Between The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the reality show that you hate to love has aired a whopping 36 seasons. Yup, that's 36 seasons of rushed proposals, drunken tears, bat-shit fights and, my personal favorite, ~controversy~. Ahead, the wildest, craziest, most WTF-worthy contestants the Bachelor franchise has ever seen.
Every time I watch The Bachelor, I’m amazed at how they learn the contestants’ names so damn fast (shout out to the producers, who I’m sure quiz the bachelor and bachelorettes like crazy). That’s why I kinda of feel for Jesse Palmer—the New York Giants quarterback who searched for love on season five. During his first rose ceremony, Jesse called the name Katie, when he meant to say Karen (which, like, classic.). “I’m very embarrassed to tell you this, Katie, I accidentally called out the wrong name giving that last rose,” he said as he literally asked for the rose back. Yikes!
It's hard to forget Brad Womack, considering he was the bachelor not once, but twice. In his debut season in 2007, Womack became the first bachelor in the history of the franchise to reject all of his contestants. Even though Brad narrowed the search down to two finalists, he decided he couldn't rightfully propose to either (which, might I add, is probably the most sane thing a person has ever done on this show). Four years later, Brad was named the bachelor of season 15—although he did propose to Emily Maynard in the series finale this time, the couple split before making it down the aisle.
Ah, before there was Arie Luyendyk Jr. (more on him later, of course), there was good ol' Jason Mesnick. After proposing to Melissa Rycroft in the 2009 series finale, Jason decided he'd made a mistake. During the couple’s After the Finale Rose special, Jason broke up with his fiancée right then and there—and reunited with his runner-up, Molly Malaney. As cringe-worthy as it was, Jason and Molly are now happily married with two children.
Wes Hayden's journey on The Bachelorette season 5 was—to put it nicely—bumpy. While competing for bachelorette Jillian Harris, Wes was accused of not only going on the show to promote his band (yes, his band), but he also let it slip that he had a girlfriend back home. After Jillian sent him packing, Wes said the franchise totally villainized him. "I've got tattoos, spiky hair, and I'm a musician. I think I was picked to be the guy people love to hate," he claimed.
Rozyln Papa's exit from The Bachelor season 14 was highly uncomfortable to watch. While competing for the love of bachelor Jake Pavelka, Rozlyn was accused of engaging in an "inappropriate relationship" with one of the show's producers. You can watch the whole confrontation between Rozyln and host Chris Harrison play out here.
Sure, season 14 ended on a seemingly happy note when Jake Pavelka popped the question to Vienna Girardi—but after a quick three months, the couple called it quits. During a tell-all interview with Chris Harrison, Jake and Vienna hashed out the details of their breakup to the viewers' pure discomfort. Between the yelling and the verbal sparring, Giardi and Pavelka rightfully earned their spot amongst the franchise's most controversial contestants.
Justin "R Rated" Rego was the bonafide villain of The Bachelorette season 6. After promising bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky he was there for the right reasons, Ali discovered that Justin had a girlfriend at home in Canada and immediately sent him packing.
Bachelor Ben Flajnik proposed to the villain of his season—Courtney Robertson—and fans were not happy about it. When Courtney arrived to the After the Final Rose special, the audience let out loud boos. "When you bring someone out, you assume there'll be the obligatory applause. There was more a smattering of boos than applause so it was really awkward," Chris Harrison said of the episode. Following her split from Ben, Courtney came out with an appropriately titled book, I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain.
This. Fucking. Guy. Juan Pablo Galavis's season of The Bachelor was super, duper problematic. Sure, he started off strong—he's a hot single dad, for crying out loud!—but things quickly went downhill. In sum: He made some really disappointing comments about sexuality, caused contestants to cry, was incredibly rude to his runner-up, and wouldn't put a ring on his final contestant (or use the word "love"). Bye.
Interestingly enough, Chris Soules' controversy came after his season aired. In April 2017, Chris was arrested for fleeing a deadly car accident in Iowa. Chris has since entered a not guilty plea, but he could be looking at up to five years in prison if sentenced. The Bachelor alum is due in court on November 8.
Kelsey Poe initially felt like the front-runner of season 19, but things quickly flipped when she opened up to Chris Soules about her late husband. As she told Chris about her husband's death, she exclaimed, "Isn’t it amazing? Tragic, but amazing. I love my story!" Needless to say, fans were taken aback by her unusual behavior.
I'll preface this by admitting that Ben Higgins is my favorite bachelor of all time (hi, Ben). Although he spent much of season 20 being the dorky-but-hunky bachelor of my (and definitely your) dreams, things got a little dicey when he said "I love you" to two of his final three women. "I didn't know there were rules to this," Ben confessed after the Women Tell All episode.
