We owe a lot to Ashton Kutcher. He gave us Kelso, the motivation to join Twitter, faith in true love, and, perhaps most important, he gave us Punk’d. In 2003, Kutcher and his friend Jason Goldberg created one of the most talk-about television shows of all time. As the host of Punk’d, Kutcher played elaborate, devious pranks on Hollywood’s elite. And we all sat back and laughed as we watched Kanye West, Britney Spears, Serena Williams, and even his now-wife Mila Kunis, experience fear, shame, anxiety, and, ultimately, relief in the span of a few short minutes. Reality television is a gift for which we are not worthy.
In 2007, Kutcher issued millions of angsty teens a devastating blow when he announced Punk’d had run its course and would end. The world turned dark. Until five years later, when the show miraculously returned to MTV, only this time without its fearless leader. Honestly, though, everyone got over that pretty fast because, hello, it’s Punk’d, the epitome of prank shows! Each episode was led by a different celebrity who would prank other celebrities, often their close friends and confidants. This time, the pranks were more elaborate, involved quite a few more explosions, and also welcomed viewers to behind-the-scenes footage of how the stunts were set up. Punk’d officially wrapped in 2012.
In honor of April Fool’s Day, we raise a hidden microphone to Kutcher and his late, great masterpiece, as we look back on eight celebrities you forgot were victims of the show (except Justin Timberlake because who could forget that, amirite?).
Remember when Beyonce ruined Christmas? Okay, well not exactly. But remember when she thought she did? In 2003, Bey unknowingly starred in Punk’d’s Christmas episode. While visiting with a group of children, she attempts to crown a several-story-high Christmas tree with a star. The tree, of course, immediately crashes to the ground, smashing all of the children’s presents below. The diva, dressed to the nines in a sultry Santa costume, looks on horrified, genuinely convinced she’s destroyed everything.
We all know Drake is a sensitive soul and it would be mean to mess with his emotions (but also really hilarious). In Season 9, an excited and genuinely grateful Drizzy was led to believe he was being driven to meet the Vice President (Joe Biden). When the car arrives at its location, a faux earthquake rocks the parking garage and the pretend secret service agents make a break for it. The rapper is then left to deal with a group of strangers asking him for help, including a pregnant woman and her erratic husband (who may or may not end up fake tazing her).
Tyler, The Creator
No doubt Tyler, The Creator is a fan of a well-executed prank. So, when Bam Margera punk’d him in season 9, it was all in good fun. Tyler was tricked into thinking he blew up an entire taco truck while shooting promotional materials and doing press for a charity event. A stuntman who acted as though he was lit on fire was a gentle added touch. Perhaps the most insane thing about Tyler’s episode was that he’s caught smiling (probably nervously) a few times directly after the explosion while he grapples with his disbelief. Like we said, Tyler loves a good prank.
What’s better than a celebrity punking another celebrity? A celebrity believing they’re doing the punking when they are in fact being punked. Case in point: prankster Bieber is back again, but this time his target is set on Miley Cyrus. Cyrus hatched a scheme to have Bieber get haggled by a bunch of skater dudes, but he flips the prank back on her when he pretends to go insane and starts attacking the group, kicking one guy in the stomach, and running off. Cyrus freaks out at the unexpected outburst right as he reveals himself by repeatedly yelling “you can’t punk me!” He calls it “The Switcheroo.”
There’s something about young Taylor Swift that strikes us as excessively prankable. And Justin Bieber took full advantage in season 9 of Punk’d, setting Swift up for a stunt that ended in tears. Bieber talked Swift into launching off a firework. It launched farther than expected, setting a boat on fire–a boat with an entire wedding party aboard–leaving the singer to believe she had ruined someone’s wedding.
Back to redeem herself from Bieber’s punk swap, Miley Cyrus set up a perfect punk for Liam Hemsworth whom she describes as a “prankster” himself. The couple stops to grab cash at an ATM and when Hemsworth hops out of the car, a naked couple jumps in. Cyrus feigns outrage and Hemsworth switches into full Aussie mode, screaming at the couple and banging on the car windows. Ah, young love.
Ashton returned to host an episode of Punk’d during season 9 and tried his hardest to punk Kim Kardashian. Enlisting the help of Scott Disick, the prank was set up so Kim would believe someone had stolen Scott’s wallet while he was pumping gas, causing him to drive off with the nozzle still in the car, which results in an explosion. The police arrive and put Scott in handcuffs. Despite the extremely dramatic scene, Kim remains her trademark level of calm even when a fake fan renounces his love for the Kardashians. She basically shrugs the entire thing off. Iconic.
In arguably the most memorable episode of Punk'd ever, everyone's boyfriend Justin Timberlake threw an absolute fit when he was led to believe $900,000 of his personal belongings, including his home and dog, would be repossessed because he owed that amount in back taxes. The prank went down in infamy when Time listed it as number three on their list of 32 Epic Moments in Reality TV History. But, TBH, we would've sobbed too if someone told us they were taking our dogs away. We're with you, JT.