When producers decided to put good-looking contestants in one big house to vie for one person's heart, they knew it was going to make for good TV — and there were bound to be some insane events along the way. Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the most scandalous and unexpected moments from "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" franchises, starting with host Chris Harrison's 2021 messy departure… The longtime host of "The Bachelor" sparked major backlash when, in a February 2021 interview with former franchise star Rachel Lindsay — the first Black lead of "The Bachelorette" — he defended season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for what Rachael later admitted were "offensive and racist" actions. (Rachael later apologized after photos resurfaced showing her dressed as a Native American person and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party; she also was criticized for liking Confederate flag-related TikToks.) Chris in part said he wanted fans to have "a little grace" with and "compassion" for Kirkconnell, who was a frontrunner to win the heart of Matt James — the show's first Black lead. Chris also "talked over me and at me," Rachel later said on her "Higher Learning" podcast, during the racially sensitive discussion. The host then publicly apologized — twice — and ultimately decided to take a step back from the franchise "for a period of time," he said, after which some fans and former Bachelor Nation stars called for him to step down permanently as they pointed out the need for systemic changes to the franchises. In his lengthy mea culpas (which he posted on Instagram), Chris said he was sorry for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" then later explained in part, "By excusing historical racism, I defended it. I invoked the term 'woke police,' which is unacceptable. I am ashamed over how uninformed I was. I was so wrong." Keep reading to relive more twists and scandals that rocked "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette"…
Jason Mesnick stuck with his gut and it paid off — even if it did cause major drama. Although he'd proposed to Melissa Rycroft on the 13th season finale of "The Bachelor," Jason later revealed he'd made a mistake. During the "After the Final Rose" special, he told Melissa that he was actually in love with runner-up Molly Malaney, whom he married in 2010. Jason and Molly welcomed a daughter, Riley Mesnick, in March 2013 and are still happily married.
Tayshia Adams' sudden casting as season 16's leading lady was something no one saw coming. A little background: In early 2020, producers triumphantly announced that Clare Crawley would headline the 16th season of "The Bachelorette," making her the oldest female to star on the show. However, Clare fell in love hard and fast with one of the men, Dale Moss, in the very early stages of filming. Having already made up her mind, she refused to continue the show because she didn't want to lead on the rest of her potential suitors. Clare's abrupt exit — she and Dale even got engaged after just days of knowing each other — left producers in need of a new lead because filming had already begun. Enter fan favorite Tayshia, who'd been a contestant on season 23 of "The Bachelor" and season 6 of "Bachelor in Paradise." She took over and began her own journey to love. Out with one, in with another!
Juan Pablo Galavis is one of the most hated "The Bachelor" stars of all time! But why? Not only did he fail to propose to Nikki Ferrell during the 18th season finale of "The Bachelor," but he couldn't say three very important words: I love you. Even on the "After the Final Rose" special, the commitment-phobic retired soccer player couldn't mutter the words. Unsurprisingly, their love didn't last and they called it quits in October 2014.
Who could forget the surprising clash between Peter Weber's mom, Barbara, and his second pick, Madison Prewett, on season 24 of "The Bachelor"? Nobody. While Barbara never shied away from voicing her opinions on who her son should end up with, preferring contestant Hannah Ann Sluss over the runner-up, Madison, things came to a head on the season finale. When confronted with her preference, Barbara didn't shy away from listing out all the reasons she liked Hannah Ann more than Madison, noting that the latter made her family wait three hours, debated about wanting to meet them, and told them she wasn't ready to accept a proposal from Peter. For her part, Madison didn't stay quiet, defending herself on the live segment of the show during an unforgettable onscreen battle primed to go down in Bachelor Nation history, but it was Barbara who delivered the final blow. She told host Chris Harrison that Peter would "have to fail to succeed," noting, "All his friends, all his family, everyone that knows him, knows that it's not going to work." Yikes. Ultimately, she was right. Peter and Madison soon went their separate ways and he moved on with another season 24 contestant, Kelley Flanagan, though they later split.
