Sunday was the beginning of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, an annual celebration of the awesome might of these elegant creatures of the sea.
But while Shark Week focuses largely on real sharks (well, real-ish) we wanted to commemorate the sharks that we enjoy the other 51 weeks of the year – the friendly and fearsome sharks that fill up our popular culture. Which pop-culture shark is best? And, just as crucially, which pop-culture shark is worst?
We’d write more, but like a shark, this post needs to constantly move forward or else it dies. Onto the list, below!
23. Sharks with Freaking Laser Beams on Their Heads, Austin Powers
Last on the list for one very obvious reason – they weren’t actually sharks! Dr. Evil had to settle for genetically modified sea bass, and even if they were ill-tempered, the effect just wasn’t the same. (You may remember he eventually got sharks in Goldmember, but anything connected to Goldmember is banned from inclusion on best-of lists for 99 years.)
22. Cat Wearing a Shark Costume, “Cat Wearing a Shark Costume Cleans the Kitchen on a Roomba”
Adorable! Sadly, also not a real shark.
21. The Jumped Shark, Happy Days
In shark world, “getting jumped by Fonzie” is the moment a shark ceases to be feared by humans and instead becomes an object of ridicule.
20. Sharkticons, Transformers
The people who made Transformers must have had a thing against sharks. Of all the baddies in the animated series, the Sharkticons had by far the least going on upstairs; their history reads like a litany of failure.
19. Megalodon, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
In 2002, the comedic potential of large CGI sharks had not yet been tapped. The horrendous green-screening in Shark Attack 3 is good for some chuckles, but the shark itself has been overshadowed by a very famous improvised line so filthy we can’t even link to it.
18. Sharktopus, Sharktopus
The Asylum and Anchor Bay are in an escalating battle of the B-movies, the latter debuting this ungodly hybrid a year after its competitor’s Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. (More on that later.) How can you tell the two studios’ efforts apart? Typically an Anchor Bay production will have a little more T&A and, if you can believe it, worse CGI.
17. The San Jose Sharks
They just can’t get it done in the playoffs!
16. Mega Shark, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
15. Jabberjaw, Jabberjaw
An imagined conversation between two Hanna-Barbera executives in the 1970s.
“Alright Allen,we need a new cartoon, ASAP! Gimme your ideas.”
“You know what kids love these days? Sharks. You know what else they love? Scooby Doo. I say we combine the two, and make a show about a talking shark who solves mysteries with the help of his human pals.”
“Love it! Only one question: Is the shark on land, or are the kids in the water?”
“We’ll put the kids in the water. Say it’s the future or something.”
“I dig it, which is a totally normal thing for me to say because this conversation is taking place in the 1970s. But I can’t help feeling like there’s something missing. How do we sex it up a little?”
“Why don’t we put them in a rock band? Like Josie and the Pussycats!”
“Allen, you’ve justified your salary yet again. Change out of that leisure suit – you and me are getting our racketball on.”
Jabberjaw was canceled after 16 episodes.
14. Sharkboy, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D
13. Street Sharks, Street Sharks
How do we know Street Sharks was made in the ’90s? They’re wearing neon jorts.
12. King Shark, DC Comics
If you’ve never heard of this villain, a darkest-timeline version of Lautner’s Sharkboy, that’s probably because he’s spent the bulk of his career fighting Superboy and Aquaman. Hard to rise up in the rogue’s gallery pecking order being a nemesis of those two.
11. Lenny, Shark Tale
We’re not quite sure why all the sharks in Shark Tale are Italian stereotypes, and the idea of a vegetarian shark was explored better further down this list.
10. Air Swimmers Radio Controlled Shark
You will never be able to be a shark (unless you are already a shark, in which case congratulations on learning how to read) but this remote-controlled toy offers the next-best thing. There’s only one problem: You’ll have to hum the Jaws theme yourself.
9. Sharks, Open Water
This ultra-low-budget indie didn’t have the money for special effects – these are all, terrifyingly enough, real sharks. (The crew fed them tuna to simulate a feeding frenzy.)
8. Shark Bites
In the battle of the fruit snacks, we will go to bat for Shark Bites any day of the week – not just because of their killer promos. Their subtle flavors and opaque construction truly made them the thinking child’s snack.
7. Super-Smart Sharks, Deep Blue Sea
The sharks of Deep Blue Sea saw their cognitive functions increased as part of a plan to fight Alzheimer’s, a move that apparently also heightened their sense of comic timing.
6. The Sharks, West Side Story
The juvenile delinquency seen in West Side Story is a funny thing. At first the Sharks and the Jets are indulging in petty vandalism and a little minor loitering – then all of a sudden they’re shooting and stabbing each other? It all gets very real very quickly.
5. Sharks in a Tornado, Sharknado
Just like how cats always land on their feet, the sharks in Sharknado have the impeccable habit of always landing mouth-first. Their only weakness? An implausibly slow digestive system.
4. The “Sharks”, Shark Tank
They will only eat you alive in a figurative sense, but that doesn’t make them any less scary.
3. Land Shark, Saturday Night Live
Chevy Chase had many famous recurring characters during his time on SNL, but as far as we’re aware, only one of them has been turned into a brand of Anheiser-Busch beer. (We still maintain that a Gerald Ford Stout would be a license to print money.)
2. Jaws, Jaws
Jaws has a lot to answer for. Besides kicking off the blockbuster era, the movie also led to a public backlash against sharks that persists to this day. (Indeed, combating popular shark myths is one of the primary missions of Shark Week.) Despite all that, you can’t deny this shark’s dreadful power. Displeased with the mechanical sharks built by creature expert Bob Mattey, Steven Spielberg famously chose not to show the shark onscreen for the bulk of the film. The result was a master class in suspense: When the shark finally rears its head at the movie’s climax, no one in the audience is nit-picking his teeth.
1. Bruce, Finding Nemo
Bruce contains multitudes. He knows his violent nature, but he doesn’t let it define him. He makes friends easily He runs a support group for sharks that struggle with their desires. He mourns the fact that he never knew his father. Sure, he loses control sometimes, but who doesn’t?