned on me that Gooshie is joking. Although Gooshie is mentioned in nearly every episode, we seldom get to see him, and this is the only episode in which his character is fleshed out. Despite Al's insults, we see that Gooshie is very intelligent and has a good sense of humor. He probably addresses EVERY hapless soul in the Waiting Room as "Dr. Beckett" because he doesn't yet know who they are.
    • My assumption is that since the person left the waiting room, the only reason that one would do that would be if Dr. Beckett himself had finally made it home. The leapees were not supposed to leave the room. So, when Gooshie saw the leapee out of the room, he assumed it was the real Dr. Beckett.
      • The killer himself demands to know why Gooshie is calling him that and Gooshie nervously stammers out that it's because he looks just like him (Dr. Beckett).
  • What bugs me is all of the behind the black moments that appear at the end of the episodes to leave a cliffhanger that is quickly resolves at the beginning of the next episode. This happens more than once with camera crews or stage shows where the camera crew and film crew would have been completely visible to Sam.
  • I just watched the episode 'Blind Faith,' in which Sam leaps into a blind concert pianist who has to save his host's love interest, a young woman with an overbearing mother, from being strangled by a serial killer. While this is a worthy mission for Sam, there is one event in this episode that really bugs me: the woman who was strangled before his love interest was his neighbor. Seriously, we see Sam go home to his host's apartment, and he passes a sexy French blonde out walking her dogs. In one of the next scenes, the blonde is killed. Are we to assume Ziggy didn't see this one coming? All Sam would have had to do to save her was accompany her on the walk; odds are the strangler was only targeting solitary women, and even if he did attack with Sam present, he knows tae-kwon-do. What's more, his neighbor—and her death (or disappearance)—are never mentioned again.
    • It seems that it may be that Sam leaps to right specific wrongs, and apparently can't right every single wrong that's happened during his life. For example, when he leaps to Dallas in November of 1963, he can't save President Kennedy from being assassinated, but Al reveals at the end of the episode that apparently he was there to prevent Jackie Kennedy from being killed too, not to save the President. Granted, that still doesn't explain why he can't save the President or the neighbor, or why Ziggy wasn't at least aware of what happened to the neighbor.
      • That's a necessary belief to the series; or else why would Sam leap in to solve murders, rather than stop them? How bad would it have been in "Good Night, Dear Heart" if Sam would have been there to prevent the sweet girl everybody loved from being murdered, keeping her alive and preventing her would-be killer from going down that path?
      • Fridge Brilliance moment! What if the God/Time/Fate/Whatever thing has an endgame based on the ripple effect? It would explain why changes in Sam's personal past always seem to end up giving him the exact skills he needs for each leap. If that's the case then saving the neighbour or Kennedy would be counter-productive as saving them wasn't what he was sent there to do. Suddenly it's not "Set Right What Once Went Wrong" it's "Create the most desirable overall timeline". But maybe this belongs in WMG.
      • Assuming that the killer was going to kill one woman every night then saving that one woman wouldn't have made a difference. Sam didn't know who the killer was and he couldn't keep every woman out of Central Park. Even if he had been spending the entire night patrolling the area, the killer still could have gotten to someone. So what practical difference would it have made to save that one woman and have another random one die? I'm sure Sam still would have wanted to but Ziggy is not sentimental and Al only knows what Ziggy tells him. Similarly, just keeping his girlfriend out of Central Park or going with her wouldn't have stopped the killer, he only managed to do that because the guy attacked the girl when she was alone and Sam arrived in the middle of that.
  • Since PQL is based around Al and Sam's brainwaves, I always assumed Al saw Sam as himself. However, in the episode where Sam leaps into Samantha the sexually-harassed secretary, the running gag is that Al sees Sam as Samantha and finds him/her attractive. So does Al always see Sam as the person he's leaped into, or was it a glitch just involving that one leap?
    • It's an inconsistency in the story. Sometimes, Al says he sees Sam. Sometimes, he says he sees the person Sam replaced. Another example of when Al sees the other person is when Sam jumps into a younger version of Al. Al says he sees himself in the chamber.
    • I don't recall any mention of Al seeing Sam as the Leapee after "What Price Gloria." Fanon is that the events of that episode caused the project to adjust Ziggy and the, uh, holoemitters so that Al would see Sam as Sam from then on.
      • Inconsistencies abound! I seem to recall in one episode Sam sees Alia leaping. He then asks Al if that's what he looks like when he leaps and Al replies "I don't know Sam, all I see is the person you've leaped into" or words to that effect. Yet in one episode Al is standing on the top of a building in a thunderstorm and starts to glow blue. He then remarks to Sam, "Look Sam, I'm leaping!". How would he know?
      • That was from the last episode, Mirror Image The exact words are: Sam: "Al, when I leap, do I turn all blue and tingle with electrical energy?" Al: "How would I know? When you leap, I go back to the Imaging Chamber."
