It’s Classic Clip Friday: Happy Days – Fonzie Jumps The Shark

This week’s classic clip honours a truly iconic TV moment that introduced a new phrase to the English language.

Most people know that when a TV show is said to have “Jumped The Shark“, it means it is on a downward spiral and has had to resort to ridiculously far-fetched, convoluted plotlines to boost ratings.

And it is also common knowledge that the phrase was derived from an episode of 50s-set sitcom Happy Days, in which Fonzie (Henry Winkler) did indeed jump over a shark on water skis (while wearing his trademark leather jacket, of course).

What’s perhaps less well-known is that the Happy Days episode that spawned the term aired at the beginning of the show’s fifth season, in 1977. Happy Days went on rack up 11 seasons (255 episodes) and of the later ones, only the 11th recorded a noticeable slide in ratings. So, ironically, it’s unfair to think of the shark-jumping episode as being the beginning of the end of the show.

However, the association will always be there – and in a little tip of the hat to his place in TV history, when Winkler was guest-starring in the excellent Arrested Development, the producers included a scene where his character, Barry Zuckercorn, jumps over a dead shark lying on a pier.

So anyway, here are the pertinent parts of the Happy Days shark-jumping episode, which was actually the final part of a three-episode story arc in which the characters left their usual Milwaukee stomping ground behind for a trip to Hollywood.

Oh, and talking of Happy Days, don’t forget to check out Weezer’s Happy Days-inspired music video for Buddy Holly, directed by Spike Jonze.


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