Dr. Samuel Beckett
From Project Quantum Wiki
Dr. Samuel Beckett is a fictional character on the sci-fi/drama Quantum Leap, played by Scott Bakula. A polymath and unrivalled scientific genius, Sam is the leader and chief developer of Project Quantum Leap.
Sam Beckett was born August 8, 1953 in Elk Ridge, Indiana to dairy farmer Jonathan Beckett and his wife Thelma. Sam was a child prodigy, learning to read at two and do calculus in his head at five. By the time he was 10 he could beat a computer at chess. He also showed a precocious musical talent, becoming an accomplished pianist, guitarist and singer by his mid-teens. He was athletically inclined, and distinguished himself in the high school basketball team.
In 1970, Sam's family suffered a terrible blow when Sam's elder brother, Tom, was killed in Vietnam. Sam graduated high school at 17, and following his brother's advice, attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At 19, he played piano in Carnegie Hall.
Whilst at MIT, Sam and his mentor, Professor Sebastian LoNigro, developed a string theory which led to the possibility of time travel (Her Charm; see below). Sam went through four years of MIT in only two years, obtaining his first degree in 1972. The following year, Sam's father suffered a fatal heart attack. The guilt of his absence during his family's time of need would stay with Sam for years.
Over the next two decades he attended various other universities, to eventually obtain six doctoral degrees: Quantum Physics, Medicine, Music, Astronomy, Archeology and Ancient Languages. (He never studied Law or Psychiatry). Sam mastered six modern foreign languages, including French, Spanish, German and Japanese (but not Russian or Italian); and four dead languages, including Latin. He also studied martial arts, attaining black belt grades in Judo, Karate, Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do.
As a young adult, Sam was a key member of the Starbright Project (details on the nature of the project were not revealed on the show). It was on the Starbright Project where he would meet some of his closest and most trusted friends: Albert Calavicci, a decorated naval officer; a brilliant computer programmer known simply as Gushie; and Dr. Donna Eleese, the love of Sam's life. In the years after the Starbright Project, Sam and Donna were engaged, but Sam was jilted at the altar and never saw Donna again.
A few years later, Sam and Al spearheaded Project Quantum Leap, a time-travel experiment based on the string theory Sam had developed while at MIT. The PQL facility was located in Stallion's Gate, New Mexico in a primarily underground complex. In 1995, after constructing the necessary machinery, including a holographic imaging chamber and a supercomputer with access to vast historical databases, the project's funds were running thin. Eager to prove his theories, Sam stepped into the nuclear accelerator chamber and propelled himself back in time.
 The Time Traveler
Sam awoke in 1956 having exchanged places in time with an Air Force test pilot. Having exchanged places with another person, everyone sees Sam as the person he displaced. As Sam would soon discover, quantum leaping had an unforeseen side-effect. He was struck with partial amnesia, describing his own situation with the analogy of his brain being like a hunk of Swiss cheese: full of holes.
Fortunately, contact with his own time period was maintained through Al, who would appear to Sam as a hologram tuned into his brain wave, thus allowing only Sam to see and hear him. It was Al who conveyed to Sam the theory to return Sam to the present: that an unknown influence (God, Fate or Time) was using Sam to correct a mistake in the past -- in this case, saving the life of the pilot Sam had displaced, who was killed in an experimental aircraft in the original history.
When Sam corrected the timeline, he leaped, but not all the way home; this time, he found himself assuming the identity of a minor-league pro baseball player. For the next four years, Sam would continue to travel back and forth through time, swapping identities with various people, and, as a tagline for the show often said, "setting right what once went wrong."
 Dr. Beckett's String Theory
Sam's theory of time travel, developed with Professor LoNigro, is based on an expanding, but finite universe. A person's life is like a length of string. One end represents birth, the other represents death. If one were to tie the ends of the string together, their life becomes a loop. Next, by balling the loop together, the days on one's life would touch one another out of sequence, thus allowing one to travel back and forth within their own lifetime or quantum leap. Al explains this theory in the pilot episode, and Sam, recovering his memory of the theory, turns around and explains it to Donna in the second episode, Star-Crossed. Sam also gives the theory to actor and would-be time traveler Moe Stein in Future Boy, who explains it on his television show in response to a viewer question - from Sam Beckett of Elk Ridge, Indiana.
