The “D” in DWTS may not stand for Dancing anymore, it might be Derek. If Dancing with the Stars has one real star, it’s most likely pro dancer Derek Hough. The man has won more times than anyone else, been to more finales, has more perfect scores and he’s the only pro with an Emmy on his mantle.

None of this is a criticism. I’m on record as loving Derek more than most and sometimes his success comes at a price (largely in the form of undervalued scores from judge Len Goodman). But there’s no denying that Derek Hough is the most popular and successful pro on the show.

This week, for the second season in a row, he won immunity during the Top 7 by getting the highest score. That’s no surprise as he and Amber Riley currently have the highest average score for the entire season. And that’s no surprise as Derek has had the highest average score in four of the past six seasons (and one of the times he didn’t, he was only one point away).

The point is that Derek has become bigger than the show and it seems like an unfair advantage. Whichever celebrity gets him as a partner is almost guaranteed to make it to the finale. Heck, if he was Valerie Harper’s partner, I think it’s possible she’d still be dancing.

So I pose the question: Should he retire? I’d hate to imagine the show without him, and I’m sure he’s a big draw for many viewers, but at some point, when the pro is more of a “star” than most of the celebrities, it might be in the best interest of the show for him to leave.

I’m not suggesting he should part ways with the show altogether. Perhaps he can stay on as a backstage correspondent (or just replace Brooke Burke-Charvet completely). Or, if Len Goodman wants to take a break, Derek seems like he would make a superb new judge. He definitely has the charisma and appeal to make it work and his sister proved that former pros make good judges.

I think it’s a question worth asking simply because, in so many different ways, Derek Hough dominates Dancing with the Stars. Here are just some of the ways he’s the best.

Most Wins

Derek has won four Mirror Ball Trophies and is possibly on his way to a fifth with Amber Riley. No other pro has three, with Cheryl Burke, Mark Ballas, Kym Johnson and Derek’s sister Julianne Hough all at two.

Most Finales

Derek has appeared in six finales during his first 11 seasons on the show, which actually ties the total by Cheryl Burke (though she’s appeared on four more seasons). In fact, he’s finished in the Top 6 every single season (including this one). That’s a stunning and unmatched feat on the show, and proves that he’s destined to go far every time.

Most 30s

Derek has received more perfect scores during his time on DWTS than any other pro. He’s had 24 perfect 30 dances. Cheryl Burke has 19, Mark Ballas has 17 and no one else has more than 11. He’s also done it with a wider variety than anyone else, as he has 30s with eight different partners (and it feels like only a matter of time before Amber Riley is his ninth partner to get a 30).

Most Highest Scores

It makes sense that, with the most wins, Derek also holds the record for most times having the highest average score during a season. He’s done it five times (and currently leads season 17, which would be his sixth). Not only did he do it all four times he won, but he also had the best average score of season 13 with Ricki Lake despite finishing third. Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani and Mark Ballas have all had the highest average score twice, but no other pro has done it more than once.

Most Emmys

This year Derek became the first DWTS pro to win an Emmy for Outstanding Choreography. That’s after five total nominations, more than any other pro on the show. Julianne Hough and Cheryl Burke were each nominated twice while Mark Ballas, Tony Dovolani, Chelsie Hightower and Louis van Amstel have all been nominated once.

Most Twitter Followers

While not necessarily an objective measurement of popularity, Derek has more Twitter followers than any other DWTS pro by a considerable margin. He has roughly 427,000 followers, while Cheryl Burke is in second with 342,000. Karina Smirnoff and Mark Ballas are the only other active pros over 200,000.

Obviously Derek Hough gets better scores than any other pro, more accolades and awards for his choreography than any other pro, and has more fans than any other pro. When combined, that’s a recipe for instant success that puts every other couple at a distinct disadvantage from day one.

Either Derek Hough should retire as a pro partner on Dancing with the Stars or he should be given a handicap. Maybe give him the token older lady instead of saddling Tristan MacManus with that responsibility. Or at least partner him with someone who doesn’t have any music or dance experience (like Leah Remini).

Whatever happens, the show needs to address the fact that Derek is the real star, otherwise every single female celebrity who gets cast on season 18 had better start praying to land Derek as a partner. Whoever gets him can start picking the music for their finale freestyle right away.

(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.