Quantum Leap takes place in the Original Star Trek timelineWeird Ernie in the pilot and (the other) Al in the final episode are actually Commander Braxton of the Temporal Police, starting and ending a Federation/Starfleet program to fix the time stream and ensure that Sam's great great great great great great (etc) grandson Jonathan Archer is born to found the Federation.
The Evil Leapers are trying to undo the consequences of the Original project's oversight: Ziggy can only monitor changes to the timeline within Sam's lifetimeZoey refers to she and Alia's past assignments as "clawing their way out of hell." The supercomputer Ziggy never showed an ability to make projections or observations past the late 1990's. And generally, with only one or two exceptions, Sam could only time travel within his own lifetime, the 1950s to the 1990s. Once when an accident caused Sam to go back to the Civil War era, but interpreting the past is different from projecting or monitoring the future. So a future faction (the "Evil Leapers") begins a similar project to undo the unforeseen consequences of Ziggy's limitations.
Sam Beckett is going to replace everyone on Earth.Since he never returned home, he is going to jump for eternity. Therefore, he is going to replace everyone in the project's timeframe. There is a flaw in this reasoning, though. The only person he isn't going to replace is actually himself.
- Wasn't there an episode where Sam leapt into his teenaged self and attempted to prevent his sister's abusive marriage and his brother's death in Vietnam?
- He'll never leap into himself in his own time.
- His own time is any point within his life, so leaping into his teenage self would be his own time. Now, it is likely that he is incapable of leaping into any point after he started leaping since he technically wasn't present then; but you would have to figure out how his interactions with Al figure.
- He'll never leap into himself in his own time.
Sam Beckett is altering his own abilities.When Sam changes history, he also slightly alters his own abilities. That explains his unusual knowledge. That and he is a genius.
Sam is what happens when a human time lord dies.Nobody has ever seen what happens when a human time lord dies. In Family of Blood, the Doctor only has a vision of his future self, and it doesn't show him dying, and when The Master becomes human, he opens the watch before dying. In the original series, when The Master ran out of regenerations, he flew around as a pool of blood, possessing people. Sam was a Time Lord that was humanized and sent to earth, with Ziggy a front for his TARDIS (but not the TARDIS itself) and would have regained his time lord attributes had he not killed himself a dozen times over trying to activate Quantum Leap. To prevent him being found out, the Ziggy sends him back to keep him alive until Gallifrey can be contacted, and helps people in the meantime (see the TARDIS Is The Hero guess on the main Doctor Who WMG page). The TARDIS reconstructs the personality of the character and runs them through a simulacrum of Doctor Beckett's body, and the real person's mind is there the whole time, influencing Sam's behavior and remembering the things they did while under his influence. Al isn't actually linked to Sam, it's just that the TARDIS doesn't trust anyone else enough with communicating directly with Sam's mind.
The G-Man is leaping Sam around.
- DOCtor BECKett is...not AS ''hsssh''...''obsERvant'' as MisTER Freeman and SIMPly haSn't...''noticccced.''
Our current time line is the result of Sam's actions.He comes from an advanced future compared to us around that time frame. We are slowed technologically by the effect of many, many, many minor changes Sam does to make the future "better". Yes, he improves individual lives, but is slowing technological progress in the process. Imagine how many of those lives he "saved" could have spurred those around them to do greater things had the tragedy happened?
- This is actually backed up in the series itself (at least, the "Sam's creating our timeline" part - the technology difference between timelines seems to be confined to the technology involved in Project Quantum Leap itself, and we all know Reed Richards Is Useless). In the episode where he thinks his mission is to save JFK, he fails, but then learns that his mission was actually to save Jackie Kennedy who, according to his and Al's history, originally got shot and killed too. Since she survived in our timeline...
Sam's Meaningful Name tells us he never was going to get home.He's named Samuel Beckett. He's no more likely to go home than Godot is to meet Vladimir and Estragon.
Sam was once abducted by the Great Race of Yith.As with all their research projects, they used their alien technology to leap one of their researchers into Sam Beckett's life so they could investigate 20th century humans, while he found himself living in their era as a captive but honored guest. After months of learning about the Great Race and its leaping technology, the mission ended and Sam leaped back to his own body again. But their Laser-Guided Amnesia developed a few cracks, and Sam gradually, unconsciously remembered enough about leaping to invent his own version of it. Alia the "evil leaper" and her dystopian world are from an alternate future ruled by a rogue, human-leaped faction of the Great Race that worships Azathoth, and is trying to destabilize the timeline and bring about chaos.
