A long time ago, April 1st was the start of the new year, and after it was officially changed to January 1st, people who still celebrated at the old date were dubbed "April Fools". Or possibly the term originally referred to people who prematurely celebrated the start of summer (which was traditionally May Day, May 1, in many ancient cultures), only to be met with lingering snowfall; the exact origin is unclear. Regardless of where the term originated, it has since become something much sillier.
April 1 is known as April Fools' Day, where almost every single person in the world becomes The Fool. A time to trick Muggles that the joke is real, and a time to pull pranks and tricks. You will then reveal the trick with the line "April Fools!"
Many works of the media include April Fools' Day jokes: usually articles presented as news or truth that go beyond the limits of sense, contain blatant inaccuracies, would be completely outrageous etc. They usually assume Viewers Are Geniuses and that no one would be stupid enough to take it seriously, but of course that's not always true. People are often taken in, get outraged, get laughed at, get to made feel stupid. A good time is had by all.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, a common April Fools' Day Joke on Webcomics was for two different webcomic authors to each do the other's strip. By far the most popular joke on the Internet seems to be a claim by the owner that the website is shutting down. A common joke specific to fansites is to suddenly denounce what the fansite stood for and revamp it to focus on a different franchise, most commonly one that bears similarities to the original, or even a competing one. Another joke specific to gaming sites with free content is the introduction of a "premium" version of the site, where it's said one gets exclusive content if one pays for it; generally, the site makes "preview content" available, with most of the "premium perks" turning out to be silly (or duplicates of free services by other sites devoted to the game).
Subversions of April Fools' Day is to have something improbable published on that day be actually true (either on that day or on a later date, or when a prank goes just a little too far).
In any case, woe betide someone who dies (or worse, is born) on April Fools' Day. And god help you if a natural disaster happens and people think the blaring sirens are a prank.
The mouthwash company Scope used the couple of days leading to April 1st, 2013 to advertise a bacon-flavored mouthwash. Consumer reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and there were plenty of people ticked off to find out it was all a joke.
On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell took out newspaper ads in several cities announcing that they had purchased sponsorship rights to the Liberty Bell, and it would subsequently be renamed the "Taco Liberty Bell." Millions of outraged people called the US Landmarks Commission in protest before the hoax was revealed, causing then-White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry to sarcastically (and in a surprisingly self-aware way for a bureaucrat) respond that Ford had also acquired sponsorship of the Lincoln Memorial, renaming it to the "Ford-Lincoln-Mercury Memorial."
Anime & Manga
Axis Powers Hetalia usually has an event on the author's blog where one of the characters takes over the site for the day.
In later years Wizard had fake April Fools reports that Paul Dini and Alex Ross were producing a graphic novel starring Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins from Superfriends, and that Steve Niles, creator of 30 Days of Night, was producing a horror comic staring cereal mascots Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Count Chocula.
In 2009, the big news on the comics blogsphere was Johns again, now working on Vibe: Rebirth with Ethan Van Scriver. At last, one of the most iconic characters in the DC stable is brought back to glory!
For those who don't follow DC, Johns has done "Rebirth" stories for Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and the Flash (Barry Allen) and is set to do one soon for Superboy. Vibe, a painfully-eighties inner-city kid with the meta-human ability to produce sonic waves, often through breaking dance, is a, uh, "less prominent character".
Back when it was still being regularly updated, the authers of Seven Little Killers once announced they were abandoning the story on April 1st, waiting a very long time to reveal it was a joke. Not many of their huge fanbase really thought it was funny. More of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, now that it appears they have abandoned the fic for real.
In 2013, Pixar launched a website to promote Monsters University that resembled the website of real colleges. On April 1st of that year, the site appeared to have been hijacked and vandalized by rival college Fear Tech.
In 2012, weeks after the final book for Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi was released, Suvudu published a fake epilogue by Timothy Zahn, claiming it was Luke's clone who survived the events of The Last Command, not the real Luke. Also, there's a revelation that Grand Admiral Thawn's master plan was to collect a complete set of clones, and almost all of the characters may or may not be clones, marking the launch of an unending Star Wars series called Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2.
A Discovery Channel program played perfectly straight, that proved that yes, in fact The Earth Really Is Flat.
The Drew Carey Show made a few April Fools' Day episodes in which there would be various oddities occurring in the otherwise typical episodes (snow falling on set, mispronunciation of names, the ultrasound baby in the Mohawk Productions Vanity Plate meowing instead of giggling, etc...), which are never brought up again. ABC made these into contests as to who could spot them all. The major plot points of those episodes have been brought up again, such as Mr. Wick's Groin Attack, so those at least are canon; when rerun, each error is pointed out Pop Up Video-style.
GSN (Game Show Network) did a major host switch on April, 1, 2003 among its original programming. Marc Summers hosted Cram, Todd Newton hosted Russian Roulette, Graham Elwood hosted Whammy: The All-New Press Your Luck, Mark L. Walberg hosted Friend or Foe and Lisa Kennedy Montgomery hosted WinTuition. The five hosts came together for a charity episode of Lingo, which also had Todd Newton announcing (and Mark and Marc curb-stomping Graham and Kennedy 500-0).
On the subject, even with each host switch, each show's original host would cameo at some point: Kennedy appeared briefly in Friend or Foe, Summers was dressed up as a prop for part of WinTuition, Elwood filled in for Pickwick in Cram (Disguised in Drag, no less), Wahlberg was in the Russian Roulette audience (along with Kennedy and the Whammy), and Newton showed up for some Double Whammies in Whammy!
1997: Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek and Wheel host Pat Sajak traded places. Pat and co-host Vanna White also played Wheel that day, with Pat's wife, Lesly, at the puzzle board. The flip-flop was lampshaded heavily on both shows: Jeopardy! had Wheel-themed categories in the first round (such as "Buy a Vowel" and "Before & After," which later became a recurring category on Jeopardy! itself), and "fool"-themed categories in the second, and a Final Jeopardy! category of "Trinidadian Amateur Ichthyologists." Wheel had several gag puzzles, including TRADING PLACES as the Bonus Round answer.
2008: Alex wore a fake mustache (he had shaved off his trademark mustache by this point), and Pat tricked Vanna into believing he was bald by wearing a real wig over a bald wig.
2010: Wheel made 10 things wrong with the show. They invited viewers to print out a worksheet from their website, and write down what they thought were the correct answers. Some were obvious (i.e. the Bankrupt wedges having "Bankrut", the Polish translation of that word), some weren't (Pat wearing a stud earring in the second round), and an eleventh wasn't even pointed out (rodeo footage in the opening montage of Hawaiian activities corresponding to the rest of the week's Hawaii theme). Jeopardy! spliced in different hosts for Alex Trebek on the same day. Alex still read the clues, but Pat Sajak walked out at the top of the show, Neil Patrick Harris was spliced in during the first round, Jeff Probst (who once hosted Rock & Roll Jeopardy! before his Survivor fame) during the second round, and a clip from Saturday Night Live'sCelebrity Jeopardy! sketches featuring Will Ferrell parodying Alex Trebek. There was also an "April Fool!" category concerning joke articles published during the month of April (such as the Veterinary Record's "Brunus edwardii" article).
2011: Every puzzle on Wheel (except the Bonus Round) had the word "fool" in it. Amazingly, the contestants never caught on; you'd think by the third round, they would've been calling L and F, then buying an O.
The Price Is Right has a long history of making gag prize Showcases with obviously silly prizes (e.g. egg beaters and paper plates, "six new cars" that turn out to be Matchbox cars, or even an acute case of athlete's foot as a prize). On another episode, the door that host Bob Barker normally walked through revealed a sign that said "April Fools!" before Bob walked onstage through the audience.
Drew Carey, after taking over as host on Price, has made several April Fool's gags on each April 1 episode. Except for 2011, he brought in Kathy Kinney, who reprised her role of Mimi Bobeck from The Drew Carey Show. He also does several funny gags throughout — things like playing the Match Game music during the credits, having everyone wear nametags that say "Pat", having random sound effects play during the Showcase Showdown instead of the normal ones, etc.
For 2011, the gag was that the 10,000th...something was going to happen today, so it was an important episode. Too bad so many things went wrong, from pieces of the set falling apart or malfunctioning, to announcer George Gray getting hit by a tennis ball launcher. And the 10,000th thingdidn't even happen. "Maybe tomorrow," says Carey...only April 1, 2011 fell on a Friday.
For 2013 (2012 having April 1 on a weekend), the models took over the hosting and announcing duties, and made Drew and George model the prizes.
