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"Because it was funny."
—Ryan Dunn's explanation for stabbing Bam in the ass with a hot iron brand[1]... or, more accurately, the reason this show exists.


And so begins Jackass, which was either the most horrifying thing ever put on American television, the most awesome thing ever put on American television, or just the gayest (in more ways than one) thing ever put on American television. Or all three, as it depends on who you ask.

Jackass has its roots in skateboard culture and the skateboard magazine Big Brother, and Bam Margeras's humor/stunt video series "Camp Kill Yourself" (or CKY). One of Big Brother's writers was struggling actor Johnny Knoxville, who pitched an article for Big Brother about being used as human guinea pig for various self-defense weapons, culminating in him being shot in the chest to test out a bulletproof vest. His editors decided to film the test and found it so funny, that they decided to commission several additional masochist-themed videos with the rest of the staff (including Dave England and Chris Pontius) and ex-Ringling Brothers clown Steve-O contributing material.

Similar material was being filmed by Bam Margera and his gang of skaters and his parents. Their material would make up the first CKY video, titled Landspeed: CKY. The two ultimately decided to combine forces when Big Brother magazine began talks with Spike Jonze to create a pilot for MTV. Along with Ehren McGhehey, an ex-snowboarder, Jackass was born.

Media Watchdogs and Moral Guardians more or less had panic-induced heart attacks at the very thought of their kids watching this one, so there was a huge movement to get the show canned (Which, ironically, may have increased its popularity even more!).

The format was popular enough to spawn three movies, the third in 3D, which allowed the boys to really go hog wild with the R rating. Also, several cast members were given spin-off shows, ranging from Bam Margeras's Viva La Bam and the And Now for Something Completely Different nature spin-off Wildboyz.

This show provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Knoxville's hydraulic scooter, from the Old Man segment in Jackass 3D. He can pop wheelies with the thing for extended amounts of time and drives around blaring rap.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Bam's reaction to the "Valentine" prank in the second movie: the "valentine" covered up a hole in the wall, which concealed a boxing glove on a stick sticking out of an air compressor; the Jackass guys were goaded into getting hit by it when they had to lean in to read it because the writing suddenly got really really small. Eventually everyone got a kick out of it when they were subjected to it.
    • In addition, the entire crew's reaction to the "High Five" in Jackass 3D: walking towards him will get a gigantic hand to pimp-slap you out of nowhere: even Ehren, who got hot soup splashed all over him, found it funny.
  • All Lowercase Letters: the credits
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Ehren Mc Ghehey is supposedly one and is constantly the butt of jokes and pranks in the group.
  • Amusing Injuries: Probably the whole point of the show.
    • The first film's end credits turn this into Bloody Hilarious, as the elderly Jackass crew are killed off in increasingly gory ways.
  • Ass Shove: Hot Wheels + Ryan Dunn's anus, noted below.
    • And then in the sequel, the Strongman challenge. High-speed golden dildo + Bam Margera's ass. It barely misses his anus.)

 "Is it wrong to be strong? You be the judge."

    • Then Bam flies a kite out of his ass with anal beads... and then has one flown into his ass.
    • The Butt Billows of 2.5, which was part of a production Running Gag of trying to make farts visible (the successful product can be shown in Jackass Number Two). This WAS successful, but for some reason taken out: Lacy farts on Steve-O, who was blowing into Lacy's ass. Yes, it makes sense in context.
    • "The Apple of My Ass"... which is what it says on the tin. Then they bring out the pig.
    • The second film's Butt Chug.

 "YOU BETTER SHIT PISS, ASSWIPE!" *arse plungering*

  • Author Existence Failure: Ryan Dunn died in a car accident in 2011.
  • Bad Santa: Who promptly gets slammed from a giant tree.
  • Berserk Button: Preston doesn't like being covered in a hat full of egg-nog vomit.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: At the end of Jackass Number Two. Unfortunately for Knoxville, the wall fell because of a wrecking ball...
    • The "Diamond Robbers" prank played on office workers has two crew members falling out of the ceiling with a bag of, uh, diamonds. Someone actually called the cops.
    • The Punching Glove prank in the beginning of Jackass Number Two.
  • Bowdlerize: The Self-Defense Test sketch; after the taser test, Johnny dons a cheap bulletproof vest and has a friend SHOOT HIM in order to see if the vest will protect him (it does). Filmed for a Big Brother magazine video, the gun/vest test was cut from the sketch when it was incorporated into the pilot and thanks to MTV being obstinate bastards, one of the reasons why it took six years for a season one DVD to come out, as MTV refused and WON its struggle to keep Knoxville from including the full sketch on a Jackass DVD.
  • Butt Monkey: Danger Ehren, who is constantly mocked for the fact that no one recognizes him.
    • In Jackass Number Two, he got an entire skit dedicated to humiliating his ass: Terror Taxi.
    • Ryan Dunn was also a Butt Monkey of sorts. As Bam exclaims in Jackass Number 2:

