‘Dancing With the Stars’: 15 Times Judges Made Really Mean Comments

Over the years, there have been celebrities who blew judges out of the water and got standing ovations. But there have been much more who got harsh critiques at the end of their routines. Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and Julianne Hough have all had their moments of putting someone in the hot seat.

Sometimes celebrities have taken the criticism in stride. Other times, they fought back and even demanded an apology. So what are the worst things that have been said when giving feedback?

Here are the 15 times judges made really mean comments on Dancing With the Stars.

1. ‘The worst jive in 11 seasons’

Chelsie Hightower twirls into Michael Bolton on Dancing with the Stars.
Michael Bolton on Dancing with the Stars | ABC

Michael Bolton wasn’t a huge hit with the judges after doing his jive routine. Tonioli called it “the worst jive in 11 seasons.” But the singer didn’t take this insult lying down.  He later talked about how his comment hurt his mother. “It broke my heart for her,” Bolton said according to People. “She was very angry. It’s a good thing that there was an entire dance floor between her and Bruno.”

Bolton wanted an apology from Tonioli afterward saying “I don’t wish to pressure the show. I don’t blame them. Nor do I wish ABC to put any pressure on him. I think it’s a personal epiphany [Bruno] may have to have.” He then continued, “I asked for it in one interview and I felt he should express a public apology to me.”

The Grammy winner also talked about how this kind of feedback could hinder the show. “It’s not realistic to expect people to expose themselves to that kind of negativity that doesn’t have a positive encouragement message connected to it,” said Bolton.

Next: This real housewife felt like this comment was a sexist double standard.

2. ‘It was a little bit too raunchy’

Erika Girardi sitting in a chair in a gold dress.
Erika Girardi had words for the judges. | Giphy

Erika Girardi has no problem with her confidence and showing off her sexy side. Sadly, that wasn’t appreciated when she brought it into her salsa routine.

Goodman said, “I know the salsa is sort of a sexy side of dance. To me, it was a little bit too raunchy, but I’m what I am.” The Real Housewife then interjected “old.” She later called the comment out.

The crowd was going crazy for it,” she wrote in a blog post. “But that’s that’s the price you play for owning your sexuality and not being afraid and being fearless and being yourself as a woman. You’re held to a different standard and judged differently than men.”

Next: This routine was compared to a tragic movie.

3. ‘It’s like Leo and Kate in Titanic

Derek Hough and Jennie Garth dancing together.
Their routine did not win the vote of this judge. | Giphy

Jennie Garth and Derek Hough’s routine went awry when they tried to pull off a stunt at the end. She hit her head and they ended the routine on the floor.

Tonioli said, “It’s like Leo and Kate in Titanic. You know it started very well but we found a few icebergs along the way.”

Next: This judge got snappy when someone was blocking her camera.

4. ‘You’re blocking my camera’

Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas dancing while wearing pink outfits.
Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas didn’t impress. | ABC

Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas blew judges away with their second routine. It ended with a standing ovation from the audience and many compliments from the judges. But things took a turn when Carrie Ann Inaba said she would like to apologize to Leachman so the actress approached the judges’ table. Then Inaba said, “You’re blocking my camera.”

Things didn’t exactly end there. When Leachman moved, Inaba also said, “You pushed yourself to the edge of your capabilities,” and Leachman assured her she didn’t and can do more.

Next: This routine got two judges to yell at each other.

5. ‘It was manic, it was not sweet!’

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff dancing while wearing brown outfits.
This sexy routine didn’t win the judge’s hearts. | ABC via YouTube

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff’s rumba tore the judges apart and got them into a screaming match. While Tonioli and Goodman thought it wasn’t hot enough, Carrie Ann Inaba called it sweet.

That’s when Goodman shouted back, “It was manic, it was not sweet! It was not sweet!”

Next: This reality star was compared to a shopping cart.

6. ‘It looked like Tony was pushing a shopping cart around the floor’

Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani smile on Dancing with the Stars.
Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani didn’t shine Dancing with the Stars. | ABC

Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani had a pretty hard time on the competition show together. The first week, Gosselin was very stiff, and that meant she got a lot of feedback about her nerves.

Tonioli even said, “It looked like Tony was pushing a shopping cart around the floor.”

Next: This reality star’s famous guns were deflated with this comment.

7. ‘Did I tell you you got the guns but not the ammunition?’

Mike Sorrentino and Karina Smirnoff are dancing together.
Mike Sorrentino’s dance failed to impress the judges on Dancing with the Stars. | ABC

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s first dance with Smirnoff went fairly well, but he didn’t win over the judges with his back talk. Goodman said he came across as under-rehearsed.

