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How Has Jump The Shark ... Jumped The Shark?

Updated on October 11, 2011

Here we see an excellent recreation of The Fonz in the act of jumping the shark! / CC BY 2.0 / CC BY 2.0

Jump The Shark has entered the popular English lexicon, and I used to think "Hey!" was cool

If you don't know what jump the shark means, you've already probably jumped the shark

I was inspired to write this article originally because I was thinking to myself about and how I believe it has jumped the shark. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past ten years you've probably heard the phrase. Originally it referred to a character named Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli also known as "The Fonz" or "Fonzie" on one of the campiest shows of all time called Happy Days. The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, was the epitome of cool on the show. He satiated (or helped to, along with the cast of Sha Na Na) the 1970's appetite for all things 1950's. Anyway the long and short of it is that after many years on the air, the writers began to struggle for interesting content. Which inevitably led to an episode with Henry Winkler jumping over an enclosed tank of sharks on water skis with a leather coat and shorty shorts on.

The now defunct (or defunked if you prefer) JumpTheShark.Com was a website created by Jon Hein of Howard Stern fame. Although he was already a VP for a prestigious New York company, he went on to sell his website for over a million dollars to the TV Guide company, ironically enough, a publication that has undoubtedly jumped the shark in it's own regard! The former website (which TV Guide apparently has watered down to a "celebrity gossip" section on their website, like we need more of that!) anyway, the former website JumpTheShark.Com used to allow users to vote for which episode of their favorite program was the episode where the series took a dive in content quality.

Weird Al & Craigslist jumped the shark together

Has Craigslist jumped the shark? Have you jumped the shark?

I like the phrase, "jump the shark" because of it's campy quality and inherent pop irony. Maybe that's why I enjoy Craigslist.Com too! You can't find a much more strange collection of lists, people and things for sale than on Craigslist.Com, I think for many people, Craigslist IS the internet! But alas! What has happened to that sweet golden goose? Have you poured through the jobs section lately? It's spammers heaven in there. Are there any real jobs to be found anymore? Or is Craigslist now the sole property of obsessed misfits with their missed connections and people offering $3 an hour to help them move refrigerators? I guess this is a rant, but positively not aimed at Craigslist.Com, I really hope that the site can rebound from the ocean of spammers and scammers that have permanently pitched tent there. I found a great gig there a few months ago, all I had to do was wade through a few hundred spam emails and voila! Real paying work! Maybe Craigslist hasn't jumped the shark, maybe I have?

Have you jumped the shark?

I sometimes wonder if maybe I have jumped the shark. According to Wikipedia, a website that dares to be gobbled up by the toothy fish of the pop culture sea itself, Jumping The Shark is:

an idiom used to describe the moment of downturn for a previously successful enterprise.

I formerly had a pretty high paying job in Chicago as a working arm of the legal system. The money got better and better, but also became more and more difficult psychologically as I knew that what I did brought some suffering to others, not to mention a fair share of threats to my well being. Still, at the time I enjoyed eating sushi once a month, went to movies pretty regularly, paid all my bills on time, put a couple bucks away. So maybe around six months ago I gave that up, moved up north, and staked a claim in my art and writing career. I'm hoping that when I moved, I didn't jump the shark. I'm hoping that as of yet, I haven't reached that Fonzie-esque level of success! Just because I've got the sideburns and know how to say, "Hey!!!" doesn't make me a caricature of myself? Or does it?

I've made mistakes in my life, but at least I've never donned water skiis, a leather jacket, and shorty shorts, then jumped over an enclosed tank of sharks. Alright, maybe metaphorically I've made the jump, but I jumped the shark my way, in regular length shorts thank you very much.

This article is dedicated to Henry Winkler, the only guy who really jumped the shark, and the only guy who will never jump the shark!


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    • catpajamas profile image

      Laurie Clark 6 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

      Nice! Makes me think you could list many many things that have jumped the shark now a days....

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks dblyn, I imagine those producers are milking what's left of the Happy Days empire for all it's worth lol, still the Fonz lives on (in a Fonz Bronz statue) in my hometown of Milwaukee. I think I remember some of those 100 episodes you speak of and the terribly contrived plots that ensued.

      Thanks for the props man.


    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      I loved this article Ben. You know what's funnier? The producers of Happy Days defended the show against the term "jumped the shark" because the show actually went on to air another 100 episodes!! But it really had jumped the shjark by then...

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      thanks geekchick I will look for the Jon Hein book sounds cool!!!

    • geekchick profile image

      geekchick 7 years ago

      I've heard of craigslist, but have never visited the site. I was a fan of and was upset when the original concept was lost. You may enjoy the book "Jump the Shark" which is a 2003 release by Jon Hein. It discusses populat TV shows and the moment they "Jumped the shark."

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I heard about von Daniken land, couldn't he have come up with a slightly more better name? Come on man! I also heard he's had a lot of credit problems over the years, but I've had a few of my own but who's to judge. I would have loved to have seen the place though too, not exactly high up on the list of vacations I can't afford though.