 Bam: What rhymes with Dunn? Fun!

      • And he's promptly slammed into a garage wall at high speed.
  • Cash Lure: "Street Fishing".
  • Clip Show: The very first episode of the series is one; essentially a compilation of all of the best clips from Landspeed and the Big Brother videos.
  • Candid Camera Prank: What would you do if a half-naked man jumped out of a car's trunk and ran away, bound and gagged?
    • There are several. Here's just a sampling:
    • The crew chasing each other and wrecking stores in downtown Tokyo, getting bemused looks.
    • Preston Lacy chasing Wee Man through Tokyo in sumo costumes.
    • "Party Boy" exposing himself to random people or simply violating personal space already exposed.
    • Johnny Knoxville bending to tie his shoe and shoving his ass into people.
    • The elderly shoplifter scheme, and wheelchair racing — or demolition derby.
    • Random crew members fighting in a boxing sports store.
    • Preston Lacy enters a port-a-potty. Wee Man leaves it.
    • Pontius dressed as Satan and waving around a sign that says "Keep God out of California." He got beaten up for his troubles.
      • Twice.
    • The infamous "toy car in bum" prank.
    • Skateboarding in panda mascot suits, beating each other up (again), and getting wasted in a karaoke bar.
    • Brad Pitt (Yes, the real one) being "kidnapped" in full view of a packed movie line.
    • Spike Jonze (Yes, the real one) and someone totally not Johnny Knoxville put in old people makeup and pulling off sexual acts (the former walking around partially topless or having "her" clothes ripped off, the latter having fake testicles dangling out of his shorts as he walks around: often to the point where you really have no choice but to stare at his balls. They do it in all three films.
    • Johnny Knoxville as the old grandpa again riding a scooter out of a scooter store. How? Via the glass front, that's how.
    • Making out with his supposed "granddaughter" and having his "wife" come up and yell at him.
    • Also the midget bar fight. You think it's a regular "midget people beating each other" skit, but then a midget cop comes in out of nowhere and clubs on of them in the head, and then midget paramedics rush in with miniature stretchers to cart out the wounded. Needless to say, the stares were well deserved.
    • And, finally, the Terror Taxi.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'm X, and this is [the] Y."
    • The shows (and the second movie) opened with the phrase, "Hi, I'm Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to Jackass!". And it wasn't always Knoxville who said it, either.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: If it were higher-brow, it could be called "Schadenfreude - The Series".
  • Crossover: A special had the Jackass guys appearing with the stars of the wheelchair-rugby movie Murderball. Yes, there was plentiful Lampshade Hanging about how easily the Jackass guys could become disabled; why do you ask?
    • The star of Murderball also shows up twice in two skits of Jackass Number Two, and shows up once more in the third film.
    • The Jackasses' homes were the subject of an episode of Cribs. Steve-O's apartment had an entire wall blocked by a stack of empty beer cans, a skate ramp in the kitchen, and he bragged about (and showed off) a pile of noise and ordinance violations. Chris Pontius' "crib" was a Toyota Tacoma.
    • The Dudesons show up for one skit in Jackass 3D, but before that, Steve-O and Knoxville have shown up on the Dudeson shows.
  • Determinator: Johnny Knoxville has been punched by boxers (one was a heavyweight, and we do mean heavy) several times, shot by riot control devices, hit by bulls, and destroyed by wrecking balls and he keeps going!
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Knoxville's boxing "match" with Butterbean. Knoxville winds up with a concussion and has to get eight stitches in his head.

 Knoxville: So, what's the record for fastest knockout?

Butterbean: Um...the California state record is 18 seconds--and that includes the ten-count.

Knoxville: (timidly) I think you're gonna break that record today...

