Felt the need to bring this up since lately I’ve noticed various people online using the phrase “jumped the shark,” yet each time in different contexts that made it next to impossible for me to infer what’s intended by that.
First I asked a friend who mentioned the Happy Days segment, which I had never seen. So then off to google I went in search of more information.
Come to find out, “jumping the shark,” according to wikipedia:
[…] is an idiom created by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality, signaled by a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in an attempt to keep viewers’ interest, which is taken as a sign of desperation, and is seen by viewers to be the point at which the show had strayed [irreparably] from its original premise. The phrase is based on a scene from a fifth-season episode of the sitcom Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis.
The usage of “jump the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, franchise or creative effort’s evolution declines.
The relevant Happy Days clip follows:
The scene is made all the lamer by Fonzie keeping his leather jacket on. ha
According to Dictionary.com:
I understand this phrase to have a wider usage nowadays, but basically it’s meant to indicate the point where something appears to be going downhill from there, particularly if resorting to gimmicky ploys to garner attention once worthwhile substance has vanished.
What “jump the shark” does NOT mean, however, is to jump to conclusions, though I have read/heard where some people used it that way, which is what originally left me confused.