From the moment Zach Shallcross was cast as the Bachelor for Season 27, there was an outcry. Why was this traditionally good-looking white man over six feet tall chosen over... all the other traditionally good-looking, (mostly) white men over six feet tall who line the Bachelor Mansion’s vaguely Tuscan-style halls and Paradise’s un-air-conditioned palapas each year?
“I know what people are saying,” Zach gamely confessed in his first episode. “Why me?” Because, the show seemed to suggest, an ostensibly employed 26-year-old with a full head of shellacked hair and a pulse in place of a personality is relatable. Or at least, unobjectionable? Like a saltine cracker, but with abs. You might not love how he tastes, but you’re at least unlikely to spit him up.
So far, Zach has opened his chiseled jaw to say precious little of interest, but there have been a couple signs of life: when he couldn’t hide his abject terror after Christina admitted she was a mother; when he told Bailey to her face that he wasn’t feeling it during the most innocuous of validation-seeking check-ins. But if that’s all the drama that’s in store for us this season, it’s looking a little bleak. Though the “romance” of The Bachelor has hardly ever featured a truly charming main character in recent memory, some of these extremely tall, symmetrical, (usually) white men have exhibited a few shreds of charisma. Looking back, though, differentiating between the past 10 Bachelors feels like staring at swatches of white paint, trying to convince yourself they’re each different. They are all, in their way, boring — which begs the question: who is the most boring Bachelor of them all?
To make things interesting, I’ll assess each season on a holistic level: How entertaining were the women? What were the central conflicts? Was there a twist ending? After all, sometimes the right shade of beige can be the perfect canvas for a spectacular explosion of color (see: Colton Underwood’s season). And while I can’t say for certain yet exactly where Zach will land among their ranks — we’re still less than halfway through the season — if he doesn’t shape up soon, he may be soaring straight to the top of this list.
Below, the Bachelors of the last 10 years, ranked from least to most boring.
10. Nick Viall (Season 21)
As boring as: Having a secret cringe DJ persona.
Despite his humble origins on Andi Dorfman’s Bachelorette season as “Normcore Nick,” a 33-year-old software sales executive from Waukesha, Wisconsin, that title ultimately became a misnomer once Nick took on the titular role of Bachelor in 2017. As it turns out, Nick’s three prior spins around the Bachelor universe (The Bachelorette twice; Bachelor in Paradise once) were valuable not only for giving our hero a convincing story arc, but also for teaching him how to navigate — and thrive — in drama. Like a Pokémon, he evolved after major battles until he reached his final form: Messy B*tch. This is, after all, a season in which the show’s main villain seduced the Bachelor by showing up to a cocktail party with a bottle of whipped cream, naked underneath a trench coat. And she made it to the final four!
9. Juan Pablo Galavis (Season 18)
As boring as: Making your chest hair one of your defining characteristics.
Casting Venezuelan former pro soccer player Juan Pablo as the Bachelor was a gamble: he barely spoke on Desiree Hartsock’s season of The Bachelorette, and was cut at Week 6. Watching his season, therefore, was a bit like being sold a package of sweet, ripe strawberries, only to discover they’re carpeted in soft green mold — and then still making yourself eat them because… you just can’t stop going back for more. (None of us can.)
The audience soon realized that beneath the chiseled physique and the sexy accent was... an asshole? The kind of man who couldn’t stop grabbing women’s chins to make them look at him while they cried, and who willingly got hot and heavy with Clare (yes, that Clare) — maybe even having sex with her in the ocean — only to shame her for it afterwards. (He has a daughter, he reminds her, but apparently not a conscience.) Juan Pablo may not have been a likable Bachelor, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that he — and his season on the whole — was interesting, to say the least. Plus, it culminated in one of the most contentious After the Final Rose specials in franchise history.
8. Peter Weber (Season 24)
As boring as: Captioning a photo “Boring Bachelor Energy ✌️” to appear self-aware.
Coming into his season of the Bachelor, Peter Weber was fortunate to have two defining (and therefore marketable) characteristics: being a pilot, and being the guy who had sex two (or actually maybe four?) times in a windmill with Bachelorette Hannah Brown. But the key characteristic that ultimately made Peter a somewhat interesting — or at least watchable — Bachelor is one that many good-looking, horny, emotionally inexperienced men share: their utter inability to make sound decisions. The fact that his own mother let him have it on national television for his shoddy choices is just the icing on the cake.
7. Matt James (Season 25)
As boring as: Crying over a guy you’ve spent a total of three (3) hours with.
