The most controversial Bachelor finales (so far)
The Bachelor host Chris Harrison is not a liar, but he doesn't exactly tell the truth every season when he promises "the most dramatic finale... ever!" Over the last 23 seasons, more than half of the finales have ended with the Bachelor getting down on one knee and proposing to the "lady" of his dreams — though they usually break up a few months later.
But sometimes, the freshly-cut roses really hit the fan in the final episodes. Last night, we watched as Peter Weber, the current Bachelor, was devastated by Madison's sudden departure, leaving Hannah Ann as the last "lady" standing. Before the second half of Peter's "unprecedented" finale airs tonight, take a moment and reminisce about other controversial Bachelor endings that had fans screaming at their screens.
7. Jesse Palmer says 'I love you' with... a plane ticket? (Season 5, 2004)
The former pro football player kicked off his season by calling the wrong woman's name at a rose ceremony, and then ended his "journey" to find "love" by choosing 22-year-old law student Jessica Bowlin. But rather than present Jessica with an engagement ring, Jesse handed her a one-way plane ticket to New York so they could continue dating on his home turf. While choosing not to get engaged after a highly-produced TV courtship is probably a very sound decision, viewers were not pleased by this less-than-romantic development. (Jessica and Jesse broke up shortly after the finale aired.)
6. Juan Pablo goes through the motions (Season 18, 2014)
As someone who was really excited for Juan Pablo's season of The Bachelor (ugh, I'm sorry — I know!), it was quite disappointing to watch as he revealed himself to be a sexist, interrupting, talking-with-his-mouth-full jerk. The best part of this finale was watching future Bachelorette Clare Crawley tear JP a new one at the Proposal Platform. The worst part was watching him hand "winner" Nikki Ferrell the final rose with no ring, no "I love you," not even an "I'm falling in love with you." Instead, she got this tepid declaration: "I like you... a lot." Blech. (The duo broke up seven months later.)
5. Brad Womack had one job, fails to do that one job (Season 11, 2007)
Up until this finale, seasons had ended one of two ways: A proposal, or no proposal but a promise to keep dating. Then came Brad Womack. All the guy had to do was pick one woman and give her some line, like, "I'm not ready to get engaged, but I want our relationship to grow." But nooooo! Womack not only refused to propose to either of his final two, Jenni and DeAnna, he also kicked them both to the curb. "I have to say goodbye," he told DeAnna, who would go on to become the Bachelorette. Again, this was probably the most sensible, reasonable decision anyone in Womack's position could make — but if Bachelor Nation wanted "sensible" and "reasonable," we'd watch C-SPAN! Womack remained a Bachelor franchise pariah until producers brought him back for a do-over season in 2011. (He got engaged to Emily Maynard, but they broke up a few months after the finale aired.)
4. Arie Luyendyk Jr. drops a bomb on "winner" Becca Kufrin (Season 22, 2018)
No one was expecting it when ABC pulled race car driver (and former Bachelorette contestant) Arie Luyendyk Jr. out of retirement to be the Bachelor. And his fiancée, Becca Kufrin, definitely wasn't expecting it when Arie chose one of their post-finale "Happy Couple" visits to inform her that he was still in love with the runner-up, Lauren Burnham. Producers knew what Arie had planned, of course, so the whole painful breakup played out on camera — even after Becca repeatedly asked Arie to leave. (In happier news, Arie and Lauren are now married, and have a 1-year-old daughter.)
3. Peter's mom does not give Madison her seal of approval (Season 24, 2020)
For months, host Chris Harrison told viewers that even the Bachelor himself, Peter Weber, didn’t know how his season would end. And while that was technically true, Peter’s consistently bad decision-making was not what provided the finale’s biggest drama. After pulling a Mesnick by proposing to Hannah Ann and then dumping her for his other option, both Peter and Madison reunited in the Tealight Candle Thunderdome. While Bachelor Nation was mostly pro-Madison all season, Peter’s mom Barbra was decidedly #TeamHannahAnn, and she maintained her staunch position on live TV. She blasted Madison for making the jet-lagged family wait three hours before filming their first meeting in Australia (“we didn’t get an apology from her,” she noted), and said that Peter and Madison were “completely different people.” Then came the kill shot: “Everyone that knows him knows... it’s not gonna work.” If they ever do another season of Bachelor Winter Games, Barbara should definitely be a judge — the woman is a true Ice Queen.
2. Jake Pavelka and his almost-bride sit for excruciating break-up interview (Season 14, 2010)
Technically, this Bachelor special aired four months after the final rose, but I'm going to go ahead and call it the true finale to this doomed relationship. Viewers were mad when Jake proposed to "villain" Vienna over nice-girl Tenley in the March finale, but the former Bachelor proved to be the real bad guy during their tense break-up interview. After Vienna gave an interview to Star magazine — in which she labeled Jake a "monster" who withheld affection and fought with her constantly — the couple sat down with host/relationship therapist Chris Harrison to discuss what went wrong. Fans were appalled at the snide, sarcastic, and downright rude way Jake spoke to Vienna during the interview. The pilot sealed his fate as a future Bachelor Nation villain when he barked "Stop interrupting me!" at Vienna, prompting her to flee the set in tears.
1. Jason Mesnick pulls a Jason Mesnick (Season 13, 2009)
Nine years before Arie pulled a bait-and-switch on his bride-to-be, Jason Mesnick — a single dad, and the runner up on DeAnna's season of The Bachelorette — perfected the art of the post-engagement blindside. In the finale, Jason said goodbye to Molly Malaney (prompting the infamous Balcony Cry) and proposed to Melissa Rycroft. Their happily-ever-after didn't last long, though. "Over the last few weeks, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Molly," Jason told Chris Harrison on the After the Final Rose special. He proceeded to break up with Melissa on television before asking Molly for a second chance. Now for the "all's well that ends well" part: Melissa, scorned but not defeated, cha-cha'd her way onto Dancing With the Stars, while Jason and Molly are still married to this day.
The Bachelor finale airs Tuesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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