“Jumping the Shark” is the moment when something peaks and begins its downward slide into obscurity. The phrase refers to a scene in Happy Days in which Fonzie, dressed in his trademark leather jacket jumped over a shark while water skiing. This moment is when many believe the show had peaked and its days were numbered.
Happy Days continued for nearly five years after the now infamous ‘jump’, with a number of changes in cast and situations. However, it is commonly believed that the show, out of ideas and even trapped in its own success (largely due to the disproportionate popularity of the “Fonzie” character and the show’s (executives’) intense desire to continue “milking” that), began a downhill slide, becoming a caricature of itself often filled with little more than its popular catch phrases and character mannerisms. Now, usage of the term “jumped the shark” has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment in its evolution when a brand, design, or creative effort moves beyond the essential qualities that initially defined its success, beyond relevance or recovery.