Base Breaker: Season 10's Jenna and Makenzie. Consistently in the bottom three votes, consistently saved by the judges.
This isn't the first time it's happened. There was Lauren from Season 3, Comfort from Season 4 and Ryan from Season 8 who were also constantly saved.
To clarify, Jenna was saved by the judges after being in the bottom three for the third time in five weeks at that point, forcing Malece (who had never been in the bottom three before) and Amy (who also was never before in the bottom three and the eventual season-winner) to "dance for your life." Additionally, this was the cut for the Top Ten, so Jenna was essentially given a free pass to All Star status, with all that entails.
Creator's Pet: A crap ton of people still can't figure out why Tony Bellissimo ever made it into the Top 20.
Some fans feel Nigel shows favoritism to attractive young blondes, and those contestants, such as season 4's Kherington, season 6's Mollee, or season 11's Jessica can attract a Hatedom as a result. That doesn't stop Nigel from lauding them. Season 3's Lauren also fits into this territory, as many fans hate her for either her stupid comments, her costing the fans their favorite girl (Jessi, Jaimie, Sara...) or for her reported bitchiness to Lacey
Melanie and Eliana, the winners of Seasons 8 and 9, were definitely this. Their winning was obvious from day one and made the season considerably less enjoyable to watch.
Cedric in Season 3 was definitely this. He was in the bottom the first two weeks of the Top 20 and was kept over more capable dancers, and he stayed out of the bottom in week three because of a routine specifically tailored to make him look good, before finally being voted off in week four. Perhaps most frustrating to viewers was that he had been eliminated on one of the few routines he actually pulled off, but the bottom three status of this routine resulted in putting Shauna in jeopardy, and despite her strength as a dancer she was eliminated over two female dancers (Jamie and Anya) who seemed to be spared more because the producers valued their partnerships more than their solo efforts.
Nigel commented that he's had several battles on Twitter defending all the times the judges saved Season 10's Jenna and Makenzie from elimination.
Many accuse Season 11's Casey and Jessica of this. They consistently performed mediocrely and were still praised by the judges. For example, when Nigel found out they were in the bottom, he gave them a contemporary Travis Wall routine, and they were okay, but the judges treated it like the best thing ever. To elaborate, Casey and Jessica are contemporary dancers. What makes it worse is that Serge and Carly were also in the bottom, and they got the quickstep, which is way out of Serge or Carly's comfort zone, yet they mastered it. However, Serge and Carly were eliminated and Casey and Jessica were kept. After the top ten cut, Jessica only got contemporary routines while Bridget and Tanisha, two of the most popular female dancers, were somehow voted off. You gotta wonder if Executive Meddling is helping her.
Season 11 rapidly turned into a contest to see who would be runner-up to Ricky.
Elimination Houdini: Comfort Fedoke from season 4 is often considered this because she stayed on for several weeks even though she struggled with every routine that wasn't hip hop and landed in the bottom three several times.
To elaborate: After auditions and all, Season 4 was 9 weeks long. Comfort was in the competition for 7 of those 9 weeks. Of the 7 weeks she was in the competition, Comfort was in the bottom 3 or 4 or eliminated in 6 of them. She holds SYTYCD's record for most appearances in the bottom, beating out season 3's Lauren, who was her season's Houdini.
This can apply to anyone who gets paired up with a much-more-popular partner. Kherington, also from season 4, wasn't terribly well-liked, but she was paired with the wildly popular Twitch. As a pair those two were only once in the bottom three, but once it became an individual competition she was immediately voted off, even before Comfort, who had been voted off the previous week but had come back due to Jessica getting injured.
Season 10's Jenna and Makenzie. Consistently in the bottom three votes, consistently saved by the judges. At top 10, both of them landed in the bottom two and Nigel had to make a hard decision. He chose Jenna.
Epic example: Season 10 finalist Aaron was actually cut during the audition process. He only made Top 20 because another contestant was injured prior to the premiere. He made it all the way to the finale without ever being in the bottom three.
Casey from season 11. The week before the top 10 were chosen he had an extremely weak performance, and everybody figured that he would be out and the choice for the last guy in top 10 would be between Serge and Teddy. Instead, Casey got through (thanks to the judges) and manages to keep the votes enough to beet out Emilio and Rudy before eliminated just before the finals.
