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What did Matthew Morrison do to get fired from So You Think You Can Dance?

What did Matthew Morrison do to get fired from So You Think You Can Dance?
Former SYTYCD judge Matthew Morrison, in an Instagram video he posted in which he read the message he sent to a contestant and complained about "gossip."

After only two episodes of So You Think You Can Dance have aired, former Glee star Matthew Morrison has been fired as one of its new judges.

He joined season 17 alongside Stephen “tWitch” Boss and JoJo Siwa, tweeting this less than two months ago: “Thrilled to be heading back to my dance roots as I join the #SYTYCD family!”

The news of his departure was dumped Friday before a three-day holiday weekend, which is an old strategy of trying to get bad news to go away when people aren’t paying attention.

But what exactly did he to do lose his job as a judge? We now have more information.

Matthew Morrison dancing on his first day as a judge of SYTYCD season 17
Matthew Morrison dancing on his first day as a judge of SYTYCD season 17. (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)

Fox said Morrison will be replaced by a new judge, but did not say when that will happen or who it will be. (What if they brought back Nigel Lythgoe, who didn’t want to leave?!)

But Morrison will still appear on SYTYCD for a few more weeks, because there are more pre-taped episodes to come.

It’s not clear exactly what his last episode will be. His statement, below, says he completed selection of the top 12. But the June 15 episode is titled “The Dancers Dozen” and says:

The top 12 dancers – strategically chosen by our dynamic judging panel – Stephen “tWitch” Boss; Emmy-, Tony- and Golden Globe-nominated artist Matthew Morrison; and dancer, singer and digital sensation JoJo Siwa – have made it to the first studio show of the season

So You Think You Can Dance was just revived with a new judging panel, but it’s not doing well. Compared to its previous season’s premiere, the season 17 premiere lost 50 percent of its viewers 18 to 49, and almost a quarter of its total viewers. And then another 39 percent of those viewers fled between the first and second episodes.

What did Mr. Schue do?

New So You Think You Can Dance judges Stephen “tWitch” Boss, JoJo Siwa, and departing judge Matthew Morrison at the Los Angeles auditions
New So You Think You Can Dance judges Stephen “tWitch” Boss, JoJo Siwa, and departing judge Matthew Morrison at the Los Angeles auditions. (Photo by Adam Rose/FOX)

Us Weekly broke the news by publishing a statement written by Morrison and/or his publicist and/or who actually knows. It said this:

“Having the opportunity to be a judge on So You Think You Can Dance was an incredible honor for me. Therefore, it is my deepest regret to inform you that I will be leaving the show. After filming the audition rounds for the show and completing the selection of the 12 finalists, I did not follow competition production protocols, preventing me from being able to judge the competition fairly. I cannot apologize enough to all involved and I will be watching alongside you all on what I know will be one of the best seasons yet.”

Us Weekly unhelpfully adds, citing an unnamed and unidentified “source,” that “it was a minor infraction that caused Morrison to depart the series.” And the magazine unhelpfully linked the phrase “a minor infraction” to a 2021 story about Lea Michele. What?

What does this mean, exactly? What are those “competition production protocols”? Does it have to do with interaction with one or more contestants, if it left him being unable to judge fairly?

If it was just truly “minor,” why not say what that rule was?

The vagueness invites speculation, though since publications reporting on this are just uncritically repeating that reason, maybe that’s the strategy: hope it goes away in a flurry of stories that say basically nothing.

The magazine also quotes the source saying that he’s “happy to have left on good terms.”

Is that really possible? A show that’s finally returning after three years with a brand-new judging panel is glad to have lost one of those judges after a few episodes? Please.

Fired for ‘an inappropriate relationship’

So You Think You Can Dance logo

Update, May 31, 8:50 p.m.: Matthew Morrison was fired by Fox for “an inappropriate relationship with a female contestant,” according to “a source close to the Fox reality show” who was quoted by People magazine.

“They didn’t have sex, but he reached out to her through flirty direct messages on social media. She felt uncomfortable with his line of comments and went to producers, who then got Fox involved. He was fired after they did their own investigation,” that person said.

