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Prank Call

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"Listen, you lousy bum. If I ever get a hold of you, I swear I'll cut your belly open!"

Geula Cohen: You're listening to the Voice of Liberating Zion for the Freedom of Israel. We have a special guest in our studio today, Aharon Aharon.
Aharon Aharon: Good, good, you're the best, Geula, the best!
Geula Cohen: Yes. Soon, we'll tell our listeners about the prank call you made to the British High Commissioner [of Mandatory Palestine].
Aharon Aharon: Oh, yeah, you would not believe it - I called him to ask what color is the White Paper of 1939! *canned laughter*

The Prank Call trope is where a character decides to prank another by calling them on the telephone. These pranks are mostly just jokes and puns. The most popular joke used when prank calling someone is "Is your refrigerator running? You'd better catch it!" Punny Names are also popular, especially when calling a person who then has to ask for the punny-named person, leading to awkwardness such as "I'm looking for Amanda Huggenkiss."

For amateurs, at least, this has been made largely extinct in Real Life because of caller ID and call-blocking features that allow telephone users to block calls from "Private"/"Unavailable"/"Unknown"/"Restricted" phone numbers (and thus averting potential for a Prank Gone Too Far). Prank Calls are usually considered a form of Harassing Phone Call. Though the trope does live on for call-in talk shows and similar, where the caller doesn't care if their ID is known and often prank callers are seen as All Part of the Show. The trope also lives on in the form of Prank Answers, usually directed at telemarketers and scammers.

(The two most common prank calls, as implied above, are "Do you have Prince Albert in a Can?" and "Is your refrigerator running?")

In some countries, making what are termed "nuisance calls" is illegal and can lead to either criminal or civil prosecution.

Not to be confused with Phoney Call which is where a character pretends that they are talking on the phone when the phone is off.

Contrast Mistaken for Prank Call (the Subverted Trope) when the character receiving the call thinks that they are being pranked. May overlap with Anonymous Public Phone Call, when a character makes an anonymous call with a public phone.


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  • "Victory by Computer": Invoked. Supergirl chooses to call Ms. Wilson's classroom instead of the police because, having no way to prove her identity over the phone, they might mistake her for a jokester with too much free time.
    Supergirl: "Of course, I could call up the police...But they might mistake me for a prank caller, since I can't prove over the phone I'm the real Supergirl!"

    Anime & Manga 

  • This was the entire schtick of The Jerky Boys, who released recordings of their various prank calls, and even a Big Damn Movie.
  • Australian musician and alternative comedian Gregg Turkington released an album of prank calls entitled Great Phone Calls which included the first appearances of his hilariously unfunny stand-up comedian character Neil Hamburger - the tracks "Cancel It!", "Write My Name On The Toilet" and "A Nationally Known Comedian" all revolve around Neil calling up comedy clubs and giving unsolicited auditions to perform. Also notable for including "Music Of The Night", a brief prank call made by an uncredited Mike Patton, in which he tries to get saxophone lessons after midnight (the music teacher's ad apparently mentioned being available "any time of day").
  • Brian Regan said he had lots of problems with these ones when his brothers forced him to make them.
    Is your refrigerator running? It's not? oh-oh it's not.....Okay, you have a good day now. Take luck.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Disney Comics story with Donald Duck, Donald is making prank phone calls with his favorite victim being a Mister Upjohn. ("It's almost 11 o'clock. Are you Upjohn?") When Donald tries to get a job "making phone calls for a living", he discovers that his boss will be the aforementioned Mister Upjohn, who recognizes Donald's voice. He still gives Donald a job — taking calls in the complaints department.
  • The 23rd issue of The Boys has the Homelander fall victim to the classic "Walls" prank call (where the caller asks for individuals with the surname Wall and snarks to the victim of the prank that the roof can't possibly stay up if there aren't any walls).
  • The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis: This classic Simpsons Running Gag is done in the style of Futurama here. When Moe is working at Zorgnax's Pub, he gets a call from Bender and Bart asking for 100101 100100. When Moe calls for that name, Calculon smugly replies "Well, she's your mother but it still doesn't seem appropriate!" while the other robots at the pub all laugh at that. Moe then does his usual threat over the phone, while Bender and Bart are shown laughing out loud.

