Season 13 of 'The Bachelor'
Everett Collection

The formula for The Bachelor is a simple one: a male suitor dates 25 or so single women all at the same time, whittling down the group each week until he is left with two prospects. If all goes according to plan, he’ll propose to one of the women and look forward to the “happily ever after” he’s been chasing all season.

By season 13 of ABC’s hit dating show, The Bachelor had seen several seasons ending in engagements. While there was some drama built into the show’s outlandish premise, it was nothing like what happened in 2009. Thirty-two-year-old insurance agent Jason Mesnick was the perfect lead: a single dad from Washington state who had been the heartbroken (and therefore extra endearing) runner-up on the prior season of The Bachelorette. Bachelor fans everywhere were rooting for Mesnick’s second chance at love—and were completely stunned to discover that, in an unprecedented twist, he dumped the woman he had proposed to at the end of the season, Melissa Rycroft, for Molly Malaney, his second choice (now his wife). Nowadays this type of last-minute decision is common in the increasingly unpredictable Bachelor franchise, but, in 2009, this ending was truly shocking. The ratings for the season’s finale episode surpassed 15 million viewers, and it foreshadowed the emphasis on dramatic twists that was to come. —Annabel Gutterman


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