jump the shark

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From "Hollywood (Part 3)", a 1977 episode of the TV series Happy Days, in which the character Fonzie jumped over a shark on waterskis, after which (supposedly) the show bore no similarity to its original form.


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jump the shark (third-person singular simple present jumps the shark, present participle jumping the shark, simple past and past participle jumped the shark)

  1. (idiomatic, of a television program or other narrative) To undergo a storyline development which heralds a fundamental and generally disappointing change in direction.
    • 2003, Jon Hein, Jump the Shark, book overview (revised edition; Plume; →ISBN, 9780452284104)
      Happy Days infamously jumped the shark when Fonzie literally jumped a shark on water skis. I Love Lucy jumped the shark when Lucy and Ricky moved to the suburbs. The Brady Bunch jumped the shark when Cousin Oliver moved in.
    • 2004, Ronn Owens, Voice of Reason: Why the Left and Right Are Wrong, John Wiley & Sons (2004), →ISBN, page 212:
      From that point on, Dallas was never the same. It hit its peak. It lost credibility. It jumped the shark.
    • 2010, Michael Hewitt, "The Watcher: Which new TV shows will take off?", Orange County Register, 16 September 2010:
      Returning show everyone will say has jumped the shark: "House."
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) To experience a decline in quality, appeal, popularity, etc.
    • 2007, Jeph Jacques, "Time To Add A Cute Kid To The Cast", Questionable Content, Number 951:
      Pintsize: Wait, don’t you want to know why I’m tied up and hanging from the ceiling?
      Faye: Not really. Nighty night!
      Pintsize: Shit! My wacky antics have jumped the shark!
    • 2008, Mark Fogarty, Went to See the Gypsy, Lulu.com (2008), →ISBN, page 150:
      The Bangles were a fine all-woman band, starting with a lovely cover of Prince's "Manic Monday." "Walk Like an Egyptian" was cute, and the ladies rocked out an unlikely cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter." But they jumped the shark with the treacly "Eternal Flame," and the end of the road was in sight.
    • 2008, Cortney Harding, "Tape echo", Billboard, 11 October 2008:
      And I knew something was up when I started getting press releases about "tape labels." Maybe vinyl had finally jumped the shark, and magnetic tape was due for a return.

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