'Dancing with the Stars' Season 31 Finale: A New Celebrity Becomes the Mirrorball Champion

'Dancing with the Stars' Season 31 Finale: A New Celebrity Becomes the Mirrorball Champion

Updated: 4 months, 2 hours, 5 minutes, 42 seconds ago

A new celebrity has been crowned the winner of Dancing with the Stars!

After 10 weeks of competition, TikTok star Charli D'Amelio and her partner Mark Ballas were named the season 31 champions of DWTS.

They beat out former Bachelorette and runner-up Gabby Windey and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy, actor and TV host Wayne Brady and partner Witney Carson (who placed third), and drag queen superstar Shangela and partner Gleb Savchenko (who finished in fourth).

The season 31 finale got off to an energetic start, beginning with an opening number to "Everybody Dance" by Cedric Gervais & Franklin ft. Nile Rodgers, featuring the show's professional dancers.

Co-hosts Tyra Banks and Alfonso Ribeiro then took the floor to celebrate the four finalists, who would be performing two routines: a Redemption Dance chosen by one of the judges and the beloved Freestyle.

Throughout the episode, viewers were taken on a trip down memory lane as they recapped the season's biggest moments week-by-week and all of the eliminated contestants returned to perform a final dance. Most notably, Selma Blair and Sasha Farber returned to dance, weeks after Selma had to step away from the competition due to complications from MS.

The evening also featured two retirement celebrations: pro Cheryl Burke took the dance floor for a final performance after announcing her retirement following 26 seasons, and Len Goodman, who announced his retirement last week, was honored with a tribute video and his own mirrorball trophy.

First Round: Redemption Dance

Shangela and Gleb Savchenko

Shangela said it was "scary" to end up in the bottom two for the first time, but now, "It's full steam ahead to the mirrorball trophy."

Reflecting on her journey, Shangela said she thought her Halloween Night performance was her "breakthrough moment" after receiving a perfect score.

"I've only been at the top of the leaderboard once," she added, noting that she wants to prove to others "if you can commit, you can do it... now it is time to show them why I deserve to win."

For their redemption dance, judge Bruno Tonioli came into rehearsals and said he wanted them to re-do their quickstep. He helped with technicalities, including Shangela's frame – and later, was beyond thrilled by their final performance to "Queen Bee" by Rochelle Diamante.

"Your frame was so much better," he said, though he did acknowledge, "You went on the wrong foot."

Carrie Ann Inaba told Shangela "you excite me" and pointed out "that was way more elegant" than her first time performing the quickstep. Len said "the improvement was vast" and called their dance "dynamic" while Derek Hough commended Shangela for her historic run on the show and called her dance "fantastic."

Speaking to Alfonso afterward, Shangela addressed the shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado. "An attack on the LGBTQ community cannot be supported... we need more love, less hate. Just know, there is hope, baby," she said.

Score: 36/40

Wayne Brady and Witney Carson

Wayne said he was "surprised" to be in the finale, "but I wouldn't have wanted to start this journey unless I knew I would be standing here." He also spoke about the challenges his busy schedule posed and emphasized how he "wanted to prove to myself" that he could do this.

Wayne and Witney welcomed Len into rehearsals, where he told the pair that he wanted them to redo their quickstep. "I wanna see a really good frame," he told them.

Speaking to cameras, Wayne said: "The redemption dance, I can't even stress how important it is because everything is going to be critiqued within an inch of its life. This week is a big one — trust me, we are going to bring it."

After their dance to "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson, Len said he enjoyed working with them because "it was so full of joy." While he thought Wayne's "frame was stronger," Len admitted the dance "needed a little bit more movement" and "could've been done with a little bit more flow."

Derek told Wayne his dance was "definitely an improvement" but pointed out how "there was a little bit of a misstep on the side-by-side [part]."

Bruno added that "whatever you do, you make it look good," and Carrie Ann commended Wayne, telling him, "Your posture and frame are so improved... you are so balanced when you dance."