      • The "rules" seem to change in each episode depending on what's needed to make the plot work.
      • One of the books describes it as Al seeing Sam overlaid with the faded image of the person he's leaped into.
  • What happens when Sam leaps out and the "leapees" return to their bodies? Does Al fill them in as to what happened before they leap back, is there liberal use of hand-waving which causes them to share relevant memories with Sam, or do they leap back having no idea what just happened?
    • Al usually ends up talking to the people in the chamber and he tries to calm them down. I don't think it's ever addressed how the person fits back into his/her body after Sam leaps out after solving all the problems for that person.
    • I always assumed that they remember doing what Sam did but didn't remember why they did it.
      • I think the concern Al and Sam may feel is gone when they move on to the next problem.
    • It seems like Sam's leaping would cause more problems for the person than he fixes.
      • Especially when you consider that the person not only has no recollection of having participated in some historically-significant or personally-significant event and add in the fact that the person also has a story about being in a chamber for a period of time while someone else occupied his or her body. I think this would put the person in the same category as all the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens and suffered an anal probe.
      • We have seen how a leapee reacts to being returned in "Double Identity": they don't seem to remember anything, or that any time had passed at all.
      • Case in point: Season 4, "Raped". As psychologically satisfying as it was to see Sam kick the shit out of Kevin, couldn't Kevin just later squeal that Katie hunted him down and beat him up in revenge? They'd believe him again, too.
      • Considering Kevin went to her house to "teach her a lesson?" His believability isn't very high.
      • OK, so he says she invited him over to apologise, then kicked the crap out of him.
      • He's also not the sort to openly admit that he got the ever-loving shit beaten out of him by a woman, especially once that he already overpowered.
      • Kevin had gone over to try to rape her again. It's likely that this time, there would be enough evidence to finally put him away, since it was witnessed by the leapee's parents.
  • In the pilot episode (which happens to be about a pilot), why didn't anyone on the Air Force base notice or say anything about the 80's model car driving near the flight line in 1953? This car goes by in the background as Sam and Al talk prior to Sam's flight of the X-2.
    • When you say "Why didn't anyone on the Air Force base notice or say anything," I presume you're also referring to the camera operator, the director, and most of the crew, in addition to the characters in the show.
    • Yes, anyone - production assistants, actors, directors, and anyone else who might have noticed that an 80's model car was in the shot in what's supposed to be 1953.
  • Why does Sam always leap into the person's body at inopportune times? How come he never leaps into a body while they're sleeping (which he should really have a 1 in 3 chance of doing)?
    • A good teaser.
    • Sam actually does leap into somebody whilst they're asleep. If I remember correctly, he's dreaming about Deep Space Nine's Terry Farrell naked on the beach, which shocked the hell out of me at the time because it used to be shown at 6pm in the UK.
  • In "The Leap Home, Part II", it shows Sam mowing down a bunch of Viet-Cong with a machine gun. I mean, I know he leaped into the middle of a war, and that the Viet-Cong wouldn't have hesitated to kill him, but it still seems a bit un-Sam like. At least he could have shown some remorse or something later.
    • When Sam leaps, parts of his personality sometimes switch with the leapee. This is a plot point in a bunch of episodes, and remembering that clears up a lot of these character inconsistentcy problems.
      • Sam doesn't have time to get remorseful immediately because he still needs to save Tom and then they still need to escape. But the next time we see him he's drunk and clearly quite upset. Sure, he's only talking about the reporter's death but that doesn't mean that he wasn't also upset that he killed yet more people and he just realized that that would be less understandable than being sad about the civilian he brought along.
  • In one episode, Al wants Sam to change a big part of history in order to keep the project funded. His belief is: if the history books change, that will be proof the project is working. The problem with that is: everyone but he and Sam will believe the changed history books, having no memory of the event that did not happen. 'No, really, committee, I swear, in so-and-so, this big thing happened, but Sam changed it. You can look up the rec- Oh.' And Al not seeing the Fridge Logic would be fine, but not one member of the committee or Sam himself sees it, either.
    • Agreed. Besides all the above, if they needed to prove the project was working, wouldn't it have been simpler and less risky to invite a member of the committee to enter the imaging chamber?
      • It's possible that only Al (and Sam) can actually use the Imaging Chamber since the project is based around their brainwaves. In one episode when Sam goes crazy, they have the project's psychologist enter the chamber to help. Sam can't hear her talk, and it's unclear (but it's implied) that the psychologist cannot actually see or hear anything Al can, as it looks like he's directing her where to look. (And don't think about when other people use the chamber).
      • However, the leapee from "Raped" is a notable exception. Sam couldn't possibly testify at the trial against the rapist, since he wasn't actually there, so he testifies as a proxy—Al brings the leapee into the Imaging Chamber and mentions to Sam that they really had to amp up the chamber's broadcasting power so the victim could hear the cross-examination and accurately answer the questions.
