#2. April Fools Apocalypse Documentary Fools Everyone (by Airing in June)
On June 20, 1977, Anglia TV in England broadcast a documentary titled "Alternative 3" as part of a regular, not-fake series called "Science Report." The announcer explained the documentary had started as a piece about British scientists leaving the country to find better jobs, but that in the course of the investigation they had realized scientists weren't just disappearing from Britain, they were dying mysteriously -- especially physicists, engineers, and astronomers. Could this be some sort of conspiracy?
The documentary producers then said that they had not only uncovered evidence of an unknown space program, but that these scientists were leaving the earth. They claimed to have uncovered evidence of a conspiracy between world governments that was unfolding in a three-stage plan to deal with impending environmental disaster:
"You have to use it outside, dipshit. Chad, we're sending your son to ground zero."
Alternative one: Curb population.
Alternative two: House government officials underground until the impending disaster had passed.
Alternative three: Send humanity's brightest minds to a secret Noah's Ark colony on Mars.
The documentary filmmakers had discovered that "Alternative Three" was a reality! They even had an interview with an American astronaut who claimed he stumbled upon a secret lunar base! Holy fuck!
Just as we suspected.
It's impossible to know how many people took the show as real versus how many were merely confused (again, this was not a fake news show and this was not April Fools' Day), but Anglia TV was flooded with calls from people who thought it was, and large parts of the Internet still do. You can still watch the documentary online and find literally dozens of websites claiming it's the truth. Here's a lady telling a radio show she was just invited to join the Mars colony in 2007:
And all of this is because their wacky April Fools' hoax got delayed by a strike that required them to air it more than two months after the holiday. Guys, in the future, just save that shit for next year.
#1. Israeli Intelligence Officer Commits Prank, Near-Act of War
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Everyone gets bored on the job sometimes, even military intelligence analysts for countries surrounded by other countries who have vowed to annihilate them. So in 1986, an Israeli intelligence officer decided to spice up his April 1st work shift by creating a report stating that the Lebanese Shia leader Nabih Berri had been seriously wounded in an assassination attempt. Ha! It's that old "assassination of a Muslim political leader" classic! And made even better by the fact that Israel and Lebanon were (and still technically are) at war.
You might not recognize it because it's the part of the Risk board that nobody ever goes for.
The report was sent out to Israeli government officials, and, upon hearing the news, the Defense Minister burst into a parliamentary meeting to announce the attack (a situation which we can't imagine taking place without a huge set of double doors being flung open). And, even worse, the report was sent out to the state-run radio station, who reported it to the masses for most of the morning. This meant the report was also being broadcast to Muslim supporters of Berri in the area, who were already distrustful of Israel on account of the whole "war" thing. In other words, even after it was announced as a hoax later that day, some probably still saw it as the Israeli government making a veiled threat.
And what of the analyst who set this off? Well, after having to watch his boss (the aforementioned Defense Minister) squirm his way through an apology to the exact same parliamentary meeting he interrupted earlier, he was thrown in prison for 35 days.
"Hahaha! I fooled you guys so goo- wait, why do you have handcuffs? Oh, come on!"
For more ill-advised pranks, check out 5 Wacky Internet Pranks That Can Get You Jail Time and 6 Office Pranks That Went Horribly Awry.