The Quantum Leap Reboot Just Brought Back the Original’s Unused Ending

The season 2 finale of the new Quantum Leap sets up a future that draws on where the original series would have gone had it continued.

A collage of images of characters from the new and original Quantum Leap. From left to right, Ben, Addison, Sam, and Al.
Photo: NBC

This article contains spoilers for Quantum Leap season 2 episode 13 “Against Time.”

In the Quantum Leap season 2 finale, Ben (Raymond Lee) finally has the chance to get back home thanks to a code provided by his season-long love interest, Hannah (Eliza Taylor) and the work of tech-genius Ian (Mason Alexander Park.) There’s just one catch. Someone will have to swap places with Ben and it’s obvious who’d step up: Addison (Caitlin Bassett). After all, she was originally supposed to be the Leaper before Ben leapt in her place in season 1 of the new Quantum Leap

Addison uses the Quantum Leap accelerator and ends up in the past. Her hair is different and lipstick is more prominent. She’s leaped. Around her people run to safety as bombs go off. She looks around and spots Ben. Is he now her hologram? The two run to each other and touch, impossible for a Leaper and hologram.

Ben and Addison didn’t swap places. He’s not a hologram. They’re both Leapers! Questions of how this happened aren’t brought up, the two are just happy to be with each other. They rush off to save people, a powerful hook that points to a huge shake up for season 3. Two main character Leapers working together in Quantum Leap has never been done … But it almost was in the original series.

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The original Quantum Leap ended after five seasons with the ambiguous finale, “Mirror Image,” in which Sam (Scott Bakula) changed the past so Al (Dean Stockwell) would be reunited with his first wife, Beth. A title card informed viewers that, “(Beth) and Al have four daughters and will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary in June. Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.” 

It’s a gut punch of an ending that has kept fans talking for years, especially due to its open ended nature. What happened to Sam? Did Al keep searching for him? While the new Quantum Leap series has provided some answers to these questions, there was almost the chance that the original series was going to take things in a very different direction.

At one time the original series wasn’t going to end on the title card but something more definitive, if still open ended.

According to Beyond the Mirror Image – The Observer’s Guide to Quantum Leap, during the writing of “Mirror Image” it still hadn’t been decided if the show was going to be picked up or not. Scott Bakula, speaking to the Quantum Leap Podcast in 2015, felt that the episode served, “multiple different purposes; if we got renewed, if we got canceled forever, if we were going to make a movie of the week, if there was going to be a feature film.”

This ambiguity meant the show had to hedge its bets so an ending that could have led to a possible season 6 was written. As confirmed by Quantum Leap Podcast co-host and YouTuber Allison Pregler, that ending involved Al deciding, with Beth’s blessing, to leap after Sam.

As found by Beyond the Mirror Image, in the fanzine Quantum Quarterly Issue 15/16 had Dean Stockwell address what this ending meant for a possible season 6 if the show was picked up.

“The only way I’m going to be able to locate where Sam’s gone … is to get into the accelerator and leap. The idea is that in the coming season I would leap to join him and I wouldn’t be a hologram anymore. We would leap around then as a team.”

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This concept, which would have given the original series a whole new spin, was never to be … Until now. With Ben and Addison leaping as a team, the new Quantum Leap is finally giving fans the chance to see what a team of Leapers working together will be like. It hints at a bold new future for Quantum Leap.

Who will be the main hologram now? Will Ian, Jenn (Nanrisa Lee), and Magic (Ernie Hudson) take turns? Could someone else be the hologram? Dean Stockwell mentioned in that Quantum Quarterly interview that, “(Sam’s) daughter from “Trilogy,” Sammy Jo, would come in with the handlink as a hologram. So, it would be a leaping team then.” We’ve previously written about the possibility of original series character Sammy Jo returning to the show and while it’s still a long shot, you never know.

The alternate ending of “Mirror Image” also had Al state that, “well, wherever Sam has leaped, he’s still himself.” If Addison is now the Leaper, perhaps she “swapped places” with Ben but instead of sending him into the future, Ben will now leap as himself instead of leaping into others. Of course in “Mirror Image” Sam had just made a huge choice to leap himself in time so it might not be the same for Ben, but something unexplained did happen when Addison leaped so there’s a possibility. 

Hopefully the new Quantum Leap gets a season 3 so we can not only get answers to these questions but also get a look into how the original series could have continued back in the day.

(Special thanks to the “Als Place – A Quantum Leap Fansite” for their image archive of the series.)