When Sorrentino threw something back at him, Goodman said, “Thank you very much. Did I tell you you got the guns but not the ammunition?”

Next: This celebrity was compared to a weird television character.

8. ‘A Teletubby going mad at a gay pride parade’

Steve Wozniak is wearing a suit and wearing glasses as he is dancing with his partner.
Steve Wozniak’s dance drew some harsh criticism on Dancing with the Stars. |ABC

Steve Wozniak didn’t do very well on the show, but tried to make up for it by having fun routines. It still didn’t make him immune to the judges.

After his cha-cha-cha routine, Tonioli said, “I don’t know if it was hilarious or delirious. It was like watching a Teletubby going mad at a gay pride parade.”

Next: These judges told this political correspondent that he was better just sitting down.

9. ‘All the problems started as soon as you stood up’

Tucker Carlson and Elana Grinenko dancing on Dancing With the Stars.
Tucker Carlson and Elana Grinenko’s dance fell flat on Dancing With the Stars. | ABC

Tucker Carlson and Elena Grinenko’s cha-cha-cha started out with the political commentator sitting in a chair for a long period of time. This, along with his dance moves, didn’t get him high points with the judges.

Goodman said, “The best part was the start. All the problems started as soon as you stood up,” while Inaba pointed out that he didn’t dance for half the number.

Next: This scientist was criticized for not having enough jazz in his routine.

10. ‘I don’t know what Bob Fosse would have to say about the jazz because, to be honest, I didn’t see any’

Billy Nye and Tyne Stecklein doing a robot routine.
Their robot routine entertained fans, but did not impress Bruno Tonioli. | ABC via YouTube

Bill Nye had a rough go of it on the show, but still competed. At one point, he had a major injury, so he and Tyne Stecklein worked around it with a robotic routine. It was entertaining, but that didn’t stop Tonioli from holding back.

“I don’t know what Bob Fosse would have to say about the jazz because, to be honest, I didn’t see any,” he said, “but it was very entertaining.”

Next: It’s not a good sign when your dancing is compared to an illness.

11. ‘It’s like a bad cold. You can’t get rid of it!’

Rick Perry dances in a white shirt and pink vest.
Bruno Tonioli’s feedback could have been more constructive.| Giphy

Rick Perry and Emma Slater struggled to impress the judges. After their quickstep routine, Tonioli called Perry’s dances very catchy.

He then said “it’s like a bad cold. You can’t get rid of it!” He also told him that he was too heavy on his feet.

Next: This comedian was recommended a hip replacement.

12. Bruno Tonioli said D.L. Hughley’s salsa required a hip replacement

D. L and Cheryl dancing in red outfits.
Some found his feedback to have been too harsh. | Giphy

The comedian really struggled on the show, and the judges didn’t hold back. After performing the salsa with Cheryl Burke, Tonioli said D.L. Hughley needed a hip replacement.

He didn’t take this feedback lightly. “I don’t like being verbally assaulted without having the opportunity to retaliate,” he said.

Next: This celebrity felt body-shamed by this judge’s comment.

13. ‘Oh, I’m uncomfortable’

Amber Rose being hugged on stage by her partner.
Amber Rose responded to this unusual comment. | Giphy

This comment made multiple headlines. Amber Rose performed a salsa with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. When it was Hough’s turn to give feedback, she made a comment that made Amber Rose feel ashamed.

“It was a point in the dance where I had to lift my leg up and Maks dipped me and [Julianne] said, ‘Oh, I’m uncomfortable,’ and I instantly, I felt, I did feel body-shamed,” she explained on her podcast Loveline. 

Hough later apologized.

Next: This judge turned a movie reference into an insult.

14. ‘This was like a series of unfortunate events’

Steve-O is sitting on the steps on stage as Lacey Schwimmer has an arm around him and is looking at him.
Was Steve-O judged too harshly given his injury? | ABC

Steve-O had a really tough time in the competition. He sustained an injury after he fell on his mic pack. Because of that, he had to be judged on his rehearsal, and most of the judges thought there wasn’t enough salsa in their routine.

“This was like a series of unfortunate events and none of it made sense,” said Tonioli. He plainly asked, “Where is the salsa?”

Next: This dance was accused of being more like a march.

15. ‘It looked more like an army drill’

Ty Murray dancing with his partner.
His dance moves couldn’t impress the highly-selective judge. | Giphy

Ty Murray didn’t impress the judges with his first dance on the show. “Ty, it looked more like an army drill than the cha-cha-cha,” said Tonioli. “Left! Right! Left! Right!”

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

Read more: ‘Dancing with the Stars’: The Worst Contestant From Every Season

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