Jumping the Shark is the moment when an established Long Runner series changes in a significant manner, ranging from a new gimmick to a full Retool. This can be the result of circumstance, though it's more often an attempt to overcome flagging ratings and/or attract new viewers. Unfortunately, it doesn't work; looking back, viewers realize that the change actually caused or hastened the show's demise.
The expression comes from an episode of the TV series Happy Days in which Fonzie, dressed in his trademark leather jacket, literally jumps over a shark while on waterskis — a sharp break from the show's basic focus on "everyday American life in the 1950s." In hindsight, that was the moment where Fonzie started getting more focus, being Flanderized in the process into a superhuman, impossibly 'cool' dude. In short order, he took over the entire show. Even those who liked Fonzie — and most did — had to admit that Happy Days wasn't better with him as the main lead. It wasn't even in line with Fonzie's own character development: in a landmark earlier episode, he seriously injured himself while jumping his motorcycle for a televised stunt, admitting afterward that he was stupid to be so reckless. When he jumped over a shark, Fonzie seemingly forgot that important lesson, and it was the first sign that Happy Days was going to abandon its premise in an effort to stay fresh.
"Jumping the shark" has since entered common parlance to refer to the moment when a serialized work or body of work goes into unrecoverable decline. The term was originally coined in the mid-1980s by writer Jon Hein. Notably, it was only after Happy Days ended that anyone realised what the turning point had been; it's difficult to spot a work jumping the shark in real time. The term "jumping the shark" is also rather nebulous because it can either mean the point at which the show started sliding (as with Happy Days) or the point just before the show's final collapse. Complicating matters is the term "nuking the fridge", named after an infamous scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which basically means "jumping the shark but for a film franchise"; it seems to be the same frustration and disappointment as experienced by a new generation.note
Jumping the shark can happen at any time in an established work's run. While it's often used in reference to the show's last gasp, a drastic change to stay on the air which doesn't work, some shows drag on for years after the turning point: Happy Days went on for seven more seasons after Fonzie's shark-jumping stunt, with other changes in cast and situations; it was just really boring. It's also possible for a show to jump several sharks during its twilight years, leading to what we call Seasonal Rot.
How to spot a shark jump
It's difficult to define a shark jump, especially given how commonly the term is used for complaining about plot twists you don't like. But there are a lot of telltale signs, and if you see them, the show had better have some really good writers to make it seem like a worthwhile decision.
- A popular character is removed from the show or even killed off. The idea is to extract cheap Emotional Torque by making everyone sad that such a great character has left. It happens often enough that it can lead to The Firefly Effect on a character level — viewers don't want to get emotionally invested in characters they like in case they get written out later. It's especially likely to alienate the audience if the method of removal seems unsatisfying or mean-spirited. It most often happens with quiet, introverted, or relatively passive characters (usually The Heart), which just makes it even meaner.
- A character becomes a gimmick. This can happen to an existing Ensemble Dark Horse like Fonzie, or it can be a new character (or not) who is introduced for this reason. The problem with gimmicky characters is that they demand a lot of attention, usually at the expense of existing character dynamics. It's especially problematic if the new character replaces a previous one — and, going back to the above point, if they're replacing a relatively passive character. The new character is usually The Cast Showoff and often Hotter and Sexier.
- An actor leaves and a character needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, even if it's not the show's fault (e.g. when the actor dies), it's very difficult to pull off and keep the audience engaged. You basically have three options: kill off the character (which forces a significant retool if this character was instrumental to the show's success), go with The Other Darrin (same character, different actor), or go with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute (different actor, different character, same archetype).
- A child character is added to a cast of adults. It rarely works, because audiences can see through a cheap attempt at adding "cuteness". A particularly cruel version is where the cast's existing child characters are sidelined for the (younger and cuter) new kid.
- And the presence of Ted McGinley. Okay, that's not exactly fair, but Jon Hein noted his tendency to play characters like this and called him the "patron saint of shark-jumping" — his appearance in a series spelled its doom. These days, he sometimes appears alongside invocations of the shark jump as a kind of Lampshade Hanging.
- A generally-disliked character is given more focus and screentime, which sometimes exonerates him through character development, but more often turns him into a Creator's Pet. Even when the viewers like the character (e.g. the Ensemble Dark Horse), making them more prominent because the fans demand it rarely turns out well for that character or for the show.
- An existing character evolves in a way that flattens rather than enriches them, or which contradicts prior depictions of said character. This can streamline a character in an appealing way, but more often it offends and alienates the fans.
- The Official Couple resolves their Unresolved Sexual Tension too soon and the shippers lose their emotional investment in the show.
- The writers, trying to avoid the above, look for ways to delay the couple's hook-up. If not handled deftly, this annoys the shippers and replaces the romantic tension with frustration or disinterest.
- The protagonist degenerates into an Invincible Hero — or worse, a Failure Hero. There's just no tension anymore, as it's been pushed aside in favour of gawking at a character.
- A character forgets a valuable lesson they had learned in the past, usually resulting in them having to learn the same lesson over and over again until the audience loses patience with them.
- The show's premise is radically altered, such as having the cast change careers or move to a new location.
- Conversely, a show which is based on a coherent story arc fails to make changes that would resolve -- or even progress -- the story. This can happen from over-reliance on Filler, the Reset Button, or Failure Is the Only Option. If the plot is based on a Myth Arc, dragging it out too long or piling plot thread upon plot thread without resolution may lead to fans getting the impression that the writers are just making it up as they go along and subsequently tuning out.
