29

At the end of the finale of Quantum leap, a title card was shown that read:

enter image description here

Why not?

  • 6
    He's still leaping around the 22nd century – user16696 Apr 16 '15 at 20:04
  • 3
    Okay...I know it's been a long time since Quantum Leap was on the tele...but I was finally working through all the episodes now...I shouldn't have clicked on this question. – Praxis Apr 16 '15 at 23:21
  • 5
    @Richard : That's okay. Like I said, it's an old show, and one can't reasonably expect to be fully protected from spoilers at this point. Curiosity got the better of me, that's all. :-) – Praxis Apr 17 '15 at 0:28
  • 12
    He went along with Frod... oh wait, wrong Sam. – Theik Apr 17 '15 at 11:58
  • 1
    I think "has not yet" should have been used instead of "never." – user49204 Aug 5 '15 at 9:33
37

Here are some quotes from Scott Bakula during a reunion with Dean Stockwell on an NCIS episode:

"I think that if people understand the circumstances that [creator Donald Bellisario] wrote that episode under -- we didn't know we were canceled at the time," says Bakula. "That's more the norm now, they know it's their last season, so they can wrap up loose ends. But we didn't know that.

"So Don had to write an episode of this series that would allow us to come back if they picked us up, or it would allow for a future if there was going to be a movie, or allow it to also be a final episode if that were to be the case. I feel like if you watch the episode given that information, it becomes even more spectacular.

"He left doors open, he wrapped some things up, he made people feel good, there was a ton of emotion in it -- it was just a metaphor for the show that continues and lives on to this day. Fans out there or people like Sam are out there going around and making things right for other people."

When asked if he thinks Sam Beckett is still leaping around in time putting things right that once went wrong, Bakula says unequivocally, "Oh, he's absolutely still leaping around in time."

"I think it's a beautiful ending," he adds. "It was challenging, it was difficult, but I think it was the only answer. I like it. I like that Sam's out there, and I like that Al got to make his life right."

So, in short, out of universe, it's because they wanted to keep it open-ended so that they could start where they left off. In universe, it's because Sam is a good person who believes that there's still more that he can do, so he chooses not to stop.

It is also implied in some of the earlier episodes that Sam has become a man outside of time. Because of what he has done, the present he started in no longer really exists. Season 4 shows that he doesn't even know that he's married now.

Then the season 4 premiere (“The Leap Back”) happened, and we learn Sam had changed his own history on a previous leap resulting in him having now actually been a married man this entire time.

Thus, he doesn't really have a home to go back to, although it's uncertain as to whether he ever knows that.

  • 3
    “In universe, it's because Sam is a good person who believes that there's still more that he can do, so he chooses not to stop.” That was the impression I got. The last episode resolved Sam’s motivation: he wanted to make the world a better place. He’s got his wish! He’s doing that! – Paul D. Waite Aug 5 '15 at 9:48
  • When I saw the end of the final episode for the first time, I was so disappointed. The episode itself didn't make sense, but that wouldn't have been a problem if Sam had got home OK. As it was, I didn't think that Sam was still leaping, putting right what once went wrong. I thought that as Sam had interfered with Al's past, the Quantum Leap project never got started in the first place, erasing everything Sam had ever done and causing him to disappear up his own wormhole! – Wallnut May 6 '16 at 13:33
14

Unfortunately, the answer is kind of boring: it's because they had to write an ending that could be picked up with another season just in case. Bakula discussed this recently.

Talk turns to the series finale of "Quantum Leap," which Whitmore (pictured, black shirt) also directed and which is one of the best series finales in TV history -- but it becomes even more incredible after Bakula relays the situation surrounding its final episode.

"I think that if people understand the circumstances that [creator Donald Bellisario] wrote that episode under -- we didn't know we were canceled at the time," says Bakula. "That's more the norm now, they know it's their last season, so they can wrap up loose ends. But we didn't know that.

"So Don had to write an episode of this series that would allow us to come back if they picked is up, or it would allow for a future if there was going to be a movie, or allow it to also be a final episode if that were to be the case. I feel like if you watch the episode given that information, it becomes even more spectacular.

With the final title card that they used, Bellisario was able to leave the door open for additional Quantum Leap media in the future, or leave it on a reasonable note if it was not

In-universe, as discussed here, the implication is that Sam can control his jumps, and that he has decided to continue jumping to fix as many things as he can.

