15 months later, Peter Kraus is back on our TV screens. Just not on a show in The Bachelor franchise.
On Sunday night, an exclusive sneak peek from the upcoming new season of E!'s Total Bellas was released and promptly sent a shock wave through Bachelor Nation. Why? Because none other than Peter, the beloved runner-up from Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette and two-time-almost Bachelor was in it, going on a date with WWE Diva Nikki Bella post-John Cena split.
"Nicole gave me permission to set her up on a date," Brie Bella says in the video, adding, "Alright, let's see…Peter from The Bachelor!"
The comments section turned into an unexpected Bachelor fan pow-wow on E! News' Instagram post about the shocking date. Many OMGs were typed. Accusations of Peter wanting to be on TV were issued. Even card-carrying Bachelor Nation members weighed in.
Jade Roper posted the "mindblown" emoji, while Peter's real-life BFF Dean Unglert wrote, "still upset I'm finding out about this through enews."
While the reactions wildly ranged among the almost 6,000 comments left on the post, one thing was clear: people still give a damn about Peter, the salt and pepper-haired, gap-toothed fitness trainer who immediately won over viewers the moment he stepped out of the limo in Rachel's premiere episode. And he remained a fan-favorite throughout the entire season, with a majority of the fan base rooting for him to be named the next Bachelor after his infamous (and tear-filled) break-up with Rachel, who ultimately got engaged to Bryan Abasolo. (They are still together and very happy, thank you very much.)
Sure, there were a few red flags. Remember his cold-as-ice sitdown with Rachel during the live After the Final Rose special, where she told him, "I just don't think that this world, this process, this journey, this show—I just don't think that it's for you," she told him, and he kind of agreed.
And then there was the whole controversy over whether or not Peter would actually get down on one knee at the end of the whole thing a.k.a. the moment many viewers spend the whole season waiting for.
But, probably naively, we all just kind of assumed it would be him, because really, was there anyone else people wanted to see handing out roses? (Answer: no.)
Plus, as a source at the time told us he was the obvious frontrunner, saying, "He is still fully considering it and wants to make sure he makes the right decision. They are really pushing for him."
Then, on that fateful Thursday, it wasn't Peter that walked onto Good Morning America's stage as the next Bachelor. No, no, it was Arie Luynedyk Jr., the runner-up from Emily Maynard's season from five years ago, who was not even rumored among the frontrunners this season.
Fans were...less than thrilled.
Rumors swirled about why Peter wasn't picked. Contract negotiations were blamed. Producers wanting shock value. His resistance to agreeing to propose by the end of the season was mentioned.
Following the shocking announcement, Peter posted a cryptic tweet, writing, "Never let fear hold you back. Lesson learned." He then hopped over to Instagram to go more in depth about the opportunity that wasn't meant to be.
"ABC, you saw something in me, but something held me back. You treated me with such love and kindness and showed me glimpses of a life I never once dreamed that I could have," Peter wrote in a heartfelt Instagram caption after Arie was named the next Bachelor. "I will be forever humbled and grateful and will always look back at these last 6 months with an ear to ear smile, knowing that this has truly been a very special life indeed."
He finished his post with a message about fear guiding his decision-making process, seemingly confirming that it was his indecision that ultimately led to Arie landing the gig over him.
"When you let uncertainty or fear guide your decisions, you risk missing out on what could potentially be the greatest opportunity of a life time. So live dangerously, live without the fear of the unknown, and continue to live and love with a heart that is truly open to anything."
So he wasn't the next Bachelor. And a nation mourned…briefly finding some solace in knowing Peter would be a cast member on the franchise's winter-themed spinoff, The Bachelor Winter Games.
"Yes, Peter will be looking for love-- and going for the gold-- on #TheBachelor Winter Games!!!!" franchise creator Mike Fleiss tweeted. A small consolation, for sure, but it would do...for the time being.
But then the cast was announced and guess who was MIA?
Peter. Effin'. Kraus.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Peter said he was never officially asked to join the spinoff.
