Who's got the pain when they do the mambo?

Well, we've seen many a celebrity over the past 12 years get all sorts of pain from the mambo, the cha-cha, the jive, the foxtrot, the paso doble, the rumba and much more on Dancing With the Stars.

Not to mention be all sorts of pains when the going gets tough. And it is a tough slog, all that practicing every day, the pressure to not disappoint your partner (or not screw up on live TV), the disappointment if the voting public is so obviously not in your corner, the discomfort you might feel if fellow stars are annoyed from the start that you're on the show...

Which is why Dancing With the Stars, in all its formulaic glory, has actually been slyly wonderful at ripping the veil off its contestants, exposing their true colors—their behind-the-scenes personalities, if you will, since they are indeed behind the scenes at times—for all the world to see.

That has worked out great for some people, the ones who we perhaps hadn't heard from in awhile or really didn't know that much about, who ended up charming our socks off, if not winning the show outright, and jump-starting their careers off the floor. And for others...

DWTS, Dancing With The Stars, Mario Lopez, Ryan Lochte, Stacy Keibler, Leah Remini, Ian Ziering

ABC; Getty Images

Oh, so that's what they're like.

Over the past 23(!) seasons, some contestants' esteem have already preceded them in a good way, or they're outright icons such as Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson, Priscilla Presley or Buzz Aldrin. It didn't really matter how well they performed, because they were revered going in.

Then there have been the victorious Olympians, such as Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Anton OhnoLaurie Hernandez and, this season, Simone Biles. And then you've got your true-blue heroes, such as Army vets J.R. Martinez and Noah Galloway, or National Guardsman Alex Skarlatos, who won fame when he helped thwart a terrorist attack on a train in Europe prior to competing.

You aren't really on the watch for major character flaws when it comes to these sorts of contestants. Usually the show only burnishes an already established reputation, or makes viewers fall in love (or at least care enough to text a few votes in). 

And then you have the wild cards, which is most of the field when the season begins.

Who knew what to expect of Mario Lopez, or Steve-O, or Rob Kardashian? Or Rick Perry? Or any of the Bachelors?! Or Gary Busey?! (Actually, we got exactly what we expected from Gary Busey.)

Well, now we know: Steve-O wasn't much of a dancer, but his partner, Lacey Schwimmer, admiringly called the Jackass star a "workhorse" who was taking the process super-seriously. Kardashian became a fan favorite and was the runner-up of his season. And Lopez was an amazing dancer, came in second and ended up reviving his entire career for the post-Saved by the Bell generation as a go-to emcee and host of Extra, as well as a poster boy for health and six-packs.

But while Perry's brief turn on the floor last season didn't hurt him politically, as he's since become head of the Energy Department, his time on DWTS is now the go-to clip when late-night hosts want to take a dig. 

Mario Lopez, Dancing with the Stars, DWTS

ABC/Adam Larkey

Hey, the DWTS experience can linger. The second-place finish continued to gently irk Lopez, just as it irked him when the judges slammed what looked like a picture-perfect tango for breaking hold. "I'm all, 'where were you people my season?'" he said with a smile during a sit-down on Larry King Now in 2013, seven years later, recounting how one of his routines was voted the No. 1 fan favorite from all the seasons after the fact.

"But it worked out great," he added with an even bigger smile. "I turned it down the first couple seasons 'cause I didn't really want to wear the outfits and I just wasn't feeling it, but it was my mom's favorite show, so [he reconsidered]."

While Mario Lopez is a prime example of how DWTS can be just the right career move, and season 19 winner Alfonso Ribeiro proved that the DWTS bump was still the real deal 16 seasons later, they're certainly not the only ones who benefited from opening up to the emotional roller coaster that is competing for the mirror-ball trophy.

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Brooke Burke-Charvet won her season and then became its co-host. And Erin Andrews, who competed on season 10, made such a strong impression that the Fox Sports sideline reporter was tapped to replace Burke-Charvet in season 18.

My greatest passion, while learning so much! #originmagazine

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Stacy Keibler, not exactly a household name despite being a former fan-favorite WWE Diva and model, parlayed her second-place finish in season two into a whole new career as a TV host and lifestyle maven (and, not least, George Clooney's girlfriend for a spell).

Leah Remini, Tony Dovolani, Dancing with the Star

ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Bristol Palinwas one of the more controversial contestants the show has had over the years, and she ended up finishing third—proving she had plenty of support from folks around the country. Melissa Rycroftwent from jilted Bachelor "winner" to America's sweetheart after opting to compete on the show right after Jason Mesnick ended their engagement during the After the Final Rose special (and she won the all-star edition a few years later). Leah Reminiused the show to open up to a wider audience about her exit from Scientology—and, a spotlight boost and a bombshell memoir later, her A&E show chronicling the aftermath when people leave the church just got picked up for a second season.

