Frequently Asked Questions List
This list is taken from http://www.finifter.com/quantum-leap and displayed here as the copyright instructions provide.
|Created by:||Quantum Buc (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Debbie Brown (email@example.com)
|With assistance from:||Vicky Sailer
Lisa (Vicky's officemate)
Sally Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Audrey Urling (email@example.com)
and many other members of the QL/usenet community
Occasional references from _Harry and Wally's
Favorite TV Shows_, H. Castleman & W. J. Podrazik, Prentice Hall Press, New York, 1989
|Updated by:||Tracy Finifter
Cheryl Bellucci (firstname.lastname@example.org),
and Robin Chi-Woon Kwong (email@example.com)
|Based on Previous Revision by:||Sally "Lucky B**ch" Smith|
|Last Revision Date:||March 26, 1996|
|This is a reference file that is
meant to answer those questions most frequently asked about the US television program,
Quantum Leap. It also attempts to catalog the information viewers have been able to glean
from individual stories and other, official and non-official sources. Permission is
granted to distribute this file UNMODIFIED to other networks and BBSs. Rights to
modifications to this file is reserved by the updater(s).
Note: you may freely copy and distribute this guide for personal use provided that it be distributed in its entirety, with all original author and copyright information intact. Any sales of this document or use of it in a for-profit project are expressly forbidden, without the specific consent of the authors.
Another FAQL exists, created specifically to deal with those questions that involve detailed spoilers of various episodes. Questions that are answered here in the regular FAQL and which are elaborated upon in the other will include a note to check the SP for further details. The SP also contains additional questions.
Credit: I have attempted to give proper credit to those contributing to text in this FAQL. Initially, I did not want to credit my own text, but then discovered there was no other feasible way to distinguish the new text from the original and to give proper credit to past FAQL keepers. All uncredited text belongs to these past keepers. Minor revisions to original text also remain uncredited for practicality's sake.
Credits are given in [square brackets] following individual paragraphs, since often there was more than one contributor to a question.
Also listed here are questions from email conversations and messageboards on Al's Place. You can find this page here for even more updated info!
Nobody knows. Sam and Al know that it's not Ziggy or anyone at Project Quantum Leap. Al told Sam in the pilot that Sam's leaps were out of the project's control, so Sam and Al hypothetize that it's Him who is controlling things.
In the series finale, we get an ambiguous glimpse of the supposed controller, but the exact nature of this controller (and in fact of this entire episode) is still under heavy debate. (see SP#2) [Robin C. Kwong]
4. Why could Sam see when he "replaced" a blind man? Would he be able to hear as a deaf person? In other words, is it Sam's mind that's leaping, or his body?
Sam is physically leaping through time, his mass being exchanged with that of the leapee. Sam, not sharing the handicap, will not exhibit it. Sam's entire body and soul trades places with the leapee, although the physical aura stays around.
"...when Sam leaps in and bounces somebody out, I like to think of it this way: ... if that person was hit by a car and they broke their leg and hit the street and then Sam leaped in, Sam would not have a broken leg. But if Sam leaped in and was crossing the street and was hit by the car, then Sam would have the broken leg."
The fact that it is Sam's entire body that is leaping is supported by a great number of episodes: "The Wrong Stuff," "Nowhere to Run," "Blind Faith," "Runaway," "Trilogy part 3," "Pool Hall Blues," "The Color of Truth" (Jesse Tyler was revealed to suffer from rheumatism in "Shock Theater," which Sam gave no indication of being affected by in this ep), and probably any episode in which he is a woman and does things beyond her normal physical strength. (Yes, this even includes "8 1/2 Months" (see SP#8).) This is also supported by the fact that Sam sees himself unless he looks in a mirror. [Kwong]
The explanation for why Sam seems to be unaffected by the size difference between him and the leapee is theorized in question 14. There is *no* clear evidence given in any of the episodes to support the theory that Sam's mind is leaping. [Kwong]
This is also not known. The only time we've seen this occur was in the episode "Double Identity," where Sam leaped to replace another body and the original host returned. He APPEARED to have no memory of anything after he was leaped into. It has been stated that the leapee, while in Sam's body back in the Waiting Room, has a 'swiss-cheesed' memory, much like Sam received upon his initial leap. Because of the ultramodern hospital-like atmosphere of the waiting room, many of the leapees believe they have been abducted by aliens. Deborah Pratt says that as the leapees return, they pick up some of Sam's memories of what happened, but they believe the events happened to them.
