Ranked: Best and Worst Seasons of The Bachelor / The Bachelorette

A rose ceremony by any other name ...

ImageThe latest happy couple

We can only imagine how insane industry types thought the idea for The Bachelor was when they first heard it in 2001. Find love on a reality TV competition? Who would sign up for that? And the final couple is supposed to get engaged at the end of the season after dating for only six weeks? Surely, no one is that foolish. But foolish they were and they did sign up in droves, producing 14 seasons of the hit series and six of its spin-off, The Bachelorette.

Hosted by the timeless Chris Harrison, the franchise has kept a loyal following through the years of contestant cattiness, whirlwind dates in faraway places, hot tub make-out sessions and, of course, the most dramatic rose ceremonies of all time!!! And then there’s the aftermath — which is usually more riveting than the seasons themselves — and has so far produced tabloid tell-alls, allegations of cheating and drunkenness, and even one memorable mugshot stemming from a domestic violence dispute.

Thankfully, after 20 collective seasons, the franchise and its assorted dramas are showing no signs of slowing down. Its latest incarnation will feature the most memorable season rejects competing for love and money in The Bachelor Pad -- sort of a hybrid of The Bachelor and Big Brother -- premiering on ABC next Monday, August 9 at 8pm.

Below, we look at the good, bad and ugly of past Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons, which are only as good as the prize up for grabs and the drama he or she generated. 

The 5 Best Seasons of The Bachelor / The Bachelorette
Rank / Season Year Bachelor(ette) Winner
1 The Bachelor
Season 13
2009 Jason Mesnick, account executive
Melissa Rycroft

The season itself was hardly riveting, but the fallout from Jason’s dumping of Melissa for first runner-up Molly Malaney was legendary. Most media outlets demonized Jason while pitying Melissa — who went on to compete on Dancing With the Stars before finding love on her own — but we think he did the right thing, as Molly was clearly the hotter one.  

After the final rose: Jason and Molly married in a televised wedding ceremony that aired on ABC.

Memorable Moment: The entire “After the Final Rose” episode, which featured Jason dumping Melissa and asking for Molly back. The episode was not taped in front of a live studio audience because, clearly, ending a relationship in front of that many people is in poor taste. Oh wait.
2 The Bachelor
Season 3
2003 Andrew Firestone, sales manager of Firestone Family Estates Jen Schefft

One of the more dreamy Bachelors to appear on the show, Andrew wooed the ladies in the house and at home with his effortless charm and classic good looks. Plus, he was heir to the Firestone fortune and owned a vineyard in California. That certainly didn’t hurt. 

After the final rose: The pair broke off their engagement after 10 months, with Jen going on to become the next Bachelorette.

Memorable Moment: The hot tub scene of Andrew with the ladies, which no doubt tripled the applications ABC received from guys hoping to become the next Bachelor.
3 The Bachelorette
Season 3
2005 Jen Schefft, publicist

The likable Midwestern girl next door was riding a wave of sympathy after breaking off her engagement to Andrew Firestone, so she did what any of us in her position would have done: turn to the trusty series again to help her find love. Though in a rare flash of brilliance, Jen realized that a television competition may not be the most ideal backdrop for such a quest and decided to reject all suitors, which (at that time) was a first for the franchise.

After the final rose: Jen found love off camera and got married in 2009.

Memorable Moment: Jen telling one finalist they were better as “friends” when he proposed marriage to her. Brutal.
4 The Bachelorette
Season 1
2003 Trista Rehn, physical therapist
Ryan Sutter

Proving that competing for love on a reality show isn’t such a dumb idea after all, Bachelor reject Trista found wedded bliss with Ryan in the franchise’s lone instance of the final couple remaining together long after the cameras stopped rolling. The season also proved The Bachelorette to be a viable spin-off that would be embraced by The Bachelor’s largely female audience.

After the final rose: The couple married in a televised ceremony on ABC and now have two children.

Memorable Moment: The season finale, which was one of the most-watched reality TV programs in history, attracting 30 million viewers.
5 The Bachelorette
Season 5
2009 Jillian Harris, interior designer
Ed Swiderski

Bachelor reject Jillian was a Bachelorette we could get behind: articulate, warm, low-maintenance and less likely to cry over every little manufactured drama. She was also a forgiving soul — perhaps too forgiving of winner Ed, who had “bedroom troubles” during the fantasy suite night and reportedly cheated on her after he proposed in the finale. We’ll let you guess how things went.

After the final rose: The couple split after one year.

Memorable Moment: Booted contestant Wes Hayden’s limo interview where he released his inner scumbag and admitted to having a girlfriend back home and going on the show only to publicize his music career.
The 5 Worst Seasons of The Bachelor / The Bachelorette
Rank / Season Year Bachelor(ette) Winner
1 The Bachelor:
On the Wings of Love
(Season 14)
2010 Jake Pavelka, commercial pilot
Vienna Girardi

Watching paint dry would have been more interesting than watching boring bachelor Jake look for love. Instead of choosing his equally boring counterpart, the virginal Tenley, he went for the girl everyone loved to hate, Vienna. Then the real fireworks began.

After the final rose: After becoming engaged in the final episode, the two played nice for the cameras before enduring a very public split that had Vienna selling her story to the tabloids and Jake acting like a whiny brat.

