- Accidental Innuendo: Right as Chrissie is being eaten by the shark in the first scene, the guy she took with her to the deserted beach is almost passed out drunk on the sand, breathing heavily and whispering, "I'm coming...I'm coming..." Of course, given that he's wasted and he's chasing a girl, it may be deliberate.
- Adaptation Displacement: The novel was made before the film, yet is not as known.
- And You Thought It Would Fail: Jaws was initially picked up as a script treatment by Universal Pictures, but ran into problems almost immediately. A rookie director who only had one other feature film — that bombed in theatres — to his name was chosen to direct the film. An actor who believed he was now box-office poison because of his prior work signed up as one of the main characters. Filming ran overbudget and overtime, with executives denying funding for key reshoots (which then had to be paid out of pocket). There were accusations that the practical effects were cheap and laughable, forcing the filmmaker to improvise by keeping it offscreen for most of the runtime. Yet, contrary to Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfuss' beliefs, Jaws became the first film to see wide-release distribution, became one of the highest-grossing films of all time and ushered in a new wave in American filmmaking.
- Award Snub: Spielberg himself threw a fit in broadcast TV once he didn't get nominated for Best Director.
- You can watch it here.
- Robert Shaw not getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor has been known to enrage a fan or two.
- Awesome Music: Da-DUN. Daaaa-DUN. The shark's Leitmotif is one of the most famous in film history. It's John Williams, what do you expect?
- Even better when the shark pops up out of nowhere while Brody is tossing chum behind the boat and the leitmotif did not play. In every scene before that, the da-dun music kicked in warning the audience that the shark was coming.
- Funnily enough, on first hearing the score Spielberg was quite bemused by how minimalist it was, and figured Williams had to be pulling a prank. Of course, he did initially hear it played on a piano, which probably made it sound dinkier than it would with a full orchestra.
- Fanon Discontinuity: What allows the original movie to be untainted by the sequels.
- First Installment Wins: Not that there is any competition over this.
- Not only for its own franchise, but some consider it the only good shark movie ever made.
- Funny Moments: Now with its own page.
- Harsher in Hindsight
- When you realize that the book and the film have contributed to making sharks endangered species by instilling such fear and hate of them to the point where the original author regrets writing it, then this property is horrible in an whole different way.
- Richard Dreyfuss stated that Spielberg looped the screams of the opening sequence by diving Susan Backlinie's head into a water bucket — what's basically torture today.
- I Am Not Shazam: Jaws is not the name of the shark. It had no name, unless you count Bruce. On official merchandise or film articles, it is usually referred to as "The shark from Jaws" or occasionally "The Great White Menace from Jaws".
- Jerkass Woobie: Quint, during the monologue scene.
- Just Here for Godzilla: People often forget there's more to the film than just a shark killing everyone.
- Memetic Mutation:
- "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
- "This was no boating accident."
- And, of course, see Awesome Music above.
- Nightmare Fuel: Wanna go for a swim?
- One-Scene Wonder: Susan Backlinie, in the very first scene. Still jaw droppingly terrifying decades later.
- The movie has a wealth of these, thanks to the makers practice of finding colorful-looking locals for background roles. For many of these, this was their only (uncredited) film role, making them "One Scene In Their Whole Career Wonders." Examples include Donald Poole (Harbormaster Frank Silva), Steven Potter (Pipit's owner), Wally Hooper ("That's Some Bad Hat" Harry), and Carla Hogendyk ("Artist," a.k.a. the girl who shouts "Shark!" when it goes into the pond).
- Ms. Kitner when she slaps Chief Brody. Technically she was also on the beach when her son dies, but her confrontation with Brody is unforgettable.
- Only The Creator Does It Right: Spielberg only directed the original movie, and the sequels are generally believed to get progressively worse.
- Paranoia Fuel: You better believe it. Beach attendance noticeably dropped in 1975 because of this movie.
- Rooting for the Empire:
- Sometimes happens with the shark. Mostly due to Rule of Cool. The fact that humans annually kill many more sharks than the other way around could also have something to do with it.
- Spielberg admitted that when he read the book, he disliked the characters so much he wanted the shark to win. It's one of the reasons he applied some Adaptation Distillation.
- Serendipity Writes the Plot:
- The scenes with the shark cage and the full shark visible were actually filmed with a real great white shark, a miniature cage, and a little person diver doubling for Hooper. The shark was actually supposed to tear Hooper to pieces (per the novel), but the crew could never properly provoke the shark to do so. Finally, the shark did destroy the cage and got stuck in the rope above it — but the Hooper double wasn't in the cage at the time. Because this was the best footage they had, the filmmakers changed the script to have Hooper escape and survive.
- Quint's Indianapolis speech, generally considered the dramatic high point of the entire film, was only recorded because the crew was stuck waiting for the broken-down mechanical shark to be repaired (again), and Spielberg didn't want to waste their dwindling production-time.
- Special Effect Failure: Part of the reason the first film uses suspense and doesn't often show the shark is precisely because of this trope — Spielberg thought that the animatronic shark that they had was too unconvincing.
- That, and it kept breaking down during filming, especially when they were out on the water.
- The shark's appearance in the "you're gonna need a bigger boat" scene has not aged well since the film's release. It looks almost intolerably fake to modern audiences.
- Strawman Has a Point: The mayor isn't completely wrong that news of a shark could ruin the town — all "summer tourist" towns are extremely dependent on seasonal income. He's extremely wrong, however, in the degree to which he ignores the evidence. Also, his refusal to cut open the shark, possibly spilling the remains of it's latest victim (a young child), is completely right. Why they couldn't both agree to wait until everyone left and cut it open late at night (what Brody and Hooper do anyway) is anyone's guess.
- On the other hand he did let the killing of one shark erupt into a media frenzy and basically declare mission accomplished without making sure it was even the right shark in the first place, which is why Brody and Hooper even wanted to cut the shark open.
- Too Cool to Live: Captain Quint.
The NES video game:
- It's Short, so It Sucks : The game can be completed in under an hour, which is remarkably short by NES standards.
- The Problem with Licensed Games: The game mostly consists of swimming around harpooning innocent and harmless sea creatures. The fact that it's also based on the worst of the Jaws movies doesn't help matters.
- Ham and Cheese: Some of the skippers that have poor acting skills can fall under this.
- Opinion Myopia: The ride, while extremely beloved by fans, received merely average attendance levels from everyday guests.