Cranked Up to Eleven as a prank on Tom Bergeron for the Hollywood Squares episode taped to air on April Fool's Day 2003. At one point the male and female contestants were engaged in a heated argument, after which the male contestant made the female contestant break down in tears. Bergeron, who had a deer-in-the-headlights look (but, according to his book, wasn't going to stop no matter what), comforted the "poor woman" as he sent the show to commercial (unbeknownst to him, the camera was still running). At the end of the episode, giggling executive producer Henry Winkler (who was also filling in as announcer at the time) said over the intercom, "Hey Tom...April Fool's." Apparently, Bergeron hadn't realized the airdate of the show...until then. The "contestants" were in fact trained actors.
In the John Davidson era, a similar joke was played in 1987. Both contestants got into a fight after Miss Circle claimed Mister X got a quick look at John's card to successfully get a square. It ended with Miss Circle pushing Mister X off the podium, followed by the audience shouting "April Fools, John!" in unison. It turns out both contestants were stunt people. The show continued afterward with real contestants.
Luckily, they didn't go to extremes in 1988: John Davidson was center square for that show while Joan Rivers hosted.
Going back to the 90s, the current-events trivia show The Challengers played a joke on the April 1, 1991 show, puzzling the contestants and host Dick Clark with very obscure subjects before revealing the joke on the video wall. The contestants rolled with the gag while Clark told Judge Gary Johnson (who was behind the gag), "Go to your room!" The game then resumed with the real categories.
The Seattle-based sketch comedy Almost Live did a fake broadcast announcing that local landmark the Space Needle had fallen over. Their hosting station ended up having to issue a formal apology.
The gay-themed channel LOGO had a whole ad campaign about The A-List: Amish Country (The A-List was a short-lived Real Housewives-style reality series featuring gay mennote For anyone not familiar, the Amish are a conservative religious society who shun tech and live off the land and the Bible. In their society, homosexuality is taboo.). Granted, it fooled no-one and was more intended as a parody of the series.
Discover magazine has published a number of notorious articles featuring absurd scientific discoveries, such as a macroscopic subatomic particle improbably named the "bigon".
The most infamous of these articles is the Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer, a fictional Arctic animal created for the holiday in 1995. The critter was briefly picked up as an actual news item by at least one other source, and there are anecdotes of inquiries by zookeepers looking for a specimen! Discover claims it has received more mail about this one article than any other it has ever published.
Another dealt with a native culture that had created primitive "computers" by tying multiple knots in ropes using a system they had devised. A little common sense applied showed that this was not only silly, but a pun - they were knot computers.
In 1985, Sports Illustrated ran a story in its April 1 issue called "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch". The article, written by George Plimpton, ostensibly profiled a phenomenal and unknown New York Mets pitching prospect. Mr. Finch (it was claimed) grew up in an English orphanage, went to Harvard, studied yoga in Tibet, played the French horn, and could throw a baseball up to 168 MPH. The bogus story was taken at face value by numerous Mets fans, print and television reporters and rival general managers. The magazine continued the gag the following week with an article announcing Finch's "retirement" from baseball, then finally let the cat out of the bag in the April 15 issue.
A sort of accidental subversion: SFX claimed in April 2010 that William Hartnell was going to be in "The Eleventh Hour". No-one was more surprised than the SFX crew when he was (through the magic of Stock Footage), along with the other Doctors...
1997 ran phony newspaper clippings, one of them saying that the Headless Snowman from Super Mario 64 was getting his own game instead of Luigi.
1999 had an article featuring Pikachu from Pokémon as a Y2K expert. However, his advice was completely useless since all he ever spoke was the iconic Pokémon Speak. The authors eventually turn to Bill Gates himself...who unfortunately also speaks in Pokémon Speak.
2001 discussed "Warp Pipe Technology", a fake Defictionalization of the warp pipes of Super Mario Bros.. fame. At least two readers were fooled and wrote in to ask about the technology; their response:
How can we put this gently? The test subject, Dr. Dru Wiliamskini, has a new nickname: "Steaming Puddle of Goo." Better luck next year!
There was also the infamous Zelda April Fool's joke, showing fake screenshots of Link holding the Triforce. This only further fueled rumors of secret ways to get the Triforce, even after Nintendo repeatedly explained it wasn't possible.
GamePro had an annual April feature called "LamePro", which mostly featured crude reimaginings of the hot games of the day, along with some mashups like "Barney andButthead" and "Street FighterAlfalfa".
Lamepro had a review of the Daredevil console game, and exclusive screenshots of a black screen - and the multiplayer mode (a black screen divided into four black screens.)
Electronic Gaming Monthly was so good at this, they ended up creating Urban Legends Of Zelda out of most of them. They are described in detail in the aforementioned article, but for the sake of summarization:
Game Informer has a section in every April issue called "Game Infarcer", complete with a faux cover and mini-articles poking fun at various aspects of the gaming world. In each May issue, GI publishes a few choice letters from people who believed the jokes to be real, despite the fact that every Game Infarcer page has "PARODY" in capital letters at the bottom. Interestingly enough, in 2010, most of the objections were not to the articles, but fake Editor-in-Chief Darth Clark's declaration that his game reviews had surpassed actual games as an art form.
In 2008, Hot Rodpublished an article proclaiming the revival of American Motors (bought by Chrysler in 1987). The article contained detailed information and drawings of forthcoming models including the AMX, Matador, Ambassador, Pacer, and Gremlin. It was later revealed to be an April Fools' Day joke.
Road & Track usually prints a review of something other than a car, but a mode of transportation none the less.
In their April 2012 issue, Car and Driver listed 25 cars that would be released within the next few years. Most of them were real, except for the Chrysler TD By Maserati.
MacAddict (now Mac|Life), upon its first April Fools' Day in 1997, ran a lot of jokes. Among them were a letter from the editor explaining that the magazine would be shifting its focus to Windows, and an Onion-esque fake news section.
The April 1988 issue of Your Sinclair included a glowing review of a fictional lawn-mowing Simulation Game. Advanced Lawnmowing Simulator was inevitably defictionalized.
On 1st April 2008, during the height of the rickrolling craze, YouTube linked every front page video to the infamous Rick Astley song. Kongregate pulled a similar trick.
On 2009, YouTube stole a page from Homestar Runner and flipped the site (and videos!) upside down. This lasted even beyond the date itself with a URL suffix. However, it didn't always work (For example, if you're using a YouTube userscript for the Greasemonkey add-on for Firefox.).
Some videos also weren't completely fixed afterward and will flip upside down when put into high quality.
For 4/1/2010, Youtube put a "text-only mode", displaying certain videos as entirely made of text in various colors—including nearly any video with resolution greater than 360p, not just videos YouTube had done manually. This effectively made Ascii Shading Art. Sadly, it's long gone, and not even available by URL anymore.
For one April Fool's Day prank, deviantART replaced the avatars of all users with an animated gif of Mudkip with the words "So I herd you liek Mudkips" (sic), a reference to an internet meme. This led to many people being infuriated at the site's staff members for using such a meme when (at the time) they couldn't do memes as well. To make matters worse, it backfired in DeviantArt's faces because they also featured an artist user whose account name was along the lines of Mudkipz to go along with the gag. Unfortunately they didn't check out said deviant before featuring him, leading to many to click on his gallery and come face first in very suggestive loli pics (some of which were porn). They removed the featured deviant and chewed out the offensive imagery, but the damage was done and left many red-faced or shaking their heads in addition to the meme.
For April 1st 2011 troll faces appeared on random places throughout the website (ironic, since the site has a very strict "No Trolling" policy).
in 2012 cats have taken over DA.
In 2013 DA introduced deviantHEART a dating service for Deviants.
Furry art site Fur Affinity also has its share of pranks. For a few years, the search engine was taken down and one year, it was put back up for that day, but people got fooled when they saw that it didn't work at all. One common joke its members play on its watchers is to use a thumbnail (preview) of a piece of art they claimed to have made and when people click it, the art is something different (example: a thumbnail promises fat fur art and instead, users get an anorexic fur). Usually most members that are aware of the jokes and what the artists usually make usually won't fall for it. Another common joke is an artist making a journal claiming they are going to leave the site forever.
The Wizards of the Coast message board has had some good ones. One instance that sticks out is having everyone's avatar switched with one of the My Little Pony pictures. It quickly got out of hand when people who linked to their wizards avatars on other message boards saw the change, and thought the Wiz_0's(mods) were following them.
They also once announced a Mattel merger between My Little Pony and Dungeons and Dragons. The pink beholder graphic with bows on its eyestalks remains iconic...
I-Mockery releases joke games on April Fool's. In 2008, it was a Pickleman (the site's mascot/creator's alter-ego) game, which was really just E.T. with Pickleman coming after you and killing you. For 2009, it's Tetris for Charity, where if you get to the 3rd level, $1 is donated to charity. Halfway through the second level, all the blocks are replaced by random NES sprites, which makes the game impossible. For 2010, it's Pitfall 2010, which looks like the original at first glance, but depending on the path you take on the first screen, you'll be killed by either the Guts Dozer from Mega Man 2, the robot ape from Strider, or Sinistar.
