Created By: AndyLA on August 16, 2012 Last Edited By: AndyLA on March 14, 2015

Shark Fin

Only a fin sticking out of the water is enough to know there's a shark in it.

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This is one of those old cartoon tropes when a character falls in the water, and then he sees a fin sticking out of the water (may not be just one) and propmtly imagines "Oh Crap!, a shark! Gotta beat it!". However, most of the time it's just someone pulling a prank by swimming under the water with a fake shark fin strapped to their back. Or it may be a harmless dolphin.

May be subverted when the character's Genre Savvy enough not to fall for it, but then it turns out to be a REAL shark.
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • August 16, 2012
    The Simpsons: Done by Homer when they're at the beach wearing a fin attached to his back, causing the beachgoers to run away. Then when Bart swims up right next to him doing the exact same thing, Homer screams "AHHHH! Sharkboy!" and runs away.
  • August 16, 2012
    MAD Magazine had a feature that played with this. Among other things, it showed a shark with a sinister look on his face approaching a beach while "hiding" his fin under an old box, a shark near a large city beach with graffiti on the fin, and another with a brave guy diving off a boat to hunt the shark with the tiny fin (once he's underwater, he's greeted by a HUGE shark who, apparently purposely kept only the very tip of his fin above the surface.)
  • August 16, 2012
    Rocket Power: done by the main characters because of the overcrowding at the beach. However, this backfires when they are not permitted at the beach. They end the ruse by attaching the shark fin on a plank of wood at sea, which is discovered by officials.
  • August 16, 2012
    • In the Newspaper Comic Shermans Lagoon Sherman, an actual shark, does this occasionally; his crab friend does it for kicks to scare the hairless beach apes.
    • Double Subverted in another Simpsons, a Treehouse Of Horror episode. Lenny is out for a night swim and gets surrounded by fins. He's scared they're sharks, "the assassins of the sea," but they're just friendly dolphins, "the clowns of the sea" - who proceed to kill him.
  • September 3, 2012
    I think Jaws codified this. Also I saw a documentary pointing this out, but with orcas. Also should we limit this trope to the dorsal fin?
  • September 3, 2012
    • On the Classic Disney Short "No Sail", Donald Duck and Goofy are stranded on a boat and shark fins start circuling them. Goofy lifts one fin and finds nothing underneath. Donald tries the same, but comes face to face with a real shark.
    • On an early Looney Tunes short, Porky Pig and his cat are out fishing and a flying fish decides to have some fun and sticks its side fin out to look like a shark's fin. The cat catches on and grabs the fin, but that time the shark was real.
    • On one Humphrey The Bear cartoon, Humphrey takes the keel from a toy sailboat and wears it on his head as a fin to scare away fishermen and keep the fish for himself.
    • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Wet Hare", villain Black Jacques Shellaque sees a fin on a stream and figures it's one of Bugs' tricks. He dives in to get Bugs, but finds an actual shark instead.
  • September 5, 2012
    I think randomsurfer's Simpsons example should be marked as "Played With" instead of "Double Subverted", since by that point the viewer should already know the episode is about killer dolphins (the episode in question is even titled "Night of the Dolphin").
  • September 5, 2012
    This photo went around the world like mad a while back. It's really a surfer and a dolphin, but that's not why it was popular.
  • September 7, 2012
    Video Games Secret Agent: Some water pools have sharks in them, shown as a shark fin. However, since the protagonist has Super Drowning Skills anyway, the sharks are just for show.
  • September 7, 2012
    I've seen the shark fin in several "Shark Week" promos on Discovery Channel. I think it was used in this year's Sharkzilla as a lead-in to robot-Megalodon showing up on a California beach to chomp down on anything the hosts could stuff in its' mouth.
  • September 7, 2012
    Played with In Mahou Sensei Negima when the class takes a trip to an island. Negi is put 'in danger' so Asuna will make up with him after a falling out. The 'sharks' turn out to by Ku Fei and Natsumi in diguise.
  • September 8, 2012
    Live Performance (is that a category??): In the Tommy Bartlett Water Show at Wisconsin Dells they have (or leastwise had when I saw it many years ago) a scene where a "shark" approaches the performers, represented by a shark fin floating on a piece of wood which is towed by fishing line towards the performers.
  • September 8, 2012
    Splitting hairs here a bit, but dolphins aren't really "harmless".
  • April 20, 2013
  • March 12, 2015
    YKTTW Bump. Looks quite fine to me.
  • March 12, 2015
    Shark Fin Of Doom?

    Subtrope of Threatening Shark of course.

    • Mega Man Battle Network 6: In DiveMan.EXE's scenario, in the aquarium's computer, there are security systems in form of shark fins that will wander around, either trying to get you or just patrolling certain areas.
  • March 13, 2015
    • Jaws
      • While the armed men are patrolling the beach watching for the shark a fin appears in the water and people panic and flee the water. When the men in the boats approach the fin it turns out to be kids with a fake fin pretending to be a shark.
      • At other times in the movie the real shark's presence is revealed by its fin appearing, such as when it attacks the boats in the estuary/pond and while Brody, Hooper and Quint are out on the ocean hunting it.
  • March 13, 2015
    • Effectively subverted in this ad called "Rethink the Shark" from a campaign aimed to put deadly shark attacks into perspective.
  • March 13, 2015
    Another Looney Tunes short Porky's Naughty Nephew has Porky's nephew Pinky uses a toy sailboat to simulate a shark fin during a swimming race, which scares Porky into swimming fast and winning the race. When Pinky tells Porky that the fin was fake, he lifts it up to reveal a real shark, sending both fleeing.
  • March 13, 2015
    Dolphins aren't harmless in Real Life, but they are usually portrayed as the Friendly Playful Dolphin in media. In fact, "harmless dolphin" could be replaced with Friendly Playful Dolphin in the description.
  • March 13, 2015
    In Animal Crossing, sharks can be distinguished from other fish by their fins above the water, but sunfish do it as well.
  • March 14, 2015
    • Mario And Luigi Superstar Saga: The beach has a pair of enemies that play with this. One is a skeleton land shark. The other is just a cheep cheep wearing a large fin. Together they attempt a Shell Game to mess with the player.