It would probably also wreak havoc for the top-secret nature of PQL of all the leapees remembered enough facts for them to compare notes. Not to mention the possible serious repercussions of "The Leap Home part 1" and "A Leap for Lisa." [Kwong]
Small children, the "mentally absent", animals and people near death can see him [And pretty blondes with very low IQs, if Dean Stockwell got his way :-)]. Al has explained that children and animals see things as they really are because they exist in a natural alpha state. Also, if a person's brainwaves were sufficiently in tune with Sam's, that person would be able to see and hear Al too.
This is all part of Sam Beckett's String Theory. A person's lifetime is like a string - one end of the string is one's birth, the other end, one's death. Tie the ends together and ball up the string, and all the days of one's life touch all the other days of one's life. If one can loose one's self from the string, one can Quantum Leap from one day to the any other. On one occasion (so far), Sam was able to leap back to a time before the date of his birth due to an accident that occurred during a leap out in the middle of a thunderstorm. Al and Sam leaped together and wound up trading places, Al in the past, Sam in the future. This "simo-leap" caused an exchange of subatomic matter between Al and Sam allowing Sam to leap back into Al in the year 1945. It isn't known at this time if this exchange of matter will be permanent (therefore allowing Sam to leap even further back) or if it was cleared up when Sam leaped back.
As for those cases where Sam leaps before his own birth ("Play It Again, Seymour," "The Americanization of Machiko"), it is possible that Sam's lifetime is not defined by his birth but by his conception, since these dates are within 9 months of his birth. However, the DITTC seems to apply most appropriately here. [Kwong]
The "within your own lifetime" principle is also broken in "Leap Between the States," where it is theorized that the genetic similarity between Sam and the leapee enables him to leap very far before his own birth. [Kwong]
Again, nobody knows. One theory that we have was that he would be trapped in the past forever, replacing the host. This, however, is doubtful. Another theory that we have had was that he would leap into another's life to attempt again to fix "that which has gone wrong".
Things seem to change a little at the end of the fourth season when Sam states that success is not required for a leap-out, which seems to violate the precedent set by previous episodes, notably "Genesis." At any rate, these statements only reflect the fact that PQL can merely *theorize* on the leaping process. It is possible that this question will not be answered satisfactorily simply because GTF will not leap Sam into situations which he cannot handle. (see SP#5) [Kwong]
10.How is it that when Sam leaps into a leapee who is shorter/smaller than he is, people around him don't notice a difference in size?
I belive it is a question of topology. I'm not very good at it, but consider the following argument. The QL maps everything from a different time into a frame of reference relative to Sam. (And vice versa for the host.) Sam doesn't see what really happens, but rather what happens relative to his host. [Doug van der Veen]
It's all a matter of relativity. Consider a spaceship 10 meters long. Send it off at 99.4% of the speed of light and it will seem to be only 1 meter long to anyone still on earth, while still seeming like 10 to those on board. Gravity can do the same sort of thing; put an object deep into a gravity well and it will seem shorter. The point is the ship is in a different 'reference frame' than the earth, and the object in the well is in a different frame then the observer floating outside it, and things like length (also duration) are not the same across reference frames. [Larne Pekowsky]
So here's the theory: when Sam leaps his whole body leaps (explaining things like "Blind Faith"), but it is mapped into a different reference frame. If you look through a warped piece of glass, things seem to be a different size and shape. The same thing happens with a warped region of space (cf. "Gravitational Lenses.") When Sam leaps the space containing him is warped in such a way that not just length, but all physical properties are altered. And, of course, the only person in Sam's reference frame is Sam, so when he looks at himself he sees what he has always seen, but when he looks in a mirror the photons have passed between frames, and so he sees the leapee. [Pekowsky]
To answer the original question, when Sam, 6ft, has leaped into someone 5ft7 and is talking to someone, they look at the leapee's eyes, he sees them looking at his eyes, and likewise he looks down, but the person he's talking to sees the leapee looking straight. Which is really right? Neither, or both! It's the same as asking 'how long is the spaceship really.' The answer is completely dependent on what frame you're in because certain physical properties have no absolute existence. [Pekowsky]
As for how this ties into superstrings - current thought is that strings don't just define particles, but also in some sense define space and time themselves (ref: "Superstrings: A Theory of Everything?" edited by PCW Davies). When Sam leaps he takes the strings comprising his body and 'soul,' into a region of space made up of the strings of the person he's replacing. [Pekowsky]
12. I read the QL Primer and I understand the concept of time strings with the parts of the string touching other times, and how the rule is that Sam can only leap to times that occur during his own life-time. My question is, why can't Sam leap into the future? By the future, I mean that period of time between the first leap and Sam's death.