- The show experiences Mood Whiplash and becomes unbelievable and unrelatable. This often happens when Executive Meddling demands that the show become Darker and Edgier or Lighter and Softer. Abrupt changes to the Sliding Scale of Villain Threat also alienate the fanbase — you can't just go from trying to save the beloved corner shop to trying to save the entire galaxy.
- One of the writers puts too much of themselves into the show. They may use it as a vehicle to preach their personal beliefs in a heavy-handed manner, or to indulge personal kinks which the audience does not share. This usually leads to Author Filibusters, Straw Characters, Issue Drift, and Going Cosmic.
- A baby is added to an otherwise-adult cast, resulting in the ill-suited addition of childish themes and endless baby talk from characters who were once intelligent adults.
- The plot is resolved — but with twists or retcons which are inconsistent with the overall narrative, the resolution is poorly set up, or the ending is just plain stupid.
- The show reaches its Moment of Awesome and has nowhere to go but down. This can also apply when a soon-to-be-canceled show delivers its Grand Finale and then is Un-Canceled.
- A major plot point is resolved and then unresolved over and over again. It's particularly acute when the Official Couple (or Beta Couple) is constantly breaking up and getting back together, to the point where it aggravates not only the audience but the other characters.
- Obvious lack of investment in the production. This can be an overreliance on the show's formula, an abundance of Bottle Episodes, Recycled Scripts, and blatant Series Continuity Errors. Alternatively, the show goes off the rails and starts getting really weird and off-beat, especially after it's exhausted the formula (like how Happy Days introduced aliens). Either way, it breaks the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
- Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Too much Angst (or worse, Wangst), makes the audience lose sympathy for the characters and tune out.
- A Romance Arc takes over a series that wasn't about relationships, becoming a Romantic Plot Tumor.
- The Franchise Original Sin becomes too obvious to ignore.
- The writer starts resurrecting dead characters, cloning characters, exploring Alternate Universes, retconning past plot points (possibly via All Just a Dream), adding Time Travel to the story, etc. See Opening a Can of Clones for a detailed explanation.
- The tone becomes Denser and Wackier, which can be especially glaring if the show started with a serious tone.
- The show starts relying too much on "special guest stars", especially celebrities playing themselves, which wreck the verisimilitude of the show. An episode might even turn into a Non-Actor Vehicle.
- Graphical gimmicks such as 3D are used to shore up failing character development. In video games, this can be a Scrappy Mechanic. In animated series, this can be an Art Shift that tries to be "cutting-edge" but usually goes the opposite direction.
- The Movie is released, and the show's creativity level starts to drop. One doesn't necessarily cause the other, but smart executives usually time the release of the film at the peak of the show's popularity, so it's all downhill from there.
- A gimmick is dropped — if it existed since the beginning and was endearing or otherwise core to the show's appeal.
- The show starts to tell instead of show — for example, characters get promoted to a higher rank to give the illusion of progress, but we don't see any reason why they should be promoted.
- A Musical Episode or a Clip Show.
- The show tries too hard to stay "current", even when it doesn't make any sense, or when the writers are obviously two decades behind the times.
- The show tries to appeal to a more "mainstream" audience, only to lose its focus and alienate its original fans.
- Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator. This usually involves the introduction of lowbrow humor, Slapstick, extra Fanservice, or other forms of turd-polishing. It's most acute with Talk Shows, which might start off as intelligent and erudite but devolve into the daytime ratings king: the Point-and-Laugh Show.
- Too many sequels or spin-offs, each one less creative than the last.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians. It's remarkably easy for a show to generate cheap hype by teasing the possibility of an LGBT pairing. The executives seem to think that LGBT persons will watch anything that portrays one of them, regardless of quality, out of desperation for positive representation on television. They also think that men will watch anything with lesbians. They milk the relationship for "progressive" hype. And then, to keep the audience that wouldn't like to see that kind of thing, they reveal that they're just friends, roommates, cousins, whatever.
- The show changes location. This is often unavoidable for Long-Runners, as early seasons are shot somewhere random because they offer tax incentives, but as the show gets bigger and the actors want more opportunities, they inevitably have to move to Southern California. This often comes with a related gimmick, if the change can't be easily masked and the setting moves with the production.
- Non-American productions going for Hollywood. This means that whatever charm they may have had is surgically removed to appeal to the American audience, which is not known for being particularly clever. Oddly, the only reason the show's producers even think to do this is because of a Periphery Demographic in America, who presumably appreciates the show for what it is, quirky foreignness and all.
- Similarly, American productions being tweaked to appeal to China. The Chinese market is a gigantic money maker for movies, but what China will allow to be shown in their cinema is very strict. This can cause script rewrites that vastly change what the movie could have been, superfluous scenes and pointless extra characters to be used in Chinese marketing, and can even cause controversy that brings the whole movie down if the things done to appeal to China are offensive to Western audiences. It's made worse by how overt this can be, as the Chinese government only allows 34 international movie releases per year and has full control over release dates, advertising, and how many screenings it can get — since competition is fierce studios are often willing to pander to desperate levels to get their movie past the bar.
- One of the cast members gets into an embarrassing real-life scandal. This makes the show less interesting than the scandal. If the accusation is really serious (e.g. racism, Domestic Abuse, sexual assault), no one will want anything to do with the show until that cast member is erased from the show entirely — which can't always be done cleanly.
