Film / Sharknado

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"Sharks. Tornado. Sharknado. Enough Said!"

Disasters come in many forms. But none quite like this. A series of freak tornadoes hits the California coast, causing widespread destruction around Los Angeles.

Nothing new, right?

But when said tornadoes start throwing hundreds of sharks around the city, that's where things get interesting.

The 2013 movie was a viral hit, with over five million views spread over the first three showings of the movie on TV and attention from celebrities such as Wil Wheaton and Cory Monteith (it was the subject of the latter's final two tweets before his death). Syfy immediately contracted The Asylum to make a sequel, the title of which was chosen with a Twitter contest. (The winner? Sharknado 2: The Second One.) Such follow-ups have become an annual event, roughly corresponding with the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, ever since.

On July 10, 2014, the film received a much-needed skewering performed and simulcast live in theaters by the Rifftrax team.

Sharknado 2: The Second One premiered on Syfy on July 30, 2014, with Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! following on July 22, 2015, Sharknado: The 4th Awakens on July 31, 2016, and Sharknado 5: Global Swarming on August 6, 2017.


Tropes associated with the Sharknado films as a whole:

  • Amusing Injuries / Bloody Hilarious: Pretty much any time the sharks take out a human, and most times when it's the other way around.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: None of the sharks have claspers, even though half of them are presumably males.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Sharks have no trouble surviving on land and in the air, or in space in the third film.
    • These sharks can suck you down their gullet, like snakes.
    • And they like hanging around near the surface where waterspouts can reach them, even though the rain that precedes tornadoes ought to make the shallows taste unpleasantly-fresh to them.
      • Some sharks from the later films (frilled sharks, goblin sharks, sawfishes) have no business hanging around near the surface at all.
    • And let's not forget that the sharks in these films seem to be suicidally violent towards humanity in particular, jumping out of the water and through windows to kill people way before their behavior can be blamed on the weather making them irritable.
    • So many different species of sharks had never had any business schooling together in the first place. And they never, ever take a bite out of each other, even though large predatory sharks preying on smaller ones is routine in nature.
    • A human Swallowed Whole by a shark has no business not suffocating within two or three minutes, yet characters who are cut out of shark carcasses invariably bounce back after much longer delays.
  • Artistic License – Physics: A shark being driven towards you by (strangely slow) tornado force winds will conveniently fall out of the sky if you shoot it.
    • Tornado winds strong enough to tear buildings to pieces are apparently incapable of doing anything worse to sharks than piss them off.
    • Calf-high water is deep enough to hold an infinite number of sharks, which will then proceed to bite your legs off.
    • Tornadoes and floods can selectively sweep up hundreds of sharks of various species, while leaving every other sort of sea life behind. The sharks surely couldn't have eaten them all!
  • B-Movie: Unashamedly so.
  • Chainsaw Good: Fin's signature weapon.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Fin is this from the start, and his whole family becomes this as the series progresses.
    • Fin's catchphrase is "semper paratus."
  • Death by Cameo: A lot of celebrities have jumped on the franchise bandwagon by lining up to become shark chow.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Combined with Everything's Even Worse with Sharks, two tropes that should not go together.
    • Apparently, it's perfectly safe even to enter the funnel cloud, provided you happen to be a shark.
  • Excuse Plot: When they even bother to have a plot, it's this. Who cares? There's sharks flying around in tornadoes!
  • Flying Seafood Special: The Movie
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Little to no emotion is wasted on anyone's death regardless of how close they are.
  • High Concept: The premise is basically sharks being thrown around by tornadoes and (in the sequels) chomping on celebrity cameos. That's it.
  • Made of Iron: The sharks. For example: one is thrown onto the sidewalk in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. It bounces hard enough to break a large divot out of the pavement, then goes on its way, gnashing and wriggling, apparently unharmed.
  • Made of Plasticine: The humans. Even the smaller sharks can easily take off limbs or heads with a single nip.
  • Monumental Damage: To the point where the fifth film may have been moved overseas because there weren't any U.S. monuments left to trash.
  • More Predators Than Prey: Thousands of sharks swept up by waterspouts, and not one harmless species in the lot. Even the plankton-eating whale shark from the second film kills somebody by landing on them.
    • The high proportion of great whites is particularly egregious, considering there's really only a few thousand on the entire planet.
  • MST3K Mantra: Invoked by the cast and crew in interviews.
    Tara Reid: It is silly, and there's only a certain amount of barriers you could go into. You can't take it so seriously when it's absolutely the sharks flying in the sky. It's so out there that it's actually really funny.
  • Noisy Nature: Some of the sharks make a strange, scratchy grunting sound. Only two of the more than 400 species of shark make any sort of vocalization, and the two that do make an audible "bark" (by burping!) are much too small to play the Threatening Shark in these films.
  • Portmantitle
  • Punny Name: The hero of a film series about sharks is named Fin. And his father and young son are named Gil.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: This is the main subject of the films. A freak storm causes it to rain live sharks (and, oddly enough, no other kind of fish). The second movie sets some of its flying sharks on fire to ramp up the weirdness, and the fourth adds variants with other things (oil, hail, radiation, boulders, cows).
  • Rule of Cool: Pretty much everything about these movies happens for this reason, especially when it comes to explosions, catastrophes, and sharks killing celebrities or being chainsawed spectacularly.
  • Running Gag: Something big and round can be counted on to get torn loose by the storms and sent rolling through the streets, smashing stuff. As of film #5, it's been done with two ferris wheels, the Statue of Liberty's head, a gigantic ball of twine, and a giant metal globe with most of the Shepherds inside it.
  • Stylistic Suck: The cast and crew outright admit that the premise is silly and impossible to take seriously...so they don't, intentionally making these flicks So Bad, It's Good.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Even self-preservation doesn't seem to be enough to stop these killing machines from trying to devour every human in sight. Even when thrown from the ocean, dropped from hundreds of feet, set on fire or in space, they can think of nothing but attacking humans.
  • Threatening Shark: And how.
  • Weird Weather: The films center around perhaps one of the most ridiculous examples of this trope, multiple tornadoes full of nothing but sharks, which are still alive and lethal even after many hours of being aloft. Notably, nothing else gets picked up by the tornadoes, including other sea life or other objects along their paths. Unless, of course, it's a piece of debris fated to squish a bit character or take a celebrity cameo's head off.