Sam's leaping into post-'90s time would seem to fit within the definition of "his own lifetime," since one's birth as well as death would constitute one's entire lifetime. This was stated as much in "Genesis" ("One end of this string represents your birth; the other end, your death. You tie the ends together, and your life is a loop. Ball the loop...and the days of your life touch each other out of sequence. Therefore, leaping from one point in the string to another--" "Would move you back and forth within your own lifetime."). [Kwong]
With this in mind, then, "future" leaps would seem to be possible. However, since now the m.o. of the Project has changed slightly due to the interference of GTFWhoever, it just might not be practical. That is, Sam leaps in order to right some wrong, often using his knowledge of the future to solve the problem -- or at the very least, the fact that he's from the future enables him to recognize the fact that there *exists* a problem at all (preventing something from happening that the original host didn't see coming up the first time around). In a "future" leap, Ziggy would be useless in terms of obtaining data, Al would be reduced to being only able to offer moral support or an extra pair of eyes, and Sam would be just as clueless about the situation as the original leapee was (and probably even more so). The sheer impracticality of these conditions would then cut down quite a bit the probability of a "future" leap. [Kwong]
We first see Alia and Zoey in the fifth-season episode "Deliver Us From Evil" and later in "Return" and "Revenge." Apparently they have a means of leaping which contains notable parallels to PQL--including a holographic chamber, handlink, holding area, and a controlling computer named Lothos--and in fact seem to act as something of a counterpart. Beyond the fact that they clearly do not have Sam's good intentions where leaps are concerned, not much more is known about them. (See also SP#2.) [Kwong]
Time between the leaps is instantaneous for Sam. For those back at PQL, the gap seems to vary. We've heard mention of gaps as long as six days, and were even once treated to the sight of an instantaneous leap in from the point-of-view of the Waiting Room. It would appear that the lengths of the between-leap gaps for the PQL staff are random. [Kwong]
We've never seen an indication that it does. At most, there is a time difference resulting from, say, Sam leaping into Smallville at 9am while back at the Project it's 11:30pm...the kind of difference one would get when trying to place a long-distance call to someone in another time zone. There is no indication that an hour's length for Sam is not the same as an hour's length for the PQL staff. [Kwong]
To state it more specifically, once Sam leaps in and PQL locates him, his "clock" and the Project's "clock" become locked in synch. As in the Smallville example above, if Al steps into the Chamber at 11:45pm (PQL time), he will only be able to contact Sam at 9:15am (Smallville time). Note that the Chamber becomes useless unless there is a leaper to focus on. [Kwong]
Through various little hints and clues, the date of Sam's first leap has been determined to be 1995 (seven years after our present, since Quantum Leap premiered in the spring of 1989). This date was confirmed in the fifth season episode, "Killin' Time." Al's "present" tended to jump around a bit during the course of the series. Through arithmetic or direct statements, it was 1997 in the third season finale, then 1999 for the fourth season opener. Then in the fifth season opener, the date was given as a few months *before* the fourth season opener, with references to events from the fourth season. [Finifter]
Al sees the leapee, initially. In the episode entitled "What Price, Gloria", Al was out of control at seeing Sam as the gorgeous secretary. Al probably recognizes Sam because they are linked through their brainwave transmissions, which is what is used by the project to locate Sam in time.
