Season 13 of "The Bachelor," featuring then single dad Jason Mesnick
TV

Best 'Bachelor' seasons of all time

Written by:
February 14, 2022
Craig Sjodin // ABC

Best ‘Bachelor’ seasons of all time

Season after season, ABC’s “The Bachelor” never fails to deliver on the drama. So when season 26 introduced us to Clayton Echard—a former NFL player, salesman, and former contender on “The Bachelorette”—it didn’t take long for social media to erupt with plenty of snark, comedic takes, and predictions of who was going to go home. The emotional rollercoaster of emotions hardly started with Echard, of course.

From season 17’s Sean Lowe to Juan Pablo Galavis of season 18, the show has a long history of lovestruck sweethearts, heartless villains, and die-hard fans who want to see true love win. To decide which “Bachelor” season is the best of the best, Stacker took a look at the TV ratings for every episode of every season of “The Bachelor” and ranked each season by the average rating across episodes. Every completed season is included.

Keep on reading to see where your favorite bachelor ranked on the list.

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1 / 25
Greenlight Films

#25. Season 25: Matt James

- Overall season rating: 1.36
- Total viewers: 63.6 million
- Season debut: Jan. 4, 2021
- Episodes: 12

This North Carolina native was first introduced as a contestant on “The Bachelorette.” A realtor and entrepreneur with a close relationship with his family, Matt James became the show’s first Black bachelor. His season came down to two finalists: Rachael Kirkconnell and Michelle Young. However, toward the end of the season, James began to have second thoughts about getting engaged on TV, broke up with Young, and canceled his final date with Kirkconnell.

Although James didn’t want to get engaged, he and Kirkconnell continued dating, much to the disappointment of many fans. With its many ups and downs, season 25 of “The Bachelor” was a controversial one, especially after Kirkconnell’s alleged past racist behavior came to light, causing the two to break up but later reconcile.

2 / 25
Greenlight Films

#24. Season 22: Arie Luyendyk Jr.

- Overall season rating: 1.71
- Total viewers: 76 million
- Season debut: Jan. 1, 2018
- Episodes: 12

Among the biggest curveballs for “Bachelor” fans was the love rollercoaster of Arie Luyendyk Jr., a racing driver who previously competed in season eight of “The Bachelorette.” By the time the season finale came around, Luyendyk was stuck between a rock and a hard place, having professed his love to final contestants Becca Kufrin and Lauren Burnham. Luyendyk yo-yos between the two women until he makes the final decision to send Burnham home and propose to Kufrin.

However, the story didn’t end there—to the shock of fans, Luyendyk later sits down with Kufrin and tells her he’s still in love with Burnham, breaking off their engagement. Burnham and Luyendyk are still married as of 2022 and have welcomed three children together.

3 / 25
Greenlight Films

#23. Season 24: Peter Weber

- Overall season rating: 1.8
- Total viewers: 76.8 million
- Season debut: Jan. 6, 2020
- Episodes: 12

Peter Weber was chosen as the love interest destined to find his soul mate among 30 women. A pilot from California, Weber was a child actor in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” The ending of season 24 sent fans into a tailspin as Weber defaulted to proposing to finalist Hannah Ann Sluss after the other contestant, Madison Prewett, dumped him and quit the show. Weber’s flip-flopping between the two women made fans doubt whether he actually wanted to marry Sluss. Sure enough, the two dissolved their engagement not long after.

4 / 25
Greenlight Films

#22. Season 23: Colton Underwood

- Overall season rating: 1.86
- Total viewers: 78.6 million
- Season debut: Jan. 7, 2019
- Episodes: 12

Colton Underwood was not new to the world of “The Bachelor” when he became the focus of the show’s 23rd season. The former football player, who had been signed to several professional teams, was previously a suitor on the 14th season of “The Bachelorette” and season five of “Bachelor in Paradise.” One of the most viral moments of this season took place when contestant Cassie Randolf decided to end things with Underwood and leave the show.