"[He] has said a lot of things through his Twitter over time that are maybe pushing a little bit or misleading in certain ways," Kraus said of Fleiss' tweet. "I think it's just him trying to get to know the audience [and] figure out what he personally wants to do with the show."
Come Bachelor in Paradise season five, Peter's name wasn't even whispered, as he was busy doing fiteness boot camps across the country for fans willing to do 50 burpees in the name of taking a red-faced photo with the handsome former contestant.
Of the possibility of eventually doing more reality TV, Peter said, "There's always a possibility. I don't like to rule out anything 100 percent." (He recently told The Morning Toast he was "never asked" to do Bachelor in Paradise, by the way.)
So cut to August 2018, when the search for Arie's Bachelor successor is officially heating up, and Peter's name is once again in the mix. The people haven't forgotten, especially after Arie's somewhat lackluster performance (minus that epic switcheroo, of course). Here was the franchise's chance to right their wrong. The man himself was willing.
"If the timing is right and if I'm in the right place in my life, yeah absolutely," Peter told E! News of possibly becoming the Bachelor.
And ABC seemed to be considering the former model for the gig once again, with ABC executive Rob Mills, the network's SVP of alternative series, specials, and late-night programming, telling E! News, "People like Peter, I know. I have to say we hear that a lot. Certainly people absolutely adore Peter. You never know who it's going to be. As we saw with Arie, we look at everything, not just the last season. Who knows who it's going to be."
But then on September 4, the next Bachelor was named, and it was not Peter. (Ironically enough, "Not Peter" was an infamous dig one of Arie's ladies took at him.) It was Colton Underwood, fresh off of Becca Kufrin's season and the beaches of Bachelor in Paradise. Once again, backlash soon followed.
So what gives? Why won't ABC just put this damn handsome man on our TV screens? He's obviously willing...with some conditions though that sound pretty darn reasonable when you think about them.
"If I was going to go back into the franchise, it would probably be as the Bachelor—but there are a lot of things about being the Bachelor that I'm not necessarily a fan of," Peter told InStyle. "I feel like you need more help at the end of the show – for a relationship that was built in such a short period of time, under such pressure, and with every eye on you, you're not really supported. I would at least want backing from, say, a marriage counselor or a relationship counselor that could help us through that hardship."
And hi, he's totally OK with being on-camera...look at the way he leaned in to kiss Nikki on their first date in that Total Bellas promo.
"In the beginning, it was very nerve-wracking—more so because you're on a date with somebody you don't know, and then when you're kissing that person, the cameras are starting to pull in closer," he told InStyle of being filmed while dating on The Bachelorette. "That gets a little weird."
He's also ready to find something serious, though he opened up about how "weird" it can be to use dating apps post-Bachelorette fame.
"It's harder to know what someone's intentions are or what their knowledge of me is," he admitted. "I'm on Bumble, and in one of the messages that I got, the very first thing was, ‘Holy f--km you're Peter Kraus; I can't wait to tell my friends.'"
So why did producers go with Colton, when there was (and is) still a lot of support for Peter to get the job?
"I think, coming after Nick Viall and Arie Luyendyk, producers were keen to pick someone whose intentions would be viewed as sincere. No one wants another questionably shady guy," a source told us, noting Colton was the "safe pick" and "it also doesn't hurt that, out of all of Becca's finalists, he has the biggest social media following."
This matches what another insider shared: Peter wasn't really in the running, with producers eyeing Colton, Jason Tartick and Blake Horstmann for the gig.
And, ironically, it could be the franchise's own fault, as they (partially) went with Arie over over one of Rachel's suitors at the time as "a sort of response to some of the previous seasons where I think there was a feeling, oh, there's so many contestants that feel like they're coming on not for the romance aspect but more for the 'This is going to put me in a spotlight,'" Mills told us. "I think that that was sort by design, this was a more straight-down-the-middle season. You look at that, and you think OK, did we maybe go too far that way?"
So Peter, the man pushed aside for a throwback surprise, may now have been too much of a throwback himself.
But we can't help but sort of feel like we're kids being grounded for some act we're not sure we committed. Why won't someone just tell us why Peter will likely never be the Bachelor?