Colton Underwood's season 23 of "The Bachelor" certainly delivered the drama in 2019. There were plenty of catfights and incessant talk of Colton's infamous virginity, but the really shocking moment took place during contestant Cassie Randolph's fantasy suite date. After doubting her feelings for Colton (and receiving a visit from her equally doubtful dad), Cassie opted to head home of her own accord. What ensued was a tearful meltdown unlike anything Bachelor Nation had ever seen. From Colton's weeping to that infamous fence jump that led producers on a chase through the Portuguese countryside, it was intense. But if fans thought they were about to get a break from the drama after Colton was found, they were sorely mistaken. Colton promptly sent home the other two contestants and shed plenty more tears before vowing to pursue Cassie, culminating in a bizarre ending with no engagement — and the beginning of a seemingly one-sided relationship as Cassie agreed to simply date Colton, who vowed he'll eventually convince her to wear his ring. Ultimately, he was unsuccessful: Cassie and Colton split in mid-2020.
"The Bachelor" season 14 contestant Rozlyn Papa might not have hit it off with Jake Pavelka, but she did find romance on the show. Rozyln got the boot after it was claimed that she was getting cozy with one of the producers, who was also let go.
Kaitlyn Bristowe's "The Bachelorette" season was fraught with controversy. Show producers faced intense backlash when they pitted Kaitlyn against Britt Nilsson and asked the male contestants to vote for which woman they wanted to keep. Critics said the move was sexist and bizarre considering this had never been done on "The Bachelor." Then Nick Viall from Andi Dorfman's "The Bachelorette" season joined the show late in the competition. It was revealed that he and Kaitlyn already had some sort of a relationship that had kicked off via Twitter before her season even started taping. Scandalous!
Ultimately, Kaitlyn Bristowe chose Shawn Booth during the 11th season of "The Bachelorette," but her pick wasn't scandal-free. Kaitlyn accidentally posted a pic of herself and Shawn on Snapchat very early on in the season so many fans knew who won long before the finale! What a spoiler!
Contestant and future "The Bachelorette" star Becca Kufrin caused quite a stir when her ex-boyfriend came to visit wanting her back! Becca ultimately rejected him and kept her sights focused on that season's "The Bachelor" star Arie Luyendyk Jr., but things didn't quite turn out how she planned. Next up, what was truly one of the most scandalous events in Bachelor history… Becca and Arie's breakup…
During the 22nd season of "The Bachelor," Arie Luyendyk Jr. proposed to Becca Kufrin and all seemed to be well… until it wasn't. A few months later, Arie confessed to Becca that he was still in love with runner-up Lauren Burnham and dumped Becca as cameras rolled — and it all aired during the season finale! He then proposed to Lauren during the live "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" special and consequently became perhaps the most hated "Bachelor" star thus far. If that's not enough, some of Arie's former girlfriends and former best friend, fellow "The Bachelorette" participant Jef Holm, all publicly called him out for being untrustworthy and a commitment-phobe. Yikes!
Brad Womack is a heartbreaker! During the 11th season finale of "The Bachelor," Brad shocked viewers by not proposing to either DeAnna Pappas or Jenni Croft. The ladies were sent home without a ring, but that did not stop Brad on his quest to find love. He returned for Season 15 where he asked for Emily Maynard's hand in marriage. But they broke up, made up, then finally moved on in 2011.
Rachel Lindsay had everyone shaking their heads in disappointment when she sent Peter Kraus packing and instead chose Bryan Abasolo to be her fiancé during the 13th season of "The Bachelorette." Many fans felt that she had the closest connection to Peter and was deeply in love with him, but sent him home because he wasn't willing to propose quite yet, settling for Bryan.
Rachel Lindsay's final pick wasn't the only scandal-sparking moment from her season. The 13th season of "The Bachelorette," which featured Rachel as the franchise's first-ever Black lead, was also rocked by a racist contestant, Lee Garrett. The singer was called out for posting racist and misogynistic tweets including one that read, "What's the difference between the NAACP and the KKK? Wait for it… One has the sense of shame to cover their racist a– faces." He also made undermining and insulting comments to Black men in the house before being booted from the show.