Devastated, Underwood jumped a fence and ran away from film crews. By the end of the season, though, fans got to see the heartwarming reunion of Randolf and Underwood, and instead of getting engaged, the couple decided to take things slow. However, things didn’t last as the two broke up. In April 2021, Underwood made “Bachelor” history by being the first bachelor to come out as gay.

5 / 25
Greenlight Films

#21. Season 19: Chris Soules

- Overall season rating: 2.28
- Total viewers: 104.1 million
- Season debut: Jan. 5, 2015
- Episodes: 13

The 19th season of “The Bachelor” featured Chris Soules, a farmer from small-town Arlington, Iowa. A previous contender on the 10th season of “The Bachelorette,” Soules was a fan favorite, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when he was announced as the new love interest.

Deciding between final contestants Whitney Bischoff and Becca Tilley, Soules ended up proposing to Bischoff because he felt Tilley just wasn’t as committed, though many fans felt his true feelings were with Tilley. After six months, however, the couple ended their relationship. Soules later went on to date Victoria Fuller, a contestant from a different season of “The Bachelor,” however that relationship was short-lived.

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6 / 25
Greenlight Films

#20. Season 21: Nick Viall

- Overall season rating: 2.31
- Total viewers: 94.6 million
- Season debut: Jan. 2, 2017
- Episodes: 13

Nick Viall had been rejected not once but twice on “The Bachelorette” by the time he became the on-set Romeo on the 21st season of “The Bachelor.” Close with his family and a successful businessman, fans quickly began to root for Viall to become the next bachelor. Viall’s run on the show narrowed down to three contenders: Vanessa Grimaldi, Raven Gates, and Rachel Lindsay.

Though she wasn’t chosen by Viall, Lindsay went on to become the first Black love interest on “The Bachelorette” in 2017. Viall eventually decided to propose to Grimaldi, sending Gates home. Fans were delighted by Viall’s decision and gushed over how sweet his proposal was to Grimaldi, though some noted he didn’t seem as excited about Grimaldi as he did with his love interests on “The Bachelorette.”

7 / 25
Greenlight Films

#19. Season 20: Ben Higgins

- Overall season rating: 2.37
- Total viewers: 96.2 million
- Season debut: Jan. 4, 2016
- Episodes: 12

After getting his heart broken on season 11 of “The Bachelorette,” it wasn’t long before Ben Higgins made his appearance as the lead on “The Bachelor.” Sweet and sensitive, this Indiana-born salesman was quite beloved by fans. By the end of the season, however, Higgins had put himself between a rock and a hard place. He confessed his love for both finalists, Lauren Bushnell and Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher, and couldn’t choose between the two.

In the end, Higgins proposed to Bushnell, though she wasn’t too pleased to later find out that he’d also been in love with Fletcher. Higgins and Bushnell called off their engagement about a year later.

8 / 25
Greenlight Films

#18. Season 16: Ben Flajnik

- Overall season rating: 2.60
- Total viewers: 99.0 million
- Season debut: Jan. 2, 2012
- Episodes: 12

Like many other men on “The Bachelor,” Ben Flajnik was not new to Bachelor Nation. He was formerly the runner-up on the seventh season of “The Bachelorette.” After “The Bachelor” ended, Flajnik went on to publish a children’s book and become a businessman. As much as fans adored Flajnik, they were not so thrilled about his proposal to finalist Courtney Robertson, who was considered the villainess of the season. His rejection of the much-adored runner-up, Lindzi Cox, left many fans reeling. However, Flajnik and Robertson eventually split for good.

9 / 25
Tom Briglia/FilmMagic // Getty Images

#17. Season 18: Juan Pablo Galavis

- Overall season rating: 2.61
- Total viewers: 102.6 million
- Season debut: Jan. 6, 2014
- Episodes: 12

Juan Pablo Galavis is quite possibly the most infamous of the bachelors—and not in a flattering way. Hailed as the show’s villain, many fans were turned off by the way Galavis treated the women on the show. Galavis is a former professional soccer player of Venezuelan ancestry and the show’s first Latino lead love interest.