- Change of timeslot. This is especially true if the show winds up on the other side of the Watershed and now has to worry about censorship (or lack thereof, if it's been moved to Otaku O'Clock). A Channel Hop can also cause a serious shift, especially if the new network has a smaller audience, or if it doesn't fit the new network's genre (leading to Network Decay). A move to the Friday Night Death Slot is almost certainly the show's death knell.
- The original creator is no longer in charge anymore. They may have left to work on other projects, they may have been fired or Kicked Upstairs, they may have died, or they may have just stopped caring. Whatever the case, the creator can no longer micromanage his creation, and whoever is newly in charge will be keen to remake the show in their own vision. This, of course, presumes that the creator hasn't tried to sabotage it before leaving.
- A main cast member becomes a producer. This allows them to think of the show as "their show" and take total control of it. Their co-stars are often resentful of this, and it shows on screen.
- A real-life Hollywood couple is cast as the lead couple and puts too much of themselves into the characters they play.
- An important role is given to a relative or significant other of some key player behind the scenes, regardless of that person's competence or fitness for the role.
- The departure of the last remaining original cast member. While cast members leaving and being replaced often leads to a shark-jumping, this can be avoided if it's the right kind of show. But when this particular cast member leaves, there's no denying it's the End of an Era.
- The show gives in to outside pressure to change the material, either to make it Darker and Edgier (because people want to be fans of a "deep" show) or to tone it down at the behest of the Moral Guardians, whose demands tend to be even less reasonable (and aren't even based on research).
- Governmental institutions sign in laws that outright ban the use of well-liked or even defining elements of the show (if the work isn't banned outright). It also happens to foreign works that try to appeal to audience living under said governments.
- The show becomes too successful and can now sell by itself, which can lead to a collapse in motivation or effort from the creators, or the creators getting Protection from Editors and ignoring advice on improving the show from outside.
- The show has multiple creators with different creative visions, who start fighting over whose canon is better while forgetting to make stories worth watching.
- A Promoted Fanboy gains control and the show becomes susceptible to personal over-indulgences in Mythology Gags, Internal Homages, Shout Outs, Actor Allusions, Fan Wank, and other love letters to the show.
- A writer's strike hits. Replacement writers are by definition scabs and can rarely come up with something that can measure up to the regulars' work. This also leads to things like excessive Bottle Episodes in a desperate attempt to wait out the strike.
- Technology Marches On in a way that fundamentally changes production while a show tries to continue in the new format as though nothing ever happened. A generation of TV shows had their best years in black and white, switched to color, and often continued right up to The Rural Purge, but the most memorable and best-received era is the black-and-white era.
Contrast Growing the Beard, when a show gets better over time (though they may sometimes overlap. See below.). For a related phenomenon, see Franchise Original Sin. When it's whole networks instead of just shows, see Network Decay; for print magazines, see Magazine Decay. When a work gets its act together and regains its fandom even after such an event, see Win Back the Crowd and Sophomore Slump.
When the people start claiming something's a shark-jumping moment immediately after it happens, see Ruined FOREVER.
Has nothing to do with the Discovery Channel's Shark Week Air Jaws specials, or tales of people actually riding them.
No Real Life Examples, Please! This is one of the most subjective articles on the site, and it's likely to start arguments. In any event, almost any show that's at least three seasons long will have enough variations in quality that you can point to some moment as "jumping the shark". This page only lists overt references to the term or lampshades of the phenomenon. Most will not be kind.
In-Universe Examples Only (which allows references to the term):
- Knights of the Dinner Table #151 is titled "Jump the Shark". It features Gary Jackson coming Back from the Dead. It's actually one of several suggestions floated by the writers in the joke section on the back page for how the comic could jump the shark — several issues previously. And apparently, the writers were planning to do this even before that list, making this a case of Self-Deprecation.
- Ultimate Spider-Man issue 67 is titled "Jump the Shark", as it's the second half of the Body Swap storyline between Spidey and Wolverine, a two-part Breather Episode following the very bleak Carnage story. To boot, both issues opened with a mini-comic of Brian Michael Bendis apologizing to the reader and engaging in a lot of Self-Deprecation.
Bendis: Even I couldn't milk three issues out of this...
- In Spider-Verse, Miles Morales believes his life has reached this moment as he's being chased by the police while riding in a sentient Spider-Mobile. Animated Ultimate Peter suggests it was earlier, back in the cowboy Spider-Man's world.
- A particularly oddball issue of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye features a bar named "The Jumping Shark" as a Funny Background Event.
- Upon discovering Stupid Jetpack Hitler, The Atom Ryan Choi declares reality itself has reached this point.
"Well. Jetpack Hitler. Reality has finally jumped the shark."
- In Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami, this is referenced and lampshaded during a boat chase:
"They did a bunch of jumps over a wall and a cruise boat but missed some sharks and didn't jump them (ITS AN INTERNET THINGY)."
- In Jake English's Mysterious Theater of Scientific Romance from the Year 3000, season 3 ends with everyone gathering around to watch Cronus jump a shark. He fails.
- In the short House fanfic titled, well, "Shark", House wakes up in bed with Cameron, Cuddy, and Wilson. They quickly realize that they've fulfilled just about every shipping combination, and start to worry if they still have an audience.
"Maybe we can string this out...but let's face facts. We've not only jumped, but boned the shark."