    Comic Strip 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin never actively calls people (probably because he doesn't actually know anyone), but he does answer a lot of incoming calls with abject nonsense and then hangs up, simply because the call is never for him and he hates taking messages (and his luddite father refuses to get an answering machine that would solve the issue). Calvin will also sometimes call the library or the hardware store for ridiculous requests like making bombs or how to spell swear words, but these aren't jokes, he's completely serious.
    • Sometimes Calvin will call his dad at work to bug him with his shenanigans, such as saying how lame it is he's stuck in a boring job while he can run and play outside all day, or pretending to be a literal bug.
      Calvin: Bzz bz! Bzzzz! Bzz bzz! Bzzz bz!
      Calvin's Dad: Calvin, this had better not be you.
  • Crabgrass: In this comic. Miles prank calls someone using the running refrigerator joke. However, he then proceeds to tell the victim his real name and is about to give the phone number, forcing Kevin snatch the phone from Miles hand and hang up. Miles excuses himself with that he is bad at prank calls.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Berkshire County: While Kylie is babysitting, the phone rings. When she answers it, the guy on the other end asks if her fridge is running. She knows then in there it's a prank call.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: Deputy Doyle gets a call from a scared-sounding man who claims people are actually being murdered at the Land Of Illusions Haunted House Attraction. He states that the killer looked like "Your mom last night!" and bursts into laughter. As a result, Deputy Doyle dismisses other such calls from that point forward as just more prank calls.
  • Early in Scream 2, Sidney gets a prank call from a guy posing as Ghostface, in a scene that illustrates why this is a Discredited Trope nowadays. It's implied that she's been getting several of them thanks to the release of Stab, a Ripped from the Headlines Slasher Movie that (in-universe) is based on the events of the first movie, to the point where she's no longer fazed by them.
    "Ghostface": Hello, Sidney. What's your favorite scary movie?
    Sidney: Who is this?
    "Ghostface": You tell me.
    Sidney: (looks at caller ID) Cory Gillis, 555-0176. Hot flash, Cory: prank calls are a criminal offense prosecuted under penal code 653-M.
    Cory: Aw, shit. Shit! (swiftly hangs up)
  • The 1965 William Castle movie I Saw What You Did and its 1988 remake are about a couple of girls who make prank calls saying "I saw what you did and I know who you are." Unfortunately for them, they happen to call a guy who killed his wife, and thinks they actually did see him.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The title character uses the "Is your refrigerator running?" prank on an innocent Who.
  • In The Last Jedi, Poe buys some time just before an engagement by prank calling a Star Destroyer, throwing in a small helping of Your Mother to add insult to injury.
  • Rodney Snodgrass from The Spirit of '76 likes calling random people to ask "Is your refrigerator running?"
  • In Avengers: Endgame, during the Time Heist, in order to get Pym Particles so he and Tony Stark can return to the present, Steve Rogers prank calls Hank Pym, saying that a delivery guy accidentally opened a glowing package that was for him, and Hank falls for it.
  • Porky's does the "Mike Hunt" variation on this.
  • The 1990 TV-movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel It has a scene where Pennywise takes a moment off from being a Nightmare Fuel Eldritch Abomination to pay homage to this trope.
    Pennywise: Excuse me, sir! Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well, you better let the poor guy out! WUHAH! WUHAH! WUHAH!
  • Don't Hang Up centers on a group of teenagers who become internet celebrities for their prank calls, until they receive a phone call from a "Mr. Lee", who proceeds to torture and kill them to teach them a lesson about their prank calls.
  • In Kenny & Company, Kenny, Doug, and Sherman kill time on Halloween afternoon by calling random people, saying they're going to be working on the phone line for the next five minutes and if the person answers the phone during that time, they'll receive a horrible electric shock. The kids then call the person again, and when the person picks up, they play a recording of Sherman screaming while the garbage disposal chews up an apple.
  • The night before the Fabergé egg heist in Ocean's Twelve, Danny Ocean receives a phone call claiming to be his 5 AM wake-up call. When he knocks on Rusty's door he discovers it's only 11:30 PM. They immediately realise it's their rival Tolour who was screwing with Danny just to be mean.

