Entertainment And News

11 Times Ellen DeGeneres Took Her Jokes & Pranks Too Far

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Dakota Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian

Ellen DeGeneres is known for pulling pranks on her guests while they're on her show.

For the most part, her guests as well as her audience members would usually laugh off DeGeneres' attempts to scare or poke fun at them, but there have been instances where her jokes may have gone too far.

Here are 11 times Ellen DeGeneres' jokes went too far.

1. When Ellen pushed Alison Sweeney during a game.

During an appearance on DeGeneres' show, Alison Sweeney and DeGeneres played a game of Jenga, except DeGeneres might have taken it too far.

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While the two played the game, DeGeneres shoved Sweeney into the tower of blocks, sending her toppling into them and falling straight to the floor.

Though Sweeney wasn't upset by the stunt and DeGeneres apologized while helping her off the floor, fans watching the 2012 episode were still shocked at the moment. 

2. Ellen made fun of a real estate agent.

Back in 2017, real estate agent Titi Pierce tried to sue DeGeneres and Warner Bros. Entertainment for defamation after a joke made about her aired on the show, according to The Wrap.

While doing a segment on her show, DeGeneres poked fun at some of Pierce's business ads during her segment, "What's Wrong With These Signs?"

DeGeneres intentionally mispronounced Titi's name in an attempt to make a joke about breasts, and also showed a sign for a nursing home with a suggestive name, which had nothing to do with Titi's company.

Pierce's company issued a statement saying, “Loving that our own Titi Pierce of CBRF was on the Ellen DeGeneres show, but wish it was because they knew how fabulous and classy Titi is and not to poke fun. We love you Titi and are proud to have you in the CBRF Family!” 

Though she later lost the defamation trial, Pierce had sued the talk-show host, citing false light invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

3. Ellen pressured Mariah Carey to reveal her pregnancy before she was ready.

When Carey appeared on DeGeneres' show in 2008, she was tricked into sharing that she was pregnant with her first child with then-husband Nick Cannon.

According to Entertainment Weekly, DeGeneres handed Carey a glass of champagne after the singer refused to comment on whether or not she was pregnant.

In the clip, Carey is visibly uncomfortable and even tries to politely decline the alcohol.

"I can't believe you did this to me Ellen. This is peer pressure," Carey said. She then pretended to take a sip, causing DeGeneres to exclaim, "You're pregnant!"

4. Ellen sparked outrage after making a joke about having to quarantine during the beginning of the pandemic.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, DeGeneres had filmed her show from her home. However, during her April 6 show, she compared self-isolating in her California mansion to being in prison, according to The Wrap.

"One thing I've learned from being in quarantine is that people — this is like being in jail, is what this is," DeGeneres said, adding, "It's mostly because I've been wearing the same clothes for 10 days, and everyone in here is gay."

DeGeneres didn't think the joke was bad, smiling and laughing afterward before saying, "The jokes that I have," however people immediately called her out for it. 

Many people pointed out that DeGeneres has the luxury of self-isolating in her million-dollar home, while others don't have the same privilege, especially actual inmates in prison.

5. Ellen once mocked Michelle Obama.

When Michelle Obama was still First Lady, she appeared on DeGeneres' show, where the talk-show host took Obama shopping at a pharmacy as a way to poke fun at how out of touch famous people can be.

Many people pointed out the irony of the segment, especially because DeGeneres herself is a multi-millionaire and Obama has spent most of her life and career helping out different communities in need. 

During the trip to the pharmacy, DeGeneres followed the former First Lady around the store, took items out of the packaging, and yelled via a megaphone.

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At one point, DeGeneres even yelled that Obama was suffering from a "rash," in an attempt to embarrass her in public. While the entire skit was probably meant to be well-intentioned, many people couldn't help but wonder if she might've taken the bit too far.

6. The awkward moment between Ellen DeGeneres and Dakota Johnson.

Of course, everyone remembers the infamous interview between actress Dakota Johnson and DeGeneres in October 2019.

Johnson had recently turned 30 and had thrown a party to celebrate. When she appeared on the show, the party had happened weeks ago, and Johnson was interrogated by DeGeneres about why she hadn't received an invitation.

