Fred Willard Returns to 'The Bachelor' Yet Again, and Fans Joke That ABC Holds Him Captive

Fred Willard, the secret weapon of The Bachelor franchise, made a surprise appearance on Monday's episode to join host Chris Harrison as the commentators during the group date. It turned out to be a pillow match at the Cowboy Palace Saloon in California. Fans at home all made the same joke, wondering if ABC has something on Willard or if the network is keeping him captive.

The 80-year-old Willard also looked frail, which left some wondering how he is doing. He also only got a few jokes in during the segment as he sat next to Harrison, who introduced Willard as a "pillow-fighting legend."

"I have an interesting fact," Willard said, reading from cards behind a table. "Pillow fight comes from the Greek word pilloweth smaketh in the face with."

"I think you just made that up," Harrison said.

"I did," Willard admitted.

"Chris, this reminds me of a photo of your bedroom after New Year's Eve last year," Willard later joked.

"That was between you and I," an embarrassed Harrison replied.

Williard has been on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette multiple times, even making an appearance during Hannah Brown's season to join Harrison for her roller derby group date. During his appearances, he uses the commentator skills he showed off in the classic mockumentary Best in Show.

"So on Arie's season, we wanted to do this date with dogs…it was similar to Best in Show, and we knew we needed a little help. We needed a little extra kind of celebrity assistance outside of Chris Harrison," executive producer Bennett S. Graebner told E! News last year. "Chris Harrison is great but sometimes he actually needs someone to talk to."

"We thought, of course, who better than Fred Willard, who was such a character in Best in Show?" Graebner continued. "We called him up, turns out he lives in LA, available, he was really a laugh riot. Chris loved working with him. We loved working with him. He was full of funny little anecdotes. I wouldn't say he was a student of The Bachelor, it's not like he watched the show religiously before he came to work with us, and yet he seemed like he had been a member of Bachelor Nation forever."

Willard recently starred in Modern Family as Frank Dunphy, the father of Ty Burrell's Phil Dunhphy. He was also seen in Netflix's I Think You Should Leave last year.


The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: ABC/John Fleenor