Is There Such a Thing as a Nice Prank?

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Short answer: No

Pranks May Not Necessarily Be Bad, But They Are Not Nice

April Fools is the day for pranks, but let's be real here, pranks are not nice. Does that necessarily make them bad? Well, that's highly up for debate. In my opinion, pranks are just one step away from being a jerk and possibly a bully if the same person is pranked over and over again.

Hansen O'Haver wrote a post on Vice why Pranks Are Bad and she sums it up pretty well:
There's a pretty simple way to tell if a joke is offensive: If the punchline is the victim, the joke is probably bad. Pranks take this one step further. They not only laugh at the victim, pranks create a victim for the sole purpose of laughing at them. If that's your idea of a good time, maybe you're the April Fool.

When I originally posted this on Facebook for family and friends last year, I learned that many family members actually didn't mind being pranked, so I guess if you truly know the person you are pranking it might be okay, HOWEVER, that does not make it "nice."

According to Oxford, "nice" is defined as: "Pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory."

I fail to see see how covering someone's stapler in jello is "nice," or how tricking someone into eating an onion that looks like an apple is "nice." To me, these are unkind acts. "Unkind" is defined by Oxford as "inconsiderate and harsh to others."

Now maybe if you somehow know your friend is okay with a prank it could be considered "considerate," and the best way to know is to ask! However, that kind of takes away from the point of a prank and I think the chances of someone saying "Yes" to being pranked are pretty slim. Even though I had pretty persistent family members saying they were okay with pranks, I am skeptical that if asked "is it okay if I depants you in public?" that many of them would say yes.

Plus even if someone is okay with pranks, I am sure they have their own idea of what is okay and not okay, so just because they say yes, does not mean they will be okay with whatever prank you choose to do. In the end, the safer option I think, is just to avoid pranks altogether and find a different way to humor yourself that does not involve hurting or humiliating someone else.

Pranks Are Not Consensual

I think it is also important to note that a prank negates consent, unless as I stated above you ask beforehand, but then I do not think one would consider it a prank. 

This is important as consent is not just about sex. We all deserve to be in control of our bodies and what is done to our bodies, and yes, pranks do violate this. For example, this guy dyed his girlfriend's skin blue and got a lot of backlash for it. 

Now many in this case agreed that he went too far, but everyone's threshold is different and in the end, you can't possibly know what someone is or isn't okay with without asking. 

My Personal Experience Being Pranked

Maybe I'm a sour apple, but I still remember being pranked in elementary school and it still hurts to this day. I'm not friends with any of those girls anymore (probably a good thing), but that one act left a lasting impression on me and caused me to be more anxious about sleepovers.

I was at a friend's house for a sleepover. Some of us decided to sleep, others stayed up and watched videos in another room. The girls who stayed up thought it would be funny to hang a pair of underwear on the ceiling. Guess whose underwear it was? Yup. It was mine.

I was one of the few to wake up and see it. Someone asked whose it was, but the girls who did it didn't tell and went back to watching videos on a computer in another room.

I waited till the other girls went back to sleep. I just had a sinking feeling it was mine, and, of course, it was. I took it off the ceiling, rolled it up, and shoved it in my pillowcase.

I later found handwritten notes in the bathroom that some of the girls were passing back and forth. They had purposely tried to figure out which bag was mine. I was singled out of all the girls at that sleepover and it hurt. These were people I thought were my friends.

It was kind of a bad prank as no one even seemed to notice the underwear had disappeared and it was easily forgotten by everyone, but, of course, me as I still remember that moment to this day.

That's the problem with pranks, they are usually only funny to the people who are doing them. The person who is the butt of the joke often does not share in their laughter, and even if they do, it's most likely because they don't want their friends to think of them as a poor sport.

What About Surprises?

When talking to my husband about if there was such a thing as a "nice prank," we came up with "surprises," like a surprise birthday party, or when someone surprises you with a bouquet of flowers. Like pranks, these are unexpected acts, but instead of having unkind results, these are actually nice gestures.

