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'So You Think You Can Dance': Here's why Season 17 will not be the same without judge Nigel Lythgoe

Nigel Lythgoe, co-creator and judge of 'So You Think You Can Dance,' had been part of the judges' panel for all 16 seasons
Nigel Lythgoe (R) will not return on 'So You Think You Can Dance' Season 17 as one of the judges (Instagram/danceonfox)
Nigel Lythgoe (R) will not return on 'So You Think You Can Dance' Season 17 as one of the judges (Instagram/danceonfox)

Nigel Lythgoe's long run on 'So You Think You Can Dance' seems to be coming to an end. The show's co-creator, who has been a judge since 2005, has announced that he will not be returning for Season 17. The new season is expected to return to Fox after a three-year sabbatical due to Covid-19.

Back in March, the 72-year-old TV personality addressed his exit from the FOX hit on Twitter. "I am so thrilled that America's young aspiring dance talent will get to work with some of our greatest creative choreographers," he said. "On a personally sad note, I have not been asked to be on the judging panel this season. I don't know who will be shouting 'Cue Music,'" Lythgoe added, "but I wish them well." When contacted by the media, FOX declined to comment.


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The 'So You Think You Can Dance' Season 17 cast has undergone a big and perhaps contentious alteration thanks to the show's production crew. Fox announced the changes via Twitter, stating that "new and familiar faces" would emerge in Season 17, which was an understatement given that the whole judging panel had been replaced.

The show's creators appear to have used the three-year sabbatical to modernize it, which includes appointing a younger panel of judges. The show's revamped judging panel appears to be geared towards a younger demographic. The new panel of judges is on average 33 years old, with Matthew Morrison, 43, and Stephen "tWitch" Boss, 39, grouped by Jojo Siwa, 18. In comparison, the 2019 panel was 52 years old on average.

Lythgoe was the only regular judge who appeared in all 16 seasons of the show, which debuted in 2005. Paula Abdul, Jason Derulo, Maddie Ziegler, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Shankman, and Mary Murphy were on the panel with him. Lythgoe co-created the show with Simon Fuller and was an executive producer on it. Although it is unclear whether Lythgoe will continue as executive producer, the new season will see veteran host Cat Deeley reprising his role.

The show won't be the same without Lythgoe

What's astounding about this announcement is that, as per Lythgoe's tweet, it was not his decision for the show to go in a different direction without him. It's difficult to determine whether Nigel Lythgoe's tweets are bitter, but it's clear Fox's choice has Lythgoe feeling unwell, and rightfully so. As a seasoned dancer and choreographer, fans have always valued Nigel's skills on the judges' panel. There has been worry that styles such as ballroom and tap may be overlooked without his professional dance knowledge. Season 17 of 'SYTYCD' will feature new judges Jojo Siwa and Matthew Morrison, as well as a return of series alum Stephen "tWitch" Boss. While Morrison and "tWitch" have experience as dance competition judges, they may lack Nigel's technical understanding of the craft. Fans are concerned that this will have an impact on how the season unfolds, particularly in the ballroom segments.

Many people are looking forward to 'SYTYCD's return after a long layoff. Although fans are disappointed to see Nigel leave, the new judges should provide a fresh perspective to the tournament. 'So You Think You Can Dance,' on the other hand, will be drastically different without Nigel Lythgoe to "cue the music."


Watch the season premiere of 'So You Think You Can Dance' on Wednesday, May 18, at 9/8c on FOX TV.