Ambrosia Software released a free program called ScreenCleaner Pro, which claimed to be able to fix up monitors by brightening them; you opened the program, waited a few minutes while it "calibrated", and then the monitor would brighten significantly. Apparently a miracle product... except what it really did was gradually darken the screen, then turn it back to the original brightness. They even went so far as to get a fake positive review from a software site to make it look legitimate.
Tales of MU posted an update in 2009, announcing production plans for a SyFy channel spin-off TV show, of which the author claimed pride but apparently had little creative control, resulting in significant deviations from the core themes of the novel. It linked to the writer's Livejournal crossposting, where comments revealed the prank. A few commenters disbelieved the announcement because it referenced "the newly branded SyFy channel" at the end, and were double-pranked to discover Sci-Fi's renaming on April 1st, though it was widely known earlier.
The Defictionalized Digibutter.nerr once claimed to be bought out by 4Kids. Every forum but the Party, Off Topic and RP forums were locked, and people took on parody alts that made fun of various characterizations and dubbing errors.
And a year later, they changed their name to the "Bitlands" (a spin-off site from it already exists) for April 1, 2010. Then it was revealed that there WILL be a name change and it MIGHT be the Bitlands anyways.
This prank is such a legendary cornerstone of the 4chan community that, when moot added a /mlp/ board to stem the sheer number of pony threads on /co/, it was immediately assumed by the majority of the users that the staff were up to their old tricks with an early April Fools prank. It got so accepted as fact that moot had to top the board with a sticky thread specifically debunking the rumor, not that that stopped anyone from still claiming it to be true up until April Fools Day itself.
2004: A new TCG expansion pack, "Quiguki Armageddon". It featured a parody of their Usuki toys, called Quigukis (based off of the frog-like Quiggles). The Quigukis underwent Defictionalization, everything else did not.
2005: 50 new Neopets, with the announcement that the maximum number of pets an account could have was now 10 (instead of 4). A poll was held, and the most popular (the Lamameeah) was released as an actual Neopet (the Gnorbu), while a few others were released as Petpets.
2006: To stabilize the Neopian economy, NeoCharge was introduced, which taxed users for each page they visited. Failure to pay debts would supposedly result in accounts being flagged, and actions being taken to "compensate" note Losing items, pets being put up for adoption or returned to a basic color, restricted access to the site, more ads, etc..
2007: The Battledome was closed, as well as the Battledome section of the forums, and any weapon shop.
In one of the most cruel examples imaginable that one porn site enacted an April Fool's joke resulting in the ban of all lolicon/shota artwork from the site. What makes this particularly nasty is the joke was cooked up in response to e-hentai's ACTUAL ban of all underaged artwork due to Moral Guardian antagonization of their advertisers, and used the subpoena sent to them as the excuse, doctored up to look like it was sent to said pornsite instead. The joke was meant to be incredibly obvious, as the featured image was Rugrats (with, at one point, a feature change to Popeye dressed as Sailor Moon in response to an anonymous commenter along with the comment 'But older characters cosplaying as underaged? Yes that's still acceptable.'), however due to the e-hentai debacle, users just couldn't believe it was a joke and some serious debate went down over the state of the world and continuing persecution of lolicons. Some artists even ragequit over what they took to be impending censorship of their art on a site that shouldn't have it. All staff were told to keep up appearances for a day after, duplicate pics that were to be deleted were saved up for about a week prior, then commented upon before being deleted to lend to the authenticity. A few artists still haven't returned, and probably never will.
And then to top it off, e-hentai unbanned underaged artwork, instead placing it on the spin-off site exhentai.
SydLexia.com posted the 100 Best Virtual Boy Games Ever. It's obvious that the overall number of Virtual Boy games is nowhere near that number. Virtual Boy Wario Land was the only game listed, and in all 100 spots too, no exceptions. Reading the commentaries, they seem to claim that there are many versions of Virtual Boy Wario Land, even versions for different consoles, all with the same title. Some of the comments were ripped directly from the prior Top 100 lists Syd had made. There were even surprise comments from Jareth The Goblin King and Avril Lavigne.
On podcast All Movie Talk, in the intro portion for the last Tuesday before April Fools' Day:
Sam told listeners that the episode contained the word "movie" more times than any other episode, and encouraged listeners to verify this (true or no, that's a lot of time to be counting the word "movie");
Stephen claimed to have gotten everyone a gift...only to reveal that it was a free movie podcast (just like every week);
Sam listed off the segments for the episode (which were false);
and finally, they introduced themselves as each other.
Wing Commander CIC, a Wing Commander online fandom news site, changes the main site's look to something silly on April 1st, and posts "news" articles that are loaded with take thats, at themselves and others, often along with joke announcements of fictional new WC releases.
GameFAQs always gets in on the April Fools Day craze as well. In later years it's been toned down, sometimes with the only gag being a silly Poll of the Day and maybe the creation of a few joke message boards. But in the past, they've done some huge things, including:
Banning the latter "e"
Changing the entire layout to create GameFAX, a site all about the Xbox.
Promoting random users to moderator status (though obviously not giving them actual power)
Putting up a fake notice on the homepage about the site being shut down for illegal activities
Removing all usernames in an effort to stop harassment
TASvideos publishes joke runs during April fool's day. Sometimes the joke is the game, as in the submissions for Color a Dinosaur or Desert Bus. Sometimes the run is the joke, as in the The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princessrun that would crash the game and make it load another emulator from the emulated console's SD card.
One infamous April Fools' Day joke was half-serious: they actually had discovered that emulators can never properly replicate certain forms of randomness used by the actual hardware, but they didn't really intend to shut down the whole site over it.
Like with the actual game, the Team Fortress 2 official wiki has been doing April Fools' Day pranks since 2011, as seen here.
On April 1st, 2011, the Team Fortress Wiki altered the front page as part of a fictional Australium April Update. The "featured article" rotated between the pages for the new class, the Demopan, and the new Cow melee weapon for the Heavy. The Demopan page was originally created by Benjamuffin for his user page, while the Cow page was created specifically for April Fools' Day by Focusknock. The trending topics were changed to Cow, Demopan, Frying Pan, Bounty Hat, Chargin' Targe, Dangeresque, Too?, Stout Shako, and For 2 Refined (which links to the Trading page) for the day. A fake update post, written by Stevoisiak, was added to the current events describing the fake update.
On April 1st, 2013, thepiratebay.se posted a blog post informing that their servers have been changed from North Korea to the United States and that all torrents from North Korea, China, Iran, France and Islamistan would be removed.
On April 1st, 2013, Know Your Meme claimed that the main tubular system was down and that the database could only process memes that predated the Internet. All confirmed memes were still available under a separate "Deadpool" section.
For 2013, the Fan Translation group Absolute Zero released an English translation patch for Tales of the Tempest - a game which most fans of the series consider to be complete shit (the readme even goes into detail about how terrible the game is).
In April 1st, 2013, the Reddit blog stated that Reddit has bought Team Fortress 2. The TF2 blog, however, stated that Team Fortress 2 has secretly bought Reddit instead.
With the taking over of Team Fortress 2/Reddit, Reddit hosted a voting competition between Orangered and Periwinkle,(Read: Red and Blue) and whoever got the most hats, another addition of the site, won. If you care, then Orangered won.
In 1997, several comic artists swapped strips, producing such oddities as a Dilbert comic in the style of Family Circus (which Dilbert author Scott Adams described as one of the signs of the Apocalypse).
In 2005, several comics including Foxtrot, Pearls Before Swine, and Get Fuzzy, did identical comics where one character plays with a Ouija Board and uses it as an excuse to hit another, eliciting the response "Somehow I imagined the afterlife to be a more peaceful place."
Dragon Magazine, the house organ for Dungeons & Dragons, would usually dedicate their April issues to sillier fare. For example:
One issue had a series of mixed up spells like 'Find Terrain' for which the 'somatic' component was to fall forward, at which you have just 'found the terrain'.
Another time, they packaged the April Fools material in one section of the magazine, with a cover page that parodied the heroes-steal-giant-demon-statue-eyes cover of the 1E Player's Handbook. Exact same scene, except the demonic statue and gem thieves are all teddy bears.
A few years ago, shortly after 3.5 introduced a Flaws mechanic, they did flaws for Commoners (the least powerful of the NPC classes), one of the flaws called "You Got Chickens" had the character suffering a 50% chance of retrieving a chicken any time they tried to draw something from their pack. This was promptly exploited on the Character Optimization board.
