Series: Dance Moms

She makes stars, not friends.note 

"My world is with my girls,
living on the dancefloor!"

A very controversial but nonetheless very successful Reality Television series on Lifetime that is currently in its fifth season since its premiere in 2011. The show is about the Abby Lee Dance Company (headed by Abby Lee Miller), the girls who are learning to dance at the company, the drama between their mothers (the titular "dance moms"), and all of the bumps along the way.

Its success inspired a short-lived Miami spin-off and a dance competition spin-off. It also launched a British version in 2014 on Lifetime UK called Dance Mums with Jennifer Ellison (Abby appeared on the first episode). On the flipside, the show became very controversial for a variety of reasons, from certain Never Live It Down moments to the existence of the show as a whole.

This is the current main cast.

It's also worth noting that Paige, Mackenzie, Chloe, and her little sister Clara all have Youtube accounts.

Abby published an autobiography called Everything I Learned About Life, I Learned in Dance Class that is available for purchase here from Amazon and here from Barnes & Noble.

Holly has also published a book titled Moments of Clarity that is available for purchase here from Amazon and also on her website.


This series provides examples of the following:

  • Abbey Road Crossing: Done by Christi and Chloe on one of their trips to England.
  • A Woman and Her Dog: Abby was very attached to her dog Broadway Baby, so when she died, it was nothing less than a tragedy for her.
  • The Ace: Maddie. She was unstoppable in season one, winning titles and trophies left and right and staying at the top of the pyramid for almost the entire season. She's gotten insane amounts of opportunities in the industry, she's considered to be Abby's favorite (no matter how many times Abby might object to this), and if anyone could be considered the most recognizable of the ALDC team, it's her.
    • Asia as well.
    • Sophia Lucia, in the brief time that she was on the team. And Abby made sure everyone knew it.
  • Action Mom: The dance moms can sometimes be this.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The room known as the "Dancers' Den".
  • Adult Fear: See Darker and Edgier below.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: As mentioned in an episode where the girls received NO awards for their 'barely-there' costumes.
    • Arguably the outfits the girls wear to practice in as well - most of the time, they wear crop-tops and booty shorts. In the spin-off series, the girl who wears the shortest top is the oldest girl, Jessie, even though she's technically the only one of the group (except maybe Sammi) who actually needs to wear a shirt...
    • And what about the infamous "topless showgirls" dance? The clothing was picked out to give the effect that they were naked. Unsurprisingly, the episode is unavailable online and on DVD.
  • Agony of the Feet: Paige suffers this as a result of getting her plantar warts removed.
    • It comes back later in the season when her doctor clears her of her broken foot and she tries to dance again.
  • Almighty Mom: The trope to look under if you want to find the core of this show's insanity.
  • Alpha Bitch / Blondes Are Evil: Cathy.
  • Always Second Best: Chloe. Justified, since Maddie is constantly on the top of the pyramid and gets all of the solos. It's gotten to the point where Christi has accused Abby of giving Maddie unfair advantages to keep her on top.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Kalani and Kira definitely aren't white, but they're not exactly black ether...
  • Ambiguously Gay: In the spin-off series "Dance Moms: Miami", the dance instructors, Victor and Angel.
  • And I Must Scream: For most of "The Last Text", Paige is completely immobile, barely even blinking. She turns to have been dead the whole time at the end.
  • Arc Words: "The gang's all here" and "Chloe is beautiful", at least among fans of the show.
  • Ass Shove: Kelly suggests that Abby does this with her crowns.
  • Badass: Abby has exhibited this at times, usually in moments that show us that she's no one to mess with.
  • Badass Boast: There's a sign on the door that leads into Studio A (where the girls work) that says "HERE LIES THE FUTURE OF DANCE".
  • Badass Pacifist: Holly. Not once has she snapped or even swore, which is why she rarely gets into arguments with Abby.
    • But when she does, she will still take her sophisticated likenesses and use them, arguing with reason as well as reasoning.
  • Bad Boss: Abby, in a sense.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In "Abbygeddon"; or rather, the bad guy places one above them.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Practicing or at competition all the girls have their midriffs showing.
    • To be fair, a lot of studios require similar outfits. It's very hard to move when you're in restricting clothing that isn't stretchy enough, plus this way you can get more of an idea of what you're doing wrong, like if your stomach isn't pulled in.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Abby: questioning/defying her teaching, and using the F word in her vicinity.
    • For Christi: calling Chloe Always Second Best in her vicinity.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Christi.
  • Big Bad / Big Good: Abby. She regularly alternates between the two, and sometimes exhibits both of them at once.
