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Religion and the Supernatural in Quantum Leap

"God the Father" by Cima da Conegliano

"God the Father" by Cima da Conegliano


Quantum Leap’s frequent positive reference to religion impressed me. The very first episode, Genesis part 1, established that God could possibly be directing Sam's leaping through time. Al poses this theory to a jury in the episode Honeymoon Express. Sam wants to stay in a certain time period in Catch a Falling Star. Al tells Sam that he doesn't have very much of a choice. It's up to Him, Al says and points at the ceiling. At the beginning of A Little Miracle, Sam acknowledges that he is a servant of some higher power.

Several episodes show Sam Beckett’s, played by Scott Bakula, belief in God. In the episode called The Right Hand of God, Scott Bakula, er, Sam Beckett, said that he messed with time and thought that the Big Man upstairs would understand. However, Sam, as the fighter Kid Cody, takes this back after receiving a punch on the jaw. Sam is the fighter. Sam/Kid Cody must win money in a fight in order to buy a chapel. Sam looks up at the sky saying, “I sure hope you know what you are doing.” Sam is about to marry Machiko in the end of the episode The Americanization of Machiko, and he worries whether he'll leap before being married in the eyes of God.

Leap of Faith shows Al's relationship with God. Al prayed for his father when he had cancer, yet his father still died. Al didn't want to have anything to do with God after this happened. However, when he sees Sam lying on the ground with a gun wound, Al begs God not to take him. Sam gets up, alive.

"Light on door at end of tunnel" Dusan Bicanski

"Light on door at end of tunnel" Dusan Bicanski


Sam’s belief on what happens after death are ambivalent. In Leaping in without a Net, Sam says that he doesn't believe in reincarnation. He doesn't believe in ghosts in A Portrait for Trojan.

There are several episodes that can be interpreted that nothing happens after death. Sam leaps into the George, the grandson of a Native American elderly man. They talk about George's dead father. The grandfather asks George/Sam if he thinks he will ever see his father again. Sam responds with, "No I guess not." The grandfather tells Sam that death is like a doorway, and when we die we leap through it to a new life. Sam asks what if there is nothing beyond the door. The grandfather tells George/Sam that life is like a series of leaps. He asked if Sam had leaped before. Sam lied and said no. The grandfather said that the next time he leaped, he should remember that.

Another thing is that he said in the episode The Last Gunfighter that when you are dead you are dead.

However, Sam possibly believes in the afterlife. In one episode, Sam is condemned to die. Before his execution, a priest comes and tells him that God is calling him home. Sam doesn’t say anything like he doesn’t believe in the afterlife.

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"Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, 1890" New Visions, Flickr

"Lucifer by Franz von Stuck, 1890" New Visions, Flickr

The Devil

In the episode, MIA, Sam says that he does not believe in the devil.

Al, on the other hand, believes in the devil and tells the audience that in the same episode. In addition, in the episode A Song for the Soul, Sam and Al gather with the congregation in the church and listen to the preacher, who warns of the devil. Al agreed with the warning.

In the episode Boogieman, "Al" happens to be an evil twin of the real Al, and he claims to be the devil. However, the episode has many different interpretations. One of which says that Sam dreamed the entire sequence.

Specific Religions

Judaism is referenced in the episode Thou Shalt Not where Sam becomes a rabbi.

Catholicism is referred to in a couple episodes. In Last Dance Before Execution, a lawyer prays to the Madonna for wisdom. In a Leap of Faith, Sam becomes a Catholic priest.

Christianity in general is also referenced several times. In the episode So Help Me God, a young black woman named Delilah with a cross necklace is accused of murder. She is horrified when her alleged confession says that her victim pleaded for her to not kill him in the name of Jesus. Later in the episode, Sam (through Al's knowledge)uses a passage from Galatians to free a woman from her fear of going to Hell if she testified.

A famous painting of Jesus hangs on the wall in the episode Trilogy Part II: For Your Love.

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