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Trivia / Quantum Leap

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  • Accidentally Correct Writing: In "All-Americans" (which aired in 1990), Al tells Sam that the Pittsburgh Steelers are down by three points in Super Bowl XXX. When Super Bowl XXX was played in real life in 1996, the Steelers were down by three points on two occasions during the game, which they ended up losing to the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Actor Existence Failure: Narrowly avoided with Dennis Wolfberg as Gushie. He was being treated for cancer around the time of the series finale and he died a little more than a year after it aired.
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  • Actor-Inspired Element: Al's cigar was Dean Stockwell's idea. He said it was "a good way to get free cigars for five years".
  • Banned Episode:
    • "Justice", which has Sam leaping into a Ku Klux Klan member, is consistently skipped over in syndication, no doubt because of the subject matter and frequent use of the N-word. The Comet channel in recent years has aired this episode, albeit with offending language muted.
    • "Jimmy" was not included on Sky's on demand release in 2021, probably due to its use of the word retarded, which is odd considering the run not only included the same word in "Shock Theater", but also the aforementioned "Justice" with all uses of the n-word intact. In fact, the leap to Jimmy from the previous episode, "Thou Shalt Not", was also cut. This created a continuity error since the episode Deliver Us From Evil is a direct sequel to those events, making it look like Sam met the character off-screen.
  • Blooper:
    • Moments after leaping in in "Another Mother", while two of the leapee's children are fighting, Sam watches as their dog yanks a dishrag off a countertop, causing a plate of food to smash on the floor. One cut later, the plate is back where it was, intact.
    • In "Glitter Rock", it is explicitly made clear that the date Sam leapt in was April 12th, 1974, and that he was to be murdered two nights later. A few scenes later, when Al is following a potential lead on who might murder Sam, Al mentions that the date is April 23rd... even though, at this point in the episode, it's the next day after Sam leapt in...
    • Early on in "Unchained", when Sam and Boone are in the process of hiding in a drain pipe, Sam tries to settle Boone down by referring to him by name... even though he doesn't know his name yet; Al tells him in the next scene.
  • Development Hell: There have been attempts since at least the early 2000s to get some kind of spin-off set up.
    • The Sci-Fi Channel announced in 2002 that they would produce a Quantum Leap Pilot Movie featuring Sam's daughter Sammie Jo as a new leaper. A proposed release date of 2004 was given, and the movie's writer even gave a QL fansite an interview in 2004 about the plot, but ultimately nothing ever came of it.
    • Donald Bellisario announced a movie in 2010. As of 2019, this has yet to gain any visible traction past Don's pitch.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Scott Bakula directed three episodes: "Permanent Wave", "Roberto!" and "Promised Land".
    • Debbie Allen directed the episode "Private Dancer", although that's actually "Directed by guest star."
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Rhondee Beriault is deaf, just like her character Dianna Quinna in the episode "Private Dancer".
  • Edited for Syndication:
    • Following the pilot, episodes would open with a Sam voice-over and montage referring in some way to the previous leap. The series abandoned this convention roughly halfway through the second season — likely in order to make it possible to air episodes out of sequence. When the series went into reruns, this trope kicked in — with the stated openings being dropped. They were replaced with the familiar "...will be the leap home" opening narration and the "Oh, boy!" scenes.
    • In the summer between the first and second seasons, NBC ran a one time only 90 minute recut version of the pilot featuring only the first leap and editing out the baseball leap.
    • In reruns, the first three seasons always had the opening sequence made for Season 4.
    • In the version of the pilot aired on G4, the trademark lightning strike that came after Al's line "Yeah, well, you ain't Roy Hobbs either!" is missing. It's such a small cut that it doesn't seem to be made for time reasons.
    • The recent airings on the Comet channel have actually resurrected a lot of scenes previously axed for syndication.
      • Meanwhile, the inverse has occurred with "Moments to Live": during Sam's lunch date with Norma Jean Pilcher, the Comet airing cuts out the part of the scene where a woman shows up to interrupt their date in order to take a photo with Sam (as he had leapt into a soap actor), only for Norma to transparently drop the women's camera into a bowl of soup; the edit is extremely obvious as well, as we hard cut from the middle of Sam and Norma talking in the restaurant to the middle of Sam and Norma leaving.
    • Sky's 2021 on demand release not only excises the season 2 episode, "Jimmy" in its entirety, but also edits out Sam's leap into Jimmy from the end of the previous episode.
  • The Cast Showoff:
    • Sam leaps into a lot of musicians and dancers, the better to showcase Scott Bakula's impressive musical chops.
    • Dean Stockwell also had opportunities now and then, such as when Al showed Sam how to dance at a Jewish wedding.
    • And then there was the episode ("Shock Theater") where Al rapped...
  • Missing Episode: Some episodes aren't on Netflix, like "Heart of a Champion". It was actually much worse before 2016. Among the missing episodes were the first and last ones.
  • Name's the Same:
    • Commander Dirk Riker in "A Leap for Lisa".
