A 2005 British TV show named Space Cadets successfully convinced several members of the public that they were going into space as a space tourist. They never left the ground and the whole show was an elaborate practical joke.
2. An American burglar named Mike Kurtz found out that eating common soap could produce the effect of ill health. His sudden and unexplainable weight loss and other symptoms baffled the prison doctors and he was able to fool officials into believing that he was dying and received a pardon.
3. In 1998, William Boyd and David Bowie released the biography of a fictional artist named Nat Tate with an aim to expose the pretensions of the art world. In it they claimed he was an, “an abstract expressionist who destroyed '99%' of his work and leapt to his death from the Staten Island ferry. His body was never found.”
4. President Lyndon Johnson would play pranks on unsuspecting guests by driving his amphibious convertible into lakes screaming about the brakes being out.
5. Actor John Cleese once defaced his school's grounds "as a prank, by painting footprints to suggest that the statue of Field Marshal Earl Haig had got down from his plinth and gone to the toilet."
Nut theft is a thing amongst squirrels. To avoid it, squirrels will create false nut caches to trick the thieves.
7. In 1996 as a hoax, Taco Bell printed in six major American newspapers that it had bought The Liberty Bell and was renaming it The Taco Liberty Bell.
8. The Macrocilix maia moth confuses predators with design patterns on its wings that mimic two flies eating bird sh*t. It even releases a pungent odor to drive home the deception.
9. In older Scandinavian society, a popular Christmas prank was to place a straw goat in a neighbor’s house without them noticing. The family successfully pranked had to get rid of it in the same way.
10. Tanks are called tanks because, when they were introduced in World War 1, the British were trying to fool the Germans into thinking that these vehicles were water carriers for the Middle Eastern front of the war.
The cannons used in Human cannonball shows are not really cannons but catapults. Fireworks and gunpowder is used to trick people in believing they are actually cannons.
12. On New Year's Eve in 1999, Brad Pitt rented a Mexican resort, filled it with his friends and at midnight had the government cut the power and phone lines and send in troops to raid the compound and “arrest” one of his best friends on drug charges, all as a practical joke!
13. Vietnam War POW Doug Hegdahl pretended to be illiterate to fool his captors, who believed him to be so stupid that they gave him almost free rein of the camp. He was able to secretly memorize the details of about 256 POWs to the tune of “Old MacDonald,” which he still remembers.
14. As part of the practical joke that is now known as “The Taxil Hoax”, a Frenchman spent 12 years as a Roman Catholic writing anti-Masonic accounts, only to reveal that it was a prank on the Church. He said “...I thought I would kill myself laughing at some of the things proposed, but everything went; there is no limit to human stupidity.”
15. It is possible to fool Norwegian vending machines by using a 10 Syrian pound coin, which has 18 times lesser value than ‘the identical’ 20 Norwegian Krone coin.
16De Grote Donorshow
There was fake Dutch reality show named De Grote Donorshow, where patients competed for a dying woman's kidney. It was created with the intention of raising awareness about the lack of organ donors. Six weeks after the show aired 12,000 new donors had signed up.
17. Back in the 1970s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak prank-called the Pope pretending to be Henry Kissinger.
18. In 1948, people believed that a species of 15-feet tall penguins existed in Florida after 15-inch penguin footprints were found on Gulf beaches. Zoologist Ivan Sanderson invested and even claimed it to not be a hoax. It turned out that Tony Signorini was stomping around in the sand wearing 30-pound, 3-toed lead shoes as a prank for over 10 years.
19. Discovery Channel's reality show "Amish Mafia" is an elaborate hoax.
20. Towards the end of World War 1 a 'second Paris' was built to fool German bombers into not bombing the real Paris. It was complete with a Champs-Elysées Avenue and Gare Du Nord rail terminal, wooden replicas of buildings, and white, yellow, and red lights to create the effect of machines working at night.
In 1982, a 15-year-old named Rich Skrenta tried creating a digital prank on a floppy disk that had a video game. He ended up creating the first computer virus. The virus would stay in the computer and infect any new floppy disks that were inserted.
22. The 2004 Harvard-Yale prank was performed at the annual Harvard–Yale football game in which Yale students perpetrated a card stunt, costumed as a Harvard “pep squad”. They gave out placards to a section of Harvard fans which, when raised together, read “We Suck.”
23. Operation Mincemeat was a successful deception campaign planned for the allied invasion of Sicily in World War 2. It involved the British deliberately dumping a corpse on a beach in Spain with fake documents stating that the Allies were going to land an invasion force in Greece and Sardinia instead of Sicily. This saved the lives of thousands of allied soldiers and allowed for an easier take-down of Mussolini.
24. Former KISS drummer, Peter Criss, once as a prank dressed up like a Nazi and knocked on the door of Gene Simmons’ (who is descended from Holocaust survivors) hotel room and demanded to see his papers.
25. U.S. radio host Jerry Klein produced a show in which he called for all U.S. Muslims to get tattoos and marks on their IDs which would identify them as Muslims. Many listeners expressed support. At the show’s end, he revealed it to be a hoax highlighting the dangers of extremism.