Five Shark-Jumping Moments, in Honor of Shark Week

Starting July 31 at 9 p.m., Discovery will kick off its annual, summertime celebration of those great and mighty predatory beasts of the deep seas, the Palins sharks! That’s right: It’s Shark Week! Hooray! Every night the network will roll out all-new shark documentaries with titles like Killer Sharks, How Sharks Hunt, Rogue Sharks, Summer of the Shark, Kitchen Sharkmares, The Sharklorette, and the rather foreboding Fox and Friends and Sharks. During the day, it’s repeats of Shark Week greatest hits from previous years. It’s a 24/7 sharkapalooza! (Note: If you don’t like sharks, you should not watch Discovery during Shark Week.)

In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite Jump-the-Shark moments from TV history. Not the gripey, “Why did Izzie and George have to hook up? They were so much better as besties!!!” moments, but the AWESOME, OVER-THE-TOP shark-jumping moments. The Jump-the-Shark moments you talk about around the watercooler the next day! (Well, not really, because no one actually stands around a watercooler talking about what they were watching the night before.) And why am I doing that? Because sharks are also awesome and totally over-the-top! And Shark Week and the phrase "jump the shark" both incorporate the word “shark,” you see! Whatever, just go with it.


The Six-Million-Dollar Man Battles Bigfoot
It takes a pretty outlandish premise to make a show about a crimefighting half-robot, half-astronaut to seem ridiculous, but a battle between Steve Austin and Bigfoot definitely managed to do so.



Tom Cruise Attacks Oprah’s Furniture
Did someone say “jumping the shark?” How about “jumping the COUCH,” which is exactly what that nut-job Tom Cruise was doing when he went on The Oprah Winfrey Show to proclaim his love for his new then-fiancee, Katie Holmes. We never quite looked at him the same way again, did we? Nope. No we did not.



Lost Goes Back to the Future
Not all shark-jumping is bad. The Season 3 finale of Lost made an entire nation collectively poop its pants, when Jack revealed what we’d been watching for two hours actually had occurred in the future. Of course, the flash-forwards would ultimately be Lost’s undoing, but in the moment, all that mattered was how bazonkers it all was.



24 Starts a Nuclear Holocaust
How do you raise the stakes on a show for whom the stakes are never less than the potential end-of-the-world? You end the world! Well, you end Valencia, California, with a suitcase nuke. Couldn’t find the footage on YouTube, but here’s the “Bomb Detonates” score and a nice slide show.



The Sopranos Signs Off with Journey and a Family Nosh
I must say, it’s pretty impressive to manage to produce six brilliant seasons, only to jump the shark in the last minutes of your series’ run. But that’s what The Sopranos did. “Don’t Stop Believin’?” Are you kidding me? How about I don’t START believin’ that they actually used that song? HAHAHA. No, but really, what happened there? You can’t just cut to black on us! No fair!


Phew. That was some pretty scary, shark-jumping stuff. Enjoy Shark Week, everyone!

