Every season on “The Bachelor,” without fail, Chris Harrison tells us that this will be the most dramatic finale in “Bachelor” history. Sometimes it’s all smoke, and other times it’s definitely not, like Tuesday’s Season 24 conclusion that was also heavily promoted as the Most! Unpredictable! Finale! Ever! And reader, it actually was. It ended with some twists and turns that, yes, had never happened on “The Bachelor” before.
Let’s look back at the craziest, most dramatic moments in “Bachelor” finale history that still have us saying, “Did that actually happen?”
8. Ben picks the mean girl
The bad guy loses and the good guy wins. That’s how it goes, right? Not on Season 16 in 2012. Ben Flajnik chose eternal “Bachelor” villain Courtney Robertson over fan favorite Lindzi Cox, stunning fans who were clinging on to hope that he’d make the “right choice.” Rumors flew while the season was airing that the pair had broken and that Ben was making out with other women. On “After the Final Rose,” Courtney shared that Ben dumped her around Valentine’s Day after seeing her appalling behavior on the show. You think they’re kaput, but then they decided to give it another go on “After the Final Rose” and he slid the engagement ring back on her hand. They split seven months later for good.
7. Nick and Vanessa are the unhappiest couple alive
You know something’s wrong when you have to spend the bulk of your post-finale press tour defending how awkward you and your betrothed looked the night before. Nick Viall, a two-time “Bachelorette” runner-up, didn’t have a smooth relationship with Vanessa Grimaldi on Season 21 in 2017 — they always ran more “cold” than “hot,” unless you’re using “hot” to describe their arguments. On “After the Finale Rose,” they could barely fake an iota of happiness to be engaged and able to finally share it with the world. Their uncomfortable body language and curt answers made us all die a little inside. They gave up the charade and split five months later.
6. Brad chooses no one
Before Season 11 in 2007, “The Bachelor” had always ended with the guy picking a gal, even if it didn’t result in an engagement; dating was a backup proposal (pun fully intended). Then Brad Womack came along and became the first and still only Bachelor to dump both of his final two, DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft, and pick no one. Look, it is the sensible thing to not pop the question to someone you’ve only known for two months while simultaneously dating twentysomething other women while also being filmed for national television, but it didn’t make Brad’s bold choice any less shocking. He got a do-over in Season 15 in 2011, this time picking Emily Maynard, but they broke up two months after the finale.
5. Nikki reveals that Juan Pablo still isn’t in love with her
After incoming Bachelorette Clare Crawley tore him a new one on Season 18 in 2014 for his truly godawful behavior, Juan Pablo Galavis, aka the worst Bachelor in history, chose Nikki Ferrell, but did not propose or even tell her “I love you.” Instead, all she got was an “I like you a lot. A lot.” How romantic. Months later, on “After the Final Rose,” Nikki shared that they’re still together and she “absolutely” loves Juan Pablo. When Chris Harrison asked if the former soccer player was in love with her, her “umm…” hung in the air for an eternity. “I don’t know. I hope so. You know, I think we express things very differently,” she said. Harrison pressed, asking if Juan Pablo has said “I love you” since filming wrapped. “Um, not exactly,” Nikki admitted, before attempting brush it off as an “actions speak louder than words” thing (well, yes, his actions on the show said a whole lot). The entire exchange is awkward and just plain sad because all you wanted to tell Nikki was that she deserves better and needs to get away from this dude. They broke up seven months later.
4. Jake also picks the villain, and then they hash out their breakup for public consumption
This is a two-parter. Before Ben, Jake Pavelka also proposed to the mean girl of his installment, Vienna Girardi, over sweetheart Tenley Molzahn, on Season 14 in 2010. It was clear they weren’t going to last because their relationship was, like, 99 percent based on sexual chemistry, and it all came crashing down that June with a very public breakup. Always one to capitalize on drama, the franchise aired a special that summer in which Jake and Vienna discussed their tumultuous relationship with Chris Harrison, who eventually was rendered a spectator as the former couple laid into each other. Jake was hardly Prince Charming on “The Bachelor,” but he went full heel here with his rude, sneering comments. The pièce de résistance: He screamed “Stop interrupting me!” at Vienna, who walked off the set.
3. Arie pulls a Jason
For the second time in “Bachelor” history, the Bachelor had a change of heart. After production wrapped on Season 22, which aired in 2018, Arie Luyendyk Jr. realized that he was not in love with his winner, Becca Kufrin, but rather the runner-up, Lauren Burnham. And so cameras came along when he visited Becca and completely blindsided her by breaking up with her for Lauren. The unedited footage is one of the most excruciatingly raw moments the franchise has aired, and the expected public sympathy for Becca made her an obvious choice to headline “The Bachelorette.” But maybe this all worked out the way it was supposed to: Arie and Lauren wed and welcomed a daughter in 2019, while Becca is still engaged to her winner, Garrett Yrigoyen.
2. Jason is the OG flip-flopper
This was the first truly shocking moment that’s happened on the show. Nine years before Arie was like, “JK, I picked the wrong woman,” Jason Mesnick was the first to do the fiancée swap on Season 13 in 2009 with Melissa Rycroft and Molly Malaney. But while Arie broke up with Becca in between production wrapping and the finale airing, Jason waited all the way until “After the Final Rose” to break Melissa’s heart. “Over the last few weeks, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Molly,” he said, before dumping Melissa and asking Molly for another chance. It was all crazy and surreal, and no doubt painful for Melissa at the time, but like with Arie, everything worked out for the best: Jason and Molly tied the knot in 2010 and welcomed a daughter in 2013, and Melissa married a former flame, Tye Strickland, with whom she has three kids, and became a two-time “Dancing with the Stars” contestant, winning the all-stars outing.
1. Peter has a turbulent ending, inciting his mother’s wrath
OK, this is not recency bias here. Because if the Season 24 finale simply were just Peter Weber being the latest to pull a switcheroo, ending things with Hannah Ann Sluss (to whom he should’ve never proposed) for self-eliminee Madison Prewett, then this would rank, like, third. But context is important. First, Hannah Ann demolished Peter with her fiery breakup speech, topped off with an amazing “talk to the hand,” and then she had the final word in their “After the Final Rose” sit-down, scolding Pilot Pete, “If you want to be with a woman, you need to become a real man.” Oh, snap. And then there’s Barbara, Peter’s mom who managed to become a supervillain with, like, 27 minutes of screen time over the last two episodes of the season. She and her tears made her preference for Hannah Ann known in Part 1 of the finale, and her disdain for Madison did not wane over the last few months since her son changed his mind. Barb was not here to play nice for the cameras, and told her son and his girlfriend on live television that “everyone knows it’s not going to work.” “He’s going to have to fail to succeed. That’s it,” she added to dropped jaws everywhere. This is now the bar against which all future dramatic finales have to be measured.