There's nothing quite like a prank to mix things up on any TV show, and the characters who pull them off range from evil geniuses to playful punks to simple April Fools enthusiasts. Plenty of pranksters have hit the airwaves over the years, and some have been more entertaining than others.
Shows like Punk'd and Candid Camera and even Ellen have guaranteed plenty of nonfictional pranks worth a Youtube binge or two, but there's something to be said for how far fictional pranks can be taken and how much damage can be done without us needing to feel bad for laughing. So, in honor of April Fools Day 2017, check out our ranking of 9 legendary fictional TV pranksters!
9. Homegirl, Workaholics
Workaholics has featured plenty of pranks over the years, most of them orchestrated to not-quite-perfection by Blake, Adam, and/or Anders. If you don't like pranks, Workaholics is simply not the show for you. As it happens, however, the person with the best pranks is not one of the main three guys. The winner is actually none other than Kristy Howard-Clark, a.k.a. Homegirl, who managed to literally get the last laugh over the guys.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: Homegirl recorded a video to be played in the event of her death, and she used it to flash the guys, yell "Psych!" one last time, and claim the title of "Main Office Prankster for Life."
8. B.J. Hunnicutt, MASH
MASH was a sitcom that spent 11 seasons with a group of doctors during the Korean War, which wasn't exactly a setting that naturally provided a lot of laughs. Luckily, the docs, nurses, and support staff kept themselves entertained, often with pranks. Hawkeye and B.J. frequently teamed up to pull one over on the others in their unit, but B.J. gets the edge over Hawkeye thanks to the episode "The Joker is Wild." He proved that he was even a better prankster than Hawkeye's previous partner in crime, Trapper John.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: B.J. recruited the rest of the 4077th unit to pretend to be pranked so that Hawkeye would drive himself crazy with suspense, waiting for his turn.
7. Winston, New Girl
New Girl's Winston isn't so much an expert prankster as he is a really, really, really enthusiastic prankster. Naming himself "Prank Sinatra," he believes himself to be the master of pranks, but according to Jess, he usually goes way too far - as when he registered Nick as a sex offender - or not far enough. Still, Winston sometimes gets pranking just right and manages to pull one - or many - over on an unsuspecting victim. Prank Sinatra may not always deliver on his nickname, but it's pretty glorious when he does.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: When Schmidt was irritating him about embracing his culture, Winston turned the tables and began telling escalating lies about his childhood. By the end of the evening, he'd managed to convince Schmidt that they needed to buy some crack.
6. Tim Canterbury, The Office U.K.
The Office may have become a TV sensation on the American side of the pond, but it got its start in the U.K. with an entirely different cast. Martin Freeman played Tim Canterbury, who would alleviate the boredom and frustration of his work at Wernham Hogg by finding new and wicked ways to mess with his co-worker Gareth's mind. If this all sounds familiar... well, you're not wrong. Still, Tim deserves credit for being the first guy at a TV paper company to keep himself entertained by messing with his co-worker, and he was pretty awesome at it.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: Upon discovering that Gareth doesn't like jelly, Tim proceeded to trap his beloved stapler in jelly no fewer than three times. Tim denied Gareth's accusation... while eating jelly in front of him.
5. The Trickster/Gabriel, Supernatural
The Supernatural universe is home to creatures known as Tricksters that thrive on all kinds of mischief and mayhem. There was one in particular that the Winchester boys ran into on a few occasions (and who was secretly the angel Gabriel), and he caused a lot of trouble for them. With his abilities to warp reality, shape-shift, teleport, and conjure anything out of thin air, there were few limits to his power, and he very well could have destroyed Sam and Dean if he'd been so inclined. Luckily for them (and us), the Trickster/Gabriel was much more into messing with them than murdering them.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: The Trickster created a Groundhog Day-esque situation in which Sam relived the same day over and over again, watching Dean die in a wide variety of violent (and surprisingly hilarious) ways.
4. Jake Peralta, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
If we're being totally honest, each member of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine cast of characters has pulled off at least part of a truly legendary prank. Each year on Halloween, the folks of the 99th Brookyln precinct plot complicated heists that involve escalating pranks, tricks, and ultimately, theft. Of all of them, Jake does deserve the title of best prankster. While Holt is the close runner up for how he uses all of his stern faculties to pull off epic heists, Jake gets the top prize for his attention to detail, thoroughness, and utter delight every Halloween.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: Jake's first Halloween prank, when he managed to steal Captain Holt's Medal of Valor, was one of the first times we saw the dedication and intelligence that makes him a great cop, and it was gloriously elaborate.
3. The Janitor, Scrubs
One of J.D.'s earliest and longest-lasting nemeses throughout the entire run of Scrubs was the Janitor. After an unfortunate incident with a penny and a door, the Janitor made it his ongoing mission to mess with J.D. in as many unexpected and painful ways as possible. Of course, J.D. wasn't the only person at Sacred Heart to fall victim to the Janitor's pranks, but most of the Janitor's especially epic burns came at J.D.'s expense, and they never failed to be funny.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: The Janitor persuaded the entire staff of Sacred Heart to tell J.D. that there's a game called "Jiggly Ball," which J.D. pretended to know how to play. The prank ends with J.D. being mercilessly pelted with tennis balls, having finally learned that there's no such thing as Jiggly Ball.
2. Bart Simpson, The Simpsons
Young Bart Simpson isn't known for pulling highly elaborate gags, but he absolutely deserves his place on the list of legendary pranksters by virtue of the fact that he's been at it for almost 30 years now. Bart has been crank calling Moe over at Moe's Tavern over and over again, asking for folks with names like "I.P. Freely" and "Al Coholic." Moe almost never fails to fall for one of Bart's calls, no matter how many he gets, and he'll probably keep on getting them for years to come.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: On one memorable occasion, Bart was able to prank Moe in person rather than over the phone. Moe was working as substitute teacher in Bart's class, and he called roll for kids named "Anita Bath" and "Maya Buttreeks." Naturally, the prank ended with 10-year-olds laughing and Moe weeping.
1. Jim Halpert, The Office
What other fictional character could possibly go down as the most legendary prankster? Like Tim Canterbury before him, Jim Halpert used a series of complicated and entirely unprofessional pranks on his coworkers to try and keep himself entertained at a highly uninteresting job. His most frequent victim over the nine seasons of the show was Dwight. Jim moved Dwight's entire work station into the bathroom, trapped his office supplies in jello, and once even recreated Dwight's desk and chair out of cardboard, then wrapped them so Dwight would fall when he tried to sit. Bravo, Jim. Bravo.
Crowning Moment Of Glory: While the majority of Jim's pranks were on Dwight, his best has to be when he recruited Pam to help plant Andy's cell phone in the ceiling, then repeatedly called it, to the point that an apoplectic Andy punched a hole in the wall.
Honorable Mention: "Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica."
Check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule for a look at all your other viewing options, and don't forget to take a look at our rundown of all the 2017 TV renewals and cancellations so far.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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