Comments (47)
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After the cheap shot in this article's first sentence, I wasn't expecting much substance or insight. The rest of the piece nearly lived up to these lowered expectations.
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I get what this author is saying about jumping the shark. It's not necessarily the moment that a show should be cancelled, it's just that point of no return.
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yeah i agree that you do not have jump the shark at least not fully figured out. im going to go through the 5 listed above: 1. the title itself is absurd so i will agree with you on that one. 2. If we are gonna go with a person JTS lately i would go with Charlie Sheen, anyone else agree? #3 I'm sorry but this is the one on the list you do not have any idea what you are talking about. Lost's flashforwards did not make the show go into a downfall. if you had actually watched the show you would have realized that there was no more backstory for the characters left to tell. and for seasons 4 5 and 6 the ratings were stronger than ever. @buildam2005, i did no any yelling as you put it, i calmly stated my opinion that anybody can agree or disagree with #4. here is the thing about 24, first season 5 is my second favorite of the eight seasons, the first being S2. the whole rest of S5 was fantastic. S5 was the bravest season of them all. It killed off main characters, Jack was not always to save innocents from being killed, that was to be expected. But never before did he fail so tremendously. to top it all off the reveal of who was behind it all. Ok S6 is when I htought it downhill or JTS, however S7 bounced back big time, and then S8 went downhill again, but at least we have the movie to look forward to. And last but not least #5 I agree a show cannot jump the shark when it ends! It would have made more sense if you had said that the last season was the JTS moment not the end of the series. That final season made me upset for about 2 minutes before I figured they went for the "So what do you think happens next?" ending. I have seen some other shows doing that lately if anybody has heard of the BRITISH show Skins not the terrible US remake, they will know what I am talking about. and for the record I am American. So im sorry there Seth but really try to actually do some actual research on what you write because it seems like you picked this one out of your A$$.
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Bad article for shame tv.com this is why people don't take the site seriously. Tom Cruise can't jump the shark of himself even if he could that meltdown on Oprah was awesome. Lost did exactly what it was supposed to do and it's wrong to judge what came afterwards on the brilliant season finale. The Sopranos uh yeah like the writers said they left the fate of the family to our imaginations. Like previous posters said tv.com writers need to get a clue.
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I think you should brush up on your TV jargon. With the exception of Austin vs. Bigfoot, these moments are definitely not jump-the-shark. Check the posts below. I can see there are plenty of people that seem to actually know the meaning.
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this whole 'article' is crap. 'jumping the shark' has NOTHING to do with what was written. Jumping the shark refers to when an established show does something ridicules like when Fonzie jumped the shark tank (hence the term 'jumping the shark') do your research and then write a more concise article
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cut off the rest of my post...

The flash forward sequence in lost was a plot device and their ratings were strong at the time. Tom Cruise did not conspire with the writers to boost Oprah's ratings. As if she ever needed it.



I will not pretend to have more schooling than you. I have only a BA in this field and have roughly ten years of industry experience. I have read books on this topic and wrote a couple of essays. In my school we weren't given the luxury of wikipedia, because we were only allowed to use published sources. I only know what I have learned and experienced. I cannot say that I know more than, but I am quite sure that you incorrectly used the term "jump the shark".
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Will have to agree with the comment below. Only the first scene with the 6 million dollar man could be considered a "jump the shark" moment. I read somewhere on this forum:

Jumping the shark is an idiom, first employed to describe a moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery.

This was taken from wikipedia, but the following part was omitted. It states:



In its initial usage, it referred to the point in a television program's history where it has "outlived its freshness" where viewers feel "the writers have run out of ideas" and that "the series has [lost] what made it attractive. These changes were often the result of efforts to revive interest in a show whose audience had begun to decline.



None of the other shows had lost their audience or were considered stale by any means. The writers were not running out of ideas... The final scene of the Sopranos was not intended to bring in a new audience. The flash forw
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Happy Days was on its way out when Ron Howard left the show, it was never as good after he left. I guess the jumping the shark episode put the final nail in the coffin because it was so corny, which was opposite of something the Fonz would do. I remember watching that episode as a kid, and I don't think I watched another episode after that.
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ron howard left after the shark episode buckohhh!!!..so no final nail in coffin if howard is still on the show
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You know, I was going to post that Ritchie DID leave before the shark episode, but before I place my foot in my mouth, I went an looked it up an you are indeed right. My question is this. Why is "jumping the shark" considered to mean the end of a show or beginning of it's downfall. After the actual shark episode, Happy Days aired for another 6 seasons. That was a long damn fall!!!
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Neat idea. I liked the episode were the Fonz jumped over the shark. It was silly, but that was part of Happy Days' charm.
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You really didn't get what jumping the shark was about, heh Seth? -_-
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Jumping the shark is an idiom, first employed to describe a moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery.

The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment in its evolution when a brand, design, or creative effort moves beyond the essential qualities that initially defined its success, beyond relevance or recovery.

That *** is straight off Wikipedia, so you know it's right. And after reading the aforementioned definition, I think Seth completely understands what "Jumping the Shark" means.
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No he doesn't since with the exception of Austin vs Bigfoot none of the other shows suffered in quality or went outside of their core essence after the mentioned moments.
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Yeah, it's a very obscure term that only the most "inside" people understand. I bet you understand it though!
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What an insider! Look at you, rubbin' elbows with the television elite! Are you gonna start using words like "skein" and "sked" like the big boys do at Variety? You cool cat, you.
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Seth, you insult anyone that has ever tried to obtain a degree in film. Please go back to school..... and listen to your professors.