Also Jessica from the same season, see Creator's Pet above. In fact, the reason she ended up as Casey's partner was because 3 of her partners were eliminated.
Asaf from Season 12. Mouthed off to the judges during auditions, only made Top 20 because of the season-ending injury of another dancer, complains about the choreography, has been in the bottom 3 every week since voting began, and has been saved by the judges every week.
Ensemble Darkhorse: It's all but inevitable that viewers will disagree about the dancers, the choreography, the choreographers, the execution, the musical selections, the judges, and even the stage. One thing many fans agree on, though, is Cat Deeley. She is a ray of sunshine no matter what's going on.
Funny Moments: In Season 5, Jeanine and Philip did a dance that involved the two of them being constantly connected by a chain. After they performed, Cat brought up some of the problems they'd had, such as the chain breaking. Jeanine said that they spent four hours trying to work out everything that could go wrong, and then mentioned that 'there are chains all over our apartment." To which Cat responded, "I thought that was only in certain clubs on the weekend!" Hilarity Ensued, including Nigel holding his hands up and repeating "Too Much Information!"
Season 7, after contestant Lauren and All-Star Dominic (known for his crush on hostess Cat Deely) performed a hip-hop piece about abusive relationships, the judges remarked how Lauren had gone to a deeper place emotionally for the routine. Cue Cat turning to Dominic and coyly asking, "Want to head to a deeper place?"
After Chehon and Tiffany's rumba, Nigel notes that they were finally able to afford a shirt for Chehon, though, not the buttons. Mary chimed in saying it made sense, as the routine had been choreographed by Dimitry Chaplin, who frequently likes to dance sans shirt. The camera panned to Dimitry and Travis (sitting next to Dimitry) doubled over in laughter.
Nigel and Mary's dance in the Season 10 finale.
Katee and Twitch's contemporary dance, wherein Katee was a crazy, psycho, co-dependent girlfriend while Twitch was her calm, accepting boyfriend who simply refused to get angry no matter what she did. Their main prop was a door, and in the dance Twitch had to repeatedly throw her out, walk her out, and there's this priceless moment when he opens the door and she's clinging onto the top of it… and then he slams it.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Lauren Gottlieb wasn't exactly the most well-liked dancer in her season, and many felt she outstayed her welcome, but she's one of the most successful SYTYCD alumni, and has been working in India since 2012.
Harsher in Hindsight: During Season 9, Cyrus was wearing a shirt that said "I love you, but I've chosen Dubstep". That seems pretty innocuous, given that dubstep is his preferred music when dancing to his preferred style. And he'd worn similar t-shirts advocating the style. Fast-foward to Season 10's Jasmine, who indicated she was romantically involved with Cyrus, and he ended the relationship during Season 9...
Ho Yay: Watch Kent & Neil's contemporary piece by Travis. Then try to convince the Youtube commenters that it was just about "friends." Good luck.
Jumping the Shark: Arguably, by introducing the all-stars in Season 7. Doing so changed the show's format and actually made it LESS differentiated from one of its direct competitors, Dancing with the Stars. Though the show's ratings were on a downward trend before this season (particularly because of the show's ill advised and short lived switch from the summer to the fall), the show's viewership fell and never fully recovered after this point on.
Moment of Awesome: In Season 7, host Cat Deeley gets one for coming to Adechike's, a trained contemporary dancer, aid after the judges bash his Bollywood routine for infusing it with too much of his own personality. This came about two weeks after Jose, an untrained b-boy, did a routine in the same style and was praised for infusing it with his personality to hide his lack of training. After said judge-smackdown, the audience, including the Bollywood choreographer, was on its feet cheering for both Adechike and Cat. Emmy Committee, give that woman a nomination!
Good News (and another CoA, to boot: After six years, and said judge-smackdown, Cat Deeley got her first Emmy nomination in 2011.
Alex's first hip-hop dance ever in season 7 will make you weep the following week. Of course, any routine can be this, depending on the viewer's tastes.
Averted in Season 12, which included dancers from Israel, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
Mood Whiplash: Often happens from one routine to the next, but a particularly jarring example was the humorous Season 11 All-Star hip-hop routine with Twitch and Jessica, followed by the super serious contemporary piece with Amy and Zack.
