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SYFY WIRE Quantum Leap

Here's how the original 'Battlestar Galactica' accidentally led to the creation of 'Quantum Leap'

Quantum Leap creator Donald P. Bellisario and BSG creator Glen A. Larson co-created Magnum P.I. together.

By Josh Weiss
Quantum Leap Battlestar Galactica GETTY IMAGES

The cult-classic sci-fi series Quantum Leap first premiered on NBC in March of 1989, but to understand where the show came from we need to leap back a decade earlier, to the late 1970s, when creator Donald P. Bellisario was a writer on another genre touchstone: Battlestar Galactica.

The cancellation of the original BSG after a single season led to significant backlash from members of the audience, who wrote to the network (ABC), demanding that the sci-fi show be brought back. This prompted the Powers That Be to task Bellisario with developing a new Battlestar project alongside the property's creator, Glen A. Larson.

They wanted to tell a story about humans traveling back in time to correct Earth's history, but when the network slashed the budget, they pivoted to the short-lived and poorly-received Galactica 1980. Despite this particular failure, the duo later found unimaginable success with the creation of Magnum, P.I., starring a mustachioed Tom Selleck.

Years later, Bellisario would revisit the abandoned time travel idea, which he spun into the now-iconic Quantum Leap — headlined by Scott Bakula and the late Dean Stockwell. Bakula took on the main role of Sam Beckett, a physicist who leaps between different bodies, righting wrongs throughout history, all while trying to make it back to his own time period.

Learn more about the history of Quantum Leap in the video below:

NBC is currently working on a modern-day reboot of the classic series, starring Prodigal Son's Raymond Lee, who will step into the role of Quantum Leap researcher and respected physicist, Dr. Ben Seong. Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Nanrisa Lee (Bosch), Mason Alexander Park (Cowboy Bebop) and newcomer Caitlin Bassett round out the central cast.

Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt (co-creators of God Friended Me and current producers on La Brea) are writing and executive producing the pilot episode. Lilien and Wynbrandt are also co-showrunners. Bellisario is an executive producer alongside Deborah Pratt (writer, producer, and narrator for the original series) and Martin Gero (Blindspot).

“I think they captured, first of all, the fact that Raymond Lee, who is South Korean, is playing Doctor Seong [...] I think that that’s a huge step forward that will bring in more global storylines," Pratt recently teased. "But again, I can’t tell you his backstory and all that kind of stuff. But the episode is a true Quantum Leap episode, and it’s an homage to the series in that sense. The characters that they have created for the show, I feel like are strong and interesting."

Episodes of QL are currently airing on SYFY. Click here for scheduling information.