On April Fools Day 2009 they released the Scroll of Swallowed Darkness, an incomplete, sex-themed supplement for Exalted. On April Fools Day 2012, they released errata for it.
Palladium Books has a combination fanzine/sourcebook for Rifts and other Palladium titles called The Rifter. The created an April Fool's Issue called The Rifter 9 1/2, which was full of ridiculous characters, alternate rules, and other silly content. A Running Gag throughout the issue was that Palladium Books had been sold to the fictional Percy Ferkleberger, who began effecting massive changes in Rifts. The most notable example was the new rules for "Giga-Damage," which was a massive in-joke regarding the game's love of More Dakka, the fact that Rifts tends to attract Munchkins, and Power Creep, Power Seep in general. Most amusingly, the Rifter 9 1/2 was made primarily as an April Fool's Joke on The Rifter's editor, who had heard nothing about it until the first copies arrived at the warehouse.
Catalyst Games Labs, the current publishers of BattleTech and Shadowrun, celebrates April Fools' by releasing gag products which are nonetheless playable. Considering that they're also free products, it's a pretty good deal if you can take the joke.
The 2012 releases were Taiwan-themed scenario-packs. The BattleTech releases included a "Third (Star) League Turning Points" scenario-pack (set two centuries beyond the current in-universe date, complete with units and weapons advanced beyond even Clan technology).
The 2013 BattleTech release is an 'Experimental Technical Readout'. It's titled XTRO:1945, and details a range of units from World War 2, complete with the gear they need to fight a BattleMech. They are playable units, and incredibly deadly to each other. Against 'Mechs is another matter.
Bionicle Sector 01, the BIONICLEWiki, Lost quite a few of their images and pages a while ago, but managed to find some replacement images of the Toa Nuva, Mata Nui, and Makuta Teridax, thanks to a certain Derpy Hooves...
In possibly one of the most elaborate April Fools' Day schemes ever, IGN.com spent six months filming the trailer for a live action Zelda film. The trailer was hit or miss with the fans; some were ecstatic that the movie was being made, others were horrified at the idea. In any case, an impressive amount of detail went into the making, complete with CGI monsters, music taken from the games, and a complex storyline expressed in three short minutes of filming. The only clue to its status as a hoax was the purported release date for the actual movie — April 1, 2009. At one minute after midnight on April 2, 2008, the site admitted it was a fake, and released their making-of featurette, which is longer than the trailer itself.
In 2013, they mocked Apple's products with the announcement of the iPlay video game console.
On April 1st 2012, Half-Life 3 was spotted in the Steam store to not only be real, but on sale. A drawing of Valve founder Game Newell sporting a troll face. Most people wrote it off as Valve trolling the fan base and was widely reported that Valve was responsible. However it was later revealed that the store front was fake and that someone had went to the trouble of recreating it which was entirely functional and would take you to the real store when you clicked on real items. The media was floored that they overlooked the extra p in the URL which was www.store.steam''p''powered.com
2006: They announced the Two-headed Ogre. The ridiculously complex rules for playing such a creature (you had to play with a second person on a second account, randomly assigned) made it obvious it was a joke.
In a slight subversion, they also announced a new neutral hero, the Goblin Tinker, for Warcraft III on the same day that was not a joke. They tried to make it seem like either of the two could be real but it was fairly obvious.
2007: They announced Burgercraft: A chain of fast food restaurants that would serve Blizzard gamed themed food. They also announced the new Alliance race would be the Wisp, the weakest member of the Night Elf army, who could only attack by self-detonating. Finally, a "fired" employee "leaked" the next patch notes, a list of facetious changes ranging from game breaking (Druids may only shapeshift outside of dungeons) to absurd (Hunter pets have a small chance to attack their owner when hungry) and outright insane (Paladins turn into bears) or literally pointless (being friendly via emotes to your demon slaves make them last longer, while the same update removed the warlock's ability to USE said emotes).
2008: Due to Blizzard's parent company purchasing Activision and changing its name from Vivendi to "Activision Blizzard", Blizzard announced a "second prestige" class: the Bard, which required you to play Guitar Hero while playing World of Warcraft. Also, poking fun at Sony's attempt to turn their MMO Everquest into a Warcraft style RTS, Blizzard announced that they were releasing "World of Warcraft: Heroes of Azeroth", an RTS prequal to World of Warcraft. It was Warcraft III, and also served to poke fun at World of Warcraft players who were unaware of the previous games and lore. There was also the announcement of the "Tauren Moorines" for Starcraft II.
2009: Blizzard announced a dance battle system complete with trailer. The controls were said to work like riding a vehicle in Wrath of the Lich King. For Starcraft II, there was the announcement of Terratron, a HumongousCombining Mecha made out of Terran buildings. For Diablo III, the Archivist was announced as a new class, having the character play a Deckard Cain-like old geezer whose dialogues are senile rantings. And on the UK World of Warcraft site, they announced a "Pimp My Mount" feature, which allows players to add ridiculous customizations to their mounts a la Pimp My Ride. Additionally, every post made of the World of Warcraft forums that day was peppered with random roleplaying lines.
2010: Blizzard announced a new character rating for World of Warcraft called the Equipment Potency EquivalencE Number a vertical bar on your character that grows as their gear improves (a Take That at players who rely too much on gear ratings to determine their worth), and the Battle.net Neural Interface which permanently immerses the player in full VR and hopefully doesn't cause any permanent brain damage. And the WoW Armory character feeds had all boss kills changed to "<Player> Cheesed Boss" and all loot changed to "<Player> Ninjaed [Item]". Blizzard also introduced the new Battle.net matchmaker, a dating site where players would find romance in the form of "Someone to pwn noobs with." They also announced Diablo III blankets and pillows and a Deckard Cain GPS voice pack to go with it.
2013: The Starcraft II situation report announced the return of the Warhound, a unit removed from the HotS beta for being pretty much identical to the marauder, to the lineup of their favorite race (Terran) based solely on the fact that the Terran player might have won the world championships with them. However, this left their favorite race (Zerg) at a disadvantage, so the Warhound was also added to the Zerg lineup. Finally, realizing that their favorite race (Protoss) were getting the short end of the stick, they also gave them the ability to build the Warhound in order to keep Protoss players from whining about it on the forums.
Crabby also returned to the Warcraft site, though still linked to last year's jokes.
The 1998 Textfire Hoax produced a collection of playable text adventure demos (including Coma! An Interactive Action Thriller and Flowers for Algernon and "Operation" adaptations) that represented the ostensible catalog of a commercial Interactive Fiction studio.
Steam once did an April Fools' Day gag by releasing fake patch notes for Counter-Strike: Source that started with features such as "cost of sniper rifle reduced by 50%", "de_dust map removed" and "jumping now increases travel speed by 50%" and got progressively more ridiculous.
Now Serebii is claiming they don't like misleading the public, undoubtedly setup for THEIR jokes.
Probably the best one was releasing the rest of the English Diamond and Pearl data in one fell swoop after trickling it out bit by bit. Making us think it was fake was the joke in itself: The names were real.
The team behind Mushroom Kingdom Fusion's sister project Super Mario Fusion Revival also made a joke with their game. In 2013, the development team posted a video portraying Bowser as a Power-Up Mount, claiming that they were scrapping the Bowser Rampage system due to the trouble of designing fun and interesting levels. The day after it was posted, the team revealed that the Bowser Mount was the original concept for having Bowser playable, and the video was recorded using an earlier build of the game.
Harmonix appears to release ridiculously silly (and not at all rock-like) songs for Rock Band during the week of April Fools' Day. In 2008, it was Still Alive, available for free download. In 2009, three songs from SpongeBob SquarePants were released to be sold at a cheaper price than the average song.
A tradition broken in 2010, when instead they opted to release a Jimi Hendrix album.
Furcadia has released a number of pranks on April Fools' Day. One prank flipped upside-down and reversed the player's view window of the world on main maps, so navigating was extremely difficult. Another, recurring in some form each year, is a global text filter — one year, all curse words (and the word 'yiff') were filtered to "NARF". Another year, parodying thesaurus-rape roleplay common on some areas of Furcadia, the word 'eye' or 'eyes' would be filtered to 'orb' or 'oculars'. Another April Fool's pranks have revolved around avatars, in an effort to gain funding for the graphics update; in 2009 there was the Toasterwing event, turning everyone on a main map into a flying toaster; in 2010 there were two localspecies who you would become when one ran into you, the Fluffs and Floofs, and a massive zombie apocalypse battle took place.
Gaia Online has a history of pranking its users on April Fools' Day, often by finding creative ways to blow their heads up.
In 2004, strange gift boxes appeared randomly around the main site. Users who clicked on them had their faces covered in soot until they changed outfits. "Sootfaces" eventually became a reason not to change your avatar, until the great avatar resave wiped them out.