    • In the teaser for "What Price Gloria?", Sam is happy to find out he has leaped into someone also named Sam. He's less happy though, when he finds out its short for "Samantha".
  • The Other Darrin: Sam's father was usually played by Scott Bakula, except in his first appearance where he's played by a different actor, Newell Alexander.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • In the episode "Another Mother", Donald Bellisario and prolific screenwriter Deborah Pratt's actual daughter Troian plays the youngest daughter Teresa Bruckner.
    • In "Memphis Melody", Scott Bakula's daughter Chelsy Bakula cameos in a small role.
    • Dean Stockwell's elder brother Guy Stockwell played Jake Edwards in "The Right Hand of God".
  • Talking to Himself: "A Leap for Lisa" features Sam leaping into a younger Al. Al speaks to his younger self in 1999, with Dean Stockwell's voice dubbed over for the younger actor, Jamie Walters.
  • Throw It In:
    • When asked at a convention whether either of them improvised on-camera, Bakula replied "I think it's safer to ask does Dean ever say any of the lines that are in the script?"
    • Bakula ad-libbed the line "Oh boy!" at the end of the first episode. The producer liked it so much that it became the signature final line of each episode, as Sam finds himself in a new body.
  • Trope Namers: Quantum Leap has named:
  • Unfinished Episode: There were going to be episodes where Sam leaps into an animated character and a dog.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • One of the episodes Donald Bellisario was planning for Quantum Leap before it was canceled was for Sam Beckett to leap into Thomas Magnum, thus merging the Quantum Leap continuity with that of Magnum, P.I.. They apparently did film the initial "leaping in" scene, with Scott Bakula in the familiar red Hawaiian shirt turning to the camera and doing Tom Selleck's famous comical eyebrow raise from Magnum, P.I.'s opening credits. This would have resulted in a Celebrity Paradox, since in "Another Mother", Susan Buckner is seen watching Magnum on TV. However, according to the Starlog publication 100 Years of Science Fiction the plan was for Bakula to leap into the body of Tom Selleck as he filmed the series, not the character.
    • The original scene for the finale has recently resurfaced, showing instead of the infamous Black Screen Of Death, it showed a photograph of Al, Beth and their daughters in the present day.
    • Another planned leap that was never produced would have had Sam enter the body of ... a cartoon character? Not only that, but the episode would be animated by Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame!
    • In an interview conducted shortly after the series ended, Bakula was asked if there were any particular historical figures or events he would have liked to see Sam involved with. Bakula said he would have liked to have done something with the Kennedys unrelated to the assassination or relationship with Marilyn Monroe.
    • Malcolm McDowell auditioned for Al.
  • Word of God: Bellisario stated that despite Sam changing history to keep Al and Beth together, the Project would still exist and that Al would remain a crucial part of it.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Carolyn Seymour plays Priscilla Stoltz in "A Portrait for Troian" and evil hologram Zoey in Season 5.
    • "Mirror Image" is partially built on this trope, with Sam encountering people that look like ones from previous leaps — John D'Aquino (Tonchi for Frank) and Richard Herd (Ziggy for Moe Stein). Notably, while Bruce McGill played both Weird Ernie and Bartender Al, Sam doesn't notice any familiarity.
    • Willie Garson played the title characters in "Play It Again, Seymour" and "Lee Harvey Oswald".
    • Olivia Burnette plays Susan Buckner, the older daughter of Sam's housewife leapee, in "Another Mother" and Sam's sister Katie in "The Leap Home".
    • Charles Rocket plays Michael Blake in "A Little Miracle" and Commander Riker in "A Leap for Lisa".
    • Sloan Fischer plays Dr. Daniel Young, the man in the mirror that Sam has leaped into, in "How the Tess Was Won" and the next season plays a stagehand in "Blind Faith".
    • Teddy Wilson plays two major supporting roles: Jimmy Grady in "Pool Hall Blues" and Ernie Tyler in "Rebel Without a Clue".

Other trivia

  • Quantum Leap has several references to producer Donald P. Bellisario's previous series, Tales of the Gold Monkey, including a character named "Gushie". "Ghost Ship" featured a Captain Cutter, which was the name of the main character in Tales of the Gold Monkey.
  • Sam has leaped into nine women: a secretary, a divorced mother of three, a beauty pageant contestant, a pregnant teenager, a rape victim, a singer in a teenage girl group, a housewife during the women's movement, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and an inmate in a women's prison.
    • As far as any other leapers go, Zoey was the only other leaper to be seen leaping outside her gender, during her leap into Clifton Myers. Al's sole leap was into another man, and Alia's three onscreen leapees were all women.
  • Sam Beckett and show creator Donald P. Bellisario share the same birthday: August 8.
  • Sam has leaped out of the United States seven times: Egypt, Vietnam, a plane over the Bermuda Triangle, Japan, the Soviet Union, a raft in international waters, and England. If Virginia in 1862 is counted (as it was part of the Confederate States of America at the time), this brings the total to eight.
  • Sam leaped into the year 1957 seven different times, which made it the most leaped into year during Quantum Leap's entire run.
