Each year Discovery Channel tantalizes us with new tales and images of those often misunderstood elasmobranch fish known as sharks. Shark Week is a big deal, reeling in 21 million viewers over its seven-day stretch of programming in 2021.
Of course, you don’t have to merely rely on the Discovery Channel to get your shark fix. These sea creatures have had quite an impact on pop culture. Who goes to the beach without having the Jaws theme playing rent-free in their head for at least a few minutes? That’s right, no one.
So, without further ado, a salute to our favorite sharks from both the big and small screens.
1. Fonzie’s Shark
If you watch a lot of TV, you’re probably familiar with the term “jumping the shark.” This references the beginning of the end for a television series. The phrase came about after Happy Days, then in its fifth season, had loveable bad boy Fonzie literally jump over a shark on water skis. It was so ridiculous that it signaled perhaps it was time to retire the wholesome sitcom.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s hard to go near the ocean without considering this 1975 Steven Spielberg film. Jaws terrorized the fictional beach town of Amity, spawning three additional films: Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, and Jaws: The Revenge. Even if you haven’t seen the films, you surely know the instrumental music that plays as the big guy begins to approach a group of unsuspecting beach revelers.
3. The Shark Tank Sharks
What’s more terrifying than spotting a shark fin in the water? Being a contestant on Shark Tank trying to do mental gymnastics when a business tycoon offers you a deal. The long-running reality series offers entrepreneurs the chance to present their big ideas to mogul sharks in a “tank,” with some walking away empty-handed and others with the promise of big things to come.
4. The Meg’s Megalodon
An underwater rescue mission goes horribly wrong when a 75-foot-long megalodon shark comes out to play. Even action star Jason Statham struggles to wrangle the freakishly giant shark. The Meg became an instant cult classic and a sequel is anticipated for summer 2023.
5. Baby Shark
For parents of young children there may be no shark more haunting than Baby Shark. What began as a repetitive children’s song “Baby Shark, do do do do do do…” turned into a franchise and now the little fella even has his own show on Nick Jr. Fun fact: Baby Shark’s name is Brooklyn.
6. Finding Nemo’s Bruce
Bruce might look intimidating in this beloved Disney-Pixar movie, but all he really wants is some fish friends. Sometimes he has to remind himself. “Fish are friends, not food,” is his daily affirmation.
7. SNL’s Landshark
Saturday Night Live premiered the very same year Jaws was released, and the Not Ready For Primetime Players couldn’t resist spoofing the blockbuster film. Enter Chevy Chase as Landshark, the shark who terrorized people on, you guessed it, land. Landshark became a recurring character, appearing in a cold open, a monologue, and even Weekend Update (during which he ate Tina Fey).
8. Sharknado Sharks
Do not mess with sharks who have been swept up in a windstorm. The original made-for-TV Sharknado movie was such a hit, it led to an additional five films. And it’s sharky-ness just got bigger and more outrageous. A natural disaster involving hundreds of sharks is definitely something we would like to avoid at all costs IRL.
Before there was Baby Shark or Finding Nemo’s Bruce, there was Jabberjaw. Part of the Hanna-Barbera family of cartoons, the character knew all about being alienated just for being a shark. However, Jabberjaw still managed to become the drummer for the band The Neptunes and tackle a series of underwater problems, like escaping the devious plans set forth by the show’s villains.
If you’re ready to tune in and see some real, live the sharks in action—just say “Shark Week” into your remote and don’t miss a moment of the action during one of the summer’s biggest TV events airing July 24th to 31st.