    • Cathy is seen as the main villain of the show, considering she's Abby's worst enemy.
  • Black Best Friend: Both Nia and Holly to the kids and moms, respectively.
  • Blatant Lies: Melissa claiming that she does nothing to propel her kids' success in "Stealing the Show".
  • Bleep Dammit: Numerous examples, usually with the censors going for "God" instead of "damn" or "hole" instead of "ass".
  • Blondes Are Evil: Cathy.
    • Some of the blonde-haired ALDC moms have their moments as well.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: "The Last Text" makes the other darker dances look light-hearted for this reason.
    • Jojo's "Prom Queen" solo. Then again, it was inspired by Carrie.
  • Brainy Brunette: The brunettes on the team.
  • Break the Cutie: Many believe that this has happened to the girls as the series progressed.
  • Break Them by Talking: Rarely does an episode go by without one of these by one of the moms.
  • Brick Joke: Christi's famous comment on a particularly provocative outfit ("they look like prostitots") comes back in the next season ("prostitots, the sequel").
  • Bring My Red Jacket: The outfits of "The Last Text" all have a strong red theme, reasonably. Paige, Kendall, and Nia all wear red dresses.
  • Brown Note: See Hell Is That Noise below.
  • Butt Monkey: Kendall, especially in season 3. She tends to get picked on by Abby a lot more than others.
    • Chloe, in a really heartbreaking example, considering she gets so much shit from Abby to the point where she and Christi left.
  • Call Back:
    • Several contestants from "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" (something of a Spin-Off) have appeared on the show, and two of them actually joined Abby's team: Kalani Hiliker and Asia Monet Ray. Two others from "Abby's Ultimate" joined Cathy's team, as did one of the kids from Dance Moms: Miami and one of the girls who guested on Abby's team.
    • Rachelle Rak also showed up in a few episodes, and subsequently replaced Robin Antin for season 2 of "Abby's Ultimate".
    • A rather epic example; for the 2012 nationals, Mackenzie performs a solo called "Killer Bee" that's a semi-replica of a solo that Vivi-Anne did back in season one called "Honeybee". While Vivi's dance didn't even place, Mackenzie's dance got first and won her the Petite Miss Energy title.
    • The Maddie-Gino duet "That Girl's Just Gotta Be Kissed" uses the same music as the moms' group dance back in season 1.
  • The Cameo: Maddie was the sole winner of a series of auditions to have an appearance (albeit a small one) on Drop Dead Diva. Bonus points for said show airing on the same channel. Her fellow teammates made a cameo in a short video starring "the Pyramid".
    • Maddie and Mackenzie also appeared briefly in a season two episode of AUDC.
  • Canon Immigrant: Asia and Kalani both joined Abby's team after having been on ALDC.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • "Save the tears for your pillow!" (Abby)
    • "Everyone's replaceable!" (Abby)
    • "We came, we saw, we kicked apples." (Cathy)
  • Caustic Critic: Abby when reviewing the Candy Apples' performances, if not the lowlights of hers.
  • Character Development: Has been seen ten-fold throughout the show with not just the dancers, but almost everyone.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Kelly's certainly no slouch. Borders on Slasher Smile.
    • Christi has called out Jill for having one of these since Kendall got off probation, even mentioning the Cheshire Cat.
  • Child Popstar: Brooke, Nia, Kendall, and Mackenzie have all released music. Brooke and Kenzie are the only ones to have released full albums.
  • Christmas Special: "'Twas the Fight Before Christmas", in 2013.
  • Cloning Blues: "Just Another Number", which depicts the girls as clones complete with barcode tattoos.
  • Confession Cam: Though most people tend to use the word "interviews" when it comes to them.
  • Cool Big Sis: Brooke and Payton both, as they were both the oldest on the team when they were on.
  • Cool Pet: Broadway Baby. Overlaps a bit with Team Pet.
  • Creepy Monotone: The "author" of Where Have All the Children Gone? and I See the Kite Flying.
  • Cross Over: Abby appeared in an episode of fellow Lifetime series Double Divas, a bra-fitting reality show where Buxom Is Better.
    • She also starred in a special episode of Dance Mums, the English counterpart of the show.
  • Darker and Edgier: Many of the dances are fun and cute, but Abby can veer into very dark territory that incorporates Adult Fear. Notable examples are:
    • Where Have All the Children Gone - A spoken word piece where the dancers disappear from stage one by one.
    • The Last Text - All but one of the dancers die in a car accident.
    • I See the Kite Flying - The sequel to Where Have All the Children Gone?. In the number, all the dancers are mental patients.