  • Sam leaped into every year from 1953 through 1987 at least once, except the years 1977, 1984, and 1986.
  • Quantum Leap came close to being canceled in its third season due to low ratings. However, a letter writing campaign helped save the series and enabled it to continue for two more years.
  • Throughout the series, Sam meets many "future" famous people, including Buddy Holly, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and Bill Clinton, as well as leaping into Lee Harvey Oswald, Clint Hill, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Elvis Presley.
  • Dean Stockwell was the first to "Leap" through time on an episode of the The Twilight Zone (1959), "A Quality of Mercy", playing a war-hungry US Lt. in August 1945.
  • Sam Beckett is revealed to have attended MIT, and his friend and guide Al Calavicci is mentioned to have also spent some time there.
  • Al Calavicci drives two different Ferarris in the series: in "Genesis: Part 1", he is in a red Testarossa (which is shown from very low angles so as to keep the identity of the car hidden), and in "Killin' Time", he is driving a 512 BB Convertible conversion.
  • Ranked #15 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Top Cult Shows Ever!" (30 May 2004 issue).
  • The character of Sam Beckett was ranked #12 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" (1 August 2004 issue).
  • Season One's cliffhanger into Season Two was the teaser for "What Price Gloria?". The next season, three other episodes premiered before "What Price Gloria?" aired.
  • There were several ideas for episodes which ultimately were never used. One had Sam leaping in as Robert F. Kennedy. Another idea would involve an animated episode. The producers even toyed with the idea of leaping Sam in as a baby. Also, Donald P. Bellisario wanted to do an episode where Sam leaps in as Thomas Magnum (from Magnum, P.I.). It is unclear why that episode never materialized, although in an earlier episode, a character is seen watching Magnum, P.I., thus establishing that show as fiction within the Quantum Leap "universe".
  • Donald P. Bellisario's favorite of all his TV shows.
  • Scott Bakula ad libbed the line "Oh boy!" at the end of an episode. The producer liked it so much that it became the signature final line of each episode, as Sam finds himself in a new body.
  • Al's call-sign (pilot nickname) is "Bingo".
  • Sam leaped outside his life a total of four times. Two of the leaps (to 1945 and 1862) were explained. In "The Leap Back", Al and Sam traded places due to an accident, which allowed for leaping within Al's life. "The Leap Between the States" revealed that Sam's great-grandfather John had a very similar genetic profile and blood type. Two unexplained leaps before his life were "Play It Again, Seymour" (April 14, 1953) and "The Americanization of Machiko" (August 4, 1953), as the series finale revealed Sam's birth date as August 8, 1953. However, both were after he had been conceived (which would have been at the end of 1952), so he did technically exist at that point.
  • Sam leaps into August 8, 1955 twice ("The Color Of Truth" and "Trilogy, Part, 1"). This was also his second birthday.
  • In "Lee Harvey Oswald", Sam, as Oswald in 1959, has a run-in with a certain Marine named "Bellisario". Series creator Donald P. Bellisario did in fact serve alongside Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines.
  • Donald P. Bellisario took the idea for the series from a scrapped premise for Galactica 1980, where the villain would have continued traveling through time after the first episode and the Galactica crew would have to prevent him from altering history for the worse. Which might make this series the only good thing that ever came out of Galactica 1980.
  • The fan-run website Al's Place includes four scripts for episodes that were never made:
    • "A Final Noble Act": Sam leaps into a man with Alzheimers and must prevent the nursing home he lives in from being burned down.
    • "My Brother's Keeper": Sam leaps into a medic in Vietnam and must stop a soldier from attempting to kill his superior officer. He also witnesses the death of his brother Tom, which indicates the script was written before the Leap Home two-parter was made.
    • "The Driver": Sam leaps into a small-town teen who wants to be a NASCAR driver and must ensure that his dream becomes a reality.
    • "The Avenger": Sam leaps into a museum curator-turned-superhero and must avoid getting killed by the police. This was to have been the second Evil Leaper episode. It was replaced by Return of the Evil Leaper with only the basic premise of a wannabe superhero carried over (albeit with the name changed to the Midnight Marauder). The episode would have ended in a similar fashion with Sam and Alia leaping together except that Sam would have been alone after the leap and wondering what happened to Alia.
      • In addition, there are scripts for earlier drafts of the episodes "Disco Inferno", "Her Charm", and "Shock Theater", with the "Her Charm" script in particular being a completely different episode called "Hidden Identity". Instead of leaping into an FBI agent tasked with protecting a woman in witness protection (and also is a mole for the mobster trying to kill her), Sam leaps into a father in the witness protection program. And instead of the connection to Sam's time in M.I.T. being Professor LoNigro (with the plot significance relating to his cabin in the Brookshire's, which he shows up to towards the end, prompting Sam to try and reveal his identity to him before he leaps), it's to Sam regaining his memory about spending time in the school's lab, where it's abruptly revealed towards the end that Sam and a lab assistant, Jonas, had accidentally caused a small explosion when calibrating radiation detectors, resulting in Jonas' death when he shielded Sam from the radiation.


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