17 of the most dramatic reality TV breakups of all time

Chrishell relived her split from Justin Hartley on ‘Selling Sunset.’ Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
  • When one signs on to join a reality series, it’s expected that your personal life will be part of the show.
  • However, these 17 couples probably got more than they expected when the dissolution of their relationships happened on camera.
  • Though Justin Hartley was never on “Selling Sunset,” his text to Chrishell Stause announcing his intent to divorce her will live on in reality TV infamy.
  • “Bachelor” fans have watched many breakups over the years, but perhaps none was more memorable than when Arie Luyendyk filmed his split from fiancée Becca Kufrin.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When a person signs on to a reality show, whether it’s “Real Housewives,” “Selling Sunset,” or “America’s Next Top Model,” you can be sure they are warned it could put a strain on their relationship. Unfortunately, these 17 couples experienced dramatic breakups that played out for the world to see.

These 17 reality TV breakups all took place on television, from cheating allegations to jail time. That’s why certain couples who broke up off-screen aren’t included, like Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy or Phaedra Parks and Apollo Nida.

Keep scrolling to see 17 of the most dramatic reality TV breakups ever.

Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson’s relationship ended with a cheating scandal that played out in real time and on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Thompson and Kardashian in 2018. Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group

When Kardashian was eight months pregnant with their daughter,Thompson was reportedly caught on camera cheating. It was then shown again during season 15 of the show. But the final blow came in winter 2019 when it leaked that Thompson had cheated again – this time, with Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods.

Woods eventually went on “Red Table Talk” to tell her side of the story. As per usual with the Kardashians, they waited until the scandal unfolded on-screen during season 16 to share their side of the story.

The entire fiasco was messy and ended multiple friendships: Both Kardashian and Jenner stopped speaking to Woods, and Woods was forced to move out of Jenner’s home.

While Kardashian immediately broke up with Thompson after the Woods news broke, there’s speculation that the two have gotten back together recently during the pandemic.

The surprise divorce of Chrishell Stause and Justin Hartley took over season three of “Selling Sunset.”

Stause and Hartley in 2018. Kevork Djansezian/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

When “Selling Sunset” first dropped on Netflix in March 2019, Stause was frequently gushing about her husband, “This Is Us” star Hartley. The two had only gotten married in 2017, and they seemed like the perfect couple.

Cut to August 2020, when the third season of the reality show premiered. While the two had split up in September 2019, fans had to wait almost an entire year to get the full story: Stause continued to gush about her husband up until the episode when news of Hartley filing for divorce was leaked to TMZ, stunning the cast.

Stause revealed that she was completely blindsided, and Hartley had announced his intent to file for divorce that same day via text. As she explained, people in their wedding found out about the divorce at the same time as the rest of the world.

Though the actor never appeared on the show, his presence continues to loom large.

“Jersey Shore’s” Ronnie Ortiz-Magro and Sammi Giancola went through plenty of dramatic breakups during their tenure on the show.

Ortiz-Magro and Giancola in 2010. Tiffany Rose/WireImage/Getty Images

From the first season of “Jersey Shore” 11 years ago, these two were almost immediately on and off. Two of the most famous moments from the show – the letter that Snooki and J-Woww wrote to inform Giancola of Ortiz-Magro’s cheating and “Raaaaahn staaap” – both came from their relationship. There’s also the time they got in a fight after he made fun of her big toe (she’s sensitive about it), or the time she fled the house for a few days to get away from him.

One of their biggest breakups, and proof of why their relationship was so toxic, came when a fed-up Ortiz-Magro took all of Giancola’s clothes, threw them on the ground, attempted to throw Giancola off her mattress, and eventually broke their bed.

In the best interests of everyone, these two finally called it quits for good in 2016, and Giancola has yet to appear on the rebooted “Jersey Shore Family Vacation.”

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ divorce after 72 days of marriage all played out on “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.”

Humphries and Kardashian in 2011. Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Their entire relationship played out on TV, including a wedding special entitled “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding,” but most memorable is the ending that was captured on season two of “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.”

The season began as the two were happy newlyweds, but over the course of 10 episodes, viewers saw Kardashian begin to second-guess her relationship and Humphries continuously upset his wife and in-laws. Eventually the finale ended with Kardashian sobbing, declaring her marriage was over.

Jon and Kate Gosselin originally became famous as a couple in “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” but reality TV appeared to exacerbate the problems in their marriage.

