A version of "The Jerk" shown on cable's Turner Network Television contained alternate footage. Besides changing the name of Navin's dog to "Stupid" rather than the traditional "Shithead," genuine alternate footage was contained. In one previously-unseen scene, Navin is so broken-up over the loss of Marie that he "just had to spin." The carnies remove him from the ride by force, and he tries to explain to them what emotions are. The "charity" montage is also rather different. Before the cat juggling sequence Navin meets a professor-type who insults him and shows him some apparently unpleasant pictures, and a Texan millionare who cries over small cracks on the seat of his airplane. Navin pays both, of course. In this version there is no "Iron Balls McGinty" sequence.
Generally, commercial TV prints that edit Navin's dog's name to "Stupid", show Navin on the amusement park ride, "so broke that he had to spin," show Navin conned into giving a man money after looking at "unpleasant photographs," and show the Texas Millionaire complaining about the seat cracks on his airplane. There is also extended dialog with Navin elaborating with Mr. Hartounian about making $1.10 an hour. Additionally, these prints have close up camera angles, to avoid showing Billy's profane T-Shirt. Most sexual reference dialogue by Patti is cut.
Other TV prints simply edit the theatrical release which omits Navin "spinning" at the amusement park, don't show the Texas Millionaire scene,and no added extra line by Navin said to Mr. Hartounian at the gas station. "You'll pay me, $1.10, if I work here an hour?" No conversation between Navin and the man with the "unpleasant photographs" exists in this version. Suggested sexual dialogue by Patti when he is visiting her trailer is often left intact. Navin's dog is simply named "Head" in this version. Billy's profanity T-shirt is not obstructed by camera angles, but the offensive word is "Whited Out."
There are some differences in network airings when Navin is narrating the letters he writes back to his family. Original network airings replaced the theatrical line, "Is Grandma still farting?" with "Is Grandma still burping?" The later prints all say, "Is Grandma still farting?" On edited versions of The Jerk when Grandma Johnson is reading Navin's letter they say that "My friend Patti promised me a job." This is in all network and standard cable prints. The theatrical release, premium cable channels, and DVD versions state the uncut sexual reference in the letter. A few commercial networks just edit out the line containing the sexual reference altogether.
Original TV network airings of The Jerk had a word of dialogue changed. When Navin is working at the carnival, he tells his boss Frosty that he only took in $15. Frosty says, "Navin, you have taken in $15 dollars, and given away 50 cents worth of crud." Navin excited over the "Profit Deal" changes his sales pitch to "Step right up folks, step right up! Take a chance and win some crud." On subsequent commercial TV airings, the word "crud" has been replaced with the word "crap." as seen in all unedited airings of the movie.
The original theatrical and premium cable showings of The Jerk have an added seen when Mr. Hartounian offers Navin a place to stay. He gets excited about renovating Hartounian's gas station bathroom. Hartounian says, "Navin, it's in here." He opens the door to a storage room. On most edited prints, after Hartounian says he has a place he wants Navin to see, it doesn't show the bathroom dialogue, but instead the conversation picks up in the storage room where Navin says, "It's perfect! I won't have to change this at all!"
On most edited versions of The Jerk, a small amount of sexually suggestive dialogue is cut out when Hartounian briefly introduces Navin to his wife at the gas station before leaving him in charge for the day.
Commercial and standard cable TV prints edit out the classic scene of Navin's "Dad" telling him the difference between "shit" and "shinola."
The sniper shooting at Navin. His dialog is changed to remove some profanity on broadcast TV and standard cable TV showings of the movie.
On the television version there are a few extra scenes not available on the VHS release. On the TV version Navan elaborates on making a dollar and ten cents an hour, and he also tells his mother he was waiting for his skin to change color any year now. This footage is not available anywhere else.
The scene where Mr. Hartounian hires Navin is a bit different in the TV version. Instead of showing Navin at the urinal, the entire shot of Jackie Mason is used until Navin exits the men's room. Also, Mr. Hartounian mocks Navin's response and mentions how kids today "wanna start on the top and work their way sideways," which ends in him wondering, "who'm I talkin' to?"
The scene where Navin and Marie first meet was also changed. After Navin rescues Billy from the train ride, he tramples through a bunch of miniature houses because his cap is pulled down. When Marie gives Navin back his stuff and thanks him for saving Billy, an alternate take and different shots are used. After Navin says, "he's a real little dickens," Marie adds the line, "so are you," and a close-up is used when she kisses him.