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Film / Sharknado

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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 then become an annual event, roughly corresponding with the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, for an additional four sequels.

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. The series concluded on August 19, 2018, with The Last Sharknado: It's About Time.

An Endless Running Game for iOS called Sharknado: The Video Game was released in 2014.

The film crossed over into Riverdale with the 2015 comic, Archie vs. Sharknado that takes place at the same time as the Sharknado 3: Oh, Hell No!.

Tropes associated with the Sharknado films as a whole:

  • 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!
    • The main threat a person would face from a shark in a hurricane would be the possibility of getting hit by half a ton of fish traveling at over a hundred miles an hour - which is no more or less dangerous than any other half-ton piece of debris flying around in the hurricane.
  • As Himself: Al Roker of the Today show appears in this capacity in every film except the first.
  • 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."
    • Nova takes it up to eleven between films one and three, chasing sharknados in an armed and armored mobile laboratory and founding a global all-female cult, the Sharknado Sisterhood, to guard against and find the means to stop them.
  • Death by Cameo: A lot of celebrities have jumped on the franchise bandwagon by lining up to become shark chow.
  • Denser and Wackier: The first film seemed to be set in a somewhat realistic world. The sequels establish that the franchise is not in a realistic world, as they get increasingly cartoonish and over the top. The plots of the sequels involve a shark god, a character being turned into a cyborg by her mad scientist father, sharks in space, and flaming, electrified, and nuclear sharknados.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Apparently, it's perfectly safe even to enter the funnel cloud, provided you happen to be a Threatening Shark.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Gee, I wonder what the movie is about?
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: The first two films and the fourth all feature streets flooded by the sharknado disasters, making it all too easy for sharks to attack people even after they land. Also, making it all too easy for Stock Footage of actual floods to be passed off as part of the story.
  • 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.
  • Screaming Woman: April started out as mostly this, but evolved into more of a Screaming Warrior as of the second film. Either way, Tara Reid's yelling is very distinctive. And distinctively grating. Which is the point, probably.
  • Serial Escalation: The more movies get made, the more over-the-top and nonsensical they get.
  • Stylistic Suck: The cast and crew outright admit that the premise is silly and impossible to take 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.
    • The tie-in book How To Survive A Sharknado goes even farther, rating sharknadoes as merely one of dozens of kinds of monster-related weather phenomena or other natural catastrophes ... most of them from The Asylum's other B-movies.

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 when needed.
  • Artistic License – Biology: A few sharks land in a swimming pool. The chlorine can't exactly be good for them.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The German dub of a radio transmission early in the movie mentions that the Sharknado will desert "the entire state of Los Angeles".
  • 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". Just for Pun.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Pretty much any time the sharks take out a human, and most times when it's the other way around.
  • 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 is swallowed by a shark. She gets better.
  • 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, and seems to take itself at least half-seriously. 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. Partly helped by the ammunition he kept in there.
  • Excuse Plot: What, exactly, was Fin's original intention when he found Matt and Claudia?note 
  • The Ex's New Jerkass: Fin Shepard's ex April has a new boyfriend named Collin whose first line of dialogue establishes him as a complete Jerkass with nothing but contempt for Ian.
    Collin (in the smarmiest voice imaginable): Oh, Shepard. I should've figured it was you.
  • 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. No one cares. His sacrifice didn't amount to much, though, as Bobby gets killed not long afterwards in a Jaws Shout-Out. And then a shark falls on his body.
  • 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 were more useful than Claudia ever was during the whole movie.
    • April, too, had virtually nothing to contribute to the group, apart from whining, for the entire film.
  • 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. She's introduced wearing a bikini and is only slightly more modestly dressed throughout the rest of the film. Later films have her clad in tight leather.
  • 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 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," Fin and Baz take out a shark by tossing a propane cylinder in its mouth and shooting it early in the shark attack on the pier, and Bobby dies the same way as Quint does minus a machete to stab the shark with.
    • 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.
  • 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. Until the 6th movie.
  • 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.