In 2005, resident megalomaniac Johnny Gambino built a giant tower. He was assassinated, and the tower fell on top of the mansion of his rivals, The Von Helsons. (They all got better)
In 2006, resident Mad ScientistLabtech X made Gino Gambino explode in a Sphere of Destruction that apparently destroyed all of Gaia. No one was killed. (Johnny K. Gambino actually came back to life!) But the explosion did attract a bunch of aliens because it ripped a hole in the universe. This is a major plot point in the MMO.
In 2007, Gaia did a repeat of its classic 2004 joke, with boxes that apparently gave out Platinum Halos. (The Angelic Halo is one of the most expensive items on Gaia, and a silver version had long been requested). Equipping it gave you a classic "Sootface".
In 2008, The Easter Bunny (who happens to be a cyborg. Don't ask), angry that its holiday was being neglected, gave out Easter Eggs. When April 1st rolled around, users were asked to open their eggs...KABOOM! They also released a special pair of pants that could be worn as a multitude of different things...except, ironically, pants. (That pose was added in on the second)
In 2009, in response to complaints about Gaia accepting sponsorships and "selling out", Gaia created its most elaborate prank yet. The logo was altered to read "OMNIDRINK", with a tiny "presents Gaia Online" in the corner. A video on the main page implied that Gaia had been forcibly bought out by a Mega Corp., that made products you were not supposed to drink. (Including a hilarious "Personal Improvement Spray", that apparently made you more manly). Players who visited the information page would see multiple messages asking them NOT TO DRINK OMNIDRINK PRODUCTS, and would be given a free sample of "Personal Improvement Spray", with a "CHUG IT!" option. The results aren't pretty.
The Gag carried over to zOMG!, Gaia's MMO. Player's logging in will find that Omnidrink has redecorated Barton Town, and that a new Expansion Pack World (Based off both Greek and Aztec Mythology) has been added in. Players get a chance to board an Airship that will take them to this new world, but find that it simply takes them to a fake loading screen, parodying zOMG's infamous loading issues from earlier builds. Upon returning to Barton Town, players received an equipable error message.
users began playing along with the zOMG! prank, by discussing the new world at length and explaining to those fooled that the airship had crashed because it was attacked by an Air Shark (made slightly more believable by the presence of a Landshark in the beach area). The Air Shark was later homage by an evolving item's pose.
The forums played along with the joke as well, and began a war between those who had been brainwashed by OMNIDRINK, and the resistance.
In 2010 Gaians signed on to find a swf image with a video repeating "Loading..." over and over. On the left of the image was a button to be clicked, this button led to a 404 SUSHI ERROR page. Later, users were able to gain an item called "Phoenix Up" from the fake 404 page ...which later turned into a sootface, as well as a bonus pose of a Grunny coming out of the urn holding Johnny Gambino's ashes. They also added several blaring banner ads, some that even covered up avatar editing and trades. As of now there's no proof they were connected, but it ended up backfiring, and the developers fixed it.
Also, Dernier* Cri returned with a single item that cost 300 million gold and was only about a few pixels wide. The description says that it was made for "commemorating a very special day", which shows that Brennivin is at least in on the joke.
In 2011, Gaia decided to do Something Completely Different. Mike Sego stepped up for the job of replacement CEO after Craig decided to step down to pursue his own interests. When word got around that Mike had worked for Facebook in the past, there were considerable fears and doubts within the userbase concerning how he'd handle the site, eventually morphing into rumors that Facebook had in some manner acquired Gaia and was ruining the site. So much like Omnidrink, the staff relieased the Meowbook event as a response to the rumors. The forum posts all showed people with a few randomly chosen cat head clippings imposed over their avatar's head, emotes all recived a visual overhaul to give them cat ears, even the shop keepers were given cat heads. A Premium Cat Feast item could be claimed over the entire weekend by clicking the "brought to you by Meowbook" banner underneath the regular Gaia logo and clicking the submit button on the fake Meowbook signup page.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has a freaking Mammoth Tank on 2009, which is essentially living mammoths outfitted for war. Though this didn't work terribly well, considering how silly the game already was (War bears, anyone?).
Every year, some gaming magazine/website or another announced that Nintendo and Camelot were finally making Golden Sun 3... then it was actually announced at E3 2009, which was sadly nowhere near April 1.
Not even Aya Reiko Touhou is safe from this. On March 31st, 2008, a false trailer for a spinoff RPG was released. The fact that the trailer was a hack of Valkyrie Profile's engine, along with having very professional-looking graphics and remix of an official Touhou track, just made the revelation that it was all a lie and this amazing-looking game would never ever be playable hit even harder.
And when Arcsys announced they would port Arcana Heart 3 to console.
More when Mikako Takahashi (Heart Aino's seiyuu) guest stars into BlazBlue's official radio show 'Bururaji' and rechristened it for one episode 'Araraji'. Complete with BlazBlue chibi style sprite for Heart (they did it with Sol already...)
RuneScape has done several. In 2004, they announced that a cowboy-like merchant named Diango was selling Horses, which players had wanted to see in the game for a while. He was selling Horses- toy horsies.
Diango was later re-used in the 2005 and 2008 jokes, where two more popularly demanded items, dragon platebodies and dragon kite shields, usually abbreviated to "Dragon Plate" and "Dragon Kite" respectively, were sold. They were actual plates with a dragon on them, and kites with a dragon on them that could be flown. These joke items remained in the game after April Fools' Day, although re-named to make the fact that they were jokes more obvious. Dragon Platebodies and Dragon Kite Shields were actually added to the game later.
Their 2007 joke was a fake newsletter on the front page claiming a lot of silly cabbage-related updates were going to be released that month, with an actual newsletter being released the following day.
In 2009, they did something else cabbage related by making cabbages wieldable, and gave the ability to make some of the cabbages in the game able to move on their own and be kicked- with the secret joke that if you kicked one from Falador to Oo'glog (Which takes a really long time), the Cabbage King, Brassica Prime (mentioned in the 2007 joke) would show up and congratulate you.
In 2010, they announced that they were making a RuneScape theme park in England. It was an obvious joke, but some people thought it was real anyway until they revealed it was a joke the following day.
Some versions of Football Manager have an Easter Egg / April Fools gag that shows up only when both the in-game date and the actual date is April 1st.
Every April 1, Bungie releases new information about Pimps at Sea, which apparently has the most advanced and complex economy in a game, ever.
In 2009, they announced that Urf the Manatee (who uses a Spatula and a Chicken foot as his weapons) would be added to the game, but it was quickly revealed to be a joke.
In 2010, they did it again, but made it look much more official. Shorty before Urf was supposed to be released, it was announced that another champion, Warwick, had killed and skinned him. A skin was briefly released for Warwick that showed him wearing Urf, and all the proceeds were donated to real-life Manatee Preservation Groups.
In 2011, they posted a set of patch notes that would either be ridiculous in a game balance method, uses Memetic Mutation, or are otherwise pointless changes to make a joke on an aspect of the characters being 'changed'. In addition to this, they announced that the Blind Monk champion, who was dropped early in the game's development, was going to be released, but all the promotional material they released for him made him look to be the most brokenly overpowered champion in the game. When he was actually released, Lee Sin, the Blind Monk, was actually a well-balanced champion.
In 2012, a video was released advertising an upcoming 3D viewing option for the game.
In 2013, there was a Rampage parody starring Cho'Gath, which also contained a Jetpack Joyride parody with Teemo as an Easter Egg (Astro Teemo).
In 2013, Minecraft 2.0 was released, including overfeeding, tinted glass, and an event known as Super Hostile Mode, where a huge number of lightning bolts strike the ground around the player and a huge number of hostile mobs spawn.
The teams of two indie fighting games produced fake screenshots for supposed retro handheld versions of their series in 2012: Skull Girls had Skullgals for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the familiar puke-green classic Game Boy colors found their way to the supposed DSiWare "Nettou Battle High".
peppy, the creator of osu! has a knack for adding April Fools' Day jokes to the game, which usually revolve around changes in its genre (touhousu!, a Touhou/osu! hybrid), gameplay (osu!core, which revolves around random increase in pitch and speed in beatmaps) and beatmaps (pretending to approve and praise an extremely poorly made beatmap).
Some of these pranks have become official, though: the osu!core mechanic is still available in the game as the hidden Nightcore mod and touhousu! has been confirmed to be in development by peppy.
The forums would also join in on the April Fools' Day pranks.
Four Leaf Studios, the group behind Katawa Shoujo, has had one every year since 2008.
2008: The announcement of KSS: Katawa Shoujo Shoujo.
2010: In conjunction with Studio DEEN, Katawa Shoujo will have an anime series.
