10 Pranks That Went Horribly Wrong


No one knows what the first prank ever played on someone else was, but it probably had something to do with one caveman hiding a Mastodon steak from his buddy. These days pranks are a lot more elaborate and, sometimes, far more dangerous.

10. YouTuber Shot

Prank videos have long been a popular subgenre of YouTube videos, and every once in a while someone gets a pretty bad idea for one. In February 2021, a YouTuber in Nashville thought it would be a good idea to try to pull a prank robbery in a parking lot.

Twenty-year-old Timothy Wilks and a friend approached a group of people in the parking lot with butcher knives, filming the incident for their YouTube channel in the hopes of getting some genuine fear reactions. One of the intended victims, obviously not aware that it was a prank, pulled out a concealed weapon and shot Wilks in self-defense, killing him. 

The shooter in the incident was not charged because, unaware of what was going on, he was in genuine fear for his life.

9. ISIS Kidnapping

The essence of a prank is to pull a trick that is funny because, even though the victim gets duped and suffers some kind of embarrassment as a result, you let them in on the joke and that diffuses the tension created by the prank in the first place. There’s a fine line to walk with pranks because they can push things too far and the victim will feel like they’ve been abused rather than part of a joke. 

A mean spirited prank is generally not funny to the person being pranked. You could make a strong argument that, if the victim of the prank doesn’t see the humor in it once they are let in on the joke, then it wasn’t a good prank in the first place.

In 2016, Egyptian actress Heba Magdy was the victim of a prank on an Egyptian TV show. For this prank, the actress was kidnapped by what appeared to be ISIS terrorists.

Men in masks with guns put her on camera in front of an ISIS flag and forced to read a statement, similar to the way actual ISIS videos have played before they end up beheading a victim. The actress is seen crying and in a panic as the presumed terrorists yell at her and point guns at her head.

After one fake terrorist tries to strap her with a suicide vest, the scene descends into chaos with explosions going off and Magdy screaming and begging for her life before someone finally sits her down and explains the so-called joke. 

8. Prank Bank Robbery

It’s probably safe to say that any prank that involves faking a major crime without letting anyone know you’re faking the crime is not a good idea. So in 2019, when twin YouTubers Alex and Alan Stokes tried to make like they were robbing a bank as part of a YouTube video, law enforcement didn’t take very kindly to it.

The prank was not actually to pretend to rob the bank, so much as to make someone think they had robbed a bank. Instead of going in with fake guns, they didn’t actually go into a bank at all.They brought bags of cash with them, put on masks at the door, and then just made it look like they were running out of the bank they had robbed.

The prank was not on anyone in the bank; it was to be on an Uber driver who is going to be waiting for them as their unwitting getaway driver. As you might expect, the Uber driver that they were counting on simply refused to give them a ride, because why would anyone give two bank robbers a ride?

A bystander witnessed the incident go down and assumed they were actual bank robbers trying to carjack somebody, so they called the police. The police arrived and pulled guns on the Uber driver because they figured he was involved. It took some questioning to get to the bottom of what was going on and the Uber driver was released, but that doesn’t change the fact that police held him at gunpoint in an effort to figure things out.

Amazingly, the police let the two brothers go as well after telling them how potentially dangerous their prank was. And, clearly unable to take the lesson to heart, the brothers tried the exact same prank four hours later with the exact same results. The police were not so lenient this time, and the twins were charged with false imprisonment and falsely reporting an emergency.

7. Butt Air

There’s a certain kind of prank that only exists between two friends. The kind of very stupid prank that is designed  to hurt and humiliate one friend for the enjoyment of the other. These kinds of pranks go right, it’s still kind of awful when you hear about it, but people laugh later on because at least everyone survived. The problem is, not everyone always survives.

In 2018, a Japanese man was the victim of an attempted prank by a friend at work. Both men work together at a manufacturing plant, and the prankster thought it would be funny to shoot his buddy in the butt with some compressed air. If you have ever worked with compressed air, then you are aware of the kind of warnings that come along with it, and potentially the damage that compressed air can do. You’re never supposed to direct a blast of compressed air at yourself or another person because of the potential harm it could cause.

Despite the fact that the victim was fully clothed, compressed air can easily pass through not just clothing but flesh. The burst of air actually damaged the lungs of the victim which led to his death.

Amazingly enough, this isn’t even the first compressed air prank that led to death in Japan. Within the previous year, three other victims have died from similar pranks. In 2013 soldiers from Japanese Self-Defense Force were injured following the same sort of compressed air to the rectum pranks although none of those people died. 

6. Coma Squeeze

Continuing the theme of hurting friends as a prank, nothing in the pantheon of painful pranks you can pull on a friend seems to be funnier injuring someone else’s testicles. There’s a reason everyone knows what “football in the groin” means.

Still, it’s worth noting that this is more than just a painful prank to pull on a friend. It can lead to serious damage. A teenage boy in Ireland was joking around with friends during his lunch at school. Somehow this ended up with one of the boy’s friends grabbing hold of his testicles and yanking on them. The shock to his system was so severe that he actually went into cardiac arrest. Doctors put the boy in a medically induced coma when he got to the hospital.

