6 of TV’s Most Infamous ‘Jump the Shark’ Moments

It’s great when your show gets to have a long run. But when this is the case, what often happens is the show loses steam. Fans start getting bored if it feels like the show isn’t really moving along, or if it feels like it has done everything there is to be done. When it gets to this point, many shows end up “jumping the shark.”

The phrase “jump the shark” is actually from a scene in Happy Days and was coined by a web publisher named Sean J Connolly. It means a show has implemented a ludicrous storyline in a last-ditch attempt to maintain ratings, and it usually leads to the show going downhill. There is now a website that follows television shows that have jumped the shark. But what are biggest moments that have led to a television show’s downfall? Here are six infamous TV shows that had ridiculous “jumping the shark” moments. Some made desperate moves for ratings by adding children to the cast, others just completely tricked their audience with fake story lines, and some others just threw in stories that they had no way of tying up!

6. The Brady Brunch – The introduction of Cousin Oliver

The Brady Brunch
The Brady Brunch | Source: Paramount Television

The Brady Bunch‘s kids were getting older by the fifth season, so the show runners thought they needed to do something in order to liven things up. So, the show brought in little eight-year-old Cousin Oliver. His parents left him with the Brady family in order to go on an archaeological dig in South America. But the character was so annoying that people started using the term “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” to describe when television shows bring in new characters just to boost ratings. The character only stuck around for six episodes before the show was ultimately canceled.

5. The Cosby Show – The introduction of Olivia

Raven Symone
The Cosby Show | Source: Carsey-Werner Company

After five seasons, many of the Cosby children were getting older. In order to switch things up in season six, the show introduced little Olivia, who was Denise Huxtable’s stepdaughter. Denise basically drops her off at her parent’s house on her way to Singapore with her husband who is in the Navy. However, the plan backfired, and many viewers were actually turned off by the sassy young girl and the show’s ratings began tanking.

4. Dallas – Having an entire season be a dream

Dallas | Source: Lorimar Productions

Dream sequences can be an interesting way to tease an audience and give them what they want (or what they don’t want), but still have zero consequences to the show’s storyline. However, putting that on for an entire season is just ridiculous. This soap opera about a big oil family did this by having Pamela wake up from a dream for the season 10 premiere. Turns out all the things that happened in season nine didn’t actually happen. That included the death of Bobby Ewing, the show’s primary character.

3. Lost– The smoke monster

Lost | Source: ABC Studios

This show’s “jump the shark moment” is hard to pin down, because the creators of the show really tried to give so many explanations of what was going on, but would never follow through with a satisfying resolution. However, the smoke monster might have been the biggest red flag that things would not be ending well. At first, the series was going the sci-fi route with time travel and more. All of a sudden, the smoke monster gets an alter ego, takes over the island, and even transitions into the forms of the survivors. That’s a pretty big thing to dump into a show in its last season! If you’re wondering if they were able to properly wrap up the story line, the answer is “no.”

2. Roseanne – Winning the lottery

Roseanne | Source: Paramount Television

This show was about a working class family that goes through many problems, including their struggles with not having enough money. So, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the moment the sitcom started showing signs of going off the rails.  In season nine, the family won a lottery jackpot of $108 million. And things continued to go downhill after this jump. John Goodman made few appearances in the last season because he was filming The Big Lebowski, and the entire series ends in a way that leaves viewers feeling cheated.

1. Happy Days – Fonzie jumps a shark

Happy Days | Source: ABC

The moment that started it all is when the “Fonz” put on some water skis and literally jumped over a shark. The term is now used to describe any event in a show that leads to its downfall, and things certainly did change for Happy Days after this moment. Although it still had six seasons ahead of it, after this moment, there were many changes to the cast which led to a decline in the show’s appeal.

But how did this moment come to be? According to Huffington Post,  Henry Winkler was an avid water-skier and instructor. His father convinced him to tell the show about his talents and the “jump the shark” episode was born. Winkler did the entire scene himself, except for the jump because the show didn’t want to risk injuring him.

Follow Nicole on Twitter @nikkibernice

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