The Best April Fools Day Pranks Done by Adult Swim

There are two kinds of people on April Fools Day: those who pull normal pranks and those that turn pranking into an art form. Case in point, Adult Swim has managed to entertain audiences with their April Fools Day pranks every year for the last eighteen years. From reviving a beloved television block to broadcasting an episode that had real-world consequences, Adult Swim is the TV King of Pranks. In the spirit of the holiday, we’re giving you a look back on some of the network’s most memorable jokes, along with our two cents. Warning: this will not include what they did this year.

The Room, 2009-2011

I have heard that this independent film has been called the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Or, in simpler terms, it just stinks. Directed by Tommy Wiseau and premiering in 2003, The Room is widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. But, since this is the digital age where people can join together online and talk about how bad it is, the film’s gone on to be one of those things that are considered so bad that it’s good. So, why not use it as fodder for April Fools Day.

Starting in 2009, Adult Swim would air The Room on April Fools Day, doing something different with it each time. For example, in 2009, they used black bars to censor all the sex scenes. In 2010, the film was accompanied by bumpers, with the director being interviewed by Space Ghost from their show Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Then, in 2011, they added this short featuring a CGI version of Space Ghost. It was all in good fun and became a memorable thing to look forward to for a few years on Adult Swim.

That is, until what happened the following year…

Toonami’s Back, Bitches, 2012

April 1st, 2012, went down in history as the night that anime fans in the Western World cried out in joy. At first, it looked like they would show The Room again. People were surprised to learn it was a fake-out for the real prank…

For those who don’t know, Toonami is a highly influential programming block on Adult Swim’s sister network, Cartoon Network, that helped introduce millions of Western kids to the concept of anime. In fact, one could argue that without Toonami, anime might not have caught on so quickly. Of course, this only made it even more devastating when Cartoon Network pulled the plug on it in 2008. The fact that Adult Swim brought it back for one night was like a gift from the Heavens for the Toonami faithful.

Of all of Adult Swim’s April Fools Day pranks, this one had the biggest impact on Adult Swim. Fan reception was so overwhelmingly positive that a month later, Adult Swim tweeted that they were bringing back Toonami for good. As a result, the block’s been airing every weekend for the last ten years and is still going strong. Thank you for that, Adult Swim.

There is No Prank This Year, 2016

Sometimes, the best prank is when there’s no prank at all. In the time leading up to April Fools Day 2016, Adult Swim released commercial after commercial recapping their past pranks, all while hyping up what they were going to do in 2016. This was all done in order to build the hype up for what people thought would be their biggest prank ever. Then, April 1st came, and…nothing happened.

That’s right. Adult Swim spent all that time and money hyping its viewership up for a prank that was never going to happen. After that, they just had to sit back and watch as fans reacted with confusion or just laughed with them. Good one, Adult Swim.

The Rickshank Redemption, 2017

Did you hear about the great Szechuan Sauce runs of 2017? Well, you can thank the people who make Rick and Morty and Adult Swim for that. No, really. For April Fools Day, 2017, Adult Swim surprised everyone by airing the third season premiere of the hit sci-fi show on TV and on their website. Then they proceeded to rerun it for the remainder of the night.

This surprise prank did manage to ruffle some feathers in the process. Fans of Dragon Ball Super and the then-airing final season of Samurai Jack got upset about their shows being put back a week. However, I considered Rick and Morty a fair trade.

This prank would end up entering the cultural zeitgeist as one of the best episodes of Rick and Morty ever made. In addition, Rick’s in-show mention of how much he loved the Szechuan sauce McDonald’s did to promote Mulan led to widespread calls for the business to bring it back. So now people won’t leave them alone about it.

Toonami Subbed, 2018

For years, anime fans have debated about which is better: subbed or dubbed? For one night, though, Toonami and Adult Swim decided to join the subbed camp. On April Fools Day 2018, the entirety of Toonami was aired in Japanese with English Subtitles. Everything from the host’s dialogue to the bumpers was in Japanese. All of this was then topped off with the sneak preview for the upcoming FLCL: Alternative in subbed form. Way to go the distance, Adult Swim.

Adult Swim Jr, 2021

Capping off our recap is last year’s prank, Adult Swim Jr. To promote Cartoon Network’s upcoming preschool block, Cartoonito, Adult Swim decided to make their shows more kid-friendly. By which we mean they had kids dub the lines to shows, the logo was changed, theme songs were redone, and even the promos for their shows were made to resemble preschool kids’ shows. The prank only lasted until about 1:30 am, but still, you have to admire the dedication that Adult Swim had to this. This is why they’re the top dogs for April Fools Day pranks.

Did We Miss Anything You Liked? Do You Remember Any of These Pranks Yourself?

Happy April Fools Day!