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The Most Pause-Worthy Moments In The Jackass Franchise

The "Jackass" franchise stands alone. So many television series rise to prominence through the worlds they create, the stories they weave, or the characters they hook us on. "Jackass" took its own route, dropping all pretense of artistry and instead focusing on one simple idea: delivering memorable moments. From the first few minutes of the very first episode of "Jackass," all the way back on October 1, 2000, it was obvious that this show and this crew were going all-in on making moments we'd never forget.

Two decades later, after multiple series, movies, documentaries, spinoffs, and even a video game, Johnny Knoxville and company can consider their mission a success. By now, compiling a list of legendary moments from the "Jackass" franchise is like shooting fish in an ice barrel or taking candy from baby alligators. Some moments, though, deserve to be watched, slowed down, watched again, and paused right at the moment of impact.

With the release of "Jackass: Forever," which sees the gang once again try and top their past punishments, now is the perfect time to look back on the most pause-worthy moments throughout the "Jackass" franchise.

The angriest golfer

The legendary crew of the original MTV "Jackass" series was made up of Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Bam Margera, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy, and Jason Acuña, aka Wee Man. Together, they always maintained a delicate balance between punishing each other and pranking the unsuspecting public. In those first few seasons, most of the gang's stunts in public were limited to shocking or laughable displays that harmed no one except the cast themselves.

By the time "Jackass: The Movie" aired in 2002, the crew had begun placing unwitting bystanders in their crosshairs. Easily one of the best examples of a guerrilla prank style was the "Golf Course Airhorn." The premise could not have been simpler –- Knoxville and his crew hid in the bushes at a golf course and blared an air horn right when golfers were driving. One old fellow, his swing ruined by the sudden racket, did not the offense lying down. He turned to the gang and whipped his club right at Knoxville's hiding spot. It's worth pausing after his throw to see just how quickly the club spun in midair. The golfer then charges the gang, apparently ready to make good on his promise to "kick your a**," which prompted Knoxville's infamous excuse: "I'm sorry. I got bursitis."

Knoxville gets gored

Truth be told, the "Jackass Number Two" segment "Toro Totter" has a ton of separate moments that are worthy of a pause and subsequent empathic clenching. Just hearing the game's rules should make that obvious. Knoxville, Pontius, Dunn, and Margera sit on a four-person seesaw while an angry bull rampages around them. The last person to remain seated on the seesaw –- in other words, the last person not plowed by the bull -– wins the game, and more importantly, wins the chance to run away without serious injury.

No one is safe. Dunn is the first to go after finding himself in between a charging bull and an unyielding metal gate. With his counterweight eliminated, Bam becomes stuck on the ground and wisely flees the area. Pontius follows suit and runs, which should be no surprise since he once told Rolling Stone that he is"afraid of bulls more than any other animal." Then, all that is left is Knoxville, who gets more one-on-one time with the bull than everyone else combined. Though it hits Knoxville again and again, one slam in particular, thanks to the magic of close-up camera work, looks, sounds, and just feels like a car crash.

Poo Cocktail Supreme

Not every stunt in the "Jackass" catalog has to earn its fame through pain. Other frequent avenues for stunt success include vomit, unnaturally close relationships to animals, and -– like in the "Poo Cocktail Supreme" –- human feces. The stunt was a part of 2010's "Jackass 3D" and remains one of its most memorable bits.

Essentially, the stunt worked by strapping Steve-O into a well-used porta-potty, launching both man and facility into the air with bungee cables, and just seeing what happens. A fecal massacre is what happened. As the porta-potty shot up and down, up and down, pulled by the bungee cables towards an eventual equilibrium, Steve-O was absolutely drenched in human feces. Given the stunt's aerial acrobatics and the tumultuous trajectory of the feces, there are a few spots where a well-placed pause will yield shock and "aw, gross." The best spot, however, is the very first instant the wave of waste washes over Steve-O. The moment looks like an expert engineer's fluid simulation program at work but instead of 3D objects, the experiment is run on one very real Steve-O.

A toy car

Not exactly a gross-out segment, not quite a pain segment, and not really a daring stunt segment, the infamous "Butt X-Ray" bit falls somewhere in between them all. It is gross at times, was somewhat painful (at least initially), and it did require a certain daring, but the entire premise and its aftermath play out not quite like any other "Jackass" bit. Likewise, its most pause-worthy moment is unlike any others.

As the segment's title hints, Dunn inserts a toy car up his backside and then heads to a hospital to have X-rays taken. Though the actual insertion is worthwhile viewing, it's the ensuing visit to a doctor's office for X-rays that earns the most pause-worthy title –- at multiple times. The beauty of the toy car segment is not in its realization, but rather in the effect that it has on every unfortunate soul forced to bear witness.