    • Runaways - A routine about children and guns in which one of the dancers is accidentally shot and killed.
    • Disappear - A solo that Maddie performed when she was just 8 years old in which an abused little girl commits suicide by drowning herself in a river.
    • Taken - A routine about a special girl (Maddie) that the other girls want to be like, but when they realize they can't be like her, they try to bring her down to their level. They succeed in the end. Even though the dance isn't all that explicitly dark, it's the story that it conveys that creates its grim edge.
    • Amber Alert - A routine based around child abduction, as the name implies. It ends with Maddie finding Mackenzie dead, killed by her abductors.
  • Darkest Hour: Season 5 is really shaping up to be this, considering in the previous season two families of the junior elite team left, and Abby's getting extremely burned out and broken trying to keep the team balanced while dealing with the moms as well as the legal matter from her scuffle with Kelly, and has started taking this built-up anger out on the girls more. Hell, the promos even had "Abby's empire is falling" as a slogan.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Christi has it in her DNA.
    • Abby, from time to time.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Season 4's ending. The Hylands get expelled following Kelly and Abby's infamous violent scuffle, and Chloe and Christi straight up walk out on the team after being fed up with Abby.
    • Season 5 is seeming to be one in and of itself due to the repercussions of the aforementioned ending.
  • Different in Every Season: The Pyramid pictures.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Season 5 is shaping up to be this as the moms start a rebellion that may result in the ALDC's collapse.
  • Double Standard: When the girls forget or even choke on their solos, Abby yells at them. But when Maddie runs off mid-solo in "Abbygeddon", Abby breaks down crying.
  • Downer Ending: Many episodes end with the girls failing to win the competition, but "Abbygeddon" cranked things Up to Eleven. Their group lost to Cathy, and Maddie ran off stage mid-solo. They only get one win.
    • Some of the stories of the performances end on sour notes as well. Examples include "Runaways", "Disappear", and "The Last Text".
    • Season 4 ends with both the Hylands and the Lukasiaks, which were both some of the most favored of the members, leaving the team due to being unable to cope with Abby anymore.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The ultimate fate of the girl in "Disappear".
    • Almost everyone in "Where Have All the Children Gone?". Or not.
  • Dropped A Bridge On Her: There are tons of dance moms and dancers who leave ALDC and are never seen again. Minister Dawn and Jackie are the two big examples, and Leslie is an on/off member.
  • Dumb Blonde: Averted with Chloe and Paige. All of the girls get straight A's in school.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: More of an Expelling Moment of Awesome; Kelly attacking Abby before she and her kids got expelled from the team.
    • An example played straight; at the time of Mrs. Miller's death, Abby said that she had "defied all medical textbooks".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first season, for a variety of reasons.
    • In the earliest episodes, the Pyramid was presented with the pictures pasted on a chalkboard instead of the mirror wall, and was in the middle of the room. The girls were also seated on the floor instead of standing.
    • Sometimes the girls would have their mothers or sisters accompany them for the interviews, even if they didn't say or really do anything.
  • Education Mama: Holly to Nia, since she's a school principal.
  • Epic Fail: Season 5 kicked off with Abby being pressured down by the weight of mama drama, shaping up the dance team, and dealing with the legal matter from her scuffle with Kelly in the previous season. So what should she do? Why, go to Los Angeles, of course, where the competition is much fiercer and requires even more work to compete against!
  • Establishing Character Moment: Abby got hers when she kicked Minister Dawn and Regan off the team over the slightest nuance and showed everyone that Abby Lee Miller was no one to mess with. This was in the series premiere, no less.
  • Even Bad Women Love Their Mamas: Abby had a very deep connection with her mother Maryen Lorrain Miller, who essentially sparked Abby's love for dance. Then she came down with cancer and died in season 4.
  • Evil Former Friend: Cathy used to be part of Abby's team, but she quit. She went back to her studio, and the two have been worst enemies ever since.
    • Kelly is also an example. She used to dance for Abby and Mrs. Miller and later had her kids dance under the ALDC name, but she eventually became Abby's second-worst enemy.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: The "evil" part is debatable, but Abby's voice is very much raspy after a long time of straining it out.
  • Extreme Doormat: Melissa. She will do almost anything to stay in Abby's good favor.
    • She's even called herself a doormat.
  • Everyone Has Standards: After Kelly attacks Abby, Jill is quick to note that the umpteen arguments that have sparked in the past have never escalated to physical contact.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Abby's nastier side is really unraveling more and more as the seasons go by, but she's really starting to experiment with this trope in season five. She's exhibiting much more of a villainous persona, but it could be attributed to the various mental and emotional breakdowns that she's been having trying to keep the ALDC afloat.
