The best seasons of ‘The Bachelor,’ ranked

The Bachelor season 21
Screengrab via YouTube

If you’re looking for love, then is there anything better than applying to be on The Bachelor? Of course there is. There are about 100 things better, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting to be a part of the show. Perhaps it’s a seeking of fame or it’s true that people will do the craziest things for love (or perhaps both).

The result of this is a show that is oftentimes unnecessarily dramatic, thanks in part to producers finding extremely diverse personalities to participate. That drama usually makes for better ratings, but not necessarily a better show. For instance, Juan Pablo’s season would be our tops for drama, but he’s out of luck here and that’s okay.

We do make what some may consider controversial choices. That wasn’t our aim, but our countdown certainly looks a bit different from other notable ones, though we have pretty good reason for it in our list of the best Bachelor seasons of all time.

10. Peter Weber (2020 – Season 24)

Peter Weber likes windmills. He didn’t exactly have the winds of fortune blow his way, however.

Well known for his time on Hannah Brown’s season, Weber spent his seemingly wanting to choose Madison but she left during the final episode and thus Weber proposed to Hannah Ann (he has a thing for Hannahs) only to later announce, during the “After the Final Rose” episode, that they broke up and he still had feelings for Madison. This was complicated further by Peter’s mother who was pretty vocal against her. It’s actually something of a challenging season to watch but still manages to sneak into our countdown.

9. Brad Womack (2007 – Season 11)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Brad Womack was the only Bachelor in the show’s history to literally NOT choose anyone (though this happened on The Bachelorette a couple years earlier). He said goodbye to both women who made it to the end. A few seasons later, Brad came back for another shot and this time he shockingly did give someone the final rose. They lasted a bit and then called it quits but, on this ranking, we place his initial run, season 11, partly due to that unpredictable ending.

8. Andrew Firestone (2003 – Season 3)

With just one name — Firestone — The Bachelor received some big attention. Great grandson to Harvey Firestone, who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Andrew steered clear of any major controversy and proposed to Jen Schefft. Unfortunately, a few months after Jen moved to Cali to live with him, they realized they’re better as friends. Jen then went on to star in The Bachelorette and became the first person in the franchise to not choose a winner, later duplicated by Brad Womack.

7. Nick Viall (2017 – Season 21)

Nick Viall pushed people to ask whether or not there should be a limit on the amount of times someone can appear on The Bachelor franchise. He was a runner-up at a previous Bachelorette, and then a runner-up at yet another previous Bachelorette, and even a bachelor on Bachelor in Paradise. Nick “Iron Man” Viall has been a little controversial but never disingenuous.

When he finally got his own season of The Bachelor, he ended up proposing to Vanessa Grimaldi but they didn’t last. The season may now be more remembered for gifting us with the next Bachelorette in Rachel Lindsay who had better luck on her season.

6. Andy Baldwin (2007 – Season 10)

US Navy officer, Andy Baldwin became one of the most liked bachelors in the show’s history. The season was named The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman, and he lived up to the “Gentleman” title. Baldwin’s popularity helped the show earn its highest viewership in five seasons. He chose Tessa Horst but they unfortunately didn’t last. Horst was the first-ever woman of Asian descent to be offered the final rose.

5. Ben Higgins (2016 – Season 20)

One of the most likeable bachelors, Ben Higgins tried his very best to make the right decision for himself but it just didn’t work out between him and Lauren Bushnell. They became another victim of the bachelor curse which states that meeting someone and falling in love in six weeks on a TV show is probably not going to work out.

Things did eventually work out for Ben, however. He married Jess Clark last year after she caught his eye on Instagram in 2018, prompting him to slide into her DM’s, a true modern-day love story.

4. Alex Michel (2002 – Season 1)

What is this madness?

Alex Michel was 30 years old when he starred in The Bachelor, a brand new show in 2002 that was slammed by critics for being, amongst other things, sexist. Such reviews still skew people’s perspectives of the show and create an assumption that the season was a bomb, which is quite inaccurate. Out of ten critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, only one is favorable. The other reviews include such joyful commentary as “desperate” and “problematic messages about gender roles.” Even one review claiming the new show was, “insulting to women,” though I doubt that critic feels that The Bachelorette is insulting to men.