  • Don't Try This At Home: As the quote above shows. This warning was modified later on to be more serious.
    • It still shows up on the DVD covers, and has shown up in the Jackass 3D trailer.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: The Beehive Limo in the second movie, which gets warped into Beehive Tetherball in the third.
    • Don't forget the Bee-Kini.
  • Executive Meddling: Among other things: after season one MTV handed Knoxville and company a list of things that they were not allowed to do, as far as content goes. Similarly, when Sen. Joseph Lieberman tried to get the show banned from airing, MTV caved like cowards, pulling all reruns of the series (which was in season two by that point) and forcing Knoxville to revise the show's warning so as to read it out loud to viewers.
    • Lieberman's actions also squashed plans for a "Jackass: Too Hot For TV" video release.
  • Eye Scream: The leech scene in the second movie, wherein Steve-O manages to attach a leech to his eye at an Indian Leech Healer's booth. Sweet dreams.
  • Follow the Leader: Jackass spawned many shows in the same vein, including Crazy Monkey, and Rad Girls. Sometimes, MTV itself did this (with Dirty Sanchez and Rob Drydek's Ridiculousness). Ironically, Jackass itself is derived at least in part by Super Dave Osborne, a parody of daredevil stuntmen like Evel Kneivel, played by comedian Bob Einstein. Einstein himself doesn't like the comparison, pointing out in this interview that his antics as Super Dave were almost impossible to emulate.
  • Fruit Cart: The cast of Jackass: The Movie go flying into a fruitcart at the end of the opening credits.
  • Gag Penis: Working out in a gym with tented pants.
    • Getting branded on the ass with one.
    • Dressing in a man-sized penis costume and thrusting into an equally large sand vagina on a public beach.
    • Playing baseball with Pontius's dick. In slo-mo 3D.
    • Knoxville really has an obsession with throwing giant dildos.
    • Steve-O in his leopard-print Speedo. Nothing more needs to be said.

  "It looks like you've got Jimmy Durante's nose in your pants!"

  • Grand Finale: The first movie was intended as such, with the team reuniting to perform the skits that MTV had told them that they couldn't film, as they wouldn't be allowed on TV.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: In Jackass 2.5:

 Wee Man: Hola, amigos! Me llamo[2] Wee-Man, y soy un matador... pequeno...

Chris Pontius: ...y muerte. (everyone else laughs)

  • Groin Attack: Happens too many times to count. Sometimes self-inflicted.
    • Actually invoked: Bam would rather take a dildo up the ass than a weight to his balls. (Hint: he still takes the weight to his balls in the deleted scenes.)
    • The worst of the worst: One of the crew members having his balls slammed in a dictionary.
    • In the opener for one episode, Johnny Knoxville gets kicked in the groin by several kids, has his groin used as a croquet target, hit by a sledgehammer swinging on a rope, attempts to have pool balls dropped on his crotch from a 2-storey building (wasn't successful), and shot with a paintball gun from just 2-3 feet away. Of course, even a Jackass has some common sense, so he was wearing a cup.
  • Humiliation Conga: "Terror Taxi." Gluing pubic hair to Ehren's face is just the start of it. Go Google it.
    • Bam's punishment for the Rocky pranks (he would splash a random crew member and then punch them to the Rocky theme), which involved a fake floor, rubber snakes, and real snakes.
      • For an added bonus, Bam happens to have a crippling fear of snakes.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The crew visit Mianus, Connecticut. Hilarity Ensues

 Wee Man: Check it out, there's a map to Mianus.

Chris Pontius: I don't need a map. I know Mianus better than any man, woman or child.