Us Weekly‘s original report called this “a minor infraction,” but while there are certainly worse things that could have happened, this doesn’t seem minor. Matthew Morrison was a judge and yet sought a relationship with a contestant on a show he’s judging, a person he had power over.

Matthew Morrison read us the DM he sent

Matthew Morrison judges the LA auditions on So You Think You Can Dance season 17
Matthew Morrison judges the LA auditions on So You Think You Can Dance season 17. (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)

Update, June 3, 10 a.m.: Matthew Morrison decided it would be a good idea to defend himself by posting an Instagram video in which he read the message he sent to the contestant.

First, he whined, “It’s really unfortunate to have to sit here and defend myself and my family against blatantly untrue statements made anonymously. But I have nothing to hide, so in the interest of transparency, I will read to you the one message that I wrote to a dancer on the show.”

The message said, according to him:

“Hey, it’s Matthew. If you don’t mind, would love to get your number and talk you through some things.”

Read that from the perspective of a contestant on a reality show. “Talk you through some things”? That’s just wildly inappropriate for someone in a position of power to be sending

After reading it, Morrison doesn’t show the message, but drops his phone onto the table and says, “the end.”

And then he explains what he thinks it meant: “I sent this because this dancer and I both share a mutual respect for a choreographer that I’ve known for over 20 years, and I was trying to help her get a job as a choreographer on the show,” he said.

That is not what the message says, period. Why wouldn’t he have, you know, actually said that in the message if that’s what he actually meant?

But sorry, I forgot who the victim is here; it’s poor Matthew Morrison, judge on a reality competition who has no idea of his own power and so he blames the media.

“It’s devastating that we live in this world where gossip rules, and people’s lives are being thrown around as clickbait,” he whines. No, Matthew, this is not gossip, it’s what happens when someone in a position of power is held accountable for their actions: they lose their job.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Happy discussing!


Thursday 2nd of June 2022

So now Morrison claims he sent one message asking for her number to 'talk through some things' because they have a mutual admiration for a choreographer and he was trying to get her a job as a choreographer. What? Then he goes down the typical route of blaming the world for blowing this up into something it wasn't. Okay, let's take his side for a moment and believe that it wasn't any type of sexual harrassment. It was still his own poor judgment in having any kind of contact with a contestant on a show he's judging that got him fired. Not gossip, not innuendo. Poor. Judgment. But he will continue to blame everyone else and not take responsibility. Geez, is he a Republican?


Friday 3rd of June 2022

I like your take @Chuck.. you nailed it.


Tuesday 31st of May 2022

If I can't hop on the Hot Tamale Train, I don't want any part of this show anymore. Bring back Mary Murphy!

Andy Dehnart

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

I would not be surprised at all for Nigel Lythgoe (still an EP) or Mary Murphy to return! Or perhaps one of the other past judges. They need someone they know can do the job.


Tuesday 31st of May 2022

I'm sorry but Jojo is grating to listen to and Matthew Morrison was a terrible judge anyhow. Twitch is great. I'd say get back Nigel and Mary, bring in the best guest judges from other seasons occasionally, and stop trying to fix what WASN'T BROKEN IN THE FIRST PLACE! Take the "L" and PIVOT back to the winning formula. So dumb.

Sheila B.

Saturday 28th of May 2022

While the new panel is just ok - Twitch is the best - I miss the old panel of Nigel and Mary (and most years they changed up the third judge. I really liked Mia, too. So at least bring back Nigel for the rest of the season.

Douglas Thorsen

Saturday 28th of May 2022

Could it have been having violated Covid safety protocols? Strange. I liked the new judges far better than I thought I would, although I do miss Nigel and Mary.


Sunday 29th of May 2022

@Douglas Thorsen, I think it has to be about inappropriate communication with a contestant, since he says it affects his ability to be impartial. Maybe just texting or something but…

Andy Dehnart

Saturday 28th of May 2022

I think that's possible, but it does technically say "competition production protocols," not COVID or health protocols. Also the auditions were pre-taped, so if he had COVID then he would have been replaced mid-auditions. And the live shows don't start for at least half a month, so if he had COVID now that's plenty of time to recover.