This then appears to change through the seasons. Later episodes begin to hint that Al sees Sam as Sam. By the fifth season, this is stated explicitly to be the case. A possible theory is that, after the whole mess in "What Price Gloria," Al had Gooshie re-configure the IC to show him Sam's image only. [Kwong]
The leapee. To everyone at the Project (with the possible exception of Al (see #2), the leapee looks like Sam. The waiting room has been described by Don Bellisario as being a sterile, hospital-like room where the leapee is examined by the Project's medical staff. We've seen it a few times and it's big and blue, and located at the end of an isolated ocrridor. Once we got to see (and HEAR) the leapee when she entered the imaging chamber with Al, and she looked to us like the image Sam saw in the mirror. This is probably due to the same mechanism that allows us to see Sam as Sam [Bellisario's rules :)].
This is the only place where Al can go to talk to Sam. Its construction allows a holographic image of Al to be generated for transmission into Sam's optic and otic neurons in the past, and for Sam and his surrounding images to be projected onto Al's neurons. Speculation (and a quote from Don) has it that this is a very large and cavernous room judging from the amount of walking Al can do without bumping into walls and the sound of the door as it slides open and closed. We've seen it once, and it is large and blue, similar to the Waiting Room. [Finifter] Since Al is a hologram, the fact that he seems to be able to walk up and down stairs in several episodes is probably a script glitch. [Kwong]
Only when Al is touching an object will it be visible to Sam (and us). In more than one episode, Al brought an object into the Imaging Chamber for Sam to see (this is beyond Al's clothing, cigar and handlink). Skin to skin contact must be needed for another person to be seen in the Imaging Chamber. Dr. Beeks, by holding Al's hand was seen by Sam [and us :)]. In one other episode (Killin' Time), a quick jury-rigging job by Ziggy enabled Gooshie (see question 19) to contact Sam via the hologram/brain-wave process, but the image broke up a lot. (see SP#4, SP#13)
Gooshie is Ziggy's programmer, a short guy with bad breath. We used to see him very briefly in profile wearing a headset in the opening title sequence as Sam is leaping out and in the pilot and the episodes "The Leap Back," "Killin' Time," and "Mirror Image." He was played by the late Dennis Wolfberg.
Seriously, while Al may not cast shadows, Dean certainly does (especially since-- as QL's director of photography Michael Watkins, ASC once put it-- "Dean likes to talk with his hands so much that he's a pretty active shadow anyway."). It's simply physically impossible to eliminate them all. Also, there are times when having Al not cast a shadow would actually make him look fake--like a pasted-on cut out effect instead of a real person. [Sally Smith]
24. Since Al is a hologram, we always see the neat effects of cars driving right through him, etc, so how can he sit in the car and travel within it too?
Well, when Al appears to be riding in the car, what's actually happening is that he's merely placed his image within the car and set it (his image) to track along with Sam's traveling. This same technique also allows him to track alongside the outside of moving vehicles as well. I'd assume that he's standing the entire time he's "riding," which also accounts for why he often seems to be facing a different direction than one normally would while riding in a vehicle (i.e. straight ahead). [Kwong]
What follows is a segment of an interview with Donald Bellisario that describes why and when Ziggy moved from being a 'he' to a 'she'. The transcript has been moved around a bit so that it makes sense in this context.
Don: Yeah, Ziggy was referred to as a male through every show. Heh, heh, heh. Yeah. But Ziggy turns out to be a she. It's not an error. We just decided to make Ziggy a female. I mean, it wasn't like, "Oh God, we didn't think of that!" We thought of that first thing, right off the bat, and said, "Oh, who cares?"
If you want me to PCR [see below] that one, I'll tell you that Sam didn't remember that Ziggy was a female until he came back, and Al, not wanting to spoil anything for him or throw more of a load onto him that he already had, just rode along with it. How's that?
