The most devastating breakups in Bachelor history

The Bachelor franchise doesn’t have the greatest track history when it comes to producing long-lasting couples. According to Life & Style, out of 22 seasons of The Bachelor, 14 seasons of The Bachelorette, five seasons of Bachelor in Paradise, and one lonely season of The Bachelor Winter Games, only 17 couples from the long-running franchise are still together. That’s — not a lot. Yet, we still tune in every season hoping to witness an eligible single meet the love of their life on a primetime reality dating show. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little optimism. 

While it’s always a joy to see love blossom onscreen, we have to admit that being privy to all the drama that unfolds along the way is undeniably entertaining. That said, The Bachelor and Bachelorette have shown us some seriously dramatic break-ups throughout the years — some too heartbreakingly uncomfortable to watch more than once. You should probably go ahead and grab a box of tissues, because we’re about to take a tearful trip down memory lane to relive some of the most devastating break-ups in Bachelor history. 

Colton Underwood and Cassie Randolph

Colton Underwood laid claim to the “Most Dramatic Break-Up Ever” title for his emotionally-charged split with frontrunner, Cassie Randolph.

During the March 2019 Fantasy Suites episode of Underwood’s Bachelor season — the episode in which the lead and each of his final three contestants are finally able to enjoy privacy in overnight stays without cameras capturing their every move — the former NFL player was completely blindsided when Randolph revealed her doubts concerning their relationship and her intent to leave the show. The California-native blamed her uncertainty on her father’s skeptical outlook and refusal to give Underwood his blessing for an engagement, as well as her own feelings. 

“Today was perfect, and I love you so much. But […] I’m not, like, in love,” Randolph revealed to Underwood, who had confessed only moments earlier that he was head-over-heels in love with her. Visibly shaken (and shaking), Underwood vowed to never stop fighting for Randolph — and after she was carried away in a limo, the heartbroken bachelor jumped a fence to get away from the camera crew, disappearing into the Portuguese wilderness. Talk about dramatic.

Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Becca Kufrin

There was no fence to be jumped during Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Becca Kufrin’s break-up, but these two will forever be a part of Bachelor history due to the way in which their surprising split was announced to the world.

In the 22nd season of ABC’s long-running reality dating program, Luyendyk Jr. got down on one knee and proposed to the 27-year-old publicist, telling her, “I choose you today, but I choose you every day from here on out.” Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.

Immediately after witnessing their proposal, Bachelor fans were shown Luyendyk Jr. and Kufrin’s brutal break-up, which was filmed and aired unedited. No one was more caught off guard by the split than Kufrin, who was under the impression that the production crew was present to capture sweet moments during her romantic weekend getaway with Luyendyk Jr. Instead, the race car driver confessed to her that he couldn’t stop thinking about Lauren Burnham, the woman he sent home before ultimately proposing to Kufrin. 

Seeing her cry for nearly an hour was certainly uncomfortable for audiences — but seeing Kufrin find love on The Bachelorette almost made up for it. Almost. 

Andi Dorfman and Nick Viall

Nick Viall’s first appearance (of many appearances) in the Bachelor world was on season 10 of The Bachelorette, in which he competed for Andi Dorfman’s heart — ultimately making it all the way to her final two before the Atlanta lawyer dumped him for Josh Murray. The break-up was devastating to watch, as Viall was unabashedly in love with Dorfman and ready to propose and spend the rest of his life with her. However, the After the Final Rose special which aired after The Bachelorette‘s season finale might have been even more uncomfortable to watch.

While chatting with Dorfman and host Chris Harrison on the live special, Viall turned to his former flame and said, “Knowing how in love with you I was … if you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why you made love with me.” While most people assume that sex happens behind closed doors during the Fantasy Suite dates, Viall was the first person to call out a lead for it on national television. Needless to say, the recently-engaged Dorfman was not happy. 

Juan Pablo Galavis and Clare Crawley

If you were a fan of Andi Dorfman on The Bachelorette, you have Juan Pablo Galavis to thank for jumpstarting her Bachelor Nation career by being perhaps the worst bachelor the franchise has ever seen. Dorfman competed as a contestant on Galavis’ controversial season of The Bachelor, only to eliminate herself once she realized that Galavis was much more interested in repeatedly (and condescendingly) saying “It’s okay,” rather than actually listening to anything she had to say. 

However, contestant Clare Crawley was much more optimistic about the bachelor’s potential, sticking with him through their own ups and downs throughout the season. When she arrived to the final rose ceremony ready to accept his proposal, Galavis revealed that he “[had] to say goodbye” to her, which did not sit well with Crawley. As he approached her for a goodbye hug, Crawley pushed Galavis away, understandably angry that he waited until the last minute to break things off rather than sparing her some heartbreak by letting her go earlier. 

“I’ve lost respect for you,” Crawley said while walking away. “I would never want my children having a father like you.” 

Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi

Watching Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi officially end their relationship on national television while host Chris Harrison acted as mediator felt more like a boxing match than anything. In fact, Pavelka’s season of The Bachelor was a train wreck from start to finish — and his nastiness toward Girardi only further solidified his place as one of the most despised leads in Bachelor history. 

Just weeks after Pavelka shocked viewers by turning away Tenley Molzahn and proposing to Girardi, the season’s resident villain, the newest Bachelor Nation couple announced their split — kicking off a tabloid firestorm of he said/she said accusations. In the midst of the fire, ABC decided to tape a sit-down interview with Pavelka, Girardi, and Chris Harrison in which the couple could air out their issues and explain what really happened to fans of the show. However, the taping took a nasty turn when Girardi accused Pavelka of emotional abuse — an accusation he denied before yelling at her to stop interrupting him. 

“He is the biggest liar I have ever met in my life,” Girardi said through sobs as she walked off the set. 

Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft

Arie Luyendyk Jr. wasn’t the first bachelor to dump his leading lady for his runner-up. Instead, that unfortunate barrier was broken by Jason Mesnick all the way back in 2009.

Mesnick’s season of The Bachelor ended with him proposing to an elated Melissa Rycroft. However, before he got down on one knee, he had to send away the other woman vying for his heart — Molly Malaney. Though Malaney was blindsided and upset by Mesnick’s decision, it seemed the bachelor himself was the most devastated of all. After the two said their goodbyes, the man had a full-on breakdown, giving birth to a now-famous Bachelor clip in which Mesnick can be seen sobbing over a balcony. 

It didn’t take long for Mesnick to realize he made the wrong decision in proposing to Rycroft. However, as he was still contractually obligated to the show, Mesnick claimed Bachelor producers made him dump Rycroft on After the Final Rose in order to ask Malaney for another chance. 

“I wish more than anything that last day you would have just let me go, ” Rycroft said, after calling Mesnick — ahem — a choice word.

Ali Fedotowsky and Frank Neuschaefer

Ali Fedotowsky and Frank Neuschaefer not only have two of the longest last names in Bachelor Nation — they also had one of the most heart-wrenching break-ups in the history of the franchise. 

While the most upsetting and memorable splits usually happen when the lead turns away their runner-up for an engagement with someone else, there have been a few surprising self-eliminations that will forever be remembered as some of the most dramatic moments in Bachelor and Bachelorette history. No, really. One of these moments happened when Fedotowsky, the leading lady in The Bachelorette‘s sixth season, was blindsided by frontrunner Neuschaefer when he confessed he still had feelings for an ex-girlfriend and made the decision to leave the show — subsequently leaving Fedotowsky in tears.

With a beautiful beach in Tahiti as a backdrop for the heartbreaking moment, Neuschaefer told Fedotowsky that he had flown to Chicago before arriving in Tahiti to have a conversation with his ex-girlfriend in hopes of getting closure — but instead, as he confessed, “all the old feelings kinda came rushing back.” 

“He’s the biggest jerk I’ve ever known,” Fedotowsky said.

Ashley Hebert and Bentley Williams

Bentley Williams’ self-elimination is possibly the most iconic of all time. And, due to how blatantly manipulative and mean he appeared — his decision to leave was welcomed by viewers.

Not only was Williams the resident villain in the seventh season of The Bachelorette, he was just a straight-up jerk — and shamelessly so. Unfortunately, Ashley Hebert was too infatuated with Williams to recognize the ten million red flags surrounding her relationship with him — even though former Bachelor contestant Michelle Money warned Hebert before her season even began that Williams only signed up for the show to promote his trampoline business. Yes, you read that correctly — his trampoline business. 

Williams freely confessed to the camera that he wasn’t into Hebert at all, revealing, “I’ve been saying from the beginning she’s not my type.” In the third episode of the season, the trampoline professional broke things off with the bachelorette, telling her that he missed his daughter too much to stay on the show. However, he told the camera a different story, calling Hebert an “ugly duckling” and saying things would have been different if the bachelorette had been Emily Maynard. 

Desiree Hartsock and Brooks Forester

Oh, Brooks Forester. While he ultimately made the decision to leave Desiree Hartsock on the ninth season of The Bachelorette, the former contestant has remained a fan-favorite among Bachelor Nation due to the raw emotion and genuine affection he displayed for Hartsock, even while telling her goodbye.

Forester seemed like a shoo-in for Hartsock’s heart all season long, and the bachelorette wasn’t shy in confessing to the camera that he was the man she saw herself with after all was said and done. However, before the couple’s Fantasy Suite date night in romantic Antigua, Forester pulled Hartsock aside to tell her that, while he loved so many things about her, he wasn’t confident their relationship would lead to marriage. “The moments apart just don’t feel hard enough,” Forester confessed to a crying Hartsock.

After much sobbing from both Forester and Hartsock, the bachelorette revealed, “I don’t know what to say. I love you.” His face flooded with emotion, Forester asked why she didn’t tell him sooner, to which she replied, “I was going to tell you today.”