  • Even allowing for his being able to leap only during his own lifetime (we won't bring up the "Oh look, he has the same DNA structure as his great-grandfather" get-out clause to get him into the Civil War in "The Leap Between The States"), how can "The Color Of Truth" and the first part of "Trilogy" both kick off on August 8, 1955?
    • I see no reason to think he can't leap into the same time period twice but in two different locations. Too bad Sam didn't have the idea to drive to Red Dog to meet his past self, just to see what would happen.
  • This mostly bugged me during Bloodmoon, but why is it that no one ever notices when Sam doesn't speak with the proper dialect, or that he was speaking with an American accent? Certainly the fact that Nigel was suddenly speaking with an American accent would raise a few eyebrows?
    • Presumably Sam takes on the voice of the person he leaped into and not just the appearance to others.
  • I know that Donna made Al promise not to tell Sam about her but why, after the timeline was fixed in the second episode and Donna married him after all, does he actively encourage Sam to get it on with other women? Is he just counting on the fact that Sam's too good of a guy to go for it, even believing that he is single?
  • What was the point of Sam's leap in "How the Tess was Won"? He didn't have Doc marry Tess and it seems like, from the love letters, the guy who did marry her would have married her without him. He leaped after giving Buddy Holly the name 'Peggy Sue' but since Sam already knew the song he would have come up with it anyway. Was it really just to save the pigs? But he stuck around for days after that and only leaped after giving Holly the name of the song a litle early.
    • The episode is a Predestination Loop. Sam is fulfilling the past by giving Buddy Holly the lyrics of Peggy Sue.
  • How is it that the important things don't always cause Sam to leap? In "Double Identity" where he jumped into the mob hit-man and then the mob-assassin and ended up causing a historic blackout, Sam didn't leap back after making sure that the lovebirds lived and would get to be together. No, he leapt after making sure that an old woman won at bingo. Is that really important at all? How is that what he was meant to do?
  • In "The Americanization of Machiko", Sam doesn't realize that the sailor he jumped into was bringing his Japanese bride back as a surprise to the family and so accidentally leaves without her and abandons her in a strange town where she has to get a cop to bring her to the farm. How, exactly, does he explain why he did this in a way that doesn't have Machiko pissed at him in the next scene?
  • Why is Donna such an unpopular character? Is it the fact that, without having her daddy issues resolved, she leaves Sam at the altar before he fixes things?
    • I think it's because by retconning their relationship and creating the marriage, it brings the uncomfortable reality that, even though Sam doesn't remember the marriage, he's still a serial adulterer or near-adulterer.
  • How long was Al a POW? I know he was shot down in 1967 and it was mention on several occasions that he was repatriated in 1973. But then in the Leap Home Part 2 (in 1970) he tells Sam that it doesn't matter that he wasn't freed then because he gets repatriated in five years. As far as I can tell, Sam hadn't done anything to extend the length of Al's time as a POW even if he didn't do anything to free him earlier. Did Al mean five years from 1970 on or that from 1967 to 1973 when he was a prisoner it was closer to five years (or he was rounding down) than six years?
  • In "A Leap for Lisa", if Marci had consensual sex with Chip and was then killed in some sort of freak accident (if the flashback can be believed), why was her rape and murder being investigated? Couldn't doctors tell the difference between rape and non-rape in the fifties? And even if they couldn't, since everyone up to and including Marci's husband knew that she liked to sleep around, why would they automatically assume rape when they knew she slept with someone?
    • They were investigating rape because her husband made the accusation. It's weirdly progressive of them to give a known promiscuous woman the benefit of the doubt; they probably wouldn't have had she not been murdered and made the accusation herself.
  • In the original timeline in "A Leap for Lisa", no one was ever prosecuted for Marci's death because Lisa alibied Al and Riker saw a man in Al's car kill Lisa. Well, if they know that it was Al's car but not Al then why didn't anyone at least ask Al who was in his car last night? Maybe Al would have pretended not to know what they were talking about to cover for Chip but in that case Al shouldn't be so surprised to learn what Chip did. What kind of pathetic investigation were they conducting?
  • In "A Leap for Lisa", how did finding a cigar in Al's car when he didn't smoke those until Vietnam prove anything? Why would the higher-ups know what Al smoked? Why wouldn't they take into account the possibility that Al put it there afterwards to try and clear himself or think it was left there from when someone else smoked it but Al was still the killer? "There's a cigar in my car but I don't smoke so I couldn't have killed Marci" doesn't really seem like a substantial case.
    • Because finding that clue meant that Al was able to identify the killer. As long as Al had no way of knowing who really did it, he was going to lose, but knowing who killed Marci (or who was with her) was enough to get a confession out of one of his best friends.
  • In "Raped", the trial begins seemingly either the next day, or possibly two days after the event. Katie is still pretty badly beaten when she works with Al to testify from the Imaging Chamber. No trial happens that fast.

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