Another season of Dancing with the Stars is at an end. Season 23 has certainly been one of the more predictable seasons from start to finish, with the lowest or second-lowest score getting eliminated every week and the three obvious frontrunners from the start all sitting at the end vying for the Mirror Ball Trophy. For the ninth time in the history of the show, an athlete will be the winner, but none of them will blaze new ground.

'Dancing with the Stars' Season 23 Finale: Who Won the Mirror Ball?

Laurie Hernandez is a gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast, just like season 8 winner Shawn Johnson. James Hinchcliffe is an IndyCar driver, just like season 5 winner Helio Castroneves. And Calvin Johnson is an NFL wide receiver, just like season 12 winner Hines Ward and season 14 winner Donald Driver.

The stakes might be higher for the pros. Sharna Burgess and Lindsay Arnold are looking for their first wins. Meanwhile, Val is trying to best his brother by winning his second Mirror Ball, which would put him in the elite company of Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Julianne Hough, Kym Johnson, Cheryl Burke, and Peta Murgatroyd.

I’m boldly predicting that Hinch will take the win, but it’s incredibly close between him and Laurie. With over 4,500 votes, our poll has Laurie and Val at 51 percent while James and Sharna are at 47 percent. Sorry Calvin, but thanks for playing.

LIVE…from Hollywood…this is the Dancing with the Stars season 23 finale!

Opening Routine:

It’s a big Christmas-themed performance outside in the Grove with all of the stars, including potential future Cabinet member Rick Perry. It’s always nice to see those early eliminations, like Jake T. Austin and Babyface and Vanilla Ice. DWTS does a great job producing these finales because they always look like so much fun.

James and Sharna’s Favorite Dance:

They redo their classic Hollywood Quickstep from Cirque du Soleil Night. Seriously, when is this guy quitting IndyCar and heading to Broadway?

Andy Grammer:

After a recap of the first three weeks (remember those Ryan Lochte protesters?), Andy is back to perform his new single “Fresh Eyes.” This guy seems to have become an honorary member of the DWTS family, he’s always around. Allison Holker and Keo Motsepe perform and I know I was hard on him last season, but I really hope Keo returns as a pro next season. He was finally starting to find his groove.

Calvin and Lindsay’s Favorite Dance:

They redo their “Hotel California” Argentine Tango from Latin Night, aka one of my favorite routines of the season. That double windmill lift is still a thing of beauty.

Maureen and the Men:

It seems Maureen is just as horny as Erin Andrews, so we get a segment of her lusting after Babyface, Ryan, Artem, Keo, and more. Then she gets to dance with them.


The best part of every finale is the bloopers from dress rehearsals, where Tom and Erin get silly and naughty. Dress Rehearsal Erin and Finale Erin are so much better than Regular Erin.

Maks and the Women:

Maks performs with the female pros in a routine that is infinitely better without Amber Rose in it.

Laurie and Val’s Favorite Dance:

They redo their Trio Dance with Maks. Meh, I still don’t like this as a routine for this show. There’s a way to tell a story through dance that still keeps the focus on the dancing and not the story. I also don’t like that it’s all about the Chmerkovskiys and not Laurie. But there’s some added comedy this time since Maks can’t stick the number on Laurie’s back, causing chaos.

Vanilla Ice and Rick Perry:

These two unlikely friends perform “Ice Ice Baby,” with the former governor of Texas serving as the DJ who joins the dance at the end for a fist bump with his BFF. Erin actually asks a question about Rick’s big meeting yesterday without actually saying the name Trump. Smart move, this audience probably would’ve booed.


He performs a Christmas song and, if I’m being honest, I barely even remember him being on this show. That seems like forever ago.

All the Men:

The men of this season, pros and stars, perform a routine with open jackets and no shirts underneath, much to Erin’s delight. Of course, Hinch waited until the finale to show off his abs.

Jana and Gleb’s Favorite Dance:

They redo their insanely sexy Argentine Tango, complete with the shower. Is the goal of this finale to kill Erin with an overload of hot guys?

Holiday Magic:

We get a very cool Mandy Moore routine where a girl gets transported into a Winter wonderland inside her TV. It’s a very cool concept where she interacts with a giant TV monitor, with dancers literally jumping out of the TV onto the ballroom.

24-Hour Fusion Challenge

It’s finally time for the last round of competition. The three pairs had just 24 hours to prepare a new routine that fuses two different styles.

James and Sharna’s Viennese Waltz/Foxtrot

He gives her the race suit he wore on his first race back after his accident as a parting gift. The dance is the perfect final grace note for their season, sweet, tender, and romantic. It effortlessly captures their relationship. Len wishes he could dance like James.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Calvin and Lindsay’s Jive and Quickstep

They have a very fun, brother/sister relationship with lots of laughs. The dance is fun, but there were a few moments that looked like a problem. I can’t blame him because he had such little time to prepare, but so did everyone else.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Laurie and Val’s Argentine Tango and Foxtrot

He’s like her big brother, but it’s time for her to go off on her own. She’s the real deal and it’s a fabulous dance. OK, she’s probably going to win and if she does, she just proved that she deserves it. When it’s done, Tom reveals that Laurie will join the DWTS tour this Winter.

Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40


118: Laurie Hernandez
117: James Hinchcliffe
115: Calvin Johnson


After almost 30 hours of DWTS, it’s time to find out which athlete will win the Mirror Ball. As a cruel joke, Jana Kramer performs her new song as the three couples who beat her out wait for the results. Oh, and a cameraman slips and falls during the song. That seems inevitable since Erin has talked about how slippery the stage in the Grove is all night long.

The couple in THIRD PLACE is…Calvin and Lindsay!

No surprise there. This season has been a battle between Laurie and James since week 1.

Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy ARE THE WINNERS OF DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 23!

Good for her. She definitely deserved it, but it’s never fun when the person who everyone assumes will win as soon as the cast is announced ends up winning. At just 16, Laurie is now the youngest winner ever (sorry Shawn Johnson and Bindi Irwin). And now Val has one more Mirror Ball than his brother Maks. Not only that, but he joins Derek and Mark as only the third male pro to win more than once.

It’s almost funny how this season mirrors exactly what happened last Fall: Lindsay finishes in third, Sharna gets second and they both lose to a male pro who has won before who was partnered with a teenage girl (last time it was Bindi and Derek).

(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.