The 5 best and 5 worst bachelors in Bachelor history

Oh, The Bachelor. We hate to love it, and we love to hate it. Since its premiere in 2002, ABC's reality dating show has hooked viewers time and time again with promises of "the most dramatic season ever." And, even though we're smart enough to know better, we fall for it every single time. 

The Bachelor has provided endless amounts of entertainment throughout the years in the form of delightfully dislikable villains, iconic cry faces, and some serious switch-a-roos — with a few fairy tale love stories sprinkled throughout. The show, which premiered its 23rd season in January 2019, has plucked hundreds of people from virtual obscurity throughout the years, put them on our TV screens, and made them famous within a matter of months — for better or for worse. While The Bachelor has certainly seen the likes of some great guys, it's also given a platform to more than a few ill-intentioned fellows. Here's a look at five of the best — and five of the worst — bachelors.

Best: Sean Lowe

Once just another face in a crowd of bachelors vying for Emily Maynard's affection, Sean Lowe quickly stole America's heart with his southern charm and down-to-earth disposition as a contestant on season eight of The Bachelorette. However, Maynard obviously wasn't as smitten as the rest of Bachelor Nation, choosing Jeff Holm and Arie Luyendyk Jr. as her final two and sending Lowe home in tears.

Luckily, one woman's loss is America's treasure, and ABC cast the fan-favorite Lowe as the lead for the 17th season of The Bachelor – resulting in Lowe proposing to Catherine Giudici and kicking off one of the sweetest Bachelor love stories to-date. In an interview with blogger Reality Steve, Lowe revealed that he snuck online during filming for his season to read his contestants' bios, which was totally against the rules. He saw that Catherine's said she'd love to someday ride elephants in Thailand, so when the show flew Lowe and the women to Thailand for the final leg of filming, he made her elephant-riding dreams come true. The two went on to wed in 2014 and have since welcomed two baby boys, Samuel and Isaiah. 

Worst: Juan Pablo Galavis

Not long after his season's premiere in January 2014, Juan Pablo Galavis came under fire for some seemingly homophobic comments he made in an interview with The TV Page. When asked if he'd like to see an openly gay or bisexual Bachelor, Galavis responded, "I don't think it is a good example for kids to watch that on TV." In response to the backlash, Galavis said the comments were "taken out of context."

Only a few weeks later, Galavis found himself in the hot seat again after a Bachelor episode aired which featured Juan Pablo and contestant Clare Crowley (presumably) hooking up in the ocean, only for Galavis to later insinuate that Crowley had been the sole initiator of the encounter and it had been "a little weird" for him — though, by all accounts, the interaction seemed more than mutual. 

As if the homophobic comments and gaslighting weren't enough, Galavis' constant, condescending use of the phrase, "It's okay," frustrated both viewers and contestants alike. As Andi Dorfman famously told him, "It's NOT okay!"

Best: Ben Higgins

Casting Ben Higgins for the show's 20th season seemed like an obvious attempt by Bachelor producers to recreate the success of Sean Lowe's season. Known for his similar charm and demeanor, Higgins — a contestant on season 11 of The Bachelorette – famously confessed to Kaitlyn Bristowe that he was falling in love with her, revealing that his worst fear was the idea that he "could not be loved back, or possibly unlovable." 

While Bristowe ultimately sent him packing just shy of the finale, Higgins quickly learned that he was anything but unlovable during his run as the titular Bachelor, falling for contestant Lauren Bushnell and later proposing to her. Though Higgins was criticized by some for confessing his love to both Bushnell and JoJo Fletcher, it was refreshing to see a Bachelor lead so willing to be honest and open about his feelings, as well as genuinely interested in the feelings of the women competing for his affection. Unfortunately, Higgins and Bushnell called off their engagement in May 2017, but the former Bachelor has stayed a franchise favorite, living up to his good-guy reputation by co-founding a charitable coffee company, Generous Coffee

Worst: Arie Luyendyk Jr.

Viewers saw Arie Luyendyk Jr. fall in love with two women on the 22nd season of The Bachelor, Becca Kufrin and Lauren Burnham. He proposed to Kufrin in the season finale, telling her, "My love for you is unmeasurable [...] I choose you today, but I choose you everyday from here on out." Yeah, that didn't last long.

After the season finale, ABC aired raw, split-screen footage of Luyendyk Jr. breaking up with a confused, understandably angry Kufrin — right before confessing his love to Burnham, who gladly took him back. Audiences were outraged that Luyendyk Jr. ambushed Kufrin with the surprise split in front of an entire camera crew, and only grew more upset with the Bachelor when it was revealed that he had spoken with Burnham prior to calling things off with Kufrin, presumably to obtain reassurance that she'd give him a second chance. 

Luyendyk Jr. has defended his actions more than once, insisting filming the split was crucial to Kufrin being selected as Bachelorette. "Everyone makes me out to be the bad guy for filming it," he told GQ. Hmm, we wonder why. 

Best: Andy Baldwin

Andrew (Andy) Baldwin, the tenth bachelor of the American franchise, had his season cleverly named in his honor — so it's only fitting that he make the list of best bachelors. The first U.S. Naval Officer to appear on the show, Andy's season was titled The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman and aptly so. Not only was Baldwin a literal officer (and doctor), he was an indisputable gentleman, and one of the most eligible Bachelors the show has ever seen. 

