Dr. Samuel (Sam) Beckett
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Highly intelligent with seven doctorates. Time traveller, "leaps" into other people's lives to "put right what once went wrong."
His memory is full of holes. He has no control over where, when, or who he leaps into.
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. In his teen years, Sam's family was dealt a hard blow when Sam's elder brother, Tom, was killed in Vietnam. Sam graduated high school at 16, and following his brother's advice, attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While at MIT, Sam and his mentor, Professor LoNigro, developed a string theory on time travel. Sam went through four years of MIT in two years and continued through various colleges to eventually obtain seven doctoral degrees: Music, Medicine, Physics, Archeology, Ancient Languages, Chemistry and Astronomy. During his college years, 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.
As a young adult, Sam was a key member of the Starbright Project. 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.
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 "setting right what once went wrong."
Created by Donald P. Bellisario for the television series "Quantum Leap" in 1989.
First Appearance: Quantum Leap (1991) #1
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Quantum Leap (1991)
#1 Quantum Leap: Time and Space (1993)
- 'First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was'#1 (Special Edition)
- 'First There Was a Mountain, Then There Was No Mountain, Then There Was'#2
- 'Freedom of the Press'#3
- 'He Knows if You've Been Bad or Good/The Infinite Corridor'#4
- 'The $50,000 Quest'#5
- 'Seeing is Believing'#6
- 'A Tale of Two Cindys'#7
- 'Lives on the Fringe/Sarah's Got a Gun'#8
- 'Up Against a Stonewall'#10
- 'Too Funny for Words'#11
- 'For the Good of the Nation'#12
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