|Creator:||Donald P. Bellisario|
|Date(s):||March 26, 1989 – May 5, 1993|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
|External Links:||Wikipedia article|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
From the opening voice-over: Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top secret project known as Quantum Leap. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the project accelerator... and vanished.
He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained thorugh brainwave transmissions with Al, the project observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear. Trapped in the past, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap would be the leap home.
As with any time travel show, deciding canon can be tricky, because one episode might negate events of another episode. This is complicated by Sam's "swiss-cheese" memory - he doesn't remember a lot about his former life, so even if he changes his own history, he might not remember the differences. Take Donna Eleese, for example. In one episode, she stood Sam up at the altar. In a later ep, she's his wife, patiently waiting for him to come home. In most episodes, Sam appears to believe that he is single.
Canon also showed Sam leaping into the bodies of people of different ages, genders, and races, giving rise to a host of possibilities for fanfic.
QL was one of the earlier online fandoms, especially active in newsgroup communities, first on rec.arts.sf.tv, then, after years of fighting, rec.arts.sf.tv.quantum-leap was created in early '94, just as QL was going off the air. The newsgroup (and its alt relation, alt.ql.creative) stayed active into the mid-2000s. QL still has an active fandom, having a 20th anniversary con -- the Leap Back 2009 Quantum Leap Convention -- in March 2009.
QL always had a stronger gen fandom than slash fandom (possibly because a significant number of the fans and fan-writers on the newsgroups were male?), and early on, there was some friction between the two groups, the so-called "QL slash wars"; including some zine editors supposedly refusing to print gen stories by fans who were slash writers in other fandoms, and the by-then usual threats to "send slash to the actors, if people don't quit writing it."
As an older show, QL was a big zine fandom, and there are still plenty of old zines available to buy.
Many fans of Quantum Leap refer to themselves as Leapers.
Fans of Al's character sometimes jokingly referred to themselves as Al-coholics (a double pun since Al was canonically a former alcoholic.)
While most episodes of the show featured a new cast of characters every week, assisted by Sam & Al, much QL fanfiction focuses more on exploring Sam, Al, and the other members of Project QL than original characters. Other fics leaped Sam into historical or contemporary events.
Sometimes Al would leap as well as Sam, a rare event in canon but fairly common in fic.
The majority of het fanfic involved canon relationships, particularly Al with his first wife, Beth; and Sam with his sometimes-wife Donna. Sometimes these het pairings would appear as secondary elements of Sam-and-Al friendship-focused stories; whether such fics should be considered het or gen is a matter of debate.
Even a lot of fans who usually read slash seemed to prefer gen in QL, perhaps because the setup of the universe made slash so difficult. The three basic scenarios:
- Pre-Leap--this is a little difficult if you go by the canon universe, since in the episode "Running for Honor" it's clear that Al is a bit on the homophobic side, but since the show deals with time and changing thereof, anything goes, really.
- Post-Leap--This is by far the most flexible way to go. Sam comes home, finds Al and there's the rest of the story to write. But it doesn't let you use any of the fabulous canon that Sam jumps into.
- Possibility 1: Since they can't touch, you're basically talking Phone Sex: Sam prone in some way, and Al talking dirty to him.
- Possibility 2: Yet another weird leap where they both end up back in time together. The problems there are manifold: too busy trying to fix what went wrong to get it on, the possibility of observers from the future watching everything, etc.
In the end, QL slash is not for the faint of heart.
Because Quantum Leap's premise made it easy to leap Sam into pretty much anyone, anywhere, crossovers are common. Most of the shows that were fannishly active at the same time as QL have multiple QL crossovers, and plenty of more obscure shows, movies and books do as well.
Slash and het QL crossovers tend to have Sam fixing whatever went wrong in the other series's relationships, putting the characters on track to get together romantically, which some fans find repetitive.
Oh Boy by California Crew was an early VCR vid that gently mocked Sam's habit of saying "Oh Boy" each time he found himself in a new body/situation, and showed amazing synchronization of the song's repeated "Oh Boy" line with Sam's mouth movements.
Notable QL zines and stories
- The first Quantum Leap fiction fanzine, Quantum Beast was published in 1990.
- The first fan produced publication was The Imaging Chamber, a Quantum Leap letterzine.
- Probably the most recommended slash novel in QL was The Last Measure of Devotion by Sue Walker, a very complicated timetravel story wrapped around Al realizing that there is literally nothing he wouldn't do for Sam, and Sam realizing there is nothing he wouldn't forgive Al for. 
See also: List of Quantum Leap Fanzines
- Al's Place (probably most extensive QL site currently online, includes fanfic, virtual seasons, links, fan-produced radio plays) (last updated 24 June 2009)
- Outpost Mâvarin A blogger talks about the early days of cons and fan fiction (specifically Doctor Who and Quantum Leap via the newly-born internet)
- The Quantum Leap Information Kiosk (ep guide, fanfic) (last updated 4 Sept 2002)
- The Accelerator Chamber (ep guide, faq, sound and image files) (one of the earlier sites; most material from 1990s)
- Quantum Leap Revival Initiative Campaign (last updated 8 March 2007)
- `Quantum Leap' Handlink (Ian Collier's instructions for building Al's handlink, including circuitry for light and sound)
- dr_beckett (livejournal comm)
- QL-Archive.org (formerly an ftp archive on ziggy.cisco.com) (fic and posts from the newsgroups)
- The Quantum Leap Slash Archive (last updated 27 Sept 2003, 229 stories)
- Keeping the love alive... (slash)
QL newsgroups and mailing lists
- Quantumleap mailing list (hosted on YahooGroups starting 29 Apr. 1998)
- 2005 was the last year to average over 30 posts a month on rec.arts.sf.tv.quantum-leap (Accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- See QLAA (Quantum Leap Alcoholics Anonymous): "An Unofficial fan site dedicated the character of Admiral Albert Calavicci from the cult television series Quantum Leap!" (Accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- "Whatever It Takes" by Debbie Martinez has Al leaping to change Sam's fate. (Accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- "Not so much pre-MI as ignoring MI altogether..." - from the notes for "Lost Causes" by Anne-Marie T. (Accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- Such as Katherine F.'s "A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal," in which Al (literally) sees Sam through drug addiction withdrawal. (accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- The archive for alt.tv.quantum-leap.creative has 6 X-files crossovers and 10 Star Trek crossovers, as well as crossovers with series as diverse as Forever Knight, Animaniacs, and Ranma 1/2. (Accessed 16 Sept 2009)
- link to The Last Measure of Devotion (accessed 19 Aug 2009)
- "The members of the Quantum Leap Revival Initiative are dedicated Leapers who are striving to "put right what once went wrong" by lobbying for Quantum Leap to be revived in a movie, series, or maybe even both!" - tina_als_girl on front page ((Accessed 18 Sept 2009)