This is likely why the seemingly hundreds of other Bachelor countdowns online barely mention the season that started it all. Truth is, if it was not successful then none of the others would even happen.

It obviously features many firsts in Bachelor history and is a journey that viewers didn’t know where it was going or what to expect simply because it was the first show of its kind. The first ever kiss in Bachelor history was between Michel and LaNease Adams while they were in a gondola going under a small walkway bridge in Las Vegas.

The kiss sadly received attention for other reasons thanks to it being interracial. Adams herself explained in an interview with the Washington Post, “Black people were upset I was dating a white person and white people were upset that I was dating a white person.”

Controversy on the Bachelor? No way!

Adams didn’t make it to the final episode and Michel’s relationship with eventual winner, Amanda Marsh (whom he didn’t propose to), also didn’t last. However, the season is most remembered for its runner-up, Trista Rehn, who ultimately became the first Bachelorette.

The final episode when Michel chose Amanda over Trista is still one of only three shows in the history of The Bachelor to have a U.S. viewership of at least 18 million (an absurdly high number even for 2002).

3. Jason Mesnick (2009 – Season 13)

This is one of the most confused bachelors ever. Mesnick spent the final episode tearfully saying goodbye to Molly Malaney before proposing to Melissa Rycroft. Then, this dude changed his mind weeks later at the “After the Final Rose” show where he thought it wise to then dump Melissa on national TV. It was horrible. On the same show, he then told Molly that he wanted another chance with her.

Clearly, he made multiple poor choices but he was also an unbelievably good guy who was raising his son and trying really hard to figure out his own heart. The woman he ultimately chose, Molly, is the woman that he eventually married. So, in the end (or after the end) he did make the right choice and, despite unintentionally causing chaos, he is still among the most-liked Bachelors.

Melissa also has a happy outcome as she not only won Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars with dance partner Tony Dovolani, but she is also married to Tye Strickland and they now have 3 children together.

2. Bob Guiney (2003 – Season 4)

Being the most popular dude on the inaugural season of The Bachelorette, Bob Guiney was an easy choice for the next Bachelor (marking the first time that a Bachelorette contestant became The Bachelor). His personality was just fun and positive. During his time on The Bachelorette, Guiney referred to himself as overweight, though it’s more accurate to say he was of normal weight in a show filled with Abs ‘R’ Us cover models. Many viewers called him a normal guy (though we know he’s really a special guy).

He still has the most-viewed episode premiere in the show’s history with over 12 million watching his first episode. There has probably been no single bachelor in the history of the show that laughed more than Bob Guiney and he is the first bachelor EVER to unashamedly sing Journey songs.

Guiney is now married with 2 children but not to anyone he chose on the show. He and his wife Jessica Canyon have been happily married for several years and now have two children together.

On the show, he chose Estella Gardinier for his final rose, but they obviously didn’t last. Guiney puzzlingly didn’t choose Kelly Jo despite their seemingly obvious connection. It was a shocking choice viewed by over 18.6 million people and is still the second largest audience for a single episode in Bachelor history. No episode has even come close since.

As for Kelly Jo, whose sincerity won many over (except for Bobby, apparently!), she disappeared from Bachelor Nation after that. As it turns out, she married former Montreal Canadiens hockey player Matt Higgins (not to be confused with Ben Higgins) in 2007 and they now live happily with 2 children.

1. Sean Lowe (2013 – Season 17)

How Lowe can you go? Well, once upon a time a season of The Bachelor ended with a marriage proposal…..and they lived happily ever after. THAT is how Lowe (or high!) we can go and thus far, it’s the only Bachelor season that ended up successful in that regards. Sure, there have been some success stories involving two people on the show getting married (like that of Mr. Mesnick mentioned above) but none involving the Bachelor and the woman he proposed to at the end of the show. What’s the over/under on how much longer that will take to happen again? So far, one in 26 seasons is not exactly a great success rate.

That’s why this is the best season. It’s as simple as it being the only season where the idea actually worked. Just watch the above video and try not to cry. Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici fell completely in love and married in 2014, a year after the show’s airing. They now have 3 children and are the ultimate standard to which all Bachelor seasons are measured.