Why Dancing With The Stars' Season 31 Finale Surprised Me Despite Predictable Ending

Dancing With The Stars judges on Disney+
(Image credit: Disney+)

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Dancing With The Stars Season 31 finale. Read at your own risk!

Dancing With The Stars Season 31 closed out its inaugural season on Disney+, and what a season finale it was. Fans watched as the series crowned its champion for the year. After a fierce night of dancing from all parties involved that resulted in the most votes ever for a finale, Charli D’Amelio and Mark Ballas took home the Mirrorball trophy. The result was a bit predictable, but I was surprised by the finale for how strong it was from start to finish. 

It was hard to imagine Charli D'Amelio wasn't going to win Dancing With The Stars after netting perfect scores for a bulk of the competition. Despite that, Gabby Windey and Val Chmerkovskiy still gave them some stiff competition and finished second in what was called a close vote by host Tyra Banks. Wayne Brady and Witney Carson came in third place, which meant Shangela and Gleb Savchenko finished in fourth. Basically, they finished in the order of the leaderboards, but Dancing With The Stars fans might've seen that coming. 

What I and others watching might not have expected was the spirited final dance performance of Cheryl Burke ahead of her exit. That, along with other moments like the touching tribute by celebrities who wanted to honor Len Goodman on his final episode, made it hard to keep dry eyes throughout the night. 

Two-hour finales are often a struggle for live competition shows in my experience, and can be loaded with a lot of filler that is essentially killing time up until the winner is announced in the final minutes. Surprisingly, there didn't feel like there were many moments, if any, in which a segment was unnecessary to the overall story of Season 31, or something that Dancing With The Stars fans could've done without. 

I credit some of this to Season 31 having one of its most competitive finales in some time, even if it seemed like this competition was Charli D'Amelio's from the start. Everyone brought their best for the finale, and the freestyle routines were a true highlight of the night for me. 

I especially have to give flowers to Shangela, whose drag routine with Gleb Savchenko had everything from death drops to boob chicken. Len Goodman was so stunned he forgot to place his vote, and I guarantee that performance will go down as an iconic moment in the show's history. It's kind of ironic given Disney+'s snub of Shangela not that long ago!

And if the fourth-place finisher of the season was creating iconic moments in the Dancing With The Stars season finale, it was a pretty damn good night of entertainment. The only thing I think could've improved it was a surprise upset like when Iman Shumpert defeated Jojo Siwa in Season 30, but again, beating Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas always felt like an impossible task. The good news is that the enjoyment of the night didn't hinge on a certain person winning, at least for me, so kudos to Disney+ for ending things on a high note with a top-notch finale. 

That’s it for Season 31 of Dancing With The Stars, but be sure to hold onto that Disney+ subscription because Season 32 is already greenlit and headed to the platform. Check out other great Disney+ (opens in new tab) shows in the meantime, and maybe practice a pasodoble between episodes!

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.