America immediately fell in love with Baldwin, as did the women competing for his heart. Part of what made Baldwin one of the best, most memorable leads in Bachelor history is the genuine connections he seemed to make with the women on his season, most notably his final two: Tessa Horst and Bevin Powers. Though Baldwin ultimately proposed to Horst, the couple called off their engagement three months later. The former Bachelor has managed to stay out of the spotlight since his season, opting instead to spend his time on various charitable and humanitarian efforts. Yeah, we have a feeling he'll have no trouble finding love when he's ready.

Worst: Jake Pavelka

It seems like ABC had high hopes for pilot Jake Pavelka's season evoking a similar response as Andy Baldwin's, even giving it a special title: The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love. In his opening package, Bachelor Pavelka said, "You know what? Nice guys don't finish last. Nice guys just have to wait a little bit longer." Give us a break, Jake.

Pavelka surprised viewers — as well as the women vying for his heart — by proposing to the season's villain, Vienna Girardi. But the real drama started after the season finale, when Pavelka and Girardi abruptly ended their engagement in June 2010. What followed was a tabloid firestorm of Pavelka and Girardi slinging accusations, with the Girardi claiming emotional abuse and Pavelka crying infidelity. Eventually, things all came to a boil when the two sat down with Chris Harrison and battled it out for the cameras, which saw Pavelka angrily yelling at Girardi to stop interrupting him, resulting in her breaking down in tears and storming off set. Later, Chris Harrison told TV Guide, "I think you saw Jake for who he is." Yeah, we think so, too.

Best: Jesse Palmer

Canadian-born Jesse Palmer was the first non-American Bachelor in the history of the franchise, as well as the show's first professional athlete. A Bachelor pioneer in more ways than one, Palmer also delivered possibly the most romantic proposal speech in the show's history — except, he didn't actually propose

"This whole thing to me is like a dream," Palmer told contestant Jessica Bowlin. "And tomorrow morning I'm gonna wake up from that dream into the real world. But I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning if I can't wake up with you." But instead of presenting a sparkling Neil Lane engagement ring, as is tradition, Palmer told Bowlin that he wanted to have more time to "grow and learn about each other," and gave her a one-way ticket to NYC, saying, "Chase all your dreams, but do it with me." Yeah, we're still not over it.

Though Palmer and Bowlin amicably split only a month after the not-proposal aired, we'll always respect the guy for being realistic, honest, and refusing to propose just for the sake of proposing.

Worst: Brad Womack

Brad Womack first appeared as the Bachelor on the show's 11th season and sent a shockwave through Bachelor Nation when he didn't pick either of his final two contestants, DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft — even though viewers saw him promise Pappas that the final rose ceremony "would be a good day" for her. Even Ellen DeGeneres called Womack a jerk for leading Pappas on (via Today) — an accusation Womack didn't exactly deny. "That's one very, very bad decision of mine that I made," he said.

Still, ABC thought Womack deserved another shot at finding love on TV, and the controversial Bachelor returned for the show's 15th season. The show ended with Womack proposing to Emily Maynard, though the two broke up shortly after the finale aired. Later, Maynard revealed in a tell-all book (via The Huffington Post) that Womack had once broken up with her post-show while their relationship was still under-wraps, cc-ing her in on an email to producers that read, "Sorry but things didn't work out with Emily and I. It wasn't the fairy tale I thought it would be." Apparently, bad decisions are this guy's specialty. 

Best: Jason Mesnick

Jason Mesnick is famous for dumping his fiancé on TV before confessing his feelings to his runner-up — however, there's more to his story than meets the eye.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Mesnick revealed that he and fiancé Melissa Rycroft had actually split before the famous televised break-up. Though he told Bachelor producers that he'd realized he'd made the wrong decision in proposing to Rycroft and wanted to make things right with runner-up, Molly Malaney, Mesnick was told he'd only be able to contact Malaney if he "worked with [producers]" and helped create sympathy for Rycroft by dumping her on TV. According to Mesnick, producers assured him that this would create sympathy for Rycroft and subsequently set her up for a successful run as the next Bachelorette. 

Since the awkward (and eerily silent) After the Final Rose, Mesnick has been open about his experience with "fake" reality TV, apologizing and taking responsibility for going against "every moral, every bone" in his body. He and Molly are happily married to this day, and Rycroft found love shortly after the break-up with a former boyfriend. Happy endings all around!

Worst: Nick Viall

Nick Viall isn't exactly a villain — he's just a guy who really overstayed his welcome on our televisions. Viall was first introduced to Bachelor Nation when he appeared as a contestant on Andy Dorfman's season of The Bachelorette, confessing his love for Dorfman but leaving the show heartbroken when she chose to accept a proposal from Josh Murray. During Kaitlyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette, Viall made a surprise appearance to ask Bristowe's permission to join the group of men competing for her heart. She accepted, and Viall nearly proposed before Bristowe dumped him for Shawn Booth. Viall — never one to quit, apparently — then tried his luck on Bachelor in Paradise, sparking a romance with Jen Saviano before breaking up with her in the finale. 

ABC decided to cast Viall as Bachelor for the 21st season, which ended with his proposal to Vanessa Grimaldi. However, Viall didn't seem as enthusiastic about any of the women on his season as he did with Dorfman and Bristowe — Grimaldi included. The couple unsurprisingly split months after their engagement, and Viall has joked that it would take "a gun" for him to ever be Bachelor again.