5. Ceiling Removal

Not every bad idea prank ends with somebody in the hospital or worse. Some of them are just inconsiderate. Such was the case with one office worker’s prank as retold in a Reddit thread.

The prank sounds simple enough; the worker put a speaker inside the ceiling tiles in their office and had it play an eight hour long video of meowing cats. In theory, this was meant just to annoy coworkers and make them think that some cats had gotten loose in the building. What the person didn’t think was that the office workers would genuinely believe that a cat had gotten loose in the building and start looking for it.

At first the prank was going as planned and people in the office were just talking about how a cat must have been in the ventilation system somewhere. Sometime later, the prankster discovered that ceiling tiles had been removed and maintenance workers were crawling around in the ductwork looking for cats.

Eventually someone found the speaker, realized it was a prank, and the boss sent out a company-wide email calling out whoever did it. No one in the Reddit thread thought the prank was particularly funny either, pointing out that of course people are going to go looking for cats stuck in the ceiling, because who wouldn’t look for a cat stuck in the ceiling?

Nobody got hurt as a result of the prank, and it was a little more than time wasted, but it does go to show that a poorly thought-out prank is going to make you the most hated person in the office if you’re not careful.

4. Toilet Zoom Prank

Thanks to Covid-19, business meetings had to adapt to social distancing and Zoom reaped the rewards.  It became the biggest app of the year 2020 it is so ubiquitous now that Zoom is both a noun and a verb.  The only problem is that people haven’t fully adapted to using it properly and there have been a few mistakes along the way. And, there’s also been a few misguided pranks.

Nick Emery was the CEO of an advertising company called Mindshare. While having a Zoom meeting with his colleagues, Emery was struck by the call of nature. Thinking it would be funny, he brought his camera into the bathroom with him. According to Emery’s own statement, he decided to film himself with his bottom out while having a wee.

Now keep in mind Mindshare is no small company. Their annual revenues are listed as  $1.3 billion. And this was the company CEO.

After the meeting, the prank was reported to the Board of Directors and Emery was removed from his position. He’d been running the company for over 20 years at this point, and apparently desperately needed a vacation.

3. Exploding Chair

As we have seen, the idea that pain equals humor has never fully gone away, which is probably part of the reason why comedian Robin Armstrong broke his back.

Armstrong and his girlfriend had been going back and forth pulling pranks on one another. That’s been a staple of YouTube pranking for the better part of a decade now. While Armstrong thought he was getting pranked by friends throwing pieces of cheese at him, what he didn’t realize was his girlfriend had rigged his chair to explode.

The blast launched Armstrong 10 feet into the air and when he landed he fractured his back, after missing the pool that he was supposed to land in. Although the damage was not permanent, he ended up at the hospital for at least three weeks during his recovery.

2. Hot Water Challenge

Anytime you hear the words “the (blank) challenge these days, there’s a good chance you’re about to experience something either stupid or dangerous. Social media has given rise to the baffling proliferation of so-called challenges where participants are tasked with doing something remarkably harmful for absolutely no reason whatsoever, other than saying they did it, and trying to get someone else to do it.

Some early challenges, like the cinnamon challenge, were fairly innocuous. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for the people who did it, but it didn’t cause much permanent damage to most people. But challenges have evolved since then, and some of them are remarkably dangerous. Enter the Hot Water Challenge

The name of the challenge is misleading as it’s not just hot water, it’s boiling water. The point of the challenge is to either drink boiling water through a straw or just pour it on a friend.That’s exactly what happened to 15-year-old Kyland Clark when a friend dumped a pot of boiling water on his back, chest, and face. 

The two had been looking up the challenges on the internet and later that day, when Clark was asleep, his friend boiled the water and dumped it on him. He wasn’t even awake when it happened. By the time he got to the washroom to try to put cold water on it, skin was already falling off of his face.

Clark suffered second-degree burns and spent a week in the hospital. This came on the heels of a 2017 incident when an eight-year-old girl actually died after drinking boiling water. Suffice it to say that there’s no good reason to engage in a prank that’s going to horribly scar yourself or your friends.

1. Ding Dong Ditch

Remember ding dong ditch? It’s a classic old school prank that seems to have really been a staple of the 1970s and ’80s, but has survived beyond for those kids who enjoy a bit of neighbourhood prankery.  The basic idea is very simple; you go up to somebody’s house, ring the doorbell and then run away before they can come to answer it. It’s probably annoying to the homeowner, but it’s relatively harmless. Or it’s supposed to be.

In 2020, 16-year-old friends Daniel Hawkins, Drake Ruiz, and Jacob Ivascu decided to play a game in their neighbourhood. Along with three other kids, they rang the bell at a neighbor’s house. The boys ran as the neighbor unlocked the door to come out and see who it was.

With a friend waiting behind the wheel of a car, the boys drove off. The neighbor, unhappy with being disturbed, got into his own car. He chased down the street after the kids and rammed into the back of their car, forcing it off the road and into a tree. 

Three of the boys in the car died, and the rest were badly injured. The neighbor was charged with three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He’s still awaiting trial.

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