  • 2
    Well, my take was that he just got to choose for this one leap. He could have gone home, but knowing he had one chance to finally help Al, he chose to talk to Beth instead. I like to think that the price of that choice was to never go back, that Al would lose track of him forever and that he would work alone from now on, except perhaps without the Swiss-cheese memory. Also, that he understood all of this when he made the choice. He "graduated" to a higher level "helper" by committing off his own free will. The end was ambiguous enough to allow each viewer to fill-in the end in a personal way. – Euro Micelli Apr 10 '16 at 2:47
1

The quick answer is that Sam is controlling his jumps. He never decided to jump back home. He only did jump from one person to another when the first one was all wrapped up, perfect for a TV show :).

  • While correct, this doesn't add anything to the existing answers since this has already been mentioned. – phantom42 Dec 18 '15 at 20:27
1

The ending here is one of the better ones, especially for a sci-fi show that ended on a non-renewal (contrast with terrible endings that were planned, like Battlestar Galactica).

First, a recap of the scene just before the end (note that Al, in this quote, refers to the bartender, not the main character Al)

Al sighs and points out that if he had been a priest, but Sam interrupts indicating that he had been one. Al corrects himself and states that if the priesthood had been Sam’s chosen life, even though the Church would move him from parish to parish, wouldn’t he still have to accept responsibility for the life that he leads. Sam notes that even priests can quit.

Al points out that’s true, but then notes that priests can take sabbaticals, especially before embarking on a difficult new assignment. Sam asks if the Leaps are going to get tougher. Al asks where Sam would like to go, to which Sam tells him that he wants to go home, but he can’t because he’s got a wrong to put right for Al.

Sam turns to Al and asks if he knew. Al smiles and puts his arm around the Leaper, saying "God bless, Sam."

Let's go back to the intro now.

Take note of the phrase (around 0:40)

striving to put right what once went wrong

The funny thing about this is I've always interpreted the end the opposite of some of the other answers. I've always seen Sam as a character who forgets who he is and has been moving more and more towards himself until, at the end, he finally gets there (as himself, not another face). No more leaping into other people. Contrast that with the first episode, where Sam doesn't know who he is, or who Al is.

I don't think Sam built Quantum Leap to fix the past. I think it was a thing to do for a brainiac. But over time he realized he could do good. He could, indeed, put right what once went wrong. Even if he didn't understand why he was going to these people or what he was supposed to do, he eventually got it. The fact that there were evil leapers probably also weighted on him. People trying to actively change history for their own gain. Or worse.

Based on the entire series as a whole, Sam realized the one person he couldn't fix was Al. Al got obsessed with keeping his first wife (the episode MIA) and almost missed what Sam was supposed to do. But I think it was the series' most poignant moment that drove home to Sam what good he could do. In The Leap Home, part II Sam leaps into his brother's platoon in Vietnam. He manages to save him from dying, but in the process the embedded photographer gets killed. At the end, Sam is despondent over her death. But Al tells him she won the Pulitzer for her last photo. Sam rushes over and grabs the photos to find the last one, only to be stunned at the picture. It features a captured Al being led away by the Viet Cong.

Sam realizes that he could have saved Al, but Al chose to forgo that chance (likely learning his lesson from the MIA episode) to save Sam's brother. Sam, at the end here, is essentially offered the chance to leap wherever he wants. He expresses a desire to go home, but decides he wants to repay Al. In other words, he decides to put right what once went wrong. Based on how "barkeep/god/whatever" Al responds to that, I took it as that was Sam's sabbatical and that Sam, who now realized what kind of good he could do with leaping, chooses not to return.

0

In the novels Sam jumped into someone that al knew when he first retired and the hologram al convinced the past al to intervene in a hold up taking a bullet for Sam. Since al never met Sam after Sam's final leap, he was never there to take the bullet... Sam died.

-2

I saw the episode and have come to the following conclusion. Sam died during project Quantum Leap. The best proof I can give is Steve. Ghost from the past leaping in his life to make it better. Sam was chosen to be a guardian Angel. His drive and good nature was hand picked by fate,time or god. Now it's true Sam saved AL marriage and changed their history. however nothing was said that PQL never happened. Paradox clearly states that time maintain continuity which means Sam and Al would still meet up regardless of the altered timeline. Now one could argue that Sans physical form replaced the individuals he leap into. Taking away the lack of consistency with the storytelling. Sam's soul literally became the physical form of the person he leaped into. Last but not least there can be no good without evil. As Sam was chosen as an instrument of good there has to be balanced and that means there has to be an instrument of evil. Which was the evil leaper who caused history to go wrong. The bar sam visited and saw himself was a reminder of all the lifes that he touched. The renewal of his faith and a break before he continued on with his mission. I think when is ready to go home means he is ready to go to heaven.

  • That's an interesting theory but one that I think lacks foundation given the answers (with interviews) indicating that the intention was to return Sam for a new season if they got renewed. – Valorum Jul 6 '16 at 8:25

protected by Rogue Jedi Aug 13 '16 at 0:48

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