- In Despicable Me 2, El Macho is said to have ended his life "riding a shark with 250 pounds of dynamite strapped to his chest into the mouth of an active volcano". The death was faked, but his career as a bombastic super-villain arguably went downhill from then on.
- In Sharknado 2: The Second One, Fin runs across the backs of several sharks to reach his friends. Martin jokes, "Talk about jumping the shark!"
- The creation of Indominus rex in Jurassic World is fueled by the executive's desire to attract new visitors, and counteract the Park's lower entry rate. This is lampshaded by one park-goer:
"Jurassic Park didn't need Indominus rex!"
- The Fate of the Furious: Vin Diesel's character jumping a car over an Akulanote -class submarine in a self-deprecating Easter Egg.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales a zombified shark leaps over a boat trying to devour two characters.
- Referenced near the end of Game Night. After the protagonists have spent most of the night dealing with a murder mystery game being hijacked by a real kidnapping, it turns out that was just another ruse set up by Max and Annie's neighbour. When another set of criminals shows up, Max assumes it's a last-ditch twist and declares that the whole thing's jumped the shark. Unfortunately, these bad guys are very real.
- Where Are They Now Mysteries: Discussed by name in the first book, which focuses on Tilda Harper searching for an actress from the long-ended sitcom Kissing Cousins (about a trio of "normal" siblings and their cousins, a trio of equally "weird" siblings, coming to live with their grandfather and getting into typical sitcom shenanigans), and includes episode summaries, excerpts from interviews with cast and crew, and other reviews of the show. It's noted in narration that another set of cousins (seven-year-old twins, one "normal" and one "weird") were added to try and counter falling ratings in the last season, but it failed miserably; fans considered their arrival to be when the show jumped the shark. (The actresses themselves don't seem to realize how disliked they were.)
- In the Arrested Development episode "Motherboy XXX", Barry Zuckercorn — played by Henry Winkler, Fonzie himself — visits Buster on a dock, where his hand has been eaten by a seal. On his way to make a Product Placement for Burger King, he is forced to physically jump over the shark.
- In the self-referential 200th episode of Stargate SG-1, Marty responds to the suggestion of doing the Wormhole X-Treme! movie with Thunderbirds-style puppets by sarcastically suggesting that they have Puppet O'Neill jump over a puppet shark on a scale motorcycle.
- 30 Rock: in the episode "The One With the Cast of Night Court", Jenna Maroney is blamed by Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles Robinson for making Night Court "jump the shark" for her three-part episode as werewolf lawyer Sparky Monroe.
Harry: You made us jump the shark! You're the reason we didn't have a tenth season!
Markie: I had just bought my second home when they brought that idiot werewolf lawyer in!
Jenna: (insulted) Uh, that "idiot werewolf" paid for my hand reduction surgery, okay?
- The fifth-season premiere of Reno 911!, entitled "Jumping the Shark", featured Lt. Dangle attempting to jump over a normal fish tank containing a small shark. Naturally, he doesn't quite make it over, and Hilarity Ensues. Incidentally, it was the first new episode to be aired after the release of The Movie.
- An episode of That '70s Show has Fez, imagining how cool it would be to be Fonzie, having a daydream of himself performing the original jump. Hyde comments that this was the worst moment in television history, and Fez confesses that he stopped watching the show after that. It's interesting, because this is more of a modern perspective rather than one commonly held at the time it aired... like pretty much everything on That '70s Show.
- In the last episode of Boston Legal after Alan accepts Denny's proposal of marriage, Denny says, "It'll be great! Like jumping a shark!"
- An episode named "Jumping the Shark" features a kid believed to be the third Winchester brother. It includes a poster advertising "Fonzarelli's Water Skiing Event", and the diner where they meet the kid is called "Cousin Oliver's". In the end, he really is their brother but is already dead, and he stays dead.
- Referenced again at the end of the episode "The Real Ghostbusters":
Chuck: It's not jumping the shark if you never come down.
- One episode of House has House, bored out of his skull during clinic duty, constructing a racetrack from medical tape, tongue depressors, and cards. At the end of the track is a ramp, and under the ramp is a shark. Cuddy catches the car in midair before it reaches the shark. Whew...
- An episode in The X-Files titled "Jump the Shark" sees the Lone Gunmen — the quirky trio of conspiracy theorists that had lasted the show's entire run and gotten their own failed spinoff — thwarting a terrorist's plot to use a neurotoxin made from sharks (somehow). Unfortunately, they died in the process.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has an episode about making and taking dares that incorporates one character jumping a bicycle over a tank with a shark in it.
- In the (somewhat rushed) finale of Pushing Daisies, the Victim of the Week is killed by accidentally leaping into the mouth of a shark.
- Web Soup host Chris Hardwick used this phrase when a video in their "Things You Can't Un-See" segment was legitimately disgusting and nauseating. (It was a gaping foot wound crawling with live maggots.)
- Community Season Finale: Troy wants to move in with Abed, but Genre Savvy Abed says their friendship would jump the shark if they did. Troy responds that when Fonzie literally jumped the shark, it was the best episode ever.
- Attack of the Show! did a parody of Discovery Channel's Shark Week with their own "Jump the Shark Week", where each day they would jump the shark in classic fashion. Methods included being attacked by a cougar à la 24, having a Dallas-style murder mystery, having a Cousin Oliver show up, and having an Evil Twin à la Knight Rider.
- Wipeout couldn't resist mentioning the trope; an episode featured an elimination game called "Jump the Shark", where players had to, well, jump over a spinning shark.
