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The Prankster

"Your PRANKSTER'S GAMBIT plunges to an all time low. You cannot hope to defeat Egbert in a prank-off. He is simply the best there is."

A guy (or girl) who loves practical jokes more than just a friend, and will not be selective about who they choose for a target - in fact, a success record with as many people on it as possible seems to be one of their life goals. They will be the constant annoyance of their friends, albeit humored and tolerated, akin to the Lovable Rogue. Using their tricks against the villain will usually be their Crowning Moment Of Awesome that makes you forgive them for the rest.

April Fools' Day will be their favourite day of the year when they are even more out of control than usual (and sometimes it will be their actual birthday).

Occassionally someone would decide to teach the prankster a lesson and give him a taste of his own medicine, which will often expose him as a hypocrite who is unable to laugh at himself (although there are genuine jokesters who enjoy a good joke even when it is on them), but note that more than one practical joker on the block for any longer duration will quickly lead to an Escalating War.

Usually there will be at least one episode where the prankster's behavior ends up backfiring on him - maybe they go too far and actually harm someone or they are thought to be joking even when they are not. Having the prankster lose his trademark behavior is a clear sign that your story has just become Darker and Edgier.

Prince of Pranksters is basically the uber version of this character. Compare The Jester. Sometimes also a Pungeon Master. See also the Trickster Archetype.


Examples

Anime and Manga

Comics

Fan Fic

Film

Live-Action TV
  • Jim Halbert from The Office (US).
  • B.J. Hunnicutt from M*A*S*H.
    • While B.J. was the most notable example, several of the show's other characters were capable of engaging in pranks, including Hawkeye, Trapper, Charles, and even (in one episode) Frank Burns.
  • Harry Stone from Night Court raised it to an art form.
    Harry: You may be younger. You may be faster. You may even be smarter. But you will never, ever be crazier than me.
  • Chet "The Phantom" Kelly on Emergency!.

Literature
  • Harry Potter's Fred and George Weasley.
    • As well as James Potter and Sirius Black, who were directly compared to the Weasley twins. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew too, to an extent.
  • George and Harold from Captain Underpants.
  • Legs Mortimer, in P. G. Wodehouse's "A Farewell to Legs", and the members of the Drones Club in other stories. (Mortimer Mouse in "Mickey's Rival" may have been inspired by this story.)
    • Lest you think only the Drones have this quality, mention should also be made of Roberta "Bobbie" Wickham, who, when it comes to pranking, is More Deadly Than The Male.
  • Pumuckl, the kobold protagonist of a German children's series.
  • Andrusch in Krabat.
  • In Aaron Allston's run on the X-Wing Series, he wrote several prank-happy pilots. Grinder in Wraith Squadron perhaps the most so, and certainly he was the only one to pull pranks that could be harmful. Fandom seems to believe that Wes Janson is absolutely this trope, but while Wes is amazingly irreverent and snarky, his actual "pranks" are rare, simple, and tame.
  • Galaxy of Fear's Zak Arranda shows flashes of this now and then. A Pseudo Crisis in The Brain Spiders is his fault.
  • Felicity Merriman and Elizabeth Cole from the American Girls Collection, most especially in Very Funny, Elizabeth, although some criticised the book for making Cole Out of Character.
    • Speaking of out of character, Merriman is mostly portrayed as such in the Hitler Rants parodies on Youtube.
  • Julian from The Boy Next Door, whose pranks get steadily more serious and dangerous.

Music

Mythology

Tabletop Games
  • This is one of the hats of kobolds in GURPS Fantasy Folk. Their other one is that they are all complete idiots, so their pranks aren't terribly sophisticated.

Video Games
  • Ewan from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
  • Yuffie Kisaragi of Final Fantasy VII fame.
  • Luciana and Emilia in Blaze Union. While we do get a list of pranks they've pulled off, we never see them at it directly, so it can be called an Informed Attribute.
  • Star Control 2 has an entire race of these with the Umgah. Since the Umgah are a bit insane and pretty immoral anyway, their pranks involve things like sparking interplanetary wars or slamming asteroids into other species' homeworlds.
  • Rune Factory 4 has both Doug and Leon, though surprisingly, they neither engage in a prank war nor team up to torment the more serious members of the cast.

