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The novel:

The film:

  • 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 nearly as well-known.
    • The novel was a colossal bestseller. The hardback was on the New York Times bestseller list for 44 weeks, peaking at #2, and the paperback saw 5.5 million sales in the USA alone by the time the movie version opened in June 1975. Worldwide sales of the novel are estimated to be around 20 million to date.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: The film 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's 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:
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    • 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?
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  • 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. (only Open Water and The Shallows have somewhat broken through)
      • Hell, many consider it the best "man vs beast" movie ever.
  • 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 a 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.
    • As if what happened to poor Pippet wasn't bad enough. . .
    • The film features Brody's young son being endangered while his father is at work. Skip several decades later, and Richard Dreyfuss' own son was preyed upon by his father's boss for the play "Complicit"... Kevin Spacey.
    • In 2010, when the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik experienced killer shark attacks, it pretty much used the plot of Jaws as its guide, including denying the problem, resisting closing the beaches, reluctantly closing them after a near-shore attack, killing the wrong shark and declaring it the right one despite clear evidence to the contrary, re-opening the beaches with a fanfare declaring them safe, then having more attacks take place. After that, the shark simply left of its own accord, perhaps because it was Genre Savvy enough to know what came next in film.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the proposed introductory scenes for Quint had him laughing out loud at Moby-Dick, displeasing everyone else. The remake of Cape Fear actually featured such a scene.
  • 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."
    • "Smile, you son of a bitch!"
    • And, of course, see Awesome Music above.
    • The image of a shark's head rising from the depths has been reused many a time, notably in The Road to El Dorado.
  • Narm: Yes, even a timeless classic like Jaws has Narm-tastic moments.
    • When Mrs. Kintner confronts Brody and calls him out on allowing people to go to the beach despite knowing of a shark in the water, her tears are remarkably unconvincing. Her delivery of the line "My boy is dead; I wanted you to know that" has induced chuckles in more than a few moviegoers.
    • SHUH-SHARK!! THUR'S A SHARK!! SHARK IN THE POND!! SHARK IN THE ESTUARY!! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!! Etc, etc.
  • 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.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: In 2015, horror author Joe Hill propagated a theory that one of the extras in the July 4th scene might be the Lady of the Dunes, a notorious unidentified murder victim from the area at the time of filming, due to her resemblance to an artist's rendering and wearing a similar-looking bandana. Several others have embraced the theory and hope it might lead to the case being solved, while still more dismiss it as wild speculation.
  • Paranoia Fuel: You better believe it. Beach attendance noticeably dropped in 1975 because of this movie. Some people were even afraid of swimming pools. And ever since then, promotional materials have billed it as "The film that made you afraid of the water."
  • 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.
  • Signature Scene: Four of them; the opening death scene, the Indianapolis monologue, Quint's death, and the shark's death.
  • 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.
    • The scene with Hooper in the shark cage intercuts footage of a real shark (as mentioned above) with close-ups of "Bruce." It's very easy to tell the difference.
    • When the shark jumps out of the water and on to the boat in the beginning of the scene where Quint gets devoured, you can clearly see the wire attached to the shark's fin.
    • As the shark drags the fourth victim (the man in the pond) under, its mouth is still wide open.
  • 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 its 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.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: For the film's 25th anniversary DVD release in 2000, a new 5.1 stereo sound mix was done. However, this new mix changed several sound effects from the original mono (such gunshots, and the sound of the shark bursting through the Orca's window after eating Quint), causing complaints from audio purists and original fans. Thankfully, later DVD and Blu-Ray releases added the mono option back.
  • Too Cool to Live: Captain Quint.
  • The Woobie: On a meta-level, the special effects team who built the animatronic sharks. Just how many times have they heard their creation(s) looked phony and unconvincing?
  • Woolseyism: In the Latin American Spanish dub of the first film produced by ESM, and also overlapping with Bowdlerise, the Smile, you son of a bitch was changed with the simpler but still effective line of ¡Escualo miserable! (Literally "You miserable shark!" but it also means, context-wise, as "You goddamned shark!"), the fact Brody's voice actor, Víctor Mares, says that line with a really enraged tone helps a lot. On the other hand, during the flashback scene of the fourth film, it was translated as simply ¡Sonrie, maldito! ("Smile, you bastard!" translated context-wise.)

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.

The ride:

  • 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.

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