The response from Johnson had caused quite a stir on social media after the 'Fifty Shades' actress told DeGeneres that she didn't get an invite because the talk-show host was "busy" that weekend.

It only got worse from there when it was revealed that the reason DeGeneres had been "busy" was because she had been at a football game with former president George W. Bush, whose political stance had been anti-LGTBQ during his time in office, according to CNN.

7. Ellen's parody of Nicki Minaj.

Though the show never aired, in 2015 Minaj had struck a deal with ABC Family to make a TV show about her early life growing up in New York City, according to MTV.

After hearing the news, DeGeneres decided to make a small sketch making fun of the upcoming show, telling her audience that it was a "sneak preview."

The sketch that DeGeneres made showed a young Minaj and her parents, all wearing fake butt implants and accidentally knocking over all the furniture in their home.

The entire production was slammed by viewers for having racist undertones and being offensive at trying to make fun of Minaj's body.

8. Ellen was called out for a prank that made Kim Kardashian walk off the set.

In a recent interview that Kardashian did on DeGeneres' show, the KKW founder was scared with a spider that made her walk off the set.

While on the show, DeGeneres and Kardashian had reminisced about the other times Kardashian had been on the show, and the time DeGeneres had pranked Kris Jenner.

"Honestly, my favorite, favorite memory has to be when you scared my mom," Kardashian told DeGeneres, who shared a clip from Halloween 2018 in which Kris Jenner was scared by someone popping out of a set piece that she tripped and fell over.

"I always dreamed of being scared like that."

At that point, DeGeneres brought up that she wanted to help Kardashian get over her phobia of spiders, bringing out a box with a spider in it. Kardashian immediately leaped from her seat, trying to get away from DeGeneres.

DeGeneres even went as far as to take the spider out of the box and throw it in Kardashian's direction as she yelled and tried to get away, while DeGeneres laughed and said she'd only been pretending to hold a spider.

Many people on social media didn't appreciate the prank, pointing out that DeGeneres had gone too far.

9. Ellen made fun of Celine Dion's son's hair.

While appearing on DeGeneres' show back in 2007 to promote her album, the subject of Dion's son's hair came up.

“It seems like you’re busy with something, ‘cause you’re forgetting to cut your son’s hair,” DeGeneres joked, according to Cheat Sheet. She then projected a large image of Dion with her son, René-Charles Angelil, and her then-husband.

“Look at him. He is beautiful but look at his hair. When are you going to cut that hair?”

Dion wasn't amused by the joke, responding, "Do you have a problem with that?”

“No, I don’t have a problem,” DeGeneres clapped back. “That is some long hair.”

Dion then explained that someone is always going to have a problem with what she chooses to do with her son's hair. 

"Whatever I will do, I won’t please everyone,” she added. “But, something that I can reassure every mother here, the long hair …. Do you know that René-Charles makes his own decisions most of the time? … When he’s ready, I’ll cut it.”

Fans were on Dion's side, pointing out that DeGeneres had no right to poke fun at a child, especially in front of their mother.

10. When Ellen made fun of a comedian's name while he was on her show.

When comedian Hasan Minhaj appeared on DeGeneres' show, she decided to poke fun at his name.

According to People, Minhaj corrected DeGeneres multiple times on her pronunciation of his name, and the entire exchange was downright cringeworthy.

That moment prompted Minhaj to speak out about her lack of preparedness.

"I looked in the audience ... and [my mom] kind of cringed," Minhaj recalled during an episode of his Netflix series "Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj" on Netflix.

"And I was like, 'Dude, what am I doing?' I have a show with my f**king name on it ... So I was like, 'All right, Ellen, let's just do this right now.' Because we can pronounce Timothée Chalamet, so we're going to do this right now." 

11. Ellen forced Mario Lopez to strip on her show.

Back in 2012, TV host and actor Mario Lopez appeared on DeGeneres' show to promote his new underwear line and was met with an odd request.

DeGeneres asked if Lopez was wearing his new line underneath the clothes he had on, and when he said yes, she told him to prove it.

A rather reluctant Lopez told DeGeneres, "Ellen is the only person that I take off my clothes for," he joked, before asking incredulously, "Oh, you're serious?"

It was a shocking moment that had fans appalled that DeGeneres decided to objectify Lopez on live television, and many wondered if the joke had gone too far. 

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.