Jump The Shark – Meaning and Origin


Jump the shark is an idiom that refers to the point in which a TV series is thought to have decreased in quality. This might be due to the plot taking an unexpected turn or some other aspect that the audience didn’t like.

Example: Two friends were watching their favorite sitcom together. They’ve enjoyed watching this show for years, but lately, they feel like it has gotten worse. So they started talking about at which point the show had jumped the shark.


The Origin Of “Jump The Shark”

It’s believed that the phrase jump the shark comes from the TV series Happy Days, in an episode called ‘Hollywood’ that aired on September 1977.

There’s a scene from this episode where Fonzie, a character from the show, is challenged to jump over a shark that has been confined in the waters near the beach. Fonzie is hesitant to take on the challenge at first, but due to the peer pressure from the crowd, he ends up accepting.

Now out on the water, Fonzie has his water skis on and he is being pulled behind a boat. As he picks up speed and makes his way to the shark’s location, observers on the beach can hardly believe what he’s about to do since it is so risky. With the ramp quickly approaching, Fonzie gets ready to literally jump over the shark, and over he goes! The people watching from the shore then start to cheer. This scene is where the phrase is thought to have originated from.

Example Sentences

  • I just got done watching a lengthy movie. While I found some parts to be entertaining, I couldn’t help but feel that it jumped the shark half-way through.

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