- In the Angel episode "Smile Time", the owner of the eponymous puppet show makes a deal with demons to keep his show on the air when it starts losing ratings. Unfortunately, he neglected to Read the Fine Print. While the term "jump the shark" is never actually used, Gunn's research reveals that the demons have tried this before:
Gunn: You see the last few seasons of Happy Days?
- The episode "Two and a Half Deaths" features a scene where Brass mentions the term "jumping the shark" to Grissom. Unfamiliar with what this means, Grissom asks and Brass is about to explain what it means when a scream switches the focus onto something else.
- In the show's final episode, Grissom is clearly aware of it, as he holds up two severed shark fins to a bunch of cops and says, "Looks like someone jumped a shark."
- In the last series of Made in Canada, the trope is discussed by the main characters in the episode "Beaver Creek Jumps the Shark", both regarding their own lives and the Show Within a Show Beaver Creek. They differ on when exactly the series jumped the shark, but several of the usual candidates are mentioned — a Cousin Oliver (actually named Oliver), supernatural elements, Shipping Bed Death, a Musical Episode, a live episode, a Real Time episode, and a guest appearance by Ted McGinley. As for their lives, they all seem to have begun their downward slides courtesy of some moment involving their Pointy-Haired Boss Alan Roy.
- Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps once had lead character Johnny attempt (off-screen) to exactly emulate Fonzie's stunt. Given that he died in the attempt and it was a live episode, the producers were no doubt lampshading these facts. At one point Janet even does a Fonzie impression. The title of this "very special episode" is "When Johnny Met Sharky".
- The penultimate episode of The Colbert Report literally did it in the opening credits.
- In the season four premiere of Wizards of Waverly Place, Alex lies to the reporters that Lady Gaga was going to jump over a shark tank while riding on a motorcycle.
- The Grand Tour episode "A Massive Hunt" has Richard and Jeremy discuss how swimming is forbidden in Réunion because of shark attacks:
Richard: It's only shallow. If a shark comes, we can jump it.Jeremy: I think we did that in 2013.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Couch Potato" contains the line:
And King of Queens jumped the shark the first minute
I can't believe Richard Simmons ain't in it!
- Fun. has an unreleased song called "Jumping the Shark" that applies the concept to Nate Ruess' own life.
- Lampshaded by JBL and Michael Cole on the 9/27/13 edition of WWE SmackDown, when Jinder Mahal and The Great Khali use flutes to charm Santino Marella's Cobra in the middle of a match with Heath Slater.
- Lampshaded again by Edge during an episode of The Cutting Edge in 2010, in the midst of his feud with the Anonymous RAW General Manager. As he put it, they went from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin stunning Vince McMahon to Edge arguing with a computer. This eventually led to Edge going on a crusade against everything stupid in the WWE.
- Maid RPG specifically lampshades this for one of its example games, which due to player twinkery went completely and irretrievably Off the Rails (which, of course, never happens in real sessions). After Yugami, Kamiya, and Hizumi manage to derail the game into something resembling Fist of the North Star:
Hizumi: See this? This is a shark. And here I am jumping over it. I'm jumping over a shark here. Shark? Jumping. Over.
- Kingdom of Loathing:
- A certain item, equipped in the torso slot, drops from a shark. As usual, the item description contains several "examples of what plot elements may cause or be symptomatic of jumping the shark."
Still, you can wear it around your adorable new baby cousin, or to the wedding that dissipates all the interesting romantic tension in your life. Or you can put it on the new person cast to play your best friend, or wear it to your new job in another part of the city, or during the Old West flashback episode of your life.note
- One of the skills in the Avatar of Sneaky Pete special challenge path is "Jump the Shark", which gives you extra experience points but causes Sneaky Pete's "studio audience" to hate him (which can actually be useful to some of his skills).
- A certain item, equipped in the torso slot, drops from a shark. As usual, the item description contains several "examples of what plot elements may cause or be symptomatic of jumping the shark."
- In Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, one of the missions involves feeding imbecilic oil rig worker Mega's pet shark, Fonzie. That involves jumping over him on your board for some reason. Keep in mind that Mega's the kind of guy to name a shark Fonzie unironically, completely unaware of it meaning anything deeper than "That guy on that show I watched when I was like five. He was cool. Ayyyyy!"
- In Hallrunner, a game on the Videlectrix website (hosted by the creators of Homestar Runner), the object of the game is to make your way through various obstacles while running down a never-ending hallway. Upon coming to each obstacle, the player has the option of talking to it, fighting it, or jumping it. If the player chooses "jump" when the obstacle is a shark, he gets the response "You jump the shark. Just like homestarrunner.com."
- In Skate 3, the player attempts to jump over a statue of a shark in the opening cinematic. He fails, which is a setup for you to use plastic surgery to create your character. You can jump it in the actual game.
- Jumpman Zero has a level called "Jump the Shark", which is basically a big underwater room with a shark in it.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has a trophy titled "Jumping the Shark", which you can get for destroying ten Hammerhead enemies in the game.
- World of Warcraft has a daily quest in Krasarang Wilds called "Jumping the Shark", in which your character, with his or her bare hands, jumps on a shark and beats the daylights out of it. This is far from the most outlandish thing most characters have done by this point.
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon features a scene where Rex launches a car over a shark... well, a Sharktopus, to be more exact. HUD even describes the objective as simply "Jump the Shark".
