Discovery Channel’s Shark Week kicks off its 25th year on Sunday night with the premiere of Air Jaws Apocalypse, a look at great white feeding breaches from the perspective of the bait. As the Street Sharks might say, “Totally jawsome!” It’s hard to believe that merely a quarter of a century ago, humanity had not yet discovered how awesome of week of nothing but shark programming could be. We’re celebrating Shark Week by bringing you the 10 best sharks in pop culture.
10. Bigger Jaws
Like Honey Badger, Jaws ain’t scared. Jaws just takes what it wants whenever it’s hungry. Unless…it sees Bigger Jaws. Then Jaws and his victims must unite against a common enemy.
9. The shark that eats Samuel L. Jackson
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
A Samuel L. Jackson monologue is a thing of beauty. But after wowing us in Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, his monologues needed some kind of exclamation on the end…I don’t know…how about…a great white shark popping up through the hatch and devouring him. His character Russel Franklin let his speech go on a little too long this time.
Like an underwater Rodney Dangerfield, Jabberjaw gets no respect. Of course, he’s more of a pussy cat than Scooby-Doo, constantly on the run from sea monsters and the ever-present robotic shark-ejectors. But man, can that shark play the drums.
Don’t be fooled by the rows of pointy teeth. Bruce is not a mindless eating machine. He just wants to befriend fish, not eat them. Of course, everybody has a relapse every now and then, so it might be wise not to get a bloody nose or he’s gonna need some serious intervention.
6. Greg Norman
PGA Player of the Year (1995)
Greg “The Great White Shark” Norman was the first golfer to earn $10 million on tour, notching 20 PGA wins, including two at the U.S. Open. Like his namesake, Norman had an imposing figure, hailed from Australia and could always sense when there was blood in the water.
5. Nanaue (King Shark)
A supervillain in the world of DC Comics, the humanoid shark Nanaue has super-strength and razor-sharp teeth, can breathe in and out of water, and can regenerate. The son of the Shark God, he’s had run ins with Aquaman and Superman (who knocked out most of his shark teeth), but he’s also worked for the U.S. government as a member of the Suicide Squad (though he did end up eating his teammate Yo-Yo).
4. Ralph, Norton, Alice and Trixie
The Georgia Aquarium (2005, 2006)
When the Georgia Aquarium opened in 2005, Ralph and Norton became the first whale sharks to live in aquarium outside of Asia. The 6.3 million-gallon tank—the largest in the world—was thankfully designed with the sharks in mind. Alice and Trixie were added a year later, but sadly Ralph and Norton have both since passed away. For those of us in Atlanta, we were just delighted to have a tourist attraction that’s not an ode to corporate America (CNN Center, The World of Coca Cola).
3. Land Shark
Saturday Night Live
One of the most memorable sketches from SNL’s first season was a spoof on Jaws. Don Pardo introduced the sketched in the fourth episode, saying, “The Land Shark is considered the cleverest of all sharks. Unlike the great white shark, which tends to inhabit the waters and harbors of recreational beach areas, the Land Shark may strike at any place, any time. It is capable of disguising its voice, and generally preys on young, single women.” Played by Chevy Chase in a foam shark outfit, the Land Shark’s victims through the years included Gilda Radner, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dreyfuss and Tina Fey. But the original sketch remains the best: “I’m only a dolphin, ma’am.”
2. Friggin’ Sharks with Friggin’ Laser Beams Attached to Their Friggin’ Heads
Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
While they turned out to just be tempermental sea bass with laser beams in the original, Dr. Evil finally got an upgrade in the final chapter of Mike Myers’ spy trilogy, thanks to “the best evil son an evil dad could ever ask for.”
Played with Shakespearean gravitas by three mechanical prop sharks all nicked “Bruce” by the film crew, the title character of Steven Spielberg’s 1974 thriller ensured that generations of film goers would never quite feel safe at the beach.