Nobody does April Fools’ Day better than Adult Swim. For the past 20 years (whoa, 20 … Jesus), the network has made it an annual mission to keep the prankish spirit of the jester-based day alive by throwing its viewers a curveball. Be it absurd gags, silly gimmicks, and sometimes grade-A shocking game-changers, April Fools’ Day is a colossal event for Adult Swim that every adult animation fan can’t miss.

Here are a few of the channel’s best April Fools’ Day moments from the past two decades. 

2004 – Mustaches

Let’s go back to the prank that started it all—mustaches! It was just a night of regular adult animated programming, but with mustaches drawn onto all the characters in every scene in every show. It is such a simplistic gag, yet it birthed the tradition.

2007 – The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Premieres … Sort Of

A few days before Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters hit, um, well, theaters, Adult Swim surprised their loyal viewers with the whole movie playing on television. The catch was that the film played in a teensy-weensy picture-within-picture box, muted while regular programming was on. On top of that, the programming was often interrupted with in-your-face pop-up ads to promote the movie’s release date. Adult Swim was going to make sure their fanbase showed up at the theaters one way or another.

2009 – Adult Swim Gets Room-Pilled

One can argue that Adult Swim was instrumental in making Tommy Wiseau’s disasterpiece The Room achieve the cult classic status it enjoys today. Long before the countless monthly screenings at arthouse theaters where crowds threw spoons at the screen and roared over “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa,” Wiseau’s passion project only had Adult Swim to rely on. The Room was Adult Swim’s April Fools’ Day prank for three years straight with little Wiseau intervals between commercials. He even appeared on an episode of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Then, the following year, they revived Space Ghost Coast to Coast so that the hero could interview Wiseau for his program. While the joke stopped being funny in 2011, Adult Swim was integral in making The Room one of the most successful cult classic movies of the 21st century.

2012 – Re-Toonami of the King

Many expected 2012 would be the fourth year in a row that The Room would play as Adult Swim’s April Fools’ gag. This was the case initially as the night opened with the film’s first minute until the screen immediately cut to black and faded into a familiar spaceship. Once Steve Blum’s iconic voice through TOM 3.5 said, “Hey Adult Swim, the results came back in. Looks like you got a case of April Fools’,” a whole generation lost their collective shit. The then-defunct Toonami was back, baby!

For the first time since 2008, the animation block that put many Western viewers onto anime finally made its comeback. The night commenced with airings of Bleach, Dragon Ball Z, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, The Big O, YuYu Hakusho, and more. It was initially a one-night special occasion but Adult Swim asked its Twitter base the following day, “Want it back? Let us know. #BringBackToonami.” The fan reception was so overwhelming that, by the following month, Toonami was officially back in business as a  Saturday exclusive block in Adult Swim’s programming. To this day, that was single-handedly the best and most iconic Adult Swim April Fools’ Day prank ever pulled.

2016 – Literally Nothing

Adult Swim’s early night programming on March 31, 2016, recapped all its tricks throughout the years- from mustaches to cats. They were hyping up their 2016 April Fools’ Day so heavily, only for it to be nothing. No interruptions or gimmicks throughout their ads or programming. It was just a typical Adult Swim night. Somehow, it’s one of the best gags and one of the worst in that they gave us nothing on a silver platter. It’s the most on-brand 2016 gag from Adult Swim: anticipation for greatness only for deep disappointment to follow. It was very symbolic of the year, indeed. 

2017 – Rick and Morty Season 3 Premiere Shadow Drop

On April Fools’ Day 2017, you were in either two camps: one pissed off that episodes of Dragon Ball Super and Samurai Jack‘s revival never aired as scheduled, or one hella hype that the Rick and Morty season 3 opener “The Rickshank Redemption” dropped and played throughout till midnight. I, for one, was in the latter. By 2017, Rick and Morty was reaching its apex in popularity as its season two finale, “The Wedding Squanchers,” left fans captivated by its cliffhanger with Rick surrendering himself into the Federation and being sentenced to maximum prison. At first, the night started with laugh tracks overlaid onto reruns of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers. Still, shortly after, when Twitter caught wind that the juggernaut April Fools’ Day gag was indeed Rick and Morty‘s “The Rickshank Redemption” episode after a year and a half hiatus, it was an event that nobody missed. 

2018 – Subs Over Dubs

On this April Fools’ Day, the entire Toonami block programming saw shows aired in original Japanese voice acting with English subtitles, even down to hosts TOM and Sara speaking in Japanese during the bumpers. For any “real” anime fan, this was another day in the park. But every dubber-over-subber had to put on their reading goggles and put a little effort into their Toonami watching! Also, the first episode of  FLCL Alternative dropped at midnight, five months before its initial release. 

2020 – Night of Premieres and Post Malone

Throughout the channel’s April Fools’ Days of yore, Adult Swim would showcase their upcoming shows and premiere new episodes. In 2005, they aired a WIP pilot to Squidbillies months before the animation was complete. The same went with Superjail in 2008. 2020, however, was a swarm of premieres all in one go, hosted by Post Malone. Throughout the night, new episodes of Primal, Tigtone, The Shivering Truth, Dream Corp LLC, and Robot Chicken aired along with the premiere of JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, then the pilots to Michael Cusack’s co-created shows Smiling Friends and YOLO Crystal Fantasy.

2021 – Adult Swim Jr.

In 2021, Adult Swim went to the kiddie poolside and rebranded itself as “Adult Swim Jr.” It was like the Adult Swim leadership taking jabs at Cartoonito, the upcoming preschool programming to take over the early mornings of Cartoon Network’s regular schedule. With a new animated intro, seeing baby versions of infamous Adult Swim intros, and a new Rick and Morty intro to continue the bit, the night followed reruns of that show and Aqua Teen Hunger Force but with kids dubbing over the episodes. It was frankly hilarious to hear children dub lines of these adult cartoons, and watching that in real time made me applaud in laughter. 

2022 – Pibby!

On Oct. 30, 2021, Adult Swim released a short called “Learning With Pibby,” a horror crossover that followed a fictional preschool character seeing her best friend Bun-Bun getting corrupted by a demonic static substance and having to trek across the Cartoon Network terrain to get him back, becoming a badass in the process. It’s like if Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a creepypasta. That short blew tf up. With a whopping 35M views and endless Twitter trending days, people wanted more of Pibby.

So on April 1, 2022, we got more of her as she and Bun-Bun popped into the background in rerun episodes of Rick and Morty, Smiling Friends, The Eric Andre Show, and Joe Pera Talks With You, affecting each show in some capacity. In one instance, Morty becomes infected by the static; his eyes are drawn to white, and his mouth is agape. It was terrifying as hell. Even after writing, I get chills whenever I think about the image.

The post The Best Adult Swim April Fools’ Moments appeared first on Den of Geek.

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