Image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay

A good prank must strike a delicate balance.

On one hand, the person pranked must be made to feel surprised, a little worried, or perhaps entirely confused.

But once that discomfort goes on long enough, the pranker must give back stability and comfort, hopefully getting a laugh out of the return to normalcy.

Some people aren't so good at striking the balance. Instead, they create true pain for the person on the victim end of the prank. When that happens, surprising them with the truth isn't the comforting force it's supposed to be.

It's just frustrating and stupid.

In the hopes of hearing just how bad a prank can get, Redditor Ghost_of_Society asked:

"What's the cruelest 'prank' you've ever seen?"

Many people identified the shocking lengths people will go just to earn some internet clout. The truth, though, is that their unkindness isn't impressing anyone.

Broadcasting Crimes

"There was that youtube 'family' that was like, 'daddy of five' or something, where one of the kids was literally -abused- constantly. They would do HORRIBLE sh** to this boy and then say "it was a prank for the channel" and he would be absolutely -destroyed- and scream he hated youtube..."

"Anything done as a prank for Youtube? Thats almost as bad as Child Abuse Pranking for Youtube"

-- rdewalt

So Much Wrong Here

"I remember when the ALS challenge was popular I read an article about a 'prank' played on a special needs high schooler."

"These kids told him it was just water in the bucket, but it was also pee, cigarette butts, all sorts of disgusting stuff. Then they put the video all over the internet, as though the bucket wasn't enough."

-- caffeineandvodka

The Peak of Ableism

"The girl who hid her boyfriend's wheelchair on YouTube that sh** wasn't funny" -- NiGaKaT

"Wheelchair user here: oh my god, I'd murder anyone who stole and hid my chair!" -- forest_cat_mum

Zero Sympathy

"I remember seeing a video where they switched the pregnancy test to a fake positive one on their 'friend' struggling with infertility. So messed up." -- lydiethesquidie

"Having family that has had this problem, this one got me the most. What a cruel and insufferable human to do such a thing" -- phileo56

Some people highlighted the times that people lied about death and dying. Not surprisingly, ultimate tragedy has hardly ever been a good foundation for pranking.

Last Call

"I have no idea what radio station this was on as I was only a kid, but they used to do prank phone calls. I have little to no recollection of many of them except this one, as even as a kid I could tell it was just wrong."

"The radio host rang up a woman and advised that he was the manager of her husband's company and he was very sorry to tell her that he had been involved in an accident with some heavy machinery and it had resulted in his death."

"As you would expect the woman was beside herself with being told her husband had just died, she was wailing on the phone and the radio host couldn't really get another word in to explain it was a joke, and then they just cut off the phone call and played a song."

"Even as a kid I knew it was a really stupid and cruel idea, and I'm pretty sure that was the last time they did a 'prank' phone call"

-- kacey_88

Gotta Be Another Way to Test That

"A friend of a friend in high school had her boyfriend pretend that he'd died. He had one of his friends call her saying he had died in a car accident and had someone else calling up pretending to be a doctor from the hospital. She was hysterical."

"Later that day (after she kept asking the fake doctor which hospital it was so she could be there) she found out it was all prank to 'see if she cared.' Horrible. Anyway, they broke up. To this day it's the nastiest prank I've seen in person."

-- BritasticUK

Cruel Kids

"In middle school a girl came up to us on the playground and told this dude to 'go see the principal, he's looking for you - he got a call that your mom died.' "

"Then as soon as the dude ran away she told us all she just made it up."

"It was fu**ing horrible."

-- billbaparker

And others talked about the pranks they knew that took aim at people's social confidence. Some groups apparently just can't help themselves from destroying a self-esteem or two.


"A group of girls at my high school told a girl that they were hanging out at one of their houses at nine near a train station, but they really just made up a time and place that would make her stranded at the last train stop with no more trains home."

-- FitInvestigator6740

On Cloud Nine For a Day

"Someone asked a guy to be her boyfriend, he said yes and the next day she invited all her friends to tell him that she did it as a joke."

-- NBfoxC137

Even at Work

"Friend of mine had a crush on his coworker, it was sort of an open secret. His manager tried to help him, offered advice, some things to say, small gifts she might be into, etc."

"What no one knew at the time was that said manager and said coworker had recently started dating and hadn't told anyone yet. So he meant it as a 'prank' on his new girlfriend to be put into these awkward situations, but my friend's feelings were really hurt when it all came out."

-- hobo_clown

Here's hoping most people have a little bit more clarity about what makes for a good prank and what makes it turn into simply an act of meanness.

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