So You Think You Can Judge? The Best and Worst Celebrity Judges of SYTYCD Season 8

In observance of tonight's So You Think You Can Dance finale, we rank this season's celebrity judges.


As the old adage goes, those who cannot do become celebrity judges. (That's how it goes, right?) At least when it comes to So You Think You Can Dance, being a celebrity judge is definitely easier than mastering a dance of any kind! All summer we've seen some really stellar youngsters bend their bones, contort their bodies, and generally defy gravity all for our viewing pleasure (and it has been a pleasure), so as the final four contestants sit back and wait for tonight's results, we thought we'd get a little revenge on their behalf and turn a judgmental eye toward the celebrities who've been hassling and/or praising them all summer.

We've evaluated the celebrity guest judges' merits based on their qualifications, level of criticism, and most importantly, the entertainment value they brought to the show (measured on the Mary Murphy Scale of WOO to WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!). So here they are: Season 8's celebrity judges, ranked from worst to best.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#11. Katie Holmes

Day Job: Dramatic actress (Dawson's Creek, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, unsettling home movies)
Dance Experience: Unspecified
Typical Critique: "I thought your hustling was terrific."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges


Our Verdict: We get it, Katie. Everyone looked beautiful and strong. Next time bring more than two vapid compliments (or at least a thesaurus).


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#10. Carmen Electra

Day Job: Unclear
Dance Experience: Former Prince protégé and founding member of the Pussycat Dolls (before they sang).
Typical Critique: "Dang, girl. You were poppin' so hard."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Weirdly at a loss for words after most of the performances, Carmen Electra at least had the decency to skip out on the results show.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#9. Rob Marshall

Day Job: Film director (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean 4-eva)
Dance Experience: Tony-nominated Broadway choreographer turned director.
Typical Critique: "You let go of the dance and you were an actress. Period. The end."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Though certainly knowledgeable, Rob Marshall's overly smooth and diplomatic critiques were just a big orange snoozefest.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#8. Christina Applegate

Day Job: Comedic actress (Anchorman, the upcoming NBC comedy Up All Night)
Dance Experience: Childhood dance lessons; adulthood aerobics classes.
Typical Critique: "You are so beautiful and your body... (jealous sigh) Like, whatever with your body."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Applegate was pretty funny and unafraid to give negative criticisms, but she came off as mostly confused as to what she was even doing there. Fair enough!


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#7. Kenny Ortega

Day Job: Film director (High School Musical, the upcoming Footloose remake), inventor of Zac Efron
Dance Experience: Ortega was a famous film choreographer (Xanadu, Dirty Dancing, Newsies) who also choreographed the world tours of some guy named Michael Jackson.
Typical Critique: "Guys, you did your job."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Very to-the-point and business-like. He'll get way more respect from us if he actually follows through with his promise to cast Melanie in that Dirty Dancing remake he's directing next.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#6. Debbie Reynolds

Day Job: Film actress (Singin' in the Rain, Mother)
Dance Experience: Decades of performance in movie musicals.
Typical Critique: "You did freak me out, in a good way."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Whether or not Debbie Reynolds was sober that night is not important. What's important is that she is one hilarious old lady. (Betty White, call your lawyer.)


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#5. Kristin Chenoweth

Day Job: Comedic actress (Pushing Daisies, Glee, ABC's upcoming G.C.B.)
Dance Experience: Extensive Broadway credits include Wicked, most every other Broadway show
Typical Critique: "My whole life my dance teacher told me that I made too much noise for such a little girl. I never hear you make one sound. That is such a big feat, and I don't mean the ones on the bottom of your legs."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Tiny and chatty, Chenoweth seemed to have the right kind of knowledge and more importantly knew how to entertain a crowd.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#4. Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Day Job: Comedic actor (Modern Family, The Class)
Dance Experience: Broadway experience; regular viewership of So You Think You Can Dance?
Typical Critique: "Literally goosebumps. It's like Braille on my arm right now and it's like, 'You are amazing.'"
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Who needs thoughtful criticism when you can get a killer one-liner (or five)?


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#3. Megan Mullally

Day Job: Comedic actress (Will & Grace, Childrens Hospital, Party Down)
Dance Experience: Trained at a ballet academy.
Typical Critique: "Chills. Crying. As Oprah would say: 'Wow wow wow.'"
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: She's one of the more hilarious women working today, but Mullally still took her judging duties seriously by freely dispensing constructive criticisms. Funny yet thoughtful!


