YMMV / Quantum Leap

  • Award Snub: Neither Dean Stockwell nor Scott Bakula never won Emmys for their work (in all fairness, they picked up a decent amount of other awards and nominations).
  • Badass Decay: Sam undergoes some of this in Season 5. From Seasons One to Four, he was the quintessential action hero, going up against a wide array of foes, including mobsters, professional boxers, biker gang leaders, corrupt cops, rapists, and a multitude of criminals and dangerous ruffians, and beat them all. Come Season Five, however, Sam noticeably gets beaten around and roughed up much more. The season debut saw him get beaten down so badly by Lee Harvey Oswald's commanding officer in a bar fight that Sam had to resort to pulling a gun on the man in order to save himself. The Evil Leaper episodes also saw him repeatedly get pushed around, first having trouble fighting against a college frat boy and then getting kicked around mercilessly in a women's prison. Also, when he leaped into Elvis, Sam got into a fight with a woman's jealous fiancee, in what would be his final fight for the series, and got beat down in a humiliating fashion(even though he had proven quite capable of defeating jealous boyfriend/ex-husband/fiancee types in past episodes). While it is conceivable that the Swiss Cheese Effect had denied him a lot of his martial arts abilities in many of these episodes, his portrayal in Season 5 is still somewhat jarring compared to the badass action hero he was in the first four seasons.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: While the show is the trope namer, there's probably no better explanation than the Maxim for why Al is occasionally able to do things he really shouldn't be able to as a hologram (things like riding in a car or walking up stairs).
  • Broken Base: Bellisario has said that, based on the responses he saw, half the fans loved "Mirror Image" and half hated it.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The show's Theme song.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series hinted at this in Season 3, most notably in the episode "The Boogieman." But Season 5 saw Sam leaping into JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, troubled Vietnam veterans, and a homicidal maniac, dealing with the Evil Leaper Alia, and ultimately never returning home, as revealed in the season/series finale.
  • Dry Docking: Sam did not have a wife waiting for him in the event that he ever returned home. No, he didn't!
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Executive Meddling-born ending.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The series was very popular in Mexico, partly due to the premise and also because of the really good voice acting of the Mexican dub.
  • Growing the Beard: "The Color Of Truth" is widely considered the point where the show really began to hit its stride, especially by the cast. It's notable that it's the first episode to use the full leaping effect, as opposed to a simple blueing of the screen used for the earliest episodes.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Permanent Wave," Sam has to save a boy that witnessed a man being shot to death in a matter involving drugs. The character's name was Phil Hartman. It wasn't too many years later when actor Phil Hartman was himself shot to death by his wife, who had a drug problem.
    • In "Jimmy," Sam and Al both freely use the word "retarded" to describe the titular leapee, who appears to have Down Syndrome. At the time, "retarded" actually was the clinical terminology for a person with Down Syndrome, but like "moron" and "imbecile" it became exclusively insulting over time.
    • The already heavy episode "Raped" in which Sam leaps into a rape victim who's both slut shamed and blamed for her assault, while her attacker is defended and given sympathy becomes harsher and more poignant today where rape culture has become much more apparent especially cases such as Steubenville.
    • "A Little Miracle" is Yet Another Christmas Carol, with Sam and Al trying to reform one Michael Blake (Charles Rocket). The Christmas Future part of their attempt involves convincing Blake that he committed suicide. During his Heel Realization, Blake openly laments the thought of dying alone. In 2005, Rocket was found dead in a field, and it was ruled a suicide.
    • "The Boogieman" is an All Just a Dream episode where Sam faces Satan. "Mirror Image" casts a new light on the exchange after Satan asks Sam why he keeps putting right what was made wrong.
      Sam: I'm just trying to get home.
      Satan: Well, it looks like you're not going to make it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Weathers Farrington's (played by J.G. Hertzler) contemptuous "What do you know of honor Dumont" is absolutely hilarious when you know that he went on to play the Klingon general Martok in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Doubly funny as he's saying this to Sam. A few years after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ended, Hertzler appeared in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Judgment," where his character and Archer discussed honor and Archer helped him rediscover his own sense of honor.
    • In "All Americans", Al mentions that he's watching Super Bowl XXX and that the Pittsburgh Steelers are trailing by three points. Jump head six years to the real Super Bowl XXX, where the Steelers were playing and did trail by three points until a miraculous comeback in the final minutes.
