Matt James Makes His Big Debut, Plus More of the Bachelor Franchise's Historic Moments

The First Bachelor

In 2002, the very first season of The Bachelor premiered, with Harvard and Stanford graduate and businessman, Alex Michel. 

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The First Bachelorette

When she didn’t get the final rose on Michel’s season of The Bachelor, Trista Rehn got a second chance at love (and found it!) when she starred as the franchise’s first Bachelorette in 2003. 

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The First TV Wedding

Rehn fell in love with firefighter Ryan Sutter and the two married on Dec. 6, 2003, in the franchise’s first-ever televised wedding, broadcast as a mini-series, Trista & Ryan’s Wedding. The pair are still married, 17 years later! 

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The First Bachelor Nation Baby

Trista and Ryan welcomed their first child — The O.G. Bachelor Baby, if you will — a son named Max, into the world in July 2007. Their second child, daughter Blakesley Grace, arrived in April 2009. 

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The First Bachelor Who Didn’t End Up with Either Woman …

Brad Womack was the suitor for the show’s 11th season, but shocked everyone when he didn’t give out a final rose at all, leaving finalists Jenni Croft and DeAnna Pappas in the lurch. 

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… and Then Appeared as the Bachelor Again

Don’t worry, The Bachelor gods (a.k.a. Chris Harrison) looked kindly upon Womack, and he ended up becoming the first guy to ever be Bachelor twice. He ended up with Emily Maynard after starring in the show’s 15th season, though the two broke off their engagement shortly after filming. (She then went on to be The Bachelorette, of course.)

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The First Time There Were Two Bachelorettes

For season 11 of The Bachelorette, producers shook things up by having the season start with two leading ladies: Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson. In a move that would probably not fly in 2021, the men picked who would stay, and Kaitlyn Bristowe became Bachelorette. 

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The First Time Someone Ended Up with Their Runner-Up

Though Peter Weber and Arie Luyendyk Jr. both made viewers cringe on their seasons of The Bachelor by breaking off their engagements to be with their runners-up, Jason Mesnick did it first.

The star of The Bachelor proposed to Melissa Rycroft at the end of season 13, only to change his mind and break up with her on After the Final Rose and ask Molly Malaney for another chance. The pair ended up getting married in 2010 and have been together for 10 years. 

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The First Bachelor in Paradise Wedding

Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert met on season 2 of Bachelor in Paradise, ending the season with an engagement and following it up with an on-air wedding in 2016. They now have three children together.

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Nick Viall’s Multiple Tries for Love

Sure, Brad Womack was the Bachelor twice, but he’s got nothing on Nick Viall. Viall famously competed twice for love on The Bachelorette, making it to the final rose ceremony both times, only to have Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe choose their other suitors.

He followed up those stints by competing on the third season of Bachelor in Paradise before finally becoming the Bachelor himself.

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The First Black Bachelorette

Rachel Lindsay made quite the first impression when she competed on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor. So much so that, though she didn’t get his final rose, she became the first Black woman to star as the Bachelorette. Lindsay chose Bryan Abasolo in the end, and the pair wed in 2019. 

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The Show’s First Virgin Lead

Colton Underwood’s virginity was a huge part of the conversation both when he competed for Becca Kufrin’s heart on The Bachelorette and when he eventually became the Bachelor. 

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The First Same-Sex Couple

In 2019, Demi Burnett appeared on Bachelor in Paradise and came out as bisexual while on the show. With a little help from Chris Harrison and some Bachelor Nation magic, Burnett was reunited with her then-girlfriend Kristian Haggerty. They became the franchise’s first same-sex couple and got engaged on the show. The pair split in October 2019. 

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The First Bachelor Nation Divorce

Krystal Nielson and Chris Randone met on season 5 of Bachelor in Paradise and were wed on June 16, 2019, in an intimate ceremony officiated by host Chris Harrison (of course). After nearly eight months of marriage, Nielson and Randone announced their separation in February 2020 and their divorce in August 2020, making them the franchise’s first divorce. 

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Clare Crawley Named the Oldest Bachelorette

In March 2020, it was announced that Crawley would get another chance at love, this time as the oldest Bachelorette in the franchise’s history at 39. 

Fans were first introduced to Crawley in 2014 on season 18 of The Bachelor as she vied for Juan Pablo Galavis‘ heart. 

She appeared on Bachelor in Paradise twice before getting another shot at love during The Bachelor Winter Games in 2018, when she ended up engaged to Benoit Beauséjour-Savard. The pair split two months later.

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The First Time a Bachelorette Was Replaced

When Crawley fell in love with Dale Moss (and decided to leave her season only a few weeks in) viewers weren’t sure what would become of The Bachelorette. That is, until Tayshia Adams stepped in and became the season’s second leading lady. She ended up with contestant Zac Clark, who proposed during the season finale, making it the first season with a double proposal, too! 

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The First Latina Leads

And there was still more history made by Crawley and Adams. Both of the season’s leading ladies were The Bachelorette‘s first Latina leads.

Crawley — whose mother is Mexican and father is white — told Mitú that her status as the first Latina leading lady wasn’t ever discussed during casting. “That’s not something that was ever really brought up to me or ever even made a point,” she told the outlet. “I would gladly take the Latina Bachelorette!” the now 39-year-old joked. “That’s way better than saying I’m the oldest Bachelorette!”

Adams is also Mexican on her mother’s side. The latest Bachelorette told ET, “Not only am I the second African American Bachelorette but I’m biracial — I’m also Mexican — so it is just an amazing opportunity to have been given a platform for women that are like me to see somebody represented and for me to find love and just show what that looks like,” she added. “I am happy to have that platform to do so.”

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Matt James Becomes the First Black Bachelor

The franchise newcomer — which, by the way, The Bachelor hasn’t seen a newbie as the lead in 13 years — was chosen as the first Black suitor in franchise history. 

Originally meant to compete for Clare Crawley’s heart, James ended up becoming a fan favorite after quarantining with Bachelorette alumnus and roommate Tyler Cameron during the coronavirus pandemic and making a name for himself on TikTok. 

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