There you go! So, Ziggy changed sex in the Leap Back simply because Don thought it would be a good idea! You can find the above transcript in the "Quantum Leap Book" (ISBN 1-85283-866-3). [above answer supplied by R. D. Gregson]
There seems to be a very neat order of transition when it comes to Ziggy's various sex changes. Before the opening of the fourth season, Ziggy was always referred to, and assumed to be, a male. Then in the fourth season opener, we learned Ziggy had a female voice, but was still referred to as "he" throughout the season. In the fourth season finale, Sam tells St. John that "Al called her Ziggy," and the reference was always female from that point on. [Finifter]
Dennis Wolfberg's character is spelled "Gooshie" in "Genesis," and "Gushie" in "The Leap Back" (all other appearances list Dennis in the beginning credits, rather than by character name). This was probably due to an oversight. The official spelling is not known. [Kwong]
The official spelling of Donna's last name *may* possible be gleaned from closed-captioning or a copy of the script. Does anyone have the relevant episodes handy? The Chunovic book spells it "Eleese," but keep in mind that the validity of the book's contents are suspect. [Kwong]
27. Who is this Sally Smith person and why does she know so much about the behind the scenes goings-on of Belisarius Productions? Why is she called "Lucky Bitch"?
Hey, that's TWO questions! Sally Smith is our own "Set Elf", otherwise known to the less fortunate of us as the "Lucky Bitch" who resides somewhere in the Bay Area of California. Through some kind of divine providence, she has been granted the blessing of frequent visits to the set of Quantum Leap where she communes with the shining lights of Leapdom and imparts her learnings unto the less fortunate of us on the net (this is where the "Lucky Bitch" comes from). This blessing comes with a price however, in the form of air fare, gasoline and phone bills that when combined, resemble the national debt. This price she pays gladly so that she may share her visits and info with us both on the net and formerly in her mailing list. Unfortunately for all of us, the frequency of her visits have been greatly reduced due to a new studio policy that restricts visits to the sets in their domain. [!@#$%^& legal nozzles. Sally Smith]
There is no such creature as a Leaphead. This is a word coined by a NBC employee referring to a Leaper, which is a Quantum Leap fan. "Leaper" is the preferred term, used by the fans themselves and the cast and crew of Quantum Leap when speaking about the fans. The prevailing attitude is, "if 'Leaper' is good enough for Don Bellisario and company, it's good enough for us".
30. So what's the story with that episode titled "The B**giem*n" and why do Leapers refuse to mention it by name?
[Episode title edited for net.safety] This episode first aired near Halloween 1990, and from the first time it aired, weird events have been associated with this episode. As an example, this episode seems to have the highest incidence of VCR/cable/local station failure than any other episode aired. There have been numerous reports of VCRs cutting out during the taping of this episode, local stations and cable companies dropping their signal. Even mentioning it by name is hazardous, as one net.Leaper can attest. This hapless individual (who knew better) was bandying about the name of this episode. He lost his job AND his net.access. Its mention has been known to cause power failures and auto breakdowns, so it's best to just refer to it as "The Halloween Episode". Leapers everywhere will know of what you speak. By the way, cameras and recording equipment also tend to act strangely around Chris Ruppenthal, the writer of this episode. Since it aired, his nickname has been "Ruppenboogie". He _is_ kind enough not to say the title of the episode around the fans, though director Joe Napolitano does. Mention of all this merely causes Chris to laugh evilly.
As long as we're on the subject of Chris, Joe, and weirdness, let's note that the episode "The Curse of Pt*h-H*tep" appears to cause earthquakes in Southern California -- the large quakes of Apr. and June 1992 coincided with the two showings of this episode. Pretty scary, huh, kids?
