Famous TV Shows That ‘Jumped The Shark’
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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!