  • Face Palm: Maddie does one at the end of this video.
  • Fat Bastard: Leslie.
    • The argument can be made for Christy as well.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Whenever a mom has to sit in the audience and watch their kid forgot their solo. When Chloe forgot her "Another Season" solo at the season one nationals, Christi summed it up quite well.
    Christi: She was frozen onstage, and Chloe reads like a book. She can't cover that up, and I'm sitting there and I just wanted to run up and grab her and give her a hug and run her offstage, but..you can't do that.
  • Flanderization: Abby's bombastic natures worsened, the girls have become more withdrawn, the list goes on.
  • Flipping the Bird: Kelly gives out a couple of these on rare occasions, but her hand is blurred out.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Since the show's inception, two quite similar reality shows have started: Bring It!, about an African-American cheerleading team, and Jump!, about an African-American jump-roping team.
    • See Trans Atlantic Equivalent.
    • Rather, a case of the leader following her student. When Mackenzie made an Instagram account for her dog Maliboo, Abby quickly followed suit by making an account for her pony named Pearl. However, the followers that Pearl had were merely a fraction of those that Maliboo had. However, Maliboo's account suffered two consecutive hackings and was ultimately deleted.
  • Foregone Conclusion: When Abby's mom came down with cancer in season 4, it was heartrendingly evident that she wasn't going to get better any time soon. And sure enough, she eventually died.
  • Freudian Excuse: Christi had a turbulent relationship with her mother, made even more saddening (or more creepy) in the fact that Christi doesn't really go in depth about it, for obvious reasons. It leaves one to wonder what her mother did to her...
  • From Bad to Worse: If Abby's group dance placing tenth in "Abbygeddon" wasn't bad enough, Cathy's placed ninth.
    • As if Paige breaking her foot wasn't bad enough, she was scheduled to do a duet with Chloe that same week. (The two have really wanted to perform together.)
  • Genre Savvy: Christi's snark gives her some decent savviness. She's even incorporated some tropes.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Any provocative outfit in a dance routine, with the most (in)famous examples being the faux-nude "Fantastic" outfits and the stripperific "Electricity" outfits.
    • Near the end of season 5, Mackenzie gets a solo called "Bat Crazy", a bowdlerization of its real name "Batshit Crazy".
    Mackenzie: It's a little crazy that my solo has a bad word in it, because... I can't even say it.
  • Golden Ending: Season 2 ends with Abby's team getting a clean sweep at nationals and curbstomping Cathy.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Applied pretty blatantly to "Black Swan".
  • Grand Finale: Each season ends with Abby's team competing at nationals, which is essentially a final exam that assesses every performance you've had in the season up to that point.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Even if she doesn't admit it, there's no doubt that Christi is envious that Maddie's always The Ace and Chloe is almost Always Second Best.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Chloe and Paige. Melissa as well.
  • Has Two Mommies: Possibly Kimmy. In the episode where she has to be a "bad girl," it sounds like Angel asks her, "Have you ever talked back to your moms?" It's unclear if he actually said "moms" or if the accent just made him sound like he said it, though.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: When Maddie forgets her solo (starting at 1:37), you can hear a repeating sound similar to a heartbeat.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Abby, although she seems to shifting more and more towards the "heel" side as of late.
  • Helium Speech: Sophia Lucia's voice is extremely high. Abby even criticized her for it.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The scratching distortion in the "Amber Alert" music overlaps this with Brown Note. Made even creepier by the fact that it starts sounding right when Mackenzie gets "kidnapped".
  • Heroic BSOD: "Abbygeddon" was this for Maddie and Abby, if not the whole team.
  • Heroic RROD: Season five seems to be a long, stretched out, and semi-convoluted one for Abby.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Abby and her assistant Gianna.
  • Humble Hero: Maddie. She's rarely not at the top of the pyramid, she's won crowns and trophies alike, but she consists of staying modest and not letting her success get to her head.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: All of the moms and Abby are known to criticize one another and the girls but when someone outside the group does it they will all rally and defend one another. In one noticeable example a mother at an open call audition criticizes Paige's a la seconde turns. Abby immediately gets angry and tells Paige to go up against the girl. Paige wins and the girl and her mom leave in disgrace. Christi hits the point home by telling the mother, "Abby can talk about her dancers but no one else can."
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The girls' dance schedules have restrained them from doing normal things for girls their age, like hanging out with friends or going to parties.
