Sharks seem pretty scary. The large size of their bodies and that mouth full of dagger-like teeth basically make them look like the villains of the deep.
However, sharks kill way fewer humans every year compared to other animals, such as dogs, snakes and mosquitoes. So why are we so afraid of them?
Much of that probably has to do with how sharks have been portrayed in popular culture through the years. Whenever a TV show or movie is set on or near the ocean, the villain is almost always a giant, ferocious shark. We're sorry that you've gotten such a bad rap over the years, sharks, but whether you've been a sinister beast on the attack or even provided some comic relief on occasion, you have certainly entertained us.
Discovery Channel's 27th annual "Shark Week" kicks off on Sunday, Aug. 10, so in honor of that, let's take a look back at 17 sharks from pop culture that have helped define our image of the sea creature.
The shark from "Jaws"
We have to start with the Mac Daddy of them all, the shark from Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic "Jaws." The shark in "Jaws" was truly a monster, terrorizing the small community of Amity Island. And who could ever forget that iconic score that brilliantly made us anticipate something huge was going to happen. We were afraid of even taking a bath after seeing this movie.
Landshark from "Saturday Night Live"
This classic sketch from the early days of "Saturday Night Live" parodies "Jaws" with a shark that attacks young, single women at their apartments by posing as a plumber or flower delivery man at their door. Always beware of the "Candygram."
Bruce from "Finding Nemo"
Bruce isn't a bad shark; he's just misunderstood. When Marlin and Dory run into Bruce, they're at first terrified, of course, but when Bruce brings them to a meeting with his shark pals Anchor and Chum to help him reform his fish-eating ways, they calm down a bit. Once Bruce gets a whiff of blood in the water, however, all of his progress goes out the window, and he goes on a rampage to eat Marlin and Dory. We're led to believe the sharks meet their demise when Bruce accidentally hurls a torpedo at an active mine, but they show up at the end to help their new fish friends, remembering that "Fish are friends, not food."
Sharks in James Bond movies
This secret agent can pretty much take on any adversary, so it's no surprise he's faced off with a few sharks throughout the 23 films so far in the series. Most notably, however, was probably when the assassin Jaws battled a shark and won in "The Spy Who Loved Me." His stainless steel choppers were gnarly, but at least they came in handy sometimes.
Photo of a shark attacking a helicopter
Remember when that photo of a shark leaping out of the water to attack a man coming down from a helicopter made the rounds on the Internet a while back? We all thought that photo was pretty amazing. It was in fact so amazing that it turned out to be just a very good Photoshop job of a photo of the U.S. Air Force in San Francisco and a shark in South Africa. Oh well.
Don Lino from "Shark Tale"
In the other favorite fish-themed movie from your childhood, "Shark Tale" was kind of like the kiddie version of "Goodfellas." Robert De Niro voiced the leader of a group of sharks (but, like actual sharks) Don Lino. He was basically the shark version of the actor with that famous mole and all. Jack Black also voiced the more kind-hearted and vegetarian shark Lenny.
Okay, so the "sharks" on this reality show are just high-powered millionaires, but they are no less scary. Step in front of Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec and Barbara Corcoran without having a well-thought out business plan, and they will eat you alive.
Sharpedo the Pokemon
Sharpedo is the 319th Pokemon who has sharp fangs and can swim at 80 miles per hour, which makes him undoubtedly fierce.
Dr. Evil's "sharks with lasers"
All this "Austin Powers" villain wanted was "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads." He didn't get them in the first movie because they were put on an endangered species list. However, by the third movie, "Austin Powers in Goldmember," Dr. Evil's son Scott was able to secure them for their dastardly deeds. That made Dr. Evil one proud papa.
All of the sharks in SyFy Original Movies
"Sharknado," "Sharktopus," "Ghost Shark." You name it, SyFy has probably made a movie out of it with a crazy shark-centric premise. They're just what the doctor ordered: a little bit scary and a whole lot ridiculous.
The Sharks from "West Side Story"
Though they didn't have a song dedicated to them like their rival gang The Jets, The Sharks were equally as cool. If only The Sharks and The Jets could have just had a dance-off instead of getting into a gang fight. The story didn't have to end so badly.
Fonzie jumps the shark on "Happy Days"
In the Season 5 "Happy Days" episode titled "Hollywood (Part 3)," The Fonz strapped on some water skis and actually jumped over a shark, brown leather jacket and all. That stunt inspired the phrase "jumping the shark," which now describes the moment the quality of a TV series declines.
Sharks on "Spongebob Squarepants"
Pretty much every sea creature you can name was on the nautical Nickelodeon cartoon "Spongebob Squarepants." So of course there were a couple of characters who were sharks. These included Donald the Shark, who endorsed the Anchor Arms product for inflatable buffness, and Sergeant Sam Roderick, Spongebob's taskmaster boating school instructor. They only appeared in one episode each, but boy were they memorable.
Misunderstood Shark meme
This meme capitalizes on all the hate sharks get and tries to show us that sharks really do have a softer side, which we would know if we didn't always jump to conclusions. Sharks have feelings, too, you know.
Jabberjaw was a hip old shark who played the drums in a band called The Neptunes. When Jabberjaw wasn't playing the skins, he and his bandmates had to stop villains who wanted to take over the undersea world. You know, the usual.
King Shark is one of the main comic book villains modeled after the fish. This half-shark, half-human creature is Superboy's nemesis. King Shark has also been a member of the Secret Six and Suicide Squad. He's definitely a strong contender for scariest fictional shark.
On this delightful little game show from the 1970s and 1980s, contestants had to determine if the real answers to trivia questions were higher or lower than the number provided. And then they took their guessing to playing cards, determining whether or not the next card was higher or lower. The playing cards were hilariously large, host Bob Eubanks' hair was nice and fluffy and a good time was had by all.