Ellen DeGeneres launched her own talk show in September 2003 and has now broadcast over 3,000 episodes around the world. Featuring celebrity guests, as well as ordinary members of the public, The Ellen Show has become a huge success thanks to the charm and humor of its host.
An essential part of the show is the pranks that Ellen loves to play on her guests, regardless of how famous they are. She also likes to surprise some of the ordinary people who come on the show, but usually in a more positive way, by rewarding them with cash and gifts as well as supporting people who have made an extraordinary impact on their communities.
However, it is the celebrity pranks that are often the most popular Ellen segment, with the apparently sweet host sometimes playing some truly terrible tricks on her Hollywood friends.
19 Ellen Interrupts Sofia Vergara's Commercial
Sofia Vergara is almost a regular on The Ellen Show and always throws herself into the games and gags with great enthusiasm. When Ellen asked Vergara to make a commercial for Diet Pepsi, the Modern Family star didn’t realize that she was going to be interrupted by the host wielding beach balls and cans of silly string.
18 Ellen And Britney Cause Chaos At A Mall
Guest Britney Spears joined Ellen on a visit to a Los Angeles shopping mall, telling the "Toxic" singer that they could do what they want “because they’re famous.” The pair proceeded to get free ice creams, take money from the fountains, and take a fully-clothed nap in a display bed in a department store.
17 Emma Watson Helps Prank A Nanny
Harry Potter star Emma Watson helped Ellen prank a nanny thanks to the earpiece scam when she appeared on the show in 2017. The poor nanny had to cope with the adult Watson crying over a finger “owie” and unwrapping a giant colored lollipop when it came to snack time.
16 Giving Eric Stonestreet A Nasty Surprise
Actor and comedian Eric Stonestreet, best known for starring as Cameron Tucker in the ABC sitcom Modern Family, was the victim of one of Ellen’s notorious scare pranks in 2014 and again in 2017. On both occasions, the talk show host managed to scare the actor by having a man dressed as a clown leap out of a hiding place.
15 Justin Bieber Plays Security Guard
Ellen has managed to attract some of the biggest and brightest stars onto her show, and singer Justin Bieber has made several appearances over the years much to the delight of the audience. When he appeared on the show in 2015, visitors didn’t realize that the overly-friendly security guard who greeted them was actually Justin Bieber in disguise.
14 Scaring Taylor Swift
Even the most successful recording artist in recent memory isn’t immune to Ellen’s scary pranks. When Taylor Swift made an appearance on the show in 2010, Ellen herself was hiding in the bathroom, waiting to scare the singer, who was so surprised that she ended up falling on the floor.
13 Sending Andy Lassner To A Haunted House
Ellen loves to dress up for Halloween, and part of her annual spooky celebrations also involve sending her long-time producer, Andy Lassner, to a particularly chilling haunted house, often with a celebrity in tow. This year, Lizzo joined Lassner in the haunted house, and the cameras were on hand to catch their terrified reactions.
12 Dennis Quaid Gets A Manicure (While Ellen Tells Him What To Say)
Hollywood star Dennis Quaid is another famous face who is always happy to go along with Ellen’s antics, and he has even been a willing participant of some of her best pranks. One of her regular tricks was to send celebs to meet ordinary people, such as Quaid getting a manicure, with the proviso that they have to say whatever she tells them to through an earpiece.
11 Kate Hudson Gets A Surprise
The perfect prank takes timing, and when Ellen gave actress Kate Hudson a scare on the show in 2016, the timing was perfect. Hudson was right in the middle of telling Ellen about the importance of keeping calm when she was scared out of her wits by a crew member dressed as a jogger.
10 Playing Jenga With Alison Sweeney
Ellen may have a reputation for being super nice, but Days of Our Lives actress Aliso Sweeney would probably beg to differ. Sweeney was playing a game of Giant Jenga with Ellen when she appeared on the show, but the host decided that she wanted to ensure she won by pushing Sweeney into the tower of blocks and onto the floor.
9 She Made Britney Go Caroling With Her
This wasn’t the only time that Britney joined Ellen to create havoc as part of a prank on the show. The chart-topping singer also went Christmas caroling with Ellen in December 2008, with the two women dressing up in 19th century dresses and bonnets, despite the searing heat of a Los Angeles winter.
8 Surprising Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is another celebrity who has had the life scared out of her while making what she thought was a regular talk show appearance on Ellen. In 2014, the rapper and singer was in the middle of an interview with Ellen when a man dressed as Minaj herself leaped out of a hiding place on stage.
7 David Beckham's Massage (While Telling Him What To Say)
Ellen was also in David Beckham’s ear when he appeared on her show in 2012. The host gave the former footballer instructions on what to say while he was receiving a massage and ordered him to behave like a total diva, making increasingly weird demands of the massage therapist while a hidden camera filmed the whole thing.
6 Giving Selena Gomez A Scare
Selena Gomez was asking for trouble when she told Ellen that she loved being scared when the two were discussing Halloween in October 2015. Naturally, the generous talk show host wanted to make sure her guest had a good time and proceeded to give her not one but two scares in the same episode.
5 Michael Myers Scares Lea Michele
As the star of TV show Scream Queens, Lea Michele should have been used to horror movies coming to life. Yet Ellen still managed to surprise her when Michele was on the show in 2015, by having a crew member dressed as Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise jump out of the handy hiding place on set.
4 Taking Oprah Shopping
Despite being talk show rivals, Ellen and Oprah are neighbors and good friends. So, when Oprah came on the Ellen show in 2017, what else were two gal pals going to do but go shopping? The duo managed to take over a grocery store to check out Oprah’s newly-launched line of healthy meals.
3 Dennis Quaid At The Doctor's Office (While Ellen Again Told Him What To Say)
Dennis Quaid did such a good job of playing a prank on the manicurists that Ellen invited him back to play another trick, this time on a nurse who was supposed to be giving the actor a check-up. With Ellen giving him instruction through an earpiece, Quaid had to tell the bemused nurse that he thought he was getting shorter, among other ailments.
2 Telling Kris Jenner What To Say
The normally sophisticated Kris Jenner was also willing to make a fool of herself for Ellen by heading to a 99c store with the host speaking to her through an earpiece. A 99c store is the last place you would expect to see a member of the Kardashian clan, but Kris took Ellen’s bizarre instructions in good humor.
1 Sarah Paulson Terrified By A Clown – Twice
Ellen managed to trick American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson with clowns twice– first in 2017, when one leaped out of the usual hiding place on the set, and again in 2018. Having already checked the hollow table for hidden surprises, Paulson was terrified by a clown jumping out of the “5 Second Rule” console while she and Ellen were playing the regular game.
Sources: Glamour, E Online, Billboard, Elle, Cosmopolitan