Chris Harrison Is Officially Leaving the ‘Bachelor’ Franchise—Here’s the Drama Behind His Exit

Chris Harrison
Photo: ABC.

It’s official: Chris Harrison is not coming back to the Bachelor franchise. Hours after The Bachelorette season 17 premiere, news broke that Harrison has permanently left as the host of Bachelor Nation after 19 years.

Deadline reported on June 7 that Harrison will receive a mid-range, eight-figure settlement as part of exit plan with ABC, the network that airs the Bachelor franchise, and Warner Bros. Television, the company that produces the Bachelor shows. The magazine also reported that Harrison’s settlement also includes a nondisclosure agreement.

Harrison confirmed his exit in an Instagram post at the time. “I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter,” he wrote. “I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”

Harrison has been the host of the Bachelor franchise since the premiere of The Bachelor in 2002. Since then, Harrison has hosted every season of The Bachelor, as well as its spinoffs: The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Winter Games and The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart

In March 2021, for the first time in the Bachelor franchise’s history, Harrison didn’t host The Bachelor‘s “After the Final Rose” special. He was replaced by former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, who emceed the finale for The Bachelor season 25 with Matt James. Harrison also didn’t host season 17 of The Bachelorette with Katie Thurston. Instead, the season was hosted by season 16 Bachelorette Tayshia Adams and season 11 Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe. Harrison also won’t be the host of Bachelor in Paradise season 7. The show instead will be hosted by a rotating roster of celebrities including David Spade.

So why is Chris Harrison not coming back to the Bachelor franchise and what was the reason for his exit? Though Bachelor Nation is all about love, it looks like Harrison’s relationship with ABC and Warner Bros. was less than romantic in the months leading to his departure. Ahead is what we know about why Chris Harrison is not coming back to the Bachelor franchise and why ABC and Warner Bros. gave him his final rose.

Why is Chris Harrison not coming back to the Bachelor franchise?

Harrison’s issues with the Bachelor franchise started in February 2021 when he came under fire for his response to season 25 Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s racism scandal. Rachael, the winner of Matt’s season, faced backlash at the time when photos resurfaced of her at an Old South Antebellum-themed party at Georgia College in 2018. Before the pictures went viral, Rachael was already under controversy after her former high school classmate accused her on TikTok of bullying her and other students for dating Black men. Other TikTok users then exposed Rachael for liking social media photos of her friends in culturally insensitive costumes and with Confederate flags.

Harrison came under controversy after he was interviewed about the scandal by season 13 Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay on Extra. During the interview, Harrison asked fans to give Rachael “grace” and explained that he didn’t find the Antebellum party photos offensive because they just looked like pictures a college student takes at a party. Harrison also questioned whether the photos would be considered racially insensitive in 2018 when they were taken. After the interview, many fans slammed Harrison and accused him of excusing Rachael’s behavior.

In an Instagram post at the time, Harrison apologized for the interview and revealed that he decided not to host Matt’s “After the Final Rose” special. “The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions. To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before.”

He continued, “I am dedicated to getting educated on a more profound and productive level than ever before. I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment, but a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day.”

ABC confirmed in March 2021 that Harrison wouldn’t host season 17 of The Bachelorette and would be replaced by Tayshia and Kaitlyn. “Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of The Bachelorette,” ABC said in a statement at the time. “We support Chris in the work that he is committed to doing. In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will support the new Bachelorette through next season. As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within The Bachelor franchise, we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, including among the executive producer ranks. These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world.”

But Harrison’s issues with the Bachelor franchise don’t end there. In March 2021, news broke that Harrison had hired high-profile lawyer Bryan J. Freedman of Freedman & Taitelman to represent him. Freedman is the same lawyer who represented Gabrielle Union after she was fired from America’s Got Talent in 2019 after one season.

In June 2021, Matt Beloni, the former editorial director at The Hollywood Reporter, sent a newsletter for What I’m Hearing News, in which he detailed Harrison’s drama with ABC, Warner Bros. and the Bachelor franchise. According to Beloni, Harrison hired Freedman to negotiate his exit with ABC and Warner Bros. “Now it’s a question of whether producer Warner Bros. Television will write [Harrison] a fat check to go away or this dispute will explode into litigation,” the newsletter read.

According to Beloni, Harrison questioned ABC’s decision to remove him from the Bachelor franchise, given that he’s often the spokesperson when contestants are in the news for their bad behavior. The newsletter also claims that Harrison has “two decades or dirty laundry” on the Bachelor franchise, including “damaging information” about the shows’ creator, Mike Fleiss, which is why negotiations went on for so long. From the looks of it, it seems like Harrison decided to take a settlement from ABC and Warner Bros. (and sign an NDA) and not reveal the information he knows.

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

"Bachelor Nation" by Amy Kaufman

Image: Courtesy of Penguin Books.

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

To get more of an inside scoop, check out Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman’s book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, for a deep dive into the Bachelor franchise. The book uncovers the secrets of Bachelor Nation, from how much the Bachelor and the Bachelorette are paid to the rules contestants have to follow, that producers don’t want fans to know. It’s a must-read for any Bachelor Nation member.

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