      Regarding the blocks, there's also an outrageous quantity of them, something over a million I think. The interior precision is extraordinaire, with minuscule vents aligned perfectly on the inside. I heard on one of the aforementioned shows that there is a hieroglyphic story of the locals using a white powder applied to the blocks that allowed them to levitate and move them with ease. Not the most convincing reference I know! But anyway I'm still fascinated by those and the South American pyramids with the curved/melted stone, and the Nazca lines near there and bigfoot, and why a clown with an Irish surname is able to sell billions billions of hamburgers worldwide, the mysteries never cease!

      Thanks for stopping in again I really do appreciate it, been burning the candle at both ends around here, time for some shut eye...

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 8 years ago

      Oh man, the most amusing tidbit from von Daniken's life must be VON DANIKEN LAND! Yes, he had a theme park based on his ideas. Now, it only lasted four years, because, uh, almost nobody wants to go to "von Daniken Land". But I would have loved to have gone there. Just to see what it could possibly be. I so long to see a rollercoaster entering a giant von Daniken mouth. But I'm guessing it's more of a Learning Center for von Daniken's theories.

      A clear case of von Daniken jumping the shark. hahaha

      The pyramids. Well, clearly a wizard did it. Nah, I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before they figure out how the Giza Pyramids were built. Or at least before they think they have it figured out. From what I understand, the real problem is explaining how they elevated the blocks up the pyramid. You're right that nobody really knows. And if they never do come up with a satisfactory explanation, that's certainly problematic, isn't it? It's like ol' Sherlock Holmes says, "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." I don't really have an opinion or theory myself. But I do know the scientific community has a lot of fall-back answers for evading conclusions they don't like.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Funny about von Daniken AW, if you look into his life he's had some, how might we say, discrediting experiences in his personal history. But, I do give his outlook some credence. The easiest example (not sure how this relates to The Fonz, haha) of course are the Pyramids at Giza. I've never once heard a reasonable explanation from the legitimate scientific community on how they were constructed. Cutting 2-80 ton stone blocks and lifting/moving them without the use of the wheel or some other advanced technology seems very far-fetched to me. It's a glaring example of science believing they can identify everything, when in fact it's very existence is still a true anomaly. What's your take Cochise?

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 8 years ago

      Hey Ben,

      I don't watch much TV at all these days, so I haven't seen the Ancient Aliens program. But I'm watching it now. On the youtubes. Isn't the internets amazing? I've never really believed von Daniken's theories, but I always found them fun. They make you think. So thanks for the recommendation. Like, totally, dude.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks AW I know what you mean about the intrusion of sensational ratings booster shows on Discovery but I'm still watching pretty regularily, seen the Ancient Aliens program yet? A lot of rehashed von Daniken there but some new things too, the manna from heaven machine was incredible, as was the epoxy-like theory for the Pyramid of Giza!

      I'm still giving Craigslist a chance, found jobs apartments and yes, even a date there a few years ago! LOL. It's just those spammers! Crimminy!

      Thanks for the accolade hombre.


    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 8 years ago

      Thanks to the Discovery channel, sharks have jumped the shark. Is it just me, or is every other week Shark Week on Discovery? There are just only so many ways of ennumerating shark teeth and sifting through shark guts before it gets kinda perverse. Sharks and slutty make-overs have destroyed the once-proud source of Erich von Daniken documentaries. I need to ditch cable.

      Anyway, I never liked craigslist. I could never find anything I wanted on there. Except for apartments. My current place of residence is a craigslist find. Sturdiest cardboard box in town. Okay, gotta go before my oatmeal boils over, if you know what I mean.

      Great hub, Ben.


    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Steve O, I hope to someday publish a few books, I have a couple in the works. I can barely imagine what it would be like to work on my art and my writing as my sole form of income, ah, someday. Yeah Craigslist did come through for me a few times, just landed another "regular" job on there plus I sold my daughters loft a few months ago and actually got a good price, so I guess it still has it's uses. Thanks for the kind words!

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Ben, you are an entertaining guy. Love your writing style and will keep pecking away on your articles. There are several times in my life that I JTS, if we could only turn back time. But you know what? It is always water under the bridge. I vote for your current status, I think it is "sweet." Never liked CL, tried to sell something there once and got 4 scam offers. LOL Write on!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Haaaas! I do appreciate it Mr. Dickison. I can't imagine what it would be like to experience the Fonz from the point of view of someone who lived it, much less jumped a shark, I'll check out yer article!

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks for this. I loved Happy Days and the Fonz and sad to say I've made mistakes in my life but would not include the fact that I have donned water skiis, worn a leather jacket, worn shorty shorts and actually jumped on top of sharks (though not at the same time). Read my hub 'Should I be here or somewhere else' for the shark story. Thank you again for your hub.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks ralwus, always an honor to be in the presence of a fellow painter poet, there's not too many of us left, we have to keep an eye out for the other! I don't think you have jumped the shark my friend, you are too sincere and humorous at the same time.

