The climactic shoot-out was considered intensely graphic by few critics at the film's premiere. To attain an "R" rating, Scorsese had the colors de-saturated, making the brightly colored blood less prominent. In later interviews, Scorsese commented that he was actually pleased by the color change and considered it an improvement over the originally filmed scene, which has been lost. In the special-edition DVD, Michael Chapman, the film's cinematographer, regrets the decision and the fact that no print with the unmuted colors exists anymore, as the originals had long since deteriorated.
Some critics showed concern over 13-year-old Foster's presence during the climactic shoot-out. Foster said that she was present during the setup and staging of the special effects used during the scene; the entire process was explained and demonstrated for her, step by step. Moreover, Foster said, she was fascinated and entertained by the behind-the-scenes preparation that went into the scene. In addition, before being given the part, Foster was subjected to psychological testing to ensure that she would not be emotionally scarred by her role, in accordance with California Labor Board requirements.
Copies of the film distributed for TV broadcast had an unexplained disclaimer added during the closing credits:
To our Television Audience: In the aftermath of violence, the distinction between hero and villain is sometimes a matter of interpretation or misinterpretation of facts. "Taxi Driver" suggests that tragic errors can be made. The Filmmakers.
John Hinckley, Jr.
Taxi Driver formed part of the delusional fantasy of John Hinckley, Jr. that triggered his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, an act for which he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley stated that his actions were an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, on whom Hinckley was fixated, by mimicking Travis's mohawked appearance at the Palantine rally. His attorney concluded his defense by playing the movie for the jury. White House Press Secretary James Brady, who remained paralyzed after the shooting, died on August 4, 2014.