Portmanteau Couple Name: Many of the longer lasting pre-Top Ten couples. Also applies to choreographer couple Tabitha and Napoleon (officially known as "Nappy Tabs", but called "Taboleon" by fans). Occasionally acknowledged by the show, such as Season 2's "Benjelle" (Benji/Donyelle), which was parodied at the end of the season with "Tranji" (Travis/Benji).
Danny and Lacey became "Dancey," complete with rhinestone wristbands.
In the first Top 20 episode of Season 4, Twitch (aka Stephen Boss) officially dubbed himself and Kherington "Twitchington." Cat promptly started using it.
Also from season 4: "Katua" (Katee/Joshua), "Gevney" (Gev/Courtney), and "Marksie" (Mark/Chelsie). These three couples, with Twitchington, are all wildly popular, and seem to be the golden couples of the season.
UK season 2: Katie Love and Lee B became "Team LoveLee". Thankfully, Cat's attempted portmanteau of Rithy (pronounced "rich-ee") and Shane as "Shane Richie" (the name of a well-known soap actor and light entertainment host in the UK) didn't last.
Season 9 has "Cheney" for Chehon and Witney, as given by Chehon himself.
And 'Wamelia' for Will and Amelia, as well as 'Casemierczak' for Audrey and Matthew (Audrey Case and Matthew Kazmierczak).
Season 10: Team Tuna (Jenna and Tucker), Team Pakman (Makenzie and Paul) and Team Jalan (Jasmine M and Alan), and Team Tall (Aaron and Jasmine H.)
Season 11 had Team Brigilio (Bridget and Emilio)
Seasonal Rot: Most viewers will have some seasons they like less than others, often depending on whether their favorite dancer did well. Season 8 was a low point for a number of viewers; most liked Melanie but were annoyed at her seemingly effortless victory (with only Sasha providing her any competition), as well as the overabundance of contemporary, increasingly infrequent ballroom, and lack of some of the big-name choreographers like Wade Robson and Mia Michaels. All this is hugely subjective, though.
Scrappy Mechanic: Double eliminations (when 4 dancers are eliminated at a time rather than 2, usually done for scheduling purposes) are widely hated, since they lead to a lot of Shocking Eliminations.
Mark and Chelsie, and Gev and Courtney are also popular.
Check the SYTYCD Fanfic boards to see just how ardently Marksie fans believed Mark and Chelsie were a real life couple. Boy, did they believe...
Ivan and Allison, much to the displeasure of Ivan's girlfriend.
There are also some moderatedly sized ships for Ivan + Travis and Allison + Travis.
Jeanine and Jason from the fifth season.
There are also quite a few shippers of Janette and Jason, especially ever since itwasrevealed that their love is canon.
Lauren and Kent
Poor Kent seemed to have a large, one-sided crush on Lauren, who is now apparently dating Dominic (as of the Season 7 tour).
Ashley and Robert get some shipping as well
While I don't think there's a large following for them, this troper is partial to Robert/Kathryn, thanks to that lovely Stacey Tookey piece.
I believe Hok and Lacey also dated for a time, adding to the several Real LifeRomance on the Set examples that have occurred (the two reportedly began dating on tour).
Allison and Twitch are married now.
Mellanie and Marko prompted this when they were partners for the Top 20-12 portion of Season 8, especially after a dramatic kiss during a Nappy Tabs routine set to "I Got You". It helps that they were both individually talented and popular enough to be in the finale. Eventually Mellanie pointed out she had a boyfriend.
In Season 10, Makenzie/Paul and Jasmine Harper/Aaron got this the most.
Everybody, judges, choreographers, dancers, and Cat, were all shipping for Season 11's Rudy and Jacque.
At least until Rudy's elimination, when Tanisha/Rudy became more common. Also from that season, Valerie/Ricky and Bridget/Emileo are also common.
She Really Can Dance: Comfort didn't exactly light up the stage in season 4 (see Elimination Houdini above), but her return as an all-star in season 7 (as the designated hip-hop female) allowed her to show off how good she was in her style as well as, perhaps, some improved partnering skills.
Played straight in Season 2, when judges' favorite Allison was eliminated from the top 8.
In fact, every season there is a somewhat shocking elimination at top 8. In season 3 it was b-girl Sara, season 4 it was judges' favourite Will, season 5 it was current front runner Janette, and season 7 Alex Wong had to withdraw at top 8 due to an injury.