- In Saints Row IV, the final mission is called "Punch the Shark", even though no actual sharks are involved. "Jumping" it just doesn't quite cut it anymore.
- BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend has Ragna say that Valkenhayn is jumping the shark when he prepares for his Uber-Verboten Attack in his joke end.
- As a self-deprecating joke, a TV show literally called "Jump The Shark" figures into the plot of the Deadpool video game. Apparently, it consists entirely of Fonzie-expy contestants jumping over a shark tank with a motorbike.
- In the intro for Mega Man's Christmas Carol 3, Proto Man has gotten fed up with Christmases that go sour and the doctors acting bizarrely, with this game's Paper-Thin Disguise scenario leading him to outright call it shark-jumping territory. Seeing as this game was released after a lengthy delay, it's definitely intentional.
- The Trope Namer is explicitly referenced in the sequel to the Dumb Ways to Die video game, where one minigame has a character dressed like Fonzie jumping over several sharks on waterskis. Succeeding makes him grin and give a thumbs-up with a Laugh Track in the background.
- Fate/Grand Order: During a boss battle against Caren C. Hortensia, Caren keeps transforming into more powerful forms, but her final form is a baby complete with Baby Talk. Cu Chulainn complains about how stupid this is and asks if they just jumped the shark.
- Lampshade Hanging on it in this strip of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures.
- In Bitmap World, the phrase is used to indicate its very silly and literal meaning. The creators insist that this does not mean their relatively new strip (at the time of publication) is headed in that direction.
- In Bruno the Bandit, the protagonist literally has to jump a shark, to be more successful getting readers.
- In Calamities of Nature, a direct reference to Happy Days is made when jumping the shark.
- Schlock Mercenary uses a gag about a shark tank and a motorcycle ramp as a promise that even though the strip's invoking Time Travel as a Reset Button, it's just this once and that's not what it's going to be all about from now on.
- The 542nd strip of The Order of the Stick is named "In Azure City, Shark Jumps You!", which is also an actual description of the strip's contents.
- Melonpool, after a decade of time-travel history-changing shenanigans, had gotten so convoluted that the author decided on a massive retcon, whose fuzzy science rationale actually had the acronym Jump the S.H.A.R.K..
- Irregular Webcomic! addressed Jumping the Shark (both literally and figuratively) in an arc starting here.
- Clip-art web comic Partially Clips lampshades its own potential shark-jumping here.
- A Freefall strip features a shark tank, but warns people away from jumping over it.
- In Absurd Notions, several years in, the characters buy an aquarium and get a pet Bala shark. They decide that, given that they introduced the shark as a new character to breathe new life into their boring lives, the only honest name to give the shark was "Jump".
- This and the Cousin Oliver trope gets referenced in this Something*Positive strip where the writers for Monette's show discuss future plots.
- Gordito in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja literally jumped over a winged, flying shark. The alt-text defended the move with "Look, it was the only way he could dodge it". Of course, by Dr. McNinja standards this isn't that unusual an event.
- Heywood in Mynarski Forest replicated the Fonz's jump, in the strip's background, in mocking recognition that the comic had just had two stories in a row turn out to be All Just a Dream.
- xkcd has this comic's Alt Text:
Alt-text: Dinosaurs totally jumped the ichthyosaur when they got rid of the brontosaurus.
- Bob the Angry Flower ramps a shark on a motorcycle. Into space.
- In Unwinder's Tall Comics, Unwinder laments the decline of his former favorite webcomic:
Unwinder: Nutflix? Oh goll, Mildred, that comic basically jumped the whale shark. THE LARGEST SHARK ON EARTH.
- Inverted, but taken literally in Sandra and Woo.
- In the end-of-chapter commentary strips by two minor characters of Errant Story, one of them carries a pair of water skis and announces she'll try to jump a great white, prompting the other to note that the writer just did that. The immediate followup was an amusing subversion, too.
- Commissioned officially announced it jumped the zombie on November 18th, 2009.
- Mentioned by name in Questionable Content, when Faye finally stops being even the least bit curious about Pintsize's antics.
- PvP combined it with Breaking the Fourth Wall in this strip and also used it here.
- Bug Martini: Signs Your Life has Jumped the Shark.
- Ansem Retort had this to say, after Jesus turned Marluxia into a gay dragon:
- Robbie and Bobby makes a reference in a short storyline where Robbie and Stephen Hawking switch brains.
- Persona 3 FTW had a comic where the leads lament having to switch to the summer uniforms, followed by Fonzie jumping the shark. JC confirmed that he doesn't like the summer uniforms. Still doesn't.
- The Zero Punctuation review for LEGO Indiana Jones was the first to feature a new opening video and hardcore metal theme song, as opposed to the (copyrighted) music of previous shorts. In his sign-off bit of snark, Yahtzee predicts oodles of e-mails predicting this as "his shark-jumping moment".
- Episode 15 of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series had this exchange at the end:
Joey: Man, that duel was really boring. It was like waiting for LittleKuriboh to make a new video.
Tristan: Let's complain about it!
Cue Looney Tunes end-of-show fanfare and the credits-snark going, "i think i just jumped the shark..."
- As the entire thing is a Shout-Out to Happy Days, this Oxhorn WoW Machinima has a character literally jump a shark... and shoot it in the same motion.