Galavis chose contender Nikki Ferrell at the end of the season, but it was his rejection of Clare Crawley that kept viewers glued to the screen. Fed up with Galavis, Crawley told him off as she stormed away, a reaction many fans found justifiable. In the end, Galavis and Ferrell eventually called it quits.

10 / 25
Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic // Getty Images

#16. Season 12: Matt Grant

- Overall season rating: 2.68
- Total viewers: 66.8 million
- Season debut: March 17, 2008
- Episodes: 9

Matt Grant was the first British bachelor of the series. This London native claimed he’d always been attracted to Americans, admitting he came to the U.S. to “steal your woman.” Unfortunately, some fans found his season to be a bit dull, including the season finale, as many viewers saw the ending coming from a mile away. Grant ultimately proposed to contestant Shayne Lamas, which some viewers found too predictable as she seemed to be the favorite from the get-go. Just a few months after the show aired, the two dissolved their engagement.

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11 / 25
Jerod Harris/WireImage // Getty Images

#15. Season 17: Sean Lowe

- Overall season rating: 2.78
- Total viewers: 110.5 million
- Season debut: Jan. 7, 2013
- Episodes: 13

Sean Lowe’s appearance on season 17 of “The Bachelor” remains one of the sweetest love stories in the show’s history. A fan favorite for his sweet and thoughtful disposition, Lowe was an ex-Kansas State football player who was previously featured on “The Bachelorette.” After getting his heart broken on that show, Lowe tried his hand at love on “The Bachelor”—and by the end of the season, he found it. Lowe proposed to finalist Catherine Giudici and, unlike most “Bachelor” couples, the pair got married and had several kids together.

After the show aired, Lowe revealed that during filming, he had read Giudici’s bio online and found out that her dream was to ride elephants in Thailand, so he went out of his way to make sure Giudici got to live out her fantasy on one of their dates.

12 / 25
J. Strauss/WireImage // Getty Images

#14. Season 9: Lorenzo Borghese

- Overall season rating: 3.21
- Total viewers: 65.7 million
- Season debut: Oct. 2, 2006
- Episodes: 8

This season of “The Bachelor” didn’t feature an actor, businessman, or athlete. This time around, the women on the show vied for the heart of an Italian prince, Lorenzo Borghese. Borghese is a descendant of royalty dating back to the 1600s. An animal lover and entrepreneur, Borghese’s season was shot in Italy, where the women did everything from attending the opera to spending the night in a castle.

By the end of the show, Borghese chose not to propose but instead decided to continue dating finalist Jennifer Wilson. However, like some of the other bachelors, the two eventually broke up and Borghese began dating runner-up Sadie Murray instead.

13 / 25
Greenlight Films

#13. Season 15: Brad Womack

- Overall season rating: 3.32
- Total viewers: 124.0 million
- Season debut: Jan. 3, 2011
- Episodes: 12

Season 15 was this Texan businessman’s second time as the leading man on “The Bachelor.” During his first appearance on the show, Brad Womack opted not to choose either of the final contestants, a move that earned him the infamous title as “the most hated Bachelor.” However, fans were eager to see Womack would find love this time around, and he didn’t disappoint.

To the delight of viewers, Womack proposed to Emily Maynard over runner-up Chantal O’Brien, the woman who gained notoriety for slapping Womack the first time they met. Sadly, Womack and Maynard were not meant to be as the two broke up after the show aired.

14 / 25
Sam Bolton/Patrick McMullan // Getty Images

#12. Season 7: Charlie O’Connell

- Overall season rating: 3.40
- Total viewers: 63.6 million
- Season debut: March 28, 2005
- Episodes: 8

American actor Charlie O’Connell was the seventh season’s bachelor and is most known for being the brother of actor Jerry O’Connell and starring on the TV show “Sliders.” Charlie was certainly one of the wildest bachelors on the show as he partied with contestants on the first group date of the show and later discussed his drinking problem. While he didn’t propose, Charlie chose contender Sarah Brice in an emotional conversation that satisfied viewers. The two were on and off again for five years, though they eventually broke up.