Score: 36/40

Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas

Charli said she was "so excited" about her scores last week. "What a way to go into the finale!" she celebrated.

Reflecting on her jive earlier in the season, which was performed during week five on Prom Night, Charli told Mark, "I don't think I spent enough time working on the character aspect."

The duo then welcomed Carrie Ann into rehearsals to help with their redemption jive. "I'm looking for a little bit more emotion," she told the TikTok star.

After the pair danced to "Grown" by Little Mix, Carrie Ann raved about the performance and for Charli's ability to "dance with her heart." She called the routine "fantastic."

Len said "I think this was even better than the last one," while Derek noted it's hard to believe how far Charli has come. "It's remarkable and it's crazy — the nuance, the attention to detail," he said.

Bruno declared Charli as the "queen of jive" and said she was "as good as I've ever seen."

Score: 40/40

Gabby Windey and Val Chmerkovskiy

Gabby celebrated her high scores last week and her progress thus far, before looking back on the season as a whole. "I'm exactly where I want to be going into the finale but I'm only as good as my performances this week," she said.

The pair welcomed six-time champion Derek into their rehearsals, who wanted them to re-perform their cha cha to "I Like It (Like That)" by Pete Rodriguez.

"Derek brought six people to the top, so I need to learn from him because there's no room for error," Gabby told cameras. "The competition is so stiff so I want to show the judges how much I've been improving."

And she certainly did. After the routine, Derek said she was "born to perform" and commended her "quality of movement" and "texture."

Bruno said he "liked it a lot," adding that the routine "was just so sexy." Carrie Ann called it "by far, your coolest dance," and Len said it "was full of rhythm and [had] great technique."

Score: 40/40

Second Round: Freestyle

Heading into the freestyle round, Gabby and Charli were tied at the top of the scoreboard with 40/40, while Shangela and Wayne were tied at the bottom with 36/40. With the freestyle, celebrities and their partners can do just about anything as they make a final effort to claim the mirrorball trophy.

Wayne Brady and Witney Carson

Wayne reflected on his journey, calling it "so fast." He also said how this experience helped him to "let go of my control issues," while Witney admitted she also needed it after having a baby.

The pair then set their sights on their freestyle routine, with Wayne noting, "I want to make people feel something." He added, "For this freestyle... we are going in. This is the last dance where I can bring home that mirrorball."

The duo performed an upbeat dance to "Get Up / 24K Magic" by Ciara ft. Chamillionaire / Bruno Mars, and afterwards, Wayne earned a standing ovation from the crowd, including his daughter.

Len said there were "lots of fantastic moves" and Derek said "he's a fan of [Wayne's] for life." Bruno was in full support of the routine, noting, "You always perform like the greatest showman."

Carrie Ann praised the 50-year-old actor, telling him he was "keeping up with all the young boys, showing 'em how it's done."

Afterward, Wayne said of their dance: "That was freestyle was a perfect way to cap everything off. I got to do it with my new little sister. I've learned so much from [Witney]. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks but that's bull... I'm learning."

Score: 40/40

Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas

For her last dance, Charli said she was sad to reach the milestone. "I'm having fun!" she told Mark.

Charli also recalled how far she had come personally, admitting that she was on the receiving end of many "hateful" comments, which made her want to take a step back from the spotlight. It was then that Charli got the offer for DWTS.

"I lost everything I was because of this career," she said of being a TikTok star. "And then I realized, it's this. It's dance."

"I didn't think I would fall back in love with dancing. This is the happiest and most myself I've felt," she added. "I've gotten to rediscover this part of me that I've loved for so long and then just closed the door on. Winning Dancing with the Stars would be the icing on the cake."

The pair danced a freestyle to "Us Again" by Pinar Toprak, which earned them a standing ovation and left Charli's family — including mom Heidi and sister Dixie D'Amelio — in tears.

Derek was also in tears, telling Charli and Mark, "That was so powerful... you two, your connection. Thank you." Derek also said he could relate about losing the love of dance, "so the fact that you guys found that, it makes me so happy."

