A consummate guide in time for this season. Choreographers filling in as guest judges are not included in this list, except where noted.
  1. Jesse Tyler Ferguson
    The best SYTYCD judges are obscure actors with dance backgrounds, who have beating dancers' hearts (see: The Jenna Elfman Phenomenon.) The worst judges are very recognizable public figures who are "huge fans of this show." Mr. Ferguson falls into the latter category, and no one appreciates his uncomfortable cool-kids-table rapport with Cat Deeley. Anyone who regularly observes Opposite Day deserves to anchor this list.
  2. Tara Lipinski
    Skating =/= dance experience. Overly harsh for a guest, and repeatedly commits the mortal sin of being Tara Lipinski.
  3. Mandy Moore
    Popstardom =/= dance experience. Points for anime eyes and general encouragement of fragile dancers.
  4. Ellen DeGeneres
    See: Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Points, however, for dancing with Twitch on the SYTYCD stage.
  5. Carmen Electra
  6. Tyce Diorio
    While a choreographer, the Brooklyn Banshee deserves to be mentioned here, because he once farted audibly while high-kicking behind the judges' table, acknowledged it, and laughed through the moment.
  7. Katie Holmes
    Professional Dance Experience, and a fun mystery for the audience to solve: whose idea was it to call Katie Holmes? See: Jenna Elfman.
  8. Lady Gaga
    Star power and dance experience, and a warm, older-sisterly presence for dancers who are particularly vulnerable, such as post-Quickstep.
  9. Kristin Chenoweth
    Professional dance experience, good humor, and a weird dose of impish southern folksiness that jibes well with Mary's bleating southern brashness.
  10. Christina Applegate
    Anyone with actual dance experience gets an automatic bump. A kind and thoughtful presence who wears her heart on her sleeve with the dancers.
  11. Jenna Elfman
    See: Christina Applegate. Namesake of The Jenna Elfman Phenomenon.
  12. Debbie Allen
    When you die, and cry out to the Heaven you forsaked long ago, Debbie Allen calls back to you.
  13. Neil Patrick Harris
    Professional dance experience and a refreshing earnestness that suggests he received some news this morning that reminded him what is REALLY important in life.
  14. Adam Shankman
    Adam Fucking Shankman.
  15. Megan Mullaly
  16. Kenny Ortega
    America's Director. The perfect person to rally a young dancer trying to get it up for some Stacy Tookey contemporary after bombing a Viennese Waltz. We all know how he dealt with MJ during THIS IS IT, the man can handle anything. "Go backstage, shake it off, come back and blow us away." Plus, he directed Hocus Pocus.
  17. Misty Copeland
    She's got technique down and she's got a really pretty smile. Much prettier than T Lipinski.
    Suggested by @bananascalamari