What are the 7 best and 7 worst moments ever seen on Dancing with the Stars? Dancing with the Stars is one of the most successful dance shows in TV history. ABC’s dance competition series features a string of pro dancers paired up with celebrity partners who get eliminated each week based on fan votes of their performances. The inaugural season kicked off in June 2005, and featured talent like New Kids on the Block’s Joey McIntyre, model Rachel Hunter, and soap actress Kelly Monaco, who won the first Mirrorball, or first place trophy.
Each week, the pairs perform different dance styles like the Argentine Tango, the Foxtrot, the Cha Cha, and the Paso Doble. And over the years, the show has seen the best of times, and the worst of times.
Is Kim Kardashian as hot on the dance floor as on her Instagram page? Did Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey have the time of her life, or not so much? How did Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte fare? Keep reading for the 7 best and 7 worst moments from Dancing with the Stars.
Best: when Deaf Activist Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd gave us chills on Dancing with the Stars
On the Dancing with the Stars Season 22 final, Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd (who won the coveted Mirror Ball) freestyle-danced to the “The Sound Of Silence” by Disturbed (a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic) and brought us to tears. The emotional dance was one of the best moments in the show’s history; to watch DiMarco, an actor and producer with no hearing whatsoever, simply mesmerize with his partner was a work of art. The dance felt primal, as if we were watching a real-life Tarzan and Jane. Afterwards, the audience broke out in thunderous applause for the couple, exchanging glances of awe.
DiMarco says the song’s lyrics represent the Deaf community, as he expressed on his Facebook page. Additionally, the activist had written a powerful letter, as Mashable reported, to the band for permission to use their song.
DiMarco also performed an Argentine Tango while blindfolded during the season. To watch a Deaf man, temporarily blinded, express himself to music without missing a beat was beyond inspirational. Oh, it helps that he’s gorgeous, too.
Worst: when controversial Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte faced protestors on Dancing with the Stars
One of the worst moments in Dancing with the Stars history was when Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte got rushed after a season 23 performance by protesters yelling “liar!”
Lochte had previously been caught lying to Rio de Janeiro authorities after an incident during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Basically, the athlete — who was intoxicated on the night in question — had “over-exaggerated” a story, as he told NBC News at the time. Lochte claimed he’d been robbed at gunpoint by men dressed as cops, but the details didn’t add up. To that end, Rio police charged Lochte with falsely communicating a crime (the charges were later dropped as USA Today reported).
The two stage-rushers were subsequently arrested outside by LAPD, as the The Washington Post reported. At least they were nice enough to wait until the end of his foxtrot with Cheryl Burke! Despite the fiasco, Lochte seemed to win over fans, after breaking down on show footage expressing how sorry he was that he disappointed everyone. The swimmer wound up getting a standing ovation for his performance.
Best: when season 11 Dancing with the Stars winners Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough paid tribute to Dirty Dancing
Dancing with the Stars Season 10 winners Jennifer Grey, our beloved Baby from Dirty Dancing, and partner Derek Hough nabbed six perfect scores during their flawless partnership (via Us Weekly). Which dance number did we love most? Well, Grey and Hough recreated some familiar moves from the hit flick’s intro dance scene to “Do You Love Me?” complete with Grey carrying watermelons. We couldn’t help but feel some major Baby and Johnny Castle vibes; just as the chemistry between Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, who played Castle, was undeniable, so too were Grey and Hough quite the smoke show together.
The Dirty Dancing nostalgia didn’t end there, as the pros paid tribute to Swayze during the season by performing to a medley of famous tunes from his films. Grey, 50 at the time, said that learning dance numbers for Dancing with the Stars was much more difficult than learning her main routine for Dirty Dancing, since she’d had months to nail it. “It was a completely different level of dancing,” she told ABC News. And it was breathtaking.
Worst: when Michael Bolton cringingly crawled around like a dog on Season 2 of Dancing with the Stars
When a man loves a woman … he’ll get down on all fours? Michael Bolton’s dance to “Hound Dog” was called the “worst jive in 11 seasons” by Dancing with the Stars judge Bruno Tolioni (via Us Weekly). The dance starts out with the global star literally emerging from a dog house on his knees after obediently following a bone around. Thankfully, the singer got to his feet after a few of the longest, most cringe-worthy moments of our lives, and proceeded to flatly go about the rest of the dance number with Chelsie Hightower. The pair scored a humiliatingly low score of 12 points out of 30.
Bolton remarked after the fact that Tolioni should apologize, and explained that his 90-year-old mother was in the audience, and he should not have been so disrespectful. Aw, now that just makes us feel bad!
Needless to say, the pair was eliminated at the end of the episode. Hightower told Us Weekly that it “sucks that it had to end this way,” and that she knows he “could have done better.”