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#2. Lady Gaga

Day Job: Pop star
Dance Experience: Seeing as her world tours and music videos are basically wall-to-wall choreography, Lady Gaga was one of the few judges who actually downplayed her dance knowledge.
Typical Critique: "You know what I loved so much? The lean back and the hello, I'm a star."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: Few people understand the appeal of sheer spectacle like Lady Gaga, and this show would be nothing without visceral emotions and spontaneity. Lady Gaga was thoroughly ridiculous in all the best ways.


So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

#1. Neil Patrick Harris

Day Job: Comedic actor (How I Met Your Mother) and semi-professional Awards Show Host (Tonys, Emmys)
Dance Experience: He's hung out with tons of dancers?
Typical Critique: "You look like you're from the past, like from the '30s or '40s. You have this glow about you. And you dance like you're from the future."
Entertainment Value:

So You Think You Can Dance Celebrity Judges

Our Verdict: While certainly not the most energetic or laugh-a-minute guest judge, Neil Patrick Harris brought a cerebral yet celebratory vibe to the proceedings that fit this show perfectly—at its best, So You Think You Can Dance is a weekly party for an astonishing art form and NPH's comments made us appreciate it all the more. Bring this guy back!


Who was your favorite celebrity judge this season?

Comments (14)
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NPH was the best because he is my favorite actor and I agree Bring him back he was awesome on there
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Ha Ha, the critiques are hilarious.:)
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I really loved Jesse Tyler Ferguson. I've never seen Modern Family, but I loved him as a judge and I was really happy that they brought him back for the finale results panel.
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I definately loved Kristin Chenowith, Megan Mullalay, Christina Applegate, Debbie Reynolds and the Jesse in that order from first to 5th, I really thought they were great judges.
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Hate Lady Gaga. But Kristin Chenoweth was simply a joy to watch, love her to death.
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I love Lil' C's comments. constructive and well spoken. I'm surprised he wasn't on the list. I could do without all the celebrity judges who just tell them they're "amazing" and "congratulations". That isn't helping anyone and is wasting our time. I don't tune in for the celebrity judges, I tune in for the dancers. P.S. Go Melanie!!!!
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I decided to leave out the choreographers-- But yeah, I thought Sonia was an awesome judge too.
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can't stand lady gaga
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I agree, the judges were rather disappointing. Many of them were just saying "that was amazing". Which really, I can say that, too. What I want from judges, as a viewer, is expert opinion on WHY that was amazing and advice to the dancers so they can learn, grow & improve. I hope they go back to more expert expert judges in the future.



Personally, I would have rated Rob Marshall higher-- he might not be pure entertainment, but he had solid comments-- and Debbie Reynolds lower. It's been decades since she danced, and it showed. And she was just too nice to give even constructive criticism. And why did they leave of Lil C? I thought he was terrific-- really solid feedback, and VERY entertaining.



PS If you're going to use an actress, Neve Campbell would be a better choice than Katie Holmes. She has major ballet experience. But I guess someone in the show has a soft spot for Holmes since this is the second season she's been on SYTYCD.
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I love love love NPH and I did NOT love him on this show. He was one of the worst judges in my opinion and he did not come off likeable.
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I agree with bmill2. Overall, I found the celebrity judges to be hugely disappointing and a failed effort. I hope that if the show continues to air, they do away with them. I want people who have something to say about the dances and dancers besides how attractive they are. Also, get people in there that aren't so "back-patting". Not every dance is as great as they all tell themselves they are.
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NPH was the best because he was able to pointedly critique the dancers and choreographers and wasn't afraid to be honest when something wasn't up to par. Also, he is overflowing with charisma
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Lady Gaga wasn't just there for the shock value. She was an awesome judge with great things to say and it'd be interesting to see if she does end up with melanie on her tour, after or before melanie gets cast for dirty dancing. Anybody else think that regardless of if Melanie wins this thing, this girl's got a sparkling future? She's getting offers left and right!



One of the other standouts was Neil Patrick Harris! I'm sorry but I'm a huge fan of him anyways, that man completely won me over when he didn't tiptoe around the chereographers' feelings and fragile egos like the other judges normally do and he called the chereographers out when they had crappy chereography! I've been waiting for someone to have the balls to do that for years! Not fair that the dancers take the fall when the chereography sucks!
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I didn't see this comment when I replied above, but I also agree with this. Mel has been my favorite from the start, followed by Sasha and Caitlynn. The Women this year were so strong that I think most will have no problems landing jobs. The Men were also great, but overshadowed IMO. Usually, I have two or three total dancers that I really like, but this year there were only three or four that I didn't care for. It's just too bad I found the choreography to be so disappointing. Last nights finale was the worst I remember seeing in a finale.
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