4 Sitcom Pranks That Should Have Resulted in an Arrest

Don’t let the laugh track fool you, these are crimes
4 Sitcom Pranks That Should Have Resulted in an Arrest

Pranks are a fundamental component of the American television landscape. They don’t just fill up shows that hide cameras to secretly record random people and/or celebrities viciously attacking small children but manage to work their way into the sitcom world as well.

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These fictional realities will regularly feature episodes of our favorite characters gleefully participating in an ever-escalating series of pranks. (Jim Halpert’s HR file alone needs its own server.) And just like in real life, some of these pranks went a little… way too far. It’s pretty shocking that these TV characters didn’t end up spending the final few seasons of their respective shows doing hard time due to these stunts, like how…

‘New Girl’: Winston’s Wedding Prank Easily Could Have Killed Someone

New Girl’s Winston Bishop (aka “Prank Sinatra”) has a pretty checkered history when it comes to practical jokes. After all, this is the guy who once jokingly evicted his close friends and casually got Nick registered as a sex offender — before eventually becoming a police officer. 

When Schmidt enlisted Winston’s help to disrupt Cece’s marriage to Shivrang in the episode “Elaine’s Big Day,” Winston responded by engaging in multiple acts of criminal mischief, including crawling through the wedding venue’s air ducts, John McClane-style, and unleashing a live badger.

Winston and company end up crashing to the ground, nearly killing themselves and coming very close to injuring several wedding participants, who seemingly just let this incident slide. Keep in mind one of those potential victims was American treasure Taylor Swift, and hell hath no fury like Swifties.

‘Saved by the Bell’: Everyone Was Weirdly Cool With the Fact That Screech Was Kidnapped

As further proof that the entirety of Saved by the Bell was one frustrated teen’s nocturnal fantasy, in the episode “Save That Tiger,” Zack Morris and others commit several legit crimes and face zero repercussions. First, Zack steals the mascot of Bayside’s rival school, which happens to be an adorable dog. This is bad enough, but then it prompts two students from Valley High to steal Bayside’s mascot, who happens to be a human being.

Yeah, Screech gets flat-out assaulted and forcibly abducted. And for committing this honest-to-goodness felony, the Valley students merely get a stern talking from the principal. Not a single person even suggests contacting the police as a result of the kidnapping (or the dognapping, for that matter).

If this happened today, multiple true-crime podcasts would be devoted to investigating “The Powers Kidnapping.”

‘Cheers’: Sam’s ‘Bar Wars’ Could Have Ended With Woody Being Asphyxiated

A recurring plotline on Cheers found Sam and his gang of loyal functioning alcoholics trying to out-prank their boozy competitor: Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern. In the final installment of this long-running saga, “Bar Wars VII: The Naked Prey,” Gary breaks into Cheers and encases the bar in concrete just before St. Patrick’s Day, with Woody trapped, sleeping inside. That’s not a sitcom storyline, it’s a friggin’ Edgar Allan Poe story. 

It seemed to take the Cheers crew quite a while to chip through the wall of concrete, which begs the question: How did Woody not asphyxiate? Another good question: Why did Gary not face an attempted murder charge? 

‘Home Improvement’: Tim Taylor’s Alien Stunt Likely Traumatized His Children For Life

Tim Allen’s character on Home Improvement wasn’t exactly a model father, as evidenced by the time he hypocritically narced on his son. But one early episode was especially fucked-up, in retrospect. After older siblings Brad and Randy trick their younger brother, Mark, by concocting a story about how their mom and dad are really aliens from outer space, the parents respond by having an in-depth conversation with their kids about telling the truth going full Scare Tactics on the kids.

Yeah, they decided to terrorize the shit out of these literal children, staging an elaborate prank in which they dress up like horrific, Fire in the Sky-like extraterrestrial monsters. Which seems like a bit of an overreaction.

Amazingly, none of the panicked kids went headfirst through a glass window. Even more amazingly, the Taylors never received a visit from child services or the authorities. Incidentally, Jill Taylor eventually went back to school in later seasons of Home Improvement, getting a degree in psychology. So, presumably, she eventually realized that instilling needless emotional trauma on her small kids probably wasn’t the way to go.

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

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