Characters Jumping the Shark before the show does.

I was talking to some pals today and I realized that Ross from Friends jumped the shark long before the show did. By my estimation, Friends jumped the shark when the Joey/Rachel plotline began. I’m sure others will say much earlier.

But the character Ross jumped it MUCH sooner. I think it was when he said the wrong name at his wedding to Emily. Before that, he was a brainy scientist who was the voice of reason in the group. After that, he seemed to devolve into a raging goofball that even Kramer would think was weird.

Any other characters who stand out in your mind that started out as solid characters but jumped the shark while the show remained solid?

Becky on Roseanne. Her character started going downhill when she married Mark, and especially when Sarah Chalke took over when Laci went off school. It seemed that Becky did nothing but whine about how Mark wasn’t sensitive to her or to women’s issues or whatever. Then again, the show was becoming a more Darlene-centric show anyway so maybe the writers didn’t care enough about Becky as they did Darlene, David, and DJ. The show jumped the shark when Dan had his heart attack.

I nominate Radar O’Reilly from “MASH.” When the show started he was the brains behind the scenes who actually ran the outfit. Then he devolved into a cutesy, naive savant. I mean, he grew up on a farm and yet later episodes showed him getting upset about a lamb being butchered for food. A sheltered suburban kid might blanch at an animal being butchered but no farm kid I know is anywhere near that squeamish. Farm kids are tough. Radar O’Reilly was great the first year but his character went downhill fast.

The phrase “Jumping the Shark”…

has Jumped the Shark.

That joke has jumped the shark.

Well, for what it’s worth, I think Radar got so upset about innocent animals being killed, because he had serious issues with all the death and injury he dealt with on a human level day to day. Being a farm kid doesn’t necessarily prepare you to deal with the horrors of being in a MASH unit in the middle of the Korean War, watching your people die gruesome deaths and being maimed in battle, not to mention trying to save lives in that atmosphere. That is, allowing him to have his pets gave him his coping mechanism to deal with his daily duties working in a grim zone where people he knew risked death every day.

My point being, I think Radar’s “issues” were intended to progress in that manner. He didn’t just get wierd for no reason.

How did I know this thread was about Ross before opening it? That premiere was painful…thankfully I watched it on tape and was able to FF through all the Ross speaking parts.

Deborah jumped the shark when she threw Amy the bridal shower and freaked out on Marie. She used to be the voice of reason, and is now a shrill, whining ninny. (Everybody Loves Raymond, if you don’t watch the show.)

Bart Simpson. He had an odd shark jumping, though… the “Eat my shorts!” and “Don’t have a cow, man!” died by the third season, and with that, Bart’s domination of the show (the torch was passed to Homer…).

BUT, like the pheonix rising from the ashes, he was resurrected with a NEW character… not suave and hip and Dennis the Menace-y, but whiny, bratty, violent, and lacking common sense. The street smarts and wicked deviousness stayed… but as a less important character.

This thread was my release mechanism for that torture!:slight_smile:

Interesting that you see the defining moments as events to the minor characters. Roseanne was always about Roseanne (the real-life one), the other characters were just mouth-pieces to whatever bee she had in her bonnet at the time. Consequently the show always sucked whenever she had ‘issues’ that just had to be aired.

So these weren’t characters jumping the shark. They were getting a hefty shove from behind .

Have to agree with the Ross analysis. The ‘grown-up’ of the group who went on to become the whiney jerk.

Speaking of Roseanne, I think the Tom Arnold character was a good example - Then again, it could be argued that he jumped the shark before he got on the show, so that might not be a good example.

Another example might be Norman Fell’s character (Mr. Roper) on Three’s company.

And looking back at** MASH**, I think the character of Frank Burns was left behind by the show. He was still playing a one-demential character whele the rest of the group moved beyond that.

For the really old in the crowd, I might suggest the character of Bart Maverick, played by Jack Kelly on the show Maverick.


I used to enjoy Malcolm in the Middle, before Frankie Muniz’s voice changed. He used to be the (mostly) sane one, but now the character of Malcolm seems to be almost as much a bully as Reese. The character has become totally unappealing to me. He just whines all the time and seems to have lost all of his intelligence. I don’t think the show has (completely) jumped the shark yet, but damn, Malcolm is annoying now!

I agree. Often times I think they should start to revolve the show around Francis and his wife at the dude ranch run by the Germans. At least, that’s the part of the show I’ve been looking forward to the most whenever it’s on.

And who knows where this new baby, Jaime or Jamie (whatever gender it’s supposed to be–hasn’t been revealed yet) is going to take the show. Probably downhill, but I hope not.

The Simpsons is in the odd position of having its major characters jump the shark, even though the show itself has not.

As SPOOFE noted, Bart has jumped the shark – though I’d argue that he jumped because he’s been utterly defanged and turned into an oddly passive sidekick for Homer. (I think a psychoanalyst would have a field day tracing how Bart changed from Homer’s antagonist to his best buddy and helper just as the people in charge of the Simpsons writing staff became middle aged parents themselves…)

Lisa started out as an eight year old who just happened to be smarter than her family. It’s shocking to watch earlier episodes and watch her act like a kid or conspire with Bart. But over the years she’s been changed from a being a bright, sweet kid into a shrill, obnoxious, politically correct know-it-all who’s actively dislikable.

Homer, the show’s mainstay, has come down with a severe case of Urkel’s Disease (previously known as Fonzie’s Disease). This malady infects the show’s writers and convinces them that anything the main character does is funny simply because the main character does it. The main character thus consumes more and more screen time despite having fewer and fewer funny things to do (besides, of course, saying his catchphrase.)

First of all let me say I don’t agree on the Ross thing. But then again, I’m a diehard Friends fan… there’s only been one episode during all these years that I haven’t loved.


I would say when Seinfeld started to be just a weird, crazy, and neurotic as the rest of the cast on his show. He was always funnier as the straight guy, reacting to all the other characters’ crazyness - but when he showed signs of being equally “weird” I just got fed up. (toothbrush in the toilet comes to mind)