  • Ill Girl: Vivi, apparently. In a season 3 episode, Christi says that Vivi is "always sick".
    • Nia might also be an example, as she has a medical condition (something affecting the bones in her feet). In the Mother's Day special, it was revealed that she was actually in the hospital for some time over the summer, and was in a wheelchair for a while afterward.
    • Mackenzie apparently has extra bones in one of her feet, making it painful for her to dance, though how painful it is seems to be up for debate. (See Playing Sick below.)
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The moms have a penchant for meeting up at bars or restaurants to down a glass of alcohol to vent themselves out.
  • Insult Backfire: At the end of this run-in between Christi, Jill, Melissa, Holly, and Cathy, Cathy storms out saying that Christi's butt is "lookin' like a $40 cow". Christi then replies with "What's a $40 cow?"
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY: Christy's name has sometimes been pronounced with "Christ" as in "Jesus Christ", alluding to her aggressive religious beliefs.
  • Jerkass: Abby's heart of gold has been diminishing over the show's runtime, although it really starting showing up in season 4 and has really started to bare its teeth in season 5. For example, someone drops by the ALDC's competition room to give Abby a fruit bouquet, which she carelessly and purposely drops on the ground, causing fruits to spill.
    • Jessalynn, the mother of Jojo. Not only is she one of the most manipulative of all of the moms, but she deliberately steals Kalani's script to use with Jojo and then lies to Kira's face when confronted about it, and a certain shot shows her smiling while Kendall suffers a panic attack.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Abby. But don't get us wrong, she can be a straight up-and-down Jerkass.
    • Most of the moms can also be embarrassing, insulting, and sometimes down right nasty, but they do love their kids.
  • Karma Houdini: Abby, in a more tragic real life example. She manages to get away with a lot of crap considering the footage is either edited out or manipulated to her advantage.
    • Averted with the Hylands' expulsion, in which she was unable to escape the mess and got into a lot of trouble herself.
  • Kick the Dog: And it only got worse as the show went on.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In season 4, Kelly and Abby's rivalry reaches an apex where Kelly ends up physically attacking her. And it's pretty damn awesome.
  • Lady Drunk: Both Christi and Kelly seem to enjoy their alcohol. For example, in the very first episode, they both went out to a bar, and Chloe's headpiece fell forward over her eyes during her trio.
  • Large Ham: Abby.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In one episode, Christy gets into an argument with Abby and it escalates to the point where Christy insults the studio and calls Abby garbage. Abby kicks Sarah off the team immediately afterwards.
    • The trope gets briefly discussed by Christi when she talks about how Jill arrives late to the competition after being on Christi's ass all week. "Karma's a bitch, Jill."
    • From what we've seen of season 5 so far, it seems like everything Abby has built up is beginning to crash down. Her team is rebelling against her, people are leaving the team for good, not to mention that she still has to keep the company (or what's left of it) afloat.
  • Light Is Not Good: In "Where Have All the Children Gone?", all the girls wear white dresses.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Oh yeah.
  • Male Gaze: One of the cameramen does it. It's a Freeze-Frame Bonus, but not as hard to find. In one episode, the cameraman actually focuses the camera on Kelly's breasts for less than a second. The best part? No one seemed to notice.
  • Mama Bear: Any of the moms, whenever they feel like their child is insulted.
  • Manipulative Editing: According to the Star Quest dance competition, the show edited the competition to give the impression that certain acts were competing against each other when they weren't, and also edited the award announcements to make certain acts place higher or lower than they actually did.
  • Mauve Shirt: Many examples, considering there are many girls who have had temporary spots on the team.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Abby has a lot of these in season five.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the "topless showgirls" episode, the girls show excitement when Abby tells them that they are going to be showgirls in the group dance...but then Abby tells them that they are going to be "naked" in the dance. Every bit of that excitement is killed immediately and replaced with shock.
    • Jojo's prom queen solo music starts with an innocent piano song, then suddenly cuts to Psycho Strings, then turns into a disturbing orchestral piece of madness. Not to mention that the strings come in less than 10 seconds into the performance.
  • Most Annoying Sound: In universe; the sound of Cathy's voice. Abby described it at one point as a "yakkity-yak, annoying, shrill voice".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kristie Ray.
  • Nice Girls: The dancers, natch.
  • Nightmare Face: Abby's been getting really burned out as of season five.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Nightmare Fuel-rific "Where Have All the Children Gone?" incorporates this in spades. There are the girls disappearing offstage while giving subtle hints as to what happened to them (Nia clutches her throat, Paige jumps offstage, Maddie slits her wrist, etc.), and there's the very end with the abandoned but still moving swing.