Kate and Jon Gosselin in 2009. Brad Barket/WireImage for Discovery Communications/Getty Images

Right from the very beginning of the show, which focused on Jon, Kate, their set of twins, and their set of sextuplets, audiences watched the slow demise of Jon and Kate, who barely seemed to like each other.

By 2009, their show was hitting ratings highs, while their marriage was falling apart. They announced their divorce that year, and things quickly got messy. There were allegations of Jon partying with college students, cheating, and abandoning his family, which he denied. Vanity Fair even called them “the biggest celebrity story of the year” in 2009.

As their relationship continued to break down on the show, TLC announced that Jon would be taken out, and it was now going to be called “Kate Plus 8.” It has filmed sporadically over the last few years.

Though it’s been a decade since their divorce, things still aren’t great. Jon has custody of two of his kids, while Kate has the other six – apparently the two factions of siblings don’t speak, either.

The 2011 episode of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” in which Camille Grammer revealed that her husband, Kelsey Grammer, wanted a divorce set records for the network.

Camille and Kelsey Grammer. KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

The former “Frasier” star and Camille had been clearly having marital troubles for a long time, but it only took one season of reality TV for their marriage to end. Throughout the first season, the Grammers had multiple issues, including Kelsey’s announcement that he wanted to move to New York full-time, no matter what Camille did.

Just a few episodes later at a dinner party, Camille told her castmates that Kelsey had decided he wanted to end their marriage.

Later, Camille accused Kelsey of convincing her to join the show to keep her “preoccupied in California while he was off having his affair in New York.”

While Hannah Brown had multiple breakups during her season of “The Bachelorette,” none was more dramatic than with Luke P.

Parker and Brown in 2019. John Fleenor/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

While Parker had established himself as a real contender for Brown’s heart, he quickly became the villain of the season. While Brown wasn’t around, Parker constantly got in fights with the rest of the guys, implied that Brown was making mistakes, and frequently gaslit her and refused to leave the show when she asked.

It came to a head during their Fantasy Suite, when he inadvertently shamed her for having sex with the other suitors. This spawned two iconic lines: “Guess what? I have had sex, and Jesus still loves me,” and “I f—ed in a windmill.”

If all that wasn’t enough, Parker again refused to leave, showing up at a rose ceremony after he had been eliminated. It resulted in Brown picking up the rose podium herself and moving it to block Parker out of participating.

When Peter Kraus and Rachel Lindsay broke up during “The Bachelorette,” Lindsay cried her eyelashes off.

Lindsay and Kraus. Paul Hebert/Getty Images

While Lindsay and Kraus clearly had chemistry and loved each other, Kraus simply couldn’t overcome his hesitation at getting engaged to someone he had only known for two months.

The two talked in circles for hours, breaking each other’s and fans’ hearts. And, as we said, Lindsay cried so hard her false eyelashes came off.

In the end, it worked out – Lindsay is now happily married to Bryan Abasolo, another “Bachelorette” suitor.

“Love Is Blind” produced multiple dramatic breakups, but none more jaw-dropping than Giannina Gibelli and Damian Powers.

Gibelli and Powers in 2020. Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic/Getty Images

All throughout “Love Is Blind,” couples were repeatedly told that the show would end in weddings. However, not all of the couples actually made it to the “I do” – most memorably, Gibelli and Powers. The two had been increasingly rocky as the season unfolded, and though Gibell seemed to be the one with the concerns, she said “I do.” Unfortunately, Powers didn’t.

Cut to Gibelli running out of the church and onto the streets in her wedding dress (which she tripped over at one point). When she was dragged back into the church, she held nothing back and cursed Powers out for embarrassing her.

But, lo and behold, the two eventually got back together and say they are now stronger than ever.

But the poolside breakup of Diamond Jack and Carlton Morton gave them a run for their money.

Morton and Jack in 2020. Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for Netflix

Although Jack and Morton got engaged and seemed to be happy, some secrets that Morton had been holding back caused tension in their relationship, namely that Morton is bisexual.

When Morton finally came out to Jack, it caused her to question their relationship, as it was a big secret to be holding back after becoming engaged. The fight quickly spiraled into insults and yelling, and Jack throwing her engagement ring into the pool.

During the second season of “America’s Next Top Model,” Shandi Sullivan decided to tell her boyfriend that she cheated on him over the phone.

Sullivan in 2004. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

This may have contributed to “ANTM” becoming one of the longest-lasting reality TV shows of all time – it’s unmistakably one of the most iconic reality TV moments ever. Sullivan made it all the way to the final five during cycle two and had kept in contact with her boyfriend.

