After 11 grueling weeks of competition on Dancing with the Stars season 21, it all comes down to this. Either Bindi Irwin, Nick Carter, or Alek Skarlatos will win the Mirror Ball Trophy. But before we get there, we need to wade through two hours of performances and the 24-hour fusion challenge.

'Dancing with the Stars' Season 21 Finale Recap: Who Is the Winner?

Both Bindi and Alek would be the second-youngest winner ever, with season 8’s Shawn Johnson remaining the youngest. A win for Nick or Alek would mean pros Sharna Burgess or Lindsay Arnold would get their first-ever Mirror Ball, while Bindi’s victory would give Derek an astounding sixth win. There’s a lot to get to, so pace yourselves.

LIVE…from Hollywood…this is the Dancing with the Stars season 21 finale!

Opening: The show kicks off with an impressive outdoor Christmas dance number with all of the pros and contestants popping up, including Victor Espinoza doing his weird pelvic thrusting. Then we get a recap of last night’s performances, which reminds me that I actually want Bindi to win, even if that means another Derek victory.

Chaka Khan: She performs “I’m Every Woman” outside at the Grove. Keo Motsepe shows up with tons of energy to dance with the female pros. I hope he comes back and gets a good partner next time so he’s not eliminated right away,

Kim Zolciak and Tony Dovolani: The Real Housewife who was forced to withdraw gets to come back and do a bit of her “I Dream of Jeannie” dance. She’s not half bad.

Paula Deen: She does her Gilligan’s Island dance with Louis van Amstel and I’m not sure why. Seeing her for a few seconds in Carlos’ Freestyle was fun, but I don’t need more.

Bromance: For some reason, we get a hilarious bromance montage of Carlos and Alek set to “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. It’s so silly.

Magic Carlos: Carlos PenaVega recreates his Magic Mike routine with a bunch of the male pros. Erin Andrews is in Heaven.

Victor Espinoza: He does his weird “La Bamba” dance and, as always, is full of ridiculous energy.

Andy Grammer: He sings “Good to Be Alive” and it’s a fantastic reminder of how darn entertaining he is. How can you not be in love with this guy?

Gary Busey: He dances and it’s a reminder that, even though this season had more perfect scores than ever before, it also had a bunch of truly terrible dancers who all got eliminated in the early weeks.

Hayes Grier: He does his amazing Contemporary routine with Emma Slater before Santa announces that Hayes is going to be a part of the DWTS tour this winter. Good for him, something I definitely didn’t expect to say when the cast was announced and I had no idea who this kid was.

Alexa PenaVega
and Mark Ballas: They do their supremely awesome Breaking Bad routine. I can’t help but think that if Tamar Braxton didn’t make it back from the hospital, Alexa might actually be in the Final 3.

Twas the Night Before Finals: There’s a comedy skit that makes zero sense with Gary as Santa, Paula as Mrs. Claus, and Victor as an elf. Santa Busey wrestles a bear and it’s like a crazy fever dream.

Christmas Dance: If you want to hear Chaka Khan and Andy Grammer duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” this show has it.

Len Goodman: There’s a special video message from Len Goodman, and he’s coming back next season! Thank God!!! This season had more perfect scores than ever before, which I assume is a direct result of Len not being around.

24-House Fusion Challenge

It’s finally time to finish the leaderboard as the final three couples had 24 hours to come up with a new routine combining two styles.

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: SalsaTango

It’s a great final dance for them, fast and full of Latin fire and passion. They put everything into it and really went out swinging. The judges praise them for leaving it all on the dance floor.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

I don’t know why we even bother with these last dances.

Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: RumbaTango

He ends on a mostly strong note, but there seemed to be a little misstep when they transitioned from Rumba to Tango. The judges liked that he actually gave them some hip action, but noticed a few foot faults due to nerves. They thought his Rumba was better than it was last night.

Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9=27

The scores make it obvious who needs to be in third. And for some reason, Alek is going to be a part of the DWTS tour just like Hayes.

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: Cha Cha-Argentine Tango

She breaks my damn heart crying in the video package. The dance is joyful and exuberant, capturing her magic from the whole season. Just give her the damn Mirror Ball already!!!

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10=30

That’s eight perfect scores for her if you count the Dance Duet with Alexa, more than any star ever.


Just like last season, the two top dancers are perfect in the finale (Rumer Willis and Riker Lynch) and the military guy is clearly in third (Noah Galloway). Basically, Alek would need to beat Bindi or Nick by about 2.5 percent of votes to overtake each of them.

90: Nick Carter, Bindi Irwin
84: Alek Skarlatos


The scores are in, the dancing is over, now it’s time for the results. But first, Nick Carter performs his new single over a montage of the Final 3’s performances during the season. Then it’s time to reveal who’s at the bottom.

The couple in THIRD PLACE is…Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold!

Perfect, that’s exactly how it should be. Third place is definitely way better than he ever should’ve hoped to get. Now it’s back to the ballroom for the final results.


Hooray for Bindi! She’s a magical and inspirational human being and I can’t help but be incredibly happy for her. It also means Derek now has six wins, four more than any other pro. The pros lift Bindi and Derek on their shoulders. Even Nick admits that Bindi deserved it.

Dancing with the Stars is off for the winter, but it returns Monday, March 21 with season 22 and the return of head judge Len Goodman!

(Image courtesy of ABC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.