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A New Jackass Stunt During Shark Week Went Terribly Wrong

The crew of "Jackass" has created many moments of TV history — who could ever forget Johnny Knoxville's beekini? — and for this year's Shark Week, they even re-created a moment from TV history. Discovery's annual summer celebration of the ocean's most misunderstood predators teamed up with the notorious stunt squad for a number of shark-centric experiments. Unfortunately for one member of the "Jackass" team, things went about as poorly as possible.

"Jumping the shark" is a reference to a now-infamous episode of the sitcom "Happy Days" wherein the perpetually cool Fonzie (Henry Winkler) jet skied over a ramp to jump a vicious, circling shark while on vacation in California — because of course he did. Nowadays, the term is used to describe the moment a TV series introduces an absurd plot point or narrative contrivance that ruins the show. "Jumping the shark" moments are often evidence of a show that's drawn on for too long, outliving the dramatic utility of its premise and any possibility of assembling its component parts into a fresh and interesting plot — hence the addition of the contrivance so outrageous it forever shatters the audience's suspension of disbelief. 

Some might argue that the "Jackass" crew figuratively jumped the shark sometime during the second Bush administration — or at the very least after their confounding third movie that's very existence seemed a narrative contrivance of sorts. Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine Knoxville and his dare-devilish cohort returning to literally jump the shark, though now that it's happened, it actually seems as inevitable as the unfortunate result.

Turns out: Literally jumping the shark is better for ratings

On the "Jackass" Shark Week special, Sean McInerey, known professionally as Poopies, recreated the notorious Fonzie scene. Except, instead of one shark, it was a swarm of them, and instead of nailing the jump, he crashed right in the water. It's a pretty harrowing moment — even by Shark Week standards. Heck — it's a harrowing moment by "Jackass" standards, and the subject did not swim away unscathed. The stunt resulted in Poopies suffering a bite on his hand and arm that caused serious injury.

"This was only one bite in one spot?" Steve-O asked on camera after the extent of Poopies' injuries were revealed. "And he's not missing anything?"

Chris Pontius had a more sober take in the immediate aftermath: "It's a reminder that yeah, like, we are pushing it pretty hard. And this could happen, of course. It's either, like, everything's okay or this happens. And hopefully it's always everything's okay, everything's okay. But then ... you know, this time it's not okay." Truer words have perhaps never been spoken in a piece of "Jackass"-adjacent media.

Thankfully, Poopies was quickly removed from the water and given proper medical treatment, but as he and co-star Steve-O revealed later in interviews, the incident and resulting injury weren't quite the laughing matters Steve-O made them out to be in the beginning.

The Jackass crew is choosing to look on the bright side

After being pulled out of the water following his shark bite, Poopies was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. Exactly how serious was his injury? According to Steve-O's recounting of the incident on his podcast "Steve-O's Wild Ride!," it was as serious as, well, a shark attack. The "Jackass" mainstay said, "He would be so f—ing dead if they didn't dive on him as fast as they did and f—ing get him out of there." Steve-O elaborated that the bite required surgeries to reattach tendons and arteries in Poopies' hand.

Of course, as anybody who has ever watched "Jackass" before already knows, life-threatening injuries are a part of the show's self-destructive DNA. To their credit, instead of dwelling on the negative, the crew likes to view things through a positive lens. During an interview with The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon, Steve-O said, "Now, of course nobody wanted anybody to get bit and we were all visibly shocked and super bummed that it happened. But once it did happen, I mean, you got to give Poopies his glory."

And it seems that despite his injuries, Poopies himself is happy to have made his mark on one of television's biggest events of the year. Whether it proves as enduring as the mark the shark left in him remains an open matter for debate. He told The Daily Beast, "I mean, it's a blessing in disguise. I got bit, but it's the best episode that Shark Week's ever had." 

Let's just hope no one at Discovery had the bright idea to screen the "Jackass" stunt for the notoriously galeophobic William Shatner, who had to face his fears without protective equipment during his own death-defying Shark Week cameo.

Shark Week is airing on Discovery from July 11-18. You can also stream it on Discovery+.