Quantum Leap: The Revival’s Lost Plan to Bring Sam Home

Quantum Leap failed to ever get Sam home but the new series did have a plan to finally accomplish it.

Sam (Scott Bakula) in Quantum Leap giving a thumbs up.
Photo: NBC

The original Quantum Leap intro laid out the mission statement for the series.

“Dr. [Sam] Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life. Striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.”

Yet the original series ended with Sam (Scott Bakula) never returning home for good. He was still out there, lost in time. Helping people, yes, but without a home. It’s always been a sore spot for Quantum Leap fans. Why would the show end without giving Sam what he wanted?

When the new Quantum Leap series was announced as a continuation of the original series, fans found new hope. Perhaps they’d not only get to see Sam again but he’d finally get the chance to come home. Unfortunately the new series was canceled after only two seasons, without giving longtime fans the closure they desperately wanted. 

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However, at one time in the new series’ development, there was a chance Sam could have made that final leap home.

Bryan Wynbrandt, co-creator of the new Quantum Leap series, revealed to the Quantum Leap Podcast how he and fellow co-creator Steven Lilien had planned to finally get Sam home.

From the outset, Wynbrandt wanted Sam to be an integral part of the new series, as demonstrated by Sam’s appearance in the pilot script which we previously reported on. He would have been working with Janis Calavicci (Georgina Reilly), daughter of original series character Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), in the present day but not in his own body.

“He would have actually inhabited a person who he stayed in for a while,” Wynbrandt lays out, a unique idea with Sam staying leaped into the same person for an extended period of time instead of leaping out after only a few days. At the end of end of season one, in a cliffhanger ending, the team at Project Quantum Leap would have attempted to get new leaper Ben (Raymond Lee) home but in the process, “Sam comes home, but Ben stays out there (lost in time.)”

Season 2 would have then explored the repercussions of Sam finally making it home after all this time. “What’s that (Sam being home) look like? What’s it like having him in the world?” 

It would be a very rich area for the show to tackle. This is our speculation but Sam would have to adjust to not inhabiting others’ lives. To be grounded, as it were, when he’s spent over 30 years trapped in different parts of the past. He’d also no doubt feel guilty that he got home when Ben is still lost out there.

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But it wasn’t to be. The reason, as Wynbrandt always knew might be the case? “It’s not up to us whether Scott (Bakula) decides to be in the show or not. He has to have the desire to do it.” He goes on to speculate that, “for him, with Dean’s passing, I think he felt that ship has sailed. He was very respectful (to Wynbrandt and Lilien.) He was complimentary of the pitch. He just wasn’t feeling it. He felt like his story had been told.”

Despite this, Wynbrandt and others involved in the series hoped they could persuade Bakula to appear at some point. It sadly never happened. “(Bakula) was just staunchly not interested. (He) was so respectful of Don (Bellisario, the original creator of Quantum Leap’s) version. He just respectfully passed and we had to respect his wishes.”

The new series did pay homage and include elements of the original series, including the return of recurring character Beth Calavicci (Susan Diol), but Wynbrandt echoes what fans can most assuredly agree with, “All of us would have preferred the version of the universe where (Bakula) said, ‘yes, let’s do it.’”

It’s a shame Scott Bakula never returned to his iconic role but it’s understandable. Plus, his lack of involvement meant that the new series could devote more time to its own characters and lore which allowed it to stand as its own unique entry in the franchise.

Maybe there’s a timeline where Sam’s last leap will be to change the course of history so Wynbrandt’s original plan could have become a reality. Until then, to many fans, Sam not getting home is still the biggest wrong that needs to be put right at some point in the future (or would that be the past?)