Happy Days Writer Defends Jumped the Shark Episode

Posted on September 7, 2010

The phrase "jump the shark" has come to mean the point in time when a show has started moving towards its inevitable demise. Jon Hein started the jumptheshark.com website, which kicked off the phrase that has become part of popular culture. That website is now a section on tvguide.com. The phrase "jumped the shark" comes from the Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumped a shark (video) on water skis.

The L.A. Times has an interesting article here written by Fred Fox Jr., the writer of the shark jumping Happy Days episode. Fox argues that the episode with Fonzie jumping the shark was not the beginning of the end for Happy Days. The show stayed on the air for six more seasons after the Fonx jumped the shark.

All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not "Happy Days'" time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?
Fox has a great point, but it is too late to remove the phrase from popular culture. Fox recognizes this. He writes, "Now that so much time has passed, it's clear that 'jump the shark' is no mere fad. It has become a part of the American lexicon."

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