if at first you don’t succeed, grow yourself a mustache and try again…
Dean Unglert (and his headline-making facial hair) officially made his entrance on Bachelor in Paradise last night, once again turning to the ABC reality hit franchise for help finding love. It wasn’t Dean’s first trip to Mexico, as two seasons ago he found himself at the center of a polarizing love triangle, becoming summer 2017’s go-to TV “f–kboy,” a title Blake Horstmann has since taken over with his antics.
In fact, BIP season six is the 26-year-old’s fifth appearance on one of the franchise’s shows, a tally that would have earned him some ridicule just a few years ago. But Dean is now far from the only member of Bachelor Nation who has continued to return to the franchise over the years, and he’s not the only one on the beach this season that is a seasoned veteran.
Look no further than Chris Bukowski, a man who has made so many appearances that a list of them didn’t fit in his chyron.
Just 25 when he made his debut on Emily Maynard‘s season of The Bachelorette, actually starting off as a fan-favorite. But he quickly took a villainous turn on season three of Bachelor Pad, and did himself no favors when he tried to party-crash the mansion on night one of Andi Dorfman‘s season of The Bachelorette. She turned him away. We all cringed. He persisted.
Of course, no one was all that surprised when Chris walked down the steps into Bachelor in Paradise‘s inaugural season…only to leave early after injuring his knee. Walking. On. The. Beach.
But then he showed up again, hoping to find a date to his sister’s wedding among the season two cast members. When no one would go out with him, he gave up his date card to another guy and made his exit, going out with a whimper.
Ironically enough, Chris actually “retired” from reality TV at the ripe old age of 28 in 2015, penning a letter about how his continued quest to extend his 15 minutes had impacted his relationship, writing that he “became obsessed with being on TV. That might not seem normal to some, but for me—in the moment—I always convinced myself I needed to go back.”
And he went on to reveal he was in a dark place when he made his second BIP appearance.
“What you saw is me at my absolute weakest moment, masking everything in my head behind ounces of alcohol,” he wrote. “I left without a single memory of my time there. That’s why I didn’t watch that episode, as much as I would have liked to. I don’t remember being there and I don’t want to watch the version of me on TV.”
Chris then made an appearance on the After Paradise show to make his swan song official, with Chris Harrison even retiring his Bachelor jersey (with the number five on it, of course).
But four seasons later, eyeballs rolled across Bachelor Nation when they saw Chris listed among the cast members for 2019’s trip to Mexico. Really?
Chris, however, seems to have grown up in his time away, and is now a successful restaurateur in Chicago, saying in the premiere, “I’ve changed tremendously and that’s why I decided to come back and give this another shot.”
And after the recent end of a longterm relationship, “Now I really have an understanding of where I am in my life and what’s important.”
With six outings (which he’s “not completely proud of”), Chris officially holds the record for most appearances on Bachelor shows.
But there are several cast members hot on his heels, including Dean, who now has Rachel Lindsay‘s season of The Bachelorette, The Bachelor Winter Games (where he met ex-girlfriend Lesley Murphy), and two seasons of Bachelor in Paradise.
Bibiana Julian is now also 0-for-4 when it comes to finding love within the franchise. After making her debut on Arie Luyendyk Jr. ‘s season, Bibiana appeared on Bachelor in Paradise season five and The Bachelor Winter Games before returning to BIP again…only to be sent home during the first rose ceremony. Better luck next summer, Bibi?
For those returning vets who are losing hope that the process can work, there is a success story to look to for inspiration: Ashley Iaconetti.
One of the breakout stars of Chris Soules‘ season of The Bachelor, thanks to her obsession with Disney princesses, penchant for crying on-camera and being one of the few contestants to reveal they were a virgin, Ashley I. continued to be one of the franchise’s most compelling cast members when she quickly fell for Jared Haibon on Bachelor in Paradise season two.
While he friend-zoned her, Ashley I. doubled-down in season three, returning to BIP when she heard Jared was on the show, only to be devastated when she learned he had feelings for Caila Quinn. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end well for anyone.
But then Ashley returned for The Bachelor Winter Games, where she met Kevin Wendt from The Bachelorette Canada and they really hit it off, going on to win the show and date for a few months after filming ended.
What caused their split? Three years into their friendship, Jared finally came to his sense and realized he was in love with his best friend. And after a Bachelor in Paradise proposal last summer, the two officially became husband and wife in August 2019.
So it is in pursuit of the true love (and Instagram spon-con) achieved by the Ashley I. and Jareds and Jade Roper and Tanner Tolberts of the world that seem to keep these contestants coming back each season.
“Seeing people being engaged on the show and then leaving and having successful marriage, it’s really attractive to me,” Chris said in the premiere, and many contestants now cite Bachelor in Paradise couples, like Evan Bass and Carly Waddell (who finally found love on her third appearance), over success stories from The Bachelor or The Bachelorette as their ideal love story.
And while it’s wishful thinking, there’s also the slim chance that you can become the next Bachelor by returning to the fold, just like Nick Viall did with his Bachelor in Paradise season three appearance.
Once mocked for making it to the final two of Kaitlyn Bristowe and Andi Dorfman‘s seasons of The Bachelorette, during which he served as a villain figure, Nick managed to win viewers over on BIP, going on to be named the Bachelor for its 21st season, a move no one saw coming. Alas, his fourth (and final, at least for now) appearance didn’t result in Nick finding his happily ever after, but it did land him his own podcast and cemented spot as one of Bachelor Nation’s most successful alums.
Dean also was hoping to kill two birds with one stone: finding love and image rehab in between margaritas.
“I’ve been here before…didn’t have the best experience,” Dean (and his mustache) said on Bachelor in Paradise‘s fourth episode. “I’ve learned a lot since last time, but I figure I can atone for my sins if you will.”
Alas, there’s also the opposite end of the spectrum, with a fan-favorite finding themselves having a bummer of a summer in Paradise, including former Bachelorette winner Josh Murray, Daniel Maguire, and, most recently, Blake, whose between-seasons hookups and the dramatic fallout surrounding them have dominated season six so far.
A few contestants still currently active in Bachelor Nation are sitting pretty with four appearances along with Dean and Bibi, including Eric Bigger and Haley Ferguson, with a lot of contestants currently on their third outing.
Member of the three appearances club include Derek Peth, Kristina Schulman, Wills Reid, Annaliese Puccini, Jen Saviano, Jordan Kimball, Robby Hayes, and Amanda Stanton, though fans shouldn’t expect to see Amanda return to one of the franchise’s shows anytime soon.
“You have moments where you’re like, I kind of wonder what my life would be like if I never done it?” Amanda, who has since become a successful influencer since her time on The Bachelor, said on Nick Viall’s podcast. “But you also have so many good opportunities.”
But she admitted she “honestly” thinks she would’ve found love by now if she never went on TV. “Dating is so much hard after the show,” she said.
Not every alum shares Amanda’s hard stance on being done with trying to find love within the Bachelor franchise.
“I was so convinced that the last time I did this would be the last time…I never say never,” Chris recently said on the Almost Famous podcast. “I would say 99 percent that this is my last time doing this, but I’d never rule it out completely. It’s a great experience. It’s fun, it’s tough to say no to. I would say that this is most likely my last time.”
Hey, seven is the luckiest number.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m.