Each year, April Fools’ Day ushers in the chance to participate in a limitless array of (somewhat) socially acceptable shenanigans. Well, depending upon who you’re pranking, that is…
Need some inspiration for fresh new hijinks? Look no further than the antics of some of the most brilliant pranks ever caught on film — and by that we mean in scripted comedies. Here, we’ve rounded up TV’s best pranksters — and a few best prank-filled episodes — so that you can study, or simply celebrate, the art of making mischief this April Fools’ Day.
Jim Halpert | The Office
Jim Halpert is the undisputed king of workplace pranksters everywhere. As an employee of the epically boring Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin, Jim is forced to channel his creative genius into keeping things interesting. Jim’s pranks on his arch-nemesis, Dwight, are so numerous and brilliant that it’s hard to figure out where to begin.
In one episode, Dwight finds his trusty stapler encased in Jell-O, while, in another, he arrives to find that Jim has moved his desk to the restroom. Even when Jim relocates to another office, he manages to successfully rile Dwight by sending him faxes from “himself in the future” on Dwight’s own stationery. The next time you zero in on your co-workers as April Fools’ Day prey, rest assured that Jim has plenty of dastardly ideas.
Bart Simpson | The Simpsons
There’s something about prank calls that never gets old, as proven by Bart Simpson, who has been executing them flawlessly for about 30 years. Everyone’s favorite cartoon prankster can’t get enough of tormenting Moe, the local bartender, by calling him to ask for people with delightfully punny names.
As a result, Moe is constantly laughed at as he announces to the entire bar that he’s looking for “Amanda HugginKiss” or “I.P. Freely.” Even after all these years, Moe remains delightfully none the wiser — well, until he’s again subjected himself to Bart’s latest prank call ploy.
The Janitor | Scrubs
If there’s one thing that the show Scrubs taught us, it was to never underestimate janitors. J.D. and his fellow staff members at Sacred Heart Hospital live in constant fear of a character simply known as The Janitor. While everyone knows that The Janitor is a huge fan of causing suffering (especially J.D.’s), no one can predict what schemes his diabolical mind will come up with next.
Some of his tricks are relatively straightforward, such as spraying J.D.’s crotch to make it appear that he’s wet himself, or tripping him with a mop. But every now and then, The Janitor will come up with a next-level prank. In episode 4 of season 5, he convinces the entire staff to pretend they know how to play a game called “Jiggly Ball.” Of course, J.D. is too proud to admit he’s never heard of it, so he spends the entire episode pretending that he too is a seasoned jiggly baller.
Jake Peralta (& the Rest of the Squad) | Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The fact that the already zany crew on Brooklyn Nine-Nine are all notorious pranksters only makes the sitcom even more fun. Jake and his friends on the force are constantly trying to one-up each other, resulting in a constant stream of fun trickery.
However, the sitcom struck gold when the writers worked an elaborate prank into the first season’s Halloween episode. It turned out to be such a success that they made it a recurring theme to include at least one “Halloween Heist” episode in each season. The pranks, which usually revolve around stealing something, get more elaborate and delightfully ridiculous each year.
“The Heart Is a Lonely Snipehunter” | Cheers
In the third season of Cheers, there’s a great episode called “The Heart Is a Lonely Snipehunter,” which begins with Sam, Norm, Cliff, and some of the other guys from the bar heading out on a fishing trip. When a depressed Frasier comes in, Diane guilt-trips the guys into taking him along.
They later return, only to reveal that they’ve tricked Frasier into going on a “snipe hunt” for a fictional creature. Just as they’re feeling guilty enough to break the horrible truth to Frasier, he shows up and announces that he enjoyed the experience so much he can’t wait to go snipe hunting again soon.
“The War” | Boy Meets World
In the seventh season of Boy Meets World, a prank war erupts between Cory, Shawn, and all their friends in an episode called “The War.” It all begins when Rachel gets frustrated over Shawn’s decision to park in her spot. When she demands that he move the car, she awakens the next day to find that Cory and Shawn have taken revenge by somehow smuggling her car into her dorm room.
Vowing to make them pay, Rachel soon begins recruiting fellow pranksters of her own. As things continue to escalate, they ultimately get way out of hand. The episode ends on a cliffhanger with everyone’s relationships on the line. So, uh, maybe don’t take too much inspiration from Cory and the gang.
The Pranksmen | 30 Rock
30 Rock‘s Frank and Toofer form the core members of an elite but unofficial group called “the pranksmen,” whose sole mission is to pull hilarious pranks on the rest of the writers and staff. In the season 6 episode “Nothing Left to Lose,” they convince Jenna to dress up in full Smurf garb — convincing her, via a prank call, that they’re director Christopher Nolan.
After realizing she’s been had, Jenna decides to take revenge by rooting through their garbage for embarrassing personal details. Little does she suspect that the pranksmen have another plan of their own. She later discovers that they’ve submitted a video of her foraging through the trash to a fetish website.
“Greg Pikitis” & “New Beginnings” | Parks & Rec
While Leslie Knope tends to be a pretty friendly gal, she’s not without an arch-nemesis — teenage prankster Greg Pikitis. When he’s first introduced in the aptly named season 2 episode “Greg Pikitis,” we learn Greg’s made a tradition of vandalizing the town statue every Halloween. While he’s managed to evade capture so far, Leslie and the gang are determined to finally catch him in the act.
There’s also some fun prank action in an episode called “New Beginnings.” April, Andy, and Donna decide to prank Ben when he’s hired on as Pawnee’s new City Manager. Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t find the false arrest they devise nearly as hilarious as they do, so he vows to take revenge with a prank of his own. Ultimately, he manages to win the team’s respect — even though his efforts turn out to be… fairly meh.