Jump The Shark – Meaning and Origin


When the quality of a TV series is thought to be past its peak. Or it’s not as great as it once was. This typically happens due to something absurd being introduced to the plot of the show.

Example: Two friends were watching a sitcom together and it’s one they’ve enjoyed for years. However, lately they’ve felt that the show has gotten worse, maybe even a little ridiculous. They later discussed at what point they felt that the sitcom jumped the shark.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:

The Origin Of “Jump The Shark”

The phrase ‘jump the shark’ is said to come from the American TV series Happy Days, specifically in an episode called ‘Hollywood’ that aired on September 1977.

There’s a scene from this episode where a character known as Fonzie is challenged to jump over a shark that’s been confined in the waters near the beach. Fonzie is hesitant to take on the challenge at first, but is quickly peer pressured by those around him to accept.

Now out on the water, Fonzie has his water skis on and is being pulled behind a boat. He’s picking up speed, making his way to the shark’s location. Observers can hardly believe that he’s accepted to do something so risky. Approaching the ramp, Fonzie gets ready to literally jump over the shark. He does so, and the people watching from the shore start to cheer.

Today this phrase is applied to TV shows, movies, video games, among other things.

Example Sentences

  1. I recently completed a video game that was very lengthy. While I thought some parts of it were entertaining, I couldn’t help but feel that it jumped the shark around the halfway point.

Note: The origins for many phrases and idioms cannot be said with a certainty. In cases like this, what’s provided are theories that may be plausible to how a phrase originated, but not necessarily so. In addition, quotes that contain a particular phrase oftentimes are taken from old newspapers, poems, or books. The purpose of these quotes is to give you an idea for how old a phrase is.

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