  • Once an Episode: Arguments. Not a single episode goes by without one, and we mean not a SINGLE episode.
  • One-Liner / Sarcasm Mode: Almost every word that comes out of Christi's mouth.
  • Only Sane Woman: Holly, especially in comparison to the other moms. She never snaps, and this in turn never gets her into arguments, but when she does argue she still manages to effortlessly keep herself under control.
    • Christi, occasionally.
    • Holly's status as this has become a YMMV situation at best once they beginning competing in L.A. as she starts focusing on Nia's attempt at a music career and appears to undergo some Sanity Slippage...
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Now that Brooke is getting older, she wants to be this.
  • Out of Focus: As of season 3, Paige, Nia, and Brooke are all this (though Brooke doesn't seem to mind). Chloe was for a little while, but now she is back in Abby's good graces.
  • Piano Drop: Referenced by Christi when talking about how silent Cathy was when the ALDC and Candy Apples ran into one another.
  • Playing Sick: It is strongly suspected that Mackenzie faked her injured foot, or at least played up how much it was hurting, so she could avoid competing against Asia.
  • Product Placement: While the show does blur out visible brands, the only brand non-blurred is of Abby's merchandise lying around the main office of the studio.
  • Psycho Strings: They come up out of nowhere in the music for Jojo's prom queen solo, causing an abrupt segue from an innocent piano song to an intense, nightmarish orchestral piece.
  • Put On The Bus: Jill put herself and Kendall on the bus in season two (they come back eventually).
  • Rearrange the Song: The season four theme implements vocals from the original over a new song.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Once an Episode, usually by the moms to Abby.
  • Red Shirt:
    • Regan Check (the daughter of Minister Dawn) never made it past the first episode.for context... 
    • Similarly, Chloe Nguyen (the daughter of Kim) was only on the show for a single episode (justified, as it was simply a "trial run").
  • Revolving Door Team: YES. Made even more heinous with the Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Rule of Seven: "The Seven Dancers".
    • Chloe (pink): Shady
    • Kaleigh (dark blue): Smiley
    • Kendall (green): Slouchy
    • Mackenzie (red): Silly
    • Maddie (light blue): Snobby
    • Nia (orange): Sassy
    • Sarah R. (purple): Stretchy
  • Running Gag:
    • Jill's hair color changing from season to season.
    • Straightening your knees and pointing your feet.
    • Instagram hackers really like targeting Maddie and Kenzie. Hell, someone even hacked Maliboo's account! Twice!
  • Rule of Symbolism: A group dance about cancer has the girls dancing with a long pink ribbon.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The trope gets name-dropped by Christi in this video.
  • Sadist Teacher: Abby is strict, but mostly reserves her screaming for the mothers, and isn't in fact especially harsh as dance (gymnastics, skating, etc) coaches go. The mothers, on the other hand, tend to overreact just a bit to any implication their daughter is not a star....
    • Of course, some of her Villain Protagonist actions (as written below) definitely show this. She yells at Chloe and Nia for choking on their routines, but as soon as Maddie forgets her routine, Abby runs out of the room crying.
  • Sanity Slippage: Maddie shows excellently subtle hints of this in "The Last Text". Then again, if you were seeing what she was seeing, you'd be going crazy too.
    • All of the girls in "I See the Kite Flying" are portraying mental patients that crawl around on stage, hitting themselves in the head and rocking back and forth.
  • Scare Chord: Whenever a dancer forgets her number or something equally bad occurs.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the "Playing Favorites" special, Christi leaves immediately after realizing that she's going to be left alone with Melissa and Abby.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Abby likes reminding her dancers that second place is the first loser.
  • She's Back: Jill is fed up with the moms and Abby and decides to betray Abby by taking Kendall to Cathy's team; she then returns back to ALDC. All of this happened in one season.
    • Kelly eventually does the same too.
  • Shout-Out:
    • You might be able to notice an "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" poster in select episodes.
    • In season two, there was a dance with three girlsnote  and a cute vampire boy. Take a WILD guess what this is a shout-out to.
      • The dance is even called "Twilight", no less.
    • When the moms were having a sit-in for Kelly, Christi compares it to the T-rex scene from Jurassic Park.
    • Cathy once said "Whoville called, they want their nose back" to insult Christi.
    • In season two, there was a group dance called "The Huntress" inspired by The Hunger Games.
      • Chloe even lampshaded it...sort of.
    • If you play The Sims 3, you might be able to recognize the music used in this number.