Tropes associated with the first Sharknado

  • Aborted Arc: The first half of the film builds up UST between Fin and Nova. This goes out the window when Matt and April are introduced with Nova's attention turned to Matt and Fin reconciles with April.
  • Action Girl: Nova is not afraid to use a shotgun where needed.
  • Artistic License – Biology: A few sharks land in a swimming pool. The chlorine can't exactly be good for them.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Apparently, throwing home made bombs is sufficient to destroy a tornado by "neutralizing the air temperatures."
    • It is totally possible to fly a helicopter to within throwing distance of a funnel cloud, without experiencing turbulence or even a particularly strong breeze. This one is especially noticeable because they had explicitly stated earlier in the movie that they wouldn't be able to fly away in such weather.
    • Hurricanes just plain cannot hit Los Angeles, unless they're assuming the planet decided to try rotating the other way for a change. This one is Hand Waved down to global warming.
      • Well, Film Theory says otherwise, and one did hit…in 1858, but all the circumstances required for a "sharknado" to happen all at once is admittedly infinitesimally low.
    • When your boat gets sucked into a tornado with you still standing on it, you won't fall down or even have trouble standing.
  • Artistic License – Ships: The trawler in the opening scene changes between a trawler and a yacht constantly.
  • Batter Up: Baz carries a baseball bat around with him at all times.
  • Beta Couple: Nova and Matt, probably.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The movie ends with the word "Fin" which is Spanish and French for "End".
  • Chainsaw Good: Fin manages to use one to cut a shark in half as it falls on him. He also enters a shark's mouth chainsaw-first and cuts his way out not only being unharmed himself but with Nova as well, not even touched by said chainsaw. It's best not to think how this is possible.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: George grabs a bar stool when the characters venture out of Fin's bar. He soon uses it to club a shark.
  • Cool Car: The gang steal a heavily modified four wheel drive vehicle from a movie prop company when Fin's own car breaks down.
  • Cool Old Guy: George.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Fin keeps a pistol and a shotgun behind his bar as well as huge amounts of shotgun shells in his car.
    • He also keeps rappelling gear in his vehicle, apparently just in case he needs to descend from an elevated highway onto a school bus stuck in shark-infested flood waters.
  • Credits Gag: Rather than stating "The End" the credits start with "Fin", which is French and Spanish for (The) End. This is both for the obvious association of fin and sharks. But "Fin" is also an old cliche for ending art films and other high culture fare. Most would probably agree that this film does not fall under that category. The pronunciation of fin in French is closer to "fan"; in Spanish the letter "i" always sounds like "ee" in "free", so it sounds like "feen". So they don't sound like the English word "fin", but that's hardly the biggest error the movie commits.
  • Disney Death: Nova.
  • Drop the Hammer: Subverted. April picks up a hammer to defend herself against the sharks. Since she's basically useless, it doesn't get used.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Fin takes the time to rescue a busload of schoolkids. Their teacher is the only one to die.
  • Dull Surprise: April.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: After you have seen the next few movies, you'll note this one is much shorter on the celebrity cameos and deaths. Some parts are even half-serious. That's because this was expected to be a one-off concept, and ended up being a surprise hit. It's also the only one where the storm does significantly more damage than the sharks for most of the movie.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Fin's car spontaneously explodes after developing a fuel leak.
  • Excuse Plot: What, exactly, was Fin's original intention when he found Matt and Claudia?note 
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Global warming is presented as the cause of the disaster. The fin fishermen's gratuitous slaughter of sharks might suggest this trope as well, except it's a dropped plot-thread that's never picked up again.
  • Give Me a Sword: April passes Fin his chainsaw by kicking a cart the chainsaw is on toward him, just in time for him to fend off a shark.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Matt's friend, Luellyn, watches as a shark is flung by the tornado right towards their friend, Bobby, and he shoves Bobby out of the way, getting fatally squashed himself. His sacrifice didn't amount to much, though, as Bobby is killed not long afterwards.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Fin takes out several falling sharks that are falling from several hundred feet with a pistol.
