Famous TV Shows That ‘Jumped The Shark’

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If you’re a fan of nostalgic television, you probably remember the Happy Days episode when Fonzie infamously “jumped the shark.” In season 5, episode 3, titled “Hollywood: Part 3,” Fonzie quite literally jumped over a shark while jet skiing. The bizarre sequence actually led to the term “jumping the shark,” when referring to a TV show that has perhaps run its course or comes up with something very odd to try to save a show that is losing its creative spark.

These gimmicks often lose fans, with some errors coming from stars leaving the show or simply bad writing. In honor of the day that Fonzie jumped over that shark in Happy Days, September 20, 1977, let’s go over some other beloved shows that unfortunately, too, jumped the shark.


DALLAS, Patrick Duffy, Victoria Principal, Barbara Bel Geddes, Larry Hagman, Charlene Titlon, Jim Davis, Linda Gray, (Season 1), 1978-1991

Everett Collection

The soap opera Dallas had one of the best, if not infuriating, cliffhangers of all time: Who shot JR? Years after the killer was revealed, the show lost some of its momentum. So much so, that the season 10 finale revealed that the entire season was all just a dream. Fans generally hate the storyline that it was all just a dream and nothing was real and this was no exception.

‘The X-Files’

THE X-FILES, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, 1993-2002

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

This long-running sci-fi series was centered around special agent duo Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). So, when Duchovny decided to step back from filming the show full-time due to a contract dispute, it kind of ruined the whole show.

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, David Boreanaz, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, 1997-2003, Season 1

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Buffy is one of those teen dramas with a sci-fi twist that just got it right. Of course, with any long-running drama, ideas can become sparse. This happened in season six when things got a little too dark for fans’ liking. The show actually had a series finale in season five but it was picked up by another network for two more seasons, which of course, makes things a bit off.


ROSEANNE, Roseanne, John Goodman, yr. 1, 1988-97

Carsey-Werner Company/Everett Collection

This one was pretty controversial. In the ninth and final season, the show has the Conner family win the lottery and their lives are forever changed. Dan ends up cheating but at the last second in the finale, it is revealed that the Conners never actually won the lottery and Dan had died, with Roseanne writing a new story to help deal with her loss. Of course, when The Conners reboot premiered, things were different, Dan was alive and Roseanne ended up dying because Roseanne Barr got fired after she made some nasty comments online.


E.R., Paul McCrane, 'Truth or Consequences', (Season 6), 1994-2009

NBC/Everett Collection

ER ran for 15 seasons and introduced some very famous faces including George Clooney. However, in season nine, things took a turn for the wacky when Dr. Robert “Rocket” Romano gets in a helicopter accident and receives a robotic arm. The very next season, he is killed in another helicopter accident. It was just… too much.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’

ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, THE, Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, 1960-1968

Everett Collection

One of the quintessential shows of the ’60s, The Andy Griffith Show suffered after Don Knotts, who played Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife, left the show at the end of the fifth season. The show struggled to bounce back after his loss.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’

BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, Irene Ryan, Max Baer, Duke, Donna Douglas, Buddy Ebsen, 1962-71

Everett Collection

The Beverly Hillbillies lost the core of its charm in the eighth season when the Clampetts moved to New York City and built a log cabin in Central Park. I mean, the title mentions that they live in Beverly Hills after all.

‘The Brady Bunch’

BRADY BUNCH, Robbie Rist as Cousin Oliver, 'Two Petes In a Pod', (Season 5, aired 02/08/74), 1969-74

Everett Collection

Like most shows, as the series goes on it can be hard to capture the magic of the first few successful seasons. In the show’s final season, they introduced Cousin Oliver, who was a bit of a Dennis the Menace character and proved pretty annoying.

‘Diff’rent Strokes’

DIFF'RENT STROKES, Dana Plato, Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, Gary Coleman, 1978-1986

Everett Collection

Diff’rent Strokes jumped the shark in season six when it introduced Sam, the young son of Maggie, whom Mr. Drummond falls for. He becomes a central character that no one really likes.

‘I Dream of Jeannie’

I DREAM OF JEANNIE, from left: Larry Hagman, Barbara Eden, 1965-1970

Everett Collection

The show had long shared that Jeannie would lose her powers if she got married. Well, she tied the knot to Maj. Anthony Nelson during season five anyway and fans were not pleased.

‘Laverne & Shirley’

LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall, 1976-1983

Everett Collection

The Happy Days spin-off had its own jumping-the-shark moment when they moved to California in the sixth season and the show officially failed in the eyes of fans when Cindy Williams (Shirley) left the show a few seasons later. I mean, what’s Laverne without Shirley?


MOONLIGHTING, Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Season 2, Episode 201, September 24, 1985

ABC/Everett Collection

At times, the will-they-won’t-they storyline keeps fans hooked. Look at Jim and Pam in The Office. Many fans actually hate the seasons after they are happily married despite a satisfying wedding episode because the storyline got stale. A similar thing happened in Moonlighting when the main characters, played by Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, finally hooked up and the storyline took a turn for the worse.

Any others that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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