Chris Harrison gone for good as Bachelor host after racism controversy

Harrison faced backlash earlier this year following comments about a Bachelor contestant's plantation party photos. "I'm excited to start a new chapter," the veteran host says.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
3 min read
Chris Harrison and Matt James

Former Bachelor host Chris Harrison (right) pictured with recent series lead Matt James, is stepping away from the franchise. 


After temporarily stepping aside as longtime host of ABC's popular Bachelor franchise earlier this year, Chris Harrison has officially left the rose-strewn reality TV gig for good. 

"I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter," Harrison posted to Instagram on Tuesday. "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's announcement comes the day after the premiere of season 17 of The Bachelorette, where Harrison was noticeably absent from the post he's held since 2002. Instead, show alums and co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are shepherding Katie Thurston as she navigates romance, reality TV-style. 

"You are truly irreplaceable as a host, thank you for all the years you put into this show and making it what it is," Bristowe wrote in the comments section of Harrison's Instagram post. "No one does it quite like Mr. Chris Harrison."

Why isn't Chris Harrison coming back? 

In February, Harrison stepped aside from hosting The Bachelor and spinoff shows "for a period of time" as backlash continued over his comments about photos showing Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor, attending an antebellum-plantation-themed party during college. Matt James, star of that season, was The Bachelor's first Black lead and named the graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia, as his top pick at the end of the show. 

Former Bachelorette star and current TV host Rachel Lindsay broached the photos during an Extra interview, and Harrison's reaction didn't sit well with many. Harrison said that while he wasn't defending the gathering, people wouldn't have examined an Old South party "under the same lens" in 2018 as they would in 2021, given the heightened consciousness of racial inequality amid the Black Lives Matter movement. Lindsay, an outspoken advocate for diversity in the franchise, disagreed.

The pictures evoked a painful period in American history before the Civil War ended slavery, and they sparked serious, soul-searching discussion among Bachelor fans and former contestants about race, representation and accountability. Loyal Harrison supporters stood by him, and some decried the "woke police" and "cancel culture." Still, at the height of the controversy, a petition called for the removal of Harrison as host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and spinoff shows, and the #FireChrisHarrison hashtag trended. Harrison issued several public apologies for his words, and Kirkconnell publicly vowed to educate herself about issues of race and racism. 

Here's the complete rundown on events leading to Harrison's permanent departure. 

Did Chris Harrison get a payout? 

Last week's news that comedian David Spade and others will rotate as guest hosts of Bachelor in Paradise this summer led many to speculate Harrison would soon leave the franchise permanently. 

Before Harrison's Tuesday comments made the breakup official, Deadline posted an exclusive story about the pending announcement. It reported much negotiation had gone on behind the scenes and that Harrison's departure would come "in the form of mid-range eight-figure payoff and [a] promise to keep his mouth shut."  

"The usual platitudes are expected to be exchanged for public consumption when the agreement is made public later today, but there is certainly no romance in the air behind the scenes," Deadline said.  

Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment didn't reveal details of any deal, only saying in a joint statement Tuesday that "we are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey."  

How is Bachelor Nation reacting to the news? 

Like Bristowe, other franchise alumni are sharing words of support for Harrison following the news. 

"It will never be the same. Truly the end of an era," wrote Ashley Iaconetti Haibon, a former contestant on The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise and a high-profile alum of the franchise. Wrote former Bachelor Jason Mesnick," "The general public doesn't have any idea how much you helped us cast members members deal with the behind the scenes of the TV world." 

Another former Bachelor lead, Arie Luyendyk Jr., had this to say: "Love you brotha. On to bigger and better things."