 Changes in his own life
Though explicitly forbidden by his own guidelines to alter the past for his own benefit, Sam did alter his own history and those of his loved ones on a number of occasions:
- In the second episode of the series, Star-Crossed, Sam reunited his future fiancée, Donna, who was nineteen at the time, with her estranged father. As a result, Donna did not leave Sam at the altar and the couple were married (as discovered in later episodes, such as the next entry). This union would bring Donna onto Project Quantum Leap and, through her father's military connections, assure government funding, thus replacing the Project's private funding oversight committee with a government oversight committee.
- In the episode Honeymoon Express, the government oversight committee tried to shut down PQL by rejecting its multi-billion dollar annual budget. In an attempt to prove that Sam had leaped, Al tried to get Sam to prevent the downing of the U-2. Sam was unable to prevent the U-2 mission, but by saving the life of a young woman, he saved the Project when history changed and the same woman now led the oversight committee and approved the Project's budget.
- In the episode M.I.A., Al tried to get Sam to save his first marriage, which nearly cost the life of the man Sam was really there to save. In the end, Sam leaped, but was unable to save Al's marriage (see last entry).
- In the episode The Leap Home, Sam leaped into himself as a teenager to win a basketball game his team originally lost. While there, he tried without success to save the lives of his father and brother. When Sam leaped, he found himself in his brother's SEAL unit in Vietnam. While there, Sam saved his brother's life, but missed a chance to free a young Al and two other POWs from their Viet-Cong captors.
- In the episode The Leap Back, Sam and Al exchanged places, leaving Al in 1945 and finally returning Sam home. When Al was incapacitated in the past, Sam once again entered his time machine to exchange places with Al again.
- In the episode Trilogy, Part II, Sam fathered a child, Samantha Josephine "Sammy Jo" Fuller. Like her father, Sammy Jo was a prodigy with a photographic memory. She would grow up to join the staff of Project Quantum Leap.
- In the final episode Mirror Image, Sam learned the truth that he was, and had always been, the one in control of his journey through time (albeit only via his subconscious mind up to this point). Though initially unable to accept that fact, Sam returned to a single point in time, and assured that Al's marriage to his first wife, Beth, would survive his years as a POW in Vietnam.
- Sam's birthday, August 8, is the same as Donald P. Bellisario's, the show's creator.
- Sam leaped into nine women: a glamorous secretary, a divorced mother of three, a beauty pageant contestant, a pregnant teenager, a rape victim, a singer in a girl group, a housewife during the women's movement, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and an inmate in a women's prison.
- Sam leaped into people in the military (or veterans) ten times.
- Sam leaped into two non-humans: a chimpanzee and, apparently, a vampire.
- Sam leaped into nine people in law enforcement (including a PI and a bounty hunter).
- Sam leaped into people in jail or prison four times.
- Sam leaped into children or teenagers six times.
- Sam leaped into college students (including military cadets) six times.
- Sam leaped out of the United States seven times: Vietnam, Egypt, in a plane over the Bermuda Triangle, Japan, the Soviet Union, a raft in the Aegean Sea (and later a deserted island) and England.
- Sam's SSN is 563-86-9801 and his Department of Defense Umbra Clearance Code is 004-002-02-016.
- The 1970s was not Sam's favorite decade; for instance, he dislikes disco (Disco Inferno).
- Sam was unable to remember his marriage to Donna throughout his leaping. He thus had several romances that Donna knew of and accepted as a consequence of the good he was doing (The Leap Back). As well as fathering Sammy Jo with Abigail Fuller (Trilogy, Part II - see above), Sam became seriously involved with psychic Tamlyn Matsuda (Temptation Eyes), who could see him as he really was, and his former piano teacher Nicole (Catch a Falling Star), who couldn't. He also had several other trysts during his time as leaper, some of which appear in the show's opening credits for each season.