Inverted in seasons seven and eight with a shocking lack of elimination.
Jasmine Mason in season 10, who had two well liked routines and just one subpar routine after those two, was the second girl eliminated.
When Season 10's Malece didn't make the "All Star Cut" it actually broke the base; see YMMV for details.
Also when Serge and Carly (and to a lesser extent, Teddy) didn't make it to the top ten, it also broke the base. See YMMV for details.
When Tanisha and Rudy were cut in Season 11, the studio audience could be heard gasping in shock.
Squick: Some fans find actual kissing in a dance very inappropriate. The judges appear to love it, though.
Tear Jerker: Season 5's "breast cancer dance" (at least, to those viewers who didn't find it blatantly emotionally manipulative)
Same goes for Mia Micheal's “Addiction” performed by Kayla and Kupono.
Travis Wall's piece dedicated to his mother. The song used is "Fix You" and Travis' mom has been suffering severe health issues, thus Real Life Writes the Plot.
Season 2 of the Canadian version of the show had a dance about mental illness that qualifies, especially for judge Rex Harrington.
Alex's departure due to injury. He was dominating his season, and probably had the purest desire for learning and growth and exploration of anyone in the show's history. For him to leave like that... *sniff*...
And Ashley's departure a week after that was equally sad. She'd just started proving herself as a serious contender and then she was just cut short. It irritates this trooper how everyone remembers how sad Alex's departure was, but so few people acknowledge that Ashley's was equally sad. She didn't even get a mention in the finale, while Alex was all over it.
To be fair, it was said that Ashley would recover in time for the tour while Alex's injury was more severe. He required surgery to fix his tendon and recovered for about a year (He wasn't medically cleared for Vegas week in Season 8)
True, but I think people get more worked up about Alex being removed from the competition - often with the added suggestion that they think he would/should have won - than about him also missing the tour. (Which one bothers him the more is another matter.)
The dance that Marko from Season 8 dedicated to his mom.
That One Style: The Quickstep has been the bane of contestants because of the sheer, well, quickness of the steps. Krump routines also tend to send dancers into the bottom as well.
The quickstep tends to be an all or nothing dance- i.e., contestants will either nail it or fail it. Krump can be a disaster if not done well.
Even when they do a good quickstep it can kill them. Vitolio's and Karla's quickstep in season five was praised by the judges, but they were still gone the next night. The same thing happened to Serge in Season 11.
Worse, tap. Season 6 had three tap dancers in the top 20. They were all eliminated consecutively, and apart from a solo and a performance on the 'Meet the Top 20' episode, we never saw any tap performances on the show.
Nigel has acknowledged that they will probably never have tap as a random draw, because if the dancers don't know how to do it already, it would be virtually impossible to pick up in less than a week.
The jive now seems to have replaced the quickstep as the 'kiss-of-death' style. Bollywood is also not very popular.
The Scrappy: Justin Bieber hosted the dance crew competition in season 11, and that went over as well as you'd expect. This aired after he went to jail, too.
Season 8 gave us a hip-hop routine that was allegedly about children forced to fight in the war in Uganda. The only things that even remotely hinted at this, other than the explanation in the intro bit, were the T-shirts for a relevant charity worn by the dancers. At least the audience wasn't the only one left utterly confused by this; the judges were just as befuddled.
The Woobie: Season 5's Evan. The judges' often unnecessary criticism of him (too short, droopy eyes) caused thousands of "Kasprzaktivists" to vote for the poor guy, with him finishing in 3rd and never having been in the bottom.
WTH, Costuming Department? - The 90's hip-hop routine from Season 3 with Danny Tidwell and Sara Von Gillern is an example the judges even commented on, but they've suffered from it on and off since season one.
For clarification the costuming was actually perfect for the New Jack Swing that Danny and Sara performed. The judges and most of the audience probably didn't know why the costuming was used and there was no one on the panel to explain that gaudy outfits with loud colors was normal and appropriate for the song.
Judge Sisco Gomez on the UK version, often as not. He's a man who knows the power of Refuge in Audacity.
Yoko Oh No: While they were both filming Camp Rock 2, Season 4's Courtney Galiano was occasionally seen in public with some dude named Nick Jonas. Among other things, this resulted in a slew of "we hate Courtney Galiano!!!" groups popping up on Facebook.