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When Does a Prank Go Too Far?

Updated on February 27, 2017
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.


Pranks Gone Wrong

Pranks are pretty hilarious and a lot of people work hard to take it to a whole new level. How far is too far though? You have probably seen some pretty funny YouTube videos featuring pranks. You know the main reason they are funny? The joke is not on you! If you were the victim, you might think differently.

Some people simply can't take a joke, even under the best circumstances. Those people I will lovingly refer to as "party poopers" and we can just leave them out of this discussion. In many cases, plenty of people around you are good sports. They enjoy a hilarious practical joke as much as the next person. Sometimes the jokes go too far though.

If you find that you are losing friends or your relatives disowned you long ago due to your pranks, you might just be a jerk. There is a fine line between being funny and being mean. Your pranks might just cross that line. If you are having a tough time determining if the people around you are just too sensitive or if you are a big, mean, nasty jerk, I am happy to help you determine the truth. Here are some examples of when pranks go too far.

Pranks Involving Death

I know this should be obvious, but for some reason, some of you think death is a funny subject. Guess what? It isn't. No one wants to think their Grandma passed away only to find out their loser cousin was just having some fun with a prank phone call.

Along the same lines, no one wants a call in the middle of the night from their beloved Auntie Sue that passed away two years ago. Of course, if somehow Auntie Sue's ghost is really calling you, that is awesome. However, 9 times out of 10 it is some creep playing a cruel joke on you. That is just so not funny!

Fake Home Invasions

Another type of prank that is just not that funny is similar to the death pranks. Pretending you are a robber, murderer, car jacker, or any other horrible criminal is not a funny prank. It is a scary prank. You could horrify someone so much that he or she passes out. That person could have a heart attack. At the very least, there could be a puddle of pee on the floor when all is said and done.

Faking any time of crime is actually serious. This is especially the case if your victim does not realize it is a joke and calls the cops. For your sake, I certainly hope your victim does not own a gun and decide to use it. If you do end up getting shot, it is a pretty sure bet your prank went too far.

Using a knife really took this prank too far...

You Are Not a Winner!

I personally believe one of the cruelest pranks a person can play on someone else involved fake contests. It is not cool to make anyone believe they've won the lottery, scratch-off tickets, or Publisher's Clearing House. Perhaps you do not need money so much. Maybe you can actually pay your bills or have a safety net. There are plenty of us out there that do not have enough money. To us, this is serious business.

I have personally threatened everyone I know telling them never to pull this prank on me. If someone does give me a fake lottery ticket, that is it. They are dead to me. Money is no joking matter and making someone believe they are finally going to be debt-free and not have to work every moment in life, and then having that joy yanked away, well that is just not acceptable.

It was the happiest moment in his life, then turned into the worst.

Pranks that Cause Injuries

I am not sure when this fad became so popular online, but apparently it is supposed to be really hysterically funny to attempt to kill people now. Let me explain what I mean by this.

I am constantly seeing videos online and on TV with people practically killing their roommates by buttering the bathroom floor. What is wrong with you? Don't you know most accidents happen in the bathroom? Why are you spreading butter on the floor when you should be spreading it on bread? Your roommate is going to come out the shower, slip on the butter, and potentially bust his head open on the sink. Why is that funny? Oh, that is right - it isn't! Death or going to the hospital is not a hilarious good time after all.

There are many other cruel pranks along the lines of practically killing someone, too. Tripping people, making people slip on stuff, pushing non-swimmers into a pool, stealing Grandma's walker... all not funny! It is not so much a joke; it is simply mean.

A little fake poo can go a long way....

Courtesy of Whisker Biscuits Pet Treats
Courtesy of Whisker Biscuits Pet Treats | Source

Final Thoughts on Practical Jokes

I know what you might be thinking about all this... perhaps I have no sense of humor at all. Well, that just is not true. I am one of the best pranksters around, but I believe in boundaries. No one should get hurt, pee their pants, or start crying when you prank them. If they do, you probably went too far.

You might be wondering what are some appropriate and fun pranks. There are still plenty! You can get totally elaborate and have your victims believe you until the big unveiling. Why not have your roommate convinced the dog pooped in the living room when it is fake poo? How about you convince your mother the aliens invaded and broke her vase (even though it was you)? You can even fall back on some standards like a whoopee cushion. No one is getting hurt and it can still be hilarious.

Have fun with your friends and family members, but don't ruin their lives. As a general rule, practical jokes are ever so much more fun when people do not need years of therapy to recover from them. Keep that in mind, and everything will be fine.

Copyright ©2013 Jeannieinabottle



Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    You are so right.... pranks can go either way. It is important the person you are pranking can actually take it, too. Thanks for your comment!