2011: Future plans to add two more routes, bonus content, exclusive merchandise, premium content (such as the ability to save your game), and no advertising, all because it would now be hosted by Steam.
2012: It didn't stop just because the game had been released. Now available in HD with all objectionable content removed.
2013: Plans for KS2 are cancelled. Instead, they will proceed to KS3.
Crusader Kings Z, a new expansion for Crusader Kings 2, which would unleash zombies upon medieval Europe, and even allow you to play as a zombie. It was also something of a Take That to their own Broken Base with regards to the Sunset Invasion DLC.
ArenaNet, creators of Guild Wars, began running relatively low-key pranks in 2007. Each year a set of joke updates is made public along with an additional one-day change to the game.
2007: All players are gender-swapped.
2008: All players are converted into stick-figures.
2009: All players are converted into Gwen-chan, a chibi-deformed version of story character Gwen.
2010: All players are scaled down to the size of miniature pets. All miniature pets are scaled up to normal size.
2011: The quest "Annihilator", a Terminator spoof, is made available, featuring time travel to stop the Annihilator golem from killing Gwen's mother.
2012: The quest "Annihilator II: Searing Day" is made available, featuring time travel to stop the G-1000 from killing Gwen as a child. Character dialogue lampshades many criticisms of the Prophecies storyline, especially the fan base's mockery of Prince Rurik.
In 2003, homestarrunner.com became kingoftown.com, complete with a new intro and main page featuring the not-at-all-popular incompetent ruler of Free Country, USA. ("King of Town! Hooray!")
In 2004, the site was replaced with a bogus domain registration site from the fictional Thorax Corporation... which was actually a flash cartoon where Stinkoman showed up to fight a animated GIF of a shovel-wielding stick figure. ("Hey, Stickly Man, whaaaat are you doing?")
In 2005, the site was replaced with a (fake) main page for a subscription service, HomestarRunner.com Pay PLUS!
In 2006, all the cartoons and main pages on the site were flipped upside-down. This caused some problems with Action Script on the site, and, to two tropers' dismay, the Strong Bad Email "Virus".
In 2009, the Monday before had featured a cartoon called "Sbemailiarized Entertainment", in which after a long lack of Strong Bad E-mails, Strong Bad decided there wasn't really a big difference between sbemails and other cartoons, and he could just stick himself answering an e-mail at the beginning and end of any old cartoon and it would work. After a very long prank hiatus, the day itself had the intro movie replaced by a Sbemailiarized version.
Episode 17 of Making Fiends was released on April Fools' Day. Absolutely nothing was strange about it. Well, besides the fact that every dialogue was spoken in Bulgarian. A subbed version was later released... in Intentional Engrish for Funny.
In 2009, he redid a fight scene from the most recent episode, but with all the characters' sprites replaced by images of Sprite cans. In addition, the background was replaced with sausage packs.
In 2010... Nah, it's too weird for a description. Just watch.
In late March 2006, the Chris Hastings and Kent Archer of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja posted on the site news that they thought they were being stalked by ninjas. On April 1, this was followed up by a post in which the ninjas killed Hastings and Archer, then imitated them and announced the end of the comic.
In 2008, they put up this comic, which was only slightly odder than the comic's usual fare.
In 2009 they began a new campaign of in-strip product placement, while on the newly fan-run forums a campaign of McNinja-themed word filtering of random phrases was enacted.
The Book of Biff did this at least twice. In both instances, an established element of the comic is rendered differently and the author blocks out any comments pointing these out. The very next day he unblocks the comments, posts the non-joke version of the same comic, and moves the joke comic to a different page.
In 2009, Brawl in the Family was briefly replaced with the rather bizarre Waluigi in the Family, or WitF, starring Waluigi. It updated 17 times over the course of the day. The eight-digit strip numbers were a nice touch.
In 2010, the front page was adorned with a "letter from Nintendo" ordering the comic to shut down. It listed the comics that Nintendo had issue with, and their offenses. In summary, the letter ordered the comic to shut down because Waluigi hates it. Underneath the letter, there were also new Waluigi in the Family comics.
In 2011, the comic was called "Philips' Box", with its jokes based on the CD-i games. The main story was that Mario hits a box, freeing the spirits of the CD-i games. Over time, King Dedede goes crazy since Kirby, Waddle Dee and Adeline had been possessed by the spirits and wonders what could end their insanity. At that moment, Waluigi comes back from his vacation and scares the spirits away back into the box by taking his clothes off.
In 2012, the author was sick, so he wrote a Waluigi apology letter.
In 2008, Darths & Droids (which uses images from the Star Wars films) claimed they had received a cease-and-desist letter from Lucasfilm, and would henceforth be making the comic using photographs of themselves re-enacting the films. (Move mouse over the comic image)
Queen of Wands very briefly put up a shot of one of the characters tearfully confessing she was pregnant, to fan concern. Soon after, this was replaced by a different, jokey comic. Later in the Story Arc, the same pregnancy scene was used exactly and unironically. On April 1st.
2010's April Fool's joke is an elaborate and surprisingly thoughtful comic about a sullen looking man who adopts a Pikachu, Shows it enough of the world and all of its good and evil that it becomes enlightened, and uses it to win a tournament. It really has to be seen to be believed.
2011 continued the tradition with a comic about a man who creates "the next human brain". And then the Pikachu from last year's April Fools comic shows up and takes him into another dimension. Or something like that. It's a bit of a Mind Screw.
One prank in particular April Fools changed Shortpacked's site layout to that of "Evil Twin" McAwesome's which in fact, introduced them.
In 2008, The Wotch celebrated by having Robin abruptly decide, "Oh, who cares if this makes sense or not, I'm doin' it!" and dramatically smooch Cassie◊. 2009 took a different angle by saying that since Anne (the author) had hurt her arm, which she had, Jason would be taking over the artwork for the next month. It actually went over pretty well, even among those who bought it.
El Goonish Shive had not one but two non-canon arcs for April Fools' Day, the first (called April Fool's Week) consisted of odd fillers that featured things like Tedd and Sarah making out, Sarah becoming a Were-Squirrel and the page not actually being drawn one day. The second (known as II slooF lirpA) followed Dan accidentally altering the rules of the dimension, transforming all the characters.
The Whiteboard has done an AFD strip since the first one after the strip began, most of them playing on the general theme of Fanservice. In 2009, the author changed the front page to look like a directory listing, including folders for "alternate storylines", a "passwords" text document, and a well-executed Rickroll. Readers actually called the site's host to warn them of the security hole.
In 2010, xkcd redid its main page to look like a Unix terminal, complete with a command line interface and MUDShout-Out jokes (type "look", or "go south"). You can still find the terminal here.
2012 brought us a comic which becomes completely different comics on different web browsers or operating systems, and sometimes even changes due to your physical location on Earth. One appeared only to people who signed up to see Randall's talk at CNU.
In 2009, Several characters from Namir Deiter and You Say It First (both drawn and written by the same people) ware swapped for each other, with the dialog for both comics remaining unaltered. In 2010, both comics were drawn with the characters appearing as human.
In 2012, Homestuck did two fake updates that set off the update notifiers without actually adding or changing anything. The actual updates that fell on April 1 involved the Eldritch AbominationBigger Badkilling the Author Avatar, so they seemed like jokes—but turned out to be a real plot development.
In 2010, they posted what looked like a repeat update of the last page. It was actually a gif, and after a few seconds, it degenerated into an edited ZALGO mess, complete with blood pouring from the characters' eyes.
In 2011, they had an obviously fake link to download a fictional theme song for the comic. Turned out that the link really DID go to a theme song, by Andrew of Songs To Wear Pants To.
In 2012, they redesigned the site and did "Planstuck," parodying Homestuck's art style and use of gifs. The artist updated throughout the day based on comments from the readers, finally clocking in at 95 updates.
Although Irregular Webcomic! doesn't usually do April Fool jokes, in 2007 the author made a comic where he appeared formally dressed and announced the comic's discontinuation due to a lawsuit involving every company with copyrights on various elements he used for his comic, with the inexplicable addition of Disney.
The April 1 episode of Madd Man was not in fact about John Maddaloni trying to do a stunt and looking lame, but actually a fake trailer for a melodrama with hand puppets. Well, not puppets, just hands...it's easier if you watch for yourself.
In 2010, the usually Motor Mouth Yahtzee recited Ode to Melancholy in a very slow, ponderous manner.
In 2012 LoadingReadyRun announced that they would be renaming their site to "CatingCattyCats" to produce exclusively cat-related content for a Chinese company as part of a corporate takeover.
"They offered us just a shitton of cash,” said Graham Stark, President and co-founder of LoadingReadyRun Megacorp Inc. “Like, you think you can imagine a shitton of cash, but you really, really can’t. We’re very excited to work with MauBau, the market leader of cat-focused entertainment content, to create great new entertainment properties. Also to get their money. Of which there is a shitton."