Best: when Fresh Prince alum Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson jazzed up the beloved "Carlton" in Season 19 of Dancing with the Stars
Now here’s a dance we can all do! When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro competed on season 19 of Dancing with the Stars with the lovely Witney Carson, they squeezed in the world-famous, over-enthusiastic, and lovably geeky “Carlton.” Ribeiro made the dance move famous as Carlton on the ’90s show, which starred Will Smith as the titular Fresh Prince.
Initially, Ribeiro didn’t want to perform the cult dance move on the show, as he truly wanted to take the competition very seriously, which he explained in an interview with the Hallmark Channel. Conversely, he didn’t want fans to be “waiting for Carlton” every week, so he just gave in and gave the fans what they wanted.
Ribeiro sure delivered, complete with a bow tie and cardigan! Fans went wild when he and his partner busted out the move, which Ribeiro taught Carson, while dancing to the Tom Jones tune “It’s Not Unusual.” The perfect pair even got perfect scores from the judges.
Worst: when Master P broke the record for all-time lowest score on Dancing with the Stars
Rapper Master P hit a record low on season 2 of Dancing With the Stars when he received an ultra-embarrassing 8 out of 30 from the judges. The low marks were for his paso doble performance with partner Ashly DelGrosso to “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the Animals. The “Mr. Ice Cream Man” singer offered nothing sweet with his performance, barely dancing, not even walking with rhythm. The judges even said that the audience was “cruel” by continuing to vote for the music mogul, although he was finally canned in the fourth week.
The New Orleans native, whose real name is Percy Miller, later told the New York Daily News – who reported that the artist, despite his poor dance moves, had been a “fan favorite” on the show with his “offbeat personality” — that he had no regrets and had a good time. That’s all that counts, right?!
In P’s defense, he was actually filling in for his son Romeo, who injured his ankle, as he told Today.
Best: Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani's Three's Company homage on Dancing with the Stars
Suzanne Somers took the nation by storm as Chrissy Snow in the hit sitcom Three’s Company, which aired on ABC from 1976-1984. Fans were overjoyed when the blonde bombshell — who is aging oh-so-gracefully — joined season 20 of Dancing with the Stars. The Thighmaster queen and partner Tony Dovolani wowed the crowd while dancing to the Three’s Company theme, on a set replicating the sit-com’s iconic apartment, which is still popular today, at least for Boomers and Gen Xers.
In a tender moment, Somers even dedicated the show to the late John Ritter (via Us Weekly), who played Jack Tripper on the show. “This one’s for you John,” she said while tearing up. Indeed, watching Chrissy come back through that apartment door was emotionally gratifying to say the least.
Although Somers got voted off later that night, the nostalgia alone of Somers’ tribute made it one of the show’s most memorable moments.
Worst: when Maks Chmerkovskiy disrespected judge Len Goodman in Season 13 of Dancing with the Stars
Maks Chmerkovskiy has always been Dancing With the Stars‘ resident bad boy, and in season 13 he reminded us why. The Ukrainian-American — who is now married to fellow pro Peta Murgatroyd — was always known for being, well, difficult. Apparently, Chmerkovskiy wasn’t too keen on what Len Goodman had to say about his dancing with soccer star Hope Solo, as the outspoken dancer snapped back at the judge, basically suggesting he should retire.
Goodman was explaining he’d been in the business for 50 years, when Chmerkovskiy cut him off saying that he “should get out.” Carrie Ann Inaba jumped to Goodman’s defense, scolding Max for his comment. Unfazed, the cocky dancer went on to say “this is MY show” during a subsequent interview, causing Inaba’s jaw to drop. “Did he just say ‘this is my show?'” she asked her fellow judges.
Chmerkovskiy refused to apologize to Goodman or Inaba following the dramatic episode (via ABC News), saying that he was being disrespected, although he did backtrack from the “my show” comments.
Best: Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough mesmerized in "one of the most beautiful performances" ever seen on Dancing with the Stars
We couldn’t discuss the best moments from Dancing with the Stars without at least two coming from Derek Hough! The Emmy winner has danced in dozens of exceptionally sensational numbers with a variety of partners, but his show-stopping spectacle with country music singer Kellie Pickler to “Beneath You’re Beautiful” particularly wowed judges — it even brought Carrie Ann Inaba to tears (via the Daily Mail). “Kellie, you just bared your soul on the dance floor — and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Thank you,” Inaba gushed.
Len Goodman expressed that “good dancing embraces the brain — great dancing embraces the heart,” as he rose from his seat. Bruno Tonioli concurred. “You did a dance of spell-binding beauty. That really was a contemporary work of art.”
The freestyle dance in the finals is often the “decider,” and these two put their heart and soul into this incredibly gorgeous performance. Of course, they were given a perfect score — and yet another win for Hough and his partner!
