We had a lively discussion a while back about the ritual of shaving. And while some men will skip the routine out of laziness, others elect to actively pursue a manly beard as a show of, well, something. Some cultures and religions regard the beard as a symbol of strength or faith. Others simply regard it as an accessory. In the world of television, the beard is an important, if obscure dramatic element. Most people have heard of “jumping the shark” – a reference to the episode of Happy Days when the Fonz literally jumped a shark. It came to mean the point at which the best days of a series are behind it. There is an antonym for jumping the shark: growing the beard. Star Trek TNG was awkward and fumbling, until Riker grew his beard in season three and suddenly the series became poignant and interesting. DS9 was unoriginal and boring, until Sisko grew his beard and it started to become awesome (coincidentally, this is when the whole Dominion thing started, but I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.) Originally a Trek geek meme, growing the beard has become a proper trope in its own right – when a show finds its footing and suddenly gets good. Maybe I should grow a beard.