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      eeeeyyyy, JannyC did it correctly, you dint. hehe Very interesting. Yes, I have noticed all those things about C's list. It was inevitable. I probably jumped the shark long ago.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Pamela, I can vaguely remember watching the jump the shark episode years ago! I just think it's such a funny reference to an event, bellbottoms jumped the shark, 8-tracks jumped the shark, members only jackets jumped the shark, etc! Thanks for the contribution!!!!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      I use to watch Happy Days all the time and I can't remember the jump the shark episode but it must have made an impact on you. Craigslist may be old news but with the economy and jobs so scarce its hard to know. Interesting hub.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      agvulpes, if you had to jump the shark, 1960 would have been a good year for it I think. I wonder if Craigslist hasn't caught on yet down under It's a great way to buy and sell things especially, with your neighbors without having to spend anything on ads! Thanks for reading, and don't use to much water! (also just kiddin!)

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 8 years ago from Australia

      Hmmm I must have jumped the shark in about 1960. I have not heard of the term used in this way, although I love 'Happy Days' lol

      I can't even remember 'craigslist' . Who the heck is Craig and why would he want so many lists lol ( only kiddin )

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      De Greek: thanks, you flatter me, I am as they say, a Gen X'er if that places my age better for you. Plus I was raised in the Milwaukee area, where Happy Day's takes place, so it's something of an icon there, they have a life size bronze statue of The Fonz on the Milwaukee River, check it out if you're ever in Milwaukee!!!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Mike! I don't think you have jumped the shark either my friend! Your outlook on life is to fresh. Perhaps you are correct about The Fonz in his shorty shorts and leather jacket, either way, even having this dialogue is amusing to me! Haha! Write on amigo.

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 8 years ago from UK

      You don't look old enough to remember the Fonz, Ben :-))

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      This hub was an interesting hub with a very unique perspective. Y'know, from a strictly camp point of view, The Fonz wasn't jumping the shark when he jumped the shark. It was madly creative to send him out there in swimming trunks and a leather jacket, much like watching Adam West and Cesar Romero as Batman and the Joker surfing in an episode of the Batman television series.

      Craig's List? I dunno. I was never thrilled with it, but it always had potential because it was so unrestricted. I suspect it may someday morph into something a little more shark-repellent to survive, however.

      Mike here might have already jumped the shark. Did he even make it to the other side? Stay tuned...

      Thanks, Ben.

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Janny that makes me feel great. I know what you mean with some...but **looking out of the corner of my eyes...** hehe...

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 8 years ago

      I don't think you jumped the shark cause you got mad writing skills my friend. Your fresh and orginal and I do not get bored half way reading...not that I get bored halfway reading hubs no no *looks around nervously* eeeeyyyy! *thumbs up*

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Wow Tammy that kid has some heart huh! I like when you see such a little spirit with such a big soulful voice! I hope you get to show your son some of the earlier Happy Days, before the Fonz wore shorty shorts and jumped sharks on water skis lol!

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      I never missed an episode of Happy Days...I still love the Fonze...and I intend to introduce my son to him tonight. He will definitely get a kick out of that. I think it is great that you have followed your heart...I always believe if you love something it will show in your efforts while you are doing it. Here is a video of a poor Filipino kid who had done can see how much passion he has.

      Sorry long winded. I think you have passion and it shows in your stories. Keep up the great work.!v=XolUTyFUIyA

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks for the comments everyone, looks like this article is not going to jump the shark easily.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Happy Days was a great hit in England and I thoroughly enjoyed it Thank you for a great hub full of warnings.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 8 years ago from Virginia

      I used to watch Happy Days alllll the time but I missed that episode therefore missed out on the phrase and meaning of jumped the shark! Thanks for an enlightening read, Ben! Very interesting and well done!!!

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 8 years ago from United States

      great hub

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks GL you melt my cold heart. I was just hired to write a Press Release, look out Fonzarelli!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Ben, your writing style is so delightful, your content so original you'll never JTS in my book. Write-on brother :)

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Ghost: I've gotten a few things from Craigslist too, and I agree with your wholly about those trying to gather information. That's great that you found a piece about you on missed connections! You must be a looker! I never thought about the potency of that section in a rural community where everybody knows everybody else! Thanks for the comment!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      suziecat, thank you for your kind words. I heard about it years ago, when a fellow camper and I brought it up around the campfire! His wife laughed, she said here he just learned English and he already knew what jump the shark meant!

    • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

      The IGNITER vs Corrupted Governments 8 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

      I have gotten a few jobs from craigs list--but most are scammers-and people looking for your information and photograph! I have bought a few pieces of furniture-but never helped anyone move a fridge ;)

      When I am really, really bored I will read missed connections-and once found one for me in there when I lived in Montana-my name and place I worked!! YIKES!

      Ben, so glad you havn't worn shorty-shorts yet..whew!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Love this. I actually never heard the term "jump the shark" before. I agree Craig's List does have its share of spammers though I still check it out everyday. Great Hub, as usual.


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