- The Nostalgia Critic refers to it on occasion:
- In the Rocky IV review, a completely ridiculous robot that drives in is introduced as the Shark-Jumper 5000. It appears again in the introduction of Game Boy in the commentary for the Captain N: The Game Master review.
- Mentioned twice in the Independence Day review, although he didn't think the movie was good in the first place, so he was likely confusing the term for something else.
- Mentioned with a whole rant about how much the shark is abused in the review of The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia when the Rock Biter rides a bike singing "Born to be Wild". Although since he made it clear the series went downhill with the second movie, this again was misusing the term. Then again, there is no accurate fan speak term for that moment popular enough for him to rant that way about it, so it slides by with Rule of Funny.
- Shark Jumping is dedicated to reviewing TV shows (such as How I Met Your Mother, Glee, or The Fairly OddParents!) and occasionally even movies, trying to pinpoint the exact moment they jumped the shark.
- In one episode of Bonus Stage, Joel exclaims, "Come quick! We're about to travel over Shark World! I don't know why we haven't done this already." In another episode, Joel states that there are "some sharks [he] refuses to jump".
- The title card at the end of the first episode of Madd Man reads, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Jumped the Shark on the First Episode".
- Two Best Friends Play: After making two episodes independently, they were picked up by the Machinima Youtube channel. They referenced this "selling out" in their next video, Donkey Kong Country Returns, by having Kong physically jump over a shark enemy.
Matt: Jump the shark! Jump the shark!
Pat: I don't wanna jump the shark! ...Aw, we jumped it.
- This post in the fan-made Just a Useless Bunny Touhou Ask Blog parodies the common changes done by Executive Meddling that often lead to this, complete with a final panel of Reisen water skiing over a shark.
- From RedLetterMedia:
Mr. Plinkett: I don't jump sharks, I fuck them for breakfast.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged's "Episode of Bardock", it takes Bardock a long time to realise that he's gone into the past, and once he does:
Bardock: Of all the stupid! (headdesks the ground) Asinine! (punches the ground) Shark-jumping bullshit! (headdesks again, goes Super Saiyan)
- Parodied in one of the Next Time On Bear Shark segments in which the shark jumps a pen full of Fonzies while on water skis. The sequence doesn't actually appear in the next episode at all.
- The sketch "Jump the Shark": A new Spin-Off, Tony Hawk appears as a guest star, two characters get engaged, they move to a new building, Amir gets replaced, and Jeff gives birth to a baby Supreme Court justice. Finally, the whole cast gets replaced at the very end with a younger cast.
- In DEATH BATTLE!, when Wiz describes the Flightpack from Robocop 3 as part of their analysis on "Robocop vs Terminator", he mentions that it "helps (Robocop) jump sharks".
- Rooster Teeth has a T-shirt that has the phrase "YOLO" jumping a tub with a shark on it.
- Red vs. Blue, has a PSA on how to prolong a Long Runner series (the show had passed 17 seasons by then) where Sarge decides to do "a dangerous stunt, where one of us has to jump over a tank of dangerous marine life", with Simmons pointing out they're not going to jump the shark, literally or figuratively.
- The Game Theory episode "Why I Gave the Pope Undertale" starts off with MatPat saying that despite the backlash the episode "The Truth about Sans" got, he still liked it, prompting this exchange:
The Pope: That's the one where Game Theory jumped the shark.
MatPat: No it isn't! (Beat) No it isn't!
- Apparently, jumping the shark is one of the most important duties for employees of the Shark Punching Center.
- Becomes a Visual Pun in the 100th episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Vinyl Scratch and Octavia Melody are riding on a giant DJ platform on wheels to make it to Matilda's wedding in time. As they fly down the road, the station jumps over a plush shark doll for a split second.
- In the 101 Dalmatian Street episode "Dal-Martians", Dolly is telling a Story about how she, Dylan, and Dawkins were able to launch a UFO-shaped parade float in to the canal. When the float launches up a ramp, it shows them flying over a shark.
- In the Sealab 2021 episode "Sharko's Machine", Sharko, a Cousin Oliver parody who is Marco's half-shark illegitimate son, is seen jumping over several Fonzies during an absurd Hard-Work Montage.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
- In "Sweet Stench of Success", Bloo becomes an advertising icon who gets his own sitcom spinoff. The preview after the very first episode is, "Tune in next week when Deo jumps a shark!"
- In the final episode, "Goodbye to Bloo", Bloo thinks Mac is moving away forever and tries to come up with something big they can do for their last day together. After Mac shoots down several of his suggestions as things they have already done before (all of them references to the plots of previous episodes), Bloo decides that the only thing left to do is to Jump the Shark. Unable to find a shark in time, he settles for walking over a fishbowl containing a fish with a paper fin.
- Kim Possible: The title character addresses her thoughts on jumping the shark, by hanging up on Ron when he brings it up. It's in reference to them finally becoming the Official Couple, which they may be aware could end the show. This Fanfiction takes the idea a bit further, parodying Happy Days and then revealing it was All Just a Dream.
- One episode of Squidbillies shows Rusty watching a TV show in which a mailman delivers mail very dramatically. Early comments that it had jumped the shark already.
- In an episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? where the gang goes to the set of an action film, the director ends up modifying the script to have Scooby and Shaggy launch on a motorcycle over a tank of sharks. Velma remarks, "Never thought I'd see Scooby-Doo jump the shark."
- One "Previously On" for a two-part episode of South Park had scenes of Fonzie about to jump a shark cut in. Then when he makes the jump, he gets eaten, seeming to say "Not yet, viewers".