  • The Babysitters Club:
    • In Poor Mallory, the club prank call both of the two girls who have been picking on Mallory over her father's redundancy. They each call one girl in turn, asking "Is Sissy there?" repeatedly, whilst Mary Anne calls the other girl enquiring about the pigs she ordered in a fake southern accent.
    • In the same series, Kristy's older brother Sam also loves to call the girls when their meetings are in session, especially in earlier books.
  • Fear Street did two books about how this can end badly, The Wrong Number and Wrong Number 2. Deena and Jade spend an evening doing prank calls, but then call the home of a woman who's being attacked by her husband, and overhear her grisly death. The two girls fear that the husband will find out who they are, but then feel compelled to bring him to justice when the wrong man is arrested. In the sequel, the girls start receiving threatening phone calls and fear the killer's trying to get them even though he's supposed to be in prison.
  • In Death Masks, Molly gets Sanya (a huge black Russian guy) in on her prank calling. Bonus points because it is obvious he does not know what Molly roped him in.
    "Excuse me sir. Do you happen to have Prince Albert in a can? Molly, they hung up again."
  • Clue: Two of the guests get a few of these in book 18, chapter 9 ("Prank Phone Calls"). They're not amused.
  • Lucky Jim: A number of examples. Jim pretends to be a journalist from London over the phone in order to extract information from Bertrand. He frequently pretends to be someone else when calling the Welches'. By the end of the book, Jim notes that he "could probably write a book on non-business uses of phones".
  • Thora: In The Incredible Crystals, six-year-old Felicity, whose parents work at the Deep Breath Hotel and Spa, likes to annoy guests by calling their rooms and making loud farting noises.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?, episode "The Tale of the Phone Police". If you do a prank call, the phone police will lock you in a cell and require you to answer incoming prank calls.
  • Our Miss Brooks: The events of "Wild Goose" are set off when Walter Denton makes a prank call, disguising his voice as he does so. Denton tells Mr. Conklin he's won a television set from Sherry's Department Store. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Rob is the victim of a prank call made by a prankster at a party Buddy was hosting. The pranker got Rob to take his phone apart, put it in a paper bag, and throw it out the front door.
  • The Amanda Show:
    • A regular short sketch shown throughout the series is of a girl prank calling someone called Mr Oldman. The calls consist of her saying a bunch of random stuff to mess with his head, before asking him to do something ridiculous for an extended period (while still on the phone). The shorts usually end with Mr. Oldman complying with her orders, all while periodically screaming "YOU HAVE THE WRONG NUMBER!"
    • A one-time sketch known as "Call Zap" shows two girls being prank-called by a boy and his little brother. The girls get revenge with their new phone, giving the pranksters a shocking surprise both literally and figuratively.
  • Played for Laughs on Even Stevens twice:
    • In the B-plot of "Thin Ice", Louis and Twitty take up prank calling, almost ruining Ren's chances for a date with her then-boyfriend at the time, Bobby. However, it goes too far when they trick Tawny and her father into thinking they won $1 million and it seems as though they ruined their lives, but it turns out Tawny and her dad staged the ruse to teach them a lesson: they knew it was the boys the whole time, because they have caller ID, and it prompts them to kick the habit after the fact.
      • In spite of quitting the prank calls on others, it doesn't mean Louis won't quit doing so to Ren, doing it again at the start of "A Very Scary Story". He disguises his voice, at first, while Ren is watching a scary movie, then Ren employs call return, at which point Louis scares her.
  • Friends:
    • One episode reveals that Joey keeps calling his room mate Chandler at work, pretending that he's a female Stalker with a Crush. Ross is at first somewhat disturbed, but comes to enjoy the joke later. Poor Chandler is genuinely freaked out.
    • When Dr. Wiener decides that he wants to kick out Rachel for keeping calling him at night because of very minor problems her baby might have, she calls him back seconds later and starts repeating his surname in a funny voice ("Wiiieeener"). She thinks he wouldn't know it's her.
  • Prank-calling various members of the public is the entire premise of Fonejacker.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Stevie tries to do this, using the refrigerator pun. Because he has to take deep breaths between every couple of words, he's recognized before he can finish.
  • Roundhouse had a few sketches revolving around this trope.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? covers this with ideas of what Alexander Graham Bell said when he first invented the phone.
    Brad Sherwood: Do you have Prince Albert in a can?

