Following Nigel Lythgoe's Controversial Exit, So You Think You Can Dance Is Bringing Back Another Familiar Face

 So You Think You Can Dance logo.
So You Think You Can Dance logo.

More than a year has passed since So You Think You Can Dance aired the Season 17 finale, and that season was hardly short on controversy after judge Matthew Morrison was fired and then replaced by Leah Remini. Season 18 hasn't even premiered yet, but there is plenty of controversy thanks to Nigel Lythgoe, who had been slated to return as a judge before he was out as well. Now, just weeks after the news about Lythgoe, Fox has announced that a familiar SYTYCD face is coming back for Season 18 in the 2024 TV schedule.

Nigel Lythgoe on So You Think You Can Dance.
Nigel Lythgoe on So You Think You Can Dance.

Nigel Lythgoe's SYTYCD Exit

Although Nigel Lythgoe was not brought back as a judge when So You Think You Can Dance made its long-awaited return to Fox in 2022, he was named for the panel of judges for Season 18 along with Allison Holker (who had been married to late judge Stephen "tWitch" Boss) and Dancing with the Stars' Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Just one month after the announcement about his return, however, Lythgoe stepped down from SYTYCD following lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault.

At the time, Lythgoe released a statement to Variety that said:

I have informed the producers of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series. I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.

In a separate statement to the outlet, Fox and SYTYCD production companies 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions said that Season 18 will "proceed, although without Nigel Lythgoe, to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage." At the time, there was no confirmation of who would replace Lythgoe as the third judge.

One of the lawsuits against Lythgoe was filed by Paula Abdul, who worked as a judge on SYTYCD as well as American Idol. He was a producer on Idol. Abdul alleged that he sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions, as well as bullying and verbal harassment. Lythgoe denied the accusations. A second lawsuit was filed by dancers from All American Girl.

Now, a month after Nigel Lythgoe's break with SYTYCD, none other than JoJo Siwa is on her way back.

JoJo Siwa judging on So You Think You Can Dance
JoJo Siwa judging on So You Think You Can Dance

JoJo Siwa Returning To SYTYCD

When So You Think You Can Dance returns for Season 18 on March 4, it will feature JoJo Siwa on the judges panel alongside Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. This makes her the only returning judge from the previous season, although Season 17 was her first. The dancer and YouTube sensation wasn't an immediate hit with fans in 2022, but she clapped back to inform viewers that she's qualified as a judge with plenty of dance experience despite being considerably younger than tWitch, Matthew Morrison, and later Leah Remini. Cat Deeley returns as host for Season 18.

The new season will have a new format, with contestants competing in intense new dance challenges that they would face in a career in dance. This includes appearing in a music video, performing at a football halftime show, and going up against a Broadway talent. Judges will deliver eliminations weekly until a Top 3 remains in the season finale, with only one talented dancer taking the top prize of $100,000.

In addition to changes to the format for the actual dancing, there will be a different style of storytelling this time around. Fans will also get a closer look at the dynamics between the contestants in a documentary-style production. This means a closer look at the challenges tackled, bonds formed, and struggles between contestants. Season 18 will include the closest look at the personal journeys of the dancers than ever before.

Between the format changes and an almost entirely new panel of judges, it should be interesting to see how longtime fans react to So You Think You Can Dance Season 18. The show will be back on Fox for the season on Monday, March 4 at 9 p.m. ET. You'll also have the option of streaming the series with a Hulu subscription.