Memorable Moment: Jake and Vienna arguing like children in the “After the Final Rose” episode while Chris Harrison tried awkwardly to mediate like a couple’s counselor. 
2 The Bachelorette
Season 6
2010 Ali Fedotowsky,
advertising account manager
Roberto Martinez

Arguably the franchise’s most self-absorbed Bachelorette, the spastic Ali spent the season in too many yellow outfits, alternately laughing at her own jokes and crying over every perceived slight. It’s no wonder one of the suitors ditched the show mid-season to reconcile with an old girlfriend. We expect her new fiancé to follow suit eventually.

After the final rose: Fallout pending.

Memorable Moment: Every moment Roberto had his shirt off. Yummy.
3 The Bachelor:
London Calling
(Season 12)
2008 Matt Grant, global financier
Shayne Lamas

In an attempt to restore some respectability to the franchise, the producers imported a Bachelor with a British accent and then built the whole season around his foreignness. Predictably, he chose the uber-American spawn of Lorenzo Lamas, whose ditziness charmed only him while leaving audiences annoyed. 

After the final rose: The pair called off their engagement a few months after the finale.

Memorable Moment: Meeting Shayne’s mother, a plastic surgery victim who embodied every awful stereotype about Beverly Hills housewives.
4 The Bachelor:
Officer and a Gentleman
(Season 10)
2007 Andy Baldwin, Naval officer
Tessa Horst

Repeatedly showing the U.S. Naval Officer in his uniform couldn’t save this dud of a season. The contestants were more uninspired than usual, the dates cheesier than usual and the Bachelor was a charmless dweeb who was more interested in getting laid than married.

After the final rose: They were done within months of the finale.

Memorable Moment: Every moment the lecherous Andy tried to shove his tongue down the throat of a contestant.  
5 The Bachelor
Season 7
2005 Charlie O’Connell, actor
Sarah Brice

Without a hint of irony, Bachelor producers chose an aspiring actor with a drinking problem as the prize. Charlie is brother to (the more desirable) actor Jerry O’Connell, who, of course, made a few appearances throughout the season while Charlie spent it doing body shots and trying to restrain himself from bedding the more promiscuous contestants.

After the final rose: The pair played makeup-breakup for five years before finally calling it quits in 2010.

Memorable Moment: During a group date when Charlie said that some of the girls were “nice to look at but not so nice to listen to.” Keep drinking, bro.

What do you think?

What is your favorite season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette? What did you think of the just-concluded season? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (11)

  • erna muyano  

    what ever the outcome of Bachelor/Bachelorette , i love the show and i kept waching it and i love chis harrison he is so lovable too, more power .

  • arlie  

    Best bachelors: Andrew Firestone, Brad Womack, Travis, Most entertaining bachelor: Charlie
    Worst bachelors: Jake, Jason, Matt, Blob Best Bachelorette: Meredith, Trista
    Worst Bachelorettes: DeAnna, Ali

  • Andie  

    Season 6 Bachelorette. Ali's suitors were great, especially Roberto. Not only gorgeous, but a real quality guy, not a douche-bag like most other seasons.

  • Renee  

    I haven't seen all of them, nor do I care to, but of those I have seen, I think your list is right on the money except that I really enjoyed Ali's season a great deal and would add it to the list of better seasons...I didn't watch Jake's season much so I wasn't sure what to expect. She grew on me, though. Jillian and Trista remain my favorite bachelorettes. Ali is 3rd and Molly (while not a bachelorette = 4th).

    The other thing I liked about Ali's season was the caliber of men. It was a super cast.

    I think the down seasons of this show happen when the caliber of people cast is low. I have no desite to watch a bunch of Hollywood wannabes or not-so-bright people running around. So long as the cast remains high-end, the show will remain watchable - and fun!

    FYI....people take this show FAR to seriously - both those who love it and those who hate it can be extreme! I think Ali's season as the bachelorette

  • Evan  

    I actually liked these past few seasons. True, Jake picking Vienna was ridiculous, but Ali was a great Bachelorette. I'm looking forward to many seasons to come!

  • JCat  

    Seriously, people actually fall for these reality shows? You really think nothing is scripted? My sister is mesmerized by it, but her and I are opposites.... I wish I can make her open her eyes on the what crap these networks feed the easy to please crowd. We live in a world where we have to watch others going about their lives on TV (well I don't have to but the fact that this is considered entertainment is damn shocking). Your other choice I guess is the NEWS which of course, only further control your thinking.

  • Jim  

    I would call any season of this cheesy crap a bad season. Having viewers with questionable taste does not make a success, people watch things because they are bored and there is very little choice.
    even with a plethora of channels there is nothing on that makes it worth wasting the power to leave a set turned on and these crappy reality shows are a prime example of television set to the lowest common denominator ...and a very common denominator it is for this common show.

  • Sean  

    who watches this?! obviously people do because it's still off and running...

  • Diane  

    Ali the Bachlorette was and is the worst of all shows. I found this girl to be a self centered, and just full of herself. I vow never to waste my time watching this kind of show again. Bachelor Pad is of no interest to me. The reject show will never make it.

  • Marc Doyle  

    The Bachelor Bob seasons were the best. And the Jesse Palmer season was amusing (hello ESPN audition). Fun moment: when he couldn't remember the names of the "contestants" at the Rose ceremony.

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