Ah yes, Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel. This was a show about a secret government funded time travel experiment in which a young researcher sends himself back in time in an effort to prevent the project's funding from being cut. This, the two men travelling through time, and the efforts to retrieve them are the only things this show has in common with Quantum Leap (which only has ONE man travelling through time, his companion is firmly rooted in the future, but I digress). In the Time Tunnel, time travellers Anthony Newman and Doug Phillips unfailingly arrived at historical events and desperately tried to influence events based on their knowledge of the outcome. They always failed. This is a show where the time travellers would find themselves at the Roman coliseum one week, and in Napoleon's army the next, THEN tripping to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is drastic time changes like this that Don Bellisario wanted to avoid when he imposed the 'within his own lifetime' rule. He felt the huge differences in time settings were distracting and unrealistic. :-)
Phineas Bogg with the assistance of companion Jeffrey Jones are time travellers who find themselves trying to fix history, or to 'put things right' when 'people become displaced in time and find themselves a half-step away from a totally different destiny' [Harry and Wally]. In one episode, Franklin D. Roosevelt became a movie director and it was up to Phineas and Jeffrey to set him on the right course to the presidency of the United States. This is another show that would find its heroes travelling to far-flung places and times, a plot device that Don Bellisario wanted to avoid.
Yes, yes a thousand times yes. A perfect example of just how nice, patient, hardworking and DECENT this man is is his appearance at the QL screening for the fans in LA back on February 25, 1991. He had put in a hard day on the set working on the episode "Last Dance Before an Execution", a very emotionally intense, exhausting episode when he had to appear at the screening to answer questions (with the BGU, Deborah Pratt and Dean) and to meet the fans. He was pleasant and open with the fans, even joking with people and accepting small gifts and hugs with aplomb. Afterward, he was mobbed by (literally!) hundreds of mostly female fans who requested his autograph and their picture taken with him. He spoke to each person and smiled for the cameras. He is truly a sweet, gracious person, traits which are shared by the rest of the people associated with this production.
[Why, thank you, Debbie...] Another example is the UCLA screening of 11/25/90. Scott had been to New York City and back that weekend (appearing in the Macy's parade), had put in a long day at work and was in a great deal of pain from an injured ankle. But he walked out on stage and answered questions like he hadn't a care in the world and afterwards signed autographs until co-executive producer Michael Zinberg literally picked him up off the floor and took him away, telling him he had to go to work the next day. Then there was the convention...well, you get the idea. [Sally Smith]
You betcha. Scott is an accomplished singer (1988 Tony nomination for "Romance/Romance"), pianist (see "Blind Faith"), songwriter (he wrote the lyrics to the song "Somewhere in the Night" from "Piano Man"), dancer, and all-around athlete. Let's put it this way -- if you think Scott's doing it (and it's not wildly dangerous) -- it's him.
Whoops, sorry! GTF means "God, Time, or Fate" -- whatever "unknown force" is leaping Sam around. BGU (coined by Warren J. Madden) stands for "Big Guy Upstairs", and depending on context, that either means GTF or Don Bellisario.
PQL, IC, and WR refer to "Project Quantum Leap," "Imaging Chamber," and "Waiting Room" respectively, but that's pretty straightforward. The symbol **" is no longer in so much use but refers to the ascii representation (courtesy of Deb Brown) of the ASL symbols for "Quantum Leap" as shown in the episode "Private Dancer." [Kwong]
This joke shows up occasionally on QL-related posts on the net, usually resulting in waste of bandwidth as others reply to the joke. Not that it isn't fun, but please, if you're tempted to follow up a posted "height!" with one of your own, consider the chain reaction you may be initiating/perpetrating. [Kwong]
37. What members of the QL staff and crew have appeared in the show?
38. Wasn't the guy who played Al the bartender in the last episode the same actor who played Weird Ernie in the first episode?
Yes, that was indeed Bruce McGill who played both parts. It is interesting that his part in "Genesis" was not alluded to in "Mirror Image" as were many of the other recurring characters. Bruce McGill also appeared in several episodes of another Belliario production, "Tales of the Gold Monkey". [Bellucci]
The first annual Quantum Leap convention was held in (??) over Leap weekend, February 1992, along with Dean Stockwell's star ceremony (Hollywood Walk of Fame). The Con has been held at around the same time each year since then. Dean and Scott have shown up (officially and unofficially) so far each time. [Kwong]
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