    • In "Killing Time," the lawman in charge of bringing Leon Styles (Sam's current leapee) to justice is named Sheriff Hoyt.
    • In the Pilot Movie, the swiss-cheesed Sam initially thinks his experiences are a dream of some kind. In his narration, he remarks he's just waiting for a boogieman of some kind to pop out to scare him and end the dream. That's pretty much what happens in the Halloween Episode.
  • Idiot Ball: Sam's established tendency to follow his heart and act on his own feelings rather than focusing solely on the mission at hand graduates to a full-fledged grab for the Idiot Ball in "Deliver Us From Evil," in which he leaps back into Jimmy Lamotta and meets "evil leaper" Alia (who has leaped into Connie Lamotta). Even though Al tells him that the timeline has changed that the Lamotta family completely falls apart, Sam is so excited and happy to meet a fellow leaper that he doesn't stop to consider the very real possibility that Alia is the reason that the family's happy future has been overwritten. Sam's failure to regard Alia or the situation with any objectivity nearly gets Jimmy institutionalized, then murdered, before it's all finally sorted out near the end of the episode.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Al being the one that Beth leaves for another man in "M.I.A.". It's such common knowledge among fans that you'd forget that the way the episode is structured, it's supposed to be a twist - with Sam stumbling upon a picture of young Al in Beth's home about halfway through. (Beth actually introduces herself to Dirk as Beth Calavicci early on, but since Al is mostly referred to by his first name throughout the show, viewers may be forgiven for missing the connection until it's pointed out.)
    • The same thing occurs in "Deliver Us From Evil." It's common knowledge that this is the episode that introduces Alia the Evil Leaper, yet the way it's structured, it starts off looking like a sequel to the episode "Jimmy" (with an added mystery about the good history somehow being rewritten). Even Zoey's first appearance simply looks like Connie Lamotta is talking to a friend or neighbor instead of a hologram.
  • Marty Stu: Sometimes Sam's absolute purity of heart and expert knowledge in everything from music to martial arts to several branches of science put him into this category.
  • Narm: When Lee Harvey Oswald sees his face in the Waiting Room (actually Sam's face), he understandably freaks out... but we cut to Sam, mouth open, with Oswald's slightly-deadpan scream pouring out.
  • Older Than They Think: In the second season finale, "M.I.A.", the tearjerker ending has Al sitting with his wife, who thinks him dead, as she listens to "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. She then switches to "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles, and begins dancing alone, and Al joins her as best he can in his hologram form. Briefly, just as the leap occurs, she senses him with her. This scene, particularly with the use of "Unchained Melody", may seem to have been heavily inspired by Ghost but in fact aired May 9, 1990, 2 months before Ghost's July 1990 release.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The youngest daughter in "Another Mother" (and Bellisario's real-life daughter) later became Spencer Hastings.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: On the DVD releases, a large number of the original songs were changed for copyright reasons (the songs were usually well known songs from the time period that a particular episode is set it), which caused a HUGE backlash from fans. In particular, the last episode of the second season, "M.I.A.", removed Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" with some generic muzak, ruining what many thought was the best moment of the entire series (Al, in hologram form, dancing with his first wife who left him while he was a POW in Vietnam). This is definitely a instance in which Tropes Are Not Bad.
    • The Season 5 arrangement of the theme song, meanwhile, wasn't very well-received by fans (Universal brought back the original version for "Mirror Image").
  • The Woobie: Sam and Al so much, at least in their original backstories:
    • Sam loses his father and brother when he's in his late teens and his sister marries an abusive husband. His fiancée leaves him at the altar on his wedding day. And thanks to Chronic Hero Syndrome, he's left bouncing around in time.
    • Al's mother leaves him at a young age and his father is forced to emigrate to find work, leaving Al in and out of an orphanage. His younger sister dies in an institution and he loses his father. After joining the Navy, he ends up missing in action and his first wife, Beth, assumes him dead and marries someone else, leaving Al spending the rest of his life attempting to fill the void.
  • Writer on Board: "Lee Harvey Oswald" was entirely constructed as Bellisario's rebuttal to the various conspiracy theories around the JFK assassination, specifically the movie JFK. He had served with Oswald in the Marines and believed him fully capable of committing the act on his own.