  • "Phony Calls" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, a parody of TLC's "Waterfalls", is an entire song warning the listener that playing phone pranks on people has consequences. During the instrumental it includes audio from The Simpsons of Bart prank calling Moe.
  • The second verse of "What's My Age Again?" by Blink182:
    Later on, on the drive home,
    I called her mom from a pay phone.
    I said I was the cops and your husband's in jail.
    This state looks down on sodomy.

    And that's about the time that bitch hung up on me.
    Nobody likes you when you're twenty-three,
    and are still more amused by prank phone calls.
    What the hell is caller ID?
  • Early Beastie Boys single "Cooky Puss" includes clips of the band prank calling a local Carvel restaurant.
  • Beck's B-Side "Zatryricon" is an odd electronic instrumental overlaid with the sounds of Record Producer Tony Hoffer calling up plastic surgery practices with odd requests, such as getting hair removed from a tail he'd previously had grafted on by another surgeon.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Les Guignols de l'Info: After the 2012 French presidential election, Jacques Chirac makes regular pranks against Nicolas Sarkozy (since the latter lost), pretending to be some other head of state or personality, and asking something ludicrous out of Sarkozy.
  • On the rainy day episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse Randy does a prank phone call onto a female stranger. And shows it to Pee-Wee. But it reveals that the female stranger is married to a police officer, Who scolded to Pee-Wee that making prank phone calls is against the law and has threaten to put Pee-Wee in jail. Pee-Wee told the police he learned his lesson on the law and punishment. He will never do it again.
  • Comedy Central had a show for several seasons called Crank Yankers. The show was done by making and recording genuine crank calls, then puppeteering the audio.

  • Our Miss Brooks: The events of "Free TV From Sherry's" are set off when Walter Denton makes a prank call, disguising his voice as he does so. Denton tells Mr. Conklin he's won a television set from Sherry's Department Store. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Nephew Tommy on the Steve Harvey Morning Show makes prank calls for a living. A famous comedian, Thomas Miles' prank calls are one of the most popular segments in the show. He even sells collections of prank calls on CD.
  • Todd Pettingill of WPLJ's Scott & Todd does a "phone scam" segment where he prank calls people.
  • Another New York DJ, Elvis Duran of the Z100 Morning Show (formerly the Z Morning Zoo) would often do "Phone Taps".
  • This was also the M.O. for "Roy D. Mercer", a character created by Brent Douglas and Phil Stone for their morning show on KMOD-FM in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Douglas would affect a stereotypical Southern voice and prank call various people for perceived wrongs, usually threatening that they compensate him or receive an "ass-whoopin'." Between 1997 and 2013, over a dozen Roy D. Mercer albums were released. The two ended their show in 2012, just a few months before Stone died.
  • Dead Ringers would have a segment where an incredibly accurate impressionist would ring up various services in character as the Fourth Doctor as played by Tom Baker. Notably this included calling random numbers to ask What Year Is This?, to explore how the trope would work in real life. He also called former Doctors Peter Davison (who played along politely but a bit sarcastically), Sylvester McCoy (who seemed convinced he was talking to the real Tom Baker despite his incredibly odd behaviour, asking him several times if he was drunk) and Tom Baker himself (who, after a bit of confusion, settled straight into character, completely upstaged the fake with improvised comebacks, and managed to get him Corpsing).
  • Howard Stern and his colleagues have often prank called stations that would otherwise be very boring. Howard has many alternate personalities he takes during these calls.
  • In The Men from the Ministry after Lamb (thinks he) has been made the Permanent Under-Secretary, he spends most of his time making prank calls all across the ministry insulting and mocking pretty much everyone.

  • In Allegro, Bigby Denby receives a call from some city official asking if he would do something to clean up "the worst slum in the city." When Dr. Denby says it's not his hospital's policy to be involved in such things, he is subjected to a barrage of insults to the caller, who moments later reveals himself as his nephew Charlie in the next room.