  • Improvised Weapon: The heroes use quite a few, including a bar stool and an oxygen tank.
  • Informed Flaw: Everyone talks about how Fin was a bad father who didn't care about his family, but his clear Papa Wolf and Chronic Hero Syndrome tendencies combined with April and Claudia's constant It's All About Me attitude causes this to ring hollow.
  • Jerkass: April's new boyfriend. He doesn't last long.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fin's solution to the sharks landing in the pool of the retirement home is to douse it in kerosene and light it up.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Baz remarks about how, of all the possible ways Los Angeles could've been devastated - earthquakes, riots, plagues, aliens - sharks were such a ridiculous option that they'd never crossed his mind.
  • The Load: Even Matt's background friends who get killed off during the climax are more useful than Claudia ever is during the whole movie.
  • Monumental Damage: The Santa Monica Pier is, of course, the first thing destroyed. Later, the bus driver is smashed by the HOLLYWOOD sign. A falling shark cracks the pavement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Nova.
  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: No one being chased by the rolling dismounted Ferris wheel thinks to run sideways.
  • Papa Wolf: Fin goes to rescue his (teenage/adult) children and is admonished by his ex-wife and her boyfriend for turning up when it's not his day. Of course, April forgives him for this when her boyfriend becomes shark food.
  • Romantic False Lead: Nova. The movie focuses more on her than April, making one wonder why he would get back with his ex-wife.
  • Scars Are Forever: Nova has scarring from a prior shark attack of which she was the Sole Survivor.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Nova's Weapon of Choice for the duration of the film. It's probably the most effective thing against the sharks.
  • Shout-Out: Nova states that "We're gonna need a bigger chopper."
    • Her recounting of her childhood shark encounter ends just like Quint's account of the Indianapolis's sinking, too.
      • That scene also resembles the "how I learned there's no Santa" scene from Gremlins.
    • Early in the shark attack on the pier, Fin and Baz take out a shark by tossing a propane cylinder in its mouth and shooting it.
  • Stock Footage: There are several shots where the sharks are brought to life from footage ripped right from a shark documentary.
    • Including some shots that are hilariously inappropriate to what's actually going on on-screen, like the one where a shark that's supposed to have been flung into a swimming pool by the waterspout still has a couple of remora tagging along, not even adhering to it but just swimming alongside. Not to mention some where the angle of the shot suggests that the camera was underneath the street itself.
    • It's also obvious by the cars, lettering on signs, etc that the montage of the gang driving through a flooding LA is cut with stock footage of monsoon-devastated Asian countries. Possibly justified in that there would be no stock footage of LA flooding available anyway.
    • Many stock beach and city skyline shots are used, even though many of them lack storm clouds or surfable waves.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: Fin keeps a pistol and a shotgun behind his bar just in case.
  • Villain Ball: The shark-fin fisherman and his client can think of nothing better to do, when their boat is being battered by flying sharks and storm debris and its crew is getting eaten alive, than shoot at each other.
  • Weather-Control Machine:
    • Less of a machine and more like using propane bombs to destroy a tornado.
    • In-universe, the clerk in the convenience store believes that the whole thing is happening because the government has one of these.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: None of the characters on the fishing boat appear again, or are referenced again, or are acknowledged in any way after the opening titles.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Sharks?: Nova really hates sharks, due to a childhood incident. Being swallowed whole by one doesn't help.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Only three items are on the ticker under the incessant (well, almost) newscasts, one of them Fin's rescue of the school bus, another is four reported missing from a Santa Monica bar (presumably because Fin, Nova, Baz and George left Fin's bar without a word of explanation), and a third is the landslide in Beverly Hills that wrecked Colin's house.

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