As a season begins, we meet the bachelor, a "smart, handsome, successful man" who has it all. Now he's supposedly looking for someone to share it with. He's introduced to some two dozen beautiful women. They go on group and one-on-one dates, and based on the "connections" they form. he narrows the field and chooses one to spend the rest of his life with (though that rarely happens).
Women are eliminated in a "rose ceremony", in which the bachelor gives a rose to the women who will continue in the romantic journeynote . Most episodes are said to feature "the most dramatic rose ceremony ever!" Most other developments are hyped as "shocking!" but have usually been shown in their entirety in the previous episode's On the Next, or even going-to-commercial previews.
As of this writing, 20 seasons of The Bachelor and 12 of its Distaff Counterpart, The Bachelorette, have aired. The former show started in 2002, the latter in 2003. The final pairings haven't exactly been successful...
- Out of 20 seasons of The Bachelor, 12 ended in proposals; seven ended without a proposal but an agreement to keep dating; and one ended with no one picked for any kind of relationship. Only one final couple eventually got married (from Season 17); the Season 17 couple now has a child. The bachelor from Season 13 called off his engagement with the winning woman on the season finale and resumed a relationship with the runner-up; they married in a nationally televised ceremony, and also have a child. The other couples broke up, with one doing so after the woman was arrested for assaulting her fiance.
- The Bachelorette has been more successful with respect to proposals—every season so far has ended in one. While the relationships have been more successful than those on The Bachelor, that's not exactly saying much. The first couple from this show got married, in a lavish televised ceremony, and have since had two children and are still married. The same holds true for the Season 7 couple. The Season 9 couple married and are expecting their first child, and the winners of Seasons 11 and 12 are still engaged. The rest broke up.note
Has also inspired countless copycats.
Will You Accept This Trope?:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Every season of The Bachelorette features this type of character. Justin "Rated R" Rego from Ali's season, Bentley from Ashley's season, Chad from Jojo's season. Sometimes they make it far, other times they don't.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: In reference to the "shocking secret" of one of the contestants in season 14, one trailer shows a brief shot of two girls "frolicking" in bed. Turns out she was just cheating on the Bachelor with one of the producers.
- Beach Episode: Almost every season. Bonus points of they travel to Mexico or the Caribbean.
- The Beautiful Elite: Everyone's attractive and successful and dress up for their cocktail parties, where they drink champagne and receive roses.
- Belly Dancer: An episode early in Season 20 had the girls fly off to Vegas to show off their talents and impress Ben, Terry Fator and a large audience with their performances. From all the contestants, Caila decides to belly dance as her talent.
- Better as Friends: One of the very few breakups that didn't end in animosity was Matt and Shayne - although they called off their engagement, they are still reportedly close friends.
- Catch-Phrase: When all but one rose has been handed out, the host enters the scene and announces, "This is the final rose."
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Common in every season.
- Fanservice: Every person on this show is relatively attractive to some degree.
- Harem Seeker: The bachelor(ette).
- Hopeless Suitor: It's like none of the women realize that he can only end up with one, and he won't necessarily stay with that one, but they all always really want him.
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Invariably, one contestant is hated by all the others. They proclaim that she is "not here for the right reasons." She replies, "I'm not here to make friends. I'm here to fall in love."
- And if publications are to be believed, expect that contestant to say something along the lines of, "You're not the one holding the roses."
- Sometimes the result is inverted from the norm, as the Bachelor actually chooses the Alpha Bitch.
- Interrupted Declaration of Love: Tons of them. Frankly the show is built around them...
- Love Before First Sight: With so many women around, its understandable that the guy can't spend time with everyone before the first round of eliminations. Doesn't keep these women from saying they've just lost a soulmate, though.
- Lover Tug-of-War: Done figuratively; it's the premise of the show in a nutshell.
- Lucky Charms Title: There is a wedding ring where the letter "O" would be in the title, with a wedding band for the guys, and a diamond for the girls.
- Never Trust a Trailer: This show is famous for this. They edit their trailers to make the viewers think something will happen, and the exact opposite will happen. For example, during Jojo's season, there was a trailer that Chad punched another guy, but really the other guy just hit his head on the side of the pool. Another time, during Jake's season, the trailer made it seem like two of the girls were falling for each other, and someone in the voice-over said "there's some sort of secret affair going on", but really it was another contestant had slept with a producer.
- One True Love: The premise of the show.
- Operation: Jealousy: A non-zany and very effective example. How do you make a woman fall in love with you? Date 20 other women at the same time!
- Our Love Is Different: Every woman thinks this ("we have such an amazing connection"). Then they get to the Rose Ceremony, fail to score a rose, and we get the Money Shot...
- Product Placement: The fashions, the date settings, the accessories...
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: It has its own section.
- Also, you'd think some of these men/women would have actually paid attention to who stays and who goes. When the partner takes you on a nice safe date, he/she actually cares about you. When the partner has you (ahem) swim with sharks or go bungee jumping, the TV station wants cheap ratings, and the partner isn't saying no. The risk does not make it worth it, and they usually get dumped after this. Also, the first to arrive always thinks they're the one the bachelor/bachelorette really loves, but in fact, they're the ones to get ditched (often for no good reason).
- The Runner-Up Takes It All: The season 13 Bachelor broke up with the winner to actually hook up with the runner up. They were the first successful couple from this show (since joined by the Season 17 couple) and are now Happily Married with children.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Andi Dorfman famously left during Juan Pablo's season after a heated argument. After Juan Pablo gained a reputation as one of the least liked Bachelors, she was seen as making the right decision. And then she became the next Bachelorette, with predictably crazy results.
- Spin-Off: Two (three if you count The Bachelorette).
- The first, Bachelor Pad, was a more traditional reality competition show where the former contestants where split by gender and competed against each other Series/Survivor-style for the first few weeks, then as pairs for the last leg of the competition. It also had a twist that at the end the winning couple had to vote separately on whether to keep the $250,000 prize for themselves or share it between the two of them. If they both voted share, they would both receive $125,000. If one voted share and the other voted keep, the one who voted keep would get the whole prize. If they both voted to keep, then neither would win, and the prize would be distributed amongst the eliminated houseguests. The series lasted three seasons.
- The second spinoff was Bachelor in Paradise, which was a lot closer to the traditional format, but with a mix of Bachelor Pad as well. Men and women from previous seasons spent the summer at a tropical resort, going on dates and making connections. At the end of each episode, the two people without roses had to leave the resort, but the next week would bring in two more previous contestants. There was no cash prize either - the goal was to spark new relationships, just in greater numbers than the standard show.
- Testing the Love Interest: The bachelor does this on a lot of dates.
- Token Minority: The shows usually will have one or two non-white contestants per season who never win and rarely even get close to winning. And when they do, it's often a case of But Not Too Black, with light-skinned black people or white Hispanics.
- Rachel, a fan favorite from Nick Viall's season, became the first black lead of either show and is quite dark-skinned herself.
- Vacation Episode: Usually about half-way through the season, they start to travel to different places all over the world.
- Wakeup Makeup: In Ben Higgins's season, he wakes everyone up to find Amanda and take her on a date. The other girls comment on how nice and alert she looks. She appears to have makeup on and may not have fallen asleep.