All of the Women Who Were Almost the Bachelorette

One week away from Clare Crawley's highly anticipated debut, we're revisiting the franchise's long history of courting multiple women to hand out roses.

By Tierney Bricker Oct 06, 2020 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Chris Harrison on Clare Crawley Blowing Up "The Bachelorette"

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride—or always a contestant, never a lead. 

After months of anticipation (and a delayed premiere date due to COVID-19), The Bachelorette's season sixteen premiere is finally upon us. Clare Crawley's journey to find love—her fifth try within the hit ABC franchise—kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 13, seven years after she was first introduced to Bachelor fans.

Of course, we're not just getting one Bachelorette in 2020, a source confirming to E! News that Bachelor in Paradise alum Tayshia Adams replaced Clare midway through filming. Ironically, both women had been previously considered to front the franchise before ultimately tag-teaming the upcoming season.

After her breakup with Juan Pablo Galavis was praised by many, Clare was considered for the job before producers ultimately chose Andi Dorfman. Tayshia, meanwhile, was in serious consideration—even signing a contract—for the current season following a stay in Bachelor in Paradise when Clare unexpectedly got the call.

Only in Bachelor Nation, right? 

All of the Men Who Were Almost the Bachelor

While we impatiently wait to see how the big switch ultimately plays out, we decided to revisit all of the women who had met with producers and even signed contracts to be the Bachelorette before fate stepped in. 

So which ladies have been pursued by the franchise over the years, but ultimately never ended up handing out roses?

Demi Burnett

Before producers decided to make her BFF Hannah Brown the Bachelorette, Demi was in serious consideration after becoming the most-talked about contestant during Colton Underwood's season.

While the outspoken Texan basically walked through the mansion door with a neon sign reading "villain" above her head, she won over viewers and her fellow contestants with her humor and heart.

"With Demi, we thought she was going to be a villain." ABC boss Rob Mills explained to E! News. "She's like a Corinne [Olympios] or she's like a Tierra [LiCausi] or one of these other sort of classic villains, and then you thought, no, she's not like that. She speaks her mind and she's very open."

After she wasn't picked to be the lead--though Mills said she was "a strong contender"--Demi went on Bachelor in Paradise season six and made history when she and girlfriend Kristian Haggerty became the franchise's first same-sex couple. While they ended their time on the beach engaged, the pair split in October 2019.

Caelynn Miller-Keyes

Hannah Brown and her one-time pageant rival were once again in competition as producers considered both women for the season fifteen slot. Of course, Hannah B. landed the crown rose, but Mills told E! News Caelynn would've delivered a "fantastic season."

And she definitely wanted it, admitting on iHeartRadio's Almost Famous podcast that she was "hurt" when she wasn't picked.

"I remember getting the call that it wasn't me for Bachelorette and I was like, 'Dang! That kind of sucks,'" she said. "And then I found out it was [Hannah] at Women Tell All. It hurt. It definitely hurt. It stung and I was upset and I was kind of led to believe that it was mine and then suddenly it wasn't. It was Hannah's."

And while her time on Bachelor in Paradise started off rocky, thanks to her secret off-screen hookup with Blake Hortstmann, Caelynn ultimately found love with Bachelor Nation fan favorite Dean Unglert. The pair sparked marriage rumors in early 2020 after they were spotted wearing rings and Dean was very careful when asked about their legal status.

"Here's the thing, I don't think, in my opinion, I don't need the title of 'husband' to show the world that I'm committed to one person," he told Chris Harrison on The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever! in June, adding that their rings are their "way of telling the world or the people that we're around that we are committed to each other."

Hannah Godwin

The content creator became one of the most popular contestants during Colton's season, despite her lack of screen time.

Hannah G. was an early frontrunner after receiving the first impression rose and she made it to the final three, but was blindsided when Colton abruptly ended their relationship because he was in love with Cassie Randolph.

And it was Hannah's heartbreak that ultimately led producers to not select her as their next leading lady. At the time, Mills explained to E! News that Hannah G. "was clearly still really heartbroken. It's very hard. On one hand, that's a great story of somebody getting over someone they were in love with. But it happened so quickly, that was kind of the worry there."

Ultimately, it all worked out, as Hannah G. went on Bachelor in Paradise and quickly found love with Dylan Barbour, a contestant from Hannah Brown's season. After getting engaged in the season six finale, the two are living together in San Diego

Tia Booth

A fan favorite from Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season and then Bachelor in Paradise, thanks to her dramatic on-and-off relationship with Colton Underwood, Tia was actually in a year-long relationship with Cory Cooper, who (gasp!) had no ties to Bachelor Nation), before they broke up in October 2019.