Worst: when Kim Kardashian's moves were called "cold" by judges on Dancing with the Stars
Once upon a time, Kim Kardashian joined season 7 of Dancing with the Stars, and performed the mambo with partner Mark Ballas to “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Yes, this happened! Unfortunately, the judges flat-out called her performance “cold,” and expressed frustration that she didn’t use her body more while dancing. The global reality star shockingly got eliminated early on in the season, which no one saw coming, despite her lack of rhythm (via E! News).
Kardashian admitted to going home and crying because the experience was so hard for her, and confessed her frustration because she was, indeed, trying. In her defense, she wasn’t that bad, but the judges were a bit harsh on her since more was expected of her, ya know, given her iconic status. Still, believe it or not, Kardashian can be shy.
The bonus of having Kardashian grace the dance floor that season, even though her performance was cut a bit short? The entire Kardashian clan — who’s undergone a stunning transformation — came to watch her dance. Family first!
Best: when Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy stunned crowds in season 22 of Dancing with the Stars
One of the best moments on Dancing with the Stars was when meteorologist Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy (yes, Maks Chmerkovskiy’s brother) danced to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” during season 22’s Icons night. The intro was exceptional, with mirrors set up around the dancers that gave the illusion that there were five pairs of them on the stage, illuminated by a single spotlight from above. The couple wore classic ballroom attire, and performed a graceful, sensual, and intimate Viennese Waltz. No wonder they received the first perfect score of the season during week 7.
Despite earning that perfect score and being fan favorites, Zee and Chmerkovskiy were no match for Nyle DiMarco and partner Peta Mergatroyd (now Chmerkovskiy’s sister-in-law), who wound up beating the couple in the finals. Still, the vibe was pure heaven.
Worst: Maks Chmerkovskiy's leg gave out while holding partner Kirstie Alley and they tumbled mid-performance on Dancing with the Stars
Sorry Maks, but we have to include you in yet another one of the worst moments in Dancing with the Stars history. Maks Chmerkovskiy had a bit of a blunder with partner Kirstie Alley while dancing the Rumba to “Over the Rainbow” in 2011. Right after they began dancing, Chmerkovskiy fell while holding up Alley with his leg; the pair then took a tumble as the crowd’s cheers suddenly screeched to a halt.
Chmerkovskiy sounded sincere at the end of the number, when he explained, “my thigh just gave out, I’m so sorry.” For Chmerkovskiy, that apology likely went a long way, as we know he doesn’t dish them out often.
The pair still scored a 21 out of 30, which is not the worst score in the world compared to some of our other mishaps on Dancing with the Stars. “I didn’t know what to do and he just said keep dancing,” Alley shared with CNN, seemingly in good spirits and not harboring any ill will toward her partner.
Best: when Iraq War vet J.R. Martinez won season 13 of Dancing with the Stars with partner Karina Smirnoff
When Iraq War vet J.R. Martinez and partner Karina Smirnoff won the Mirrorball Trophy, it was one of the biggest highlights in Dancing with the Stars history. It was the dance pro’s first win since joining the show, and Martinez expressed his admiration for the gorgeous Ukrainian, saying she deserves the win.
Martinez was badly disfigured from an explosion (via Entertainment Tonight) that burned 34 percent of his body — and never thought a woman would touch his face again. The war hero, who heartbreakingly admitting that he would come home and cry after being out with friends, charmed America with his uplifting attitude, personality, and sharp dance moves.
Martinez was proud to help get Smirnoff her first Mirrorball Trophy, but credits it all to his “amazing” partner, who is “beautiful” inside and out, as he shared with The Hollywood Reporter. The team wound up getting not one, but two perfect scores in the season 13 finale, before winning it all. “You dance with your heart on your sleeve,” Judge Bruno Tolioni told Yahoo! News. “It was divine.”
Worst: when difficult Kate Gosselin made partner Tony Dovolani want to quit Dancing with the Stars
Jon and Kate Plus 8 star Kate Gosselin was reportedly labeled a “nightmare” by Tony Dovolani on Dancing with the Stars. According to Us Weekly, Gosselin’s partner actually quit on her at one point in season 10 because she was apparently difficult to deal with. As the now-poster child for the pop culture term “Karen,” Kate rolled her eyes through her entire stint on season 10 with her signature perma-scowl.
Dovolani walked out of rehearsal after the mom of eight children kept giving attitude, saying he doesn’t “understand” how she learns. Flustered, Dovolani said, “I quit,” and took off his mic pack as the emotional Philadelphia native broke down.
Fortunately, the pair dusted off their bad vibes, and made it back to the ballroom. However, it’s safe to say that most of America could feel the pro’s pain — at least those who’ve seen the TLC star repeatedly berate her ex-husband.
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