I first remember watching the CKY films (often viewed as a precursor to the MTV series) in the early 2000s and they immediately struck a chord with me as a 12 year-old with a juvenile sense of humour. After all, it's difficult not to warm to a group of fully-grown men so intent on injuring themselves for the sake of entertainment.
In theory it should never have worked as a TV series, but the fact that the Jackass franchise has been with us for well over a decade now, is concrete proof, if ever it were needed, that the series' fan base hasn't lost any of its love for Johnny Knoxville and his merry band of idiots.
So it was with great sadness on Monday that news emerged of Ryan Dunn's untimely death in a car accident at the age of 34. I'd always somewhat naively assumed that, having risked life and limb for entertainment's sake for well over a decade, the Jackass boys would do a Keith Richards and live forever. Dunn's death threw an unexpectedly tragic spanner in the works. It came as a huge shock for a lot of people, but what's perhaps most surprising about his death is the fact that it came about as a result of something other than a stunt gone awry.
For years fans of the show have always been cautiously aware that the gang were often putting their lives on the line for our entertainment, but few could honestly say that they ever expected Dunn, Knoxville or anyone else to die so young. We just expected them to grow old and fade into obscurity. Ryan Dunn may have been a poster boy for an undeniably juvenile brand of humour, but it's one that's come to define a generation.
The gifts he's left us are wholly unique. I'll never tire of seeing him battered by a professional female boxer, nor will I grow bored of seeing him dive into a sewage plant or get blown away by a jet engine. He did stupid, dangerous things to make people laugh, and did so with the same level of passion and enthusiasm that any great talent you'd care to list had for their art.
At the end of the day Ryan Dunn was a performer who loved what he did and made millions of people laugh in the process.
The questionable nature of his death may have tarnished his reputation in the eyes of some and his brand of humour might not have been for everyone, but his passing is an unquestionably sad affair regardless of your point of view.
Rest in peace Random Hero. The world's a poorer place without you.