The 10 Best ‘Quantum Leap’ Episodes, According to Fans
In the original series, which aired five seasons on NBC between 1989 and 1993, Scott Bakula played Dr. Samuel “Sam” Beckett, a quantum physicist whose time-travel experiments go awry and send him careening through the decades. As Sam lands in a new body every week — and as best friend Al (Dean Stockwell) guides him in hologram form — he hopes each successive leap will be the one that takes him back home.
Now, with news of this reboot fresh in mind, let’s do the time warp and revisit the standout episodes of the first iteration of Quantum Leap. According to ShowSkimmer, the ten episodes below, listed chronologically, are fans’ picks for the best of the series, and we’re including rave reviews from IMDb reviewers for each one.
Season 1, Episode 7, “The Color of Truth – August 8, 1955”
In this first-season episode, Sam finds himself in the body of a white woman’s Black chauffeur in the segregated South. “Superficial similarities to Driving Miss Daisy aside, this is big and brave writing,” one IMDb reviewer wrote.
Season 2, Episode 6, “Good Morning, Peoria – September 9, 1959”
A fan calls this episode “a fun radio romp in the late ‘50s, involving a town effort to shut down the mythical Peoria rock-and-roll station.” (And how about this for a “Twist”: Chubby Checker played himself in this installment.)
Season 2, Episode 8, “Jimmy – October 14, 1964”
Two episodes later, Sam leaps into the body of a young man with an intellectual disability, and he makes it his mission to keep his host alter-ego out of a mental institution. “This show always blows my mind,” one reviewer wrote.”Very heavy episode; great acting.”
Season 2, Episode 22, “M.I.A. – April 1, 1969”
In the second-season finale, Al tasks Sam with convincing a Navy nurse not to give up hope that her missing-in-action husband is still alive … and Sam realizes the mission hits close to home. “This is one of my favorite episodes of the show,” a viewer wrote in a 10-star review. “It’s emotionally heartfelt and even heartbreaking.”
Season 3, Episode 1, “The Leap Home: Part 1 – November 25, 1969”
In a season premiere that earned a Primetime Emmy Award for its makeup, Sam leaps back to his 16-year-old self and tries to help his family avoid future tragedy. On IMDb, a fan called this hour a “marquee episode of the series,” saying the drama of the hour is “poignant and emotionally evocative.”
Season 3, Episode 2, “The Leap Home: Part 2 (Vietnam) – April 7, 1970”
The second part of the Season 3 premiere, an episode that earned an Emmy for cinematography, has Sam trying to save his brother’s mission in Vietnam, if not his brother’s life. “I believe this to be the best episode in the entire series!” one reviewer raved. “I cry each time I see it.”
Season 3, Episode 22, “Shock Theater – October 3, 1954”
At the end of Season 3, Sam leaps into the body of an electroshock therapy patient, and the shocks make him channel the various personalities of his past alter-egos. Bakula won a Golden Globe for this performance, which one reviewer called “his best work in the show or on TV ever.”
Season 4, Episode 1, “The Leap Back – June 15, 1945”
Quantum Leap’s fourth season opens with a big switch: Now Al is the leaper, and his mission is to reunite a World War II veteran with the woman he left behind. But one IMDb reviewer said it was great to “go ‘behind the scenes’ of the fictional Project [Quantum Leap] and see what it’s like on the other end — back (or ahead) in 1999.”
Season 4, Episode 22, “A Leap for Lisa – June 25, 1957”
In the fourth-season finale, Sam leaps into the body of a Navy ensign on trial for the murder of an officer’s wife. An IMDb reviewer hailed the episode’s twist on Project Quantum Leap: “They are able to send young Al back in time to shortly before the death of the officer’s wife, with one instruction that will prevent this from happening.”
Season 5, Episode 22, “Mirror Image – August 8, 1953”
The series finale begins with Sam surprised to find that his new body is actually his own — albeit grayer and more wrinkled — as Al and supercomputer Ziggy realize they’ve lost track of the wayward time traveler. “A true masterpiece both in writing and in direction,” a fan wrote in an IMDb review of this swan song. “Bravo to you all.”