  • I have what glued to my face?
  • Jerk Jock: The football segments of Jackass 3D, each of which has Jared Allen in it, just for laughs. "What's your role?" "MURDER. KNOXVILLE'S. FACE."
    • "And what's your role, Johnny?" "Catch the ball."
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The only full, uncut episode available on DVD is the hour long Gumball Rally episode, which is only available on the bonus disc for a box set released. All three seasons are only available as a series of "Best Of..." compilations (with V2 and V3 having two releases, with the re-release having extra sketches added) and a "Lost Tape" compilation, which has all of the opening/ending sequences and the MIA sketches that didn't make the previous three DVDs.
    • Further adding to the mix, the season one "best of..." set was delayed for about 6 years due to feuding between the Jackass crew and MTV; while Knoxville and company have full control over content for the DVD releases, MTV outright refused to let them release season one on DVD due to their not wanting to let the gang wanting to release the Big Brother magazine sketches uncensored. Knoxville and company finally caved, meaning that you'll have to track down the original Big Brother magazine VHS tapes for the full version of the self-defense test sketch.
  • The Movie: Three even more outrageous movies involved stunts like peeing, eating, and then vomiting up a snow cone, all in one shot. (And then eating it again). Probably the most extreme thing to ever be shown on basic cable (at one AM on a Sunday morning with A LOT of pixellation but still).
    • Ironically, even the unrated DVDs are censored. The unreleased trailer hidden in Jackass Number Two reveals David England taking a watery shit after the "Firehouse Rodeo" incident in which he scraped his rectum. It gets worse.
  • No Ending: Knoxville opted to not film a finale for the series; partly because Bam Margera and his crew had left the series midway through season three (as they were starting work on their spin-off) and to leave the door open for possible reunion specials.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked in the advertisements for Jackass Two.

  [Negative reviews of Jackass: The Movie appear] Unfortunately for [the critics], we just made Number Two. (Spike Jonze promptly flashes the camera dressed as an old lady)

    • When Johnny Knoxville was arrested for impersonating an officer. When he said his catchphrase in the car, he was released with no charges.
  • And Now for Something Completely Different: The hour long "Gumball Rally" episode, which focuses on the Jackass crew going through a relatively prank-free race from Britain to Moscow and back.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Subverted in Jackass 2.5 when Bam informs his mother they were able to get a permit to fly a kite out of his ass on a public beach. His mother is... uncharacteristically happy about it.
  • Oh Crap: Everyone's face when staring down the "Electric Avenue" hallway of tasers and cattle prods in the third film; they really have to summon up the courage to go through with it.
    • Bam, whenever anything involving a snake happens.
    • In the second movie, during the "Fish Hook" skit (Chris Pontius is fishing for sharks with Steve-O as the bait), a mako shark swims up to Steve-O. He ends up kicking it in the face (accidentally).
    • Everyone, when the stunts go wrong.
  • Once an Episode: "Hi I'm Johnny Knoxville, welcome Jackass!"
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The jangly polka of Jackass is "Corona" by Eighties punk rockers The Minutemen.
    • Wildboyz has "The Age of Pamparius" by Turbonegro.
  • Safe Word: Knoxville's is "Oklahoma".
    • This becomes a Brick Joke for dedicated fans. It's first brought up in the first season of the TV show... then isn't used until Jackass 3D.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Bam and Dunn's initial and totally reasonable response to the less-lethal claymore they're supposed to be shot with. They drop a tandem Precision F-Strike on the way out of the room. Knoxville is right behind them: "That is great!"
    • Dave England was originally meant to be part of the stunt as well, but he adamantly refused to go through with it. Dunn had the same reaction, but ended up doing it anyway.
    • This ends up being a common sentiment for half of the stunts on Jackass 2.5. Preston even says this after his botched "King Kong" stunt.
  • Sequel Snark: The first movie pulls out a final skit after the credits, a future sequel dubbed "Son of Jackass" that involves the elderly cast dying horrible flaming deaths. While there was a sequel, it wasn't called Son of Jackass.
    • One of the outtakes on the Jackass 2 credits is Bam pleading that there not be a Jackass 3.
  • Serial Escalation: They couldn't possibly think up of a crazier, more insanely dangerous/disgusting stunt... right?
  • Shmuck Bait: A porta potty on the Jackass set. If you use it, they will hold the door shut and tip it over with you in it. Or push it down a hill. Or hit it with a car. Or God knows what else.
  • Spin-Off: This show has had quite a few, the most popular being Viva La Bam (starring Bam Margera, who tormented his family) and Wildboyz (starring Steve-O and Chris Pontius, and basically Jackass meets the Discovery Channel).
    • Unofficial spin-offs: Dirty Sanchez, Tokyo Shock Boys, and Extreme Dudsonit. It should be noted Dirty Sanchez was deemed Too Hot For Television and Extreme Dudsonit came before, though is now popular in the States and has its own America-based TV show.
  • Tar and Feathers: Ryan Dunn was tarred and feathered by Bam Margera.
  • Team Mom: Bam's mother, April, is usually the only person to care when they get hurt. They thank her by turning her staircase into a ski slope, sneaking in Preston to replace Phil Margera while they're asleep, launching rockets at her in the kitchen, and putting an alligator in her kitchen.
  • Tears of Fear: Bam, when confronted by the cobra in the second movie.
    • The victims of the anti-riot mine also shed a tear in the same film. Except Johnny, per usual.
  • Third Is 3D: The third move: Jackass 3D.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Johnny's reaction to riding penny-farthing bicycles (ones with huge front wheels). He faceplants after trying to drive over a pile of snow.
    • This was also Bam's reaction to "The Brand," for very good reason.