In 2012, Grooveshark (a music streaming website) introduced a new feature where Hipster Otis and Hipster Jen pop up to offer inane commentary on any song you play.
On April 1, 2012, instead of an Animorphs review, Cinnamon Bunzuh! surprised everyone by releasing a review for Stephenie Meyer's The Host. Except when one actually clicks the review, it consists of nothing but an Andalite troll smiley (which bizarrely actually works) and a note:
"This book is really long, and we are lazy. Sorry folks!"
In 2009, Cartoon Network replaced the majority of their programming with a surprise Cow and Chickennote which hadn't regularly been aired on the main network for years marathon.
In 2010, they added fart and belch sound effects to almost every cartoon they aired throughout the day, even to the intros.
In 2011, the logo but at the bottom of the screen was flipped upside-down.
In 1997, they ran the Screwy Squirrel cartoon "Happy-Go-Nutty" repeatedly for twelve hours straight. The network's AOL site (this was a year before CartoonNetwork.com launched) ran banner messages saying that Screwy had taken over the network and was making demands with the authorities. The banners read "April Fools" after the madness ended after 6pm.
Infamously done with South Park's season 2 premiere in 1998; the audience was expection a resolution to Season 1's Cliff Hanger about who Eric Cartman's father was, but instead they got an episode dedicated to the farting Canandian Show Within a Show Terrence & Phillip that aired on April 1st. Reactions from viewers were quite negative, leading to Trey Parker & Matt Stone resolving the cliffhanger in the season's second episode. This was later lampshaded in the episode "Terrance & Phillip: Behind the Blow".
It was also referenced in the 2010 episode "Eat, Pray, Queef" (which ALSO aired on April 1st), where the boys get mad after the conclusion to a 2-part Terrence & Phillip episode is replaced with a Queef Sisters episode. The creators actually originally intended to do a whole episode about the Queef Sisters, but went against it.
Referenced again in the 2006 episode "Cartoon Wars Part 2", which pulled a similar "this episode will not be seen tonight" gag involving Terrence & Phillip. Which had its own Muhammad joke. That gets censored on its own. ...What? Are Terrence & Phillip arguing with the executive behind the edit now? And they bring up Family Guy showing Muhammad uncensored? And the executive is saying someone is probably going to FOX to stop them? Ah, now the episode truly begins...
The following year, they added MLP perfumes for men.
[adult swim]. 2012. While it began with the introduction to The Room (which had been their joke in previous years), it quickly went in a different direction, bringing back Toonaminote Canceled in September 2008 for what was thought to be one night only. But then [adult swim] asked the fans what they thought on Twitter... They wanted their Toonami. As of May 26, 2012, they're getting it.
In 2013, TeenNick advertised that they were planning to show a long lost episode of Rocko's Modern Life at midnight as part of its The '90s Are All That block. Said episode was 30 minutes of Mayo from the "Wacky Delly" episode, followed by a showing of said episode to presumably clear things up for the numerous confused viewers born well after the time of Rocko passed.
Family Guy: The Season 8 episode "April in Quahog," where Channel 5 newscasters Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons successfully pull of a "joke" by claiming the Earth is being sucked into a black hole through a series of seemingly legitimate newscasts.
Online tech news site The Register regularly put up joke articles on April 1st. The articles are usually gone by the next day however, although some of them are archived for posterity.
China, notorious for their censorship regime, bans the media in the country from publishing or airing fake articles and reports on April Fools' Day.
A popular joke is the "Fools' Day Parade", wherein someone announces a time and place and big acts for a parade that never happens. Some of the more entertaining press releases are of New York's "Annual April Fools' Day Parade", written by world-class prankster Joey Skaggs.
British newspaper The Daily Mail pulled one a few years back by claiming (then-)Prime Minister Tony Blair had replaced the black door of 10 Downing Street with a red one.
Many cable networks do April Fools' Day pranks. For example, [adult swim] will change their lineup or insert jokes into their programming: in 2005 it was fart jokes during anime; in 2006 it was a "stealth premiere" of the finale of Perfect Hair Forever; in 2007 they aired the complete Aqua Teen Hunger ForceColon Movie Film For Theaters before its actual theatrical premiere date - in a small, 1 x 1 inch corner of the screen; in 2008 it was a whole night of "stealth premieres" and in 2009 it was the cable premiere of The Room. In 2010 and 2011, they aired The Roomagain. In 2012, they opted for a one-day revival of Toonami, which began with a Fake-Out Opening of The Room.
Memorably, the fart gag caused such an angry and immediateInternet Backdraft that the sounds were removed for the late-night second airing.
In 2013, they changed the name of the network to [meow meow], played cat-related bumps and superimposed cat heads on all their programming (except Loiter Squad.)
For 2008, the morning DJs at WBPM in upstate New York announced they were quitting. All throughout their show, they received calls from listeners asking if it was true and begging them not to do it. Just before they signed off, they admitted that they were quitting... smoking.
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Armed Forces Network (radio) in Europe celebrated April 1st with such news items as an invasion of Germany by giant grasshoppers. Also, the German "phrase of the day" feature was replaced with a cow phrase: "Moooo!" which means, "Hey, watch where you're putting those cold hands, buddy!"
Something about the radio business must really lend itself to these. From 1964, here's WABC's Dan Ingram being victimized during his on-air shift.
On April 1st of 2010, the cd trading site swapacd.com included a link on their homepage promising users "free credits". Instead of credits that can be exchanged for CDs, what they got were the kind of credits you see at the end of movies - a scrolling list of bad puns on names of famous actors.
All Things Considered, the evening news program of NPR, does an annual April Fools news story, delivered in their usual deadpan style. Among others was a report on the dangers of exploding maple trees in Vermont one year, and then another was a reading outraged "listener mail" concerning Whale Farming (as in, raising whales in massive tanks in the Midwest) which was a long series of Comically Missing the Point gags.
The Swedish television channel SVT had a glorious one in 1962. Known radio technician Kjell Stensson told the viewers that by simply cutting up a nylon stocking and attaching it to the television screen, they would get color TV!
A few years ago one Christchurch newspaper published a news report about how the iconic Christchurch City Cathedral was going to be demolished due to bad structural damage. This became Harsher in Hindsight considering the catherdral was demolished in 2012 after a 7.9 earthquake struck the city.
In the 80s, the Australian Cricket team played a tour match in India on April 1st. The rules of cricket state that if the ball hits the stumps but fails to dislodge the bails, the batsman is not out. The Australians superglued the bails on, and then just stood back and let the ball hit the stumps.
On April Fools' Day 2009, Shout! Factory announced on its website that it would be producing a DVD box set containing the entire 72-year run of the radio/TV soap opera Guiding Light, collected on nearly 4,000 discs.
April Fools' Day 2012 had a couple unrelated events:
The moderators had a lot of fun within the forum. Most of them wear distinctive avatars, sig lines, and other gingerbread, and these have become well known enough that people identify the mods by their avatars rather than their names (to the point where Foxxy Mod redirects to Madrugada, since she always has an avatar of a sleeping fox◊).
For they April Fools' iDay, they "dressed up" as each other: Each wore the gingerbread of someone else. This lead to much confusion and silliness since people suddenly thought the mods were posting in places they had never been before, e.g. Best Of took on Fast Eddie's avatar, signature, user title, and location, so people thought Fast Eddie was posting in Yack Fest, which rarely happens. Here is the main forum thread about it, including diagrams of who switched to who◊.
It expanded outside the forum too. The Home Page was made inaccessible — whenever you went there, you were redirected to a random article from the Home Pages index, which might be a translation in anything from Quenya or Polish to Pirate and Elmer Fudd. Because of the obscure home pages getting a lot of exposure, we ended up with some weird inbound link counts as people showed them to their friends.
2013 brought the scale down again — nothing happened wiki-side. On the forums, the mods once again had their avatars changed, this time to Agent Smith from The Matrix, but that was all. The main event was that location lines in posts were randomised. Instead of the location given in your profile, your location would be randomly selected from one of 256 possibilities the mods had previously compiled, and would rerandomise upon refreshing the page. Most locations were references to works. For example, you might be listed as "from"...
More than that: it was announced on an April 1st, then nothing was said about it for months and months, with no new information to be had anywhere, until a follow-up announcement on, you guessed it, the following April 1st.
The trailer for The Simpsons Movie was released on March 31, 2006 with the second Ice Age. Despite being one day before April 1st, it did create some initial beliefs that Fox had been pulling an early April Fools' Day joke.
Kasane Teto, vip@2Ch April Fools joke [[Music/Vocaloid]], actually did have her own voice, albeit synthesised in different program. And free.
