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Heartwarming / Dancing with the Stars

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  • Whatever your feelings about casting someone who's danced for years, Jennifer Grey's emotional first waltz of the season - and Bruno's subsequent declaration that Patrick Swayze, Grey's Dirty Dancing co-star, would be proud of her - is nothing but this. Also qualifies as a Tear Jerker, as it moved Carrie Ann to tears.
  • Jerry Springer, of all people. He said that all he wanted was to make it far enough in the competition to learn the waltz for his daughter's wedding. He did.
  • Kelly Osbourne, whom not many thought would do well before the competition began, performs an exceptional Viennese Waltz on her first night, and before getting her score, runs to the audience to hug and kiss her parents, Ozzy and Sharon, who looked so happy and proud of her, with Sharon just pouring tears.
    • Kelly Osbourne was just one big, long heartwarming moment, period.
  • Combining this with a Tear Jerker moment was Chris Jericho's rumba on Week 3 of Season 12. The theme was for the contestant to pick a personal song that told a story about them. Chris picked "Let It Be" by the Beatles because it reminds him of his mother. As wrestling fans know, Chris's mother was in a serious car accident when he was just beginning his career. He was ready to give up wrestling, but his mother told him to stay with it. She died in 2005 and loved dancing - he's said many times she would have loved seeing him on DWTS more than anything.
    • It was the first time in his 20-year professional career he's ever been billed as "Chris Irvine".
  • Jonathan and Anna dancing in a tribute to Julia Ivleva, a professional dancer who has been battling stage IV lung cancer for close to a year.
  • Bill Engvall declares his partner Emma Slater to be like a second daughter to him. And she feels the same way. Awwwww...
    • And in one of his stand-up specials where he talks about his experience on the show, despite having physical injuries behind the scenes, and having to deal with his fans voting to keep him in, he thanks the fans for voting for him anyway, and noted that the show was one of the funnest things he's ever done, to the point where if ABC called him after his show and said that they "need him for Monday," he'd do it again.
  • Every interaction between Maks and his Season 18 partner, Meryl. The judges outright said, repeatedly, that they have never seen Maks dance as well as he did with her. At the conclusion of that season, Maks said that he knew now why he had never won it all before; it's because he was meant to win it with Meryl. One quote from their preparation for the finals sums up the entirety of their relationship:
    Maks: I don't need you to do better. I need you to just be you, and I'll do better.
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  • Meryl's interactions with castmate and partner of 17 years, Charlie White, fall into this category as well: their frequent background interactions, hugs, and their own special dance on the finale. Overall, the categorical refusal of these lifelong best friends to let the show turn them into competitors, instead supporting each other all the way to the moment when Charlie hoists her onto his shoulders for her victory celebration.
  • Also in season 18, Amy Purdy's contemporary. Both of them.
  • Season 16's Alexandra Raisman and her contemporary. The storyline of the dance is about not giving up after so many failures along the way. It helps that her song is "Titanium" by David Guetta.
  • Season 17's Jack Osbourne. Just, Jack Osbourne.
  • Season 14 Katherine Jenkins' waltz tribute to her late father. A few tears had been shed in that ballroom. Slightly dampened by Len Goodman's rather insensitive critique about a technicality.
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  • Season 16's Jacoby Jones and his foxtrot.
  • Season 8's Steve-O, who came to Dancing fresh out of rehab and the mental institution. He repeatedly mentioned wanting to use the show to prove himself, and upon receiving mediocre scores every week became incredibly stressed out over the belief that he was letting fans down...yet, despite getting some of the worst scores of the season, he made it all the way to Week 6 based solely off of fans' support.
  • While winning is always a Moment of Awesome for the first place couple, Melissa Rycroft and Tony winning the All-Star season doubled as a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming when the entire cast came running out to embrace and congratulate them before the hosts even had a chance to present them with the mirror ball. Considering they came in third before, absolutely no one was sour about their win that they more than earned.