Olivia, Olivia, Olivia. Despite winning Ben Higgins' first impression rose, her blatant feuds with the women of the house ultimately led to her demise. Her highlight of the season? Olivia told fellow competitor Amanda Stanton that her life was like an episode of Teen Mom. Cue The Bachelor's iconic villain music.
It was genuinely impossible to ignore Chad Johnson on The Bachelorette season 12. While competing for the affection of JoJo Fletcher, Johnson became known for his outrageous verbal threats (most of which stemmed from his beef with castmate Evan Bass, which even got physical at one point). Here's his best line of the season: "I'm gonna cut everyone here's legs off and arms off and there's gonna be torsos and I'm going to throw them in the pool and then I'm gonna fuck up this entire damn thing." Poetic!
Honestly, the fact that Nick Viall has appeared on four seasons of The Bachelor franchise is enough to make him controversial (to wit: he was the runner-up on both Andi Dorfman's and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s seasons of The Bachelorette and appeared on Bachelor in Paradise before becoming The Bachelor in 2017). But, Nick's shadiest move was definitely blasting Andi on After the Final Rose. “If you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why you made love with me,” he said on national TV. Not cool, dude.
As much as I wanted to hate Corinne Olympios, the breakout star of Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor, she was too damn entertaining to dislike. In addition to having a penchant for "cheese pasta" and power naps (she literally left rose ceremonies because she was too tired), Corinne made it known that she—a living, breathing 24-year-old woman—has a nanny. "She's kind of like my everything," Corinne says. But Corinne's controversy definitely peaked during her time on Bachelor in Paradise (more on that, next).
Shit got awkward for front-runner DeMario Jackson when a woman claiming to be his girlfriend decided to have a little chat with bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. Although he denied the woman's claims, some super telling receipts proved otherwise. After Rachel eliminated him, DeMario had a very brief stint on Bachelor in Paradise—which unfortunately ended in an even bigger scandal involving him and Corrine Olympios. After the two drunkenly hooked up on set, accusations of sexual misconduct caused the entire production to be (momentarily) halted. DeMario and Corinne have since cleared their names.
While competing for Rachel Lindsay's affection on The Bachelorette season 13, it was discovered that Lee Garrett had a nasty Twitter presence (think: racist, sexist, and homophobic Tweets). When confronted by his castmates at the Men Tell All, Lee responded, "I’m facetious. I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable in inappropriate times. It doesn't always come off right, and I definitely learned that about myself." Eh, apology not accepted.
Dean Unglert (a.k.a. Deanie Babies) was the baby-faced cutie of The Bachelorette season 13, but the tables turned after his stint on Bachelor in Paradise. Dean juggled (and, ahem, manipulated) two women throughout the course of the show, promptly becoming a certified fuck boy.
Where does one even begin to describe the train wreck that is Arie Luyendyk Jr.? Not only did Arie change his mind after popping the question to Becca Kufrin in the series finale, but he chose to film their breakup in real time. Better yet, he openly broke off his engagement with Kufrin to pursue his runner up, Lauren Burnham. Moments after Becca's teary-eyed interview on After the Final Rose, Arie got down on one knee for Lauren. You can't make this shit up!
Watching the downfall of Chris Randone on The Bachelorette season 14 was honestly kind of sad. After forming a fairly solid connection with bachelorette Becca Kufrin, Chris got totally in his head and made some enemies in the house. Suffice it to say, Becca didn't even need a rose ceremony to kick Chris to the curb (and he refused to let her walk him out—yikes!).
Colton Underwood—he who is literally dumb hot—was accused of being ~shady~ after it was revealed that he had a brief fling with Tia Booth (The Bachelor, season 22) before joining the ranks of men fighting for bachelorette Becca Kunfrin's heart. Considering Tia was the rumored Bachelorette before Becca was announced, the timing is definitely iffy (like, he was maybe, probably trying to play his cards right with the future Bachelorette).
Although he's currently the front-runner of The Bachelorette season 14 (and even snagged Becca's first impression rose), Garrett reportedly liked a slew of controversial Instagram photos, including content that mocked liberal women, trans people, and undocumented immigrants. Garett has since apologized, deleting his old account and starting anew. "I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my ‘likes’ on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive," he wrote.
As season 14 of The Bachelorette aired, it was revealed that Lincoln Adim had been convicted of indecent assault and battery. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Adim groped and assaulted a woman on a harbor cruise ship in Boston. Despite claims of background checks, Warner Bros. issued the following apology in June: "No one on The Bachelorette production had any knowledge about the incident or charges when Lincoln Adim was cast, and he himself denied ever having engaged in or been charged with any sexual misconduct."