Kreepy Kasey Kahl! This suitor was so desperate to win over Ali Fedotowsky that he got a heart tattooed on his wrist as a sign of his devotion. Needless to say, Kasey was booted off season 6 of "The Bachelorette" shortly after…
What caused "The Bachelorette" season 8 star Emily Maynard and Jef Holm to call off their engagement in October 2012? Jef allegedly caught Emily exchanging racy text messages with NFL quarterback Matt Leinart! Scandalous…
Bentley Williams broke Ashley Hebert's heart on season 7 of "The Bachelorette." Though Ashley's interest in Bentley was piqued after meeting him, Bentley had set his sights on someone else: Emily Maynard. He admitted that he thought he was there to compete for Emily's heart, not Ashley's.
Did Courtney Robertson join the cast of season 16 of "The Bachelor" for the right reasons? Many didn't think so! Not only was she disliked by other cast members — she was often referred to as a gold-digger and a social-climber — but somehow she won over Ben Flajnik's heart and he proposed to her during the finale. Though Courtney moved in with Ben, the pair called it quits in November 2012 and the aspiring model went on to pen a tell-all titled "I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain." Surprise, surprise.
Brooks Forester didn't even give Desiree Hartsock a chance to send him home — he left of his own accord during the semi-finals of season 9 of "The Bachelorette" after revealing that he just wasn't that into her. It all worked out in the end though: Desiree married last man standing Chris Siegfried in January 2015 and they welcomed a son in 2016.
Sure, Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi had a very odd and contentious relationship post-season 14 of "The Bachelor." (Who can forget their awkward sit-down with Chris Harrison where they railed on each other in front of a live audience?!) But the real scandal involved questions surrounding Jake's true intentions. "I thought he was a pilot," Vienna — who also claimed Jake repeatedly refused to get intimate with her — told Star magazine. "He really wants to be an actor. This wasn't supposed to be our life." The mud-slinging went both ways: Jake accused Vienna of cheating on him with "Greek" actor Gregory Michael. They finally broke up in 2010. What a mess!
This singing cowboy was nothing more than a big fat liar! On season 5 of "The Bachelorette," Wes Hayden made it all the way to Jillian Harris' top four before it was revealed he had a girlfriend back home! He also acted shady when he grabbed his guitar and serenaded her in an attempt to prove he was on the show for the right reasons — while his critics say he was really just promoting his music career.
Ben Higgins caused quite a stir when he told both of his final two ladies, Lauren Bushnell and JoJo Fletcher, that he was in love with them during the 20th season of "The Bachelor." It was the first time this has ever happened — typically bachelors don't say "I love you" until the proposal — and made for a super-awkward finale when he dumped JoJo.
JoJo Fletcher got her happy ending on the 12th season of "The Bachelorette" when she picked football player-turned-sports commentator Jordan Rodgers as the winner. The couple are still engaged today, but their storyline was a little awkward. Jordan didn't really acknowledge his super-famous brother, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron never appeared on the show even though other family members did, fueling reports that the Rodgers clan was seriously fractured.
Nick Viall's scandals continued to unfold on his own season of "The Bachelor." The franchise veteran was selected to star on the 21st season of the show after appearing on two seasons of "The Bachelorette" (including one in which he famously revealed that Andi Dorfman slept with him) and one season of "Bachelor in Paradise," leading many to speculate that his intentions were more about finding fame than a soulmate. Many fans felt he did little to redeem himself as a Bachelor Nation villain, an opinion that only strengthened after he and "The Bachelor" winner Vanessa Grimaldi broke off their engagement in 2017.
In August 2020, it was reported that Chris Harrison had been replaced as the host… temporarily. For the first time in Bachelor-verse history, he would not be at the helm. Chris, according to reports, left filming for season 16 of "The Bachelorette" to drop his son off at college. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a mandatory two-week quarantine kept him away from the set. Former "The Bachelorette" star JoJo Fletcher stepped in to take over.