15 / 25
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra // Getty Images

#11. Season 11: Brad Womack

- Overall season rating: 3.54
- Total viewers: 96.2 million
- Season debut: Sept. 24, 2007
- Episodes: 10

This season of “The Bachelor” did not exactly have the happy love story fans were hoping for. Businessman and entrepreneur Brad Womack was the focus of season 11 and remains the only bachelor to have led not one but two seasons.

In an unexpected plot twist, Womack decided to reject finalists DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft in the season finale. Though some fans were frustrated, many applauded Womack for being honest and sharing his true feelings with the women. Womack would make another appearance on season 15 of “The Bachelor,” picking contestant Emily Maynard. Sadly, the two eventually went their separate ways.

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16 / 25
George Pimentel/WireImage // Getty Images

#10. Season 6: Byron Velvick

- Overall season rating: 3.70
- Total viewers: 88.8 million
- Season debut: Sept. 22, 2004
- Episodes: 10

Season six of the TV show started off with a bit of a twist. In this season, the women got to choose between two bachelors: Byron Velvick or Jay Overbye. The women ended up going with Velvick, a professional fisherman. A WON Bass U.S. Open winner and ESPN2 commentator for the show “BassCenter,” Velvick ended up proposing to Maribel Liliana Delgado, a Cuban immigrant, in a sweet ceremony in Spanish so her parents could understand. Delgado accepted and the two were together for about five years before they ultimately ended the relationship.

17 / 25
Axel Koester/Corbis // Getty Images

#9. Season 10: Andrew Baldwin

- Overall season rating: 3.78
- Total viewers: 88.6 million
- Season debut: April 2, 2007
- Episodes: 9

Season 10's Andrew Baldwin was quite the accomplished bachelor. A graduate of Duke University, he also served in the U.S. Navy and holds a doctor of medicine. During the season finale, Baldwin proposed to Tessa Horst. However, rumors circulated that she didn’t accept his proposal but they continued dating. Months later, Horst ended up dumping Baldwin while he was deployed.

18 / 25
Greenlight Films

#8. Season 8: Travis Lane Stork

- Overall season rating: 3.99
- Total viewers: 70.0 million
- Season debut: Jan. 9, 2006
- Episodes: 8

A graduate of Duke University and the University of Virginia and an accomplished doctor, Travis Lane Stork had been serving his residency in Nashville when he appeared on “The Bachelor.” At the end of the season, he chose Sarah Stone as his finalist, though the two never did get engaged. Interestingly enough, Stone lived only a few streets away from Stork in Nashville. The relationship did not last long, however, as the couple ended things just a week after the show aired.

19 / 25
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic // Getty Images

#7. Season 14: Jake Pavelka

- Overall season rating: 4.14
- Total viewers: 118.1 million
- Season debut: Jan. 4, 2010
- Episodes: 10

While many fans see bachelor Peter Weber as the show’s pilot love symbol, Jake Pavelka was actually the first airman to lead “The Bachelor.” Aside from flying, the Texas native also worked as an actor. Pavelka’s decision to propose to Vienna Girardi at the end of the season was controversial, to say the least, as many fans considered her to be the season’s villain.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be: The couple split just a few months after the show aired. Many fans also took a big disliking to Pavelka after an interview with the former couple aired, which showed a not-so-flattering side of his personality.

20 / 25
Denise Truscello / Contributor // Getty Images

#6. Season 13: Jason Mesnick

- Overall season rating: 4.23
- Total viewers: 128.2 million
- Season debut: Jan. 5, 2009
- Episodes: 11

Jason Mesnick was the first parent to be the focus of “The Bachelor.” A single dad from Washington, Mesnick appeared on “The Bachelor” after being a contestant on “The Bachelorette.” To the shock of fans, at the end of the show, Mesnick chose to propose to Melissa Rycroft instead of runner-up Molly Malaney.

