‘Dancing with the Stars’: Mortifying Performances These Contestants Will Never Live Down

Part of our attraction to reality TV is the possibility of humiliation — and that doubles for any show featuring non-professional dancers trying to dance. Though Dancing with the Stars sees many celebrities prove themselves on the dance floor, we often remember the stars who didn’t do so great. It makes for compelling television, and it reminds us that even the most acclaimed celebrities and athletes can’t be good at everything.

Let’s look at a few celebrities who were humiliated on Dancing with the Stars, ranked from bad to absolutely cringeworthy.

17. Season 5: Marie Osmond faints

Eliminated: Week 10 (finals)

After her performance with partner Jonathan Roberts, Marie Osmond went from excitedly celebrating their success to completely unconscious on the ground. Everyone, including the judges and 500-person audience, seemed completely shocked as Osmond lay motionless on the floor. DWTS host Tom Bergeron quickly cut to a commercial as Roberts attempted to help his partner.

Later on, Osmond shared that “once in a while that happens to me when I get winded. I stop breathing.” But ABC made her complete a medical evaluation anyway. Osmond and Roberts moved on, and ended up placing third in the competition overall.

16. Season 23: Rick Perry takes one for Texas

Eliminated: Week 2

After mounting an unsuccessful bid for the presidency, former Texas governor Rick Perry was on Dancing with the Stars. That’s pretty humiliating, right? It only gets worse when Perry actually starts dancing to “God Bless Texas,” a routine that ensured his merciful finish in 12th place.

“I don’t know what part of it was crazy good,” Goodman said of the dance. “It was pedestrian.”

Next: Her partner’s lack of recovery didn’t do her any favors.

15. Season 12: Kirstie Alley’s partner can barely recover

Eliminated: Week 8

Kirstie Alley admitted that rehearsing over and over was incredibly hard. She and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy didn’t always get along. And it was clear during one of their earlier Season 12 performances. When Chmerkovskiy dipped her and she leaned forward, it appears like his leg bends the wrong way. Alley falls, and he limps, taking a moment to recover before continuing their routine.

Despite this cringeworthy routine, the pair made it all the way to the finals, taking second place behind Hines Ward and Kym Johnson.

Next: An NFL player gets a little too rough.

14. Season 12: Hines Ward crushes his partner

Eliminated: Never! Hines Ward took home the mirror ball trophy.

One of Dancing with the Stars‘ most horrifying injuries didn’t actually occur live on the dance floor. However, it’s certainly worth including here. During rehearsals Ward attempted a daring move and accidentally dropped Johnson beneath him, causing the former NFL wide receiver to fall directly on her neck.

Johnson went to the hospital in a neck brace after moaning that she “couldn’t feel her arms.” Ward said he was “sick” about what happened. Luckily she was cleared for their next performance, a tango that scored them perfect 10s. The duo eventually won the whole competition.

Next: This swimmer faced an Olympian-sized scandal. 

13. Season 23: Ryan Lochte gets shamed by protestors

Eliminated: Week 7

Ryan Lochte’s humiliation on Dancing with the Stars didn’t actually have anything to do with his moves on the dance floor. The Olympian was left stunned and embarrassed after two protesters heckled him and attempted to rush the stage while wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts on an episode of Season 23 of the ABC series.

The incident occurred after Lochte’s claim that he and his fellow teammates were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. It was later revealed that he had vandalized the station, for which Lochte earned a 10-month suspension. Despite the controversial incident, Lochte continued to participate in the competition before getting eliminated in the seventh week.

Next: TV hosts should just refrain from DWTS.

12. Season 3: Jerry Springer’s clumsy paso doble

Eliminated: Week 7

Jerry Springer’s dancing skills left a lot to be desired during Dancing with the Stars. Luckily, the TV host had partner Kym Johnson to help him, and they managed to pull through seven episodes.

It wasn’t easy to watch his awkward hip shaking and offbeat steps, but Springer had an upbeat attitude — and an even better sense of humor. “At my age we don’t shake hips, we replace them,” he said in one episode. And Springer exited with the same good-natured grace. “Thank you for having me. And thank you for letting me go home,” he said during his elimination.

Next: He’s good with a microphone — not a dance partner.

11. Season 11: Michael Bolton should’ve stayed in the dog house

Eliminated: Week 2

One might expect a successful pop singer to have a few dance moves in his arsenal, but you’d be wrong — at least when it comes to Michael Bolton. The pop singer received harsh criticism for his lack of moves all season, as he basically did nothing but skip across the dance floor. Case in point: Tonioli described Bolton’s second routine as “the worst jive in 11 seasons” and said he did it “very, very, very badly.”

Bolton was eliminated shortly after and needless to say, the singer didn’t take well to Tonioli’s “mean-spirited” critique. He later stated, “Bruno should search his soul for what he is doing on that show.”

Next: For this athlete, Olympic skill doesn’t carry over.

10. Season 19: Lolo Jones loses — again

Eliminated: Week 1

Lolo Jones ruined a long history of Olympic athletes excelling on DWTS with her lack of coordination during her first dance. It’s easy to see when the track and field athlete spoils the choreography — a moment that wasn’t lost on the judges who criticized her accordingly.

That ended up being her only performance on the show, as Jones was the first one eliminated. The former Olympian later recounted her heartbreak on Facebook, with a post that read: “When I was dancing last night and messed up I had flashbacks of the three Olympics and that people constantly tease me about. I thought oh no here it comes again. People are going to ridicule me. I’m so tired of feeling embarrassed.”

Next: This mustachioed newscaster just didn’t have the moves.