On paper, Matt James is an interesting guy. A former college football player who was deeply involved in charity work (not to mention in a bromance with one of the franchise’s most popular Bachelorette finalists, Tyler Cameron), he was the perfect choice for the first Black Bachelor. But not even a man with brains and actual depth could shoulder the impossible burden of being made into the franchise’s diversity figurehead without his personality being flattened beyond recognition. As a result, Matt’s season is more interesting for the controversies that surrounded it: His choice to give his final rose to Rachael Kirkconnell, a white woman who was criticized mid-season when it was discovered she had attended an “Old South” Antebellum party; the subsequent ousting of longtime host Chris Harrison over his insensitive defense of her. Not boring stuff by any means, but not exactly fun drama, either.
6. Colton Underwood (Season 23)
As boring as: Two conventionally attractive people with average conversation skills declaring themselves “goofy.”
If you are struggling to define your Bachelor by the qualities he possesses, try defining him by what he lacks. This strategy worked most successfully with 26-year-old Colton Underwood, the strapping former football player who just so happened to lack any sexual experience. Turns out, inundating a virgin (and, as we’d learn years later, a man who was questioning his sexuality) with over-the-top sexual situations and constant discussion of physical intimacy will make him explode — but not like that. Colton likely didn’t jump anyone’s bones during Fantasy Suites, but he did famously jump a fence. Nice try, bud. If only leaving Bachelor Nation were that easy.
5. Ben Higgins (Season 20)
As boring as: Comparing your skydiving date to the “leap” it takes to fall in love.
A less successful version of defining a man by an absence was staged three seasons earlier with one Ben Higgins, a man whose main storyline was that he wanted to be loved so much that he ultimately “shocked the world” by telling both of his final two women he was in love with them. If a sentient tub of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream from Warsaw, Indiana, could love two people at once, what hope would there be for the rest of us Bachelor viewers who worship at the altar of monogamy?! Could it be that participating in a reality TV show about rose-centric mating rituals is not, in fact, the best way to meet The One?! Don’t worry, though. He picked only one girl, and he was pretty genuine about it. Basically, you’d root for him, if you hadn’t fallen asleep.
4. Arie Luyendyk Jr. (Season 22)
As boring as: Insisting your Bachelor is “full of personality!” while providing no further evidence.
Arie’s season sounded promising from his selling points: He was a 36-year-old former race car driver who was nicknamed the “kissing bandit” on The Bachelorette. Unfortunately, advertising means nothing if the product has expired. You see, we all made the mistake of judging Arie on the (relative) charisma of his appearance on The Bachelorette at age 30, failing to take into account the fact that even men who drive fast cars for money might just want to don a cardigan and go to bed early by the time they turn 36.
And it turns out, that’s all Arie wanted to do! If he had to endure a schadenfreude-ridden, genre-defining breakup from his final rose recipient and fiancée Becca Kufrin in order to then get engaged to his runner-up, woman of very few words Lauren Burnham, then so be it. For a man whose catchphrases were “I love that,” and “That’s amazing,” we should’ve expected nothing less than a tireless pursuit of blandness. The pursuit of happiness is for the young!
3. Sean Lowe (Season 17)
As boring as: Declaring that your parents are relationship goals.
As the Bachelor at the helm of the oldest season on this list, Sean Lowe straddled the franchise’s vintage and modern golden eras. He existed in a time when a lead’s dullness was considered a feature, not a bug: All that was asked of this 28-year-old former football player was to be genuine and open to Finding Love, and the producers would fill in the rest with petty catfights, appearances from ex-boyfriends, and at least one obligatory calling of the medics. While that formula ended up working for the season, which stands up remarkably well to time, I can tell you no more about Sean than that he was a born-again virgin who was deeply committed to The Process of finding his Wife. At least it worked for him?
2. Chris Soules (Season 19)
As boring as: Saying you want your partner to be your “best friend” (when you could just get a dog).
From Ashley I. and Kaitlyn Bristowe to Jade Roper and Becca Tilley, this season actually birthed quite a few memorable Bachelor Nation stars. But this farmer from Iowa was not one of them. Don’t believe me? Look at this semi-bearded man for five seconds and tell me if you could pick him out of a lineup.
1. Clayton Echard (Season 26)
As boring as: Proudly declaring your life consists of “family, football, and frozen pizza.”
You know those apps that mash a bunch of photos of faces together to create one face? The Most Average Face of Them All? That’s Clayton, and I don’t mean just his outward appearance. Despite watching every frame of his season, the facts I know about Clayton could easily be applied to almost any other Bachelor on this list. He’s a former college football player like Sean, Zach, and Colton. Like former software salesman Nick, his job is being a sales rep for something so boring — medical devices — that only hot people can sell it. He’s from a nondescript Midwestern town like Ben, Nick, and Chris. He even basically shares a name with Colton!
I’m fully convinced that the reason Clayton’s final three women stuck around long enough for him to tell each of them he loved them (before that spectacularly blew up in his face) was not for the Instagram followers, but because it’s physically impossible to resist the pull of a charisma black hole. And, if black holes do lie at the center of all galaxies, as astronomers believe, it’s likely that there are more like him in our midst. Zach, I’ve got my telescope on you!