    Video Games 
  • In the Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People episode Homestar Ruiner, Strong Bad can use Homestar's cell phone to prank call several characters, including Homsar and himself.
  • In Maniac Mansion, the player can call villainess Nurse Edna in order to distract her when entering her room. She naturally mistakes this for a poor quality prank call, commenting that there's "no heavy breathing."
  • On The Sims sims would randomly receive these.
  • In Pizza Frenzy, some orders would turn out to be prank calls, and delivering pizzas to the prank caller will instantly end your combo, regardless of which topping he ordered. You have to take his order to the police station instead for the cops to deal with him, as one would do with thieves or graffiti artists, which may sound harsh, but considering that prank calls are illegal in some countries, and you're running pizzas all over the world, it is not too unrealistic.
  • In The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, Bart can perform one of his prank calls on Moe if he uses the pay phone near Moe's tavern. This will result in Moe getting angry and leaving his tavern, at which point Bart can spray-paint his purple shirt red so the space mutants can't use it to build their deadly weapon (It Makes Sense in Context).

    Visual Novels 
  • If the protagonist of Melody loses a Fussball game with the title character, he has to give one of these to Steve while doing exactly what Melody tells him to do.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the "Marzipan's Answering Machine" segments, Strong Bad repeatedly leaves prank messages on Marzipan's answering machine, like telling her she's won a million punches in the face in a sweepstakes, or offering her membership in the Royal Society for Total Dorks.
    • The Strong Bad Email "personal favorites" shows him making Marzipan's answering machine explode just by saying "Prank call!", though this may be a case of Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Brittnay does one in "Judy & Red in the Morning" under the name of "Witney Matthews" along with a fake calm-sounding voice, until cussing them out shortly afterwards and abruptly hangs up.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: while he is in the Warp along with his fellows, Inquisitor Karamazov tries to do the "is your refrigerator running?" prank on the mayor of a demonic town. However, he is so wasted that it comes out as "is my refrigerator running?" and soon the conversation devolves into an argument between Karamazov and the demon — until Leman Russ blows the place up, the prank being a distraction.

    Web Comics 
  • Exterminatus Now: In a guest strip Fernex, the Chaos god of Machines, prank calls Tyrus, Law god of Justice, who finds that his refrigerator is doing more than just running.
  • I Love Yoo: Done twice. The first is done by Yeong-Gi and Shin-Ae to get revenge on Shin-Ae's friends for ditching her at a party. The second is done by Shin-Ae's friend Maya as revenge for the aforementioned prank.
  • Tales from the Pit has Nicol Bolas, Prank Caller, with such gems as "Is your refrigerator running? Of course not. I had it disabled." and "Can you please see if there is a Michael Rotch there? He goes by Mike. [pause] Well, I've reanimated his corpse and sent him to kill you, so be on the lookout. And yes, I have disabled your caller ID! Bwah ha ha ha ha!"
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "Love Potion: Part 2", Torg and Riff are being held captive by Oasis, a superhumanly capable fighter who's really a robot or something and who's accidentally been programmed to be violently possessively in love with Torg and plans to forcefully marry him. Also, Torg is turning into a donkey. (It's a long story.) So, Torg and Riff are tied up, but they manage to dial a phone call. So naturally they make a Simpsons-style prank call to their local bar, asking the female bartender to call out "Who wants Mia Topolis?" Then they call for help.

    Web Original 
  • How to Hero discusses prank calling supervillains here Amusingly, they later play the classic "is your refrigerator running" joke straight with the superhero Bold Kold. As explained in the tags to post
  • One of Marik's Evil Council meetings gets interrupted by a prank call from his arch-rival.
    (phone rings)
    Marik: Just a second, I have to get the phone. (picks up phone) Yes, what the [EFF] is it?
    Dartz: Hello, is your refrigerator running?
    Marik: I don't have a [EFF]ing refrigerator! I'm an evil mastermind who lives in the middle of the [EFF]ing desert in Egypt, for [EFF]'s sake! Why would I need a refrigerator?
    Dartz: Then you had better go and catch it. (hangs up)
    Marik: What? What the [EFF] is that supposed to mean, anyway? Oh, I see, that was a prank call. Well, you have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on me, Binky-boy!
    Bakura: (to other council members) I told you he said it.
    Marik: Shut up, Kitty!
  • World War II: Episodes 48 and 49 form a pair of this type of joke. In the introduction to Episode 48 - "No Deal... Herr Hitler!" host Indy Neidell does his best Winston Churchill impression and orders a pizza to be delivered to the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. In the followup, "The Hippo vs. the Bulldog, Göring’s War" he puts on another accent and feigns he has no idea about any call for pizza.

