Jumping The Shark



Jumping the shark is a metaphor that was originally used to denote the tipping point at which a TV series is deemed to have passed its peak. Once a show has "jumped the shark", fans sense a noticeable decline in quality or feel the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original charm. The term has also evolved to describe other areas of pop culture, including movie series, music, or acting celebrities or authors for whom a drastic change was seen as the beginning of the end. These changes are often attempts to attract their fans' waning attention with over-the-top statements or increasingly overt appeals to sex or violence. Some have broadened its use to simply describe any decline in appeal for the subject in question, without requiring a significant "jump the shark" moment as justification.

Jump-the-shark moments are typically scenes that finally convince viewers that the show has fundamentally and permanently strayed from its original premise. In these cases, they are viewed as a desperate and futile attempt to keep a series fresh in the face of a decline in ratings. In other cases, the departure or replacement of a main cast member or character or a significant change in setting changes a critical dynamic of the show.

The phrase specifically arises from a scene in the hit TV comedy series Happy Days. Towards the end of the show's run, the writers were challenged to come up with new, fresh stories; they developed a story where Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli is on water skis, wearing his trademark leather jacket despite the well-known negative effects of salt water on leather, and, quite literally, jumps over a shark.

Many have noted the shark episode as the moment when they realized the show was no longer worth watching, considering the scene to be unrealistic and of poor quality, making it impossible to maintain suspension of disbelief. Even before "jumping the shark" was employed as a pop culture term, the episode in question was cited many times as an example of what can happen to otherwise high-quality shows when they stay on the air too long in the face of waning interest. Producer Garry Marshall later admitted that he knew the show had lost something as the crew prepared to shoot the scene. However, as he pointed out in the reunion special that aired on February 3, 2005, Happy Days went on to produce approximately 100 more episodes after the "jumping the shark" episode. During the same special, in response to an audience member's question, Marshall introduced the notorious clip and noted how the show had inspired the term.

The first verifiable use of the phrase as a direct metaphor was on December 24, 1997, when Jon Hein's website jumptheshark.com was launched. According to the site, the phrase was first coined by Hein's college roommate, Sean J. Connolly, in 1985. On June 20, 2006, Hein (who now works for The Howard Stern Show on Sirius Satellite Radio) sold his company, Jump The Shark, Inc., to Gemstar (owners of TV Guide). Officially, the sale price was reported as "over $1 million," but there is some speculation that the actual sale price may have been considerably higher.

More recently, the phrase has been used outside the realm of popular culture, representing anything that has reached its peak and has turned mediocre. For example, if one thinks a stock, sports team, or band has reached its peak, one can say that it has "jumped the shark." It has also mistakenly been used as a synonym for "jumping the gun."

