The original script features a cameo for Richard Dreyfuss's character from the original Jaws (1975), marine biologist Matt Hooper. In Hooper's scene, he calls the Brodys and is greeted on the phone by Thea, who knows him as "Uncle Matt". Hooper is established as being close to Michael and Carla, who calls him "my second favorite marine biologist", and he gives them his condolences about Sean's death. Hooper and Michael discuss their careers, the late Martin Brody, and Hooper's once spending Christmas with the family with Martin dressed as Santa Claus. The scene ends when Michael heads off to summon Ellen to the phone to talk to Hooper.
The movie's main tagline "This time it's personal" was parodied in Back to the Future Part II (1989) where the fictional "Jaws 19", directed by Max Spielberg, has a movie poster that says, "This time it's REALLY personal!". The phrase "This time it's personal" has since become a cliché tagline for a number of sequel movies.
A crucial subplot involves Michael Caine's character smuggling drugs onto the island. The scenes were shot, then deleted during post-production because it took away from the film's main premise involving the shark. It's fully detailed in the film's novelization.
Roy Scheider was offered a cameo, but declined, stating "Satan himself could not get me to do Jaws part 4". Reportedly, if Scheider had accepted the bit part, the shark would've killed his character at the start of the movie.
When Michael returns home to his mother's after his brother is killed, in her living room are several guests, including Lee Fierro. Fierro played Mrs. Kintner in the first Jaws (1975) and her character's son Alex Kintner was the second victim killed by the shark. Fritzi Jane Courtney who played Mrs Taft in the first two Jaws films is also present.
The only movie in the series which doesn't take place in the summertime. The first Jaws takes place around the fourth of July, Jaws 2 takes place in June, Jaws 3 takes place at some point in the summer time and this movie takes place around Christmas and New Years.
Set mostly in the Bahamas, the film's storyline includes its Junkanoo Festival, previously known to cinema-goers from also featuring in the earlier James Bond movie Thunderball (1965). The annual parade is also featured in the later movie After the Sunset (2004).
The only Jaws (1975) sequel not to be numerated (unlike Jaws 2 (1978) and Jaws 3-D (1983)) which would have had it called "Jaws 4", which was actually a working title for the movie and still acts as an informal title for the picture. Another working title for the film was "Jaws 87", which is the year it was released in. It is not numerated because, according to this Jaws, the events in Jaws 3 never took place.
Actress Lorraine Gary appeared as Ellen Brody in three of the four "Jaws" films, as did supporting actress Fritzi Jane Courtney who played her friend Mrs. Taft. Jaws 3-D (1983) was the only one that neither actress appeared in. That movie was also arguably the only one that Roy Scheider did not appear as well. He appeared in the first two films, and was seen in "Jaws: The Revenge" but only via the inclusion of a framed photograph and archive footage used for flashbacks.
Director Joseph Sargent briefly looked into the possibility of producing the movie in 3-D, and contacted the company who had supplied the cameras for Jaws 3-D (1983). However, they told Sargent that they could not guarantee the cameras would work reliably in the climate of the Bahamas, and so the idea was scrapped.
On the TV Tropes site, the film, specifically the novelization, is the Trope Namer for Voodoo Shark, defined as an attempt in a story to explain away a plot hole, except that it falls flat because the explanation itself is a plot hole, and which ends up raising more questions. The name of the trope refers to a novelization of the film, which explains the shark's motivations as being the result of a curse by a voodoo witch seeking revenge on the Brodys after a scuffle with Michael.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The European Version's ending, in which the shark head blows up, reuses footage from the first picture's ending, in which the headless bleeding shark sinks. The ropes from the barrels Quint used are still there, as well as the shattered scuba tank that Chief Brody used to blow up the shark.
The revised/European release of the film's ending, where Mario Van Peebles' character survives, began filming five days after the movie was released in the United States. This ending, in which the shark inexplicably explodes, is the official version Universal releases on DVD's, and on the VHS. Some TV channels show the uncut American Theatrical release, in which the shark is impaled by the broken bow sprit, and sinks into the ocean and dies. Jake dies in this rare version of the movie.
According to 'Rating the Movies,' "After a miserable theatrical showing in the U.S., the film was given a new ending for its European release." The ending is the version where when the shark is stabbed, the shark is blown to pieces with 3 shots from the first movie. This ending also has Jake floating around after the shark's destruction. When the film was released to video in North America, the European ending was used. When AMC aired Jaws: The Revenge in the early 2000s, they would show the American ending where the shark is stabbed, bleeds profusely, then sinks. As of 2014, however, AMC shows the European ending rather than the American one. This often leads to confusion for viewers on the original ending when watching a re-run on TV.
Each Jaws movie plants the method of the shark's destruction earlier in each film. In Jaws, Hooper warns Brody about the air tank "blowing up if you screw around with it." In Jaws 2, Hendrix and the old man find the power line which later electrocutes the shark. In Jaws 3, an argument ensues about Philip FitzRoyce using grenades. In this film, Jake is working on a transmitter that sends out high frequency.
The 1987 NES video game JAWS, published by LJN, was originally titled JAWS: The Revenge. The object of the game was to stab the shark with the bow of the player's boat, much like the original/uncut ending of the film JAWS: The Revenge.