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The Fan Injury That Led Jackass To Change The Tone Of Their Disclaimer

More than 20 years after the original "Jackass: The Movie" hit theaters, it's fair to say that one of the franchise's most iconic and enduring aspects is the disclaimer that plays before each movie. Every "Jackass" film opens with a caveat narrated by the stunt group's frontman, Johnny Knoxville, which reads: "Warning, the stunts in this movie were performed by professionals, so for your safety and the protection of those around you, do not attempt any of the stunts you're about to see."

Although this message might seem like common sense to some (especially considering some of the ludicrously dangerous stunts that the "Jackass" crew has performed over the years), it's one that bears repeating on the off chance that some diehard fan decides to emulate these stunts for their amusement. Considering just how iconic this brief blurb has become within the "Jackass" film franchise, it might surprise some fans to learn that the disclaimer was once much less serious — and that the team from "Jackass" were forced to change the message after a particularly brutal fan injury.

Jackass adopted a more serious disclaimer after a teenage fan set himself on fire

Longtime fans of "Jackass" might remember that the earliest episodes of the original series on MTV were accompanied by a much more relaxed and humorous disclaimer, which explained that the show featured "stunts performed by professionals and/or total idiots ... MTV insists that neither you [nor] any of your dumb little buddies attempt the dangerous crap in this show" (via Hartford Courant).

This somewhat flippant disclaimer was changed following a 2001 incident in which a 13-year-old fan from Connecticut set himself on fire in an attempt to recreate a stunt from the series — the teenager suffered second- and third-degree burns on his legs. The incident prompted Senator Joe Lieberman to request that "Jackass" be canceled by MTV (via Entertainment Weekly). In response, the series adjusted the tone of their disclaimer to be more serious and less overtly comical in the hopes that a firmer warning might dissuade any other fan who decided to replicate their life-threatening stunts. This solemn disclaimer was adapted once the franchise moved from television to film, resulting in Johnny Knoxville's iconic warning at the opening of each "Jackass" movie.

In any case, it's certainly interesting to consider what the series' reputation might be today if that original disclaimer had remained in use and whether or not said disclaimer would have encouraged more fans to emulate the stunts they saw on-screen.