The nurse who first views the X-ray of Dunn's nether regions, and the blatantly car-shaped object within, shares a look with the camera that paints a rich emotional picture. In her scowl, furrowed brow, and watery eyes, she expresses disbelief, fear, grief, heartache, and worry for the planet's future. Likewise, after the doctor points to the car in the X-ray and tells Dunn, "That's not part of you," his stilted silences say so much more than words ever could.

A total Knox-out

Throughout the long history of "Jackass," there have been periods where Knoxville was forced to sit out stunts and episodes for one reason or another, but "Department Store Boxing" from "Jackass: The Movie" sees Knoxville as close to the action as possible. In this case, the action is the right glove of legendary boxer Eric "Butterbean" Esch, and Knoxville was close enough to make direct contact –- direct, thunderous, kidney-bruising contact.

In the segment, Knoxville and Esch stage a boxing match, complete with a ring girl and referee, in the back of a department store. Knoxville knew going in that he would be sacrificing his body for entertainment's sake, but judging by his performance in the match (or lack thereof), it's doubtful that he knew just how badly he would be hurt and how quickly Esch could manage it. Every swing of Esch's is worth pausing if only to build suspense for the ensuing impact. One hit more than the rest elicits winces, especially from those who know boxing, as it sees Esch's violent right hook connect with Knoxville's spine.

Luckily, Knoxville escaped the brawl with only minor bleeding, bruising, and memory loss instead of a lost career like former WWE wrestler Bart Gunn.

Just keep swimming

We mentioned the tendency of the "Jackass" cast to create unnaturally close relationships to animals earlier, and it wouldn't be fair to leave that dangling over the rest of these entries. Yes, some of the animal segments over the years have sailed as uncomfortably close to sexual territory as international treaties allow, but many have been more curious than perverse. Such is the case with "The Goldfish," a sequence from the very first season of "Jackass."

Steve-O, a trained circus performer and alumnus of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, always knew his goldfish party trick would make it onto "Jackass." He planned on saving it for a special occasion, as he considered it "a real banger" (via IndieWire). He did indeed manage to save the stunt –- all the way until Season 1, Episode 2.

In the segment, Steve-O swallows a live goldfish and regurgitates it back into its bowl, still alive and still swimming. After minutes of retching, Steve-O finally manages to induce vomiting, and the moment of release makes for a fascinating -– albeit nauseating –- pause point. It's a few seconds before it becomes clear that the fish is still alive and well. In those moments, we're stuck with Schrödinger's goldfish.

Sweet, sweet eyeball meat

Another of Steve-O's animal encounters went decidedly worse than "The Goldfish." For "The Leech Healer" sequence in "Jackass Number Two," the gang flew to India to experience some traditional leech therapy. Well, perhaps their particular choice of therapies wasn't exactly traditional. England allows the guys to attach a leech to his testicles, which offers its own absurdly pause-worthy moment when England howls in pain while being restrained by Pontius. It certainly provides another when Steve-O tries to pull the leech off and it resists, stretching and pulling at England's tender skin. Yet, somehow, Steve-O's fate is even worse.

Steve-O lets Knoxville attach a leech to his eyeball. The process takes an entire minute and is as uncomfortable to watch as any segment. While Steve-O desperately tries to keep his eyelids pried open, the leech methodically tests the surface of his eyeball, prodding and exploring the best, most vascular areas. Throughout, Steve-O's desperate, pained, rasping cries make it impossible for us to forget his torture for even a second. Even once the leech has found a secure bite, Steve-O's torment continues. When he stands, his every neuron tells him to blink, but the rest of the gang, with the fate of the footage in mind, yell at him to keep his eyes "Open! Open!" 

Steve-O's leech ordeal is a good reminder that some of the most pause-worthy moments in "Jackass" are also the ones you want to pause the least.

Just your average anaconda bite

As Knoxville, Pontius, and England sit down to relive "The Anaconda Ball Pit" from "Jackass Number Two," Knoxville sees his blood-soaked arm and laughs. This, just seconds after admitting, "I had electric tape around my wrists because I didn't want the snake to bite through my arteries."

"The Anaconda Ball Pit" scene, in which Knoxville, Dunn, and Acuña hung out in a ball pit that contained two adult anacondas, went better than it could have, all things considered. The world's largest snakes are inhumanly strong and even their smaller cousins, pythons, have been known to kill prey larger than humans, as reported by the BBC. That's why the torrent of blood that dripped from Knoxville's arm wasn't viewed as a failure. If all parties leave the ball pit with (almost) all of their flesh and no broken bones, then the bit was a roaring success.

Despite Knoxville's lackadaisical views on his blood streaming from his body, It's worth pausing to see the snake bite that caused it. The bite lasts about one second and is still enough to tear a portion of Knoxville wide open. Pausing to reflect on that moment only makes it hit harder that the three actors continued the stunt until –- and even a little beyond -– Knoxville getting bit again.

