Memorable Sharks in Pop Culture History

Throughout the years, people everywhere have been fascinated with sharks. So it’s no wonder that sharks of all kinds have popped up in various forms of pop culture in the decades of mass entertainment. As part of Shark Week here at The Retro Network, we’re shining the spotlight on some of those sharks from the past that are worth remembering.


Jabberjaw

Jabberjaw was the star of his own Hanna-Barbera cartoon in the late 1970s. Although he acted and sounded like a direct ripoff of The Three Stooges’ very own Curly, he did bring something to the table that Curly did not. Jabberjaw played the drums. As a matter of fact, he was pretty darn good at it and was the backbone of the band The Neptunes. While Jabberjaw’s star only got to shine for one brief year of first run cartoon, his star shown bright and left a lasting impression on everyone who experienced him.

Land Shark

In response to Jaws and the shark hysteria that came with the success of that movie, Saturday Night Live created its own shark…Land Shark!

One of the more iconic recurring sketches in Saturday Night Live history, Land Shark character was basically a shark who would coerce its victims into opening their doors by pretending to be plumbers, repairmen, or the like. And with Chevy Chase doing the voice work, one could understand why victims would be compelled to open the door.

Once the unsuspecting people actually opened their doors, Land Shark would eat them whole, making a comment on the ridiculousness of the hysteria over sharks after the release of Jaws.

The Shark That Almost Got Batman

In the late ’60s Batman: The Movie, our beloved caped crusader and his boy wonder were in a pinch. Their arch-enemies had banded together with a plot to hold the world hostage, and the dynamic duo was the only hope to stop them. Having to stop the menacing foursome of The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman is tough enough, but little did Batman know his deadliest foe wasn’t from his rogue’s gallery, but the one he hadn’t met yet.

At one point in the film, Batman is climbing down a ladder from a helicopter to sea level, and when he got close enough to the water, a shark emerged! The shark took a huge bite and caught Batman’s leg in his teeth. In real-life, the shark would have bitten off his leg. But as Batman fought off the painfully rubber-looking shark, he asked Robin to send him down the “Shark Repellent Bat-Spray,”… an entirely unnecessary use of the word “Bat.”

Robin does and Batman sprays it on the shark. Then, as soon as it hits the water, the shark exploded, robbing the world of a formidable nemesis to the Dark Knight.

WCW Wrestler The Shark

In 1995, WCW was under attack by evil forces that were collectively known as The Dungeon of Doom. While the group was made up of such luminaries as The Zodiac, Kamala, Meng, The Yeti, and The Taskmaster, the most dangerous of them all may have been The Shark.

Sporting a teeth-bearing, open-mouth image of a shark that stretched from his singlet to his pants, The Shark was a massive mound of man who dominated the competition. One of his signature moves was his Shark Attack in which he would club his oppenent over the back or chest with his forearm that was meant to be a stand-in for an actual dorsel fin or something.

The Shark met an unfortunate end after he was betrayed by Big Bubba Rogers and had half his head and beard shaved on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro.

The Shark That Fonzie Jumped

You may have heard the term “jump the shark” and wondered where it came from. Well, you have our next shark to thank for that.

In the first episode of the fifth season of the TV show Happy Days, the group visits Los Angeles. Fonzie, ever the cool dude, wearing his swimming shorts and yes, his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a shark just to prove how brave he is. It was at this moment that any Happy Days fan knew it was over. The show was going to suck from here on out. So, since then, whenever a good, well-respected, or widely-loved television show does something so over-the-top that you know the writers have lost it or stopped caring, it is called “jumping the shark.”

Because he contributed to such a huge part of television history, and because he’s entered our lexicon as a society, the shark that Fonzie jumps over in this scene from Happy Days gets our respect as one of the memorable sharks in pop culture history.

Jaws

Of course Jaws makes the list. How could anyone make this list and not include Jaws?

Jaws was the first awesome shark in pop culture that captured the imagination of everyone and was what really spawned the fear and fascination with sharks that most everyone has.

Sharks were never a big deal until Jaws, and they were never as scary on film, either before or since. The first, and the best, Jaws makes the list as the one who started it all.

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About Mickey Yarber 168 Articles
Sometimes referred to as The Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via articles and videos, and occasionally make un-needed appearances on various podcasts. I can also catch quarters off my elbow. Email to book me for your next corporate event.

5 Comments

  1. another shark pop-culture reference is the al pacino led “sharks” with jamie foxx as the quarterback subbing for an injured dennis quaid in the late 90’s movie “Any Given Sunday”. A movie I enjoyed as a teen.

  2. Great list! I think you hit on almost every one that immediately came to my mind. One more I remembered was from Austin Powers and the “sharks with freaking laser beams attached to their heads”. The only other might be the “Sharks” gang in West Side Story, but that wasn’t a real shark just a name.

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