  • Dorothy Hamilton, who had to withdraw from the competition in week 2, not only getting to dance again in the final but getting to do so with Kristi Yamaguchi who she earlier noted she looked forward to watching every Monday during season 6. She had been battling cancer at the time and saw Kristi as a huge inspiration.
  • In season 19, Lea Thompson's contemporary dance to "Dance with My Father," dedicated to her father. Carrie Ann bawled, and at least some of the audience was also close to tears. Lea, also, was crying near the end before bursting into massive sobs after the dance was over. Obviously, this doubles as a Tear Jerker.
  • In the last few weeks before their elimination in the semi-finals, Peta Murgatroyd always in tears after dancing with Tommy Chong, she's really proud of what he accomplished considering he's 76-years old with a nagging injury.
  • Mark Ballas in tears during the season 19 finale; say what you will about the guy, but his caring and partnership with Sadie Robertson is clearly genuine.
  • From season 20's semifinals:
    • After Noah received his scores for his first dance of the evening, he took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend. And of course, she said yes.
    • Nastia and Derek's second dance, planned out by Len Goodman, was a very personal one for him, as he was reminiscing about how he used to be able to dance. To reinforce this, while Nastia danced with Derek for most of the routine, the dance closed with Nastia and Len dancing together.
  • Season 21 got one before the first episode even aired; one of the contestants is Bindi Irwin, daughter of The Crocodile Hunter. She and partner Derek Hough wasted no time at all in christening themselves 'Team Crikey'.
    • Bindi's Week 4 "Most Memorable Year" dance, set to the Liza Anne/Aaron Krause version of "Every Breath You Take" doubles as this and a tearjerker.
    • This can also be said for their freestyle, especially the ending.
  • In Week 4 of Season 21, Alexa PenaVega saying in her package in response to a judge's comments the previous week on how she and Mark could win, but her and Carlos cannot, that Carlos is more important to her than winning, because family comes first.
    • In the same night, Carlos telling his story about how he was rock bottom and went to church and between that first Sunday he went and the next Sunday, his life completely changed. Why? Because that Thursday he was invited to a Bible study, where he met Alexa.
    • Alexa and Mark's rumba, to the theme from Somewhere in Time, dedicated to Mark's parents Corky and Shirley (both famous ballroom dancers).
  • Yet another Season 21 example, this time regarding Nick and Sharna in the second night of Hometown Glory Week. After Sharna brings up that her father and grandmother back in Wagga Wagga can't be there to watch her dance due to both being diagnosed with kidney failure, Nick comforts her by reassuring her they wouldn't be going home that week.
    • And on the topic of Nick and Sharna, their entire segment in Icons Night, from the package to their scores, was one long heartwarming moment, entirely dedicated to Nick's wife Lauren and their first child.
    • Many viewers who weren't exactly fond of Nick when the season began started warming up to him after the duet rumba with a sickly Tamar and Val to "Hey Jude". The dance ended with Nick holding Tamar in his arms while telling her, "I got you."
    • Similarly, during the semifinals, when Nick messed up the steps during his tango, he and Sharna stopped for a couple of seconds as she comforted him ("Be with me. I got you. Okay?") and they sang along to the song they were dancing to.
  • Season 22 saw Carrie Ann signing to deaf contestant (and eventual winner) Nyle Dimarco after his final dance "Thank you for showing your beautiful heart when you dance" which had him shedding Tears of Joy. It's nice to see that she took some time to learn a bit of his language.
  • Season 24 was the first after the passing of season 11 contestant Florence Henderson (who died just two days after the previous season's finale). As a tribute, a star was added to the ballroom floor.
    • Bonner Bolton's Wreck-It Ralph dance, complete with Sharna as Vanellope.
    • When Most Memorable Year week came about, a lot of people expected Simone Biles' memorable year to be when she went to the Olympics (her fellow Olympian Laurie Hernandez chose this for her Memorable Year dance the previous season), but instead she chose the year she was adopted.