    • The season 3 trailer was made as a shoutout to Flashdance, even using "She's a Maniac" as BGM and ending with Abby reenacting the famous water scene...only to have the moms get the water dumped on them.
    • In similar roots, the promo for the next season was made as a reference to a-Ha's "Take on Me" video.
    • One season 4 episode is called "Another One Bites the Dust".
    • From that same episode, the group dance was titled "The Seven Dancers" and had each girl play a different dwarf/dancer. See Rule of Seven above.
    • A two-parter episode in season 5 was named "Wild Wild West Coast, Parts 1 and 2".
    • Jojo did a solo in season 5 called "Prom Queen" that was a reference to Carrie; she was even doused from head to toe in blood, although it wasn't nearly as much as Carrie.
    • At one point in this video, Christi says that every Friday night, Abby hands the moms a roll of toilet paper, a square tissue, and a sequin, and requests that they MacGyver up a costume for their kids.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The team travels to LA in season 5, and it's been the single most highly billed aspect by advertising.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: A pretty damn awesome one from Paige and Chloe.for context... 
  • Sickening Crunch: When Paige breaks her foot on the landing of her standing back tuck, you get to hear it. And it's quite loud (almost unrealistically loud).
  • Sixth Ranger: Kalani eventually joins the team in season 4.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Inverted. Justice (in the original series) and Lucas (in the spin-off series) are both treated as "special" because they are both male competitive dancers.
    • In season 3, Cathy replaces her team with a new team, made entirely of males. (Though in episode 18, she does use a girl, however briefly). So far, they have gone against Abby's girls four times, and won against them three of those times.
  • Soap Box Sadie: Abby has expressed her political views in the choreography a few times.
  • Sole Survivor: During a group dance, a fake car crash occurs and after a matter of time kills everyone but—you guessed it—Maddie.
  • Something Completely Different: Where Have All the Children Gone? and I See the Kite Flying are both performed to spoken-word pieces by the same Creepy Monotone author.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Holly. She's this trope in general, but she uses it prominently when she's arguing.
    • The most insulting thing she's ever called someone is "a monstrosity of evil". Make of that what you will.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: The moms' arguments are full of them.
  • Splash of Color: In the "Taken" group dance, Maddie's pink dress acts like this against the mundane grey dresses that the other girls are wearing. It's actually a key part of the dance's story.
    • Same goes for "Black and Blue", with Maddie now wearing a blue dress against black dresses.
  • Spoken Word in Music: Nia's solo "Goodbye Maya" has several bits in which she stops dancing and says a couple sentences from Maya Angelou's poetry.
  • Stage Mom: All the moms! Especially Cathy, who seems to have no realistic take on her daughter's ability (or lack thereof).
  • Straw Hypocrite: Prior to season four, Abby regularly bashed Cathy for not training her own dancers, but bringing in outside dancers from other studios and "slapping her logo on them." Cut to Abby recruiting Asia and Kalani from AUDC and bragging about their talents. She also recruited Sophia Lucia, who was already relatively well known in the dance world before Dance Moms even began airing.
  • Stripperiffic: The costumes for "Electricity"
  • Take That: Abby has called out Honey Boo Boo mainly on her, ahem, physique. Abby's the last person you'd expect to judge someone on their weight.
  • Tears of Joy: Mackenzie's Christmas present really touched her.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Possibly between Maddie and Chloe. Chloe is often seen as superior technically, but Maddie tends to get more solos because she is able to use her face (a.k.a, perform) better onstage. Also can be seen in the case of Nia and Mackenzie - neither one is the best in the group, but it's obvious that they both love dancing. Averted with Brooke - she's one of the strongest technically, but her lack of expression is what keeps her from getting solos often.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When Paige keeps insisting that she shows everyone her standing back tuck, Abby finally obliges...only for Paige to break her foot on the landing.
    • In one episode in season five, Holly notes that Abby's been gone for quite some time and hopes that she's gotten herself together by the time she returns. Cut to Abby walking in with no makeup and undone hair while holding a Burger King soda cup.
  • Those Two Girls: Christi and Kelly, as well as Chloe and Paige (forming the "twinnies").
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Chloe, known for being Abby's Butt Monkey for quite some time, single handedly provided the one win that they could take home with her solo in "Abbygeddon".
  • Token Evil Teammate: Cathy was originally part of Abby's team back when the show began, but she left, modified her dance studio, and they've been bitter rivals ever since.
  • Token Minority: According to her mom, Nia.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Abby in the later seasons compared to the earlier.
