Nicki Swift Asks: Who Is Your All-Time Favorite Dancing With The Stars Judge?

Since first premiering in 2005, "Dancing With the Stars" has been a fixture of American television. Recently, the popular dance competition show, which puts varying degrees of celebrities through strenuous dance training and competition, found a new home on Disney+ after airing exclusively on ABC for 16 years, according to the network. However, we see no reason that suggests the reality show's reign won't continue, as it's essentially only transitioning from one Disney property to another. 

And while the show's revolving door of celebs — which has included Zendaya, Nicole Scherzinger, and Donny Osmond — helps attract viewers year after year, the professional dancers are the people we have to thank for whipping the celebs into shape. There's also a third (and equally important) pillar of the show's success: the "Dancing With the Stars" judges, which include Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and the newest judge, former "DWTS" pro Derek Hough, who joined the judging panel in 2020, per Variety. Over years and seasons, the judging panel has largely remained unchanged (aside from celeb guest judging stints), making the judges some of the most recognizable faces of the franchise.

To gauge public opinion, we asked Nicki Swift readers to vote for their favorite "Dancing With the Stars" judge and the results are super close. 

Julianne Hough is the fan-favorite Dancing With the Stars judge

Julianne Hough is the favorite "Dancing With the Stars" judge, according to Nicki Swift readers. Of the 556 readers who responded to our survey, Julianne garnered 24.46 % of the votes — an impressive feat given she hasn't had a permanent seat on the panel since 2017. Julianne started her "Dancing With the Stars" career as a professional dancer in 2007 and quickly became a fan-favorite. And, in 2014, she became the first pro to transition into the role of a judge. "I'm so excited to be back with my Dancing with the Stars family again on a regular basis," Julianne shared with Us Weekly ahead of Season 19. Next up is Derek Hough, who came in just under his sister with 23.02 % of the votes. Derek, who was also a fan-favorite, transitioned from pro to judge in 2020, although a breakthrough case of COVID left him sitting out part of the 2021 season. As a result, Julianne filled in for him on the judge's panel, according to E! News

Interestingly enough, the original and most consistent "Dancing With the Stars" judges round out the bottom three spots, with Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and Carrie Ann Inaba, taking 22.12 %, 16.01 % and 14.39 % of the votes, respectively. Given the intense backlash the judges sometimes face, like having the celeb contestants call them out, it's not exactly surprising that they might not be quite as popular with the viewers.