    Web Videos 
  • JediMaster362 on YouTube has published some prank calls.
  • Ownage Pranks specializes in these.
  • Potter Puppet Pals in Wizard Swears. The main 3 dial up the Dark Lord to hit him with a “LEPRECHAUN TAINT!” which results in him dishing out arrest and death threats.
  • 5 Second Films gives us an appropriately titled "Prank Call" and "The Last Prank Call Ever".
  • One vlogbrothers video has Hank "positively prank call" people. He calls them up and tells them an optimistic fact about the world such as a statistic about decreasing violent crime. After one call resulted in more of a conversation than a prank, in subsequent calls he hung up immediately after saying his fact.
  • Inverted by Tom Mabe who pranks telemarketers that call him.
  • Jayuzumi first became known for these on the internet before moving into gaming videos, keeping the soundboard gimmick that he was known for. After what he viewed as a dry spell with Call of Duty: Ghosts (he thought that the franchise was by this point running out of ideas), he's moved back into them again, with gaming videos now few and far between.
  • Scott The Woz prank calls a styrofoam company in the beginning of his episode "Nintendo Labo | Adventures with the Variety Kit":
    Scott: Hi, yeah, I'd like some packing peanuts, hold the packing.
    [closes phone, holds back laughter]
    Scott: I'm a f**king maniac!
    Styrofoam Productions CS Center: [nonchalant] ...Well, he sure got me.
  • During the The Angry Video Game Nerd episode on Ghostbusters on the NES, the Nerd's curiosity regarding the "Ghost Vacuum" mounted on top of the Ecto-1 prompts him to call a local vacuum supplier, which ends up turning into this, complete with him visibly trying not to burst out laughing.note 
    Nerd: It's like, shaped like a funnel, like you put it on the roof of your car.
    Clerk: want a vacuum to clean your car?
    Nerd: No, you put it on the top of your car... like while you're driving...?
    Clerk: (beat) ... to, t-,t-, you want a vacuum to clean?
    Nerd: No, y'know, these vacuums are for catching ghosts...