A flesh pile of dudes

Leaving the blood behind, we turn to one of the silliest, funniest, and absolutely pause-worthiest portions of "Jackass 3D" — "Super Mighty Glue." The bit features Preston Lacey and Jason Acuña, a common pairing due to the polar extremes of human anatomy they represent. In "Super Mighty Glue," by virtue of an ultra-strength adhesive and some suggestive positioning, the two become one.

The bit opened with Margera using his Mighty Glue'd hands to rip a forest of chest hair apiece from both Lacey and Margera's father Phil, and then pulling hair from Dunn's luxurious beard. Knoxville then concocted the perfect plan to top it all: gluing Acuña to Lacey. After some logistical debate, the gang determined that a sort of head-to-toe positioning would be the best form and got to work. As the pair lays there, shirtless, glued together, heads straining to avoid crotches, you know it will end badly.

After waiting two minutes to let the adhesive set, Acuña starts prying himself off of Lacey. The following seconds, all extremely pause-worthy, show a multi-armed, multi-legged, flesh monster tearing itself apart. Skin stretches, hair rips out at the follicle, and Lacey screams like he is crowning. It's a moment of pure body horror that would make John Carpenter proud. Though Lacey bore the brunt of the pain that day, Acuña got what was coming to him while filming "Jackass Forever."

Knoxville cheats death

Since "Jackass" is a stunt show, prank show, and circus act all rolled into one, most of its best moments come when things go right –- or at least go wrong in an expected way. One piece of "Jackass Number Two" offers a rare, pause-worthy moment when things go utterly, dangerously wrong.

For the "Big Red Rocket" stunt, Knoxville is meant to cling to the top of a motorcycle-sized rocket and hang on tight as it blasted off over the open water. Then, he is expected to fall as the rocket's trajectory sank, landing with a harmless splash. That is exactly what happened, but only on the second take.

During the first take, the rocket misfired and exploded on the launch ramp. The miniature rockets housed inside it all shot outwards in different directions, each with enough force to kill someone. As Knoxville explained to Vanity Fair, one rocket nearly decapitated two crew members and another almost did Knoxville himself in. As he breathlessly put it just moments after the incident, "if [the rocket] had been [just a few inches higher], that would have been a picture wrap on old Knoxville." Morbid fascination alone is enough to demand a pause at the moment of explosion, in which the rocket that nearly killed Knoxville is clearly visible.

The High Five

Though Margera didn't see "The High Five" coming, any "Jackass" diehard could have seen the gag's inclusion here from a mile away. "Jackass" was always designed as an engine that pumps out fast-paced, satisfying, (literally) impactful moments, and "The High Five" may just be its pinnacle.

The "Jackass 3D" segment uses a giant prop hand that looks like it was salvaged from a "Double Dare" obstacle course and involves Knoxville and accomplice Acuña lying in wait for unsuspecting members of the cast. If anyone takes an unlucky turn in the duo's direction, they are ready to release the spring-loaded hand and give some poor soul "The High Five."

They first hit Dunn, whose fall is so perfectly framed that it could also be a Silent Era pratfall. They then hit McGhehey, who has been expertly set up to carry a tray of soup bowls. The resulting mess makes the hit an excellent second installment in this comedic trilogy. It's the third slap, though, that demands a pause. Strapping bags of flour to the hand's palm, they manage to slam Margera, and from the impact, you would swear he had been struck so hard that he died. It takes a frame-perfect pause to catch the moment of impact, but the effort is worth it when you see Margera go stiff as a board and fall like timber.

Heavyweight cup test

One of the most pause-worthy moments in "Jackass" history is seen in the trailer for the newest installment, "Jackass Forever." In a clip of teaser footage for the film, McGhehey volunteers to test the durability and efficacy of a sports cup through some pretty creative means. Since being struck in the crotch isn't quite enough torment for poor McGhehey, Knoxville also lies to him about exactly who will be doing the striking.

Knoxville tells McGhehey that a lightweight boxer will be punching him in the groin. When the real striker turns a corner and comes into McGhehey's view, he yells, "That's not a lightweight!" However, even then, he has no idea.

The man that punches McGhehey in the laps is none other than Francis Ngannou, a UFC Heavyweight Champion and world-record holder for the hardest recorded punch. Officials asserted that his punch is "more powerful than a 12-pound sledgehammer getting swung full force overhead," which is the equivalent of "getting hit by a Ford Escort going as fast as it can."

The ideal pause point is clear, and it is the second Ngannou's fist connects with McGhehey's groin. It's worth it for the sole purpose of placing bets at McGhehey's reaction before continuing through a moment that McGhehey will never forget for the rest of his days.