Quantum Leap "Mirror Image" (partially lost alternate ending of NBC sci-fi TV series finale; 1993)
Quantum Leap is an American sci-fi TV series that aired on NBC for five seasons from March 26th, 1989 to May 5th, 1993. The show starred actors such as Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett and Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci as the show's premise revolved around them leaping back in time as various people to prevent historical mistakes from being made.
During its run, the show picked up a loyal cult following that a 2007 TV Guide article named "TV Guide Names the Cult TV Shows Ever" listed the show at #19, 14 years after the show ended its run.
The show's final season 5 episode, "Mirror Image", revolves around Sam Beckett leaping back to his past birth place (August 8th, 1953) at a coal mining town in Cokeburg, Pennsylvania and looks back at the mirror, which he sees that his reflection also looks back at him. He then meets with the bar's owner and bartender also named Al, and informs him that he created Project Quantum Leap to fix things that went wrong in the past.
Sam is then given the option to continue leaping or return home. Sam says that he does want to return home, but instead decides to help Al Calavicci return back home to his first wife Beth. Sam then leaps back to April 1st, 1969, to tell Beth that Al is coming home and is still alive.
The episode then ends with title cards explaining that Al and Beth never got divorced and had four daughters, and the final title card states that Sam Beckett never returned home.
While the final episode was otherwise well-received by fans of the series, the ending was widely criticized for being rushed and ending the series on a bitter note. For years, it was speculated by fans that the ending title cards were forced by NBC at the last minute as a result of the show's cancellation and that an alternate ending existed of Al leaping back for Sam, but the show's showrunner Donald Bellisario denied that such ending ever existed.
However, on February 19th, 2018, video content producer Allison Pregler (who is a big fan of the series) made a video on the photo negatives that she purchased on eBay depicting an alternate ending of the episode where Al discusses with Beth about going back for Sam. The finding of the photo negatives showed proof that the long-rumored alternate ending did exist, and was later confirmed to be genuine by several people involved with the show's production.
On May 29th, 2019, footage of the alternate ending being filmed was leaked online by Reddit user u/Leaper1953. However, the footage leaked was in poor quality and is speculated to be a first take of the scene.
In spite of this finding, it is believed that there may be more to the alternate ending, where there was a scene set in the space bar mentioned in the leaked script to the alternate ending. It is currently unknown if this scene was filmed or not.
- Tumblr blog hosting all of the photo negatives of the alternate ending. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- TV Guide's article on cult favorite TV shows, lists Quantum Leap at #19. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- Uproxx's article on the final episode of Quantum Leap's ending, with other season finales being considered disappointing. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- I09's article on Allison Pregler's finding of the photo negatives of the alternate ending. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- LostMedia Reddit thread where footage of the alternate ending was leaked. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- Comic Book's article on the leaking of footage. Retrieved 15 Jun '19
- Al's Place article on the leaked script, mentions a bar scene. Retrieved 15 Jun '19