    Western Animation 
  • Darkwing Duck: In "Star-Crossed Circuits", Gosalyn makes one using the classic "Is your refrigerator running?" line, but D-2000 interrupts her before she can get to the punch line. The computer warns her that her father forbade this kind of thing and D-2000 will notify him once he returns home, much to Gos' irritation.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Telephonies" dealt with the girls being prank called by the Gangreen Gang into fighting against Mojo Jojo, Fuzzy Lumpkins, and Him, even when the three latter villains didn't commit any crimes at all. The girls never catch on, but the other villains figure it out and don't take kindly to the Gangreen Gang's shenanigans.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart loves to call up Moe's and ask to speak to people with names like Al Coholic. Moe always asks his customers for that person, then realizes the pun when they start laughing. One time he used it to sic Moe on his babysitter's boyfriend. (He had a crush on the babysitter.) This backfired on him once when Bart called Moe looking for a Hugh Jass... only for a man actually named Hugh Jass to pick up on the other end. Hugh takes it in stride. The first time viewers saw Bart meet up with Moe had him recognizing the voice... of Homer's sweet ragamuffin kid Bart.
    • Bart also tired to do it with Principal Skinner by asking if his refrigerator was running? It backfired due to Contrived Coincidence as Principal Skinner's refrigerator really was broken at the time and even thanked mysterious caller for bringing it to his attention.
    • Radio DJs Phil & Marty prank call a man by telling him his wife died in an accident.
    • Bart and Lisa mention in one episode that Homer occasionally calls to the radio to give fake accounts about car accidents.
  • The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover has Stewie watching Bart make a prank call to Moe. Afterwards, Stewie tries it and says, "Hello Moe? Your sister's being raped." and hangs up. Bart's reaction says it all.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
    • In "Partying is Such Sweet Soiree", Coco uses the "Is your refrigerator running?" call to distract Mr. Herriman. Herriman actually goes to catch the refrigerator, leaving the others free to throw a wild party. This works despite the fact that Coco is only able to say her name. Turns out there was a refrigerator running - an imaginary friend that looked like a refrigerator.
    • In "Bloo's Brothers", a bunch of Bloos make a prank call asking for Prince Albert in a can. A Prince Albert imaginary friend in a can bounces around afterwards.
  • The Off the Air episodes Food, Worship, Conflict, Clowns, Love, Fashion and Bliss have Longmont Potion Castle.
  • Regular Show has the Prank Master, whom Mordecai and Rigby try to prank call back, and when they do, he uses a prank call to send them back in time!
  • Referenced in Dexter's Laboratory, where Mom notices the family refrigerator being pushed around by a cyborg turtle. She calls out "Honey, our refrigerator is running!", to which Dad upstairs answers cheerfully "And we've got Prince Albert in the can!" (At which point a literal prince emerges from the toilet.)
  • The Angry Beavers, "Up All Night": This is one of the things that Norbert and Daggett try to do to pass the night. Not only does Daggett botch the joke completely, but it turns out Norbert baited his brother into calling their mother.
  • A prank call of a pizza order from an individual named "I.C. Wiener" is what brings Philip J. Fry to the cryogenics lab where he gets frozen, kicking off the plot of Futurama. Except it wasn't a prank at all: the call, and Fry's ensuing 1000-year stasis, were all engineered by Nibbler as part of a very Long Game.
  • Ned's Newt: In the first episode Newton showcases his abilities by shapeshifting into a number of characters and performing various sketches. This includes him prank calling someone and using the "refrigerator" gag... only to learn that the refrigerator in question indeed wasn't running, at which point he shapeshifts into a refrigerator repairman.
  • In the third act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus To The Rescue", Bogus receives a call from an unknown recipient that he needs a superhero right away. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to do a good deed, Bogus quickly rushes off to the rescue, only to run past Brattus, who was prank calling him from a nearby phone booth. Bogus backtracks before angrily confronting Brattus about it, even when Brattus tries to explain that he was just trying to cheer up Bogus.
  • An episode of Tales From The Cryptkeeper features the main character making prank calls. One of them ends up reaching an elderly woman who begins stalking him so she can have a companion.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In the "Pledge Week" episode, Elmyra gets calls asking for a "Bill Loney" (balogna), a "Pepe Roni" (pepperoni), and finally "Ima Yutz" (I'm a yutz).
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has Billy and Irwin making prank call to Grim and Mandy, both of whom don't fall for it since they have Caller ID. Billy and Irwin later get a job working for Cthulhu, making prank calls that get past Caller ID, and also turn the receiver into monsters.
  • The T.U.F.F. Puppy episode "Share-A-Lair" has Dudley prank calling Snaptrap by asking for Anita Bath (I need a bath). When Snaptrap repeats the name, Dudley yells, "You sure do!" Dudley does another prank call on Snaptrap at the end of the episode with the name I.M. Stinky (I am stinky).
  • In the The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode "The Trouble With Clones" Jimmy's evil clone contacts the United Nations and asks to speak to Ambassador "Ivana Shakemybooty".
  • In the Arthur episode "Francine Goes to War", Muffy and Francine try to prank call Francine's new elderly neighbor with the "Is your refrigerator running?" gag, but Francine screws it up by asking if her refrigerator is on followed by Muffy giving away her name on the phone.
  • An episode of The Crumpets has the young disobedient twins Bother and Blister prank calling the new counseling phone line of Ms. McBrisk from behind the stairs in the room she's in. With the call apparently based on the metaphoric words in McBrisk's TV commercial, Bother calls her that he is in a boat with no sails and oars amidst a storm and lost his belongings, and he and Blister imitate a stormy sound. Bother ends it as if he is frantically drowning, leaving McBrisk wordlessly repentant.
  • In an episode of Jean-Luc & Dondoozat, Jean-Luc called Dondoozat and farted into the phone when Dondoozat said hello. Dondoozat quickly found out and punished him for it.
  • In one Gravity Falls episode, when Dipper gets a new voice, the first thing he does with it is to make a prank call in which he claims to be the President and then blows a raspberry before hanging up. This of course backfires when the target of his prank turns out to be Tats, the bouncer at the Skull Fracture, who recognizes Dipper's new voice and organizes the patrons into an angry mob.
  • At the end of the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Dumbells", after all the trouble Heffer and Filburt caused with their ding dong ditch spree that Rocko nearly took the blame for, this is the new prank they take up after they confess to the previous one, even roping the judge presiding over their case into it.
  • One episode of Angry Kid has the main character make a prank call to an inquiry branch. This proves to be the last straw to the person who answered and blows his brains out while still on the line.
  • In 2019, Disney Channel created a series of web videos called "Random Rings", where characters from Big City Greens made prank calls to real unsuspecting people, which were then put to animation. Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb soon got in on the act, and future shorts will involve Launchpad from DuckTales.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Pat-a-thon", Squidward takes calls for the telethon. He ends up getting calls for people with prank names like "I.M. Boring", "Ima Loser", and "call Mia Dumbbell".