The reason Sam never makes it home......is because he ends up inadvertently erasing himself from history or paradoxes himself out of existence (or, accidentally kills his younger self, like he did with Al in that one episode). This also means all the other leaps get "reset" and now everything happens as it did the first time around.
- Alternatively, we don't really know how Time Travel works in the Quantum Leap 'verse; it seems to be For Want of a Nail since the Quantum Leap Project still exists no matter how the past has changed, but the Future Computer still somehow knows what the "original" history was before Sam changed it. For all we know, Sam's been dimension-hopping and he's somehow accidentally erased the way back home—or, he rejected the possibility of going home so he's made a significant difference in at least one timeline.
Sam is God.This is a simplified version of an IRC discussion that involved This Troper and several fellow online Leap fans. Okay, so Shinji, Haruhi, and Pickle Inspector all got to this one first. Think about it: the dominant theory in the first part of the show is that "god" controls Sam's leaps, and we later learn that Sam is doing it subconsciously. But if Sam never returns home, he leaps infinitely and thus has complete control over the timeline after his own birth. This gives him control over the circumstances of future Time Travel projects, which means he can theoretically leap into other time travelers, allowing him to go further into the past and influence the origins of the universe. Thus, Sam has complete control over the universe.
Wishbone is Sam's dog.When Sam Beckett got stuck jumping through time, his dog was in the machine, too. Only the dog, Wishbone, ended up jumping through literary characters instead of actual people. Unlike Sam, Wishbone did eventually leap home and was adopted by some kids, to whom he attempts to impart the wisdom of his travels.
Al retains both his original and altered memories.The end of his marriage to Beth was a character-defining moment in the original line, informing everything his did afterward. Since there's no indication that he doesn't still join the project in the new timeline, he and Sam must still be friends. The fact that he remembers the original line might contribute to the success of his marriage in the new one. If you remembered a life without your loved one, wouldn't you appreciate having them all the more given the chance?
Sam did get home.Lothos hijacked the broadcast. Once Sam accrues sufficient Leaps to push the timeline away from where Lothos wants it, they'll face off. One shall stand, one shall fall.
The events of "The Boogieman" weren't all just in Sam's head.Besides, of course, the bookends of him before and after he fell down the stairs. What happened was that Sam was there to save Tully, but the Devil was preventing Al from getting a lock, so Sam was unable to do what he was supposed to do. The Devil then prevented Sam from leaping around so that he could keep screwing with him. Eventually, once Sam vanquished the Devil, he immediately leaped back to the beginning right after he fell down the stairs and rewrote the episode's history, including Al's.
The reason time travel mechanics change arbitrarily...Is that Sam's changes to the timeline affect the original project and retroactively make them different.
Ziggy is the one controlling the leaps.And has a wicked sense of humor. Sam gave Ziggy a personality, so like another computer, it's playing a game with Sam, testing his mettle. That's why Ziggy's prone to 'make mistakes'- it's actually screwing with Sam and Al. Also, Al the bartender from the final episode is actually AI, a computer generated avatar for Ziggy.
- Right! Ziggy is the one who says that God is controlling the Leaps right. What if, having a personality, Ziggy believes in God. So just the same way religious folks say "it's god's will" when they do something, or to explain their own mistakes, maybe Ziggy's doing the same thing.
Lothos is Satan.Think about it for a moment: Sam's do-gooding in time comes to the attention of the Prince of Darkness in the Halloween Episode and he sets out to do him in. Sam responds by STRANGLING Beelzebub into submission and leaping on. From that moment forward, Satan begins his own anti-Quantum Leap program which becomes known as Lothos to stamp out Sam Beckett. He takes damned souls and sends them around to ruin lives in history. In one of the Evil Leaper episodes, Zoey (ironically named because her moniker is Greek for "life") declares to Alia "We clawed our way out of hell to land simple jobs like homewrecking!" Additionally look at the leaps themselves: when Sam leaps he is an ethereal, heavenly blue/white. When Alia or Zoey leap, they are a hellish red. When Alia Heel Face Turns, she is leaped out at the last moment and her color has changed from red to blue/white. If God isn't behind leaping Sam around, he's most certainly involved in some capacity. Likewise, the Devil would be the one behind Lothos, if not being "Lothos" itself.
Sam does get home.The depressing future announced via text-crawl is only the future directly after Sam leaps to speak with Beth. The immediate effect is that Al and Beth stay together and have four daughters while Sam hasn't gotten home. And then Sam keeps leaping.
The Evil Leaper isn't Setting Wrong what Once went rightInstead, she's from an alternate timeline, trying to set right what once went wrong. Sometimes bad things have far reaching consequences. In this respect, it's a battle between her timeline and Sam's.
