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Sharknado, an inside joke that became a hit TV movie franchise, is officially dead

From left, Cassie Scerbo as Nova Clarke, Vivica A. Fox as Skye, Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard and Tara Reid as April Wexler in “The Last Sharknado.” (Anastasiya Sergienya/Fells Point Productions/Syfy)
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Sharknado, which ended for good with the sixth and final movie on Sunday night, wasn’t even supposed to exist. As the ridiculous origin story goes, the term was actually a throwaway line in another Syfy movie, “Leprechaun’s Revenge.”

“There’s this town in the movie that’s, I guess, being besieged by leprechauns . . . and somebody says: ‘Gosh, I hope we don’t go the way of that other town. They never recovered after the sharknado hit,’ ” writer Thunder Levin told Vice. “One of the execs at Syfy, that stuck with them and they thought, ‘Hey, we should make a movie called “Sharknado!” ’ ”

Thus, Syfy’s hit Sharknado franchise was born. In July 2013, the entertainment industry was stunned when the low-budget TV movie about a deadly shark tornado in Los Angeles — starring Ian Ziering and Tara Reid — took over social media on a random Thursday night. Tweets about #Sharknado streamed in at a rate of 5,000 per minute. Celebrities joined in the gleeful chaos.

Trump was almost the president in ‘Sharknado,’ after Sarah Palin turned down the role

The movie made little to no sense — and no one cared. It may have started as an inside joke, but it became a phenomenon. The network scheduled the film to re-air multiple times, and it racked up millions of viewers. Scientists weighed in on whether a sharknado could really happen. The stars were swamped with interview requests. Syfy quickly ordered a sequel. And then four more movies.

The final installment of the “brilliantly stupid” franchise, titled “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time,” went just as you might expect Sunday night. Ziering, who was initially so embarrassed about the first film that he refused to tell anyone about it, reprised his role as shark hunter Fin. Reid, who recently made headlines for a troubling viral interview to promote the movie, returned as his wife, April.

Yes, April was killed in the fifth installment (“Sharknado 5: Global Swarming”), but no worries — she was able to come back because the sixth Sharknado involved time travel.

Honestly, it’s a waste of time to even explain the “plot.” Just know that Fin and April teamed up with fellow shark hunter Nova (Cassie Scerbo) to travel back in time to stop the first sharknado from hitting the planet. They were somewhat successful, and also had to battle dinosaurs, so it was a lot of CGI fun for all involved. However, the work wasn’t done: For a reason that wasn’t 100 percent clear, they had to travel through other centuries to defeat multiple sharknadoes.

As usual, there were a ton of celebrity cameos along the way: Darrell Hammond, Tori Spelling, Dean McDermott, Neil deGrasse Tyson, La Toya Jackson, Al Roker, Mark McGrath. Of course, the movie threw in a wink to the audience as “Beverly Hills, 90210″ star Spelling crossed paths with her former co-star Ziering and said: “You look so familiar. Did we go to high school together?”

The dialogue was as sparkling as ever. Lines included “I know this is extremely confusing, but we’re all very much alive” and “We’ll use meteorites to kill the sharknado!” Plus, the script co-opted other famous movie quotes and made them about trying to battle sharks: “I’m going to need a bigger chain saw.” “Go ahead, shark my day.”

Alas, ratings have dropped steadily throughout the years, so “The Last Sharknado” didn’t make as big a splash as its predecessors. The joke actually got old after the second movie — and maybe even the first. But there’s no denying that in its own absurd way, the movies certainly made an impact, which is increasingly difficult in the cluttered era of peak TV.

“Thank you fans of #Sharknado . . . it’s been a wild ride and we wouldn’t be here without you,” tweeted Anthony C. Ferrante, the director of all six movies. He spoke the truth as he added, “There will never be anything quite like this again.”

Read more:

How is ‘Sharknado’ still a thing?

7 things we learned about Washington from ‘Sharknado 3’

Yes, ‘Sharknado’ still exists, so if you missed it, here’s what happened