    Real Life 
  • The "Tube Bar tapes," a series of tape-recorded prank calls to Jersey City's Tube Bar, circulated in the 70s and were the inspiration for the famous Simpsons Running Gag.
  • Perhaps the most notable victim of soundboard prank calling was Frank Neal Garrett, the aged owner of a construction company in Stilwell, Oklahoma, whose foul-mouthed belligerent anger and creative insults directed towards his prank callers ensured he was targeted for years to come. Frank, who unlike many other long-lasting victims, never gave an inch and refused to change his number, was bombarded with prank calls until his death in 2011, and the large collection of calls to him are still popular on YouTube. Pranksters from all over the world began calling Frank, which inevitably inspired people to begin bothering other businesses in Stilwell with Frank's voice. Some of these victims, naturally unfamiliar with the nature of soundboard prank calling, blamed Frank himself for the calls. The cult-following surrounding Frank twice made national news, when another soundboard (of a victim discovered by Frank) harassed and issued death threats to an entire street of people while identifying himself as "Frank Garrett"; news reporters did their research, and followed the trail to the extensive online library of calls to Frank. Garrett is honored yearly in "Duncanfest," named for his company, in which his fans celebrate him by using his soundboard in a variety of original prank calls.
  • In 2007, an organized campaign by trolls on 4chan resulted in numerous calls to Gamestop asking if they have Battletoads (released in 1991) available for pre-order. At least one such prank call also went to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
  • Originally a Russian IRC meme, How does one patch KDE2 under FreeBSD? briefly mutated into something of a notorious repeated prank call in the Russian-speaking parts of the world.
  • Prank calls were popularized in Italy by the hijinks of high school janitor Mario Magnotta, who was periodically subject to prank calls between 1986 and 1987 from former students of the institute he worked in. These prank calls were then circulated by cassette and later on found their way to the Internet, and received great popularity thanks to Magnotta's Cluster F-Bomb-laden freakouts in a thick Aquilano accent, the most famous of which included the line "Mi iscrivo ai terroristi, porco Dio!" ("I'll sign up with the terrorists, fucking hell!"). 3 years after his death in 2009, the city council of L'Aquila expressed their desire to name a city street after him.
  • In April 2017, the US Government set up a hotline for reports of crimes allegedly committed by illegal aliens. To protest what they saw as a Trump administration program designed to demonize immigrants, people jammed the lines with reports about alleged crimes by space aliens.
  • In 2010, a Czech TV fortuneteller Stanley Bradley made himself an internet hit for a while with his response to a prank caller's question, "Why are my balls itchy?".
    He replied by rattling off an entire list of the caller's medical problems in an equally vulgar tone, signing off with, "...and I also see you have low energy in your large intestine, so your asshole will soon be itchy as well."


Video Example(s):


Prank Calling the Enclave

While inside the nuclear power plant in Gecko, the Chosen One can use a computer terminal in the maintenance room to connect to a one-way video call with an Enclave communications officer stationed on the Enclave Oil Rig. They can then fool around with the officer until he has enough of their nonsense to threaten them with a Vertibird assault team to their location.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / PrankCall

Media sources: