4 Jokes and Pranks That Had Deadly Consequences

Some punchlines end in tragedy
4 Jokes and Pranks That Had Deadly Consequences

We all love jokes, pranks and hoaxes. But for every hilarious crank call or successful act of whoopie-cushioning a loved one comes the risk that things could go horribly awry. Sometimes, what may seem like a harmless joke at the time has terrible, even fatal, consequences. While Ashton Kutcher and the Punk’d gang somehow have just a little blood on their hands, other practical joke attempts have sadly led to tragedy, like when…

Click right here to get the best of Cracked sent to your inbox.

A High School Student Was Killed by a Tack on Her Seat

Ah, the old “placing a tack on somebody’s seat” bit. Before smartphones and tearing apart bad stand-up bits on TikTok were sources of entertainment for teenagers, students killed time by putting pointy objects on friends’ seats and observing the ensuing buttockal chaos.

In 1930, a high school student fell victim to this seemingly innocuous prank but then got sick and died a few days later from “the blood poisoning the tack had introduced into her system.” The sad incident even made it into the pages of Time Magazine (although they didn’t exactly go overboard with the details).


Somehow still not as bad of a joker as Jared Leto.

A Man Accidentally Killed His Wife With an Old-Timey ‘Tramp’ Prank

Keeping a couple’s marriage spicy and exciting can be a tough task. Some options can include having regular date nights or going on a vacation... or dressing up like the ghost of a drifter and demanding to be fed. At least that’s what happened back in 1896 to a Tennessee farmer, John Ahrens, who reportedly wanted to play an April Fool’s Day joke on his wife and “disguised himself as a tramp, fastened a white mask over his face, and knocked at the door.” When his wife answered, he demanded that she make him dinner, at which point she fainted and died an hour later. As for the husband, the tragedy “crazed him with grief and remorse.”

The Des Moines Daily News

Hopefully, this is an excellent cautionary tale for partners to stick to couples’ costumes and safe words.

A Guy Dressed Up as Bigfoot Was Promptly Run Over on the Highway

It’s hard to imagine a sadder ending to a Bigfoot story than Harry and the Hendersons, but in 2012, one hoaxer’s sasquatch-based scam ended in disaster. A guy in Montana dressed up in a Ghillie suit while “attempting to incite a sighting of Bigfoot” but then stumbled onto Highway 93 and was hit by not one but two passing cars and ultimately died like so many innocent dogs and scumbag deers.

An Ecuadorian Tribute to ‘War of the Worlds’ Led to Multiple Tragedies

We’ve talked before about how the infamous hysteria that followed Orson Welles’ radio production of The War of the Worlds was vastly overblown. The Ecuadorian tribute to Welles’ show? Well, that is a whole other story. 

In 1949, more than a decade after Welles’ War of the Worlds aired, Radio Quito in Ecuador, a legit news outlet, decided to emulate the notorious show by broadcasting a bogus report about a “flying saucer in the Galapagos Islands” that “was getting dangerously close to the city.” They went so far as to claim that a cloud of “poisonous gas” was engulfing Quito.

While the joke only lasted for about 20 minutes, other media outlets picked up the story and began sharing it in earnest. When the station admitted the truth on the air to calm things down, people got mad; folks surrounded the station, threw rocks at the windows and eventually set the building on fireAccording to Time Magazine, 15 people died in the fire, while others were reportedly killed in the riot

Things may not have gotten quite so out of hand if not for the fact that the city’s police and firefighters were late to arrive on the scene because “they had to make their way back from the airport area where they had gone to fight off the ‘Martians.’”

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?