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Sitcom pranking: When your favorite television shows celebrate April Fool's Day

Throughout television history, there have been some truly memorable holiday related episodes. From the regular Halloween shows on Roseanne to the famous Thanksgiving episodes on Friends, the team behind your favorite television shows have often found the fun in having familiar characters celebrate different holidays. While April Fool’s day is not one of the most commonly celebrated television holidays, there have been some really great episodes and pranks over the years. Some have the characters playing pranks on each other, while others prank the audience themselves. Here is a look at a few of the best.

South Park

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are no stranger to playing tricks on their viewers, but the best prank came in 1998 on April 1. The episode, titled “Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus” was supposed to air the results of a cliffhanger from the week before. In the previous episode, “Cartman’s Mom is a Dirty Slut,” fans had been promised that they would learn the truth about the identity of Eric Cartman’s real father. Instead of the giant cliffhanger resolution that was promised, South Park aired an entire episode featuring the Canadian cartoon characters Terrance and Philip. Needless to say, fans were less than pleased. Comedy Central received thousands of angry emails, but still had to wait until the April 22nd episode to learn the identity of Cartman’s father.


In 2010 Community aired their April Fool’s Day episode when Annie and Shirley became temporary campus security guards when Britta’s prank has some pretty terrible consequences. The humor comes when both Annie and Shirley want to be the “bad cop.” It’s an excellent example of April Fool’s Day in television, though there are no real pranks pulled on the audience themselves.

Family Guy

In the episode titled “April in Quahog” Tom Tucker takes to the airwaves to announce that the world is about to end. The entire town goes crazy trying to complete all their bucket list items and Peter tells his kids that he doesn’t even like them, just as the countdown to the end of the world begins. Of course, it turns out to be an April Fool’s Day prank, pulled by Tom Tucker and the news team.


On March 24, 1980, M*A*S*H aired their April Fool’s episode in which Colonel Potter warns that the horrible Colonel Tucker is coming to visit, so Hawkeye decides to pull an elaborate string of pranks. When everyone assumes they will be court-martialed they dump a bucket of beer on Colonel Tucker, convincing Hawkeye that he has killed Tucker. Of course, it turns out that Potter and Tucker were in on it, there is no court-martial and it was all a big prank on Hawkeye.

The Simpsons

April 1, 1993 was the first Simpsons Clip Show, titled “So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show.” The episode began when Homer starts playing pranks on Bart. In retaliation, Bart plans the ultimate prank, shaking a can of beer so hard that it explodes. The explosion puts Homer in a coma and the family gathers around to reminisce about their past. It was the first time the Simpson’s aired a clip show, which is perhaps the actual prank of the episode. Since viewers were hoping for a new episode.


Roseanne had a reputation for airing episodes that tied in with the many different holidays, so fans were eager to see what would happen on the April 10, 1990 episode titled “April Fool’s Day.” The entire episode revolves around Dan and the Conner family trying to get their taxes done, which causes them to go to the IRS offices and take a stand against the system. The prank here was really in the title, since there was no mention of April Fool’s Day in the episode itself, and it even aired 10 full days after April Fool’s Day.


Even dramas like ER got in on the April Fool’s Day fun. In 2001, an episode titled “Survival of the Fittest” aired, in which the staff tries to keep things light in the emergency room by playing pranks on each other, despite lots of trauma and very serious issues coming into the hospital. The most memorable moments included Malucci pretending to be a mental patient, Luka injecting him with Haldol, which knocks him out, and Malucci gluing his own hand to his forehead.

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