The 19 Most Dramatic Dancing With the Stars Injuries Ever!
Someone could write a book — a long one — about all the pain and suffering on Dancing With the Stars. It’s all for you, Mirror Ball trophy!
Each season has at least half a dozen noteworthy injuries, literally from head to toe. We just saw two rib injuries in one week on Season 18 — Danica McKellar in Week 7 rehearsals, and Amy Purdy after her Week 7 Rumba — and Billy Dee Williams had already withdrawn from the season due to chronic back pain.
DWTS history is filled with major and minor physical pain, plus two cases of on-camera fainting (Marie Osmond and Lisa Vanderpump, you made the books) and other show-affecting illnesses. Let’s review some of the most memorable injuries in the 18 seasons to date, in order of their appearance.
Cristián de la Fuente, Season 6
Cristián ruptured a tendon in his left biceps muscle during his Week 7 Samba. You can see him in pain during the dance. He was sent to the hospital immediately afterward and missed the end of the show, but he refused to have surgery until after he was eliminated from the whole competition.
Julianne Hough Season 7
Julianne went to the hospital just after the Week 6 Results Show after experiencing extreme stomach pains. On the next performance show, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with
endometriosis and needed to have surgery to have her appendix removed. So her partner, Cody Linley, danced with replacement pro Edyta Sliwinska for the next two weeks. Julianne returned to dance with Cody in the Semifinals.
Misty May-Treanor, Season 7
Misty had to withdraw from DWTS on Week 3 when she tore her Achilles tendon in Jive rehearsals with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The day after she left the competition, she had surgery to repair the tendon. That same night, on the Results Show, Maks danced the Jive he was going to dance with Misty, but with Edyta.
Nancy O'Dell and Jewel, Season 8
There have actually been a few occasions where people were supposed to compete on DWTS but had to back out before the premiere, due to injuries — including Romeo Miller, who was supposed to dance back on Season 2, and Ryan O’Neal on Season 13. But Season 8 actually had two people drop out from injuries right before the first show. Nancy O’Dell twisted her knee and had to be replaced by Bachelor alum Melissa Rycroft, who only had a couple of days to practice her first dance. Jewel was supposed to compete alongside her husband Ty Murray, but she fractured both her tibias and was replaced by Holly Madison.
Steve-O, Season 8
The judges had to score Amy Purdy’s Season 18 dance from its dress rehearsal, which has actually been done a couple of times before. Steve-O is the Jackass stunt king, but he had a bad back on Season 8, and he was injured when he landed on his microphone pack in a dress rehearsal for his Week 2 Salsa with Lacey Schwimmer. He wasn’t able to dance on the live show, so the judges critiqued their pre-recorded dress rehearsal.
Melissa Rycroft, Season 8
Melissa dealt with a similar situation later on Season 8. She had a rib injury during Week 8 Jive rehearsals and was judged on her dress rehearsal footage with Tony Dovolani. Pro Lacey ended up filling in for Melissa in that week’s group Mambo performance.
Tom DeLay, Season 9
We’re still not sure why former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was on the show at all, but even before this season started, it was reported that he might have a stress fracture in his foot. But the slight stress fracture was later revealed to be a full one, and on Week 3 Tom added that he had stress fractures in both feet; his doctor and the producers advised him to withdraw from the show, but he wanted to get through one last dance. So he did his Week 3 Samba, threw his money on the ground, and then quit.
Kym Johnson, Season 12
Kym's injury is more visibly memorable than most, since it was caught on camera and a neck fall is just scary to watch. Kym and Hines Ward, who went on to win Season 12, had a mishap in rehearsal when attempting a difficult lift for the Semifinals. He ended up falling on her, pushing her neck to the ground, and she was left on the floor saying she couldn't feel her arms. The paramedics came and put her in a neck brace, then took her to the hospital. But not only did she turn out OK, they ended up getting a perfect score for that week's Argentine Tango.
Melissa Gilbert, Season 14
Maria Menounos got injured in new ways every week this season, but Melissa had a little situation on Rock Week. Melissa broke her back two years before going on DWTS and she and partner Maks had to work around that injury all season. But Melissa hit her head during her Week 4 Paso Doble, and afterward she said she felt dizzy so they took her to the hospital. You may recall how Gavin DeGraw chivalrously carried her after her performance because she felt too weak to walk. Melissa ended up with a mild concussion and whiplash, and Tom Bergeron said she would sit out the Results Show on her doctor's advice, but return the next week.
Dorothy Hamill, Season 16
They waited for the very end of the Week 2 show, when it was elimination time, to bring out Dorothy and Tristan MacManus to reveal Dorothy was taking the advice of her spine surgeon and withdrawing from DWTS. "I have an injury that could be irreparable, and nerve damage, and it would be completely unfair for me to stay in this and have any of these people go home," Dorothy said. She couldn’t do what she needed to do on the show, and she needed to stay strong as an athlete, so she decided to say goodbye.
Billy Nye, Season 17
Bill The Science Guy injured his quad toward the end of his Week 2 dance, which was visible in the routine. He went to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with a badly torn tendon. The doctor advised against dancing, but Bill decided to keep going, using a brace to keep his leg immobilized. He basically put the burden on Tyne Stecklein to choreograph their Week 3 Jazz around his injury. Tyne did a great job, although robot Bill didn't move much, but it was great just to see him try. The crowd chanted "Bill! Bill! Bill!" to support him, but he was eliminated that week anyway.
Just about everyone who has ever been on the show could make this injury list, but we hope no new names are added in the future. Stay safe out there, guys — it’s just a dance show!