Not long after, however, Mesnick began to have second thoughts about his engagement to Rycroft and, in a controversial move, broke up with Rycroft, then sought to pursue a relationship with Malaney once more. Mesnick and Malaney eventually married and had a family together.

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21 / 25
Frederick M. Brown // Getty Images

#5. Season 1: Alex Michel

- Overall season rating: 4.83
- Total viewers: 82.7 million
- Season debut: March 25, 2002
- Episodes: 7

This Charlottesville, Virginia, native and Harvard College graduate holds the title as the show’s inaugural bachelor. A documentary film producer, businessman, and worldwide traveler, Alex Michel has gone down in history as a fan favorite. By the end of the first season, Michel found himself having to choose between two women: Amanda Marsh and Trista Sutter.

Michel ended up going with Marsh, though Sutter’s rejection would lead her to become the first “Bachelorette.” However, to the disappointment of fans, Michel didn’t propose to Marsh, and the couple broke up a year later.

22 / 25
Carley Margolis/FilmMagic // Getty Images

#4. Season 5: Jesse Palmer

- Overall season rating: 5.13
- Total viewers: 97.8 million
- Season debut: April 7, 2004
- Episodes: 9

A former football player for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, Palmer is a native Canadian and the first bachelor that wasn’t American. After the show, he went on to pursue a broadcast career and even ended up hosting the 26th season of “The Bachelor” after longtime host Chris Harrison’s scandalous exit from the gig in 2021.

Palmer had a few face-palm moments on the show, including when he blanked on one of the women’s names during a rose ceremony, giving the rose to the wrong person. The former pro-football player eventually chose Jessica Bowlin—a decision fans totally saw coming—but the relationship didn’t last long after the show aired.

23 / 25
KMazur/WireImage // Getty Images

#3. Season 3: Andrew Firestone

- Overall season rating: 5.89
- Total viewers: 107.1 million
- Season debut: March 26, 2003
- Episodes: 10

Andrew Firestone was a surprise pick as the leading man on season three of “The Bachelor” as he was relatively unknown before the show; however, his name may sound familiar as his family started Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. The bachelor eventually narrowed his options down to contestants Jen Schefft and Kirsten Buschbacher. Firestone ended up proposing to Schefft during the season finale and the couple stayed together for several months after the show before they eventually broke things off.

24 / 25
L. Busacca/WireImage // Getty Images

#2. Season 4: Bob Guiney

- Overall season rating: 6.22
- Total viewers: 128.8 million
- Season debut: Sept. 24, 2003
- Episodes: 10

Not only was Bob Guiney the love interest on season four of “The Bachelor,” but he was also a contender on the first season of “The Bachelorette.” A football player for the Michigan State University football team and the owner of a mortgage company, Guiney’s popularity as a contender on “The Bachelorette” paved the way for him to become the leading man of “The Bachelor” in 2003.

Guiney surprised fans by choosing not to propose to finalist Estella Gardinier but instead offered a promise ring, asking if she’d be willing to continue to date him instead. The pair broke up not long after the season aired.

25 / 25
Scott Gries/ImageDirect // Getty Images

#1. Season 2: Aaron Buerge

- Overall season rating: 7.36
- Total viewers: 134.2 million
- Season debut: Sept. 25, 2002
- Episodes: 9

A Missouri native, Aaron Buerge was an athlete with a broad range of sports under his belt including swimming, soccer, and track. Buerge was also a banker and business owner, having run his family’s banking company as well as a restaurant. Throughout the season, Buerge eventually narrowed down his season’s contestants to Helene Eksterowicz and Brooke Smith. In the end, Buerge chose to propose to Eksterowicz.

Unfortunately, like many “Bachelor” couples, Buerge and Eksterowicz’s relationship did not last long: The bachelor eventually married someone back home in Springfield, Missouri.

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