- In My Life as a Teenage Robots episode "In-Des-Tuck-Able", Tuck is performing a series of dangerous stunts, including riding a motorcycle over a Shark Pool. Brad provides the lampshading:
Brad: Once you jump the shark, the show is over.
- This is referenced in an episode of The Amazing World of Gumball. In "The Test", where the universe becomes a sitcom starring Tobias, the show reaches critical mass with lazy cliches, until it ends on an All Just a Dream twist. It turns out that Tobias had gotten injured jumping a shark. The sitcom is ended for real when Tobias is liberated of his face by Gumball's repressed venom.
- The Simpsons is a Long Runner with some serious self-awarenes:
- One episode shows the characters running out of plots because they're either doing things that they've already done (e.g. Bart buys a race horse but Lisa had already done that) or noticing things they should already know (e.g. Marge's gambling problem). Then comes an improbable twist where the horse jockeys turn out to be elves in disguise, complete with schlocky musical number. Comic Book Guy throws a lampshade on it by wearing a "Worst Episode Ever" shirt.
- One Couch Gag has the family jump a shark to land on the couch, only for Homer to lose both legs.
- One of the Clip Show episodes features a song lampshading both clip shows and the sort of absurd plots that normally constitute a shark jump, complete with a still image of Homer on waterskis. It's also a meta reference to Matt Groening's claim that you'll know The Simpsons has jumped the shark when they introduce something like the Great Gazoo.
Troy McClure: That's it for our spinoff showcase. But what about the show that started it all? How do you keep The Simpsons fresh and funny after eight long years? Well, here's what's on tap for season nine: Magic powers! Wedding after wedding after wedding. And did someone say "long-lost triplets"? So join America's favorite TV family, and a tiny green space alien named Ozmodiar that only Homer can see, on FOX this fall. It'll be out of this world! Right, Ozmodiar?
Ozmodiar: Damn straight, Troy my man!
- "They'll Never Stop 'The Simpsons'" (which was part of a Clip Show) features an image of Homer jumping over a shark (about 28 seconds in), just before launching into a series of stupid ideas that the show could pursue in the future. Two of them (Marge as a robot, and Abe marrying Selma and not Patty) actually happened in later seasons.
- During the Teen Titans (2003) episode where the Titans chase Control Freak into TV land, Robin finds himself on some kind of action challenge show being forced by a suspiciously familiar-looking host with a funny accent to waterski off a ramp, at which point a shark leaps out of the water underneath him.
- In The Replacements, Dick Daring jumps the shark twice in the second episode of the first season, with a Fonz lookalike appearing both times.
- The Fairly Oddparents:
- A Cut Song from The Movie, "Channel Chasers", had Timmy jumping a shark with a guy who looked a lot like the Fonz.
- The episode that introduces Wanda's twin sister Blonda has a side plot consisting of Timmy doing various "EXTREEEME!!" stunts. The very first stunt was him rocketskating over a shark tank.
- Fanboy and Chum Chum referenced jumping the shark during the episode "Total Recall": One of the shows they liked had the title character, an octopus spy named Agent 8 jump a shark. They found the show got better after.
- Dante and Randal in the Clerks: The Animated Series reminisce about the iconic scene from Happy Days, except in their recollection, the shark came back and ate Samuel L. Jackson.
- In The Venture Bros., the Monarch references this trope regarding henchmen:
Monarch: You say "jump", they say "what shark?".
- The series finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is all about this trope. Bat-Mite, tired of the show's Lighter and Softer nature, conspires to get it cancelled in the hopes that it'll be replaced by a Darker and Edgier Batman show. He does this by using his Reality Warper powers to inflict several classic shark jumps on the show, including giving Batman a love interest and sickeningly cute daughter, inserting obvious toy tie-ins, changing Aquaman's voice actor (to Ted McGinley, no less), giving Ace the Bat-Hound a very familiar nephew, moving the show to Malibu, and finally making Batman use guns. Ambush Bug (voiced by Henry Winkler himself) tries to save the day by telling Batman that they're in a TV show and if they don't get back to normal fast, declining viewership will destroy their world. They're too late to save the show, but at least they manage to salvage its dignity. As for Bat-Mite, not only does he not get what he wanted (the replacement is a CG-animated show about Batgirl), but Ambush Bug points out that since he's part of Brave and the Bold, the cancellation affects him too, and a silly character like him would never be included in a Darker and Edgier Batman show. Bat-Mite vanishes into thin air, while the other characters have a party and Batman thanks his viewers for their support.
- Big City Greens: The episode "Animation Abomination" has this occur in-universe with Cricket's version of the ending to the season finale of Kingdom of Lore, where the heroine suddenly turns evil and makes everything explode, thus foregoing all previously established storylines and suddenly changing the status quo without warning.
- Team Umizoomi has an unusual variation where a shark jumps with the Team.
- Mentioned in the Regular Show episode "The Heart of a Stuntman".
- The Transformers: Rescue Bots episode "Movers and Shakers" features Blades, while dealing with the rogue robot that was the episode's problem, jumping over a statue of a shark and even saying the Fonz's catchphrase.
- Parodied in an episode of Jellystone!, where a now-fearless Yakky Doodle has constructed an insanely dangerous skateboarding course; one of the obstacles is a "shark tank", which is really just Jabberjaw in a kiddie pool (Jabberjaw claims she was told there would be "hot guys").