  • During Season 25's Guilty Pleasures Week (Week 3), contestant Lindsey Stirling had just ended a romantic relationship that week. To cheer her up, her pro partner Mark Ballas got her onesies for him and her to lounge in all day (Lindsey said her guilty pleasure was to wear PJs all day).
  • Season 27 had Danielle Umstead, the show's first blind contestant. For her cha-cha-cha with her pro partner Artem Chigvinstev, Artem choreographed her walking stick into the beginning of the routine!
    • From the same season, Nancy Mc Keon and Valentin Chmerkovskiy's run on the show. Val literally carries Nancy up the stairs to the balcony in his arms after their Week 3 cha-cha-cha (it was revealed that she fractured one of her toes during Week 1 when rehearsing their Quickstep and the injury was still ongoing at the time).
    • During Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe's rehearsal package for Halloween Week, Evanna was actually quite upset after the judges' scores for Disney Week (the week before Halloween Week) resulted in three 8s (a total of 24) when she was hoping to get a perfect score. Evanna declares that she's done dancing for the judges and will dance for herself—and Keo supporting her makes it all the sweeter. What makes it even better is that their Halloween Week Tango resulted in a near-perfect score (two 10s and one 9)!
    • During Halloween Week after John Schneider and his pro partner Emma Slater performed their Paso Doble, the judges' reactions were less-than-stellar (though John took the critique spectacularly well). However, the audience highly disagreed with the judges critiques, with host Erin telling them it was amazing, Emma being supportive of John regardless of the scores and comments, and host Tom Bergeron even holding up an 8 paddle to show what he thought of John and Emma's Paso.
    • Also during Halloween Week again: Joe Amabile was (and continued to be) one of the lowest scorers on Season 27. However, his Argentine Tango earned him his first 8 and 7s of the season for a total of 22 out of 30 (his highest score at the time until his Quickstep in the Semi-Finals (which earned him 24 out of 30)). What makes it Heartwarming is his fellow Pros and contestants actually cheering for him after the scores were given.
  • Although many viewers agree that Bobby Bones' victory was undeserved, it is actually kind of sweet that he spent the entirety of his crowning moment with a visible red lipstick mark, presumably from Sharna, on his face.
  • Season 28
    • Like with Florence Henderson, the ballroom floor also added a tribute star for actress Valerie Harper, who was a season 17 contestant and died on Aug 30, 2019.
    • James dedicating his Week 3 Rumba (based off the film "A Star Is Born" as it was Movie Night) to his wife.
      • Even sweeter was that in Week 4, James and his wife revealed that they were expecting a sixth child!
    • Week 6 had Sailor Brinkley-Cook admitting that she suffered from stage fright whenever she actually performed. Val decides to have them practice their Jive for that week in public, in order to help her build up confidence for the actual performance.
      • Also crosses over with Tear Jerker, but when Sailor Brinkley-Cook was eliminated that same week, Val immediately hugs her and speaks encouragingly to her. All the rest of the pros and contestants came over at the end to offer hugs and support.
    • Karamo's elimination in Week 7 (Halloween Night). Karamo not only takes in stride, thanking the judges, but the other pros and contestants came over to him and Jenna to cheer for them and lift them in support.
    • Kate's elimination in Week 8 also similarly had the other pros and contestants coming over to her, cheering and lifting her and Pasha in support.
    • The fact that newest pro Pasha Pashkov (Season 28 was his first season) garnered tons of support from fans, contestants and judges alike so quickly in the season due to his sweet partnership with Kate and his choreography.
    • It's overall a Tear Jerker moment when James Van der Beek was shockingly eliminated in the semifinals (especially after he revealed in his video package that night that his wife had a miscarriage roughly two days earlier). Even the judges didn’t expect him to be the Bottom 2 (the other being Ally Brooke) and none of them wanted to eliminate either.note  The heartwarming parts are first when Ally, upset that he was going home after all that's happened to him, tearfully tries to give up her spot to himnote , and then when James himself also turned her down her offer, telling her that she shouldn’t give up her own opportunity to shine after all her own hard work.


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