However, when the contestants were flown to Italy, she decided to let loose with some Italian models and eventually cheated on her boyfriend. The next day, she immediately felt bad and called him on-camera, leading to one of the saddest phone conversations ever recorded. Sullivan was eliminated not soon after.

During an episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” Tamra Judge told her then-husband Simon Barney — on camera — that she wanted a divorce.

Barney and Judge in 2008. Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

During season five of “RHOC,” during an especially explosive fight inside a limo, Judge not only stated she wanted a divorce, but told her husband to “go f— [himself],” and called him “a nasty, vile person.” Even by “Real Housewives” standards, that’s cold.

Barney filed for divorce in 2010, accusing Judge of “being verbally abusive and has committed acts of disloyalty and adultery,” which she denied. Barney was later accused of domestic violence, but the charges were dropped.

A full decade later, the two finally seem to be on better terms, but their explosive marriage-ending fight lives on.

When Desiree Hartsock was the Bachelorette, it was clear she only had eyes for Brooks Forester, who decided to blindside her and dump her during Fantasy Suites.

Hartsock and Forester. Matt Petit/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

Forester was in the final three of Hartsock’s season when he confessed that, actually, he wasn’t really feeling it. Cue one of the most emotionally raw breakups in “Bachelor” history, as Hartsock almost immediately broke down sobbing and was unable to speak, probably because Forester had been the clear front-runner.

One of the most iconic images in “Bachelorette” history remains Hartsock sitting at the edge of the dock in the Bahamas contemplating what she wanted to do next. She eventually pulled it together, married Chris Siegfried, and now they have two kids.

Yet more “Bachelor” stars, Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi officially ended their relationship on camera with an explosive fight.

Pavelka and Girardi in 2010. Jason Merritt/WireImage/Getty Images

Pavelka went against unspoken “Bachelor” code when he picked the season’s villain, Girardi. But after the season aired, it became clear that both were villains. In one of the show’s darker moments, Pavelka and Girardi filmed an interview during an episode of “The Bachelorette” which showed an obnoxious side of Pavelka, and Girardi ended up running off-screen, crying.

But perhaps the most notorious “Bachelor” breakup came during Arie Luyendyk’s season, when he filmed breaking up with fiancée Becca Kufrin.

Kufrin and Luyendyk. Paul Hebert/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

Though he seemed unsure, Luyendyk proposed to Kufrin and sent Lauren Burnham home during the finale of his season. Unfortunately their bliss didn’t last long, and during one of their “happy couple visits,” when they were allowed to see each other in secret before the show aired, Luyendyk blindsided Kufrin with a camera crew and a breakup.

Fans watching everywhere yelled as Luyendyk refused to leave Kufrin alone to process this information, and it was then revealed that Luyendyk had reconciled with Burnham. They’re now married with a daughter.

The first season of “Vanderpump Rules” ended with the bombshell that Jax Taylor had been lying to his girlfriend Stassi Schroeder the entire season.

Jax Taylor and Stassi Schroeder in 2013. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Taylor and Schroeder (who has since been fired from the show) were the immediate stars of “Vanderpump Rules” when it began in 2013, and their relationship was the show’s core drama. Halfway through season one, Schroeder became convinced that Taylor was lying about cheating on her, and in the process, she began alienating their friends who all believed Taylor.

However, in the season finale, Taylor finally admitted, point blank, that he had been lying the entire time and had cheated multiple times. Schroeder broke down on camera.

Their drama continued for the first three years of the show, culminating with the reveal that Taylor and Schroeder’s best friend Kristen Doute had slept together – all while Doute was dating Taylor’s best friend, Tom Sandoval. It resulted in Schroeder slapping Doute across the face.

MTV’s “Teen Mum” captured footage of Amber Portwood assaulting her boyfriend Gary Shirley.

Shirley and Portwood. MTV

Portwood was one of the original teen mothers-to-be shown in “16 and Pregnant,” and the cameras continued to follow her to “Teen Mum,” a spin-off featuring four of the original show’s stars.

Portwood, a self-proclaimed party girl, didn’t have an amazing relationship with Shirley, but things became extremely dark when MTV recorded and aired footage of Portwood assaulting Shirley, who refused to defend himself. After the episode aired in 2010, it became clear that MTV had neither tried to stop Portwood nor reported the incident to the police.

Portwood was eventually charged with two felonies, ended up going to jail, and broke up with Shirley.