Pranks are supposed to be lighthearted jokes you play on friends that involve some clever bit of deception and don't cause any lasting harm. But once you become famous, that definition changes to "raining viscera-strewn destruction upon innocent bystanders."
And, in what should come as no surprise to anyone who still remembers how to interact with other human beings in a way that isn't psychotically destructive, these can backfire in huge ways.
7Zach Braff Punched A Child On Punk'd
Professional wooden sculpture Ashton Kutcher's MTV prank show Punk'd was a delightful hidden-camera show about insanely rich and famous people playing insanely rich practical jokes on each other before collapsing into self-congratulatory giggles over their own cleverness. We got to see Justin Timberlake reduced to blubbering tears and calling his mother, and we got to see Kanye West freak the hell out because he famously has no sense of humor about Kanye West.
The punchline wasn't "Kanye West is a genius," so naturally he was confused.
What we didn't get to see was a child straight-up assaulted on television. Donald Faison, star of Skyline, thought it would be awesome to prank his Scrubs co-star Zach Braff by having a group of kids pretend to destroy Braff's brand-new Porsche. This went exactly as well as you might have expected.
Faison and the Punk'd crew set the prank up so that, upon exiting a liquor store, Braff spotted a group of toothpick-chewing adolescents spray-painting his $100,000 automobile. The kids were supposed to escape while Braff stood there dumbfounded, but the Garden State goofus apparently became possessed by some long dead Mesopotamian war god and chased one of them down, beating the 12-year-old actor mercilessly like a drunken stepfather in an after-school special.
The worst thing Zach Braff ever did, but only the 7,465th worst thing someone
wearing a Yankees hat ever did.
Needless to say, MTV had to edit around the beating before airing the hilarious prank, because a man violently assaulting a child isn't the kind of programming your advertisers generally thrill over.
6Someone On The Set Of Titanic Slipped Everyone PCP
For many people, a party isn't a party until you're tricking people into getting dangerously intoxicated. This logic has resulted in many a punch bowl being secretly tainted with whatever flavor of Schnapps was marked down at the liquor store that morning. The set of James Cameron's Titanic, while not technically a party in the traditional sense, definitely qualified in the "huge gathering of people eating from the same bowl" sense, so in keeping with tradition, some noble prankster (who remains unidentified to this day) decided to spike the crew's lobster chowder with PCP. That's right -- 50 members of the cast and crew of Titanic (presumably those who didn't eat alone in their trailers like a weirdo) got seriously wet. Ahem.
This entire steerage scene was just security footage they colorized in post.
Instead of an unforgettable dance-off and some impromptu karaoke, the prank resulted in a terribly sick crew and wound up sending 50 people to the emergency room. As we said, nobody knows who was behind the "joke" (which is a term here meaning "mass poisoning"). Was it James Cameron himself, trying to figure out who was cool enough to run with his crew? Was it Billy Zane being Billy Zany (we would have also accepted "pulling a Billy Zinger")? Was it the vengeful ghost of the actual Titanic?
Whatever the case, a doctor officially diagnosed the crew as "stoned," while actor Bill Paxton took special note of his co-workers' strange behavior -- laughing, crying, and milling about aimlessly -- while he himself became incredibly paranoid. The entire situation sounds almost as miserable as actually filming a movie with James Cameron.