Sam went home immediately after saving Al's marriageThe epilogue text referred to a Dr. Sam Becket (a French named, pronounced "Be'kei"), a cardiologist in Lincoln, Nebraska, who was tragically killed in an automobile collision after leaving work on the same day that Dr. Beckett returned home.
Sam's final leap is into Donald P. Bellisario.This is when he was finally able to write down all his memoirs, and he Narrates the Present because it's Bellisario's persepctive (as the ultimate script supervisor of the series). He's Breaking the Fourth Wall.
Quantum Leap takes place in the same 'verse as NYPD Blue...and the reason Sam Beckett "never leaped home" is because he had to help Greg Medavoy 24/7 for 12 years. The evidence: Greg has an annoying problem practically every week as one of the subplots of the show. Frequently he will Quip to Black with "Oh, boy."
Sam doesn't return home, but that's not a sad thing
- Sam doesn't *want* to go home anymore: he has learned to let go of his drive to get home and accept that this is what he really wants to do.
- Not returning home doesn't mean that he loses contact with the Quantum Leap Project. Al and the Gang continue to help him on a regular basis.
- Sam eventually does retire, but settles in a *different* time and place than the one he originally called "home".
Sam doesn't return home because his world is Maggie Beckett's homeworld
- In Sliders, it is implied that Maggie Beckett is in fact supposed to be Sam’s niece. What’s the problem with that? The problem is that this also implies that Maggie’s universe is Sam’s universe. Maggie’s world was destroyed. At first some of the mathematics on this doesn’t seem to work. Sam left his time originally in 1995. In “The Leap Back” he temporarily came home in 1999 (though when he changed Al’s life at the end of the series he would have prevented the events of that episode from happening anyway). However, Maggie’s world was apparently destroyed in 1997. At the same time though, 1997 was never mentioned specifically in the episode (it’s just when that episode of Sliders aired) and there was an episode of Sliders before where they “technically didn’t travel in time” because time passed more slowly there and so even though everything was exactly the same as it was in 1984 (even down to the characters calling it 1984) it was still supposedly the 90s (meaning 1997 in the Sliders’ normal time could have been 2002 in Maggie’s universe). Also, consider the fact that Sam was constantly rewriting history. He could have done something in the past which set humanity back technologically and stopped them being able to prevent the destruction of Earth. This would explain why he never made it home after the series ended. There was no home to go to.
A heightened emotional state makes it easier to leap into someone
- Sam almost always seems to leap into someone during a stressful moment. The finale suggests that Sam unconsciously controls his leaps meaning it's not unreasonable to suggest leaping has an emotional component. Given there shouldn't be anyone involved who would maliciously want Sam to always end up leaping in at an awkward moment, it would make sense if he had to leap in at awkward moments when the person he replaced was more susceptible to being replaced.
Quantum Leap is in fact based on an obscure movie (so obscure we've never heard of it)There are some key differences between the movie and the series proper. The original version of Sam was a humourless man played by Kurt Russell who spelled his name with one t. The creators regretted that they never got to show his final fate, hence why they decided to tack a final line on the series' finale to explain it.
Aliens created the Evil Leaper programmeEven if The Devil was God’s counterpart, one has to figure there was still someone who created the technology. Even if Alia’s role was to be Sam’s counterpart as the leaper, there still needed to be someone who had Sam’s role as the inventor. The episode directly before the introduction of the evil leapers featured UFOs. At the end, the man Sam had leapt into was being taken onto their ship while two government agents (whom Sam had told about Project Quantum Leap) were left standing on the ground. The aliens could have monitored the leap (having more advanced scanning technology than us) and could potentially have gotten information about the Project from any of these people. Fearing humanity and our eventual technological advancement, they could have started their own project, using people they’d abducted. Zoey’s reference to having climbed their way out of hell could have been a reference to some sort of alien experimentation camp which they were only allowed out of in exchange for working on the aliens’ plan to sabotage humanity by rewriting our history. Perhaps the aliens set up Lothos to choose the best humans to take from the experimentation camp and assign to the leaping project instead. While it might seem petty to try to conquer Earth by breaking up a marriage and getting Jimmy locked up, they may officially have to conduct their affairs covertly (a Temporal Prime Directive, as Star Trek would call it). When you leap into a housewife in the 1960s, it’s a lot more discrete to sabotage her marriage by serving a few TV dinners than it would be to have her break into a nuclear missile facility. Ruin enough families and eventually you're bound to get to one that would have produced the next Albert Einstein or Sam Beckett.