The phrase “jump the shark” has become a popular idiom to describe situations when desperation takes over. The term originated from an episode of the TV sitcom “Happy Days,” where lead character Fonzie (Henry Winkler), demonstrating his water skiing skills, jumps over a shark. That’s when many critics felt the show had lost its creative core and had become in a sense of parody of itself.
With a TV series nears the end of the line, the producers resort to silly stunts, sometimes calling in famous entertainers as guest stars to lead a lame plot, in desperate efforts to push ratings and keep the show on the air long after its prime. I’ll leave it to you to decide which TV shows fit into that category. But it has also been expanded beyond the entertainment industry to signify a serious decline in product quality or a company’s performance.
So you can say that a company that can no longer innovate or at least earn decent revenue and profits may have jumped the shark. You might apply that term to Sears and perhaps HP, companies well past their prime. Radio Shack jumped the shark years ago, but took a while for the ever-changing management to realize that basic fact and take steps to put the company out of its misery.