the point at which a popular television show has gone past its peak and has resorted to stunt programming, after which it is eventually is canceled
When did Frasier jump the shark?
refers to episode on Happy Days after which this occurred
1560s, of uncertain origin; apparently the word and the first specimen were brought to London by Capt. John Hawkins's second expedition (landed 1565; see Hakluyt).
There is no proper name for it that I knowe, but that sertayne men of Captayne Haukinses doth call it a 'sharke' [handbill advertising an exhibition of the specimen, 1569]The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though attested only from 1599 (sharker "artful swindler" in this sense is from 1594), may be the original sense, later transferred to the large, voracious marine fish. If so, it is possibly from German Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain," agent noun of Middle High German schürgen (German schüren) "to poke, stir."
There is the ordinary Brown Shark, or sea attorney, so called by sailors; a grasping, rapacious varlet, that in spite of the hard knocks received from it, often snapped viciously at our steering oar. [Herman Melville, "Mardi"]
To resort to stunt programming when a television show is past its peak
[1998+; fr episode on Happy Days TV show in which this was the actual stunt]
showing the field of skill: the gun-shark's report (1920s+) 4 A lawyer (1806+)
[all senses fr the predaceous fish, except that the oldest sense may originally have been fr German schurke, ''rascal'']