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 

    7 years ago from Nepal

    I have both bad and good experience about pranks. I have seen best friends turning into worst enemies because of some pranks.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    That is a very good motto we should all live by. Thanks!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    Thanks, Jeannie, for reminding us that pranks can get out of hand. Our motto should be:

    Jokes are good and provide much fun.

    Pranks are mean and can hurt someone.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    You are so right... what is practical about any joke? ;-) Thanks for your comment.

  • Laura in Denver profile image

    Laura Deibel 

    7 years ago from Aurora, CO

    Very good article on how ridiculous and ill-conceived some practical jokes/pranks are. Actually, isn't "practical joke" a very good oxymoron?

    Thanks for the good read.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Indeed it does. Those people were mean.

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image


    7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

    Ouch, that's like kicking someone while they are already down. Cruel.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    sheilamyers - A good hard punch is probably the best way to make a person realize he or she has gone to far. I believe in the same technique. :-)

    Kathryn - The fake lottery ticket is one of the cruelest pranks. Unfortunately the video I found on YouTube about the Publisher's Clearing House prank was not the full video... I could not find it. Apparently that poor guy had lost his job and he was devastated when he had not really won. That is just not cool. I could never be friends again with a person that did that to me.

    pstraubie48 - The pranks you listed were all in good fun and hilarious. I used to play those same pranks. One time I hid cookies from my father who is diabetic. You see, it was for his own good so he could not even get angry. My mother got angry instead because she never realized he was sneaking a cookie a day until he flipped out about the empty cookie jar. It was funny, but harmless. People go too far now.

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    7 years ago from North Central Florida

    You know, this really is a topic that should be discussed. In my college years I endured a number of pranks and of course was party to many prankings of others. And they were all in good fun---the old cellophane on the toilet, a mile high pile of soda cans in front of someone's door, ditto empty boxes, and on and on. We would laugh and clean up.

    The extreme pranks you mentioned, and that is what they are...over the top, are not funny when someone is injured or frightened so badly it causes them bodily injury as are the others you mentioned.

    However I fear you are talking to the choir. Many times individuals who create such pranks see nothing wrong with sad.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Shared. ps

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image


    7 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

    I have always hated watching the prank that involved a fake lottery ticket. It would be so disappointing to think you won so much money, and then find out it was a lie. But of course the worst ones are those that involves someone getting hurt, or potentially dying. It is amazing what some people will do for a laugh, and that they would even laugh to begin with!

    Thanks for sharing this with us. I love your attitude, and the kind of sarcastic way you write.

    Have a great day!

    ~ Kathryn

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Everything you said is common sense. The problem is there are a lot of people lacking in that kind of sense. I hope they read this hub. I love a great practical joke as much as the next person. People quickly learn when they've gone too far with me - they usually end up getting a good hard punch.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you so much, Tim. In some ways, I wrote this as a joke, but in other ways, I wrote this as a warning. I think some of the pranks are way too harsh I see on YouTube now. I believe "Punked" encouraged too many people to amp up their pranks and now many of them are just mean-spirited. If the "victim" (which is not great a word, I agree, but could not come up with a better one for these situations) is not laughing at the end of the prank, it was not really a good prank.

  • tsmog profile image

    Tim Mitchell 

    7 years ago from Escondido, CA

    I for one appreciate the sincerity as well as the seriousness of this article Jeannie. I normally do not like the term "victim" as the societal connotation is weakness it seems today. Allowing the perpetrator of a damaging prank the privilege of joint laughter or a joint action inferring "that was funny" offers inclusiveness as "you are forgiven" for the deed.

    Yet, as you have thoroughly pointed out, at times a prank is not only embarrassing, it does have life consequences - physical, mental, psychological, wellness, and at times a dead end along life's road.

    Well presented and of immense importance for readers, Jeannie. Thank you for authoring this work.


  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    That is the perfect prank! You see, no one should be looking in his drawer anyway, so the person looking gets what he/she deserves. I like how it is a prank as well as revenge at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sue Bailey profile image

    Susan Bailey 

    7 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

    After his drawer stopped locking someone at work used to leave things in there for people to discover if they should be foolish enough to open it. A rubber chicken, fake poo but the best of all which nearly gave one of his colleagues was a fake severed hand. That hand was so versatile; it used to be attached to cupboard doors, telephones, drawers, cups and all manner of things. It scared many a new employee. Voted up and shared.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    7 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    I know! I can pull some crazy pranks myself, but I never do anything that might harm someone physically or mentally. Thanks so much, Bill!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    7 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I saw a few of these when I was in college and there is no way they are funny...and yet the perpetrators, when caught, express amazement that anyone should get made about it.

    Loved this one, Jeannie!


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