It’s one thing to incorporate movie quotes into your personal life. Heck, you could probably scam a half dozen dates with quotes from Jerry Maguire alone, which provided you “Show me the money,” “You complete me” and “Help me help you.” You had me at plagiarize.

But what do you do with fans who incorporate on-screen behavior into their real lives?

Netflix is grappling with that question now, thanks to zealous fans of Bird Box, the wildly popular movie that has them taking the “Bird Box Challenge.”

The exercise, which goes by the meme-friendly #BirdBoxChallenge,  is really an invitation to foolishness. The Sandra Bullock horror flick posits that evil forces have haunted Earth, turning people suicidal (or murderous if they’re psychotic) when they see the demon, which is never shown in the film. Based on the bestseller by Josh Malerman, the only escape is to gouge out your eyes or blindfold yourself.

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While the film excised the gouging element, it fully embraced the blindfolds — and prompted fans to do the same. People are attempting everything from walking around their homes to pouring a drink to applying lipstick on the willing.

Unsurprisingly,  some people are taking it further, from blindfolding their children to walking out in public, prompting Netflix to issue this Twitter plea:

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE,” read the unnamed corporate post. “We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl (the film’s child protagonists) have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”

Even the National Federation of the Blind had to issue a condemnation. “They’re going to get the wrong idea about blind people, and what blindness is actually like,” the federation tweeted. “The #BirdBoxChallenge creates mistaken and harmful impressions of blindness and blind people, perpetuating misconceptions. We strongly condemn it.”

Of course, this is foolishness nothing new for viewers, who have been co-opting ridiculous behavior on screen since, well, the invention of screens, when kids jumped off house roofs after seeing Superman take flight in TV serials.

At least kids had the excuse of the naivete of age. But it takes a darker turn with adults. Just ask Drake, who saw people jumping out of cars while driving to emulate a dance to his song  “In My Feelings” last year.  That “challenge” led to a spate of minor injuries and prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to issue a  warning that should be obvious: Do not to leap from a moving car to bust a move.

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But there’s no such thing as obvious to some fans. Here are five of the most horrifying examples of viewers taking on-screen mimicry too far:

  • The scene: Doc Brown drives through a time portal in a wall in 1985’s Back to the Future.
  • Real life: In 2015, an unidentified 40-year-old Nashville man who saw the movie drove his Dodge Challenger 88 miles an hour into a brick wall of a Pensacola, Fla. shopping mall. The mall was empty and the man suffered only minor injuries and was released after a psychological evaluation.7-drive-thru-brick-wall_000014556671_Small
  • The scene: In the 1999 movie October Sky, hero Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) pulls spikes out of train tracks and sells them to fund a rocket.
  • Real life: Police in Thiensville, Wisc. arrested two teenagers in 2006 for removing 157 railroad spikes to sell for scrap metal at $3 apiece. The teens, whose names were not released, were ordered to pay $2,500 in damages, $3,000 in replacement costs and the active CN Railroad line was shut for more than a week.


  • The scene: In the film Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson spikes Bradley Cooper’s drink with the eye drop Visine, giving Cooper a nasty case of diarrhea.
  • Real life: Fox Valley Technical College student Luciana Reichel, 22, from Appleton Wisconsin, was jailed for 90 days on a felony count of placing foreign objects in edibles after emulating the prank. According to the criminal complaint, on ‘numerous occasions’ in 2011 Reichel placed Visine in a quart-sized water bottle used by Briannia Charapata, her 20-year-old dorm roommate, who was treated for nausea and diarrhea.


  • The scene: Venturing into the wilderness in 2007’s Into the Wild. Christopher McCandless became a survivalist who wandered into the wilderness, dying of starvation in 1992 and becoming the subject of a bestselling book and big studio film.
  • Real life: Dustin Self, a 19-year-old man inspired by the film to go “off the grid,” left his home in Piedmont, Okla., in March 2013. His remains were found by a deer hunter a month later. Self died of exposure.


  • The scene: In Disney’s 1993 The Program, a drunk and drugged out character, Joe Kane, lies down on the road, daring cars to drive over him in an inebriated bout of bravado.
  • Real life:  Michael A. Shingledecker Jr., 18, of Polk, Pa., was killed almost instantly in 1993 when he and a friend were struck by a pickup truck while lying on a two-lane highway in the small borough in western Pennsylvania. His friend, Dean G. Bartlett, 17, was critically injured. And Michael Macias, 17, of Syosset, Long Island., was critically injured when he was hit by a car at in October 1993  as he lay in the middle of the road.