"That was pure, unquestionable excellence. It was a celebration of dance in all its forms," Bruno said, as Carrie Ann added, "You took the more challenging, difficult [path]... you are almost beyond human when you dance."

Len said "no one, as far I know, has gotten 10's for six weeks running. This was a culmination of everything. Fantastic choreography... it was just spectacular."

Speaking to Alfonso, Charli said she hopes to continue dancing after the show ends. "I found a new version of myself that I want to continue to be and that's all thanks to Mark," she said.

Score: 40/40

Gabby Windey and Val Chmerkovskiy

Reflecting on her DWTS journey and making it into the finale, Gabby admitted, "I didn't think we'd ever be here."

"We've come so far and then it just ends. It's so crazy but I think it is such a blessing to feel the bittersweet," she said, later noting that their freestyle must be "outside of the box and pull out things the judges haven't seen — that's why I'm really excited for this performance."

She added, "I think I've gained a lot of confidence since the beginning and I've really grown as a woman and a dancer."

Gabby and Val then performed a passionate routine to "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago, which left the judges in full praise. "You handled 11 of them better than ever!" Bruno raved. "Freestyle? My style!"

Carrie Ann said Gabby was "so impressive tonight" and told her, "I'm proud of you for making this journey."

"You had so much charisma out there," said Len, adding, "Even when you had a slight wardrobe malfunction."

Derek added, "I absolutely loved it. The concept from beginning to end was sensational."

Gabby later said she'll miss the DWTS family most after her routine. "I'm really blessed to be surrounded by people who want the best for you no matter what... Val is an amazing teacher, he's made my whole experience."

Score: 40/40

Shangela and Gleb Savchenko

In her final rehearsal, Shangela admitted she had no idea how her partner would react to working with her at the beginning of the season — but credited Gleb for his partnership.

"I stepped into your world and you never shut me down. I wouldn't wanna be doing this dance with anybody else," Shangela said after Gleb told her she's been his favorite partner so far.

Setting her sights on the freestyle, Shangela vowed to bring "everything I know about the world of drag into this performance." She added that it would be "high-energy" and a "nonstop rollercoaster."

And Shangela certainly delivered. The pair performed an epic, gravity-defying dance — featuring Gleb in drag as "Natasha" — set to the tune of "Survivor / Call Me Mother" by Destiny's Child / RuPaul.

Carrie Ann praised Shangela afterward, telling her, "Anything you do, you do with your heart wide open!"

Len said, "I was absolutely mesmerized by the whole thing... it even had chicken! What more could you want in a dance?" referencing the fried chicken that Shangela dropped on the judges' desk as a nod to her "crispy" legs.

Derek noted, "We've never seen something like that on the show before. It had magical, it had aerials... I couldn't imagine a better way to finish season 31," and Bruno joked, "I feel like I won the lottery!"

After the epic performance, Shangela told Alfonso, "Drag belongs everywhere... we promised you a show and we gave you a show!"

Score: 40/40


Heading into the results, Charli and Gabby were tied at the top of the leaderboard with an 80/80, while Wayne and Shangela were at the bottom with a total score of 76/80.

Alfonso and Tyra also revealed that Gabby would be joining the DWTS tour, while Charli and Heidi D'Amelio, Daniel Durant and Vinny Guadagnino would be performing in select cities.

Then, it was time for the results. Shangela and Gleb finished in fourth place, while Wayne and Witney placed in third.

After "one of the closest finales in the history of the show," Tyra and Alfonso announced that the winner of DWTS season 31 was Charli and Mark.

DWTS Finale season 31 DWTS Finale season 31

Charli D'Amelio and Mark Ballas.


"Thank you so much for the opportunity, thank you Mark for becoming my new best friend," Charli said after winning, while adding to her mom Heidi, "It was such a honor to be able to do this with you."

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Dancing with the Stars season 31 is streaming in full on Disney+.