Forester later confessed to the camera that he already missed the moments he shared with Hartsock.

Rachel Lindsay and Peter Kraus

Never has there been a Bachelorette contestant more beloved than Peter Kraus. After his break-up with Rachel Lindsay, many fans wanted (and expected) Kraus to be announced as the next bachelor — but alas, Arie Luyendyk Jr. was chosen instead. Of course, this felt like a personal attack to Kraus’ many super-fans who desperately wanted to see the former Bachelorette contestant find true love after having his heart broken on national television. 

Kraus and Lindsay’s break-up is still one of the most talked about Bachelor Nation splits, because the two seemed absolutely made for each other. However, while Kraus wanted to take things slow and continue dating in the real world rather than rushing into an engagement, Lindsay was insistent that she leave the show an engaged woman. Eventually, Kraus told Lindsay he’d propose if that’s what he had to do in order to be with her, but Lindsay said that she felt he’d grow to resent her if she allowed that to happen. After hugging and crying for what seemed like hours, the two parted ways after their Fantasy Suite date, and Lindsay is still engaged to her final pick, Bryan Abasolo

Ben Higgins and JoJo Fletcher

As any Bachelor fan knows, there’s an unspoken rule throughout the franchise that the lead can’t confess his or her love to a contestant until the final rose ceremony, where they will (presumably) seal their relationship with an engagement. However, Ben Higgins went rogue and confessed his love to not just one of the women vying for his affection — but two. Viewers witnessed Higgins say those three little words to both of his final two women — JoJo Fletcher and Lauren Bushnell. Of course, both women delighted in his confession — and both thought themselves to be the woman Higgins would ask to be his wife. 

However, it all came crashing down when Higgins confessed to a heartbroken and blindsided JoJo that, while he found love with her, he “found it with someone else more.” He proposed to Bushnell after sending Fletcher home in tears, but his fiancé later admitted that seeing Higgins confess his love to another woman felt like “a punch in the gut. The couple split up in May 2017.

Britt Nilsson and Chris Soules

Britt Nilsson may not be an active part of Bachelor Nation these days, but just a few short years ago, this gal was making headlines for her polarizing personality put on full display while competing for Chris Soules’ heart. 

While Nilsson gave the immediate impression of being a quiet, kind, and gentle type of person, viewers witnessed a surprisingly cutthroat side of the Bachelor contestant the moment she felt she was no longer the frontrunner in Soules’ mind. During a group date with Soules and fellow contestants Kaitlyn Bristowe and Carly Waddell, Nilsson lost her cool when Bristowe was given the group date rose, securing an all-important hometown date. Nilsson had just had a heart-to-heart (and steamy make-out session) with Soules, and seeing another woman being validated before her was a situation she simply wasn’t equipped to handle. 

“I’m not mad, I’m just confused and really, really hurt right now,” Nilsson told Soules in front of both Bristowe and Waddell when she didn’t receive the rose. Soules later sent Nilsson home sobbing — and the tears kept flowing when she appeared in the hot seat during the Women Tell All special. 

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth

As you may remember, the 11th season of The Bachelorette was heavily criticized for featuring two leading ladies — Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson — and making the male suitors vote for the woman they most wanted to date. Ultimately, Bristowe received the majority of the votes, and poor Nilsson had yet another tearful limo exit. 

From the first episode of Bristowe’s season, there was a crystal clear frontrunner: Shawn Booth. Though Booth greeted Nilsson with a giant hug upon arriving to the mansion, he immediately swaggered up to Bristowe and confessed, “You are the reason that I’m here.” Ultimately, Bristowe accepted Booth’s proposal in the season finale, and it truly seemed as if the two would be one of the rare Bachelorette success stories. However, after three years of being engaged and battling rumors of an impending split, the couple called off their engagement. 

Bristowe addressed the split on her podcast, Off The Vine, saying through tears (via People), “I really did think we’d get through it […] I thought we would choose the road where we would end up together.”

Becca Kufrin and Blake Horstmann

As you probably know by now, host Chris Harrison refers to literally every season finale of any Bachelor franchise show as “the most dramatic season finale ever.” However, Becca Kufrin breaking up with Blake Horstmann on the 22nd season of The Bachelorette actually did result in the most dramatic Bachelorette finale ever — and to be quite honest, we’re still not over it.

Poor Horstmann was blindsided and incredibly confused when Kufrin confessed that she had stronger feelings for Garrett Yrigoyen and sent the Colorado native home just as he was getting ready to propose — and he wasn’t alone in his confusion. The majority of Bachelor Nation thought Horstmann and Kufrin would leave the show an engaged couple, especially since Kufrin confessed in a one-on-one interview (via Elite Daily), “I am in love with Blake and I can’t imagine not having Blake in my life.” 

Horstmann was so taken aback by Kufrin’s decision that he almost needed medical attention. A source revealed to Us Weekly, “Producers thought Blake was going to pass out […] His mouth dried up, he went pale and suddenly started dripping sweat. They were concerned.” 

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