[[caption-width-right:315:The VisualPun distinctive pattern formed by the decline in a show's quality often becomes noticeable only in hindsight.]]
The moment when an established show changes in a significant manner WereStillRelevantDammit in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it's all downhill.
Some examples of clues which may indicate that a show's made the "jump":
* A EnsembleDarkhorse popular character is PutOnABus removed from the show, or even Template:Killed off. Especially true if the method of removal is DeathIsDramatic unsatisfying or DroppedABridgeOnHim mean-spirited.
* The writers pen a SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute replacement character who ReplacementScrappy isn't as compelling as the one who left.
* A CousinOliver new character is introduced who TheScrappy earns the hatred of the fandom for whatever reason.
* In cases where RealLifeWritesThePlot, when the actor playing a character core to the show's success dies and a decision is made to TheCharacterDiedWithHim also kill off the actor's character. This will often force hasty, if not awkward changes to a program that gets, at best, lukewarm acceptance from the audience.
* TheOtherDarrin: Same Character, Different Actor.
** And sometimes, as with the SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute, Same Actor, Different Character.
* TheScrappy is given more spotlight and screentime, which sometimes RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap exonerates him through character development, but more often turns him into a CreatorsPet.
* An existing character evolves in a way that [[Flanderization flattens rather than enriches him]], or which CharacterDerailment contradicts prior depictions of the character. This can have the effect of alienating fans.
* The OfficialCouple resolves their UST too early and ShippingBedDeath shippers start to lose interest in the show.
* The show's premise is [[Template:Retool radically altered]], such as having the characters change careers or move to a new location.
* Conversely, the show (which is supposedly based on a coherent story arc rather than a series of episodic events) ArcFatigue drags on too long without any sort of progress or resolution. May be the result of too much Filler or overreliance on FailureIsTheOnlyOption. If the plot is based on a MythArc, dragging it out too long or KudzuPlot piling plot thread upon plot thread without resolution may lead to fans getting the impression that TheChrisCarterEffect the writers are just making it up as they go along and subsequently tuning out.
* The show experiences MoodWhiplash in an unbelievable manner - typically a result of ExecutiveMeddling wanting to make the show DarkerAndEdgier or LighterAndSofter. A jarring rise in the SlidingScaleOfVillainThreat, unless it is written well and\or used for comedic purposes. For example, a BigBad trying to take over the local 7-11 is usurped by one bent on destroying the galaxy.
* One of the writers WriterOnBoard puts too much of himself into the show, to its detriment. He may use it as a pulpit to AuthorTract preach his personal beliefs in a [[Template:Anvilicious heavy-handed manner]], or to display AuthorAppeal personal kinks which Template:Squick the audience out. Common results include AuthorFilibuster, drastically increased sightings of Template:Strawman Politicals, and GoingCosmic.
* A baby is CompetenceZone added to an otherwise-adult show where ill-suited addition of childish themes and CutenessProximity endless babytalk from characters who were once-intelligent speaking adults fatally alters the character dynamic.
* The plot is resolved with one too many plot twists which are ShockingSwerve inconsistent with the overall narrative, AssPull poorly executed, or are just plain stupid, turning the audience away.
* A show's CrowningMomentOfAwesome—in the sense that the show never lives up to said moment again, despite trying.
* The show starts relying too much on SpecialGuest "special guest stars" (especially if they're celebrities playing themselves) which wreck the verisimilitude of the show.
* Graphical gimmicks such as ConspicuousCG 3D are used to shore up failing character development.
* TheMovie of the series is released, after which the creativity level of the actual show starts to wane.
* A major plot point is YoYoPlotpoint apparently resolved only to be immediately unresolved—over and over again.
* The show moves the existing cast to a new setting.
* For games, a ScrappyMechanic is introduced that changes the balance that made the older games fun.
* A particular gimmick or recurring joke that becomes endearing or otherwise perceived to be core to the show's appeal is dropped, either with or without explanation.
* The show keeps saying how awesome something is, but doesn't actually let you know why. Example: The characters are promoted to a higher rank, only to get less gadgets and fight even weaker villains.
Too many shark-jumping moments in a row can spell SeasonalRot.
This expression originates from the episode of HappyDays in which Fonzie, dressed in his trademark leather jacket, literally jumps over a shark on water-skis during an episode shot on location.
Gary Marshall tirelessly reminds us that HappyDays went on for a number of years after the original shark-jump, misunderstanding a phrase that judges suckiness, not success. Henry Winkler has elsewhere commented that he's happy with the popularity of the phrase, as its usage in a magazine is often accompanied by a photo of him during a time in his life when he had great legs. The writer of Happy Days episode has also [written in the moment's defense]. (Interestingly, the majority of the examples/criteria listed above involving some sort of ongoing/permanent change to a series outnumber those related to a single moment, such as Fonzie's shark jump.)
Contrast GrowingTheBeard, WinTheCrowd. For a related phenomenon, see FranchiseOriginalSin. When it's whole networks instead of just shows, see NetworkDecay, and MagazineDecay for print magazines.
When the people start claiming something is a shark jumping moment immediately after it happens, see RuinedFOREVER.
[JumpTheShark.com] used to be run by writer Jon Hein (who now works as part of HowardStern The Howard Stern Show), who coined the term with his friends in the mid-1980's. Maintained an ongoing list of series killing moments (granted, you could vote for every cause, and shows commonly had "Day One" as an option). The website lists actor TedMcGinley as their "patron saint", for he has the most television roles in which series slowly died off after his first appearance. The longest-lasting show with Ted in a starring role was MarriedWithChildren, where he went for seven seasons after replacing David Garrison (Steve Rhoades). Ironically, the site itself jumped the shark in January 2009, when it was merged into the TV Guide website, had its content removed along with the voting system, and became a blog by writer Erin Fox ([BoneTheFish.com] is one website that bills itself as a successor to the "old" [=JumpTheShark.com=]