Inhabitants of vip@2ch used to do it every year since then.
Google's Gmail service was announced on April 1, 2004 with storage limits that (at the time) sounded absurdly unfeasible; it was no joke. Since then, Gmail has run an April Fools' joke every year, including such "new features" as a free email printing service (subsidized by giant red context-sensitive ads on the back of the emails) and a feature allowing the user to send an email to days earlier.
Popular gaming site The GIAinitialism Gaming Intelligence Agency suddenly announced its dissolution on April 1, 2002. Readers were confused for months before finding out that, yes, it really was closing down, and many were angry that they would pick April 1 of all days to make the announcement. The GIA was later retooled into the ill-fated GameForms.com, which didn't last very long and has now been replaced by a poker site.
That was 2009's April Fools joke. In 2008, he made a fake ending to the series and "moved on" to Zork and Pals. Then in 2010, he created "a Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds abridged" with everyone just shouting "CARD GAMES ON MOTORCYCLES!!!"; then it turned out to be Iruka and Joekage watching it and then showing each other their abridged series. Naruto lampshades at the end how tired it's gotten and complains.
An accidental subversion: Gamefront (known back at the time of the incident as Filefront) announced on March 24, 2009, that they planned to shut down by the end of March. However, they managed to deal with their issues at that very moment and thus didn't close down after all; they just happened to be unfortunate enough to solve their problems by April 1st.
On April 1, 2010, Christian Weston Chandler vandalized the CWCki, a site dedicated to him and his webcomic. Most users assumed it was a prank at first.
The official Magic: The Gathering website pulls off some sort of elaborate joke every year on April 1st, but occasionally hides some truth in it as well. Perhaps the best trick they pulled was on April 1st, 2004, when they announced Unhinged, a sequel to the popular Magic joke set Unglued. A few days later, it was revealed that the announcement was true.
Aaah, but when else to unveil new Unglued cards but that most auspicious of days?
The real Fool's Day Joke was the announcement that they were banning the Plains card: one of the resource cards you need to play the game.
In 2010, they put up an "Arcana" (mini-article) that was just a Long List of increasingly ludicrous rumors they want to debunk. Only the first 5 or so (of 38) were plausible enough to merit debunking.
Announced on April 1st 2012, Saints Row The Third: Enter the Dominatrix was thought to be an April Fools Joke until it was later revealed to be a real standalone companion game retailing for $30. Triply subverted as development on the game got so ambitious that it got revamped into Saints Row IV, and then the first Saints Row IV mission DLC is called — wait for it — Enter the Dominatrix.
Def Jam Vendetta had an initial release date of April 1, 2003. Hardly anybody took seriously the idea of a Licensed Game where rappers beat the stuffing out of one another. The game actually met the April 1 release date, and it sold like hotcakes, inspiring a pair of sequels.
Team Fortress 2's Jarate weapon for April Fools' Day 2009 is now a genuine weapon as of the Sniper vs. Spy update, release by the end of May 2009.
Valve have also made multiple Counter-Strike April Fools' Day updates.
On the subject of Valve again, 13 indie games on Steam saw odd updates relating to potatoes on April 1st, 2011. Surely enough, these potatoes served as the omen to somethingmoresinister than a mere foolish prank...
The 2013 April Fools was a form of zig-zag, since it was originally a straight-up joke (see Reddit's section in New Media above), but resulted in two new promotional hats for Reddit being added into the game two days later.
Similar to the previous example is Poker Night 2—however, the Team Fortress 2 items that you can get from this game were added to the Team Fortress 2 files before it was even teased.
Version 0.31.01 of Dwarf Fortress, two years in the making, was released on April 1, 2010. No surprise that the website broke within the hour.
Ogmo from Jumper has been announced to be a playable character in Super Meat Boy. The fact that Ogmo and Meat Boy himself are look-alikes left those who saw the news skeptical.
Narcissu -side 2nd- was supposed to be released on April Fools' Day. It got updated a few hours early, and some still think it's an April Fools' Day joke.
One April Fools Day, Max Barry announced that the UN-like organization in his browser-based nation simulation game Nationstates would change its name to the World Assembly because of a complaint from the real UN about his use of the name and emblem. Turns out, the UN really did send him a letter, and the change was made to comply with it.
Hatoful Boyfriend's introduction states that the character designs were released on April Fools' Day, and there's an anecdote (could be truth, could be just an Urban Legend) that the creators of this game had originally intended for the game to be a normal Dating Sim with human guys and posted bird designs for these guys on the website as an April Fools' joke, only for fans to love them so much that the game ended up being all about dating birds instead.
Whilst League of Legends usually plays this straight, a notable subversion was the announcement of the long awaited champion Lee Sin, the Blind Monk who was released a few days later. In the April Fool's version, he was indestructible and could kick across the map but the player was filtered through a blurry screen. Here's the April Fools spotlight compared to the real spotlight.
The announcement of Rewrite by Key Visual Arts on April 1st 2008 was subsequently validated the following day.
The announcement that Rewrite would be an adult game on April 1st 2010 was revealed as a joke.
The release of a video showing the characters in distinctly un-Key like situation on April 1st 2011 was also confirmed the following day (and the events in video do actually happen in the novel).
For War Thunder, in 2013 Gaijin Entertainment released a trailer showing cute, colorful ponies as a new playable faction. Then they actually updated they game to include said ponies, each packing 4 20mm machine guns, 8 rockets tubes, and 2 half-ton bombs. Oh, and they each flew like a high-speed rocket plane. Bronies were ecstatic, while brony-haters were... uh... not.
In 2013, Konami redecorated◊ the jubeat e-Amusement website to promote "Wow Wow VENUS", with the unlock condition for the song ostensibly requiring tons of Level Grinding. The site was reverted the day after as expected...but then, much to the joy of players wanting to play it, "Wow Wow VENUS" became an actual playable song the day after, freely available with no unlock precondition for one week, permanently so for the player if they played it once during that week. Currently, the song can be obtained by grinding through the "bistro saucer" unlock system.
Subverted in 2010 by Looking for Group who chose April 1 for some real yet unlikely plot development. It would seem that two party members met long ago, but the sane one was too badly hurt to remember in detail.
After several months of MegaTokyo being almost entirely Miho and Piro talking, April 1st, 2012 unexpectedly delivered a barely offscreen naked Magical Girl wrestling match and Piro getting smacked in the face with a washbasin. Canonically.
On April 1, 2003, Queen of Wands put up a comic where Shannon is shown crying and announces she's pregnant; it was removed a few hours later. Naturally it caused quite a bit of discussion as some fans had seen it and some did not. One year later the comic was put up again and stayed up, beginning a legitimate story-line.
The Other Wiki features a set of articles each April Fools' Day, and despite their absurdity, each of them are true. The site also runs rampant with pranking, such as changing all the links on the Rickroll article to point to, well, a Rickroll.
Once there was a major Dragon Cave release on April Fools; neither the date or the name ("Mod Madness") lent credence to the idea that no, this was a legitimate release, and the eggs weren't going to disappear or become something ridiculous.
Marvin Gaye was shot and killed on April 1, 1984 by his father. People were shocked the next day because then they knew it was true.
People did not initially believe Tazz's departure from WWE was real because it was so close to April 1.
You have to see this to believe it: Uni Watch Blog, a website dealing with sports uniforms, posted a prank article on April 1, 2009, claiming that a certain NFL team was going to adopt a lime green alternate jersey; the prank fooled the makers of Madden NFL 2010, who inserted the uniform into the game. Cue the September 28, 2009 game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, and the Seahawks wore lime green uniforms.
"Think Geek" added a Tauntaun sleeping bag to their catalog as an April Fool joke ... but response was so great they're now checking with Lucasfilms about making that bag for real. (They got permission.)
The same happened with the Personal Soundtrack t-shirt, which was an April Fools' Day joke that was so popular they ended up actually making one.
Following a shift in power at CBS and complaints over his appearing to be overly power-hungry, sportscaster Brent Musburger ended up getting fired on April Fools' Day 1990, with his calling the NCAA Basketball Championship game serving as his lame duck assignment prior to joining ABC Sports.
The death of comedian Mitch Hedberg was questioned because it was announced on his website on April Fool's Day.
Steve Jackson Games had an announcement about the long-desired Ogre update on April Fools Day 2012. But it wasn't a joke, the wargame is being republished. (The Kickstarter campaign was fully funded before the formal announcement.)
The April Fools equivalent in Hispanic countries is December 28. Be wary of the media in those parts of the world those days.
The April Fool's Day Blizzard. After a fairly below average winter, some people didn't believe that a huge blizzard would hit a week and a half into Spring; it ended up being Boston's third (now fourth) biggest snowstorm ever, coming only an inch shy of the winter season's 26 inches.