  • Toplessness from the Back: There's a particular shot in the infamous "topless showgirls" episode that displays Brooke and Paige shirtless from the back.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: At the end of the season three recap, a "trailer" showing what's to come in the season is shown, revealing tons of seemingly important parts of the plot, including Kelly leaving the team. Again.
  • The Unfavorite: In comparison to Maddie, Kenzie is.
    • And by team dynamics, this position is shared by everyone who isn't Maddie and now Mackenzie and Kalani.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Usually pertinent to Chloe, who's always under Abby's radar but still has gotten mercy from her or by sheer chance.
    • Her receiving the chance to star as young Lux in the "It's Like Summer" video.
    • At the 2012 nationals, her solo beat Maddie's for first place.
  • Trans Atlantic Equivalent: In October 2014, Dance Moms received a British counterpart called Dance Mums. Abby even appeared in the show's first episode.
  • T-Word Euphemism: Abby refers to "cheerleading" as "the C word". Not to be confused with the OTHER C word...
  • Villain Protagonist: Abby, at times.
    • For instance, when she pulls out all of Maddie's recent crowns (there are a lot of them), and shows them to the other girls. Of course, seeing as Maddie gets a solo virtually Once an Episode, and the other girls are lucky to get one a month, it becomes insulting. Melissa then comes down, and Abby brutally insults her and the moms for not wanting the girls to get big-headed.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Christi and Kelly.
    • All of the moms, really.
    • Maddie and Mackenzie, considering Maddie can really prove her status as the upper sibling.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Most of the moms towards their kids.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Lucas. In just about every single episode, he wears no shirt during the competitions.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: All the girls have had their moments.
  • Weirdness Magnet: "What is it about me? Why do I attract all the crazy ones?" - Abby
  • Wham Episode: "Big Trouble in the Big Apple", due to the violent skirmish between Kelly and Abby that resulted in the Hylands being permanently kicked off of the team.
    • Up to Eleven: You thought that was bad? In January 2014 (a while after the episode's events, which were in November 2013), Abby filed a restraining order against Kelly. The next month, Kelly sued the ALDC for $5 million for reasons including emotional distress, defamation, assault, and breach of contract.
  • Wham Line:
    Tracey: You want me to start pulling up things about you, Kira? Because I know you don't want me to go there. I will be happy to talk about your arrest record!
    • Jill's reaction to that line really brings home the impact of it.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Jill walking into the room during the pyramid after having abandoned ship on the team earlier.
    • In one episode, Abby has gone through everyone at Pyramid except for the top, and there's no left but Payton. (She and Leslie look pretty smug, reasonably.) Abby then reveals who it is...and it's Brooke, who just got back from cheerleading.
    • The particularly freakish shot of an extremely burned-out, makeup-less Abby with her hair in a mess. It's jarring.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: "You've Been Unfriended" sees a level of jerkassery never before seen in Abby. To one of the dancers, no less. (Chloe, to be exact.)
    • The main public reaction to Maddie recoiling in disgust and running out of the room after kissing Gino.
  • What Were You Thinking?: When Jill takes the stage in a tango, Christi and Melissa show up to present her with a crown and a bouquet. Abby doesn't take the situation very lightly, as she describes her feelings for the situation in one word: "Idiots."
    • Another example, to a lesser extent, is in season one when ALL of the dance moms (including Cathy) take the stage with a dance number, and Cathy decides to give herself an on-the-spot solo part. Abby also doesn't take it too lightly from backstage.
    • In one instance, Melissa ends up running across the stage in front of the audience and even addressing the audience. Abby doesn't find it amusing.
  • White Dress of Death: Mackenzie in "The Last Text".
  • Wink Ding: At the end of the season 3 promo trailer, Abby turns towards the camera and does one of these.
  • With Friends Like These...: All of the moms except Holly with one another.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Abby exhibits this in the verbal sense but according to lore has also done it physically.
    • In Paige's lawsuit against Abby, Paige says that Abby once pinched another girl on the team (not named, but not Paige) hard enough that she started bleeding.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • There's a scenario where everyone except Payton is shown on the pyramid, and the only spot left is the top. Then it turns out that Brooke's at the top, having returned from cheerleading. Leslie even gives a pretty good summary of the trope when arguing against Abby.
    Leslie: You dangled a carrot in front of her, and you just ripped it away!
    • Another scenario in which Chloe and Maddie are given identical solos, and at the awards ceremony Chloe is shown victorious. However, it turns out that there was an error in the scoring and Maddie truly won.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Mackenzie is the youngest of the ALDC roster and wins frequently.
    • Asia, to that effect.
    • If you want to include Maddie, then this trope gets extremely amplified.