 Bam: Here we are at some random-ass ranch, and this is "The Brand." And it's gonna suck...

    • The Tee-Ball in the 3rd movie. Steve-O couldn't even bring himself to finish the intro, knowing full well that Ryan Dunn was going to hit a tee-ball ball directly into his unprotected nuts.

 Steve-O: (hesitant) I'm Steve-O...(whimpering) Why do I have to be Steve-O? I really don't wanna be Steve-O right now...

    • The Poo Cocktail Supreme, wherein Steve-O is launched skywards in a Port-A-Potty: "You don't look very happy about it." "Yeah..."

 Bam: Hey, Steve-O! You ready in there?

Steve-O: (downtrodden) No...

    • Said word for word by Ehren, right before he gets his tooth pulled out by a Lamborghini.
    • You know it's going to be bad when Steve-O apologizes to his father before a stunt. Ever wanted to know if someone's actually used a plunger on someone's butthole to get beer out? Now you know.
      • Then he promptly drank it and vomited.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Between the cast of the show and the people who tried to recreate the stunts, there's gotta be more than a few in there.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Johnny Knoxville seems genuinely excited at most stunts even when his fellow cast is terrified.
    • In one particular stunt in the second movie - getting blown to bits by an anti-riot claymore - Bam and Dunn are on the floor (Bam is crying, rather predictably) and Knoxville? He's happy.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The most recent trailer shows director Spike Jonze jumping over a speeding Lamborghini. This does occur in the film, but only during the closing credits montage. No other footage with the Lambo is in the film, besides the tooth pull.
  • Trilogy Creep: The first movie was intended as a Grand Finale, with the crew doing stunts they weren't allowed to do on TV. Then they made the second movie, after a guest spot on Wildboyz led to Knoxville realising he wanted to make more Jackass. And then they made the third film. To quote Bam: "Please, God, don't let there be a Jackass 3!"
  • What Could Have Been: MTV (who own the right to the name "Jackass") SERIOUSLY considered making a fourth season with all new cast members and even put out a teaser commercial in the 2002 VMA Awards. Thankfully they didn't when reaction to the news was extremely negative.
    • Jackass: Too Hot for TV, which got killed when Lieberman started making noise against the show.
    • Bam's uncle was to be in Jackass Number Two a great deal (you can see the original Lambo-tooth-pull in the trailer used against him), but a judge ordered all scenes relevant to him pulled off after being convicted of child molestation.
  • What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: After completing rehab, Steve-O said that his craziest stunts were actually the ones he did sober. Go ahead and take a minute to let that sink in. We'll wait.
    • To support Steve-O's rehabilitation, the cast made sure that no beer was available on set during the filming of Jackass 3D, so everyone performed sober. Which may explain why they appear to be noticeably more miserable.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Bam Margera is terrified of snakes. Obviously, they had to stick him in a trailer with a (devenomized) cobra in the second movie. He cried like a baby.
    • And then they threw a rubber hose on his back.
    • And that's after they chase him around with the snake.
    • Oh, yeah, the third movie gets even worse for him. They dump him into a pit full of snakes as revenge for his punching-glove pranks.
      • Preston Lacy is deathly afraid of heights. A scene in 2.5 had him on top of a couple of portapotties, recreating King Kong with RC aircraft.
        • Don't forget the stunt where Wee-Man bungee jumped off of a bridge, pulling Preston down with him. Before the stunt even starts, you can see Preston shaking with fear.
  • With Friends Like These... - Bam, Lacy, and Steve-O have walked off the set before due to assholish pranks done by the other members.
  1. Shaped like a penis
  2. Simply using "[Yo] soy" would've worked just fine