Based on what we’re now hearing about Chris Harrison, the previously-unthinkable may soon prove to be a reality.
A very harsh reality for a handful of ABC viewers.
The popular host of The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise and The Bachelorette voluntarily stepped aside from his role in February.
Amid a series of apologies for how he handled a race-based scandal that involved Bachelor suitor Rachael Kirkconnell, Harrison said he was taking a step back from the franchise.
"To the Black community, to the BIPOC community: I am so sorry. My words were harmful," Harrison said this winter, later adding:
"The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions.
"To that end, I have consulted with Warner Bros. and ABC and will be stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After the Final Rose special."
For a period of time, he wrote, as you can see.
Later, during an appearance on Good Morning America, Harrison emphasized that his break as host would merely be temporary.
Will this really be the case, though?
Here’s what we know:
Harrison will NOT be involved in Katie Thurston’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which instead will be emceed by Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe.
We also learned this week that Harrison will not play a role on Bachelor in Paradise this summer, either.
In his place, David Spade will lead a contingent of celebrity hosts.
As for Michelle Young’s upcoming run as The Bachelorette?
The very strong assumption, on this celebrity gossip website at least, was that ABC had lined up a second season of this show in 2021 for the express purpose of a Chris Harrison return.
Not to be all cynical, but it seemed as if network executives were planning to bring Harrison back for a season led by a Black woman in order to prove that he had grown and evolved and all of that.
Us Weekly reports that Harrison will not host Young’s season, which is expected to premiere in September or October.
"Although final decisions have not been made, the insider notes that they are currently weighing their options about a new host for Michelle Young‘s episodes," writes this tabloid.
If this report is accurate, that means Harrison will be off the air until at least 2022.
Would ABC really even bother using him again after all that time?
“I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that,” Harrison said on Good Morning America this spring, apologizing multiple times for his comments defending Kirkconnell’s racially insensitive posts.
“I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise.
"And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”
As previously noted, he also added that he still sees a future working on these programs.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change.
"I know that change is felt, not just by me, but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress,” he said.
“This interview is not the finish line. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change.”