For nearly two decades on the air, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” set itself apart from other daytime debate series by relentlessly pranking its staff, studio audiences and celebrity guests.
Over the years, DeGeneres has terrorized hundreds of suspicious and unsuspecting victims backstage, in their locker rooms and on stage — with varying results. As the conclusion of her self-titled program nears, DeGeneres recently revealed the show’s scare strategy, as well as how the running gag came about.
The series finale of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” airs this afternoon, nearly a year after allegations of a toxic work environment and public scrutiny from its host.
“I guess it was my idea to start scaring people when they walked into their dressing rooms, and I would hide in the bathroom to scare them,” DeGeneres said last week on the show.
“It’s just my way of welcoming people and making them feel comfortable. I don’t want them to think it’s like some kind of formal situation. It’s just a relaxing place where you can be scared.
After successfully scaring the living daylights out of her co-executive producer Andy Lassner backstage several times, DeGeneres decided to extend the tradition to her famous friends, who started to understand her twisted games after a while. .
When artists started anticipating sneak attacks — especially around Halloween — DeGeneres and her team had to get creative by dropping people from the ceiling and building a tunnel under the coffee table (also known as fear box).
“Celebs phoned our producers and said, ‘Why hasn’t anyone ever tried to scare me?'” Lassner said. “They always love it. It’s their favorite clip to show next time they come…There was never a bad feeling about being scared.
From Taylor Swift to Lil Nas X, here’s a sampling of some of DeGeneres’ best scares as her streak draws to a close.
Perhaps the most infamous “Ellen” scare of all time involved singer-songwriter Swift, who naively wandered into her dressing room bathroom in 2009 and didn’t experience the peace ever since.
By now, you’ve probably seen the viral gif of the “Folklore” artist screaming and collapsing on the cold, hard floor in reaction to DeGeneres lurking in the corner of the bathroom. And that’s just one of the many times DeGeneres has targeted Swift.
2. Garth Brooks
Not all of DeGeneres’ scare attempts have gone to plan. In 2017, his efforts to scare country musician Brooks failed spectacularly when Corey Palent – an executive producer on the show who scared away tons of guests – fumbled his earpiece into the scare box and missed. his signal.
Although Palent still managed to get off the table during the interview, Brooks was completely unfazed and laughed it off without missing a beat. DeGeneres quickly called the moment “the worst scare we’ve ever had.”
3. Lil Nas X
In 2019, singer and rapper Lil Nas X interrupted his interview with DeGeneres to ask if something was hiding in the scare box.
“No, no, no,” DeGeneres said. She lied.
Moments later, an employee dressed as a collaborator of “Old Town Road” hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus jumped out of the box, causing Lil Nas X to scream and stomp on the floor.
“During rehearsal you said, ‘Nobody’s going to scare me, are they? ‘” DeGeneres told him. “And we had no intention until you said that.”
4. Sarah Paulson
After being ambushed by DeGeneres’ fear team one too many times, ‘American Horror Story’ star Paulson took it upon himself to preemptively check the fear box before settling down. in his interview in 2019.
She didn’t know anything about the secret tunnel under the stage.
“I watch it and think it’s funny,” Paulson admitted last week in a digital short. “I’m an Ellen in the sense that in my youth I spent a lot of time scaring people, so I understand why she does it.”
5. Jennifer Lopez
As the scares became more common, DeGeneres began tailoring some of the pranks for her guests by dressing her scary staff in costumes related to their personal lives or careers.
Take actor and singer Lopez, who was spooked in 2017 by a staffer wearing a New York Yankees uniform while in a relationship with baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
“This a- has been here all the time?” Lopez exclaimed. “Are you kidding me ?”
6. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
No one from the ‘Modern Family’ cast has ever been safe on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ – especially Eric Stonestreet, who was the first guest to get tricked into using the scare box.
But it was her on-screen husband, Ferguson, who upstaged her with a terrified “Jesus Christ”! when Stonestreet surprised him during an episode of the series in 2015.
7. Selena Gomez
In 2015, DeGeneres scared actor and singer Gomez, who thought she was safe after surviving the scare box – only to be scared behind her chair again.
“What the hell?” Gomez screamed after a staff member in an Elsa costume snuck up on her. “Why?”
8. Sterling K. Brown
Before playing a word game at DeGeneres’ gaming table in 2019, the “This Is Us” star Brown carefully checked the inside of the table for scarers. The last time he sat down at DeGeneres’ gaming table, a man dressed as a surgeon came out and scared Brown out of his chair.
This time, Brown was suspicious, but DeGeneres had something else up her sleeve. In the middle of the game, an employee suddenly fell from the ceiling on a wire and again scared the actor out of his seat.
“I never looked up!” Brown said, staring at the ceiling in disbelief. “I’m going to kill you, man. …You were there the whole time, watching me check it all out like a ninja.
9. Kristen Wiig
Brown is far from the only guest to be knocked down by a scare. In 2015, “Ghostbusters” star Kristen Wiig screamed and dropped to the floor when a staffer dressed as a ghost emerged from DeGeneres’ scare box.
In 2018, DeGeneres got one of her biggest scares when all seven members of global pop sensation BTS sat down for an interview with the talk show host. While deftly dodging a question about the group’s love life, RM — the unfortunate soul sitting closest to the scare box — was spooked by an employee dressed as a BTS fangirl.
But no one was scared more than J-Hope, who fell off the couch Wiig-style.