* The first episode of season 5 of Dharma & Greg featured each of the characters' wearing a T-shirt with the text "Jump the Shark". In the episode, Dharma is in a wheelchair after a near-fatal car accident with Greg. The 4th season ended in a cliffhanger: Dharma and Greg were fighting, Greg drove too fast, and they had the accident. The story was criticized for being a desperate attempt to get higher ratings.
* That '70s Show had an episode in which Fez imagines jumping over a shark, thinking how cool it would be to be the Fonz, then commenting on how he never really watched the show after that episode.
* The X-Files episode "Jump the Shark" in the last season (season 9) concluded the roles of The Lone Gunmen in the series by killing them off.
* The Canadian black comedy Made in Canada (titled The Industry elsewhere) had an episode entitled "Beaver Creek Jumps the Shark", where it becomes obvious to the characters that the lead show that they produce (Beaver Creek) has jumped the shark, and several of the main characters reminisce about how their own lives did the same. It would be the fifth-to-last episode of the series to air.
* In the episode "Motherboy XXX" in the second season of Arrested Development, Barry Zuckerkorn (played by "The Fonz" actor Henry Winkler) jumps over a dead shark lying on a pier.
* In the episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode "Guide to: Dares" Cookie and Loomer want to be the king of dares. The dare to settle this is to jump over a Nurse shark on a bike. Neither of them do it.
* In the pilot episode of Nip/Tuck, Christian finds Sean sleeping on the couch at his new office and says, "So I hear your marriage jumped the shark last week. My condolences."
* In the Stargate SG-1 episode "200", Martin "Marty" Lloyd, trying to make a film based in the campy Stargate parody Wormhole X-Treme!, rejects the idea of an all-puppet cast (in the style of Team America: World Police or Thunderbirds) with "Oh, right, maybe we could have a puppet O'Neill jump over a puppet shark on a 1/3 scale motorcycle." Vala says that she doesn't get it.
* Clerks: The Animated Series featured a false "clip show" as its second episode. At one point, the characters reminisce about their favorite Happy Days episodes, the shark-jumping episode among them.
* In What's New, Scooby-Doo?, Scooby water-skis over a shark, following which Velma says, "I never thought Scooby-Doo would jump the shark."
* In an episode of Bonus Stage, Joel Dawson says, "Phil, come look, we're about to travel over Sharkworld, I'm surprised we haven't done this already." In a later episode, Joel repeats the gag by saying "There are some sharks I refuse to jump."
* At the beginning of the South Park episode "Probably", during a flashback section continuing from the previous episode, there is a false-flashback parody of the Fonzie shark-jumping scene. In this version, the Fonz doesn't quite make it over the shark, and he is torn to bloody pieces.
* The Simpsons has referenced jumping the shark in its opening credits, as well as in the clip show "Gump Roast", which ends with many jumping-the-shark allusions, including a shot of Homer water-skiing over a shark.
* In The Fairly OddParents Direct-to-TV film "Channel Chasers" a deleted scene features a song "If I lived in TV" which had Timmy singing how his life would be if he lived in TV. One of the clips included Timmy and some TV extras jumping over a shark on water skis; the shark then popped up throughout the video, including eating a bad singer in a parody of American Idol.
* The webtoon Happy Tree Friends features an episode called "Happy Trails Pt. 2: Jumping the Shark".
* In the first episode of the 2003-04 season of Dora the Explorer, Dora jumps a shark with a special jumping star.
* In an easter egg of the Homestar Runner cartoon Teen Girl Squad Issue 10, all four main characters each state a way of jumping the shark (clip shows, weddings, babies, and killing someone off).
* In an episode of Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, while Mac is watching the Deo Special, the announcer tells viewers, "Stay tuned next week when Deo jumps the shark".
* In the Teen Titans episode "Episode 257-494", Robin jumps over a shark on water-skis.
* In the Sealab 2021 episode "Sharko's Machine", at the end of the montage the character Sharko (a human/shark hybrid) jumps over a pool filled with Fonzies whilst riding a motorcycle.
* In The Replacements, episode "Skate-Gate," Dick Daring jumps over a shark tank on a skateboard. The reference is where the Fonz says his catchphrase "'Eyyyyy!" This is repeated one more time in the episode.
* In the Nickelodeon show My Life as a Teenage Robot one character is preparing to jump a pool of shark,s while the other two attempt to change his mind: one of them says "once you jump those sharks, the show's over"
* In WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, Wario has to jump a mechanical shark on wheels in one of his microgames.
* The computer game Jumpman Zero has a level titled jump the shark, which requires the player to do just that.
* In the game Hallrunner at Videlectrix.com (a fake video game company set up by the creators of Homestar Runner), jumping over a shark results in the message "You jump the shark. Just like Homestarrunner.com. *0 points*
* In Tony Hawk's American Wasteland you do that stunt to feed Mega's shark.
* In the webcomic Bruno the Bandit Bruno had to jump the shark (the same way the Fonz did) in order to transform the series into a manga style strip.
* The band Tabula Rasa has a song entitled "Jumping The Shark" on their album, The Role of Smith.
* Punk band The Lawrence Arms have a song on their album Oh! Calcutta! named "Jumping The Shark."
* The reverse of the term is known as Jumping Back or sometimes Growing the Beard (referring to Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation). They refer to a point in a television show when a marked increase of quality is noted (e.g. the replacement of Josh Weinstein with Frank Conniff on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Jon Stewart replacing Craig Kilborn on The Daily Show, or Jonathan Frakes replacing James Brolin in 1997 in the television show Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction). "Growing the Beard" refers to how Commander Riker did not have a beard during the first season which contained episodes that were perceived to be of lesser quality than those in the second season and onwards when the beard was introduced.
* The 2004 book, America (the Book): a Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show, features a caption regarding the 2000 elections, in which the entire news media was said to "jump the shark" by prematurely predicting Al Gore the winner of the Florida election, and then predicting George W. Bush the winner of the same election.
* In an op-ed on August 27, 2005, Maureen Dowd stated that George W. Bush "jumped the shark by landing on that 'Mission Accomplished' carrier."
* In his weekly columns, Mark Rosewater has often commented that the addition of a sixth color would be the "jump the shark" event for the Magic: The Gathering trading card game.
* Weird Al Yankovic references the phrase in his 2003 song "Couch Potato" with the line "King of Queens jumped the shark in the first minute; I can't believe Richard Simmons ain't in it!".
* In their official podcast, the Executive Producers of LOST, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, claim that they jump the shark in almost every episode of their show in order to keep up the excitement and unanswered questions.
* In webcomics, PvP ends a strip featuring a character forced to compromise his principles with Fonzie's jump, while Schlock Mercenary independently and almost completely simultaneously ends a strip that injects time travel into a hard science fiction setting with a shark-jumping reference.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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