Do We Have This One? Basically, it's when the plot or a sub-plot revolves around two characters pranking each other in sequence. I did a quick search for this and couldn't find it. Feel free to take over the description and title. UPD: Okay, let's try to revive this. Needs a better description and some example editing Subtrope of Escalating War, which does not necessarily involve pranks. Can be considered a Lighter and Softer version of Cycle of Revenge. A character would often engage in these with their Sitcom Archnemesis. May be deconstructed when Deadly Prank is involved.
Example:Anime and Manga
- Mr. Yotsuya in Maison Ikkoku is a consummate prankster. Na´ve Newcomer Nozumo tries to match wits with him and loses hard.
- In the ElfQuest backstory, for a time the conflict between the humans and the elves de-escalated into a war of pranks with each side trying to one-up the other non-fatally, but sadly that escalated again into a full-on war.
- Fantastic Four:
- Johnny Storm & Ben Grimm have an ongoing prank war, with Johnny usually the winner.
- Ben Grimm and the Yancy Street Gang have an ongoing prank war as well, and again Ben is usually on the losing side.
- When Spider-Man crosses over with the FF, he often engages in prank wars with Johnny, and then it's usually Spidey who gets the last laugh.
- Emergency! fanfic writers love to do this with Gage and Chet. Chet was only playing pranks in one canon ep, but there are quite a few fics where it's a full scale war. This series is a good example. Chet does things like rig up a special pot of chili for John and the old 'funnel in the pants' gag, while John short-sheets Chet's bed (and gets latrine for it due to waking up the captain). By the end, Chet sets up a big shower prank that results in him being able to take a picture of a naked, blue-dyed Johnny (which is connected to an incident in an earlier fic on the same site).
- The opening chapters of Roald Dahl's The Twits describe a series of escalating pranks the titular characters carry out on each other. Eventually, the narration says that they can't spend the whole book describing all the ways the Twits are horrible to each other, and it's time they got on with the story properly.
- That '70s Show: In the episode "Prank Day" Kelso pranks the other kids, and they plot a revenge prank, but accidentally victimize Red with it — who then takes over planning the revenge on Kelso since they screwed up. Unfortunately, Kitty falls victim to Red's prank, slipping on ice in the driveway—and she chews out everybody and puts a stop to this "prank day".
- Night Court: A younger, hipper judge challenges Harry to a prank war. Harry appears to lose, but that's just lulling his opponent into a False Sense Of Security as Harry unleashes his crowning prank.
- M*A*S*H. In the episode "An Eye for a Tooth," Charles stages an increasingly intense war of pranks between Hawkeye and B.J., and Margaret by secretly plotting with them behind each other's backs. After a series of jokes against each other, so as Margaret stealing Hawkeye and B.J.'s bathrobes while they're in the shower, or Hawkeye and B.J. hiding a dummy in Margaret's closet after she goes to bed, Margaret ups the ante by writing a Dear Jane letter to Peg on B.J.'s behalf, B.J. attacks her, prompting Charles to confess his involvement in the prank war; he then learns the tables had been turned, he and they just pranked him to get even. This is also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as David Ogden Stiers had been notorious for staging elaborate practical jokes on his castmembers, and once they found out, they staged one of their own to get back at him.
- The West Wing C.J. hides Charlie's schedule to get back at him for being, in her view, miserly with the President's time. They go back and forth throughout the episode until he rigs her desk to collapse at a touch, at which point she concedes defeat.
- The Brady Bunch has an episode where the boys and girls keep trying to out-scare each other. But then they team up to scare Alice and it backfires with Carol's art project getting destroyed.
- The Zoey 101 episode "Prank Week" has the boys and girls engaging in a prank war. Eventually, the girls (somehow) place a pair of panties on the statue of PCA's founder, something that infuriates his son so much, that he says he'll make PCA an all-boys school once more. The boys, who feel sorry for the girls, end up staging a protest riot to get them to stay.
- In The Order of the Stick, Belkar and Vaarsuvius engage in a short but nasty prank war. Vaarsuvius later tells Durkon that he started it because he's concluded that Belkar's Stupid Evil brain can only react to people with either hatred or lust, and he needed to re-establish himself as hated.
Belkar: That pointy-eared pissbucket has set off 11 Explosive Runes spells on me since I woke up today, and that doesn't count the Fire Trap on the toilet lid!
- In various Looney Tunes shorts, Foghorn Leghorn and the Barnyard Dawg constantly engage in these. Exploited in one of the shorts, "The High and the Flighty", in which Daffy Duck is a salesman for the Ace Novelty Company who tries to make some money by selling them prank kits to use on each other.
- Some of the Daffy Duck shorts also use this formula (usually against Porky Pig). One could argue some of the Bugs Bunny shorts are a more one sided example, antagonists try to make return blows, but find they are anticipated and outmatched by the prankster rabbit.
- Similarly some Tom and Jerry shorts ditch the chase formula in favor for a cartoony Escalating War between the two.
- Chip 'n Dale engage with these against Donald Duck. In tradition, they usually take as many blows as they dish out, but they always get the last laugh on Donald.
- Recess: In one episode, TJ tries to earn the title of 'Prankster Prince' by successfully pulling a prank on King Bob. In a later episode, Bob attempts to prank TJ in order to reclaim the title for himself.
- Regular Show has an entire episode that involves a literal prank war. Resident prankster Muscleman loses his will to prank, and a rival park seizes the chance to claim the park for his own, by invading with an army of pranksters.
- American Dad! has an episode where Stan pranks Francine in order to genuinely scare her. She retaliates with her own prank, and things escalate back and forth in a bigger and bigger Jump Scare to each other. They finally decide to end it after a prank results in a minor car accident. The rest of the episode, they make sure to loudly announce their presence and let each other know what they are planning to do next just to make sure neither is setting up anything.
- Teen Titans: Beast Boy and Cyborg tend to have them. One episode focused on such a battle going wrong with one of BB's pranks firing on Starfire instead, causing her (and the rest of the team) to call him a Clorbag.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.