Idiom: to jump the shark

When a tv series ‘jumps the shark’ it means that the story arc reaches its peak, the storyline becomes ridiculous and the show loses credibility. The phrase comes from the television series Happy Days when Fonzie jumped over a shark while waterskiing, still wearing his leather jacket.

Reasons for jumping the shark can be:

  • when the ‘will they won’t they’ couple gets together (Niles and Daphne in Frazier)
  • Change of hairstyle (Felicity in Felicity)
  • Death of a character (Bobby Ewing on Dallas. Though he came back)
  • Death of a star (8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter)
  • A star leaves (Michael J Fox on Spin City)

In my opinion, shows like Supernatural, NCIS, and CSI (in its various iterations) never jumped the shark. But many series have to resort to increasingly far-fetched plot-lines as they rack up the episodes and seasons. McLeod’s daughters was a beloved series of mine in its early days, but it ended up in completely ridiculous territory when various characters died and then came to life (usually because the actor wanted to break into film, didn’t mange, and then came back), and more and more distant relatives came out of the woodwork.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. Oh, but then there are the ones that manage to land right on top of the shark relatively early on and use it as a surf-board for the entire run of the series. They can manage to pull off this amazing stunt, usually because they have an exceptional cast of brilliant character actors who make the most unbelievable things utterly acceptable in the context of the series. I’m thinking of things like Deadwood here, and perhaps Sherlock.

  2. Pingback: Supernatural

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