I am guessing you are pretty young based off the fact that you are over confident about something so wrong. Please do more research before posting in the future.
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See this is why I hate the term "jump the shark" people try to find any reason to say a show has done just that, yet this article proves people have no clue when to use that term.
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The Sopranos ending was brilliant, and post flash-forwards Lost went into it's best season (s4) imo.
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I don't get where are the "Jump the shark" in those 5 examples...
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On Happy Days, it was the episode when the Fonz on a pair of skis and his famous leather jacket (yeah WTF?) "jumped the shark" that many people feel was the breaking point for the show which ultimately led to its demise.



Since then the phrase "Jumping the shark" is referred to as when a show get's to the tipping point and heads downhill from that moment on.



Now reread the post with that in mind and it'll make a lot more sense to you.
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Thank you for teaching me but I know what Jumping the Shark means, it was just a sarcasm to tell that these 5 examples don't apply to that term to me.
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Actually, I think the point where Dallas jumped-the-shark was the shooting of J.R. The show never got as much attention after that.
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Actually, the jump the shark moment for "Dallas," was Bobby's death was all a dream, which meant Season 9 never occured.
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Wasn't that the ending of the series??? I think the show just started to fall apart on its own and didn't have a "jump the shark" moment. JR getting shot was a much publicized moment that was well received. The show was also known for making huge season finale cliffhangers.
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The top 3:

1 Fonzie jumps the shark.

2. Bobby Ewing's death was a dream by Pam

3. The last season of Roseanne
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Last season of Roseanne is a great example. Every episode had another "life changing" event.
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Surely the honour for the greatest Jumping the Shark HAS to go to Dallas..........Bobby Ewing is seen run over and killed but at the end of the season he calmly walks out of the shower and it turns out wife Pam had been dreaming..........A WHOLE SEASON of dreaming!!!! Honourable mention also to Supernatural which had an episode entitled Jumping the Shark that was funny and sad and jumped one way and then jumped back again.
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Was Frank Nitti run over by a subway car in an episode of The Untouchables and then brought back to life in later episodes without explanation? Another shark-jumping moment: Scully professing her love for Mulder to Skinner on The X-Files.
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The author writes for TV.com and doesn't know the meaning of "jumping the shark"? A series finale can't be the part where they jumped the shark because nothing is after it. Also I'd like to know why Heroes isn't on the list. They jumped the shark around the time with the second eclipse and everyone somehow lost their ability without really any answer to that.
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Geez, Seth, we get it. You're liberal. Why jack up articles that have nothing to do with politics by adding obnoxious political references? That said, the Tom Cruise one was good. I've never thought of people jumping the shark before. I'm gonna have make a list of people I used to know and when they jumped the shark for me. Good times.
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Yeah, and it didn't even make much sense. Much like this truly terrible article.
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Wait, so if you're Conservative you have to love Sarah Palin and Fox News? Then you guys are pretty much screwed, sorry.
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You don't have to love Sarah Palin or Fox News if you're a conservative, but your cheap shot was basically juvenile. Sarah Palin had nothing to do with this story.
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Nice! John Stewart would be proud.
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Nice nominations.
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season finale of Chuck was pretty shark jumping wasn't it? unless i'm not grasping the full meaning of the phrase.. Chuck getting intersect out and then Morgan putting on the intersect glasses even though it clearly had a thing saying FOR CHUCK (or whatever the exact words are) beside it and then Morgan getting the intersect.. makes me not even want to watch season 5
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Oh yeah. That ingenious plot twist in terms of sheer stupidity and the consequent nauseated feeling of unmitigated apathy, is right up there with the Fonz's historic jump.
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I don't think you understand the phrase "Jumped the Shark."
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nope, he didn't quite get the concept right...
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Nope, I got it just fine.
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No, you didn't
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Agreed, but to be fair Seth never knows what he's talking about.
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Yeah, he kind of did. Now let's keep this diagonal response line going.
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Uh oh, you made a jab at LOST. Let the freakazoid fans start yelling at you in 3...2...1...
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Ha!!
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