During this latest casting, a source confirmed to E! News that the Nashville transplant met with producers and even signed a contract, along with several other women, before they made their ultimate decision.

A runner-up to Clare, said another source close to production, she nearly snagged producers' rose. 

Kelsey Weir

Really the only woman from Peter Weber's season that was seriously considered after she made it to the final four, Kelsey's chances were likely hurt simply because she was a contestant on one of the franchise's most polarizing seasons (though she did sign a contract). Producers were hoping to course-correct after viewers voiced their issues with Weber's crop of young ladies, a source telling E! News, "They wanted someone who was older, more mature and had more life experience."

Katie Morton

After failing to form a connection with Colton Underwood on his season of The Bachelor, Katie found love with franchise veteran Chris Bukowski, with the two getting engaged at the end of Bachelor in Paradise's most recent season.

But it was clear to fans that things were already rocky by the reunion taping, with Katie initially taking off her ring, and the couple called it quits in December 2019.

While she wasn't one of the top names being talked about for the Bachelorette job, a source told E! News that Katie met with producers and was briefly considered.

Kendall Long

Not long after the news of her split with Bachelor in Paradise's Joe "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile's broke, viewers were calling for the fan-favorite from Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season to finally become the Bachelorette.

While a source reveals to E! News that Kendall did meet with producers, the 29-year-old podcast host was never offered a contract like some of the other contenders for season sixteen. 

Caila Quinn

After filming early scenes in her hometown of Hudson, Ohio for season twelve, the franchise made a last-minute decision and instead chose JoJo Fletcher, Caila's competition for Ben Higgins' heart.

"It was nothing against Caila, but JoJo's storyline was just so compelling," a source told E! News at the time, noting Ben's decision to drop the L-bomb on both of his final two ladies. "After seeing how she fell in love with Ben and then had her heart broken, there was no doubt that everyone's going to be rooting for her as Bachelorette."

After not finding love on the beach during BIP season three, Caila got engaged to boyfriend Nick Burrello in January 2020.

Hannah Brown

No, this isn't a mistake. Yes, Hannah B. was considered for the gig a second time after her relationship with her final pick Jed Wyatt ended in disaster.

Producers were hoping to unleash the Hannah Beast in consecutive seasons after she delivered one of the franchise's most talked-about outings ever, even going so far as to cast suitors with the Dancing With the Stars champ in mind. 

But sources then told E! News that Hannah turned down the offer to become the first back-to-back lead when the pay wasn't enough for her. And then she signed on for the Dancing With the Stars stage tour, which made her unavailable for filming, and caused the producers to pivot.

Kristina Schulman

The franchise vet was definitely open to becoming the next Bachelorette after she claimed she was contacted by producers for season sixteen. 

"Fun story," she posted on Instagram after Clare had been announced. "I was shopping at Zara with my bestie @kbrew1234 when I got the call asking if I'd consider being The Bachelorette..."

When a follower commented on a different Instagram post asking, "Why aren't you the next bachelorette," Kristina answered, "they didn't want me and that's okay!"

Melissa Rycroft

Eight years before Becca Kufrin parlayed her public Bachelor dumping into the plum Bachelorette gig, producers tried that move with Melissa. They even enlisted Jason Mesnick—the guy who had just ended their engagement in front of ABC's cameras to work things out with runner-up Molly Malaney.

"That was their number one thing of doing the thing with Melissa," Jason explained to E! News of the show asking him to go through with the on-camera breakup. "They wanted to deliver her as the Bachelorette to America. They had me call her!"

Yes, Jason phoned his ex-fiancé to discuss being the next lead because she was "mad" at producers, according to the former Bachelor. "In their mind, they're like, 'We gave you Molly, now can you give us Melissa?"

Melissa passed, eventually going on to marry an old boyfriend, Tye Strickland, and the couple now have three children, a daughter named Ava Grace, and two sons, Beckett and Cayson. But she did remain in the Bachelor family, serving as a co-host on the spinoff series Bachelor Pad

Molly Malaney

Before Jason Mesnick delivered one of the franchise's most shocking switcheroos, producers were heavily courting a "heartbroken" Molly to be their next lead, contacting her weekly with promises of a car, a stylist and guys, she revealed to E! News.

And during an interview with Chris Harrison on The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever!, Molly admitted she had actually agreed to do it before Jason asked for a second chance. 

"Me agreeing to be the Bachelorette, it was a really big deal," she said. "I was hesitant, I didn't think I was right for it, so it was easy to let that go."

Molly and Jason ended up getting married in a televised special in 2010.

The Bachelorette premieres Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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