9. Season 22: Geraldo Rivera’s Trump impression creeps everyone out

Eliminated: Week 1

Geraldo Rivera, a newscaster known for his mustache, didn’t survive the first week of Dancing with the Stars. That may have something to do with his wooden salsa dance or the cringe-inducing Donald Trump impersonation that came with it. The latter specifically spurred a social media firestorm, with Twitter users reacting with a mixture of amusement and disbelief. “Is Geraldo dressed as trump … I’m turning my tv off,” one tweet read.

Next: This daytime talk show host was eliminated very early in the competition.

8. Season 12: Wendy Williams’ bumbling fox trot

Eliminated: Week 2

Fox’s daytime talk show host, Wendy Williams, never got past fumbling with her feet during her thankfully short time on the series. Despite partner Tony Dovolani’s best efforts, Williams’ lackluster performances got them eliminated second.

During her brief stint, Williams received some harsh criticism. In Week 2, after delivering a less-than-stellar fox trot, judge Len Goodman said: “Your story was about hard work and struggling to achieve your goal. But it (the dance) was a struggle, a dance more suited to the radio.” Ouch.

Next: This “mad scientist” loses it on the dance floor.

7. Season 17: Bill Nye tears his ligament

Eliminated: Week 2

Everyone’s favorite science teacher appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Sadly, he and partner Tyne Stecklein’s presence was short-lived as they were the second pair eliminated. Prior to their exit, they performed the paso doble, with Nye dressed as a mad Beethoven. Toward the end of the routine he tripped, quickly recovering but tearing a ligament in his knee in the process.

The performance is bad, the costume is awkward, and the injury is sad; combined they make for an embarrassing evening for Nye. He and Stecklein returned the next week and tried to make it work, but with a locked knee, Nye couldn’t recover his role on the show.

Next: Humor couldn’t save this reality star’s terrible, wooden performance.

6. Season 10: Kate Gosselin’s painful paso doble

Eliminated: Week 5

Jon & Kate Plus 8 star Kate Gosselin bombed hard during her short stint on the series’ 10th season — particularly while trying to pull off a paso doble themed around her, ahem, strained relationship with the tabloid press. The dance is stiff, slow, and strange, especially since Gosselin remains stone-faced the whole time.

Social media users compared her lackluster dancing skills to that of “a shopping cart.” Harsh!

Next: This bad pairing led to an early exit.

5. Season 22: Mischa Barton looks so uncomfortable

Eliminated: Week 3

Mischa Barton had a tough time on Dancing with the Stars, and it was evident on screen. Not only was the tension between her and dance partner Artem Chigvintsev palpable, but her dancing was downright cringeworthy.

The O.C. star got eliminated after three episodes, and she later admitted her experience on the series wasn’t pleasant. “Ugh, I had no idea it would be so bad. I got told off by my dancer,” she explained in an interview with The Ringer, adding, “It was like The Hunger Games. It was all a popularity contest. It was awful. I was so glad to get kicked off.”

Next: An unfortunate moment turned this guy into the talk of the town.

4. Season 24: Bonner Bolton gets a handful

Eliminated: Week 8

OK, so this didn’t involve a dance routine but we must include it based on sheer embarrassment alone. Pro bull rider Bonner Bolton was red-faced after cameras caught an awkward moment with partner Sharna Burgess. In the season premiere, Burgess tried to put his arm around Bolton’s waist. Unfortunately, he misjudged his position and his hand strayed too low. Burgess quickly adjusted his hand, but the clip went viral — later dubbed #handgate on social media.

Burgess, for her part, had no qualms about defending her partner. “Anyone who has the ridiculous idea that it was intentional … is straight up stupid … ” she tweeted. “[Bolton’s] a true southern gentleman & was so embarrassed that it even happened, let alone got caught on camera for gossips to gawk at.”

Next: This sexy reality star’s performance focused too heavily on her looks.

3. Season 7: Kim Kardashian barely tries

Eliminated: Week 3

Kim Kardashian’s appearance on DWTS seems like a footnote to her long history with reality television. And it’s easy to see why: She wasn’t good. The curvy star focused too much on her sexuality and too little on fluid dance moves. To be fair, Kardashian has no problem admitting she hates dancing and has zero skills in that department. According to the reality star, her ineptitude at dancing has even caused strife between her and husband Kanye West.

“It was our biggest fight that I don’t dance at Kanye’s concerts,” she once told her sister, Kourtney, also adding, “I did not dance on Dancing with the Stars. Like, I did not dance!”

Next: This tech tycoon just couldn’t get with the program.

2. Season 8: Steve Wozniak’s two left feet

Eliminated: Week 4

Unsurprisingly, the computer programmer who helped build Apple from the ground up isn’t a great dancer. Steve Wozniak managed to last only four weeks on the show during its eighth season. He received the night’s lowest scores for all but one week. Not surprising, given the tough comments he received from the judges.

His cha-cha was so all over the place that Tonioli gave it this hilariously graphic depiction: “It was like a Teletubby going mad in a gay pride parade.”

Next: This television broadcaster experiences a humiliating wardrobe malfunction.

1. Season 13: Nancy Grace exposes herself

Eliminated: Week 8

Despite a team of talented costume designers, Dancing with the Stars has experienced its fair share of wardrobe malfunctions. And Nancy Grace fell victim to this snafu in Week 2. As she and her partner Tristan McManus danced toward the judges her dress slipped, exposing her breast to the whole audience.

The DWTS producers quickly cut to a show logo while host Bergeron helped a mortified Grace adjust. Bergeron later said, “On the European version that would be perfectly fine.”

Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado and Ali Harrison.

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