Visual Novels

Web Comics
  • Bo-Woo and Ra-Woo from Divine Bells are a mischievious masked pair who play pranks on their king.
  • In Homestuck, John is described as the best prankster there is. But he regularly gets trounced by his Nanna, and both revered her adoptive father, Colonel Sassacre, as a master prankster. Post-Scratch, Jane and her famous Poppop share the same qualities. Since they're John & Nanna after switching places in history.

Web Original
  • In Real Life, Hermann Otto Fegelein was an S.S. officer during World War II and the personal adjutant of Heinrich Himmler, who tried to defect a few days before Germany surrendered, but was caught and executed for treason. However, once he was depicted in Downfall, Fegelein started to gain a new reputation in the parodies, where he is a ruthless prankster who performs all kinds of hilariously cruel antics against Hitler. Even better is that he somehow keeps avoiding capture due to the incompetence of Hitler's staff, and whenever he is found he is literally able to cheat death and come back.
    • There's also Heinrich Himmler, who is among many "Grand Masters" of antics, and he is Fegelein's mentor.
    • A number of other pranksters exist in the parodies. Aside from Fegelein and Himmler, Traudl is occasionally shown performing antics. The Stalin Parodies see Joseph Stalin's general Mikhail Tukhachevksy performing all kinds of bizarre antics. While the U-Boat Parodies only have one official antic master, they still turn the entire cast of Das Boot into Loveable Rogues. Felicity Merriman was also depicted as a prankster, similar to what she and Elizabeth did in one of the original American Girl stories, albeit in a more extreme and crude level.
  • We Are Our Avatars: If something seems weird enough for Krissy, or if he comes up with something unique, he’ll use his illusions to mess with people.

Western Animation
  • Horace from Mickey Mouse fame.
    • Mickey Mouse use to be a big prankster in his early days, especially towards Minnie. And while Minnie isn't as much of a prankster as her boyfriend, she sometimes likes to join in on the pranking herself.
  • Reggie Mantle was treated this way on The Archie Show. He would attempt to prank Archie, and inevitably some authority figure would spring the trap instead. "Mrs. Grundy!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic sees Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash bonding over pranks. Interestingly, rather than the usual route of having them learn that "all pranks are bad!", it's made clear that their jokes are all done in good fun, and they back down from pranking one of their friends who they think is too emotionally fragile to just shrug it off.
    • Both are just a bit Innocently Insensitive in "Luna Eclipsed", where Pinkie Pie's letting herself be scared by Princess Luna constantly undermines Luna's efforts to make friends and Rainbow Dash inadvertently causes an Interrupted Cooldown Hug just as Luna and Pinkie were about to make peace. Luna gets her revenge though.
    • Princess Celestia's pet, Philomena, is even worse. She even tops Rainbow Dash by being the only one able to make the Canterlot Guards move. Celestia herself seems to enjoy a little prank once in a while.
  • T.J. Detweiler from Recess. King Bob was one as well, at least before he became the playground's king.
  • This is Muscle Man's greatest pleasure in life on Regular Show.
  • Brattus from Mr. Bogus will periodically pull pranks on his older cousin Bogus.
  • Bart Simpson, of course. His career highlights include inciting a media frenzy by pretending to be trapped in a well, answering his teacher's personal ad, replacing the hymns in the church with "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida," turning the school weather balloon into Principal Skinner's "rumpy doppelganger," trapping the teachers in their cars by repainting the lines in the parking lot, and getting an Australian boy to accept a $900 collect call by impersonating a drainage commissioner. And then there's all those Prank Calls to Moe...

Real Life
  • Far too many spooks and spies to list, due to the necessity to keep a quick wit and a nature for deceit, have reputations as pranksters. One notable intelligence officer was Reginald V. Jones, who was the driving force in the radar countermeasures battle during the Blitz, responsible for jamming, spoofing, and otherwise playing merry hell with German communications, navigational, and radar gear. He also had a reputation as an incorrigible prankster before the war.


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