Also, keep in mind there are some people who don't like surprises in general, so while your surprise party might be a nice gesture, it could really upset or trigger someone who does not like being surprised, no matter how good your intentions are.

In my search for "kind pranks," I came across this article on Sherrie's Berries, titled 13 Nice Pranks, where it lists a prank or trick like:
Cover their bedroom door, their car or their desk at work with multicolored Post-it® notes.
And then adds a "treat" to go with the trick:
Depending on who you’re pranking, write short and sweet love notes or kind thoughts on every note.
So in a way, a surprise could be considered a "nice prank."

Instead of pranks this April Fool's, I highly encourage you to consider skipping the holiday altogether, or instead, give someone a sweet surprise. Trust me, they will more likely appreciate the surprise way more than they would the prank.

Post a Comment


  1. I'm definitely not a fan of pranks, especially when it's used to laugh at you rather than have you laugh along with them!! I like surprises but I get anxious about it, what if I don't like it and I let the person who's doing the surprise down?? xx

    Holly |

    1. I never thought of a surprise that way! I guess I love to receive surprises, but I can see how giving them can be stressful. Usually when I get a surprise that I'm not super in love with, I still act gracious as it is the thought that counts. I wouldn't let them know I didn't like it to their face, unless it was someone I was really close with like my husband. I would still be grateful, but give him better ideas for next time. Luckily his go to surprise is chocolate, which I'll never turn down, lol!

  2. I agree with you - there is no such thing as a nice prank (they are surprises)

  3. I'm not really a fan of pranks. I don't like being surprised, and most pranks are too much of a surprise, if anything. Our cat hid on April Fools Day and we were panicking that maybe she had gotten out. My daughter said afterwards that she was mad at our cat for pranking us. It just goes to show how pranks leave us feeling.

  4. I am completely agaist pranks, they are not necessary and honestly all the pranks that have been done to me have been awful and totally a form of bullying! Hope you all had a prank free April Fools!

  5. We kinda just skip it. I did teach the kids the history of the day this year but we don't ever actually do anything.

  6. I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way!! Pranks are only "fun" for the person who isn't being pranked. They aren't nice!

  7. I was really glad that everyone took a break on April Fool's this year. This was no year for pranks.

  8. I agree that pranks are rarely appreciated. My son isn't a fan of pranks OR surprises. Even if it's a nice surprise, he likes to know things in advance because the anticipation is half the fun of the surprise for him.

  9. I guess the person at the receiving end never really enjoys the pranks being played. Specially if it feels like someone is ganging up on them. I'm sorry you felt like that.

  10. I agree that some pranks can come off as mean. I am not one to really prank or be pranked so I haven't had much experience.

  11. Some people can't take a joke but I can't imagine any adult really "pranks" anyone once they are grown

  12. Pranks can be tough in today's society. I feel as though a lot of people will take it the wrong.

  13. I am very sorry you were pranked like that as a child. Personally I've always thought they were a bad idea.

  14. I'm definitely not a fan of pranks especially when there used to laugh at One specific person instead of you both laughing together. I don't know I just don’t find certain pranks appropriate or funny. That’s just my opinion.

  15. Pranks are not allowed in my household.

  16. I grew up in a family of "jokesters" and a lot of them liked to prank. Sometimes there might be one or two that are funny but I found a lot of it just to be disrespectful.

  17. I completely agree. I've always been deeply uncomfortable with pranks, even lighthearted ones, because they just feel...gross. Your post expresses my feelings on this more clearly than I've been able to!

  18. I like the idea of sweet surprises. I agree everyone's threshhold is very different and unless you know the person very well and know they would enjoy a "prank", then I would opt for a sweet surprise!

  19. I've learned that I need to tell people not just "I like surprises," but rather that, "I like NICE surprises." Glad to know that I'm not alone in this feeling! Thanks for wording it so well.

  20. Surprises was such a good idea I had to post this article on my facebook to share with others.


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