And just last season Ryan Lochte, whose appearance could have been a disaster, ended up at least getting a chance to show he wasn't entirely the d-bag his behavior in Rio had made him out to be. He's expecting a baby now with his fiancée and, with Final Five gymnast Laurie Hernandez winning the mirror ball in November and all-around gold medal winner Simone Biles coming in to compete this season, the better memories from the 2016 Summer Olympics have reasserted themselves.

Dancing With the Stars, Ryan Lochte


Asked what he learned from his time on DWTS, Lochte said on Good Morning America the day after his elimination, "That no matter how hard I get knocked down I can still get up and keep fighting—and just keep moving and staying positive...I was at the lowest point of my life, but I'm here, I lasted till week eight."

As Lochte himself noted, his journey was aided by being paired with pro favorite Cheryl Burke, who was returning to the ballroom after three seasons away. Burke won consecutive seasons way early on, with Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith, and she'd seen a little of everything over her years on the show.

"My least favorite [partner] would be Ian Ziering," she memorably confessed on on Matt Weiss and Theo Von's "Allegedly" podcast last year. "The fact that his name is not 'ee-an' and it's 'eye-an' makes me want to throw up."

The hosts replied that Ziering rubbed them the wrong way, too, when he was on Celebrity Apprentice—and Burke agreed that those were the "true colors" that the editing on DWTS might not show. "Think of spending time with that for like eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week for three months."

"It made me want to slit my wrists," Burke said. "I was like crying to executives. I was like is there any way to please to just eliminate us? They're like we can't. We can't do that and I swear, every time I asked, we just kept going. We would last till the end."

Which doesn't mean the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum is a bad guy—the Sharknado franchise is in love with him, after all. But the intensity that Burke recalled him having behind the scenes didn't translate into the kind of emotion you want on the floor. And all is revealed on the floor.

Dancing With The Stars: Ian Ziering, Cheryl Burke

Carol Kaelson/ABC via Getty Images

"I felt that you were trying to do the passion, but I didn't feel like it was generated from any sort of place of authenticity," Carrie Ann Inaba critiqued his rumba one night. "It lacks a sort of a naturalness," added head judge Len Goodman.

While Ziering never really responded to Burke's characterization of him, when he was on the show he sang her praises.

"Cheryl Burke is amazing," he told Buddy TV in 2007. "She's very patient—which, thank god for that because I keep stepping on my own toes—and is able to communicate in a way that I understand and to show me. I learn best by seeing. She could tell me left right left right right, but until I see her implement what she's telling me about, I don't get it, but once she does I am able to grasp onto it and you know, ultimately I'd like to gain mastery of it and make it look easy and I'm not there yet, that's for sure."

"You know, I take home a great friendship with Ian, and in my eyes, Ian is a winner just like Drew and Emmitt were, and Ian I'm so proud of you," Burke said on the show after they were eliminated. "It's been an honor."

The consummate pro, that Cheryl.

But while Ziering looked mildly perturbed when he was criticized, he also played it gracious in the moment—and some other stars haven't been quite as able to hold back their frustrations when things weren't going their way.

For instance, asked how she would sum up her experience on the show, Lolo Jones quipped, "Very quick."

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"People thought I was just being a bitter contestant," the Olympian told E! News right after she was eliminated first on season 19, referring to what might have looked like buyer's remorse when she was up there hearing the judges' critiques following a noticeable flub. "Keo [Motsepe, her partner] had to pull me aside a couple of times, and I was like, 'I can't breathe. I can't believe I just did that. I can't believe I messed up the whole dance.' And he was just trying to calm me down and was like, 'We'll be fine, we'll be fine.'"

Mischa Barton didn't have much of a time (or any time) to get comfortable either, going home in week two.

"Ugh, I had no idea it would be so bad. I got told off by my dancer," the former O.C. star told The Ringer in November, the lack of enjoyment (that you could sense on the show but which she only alluded to at the time) still fresh months later. "I was supposed to control the costumes, I was told that I could do the design aspect of it, that's kind of the reason why I agreed to do it."

Dancing With the Stars GIFs


Barton continued, "That didn't happen. It wasn't collaborative like a choreographer on a film set...I was so confused by it. It was like The Hunger Games. It was all a popularity contest. It was awful. I was so glad to get kicked off."

To be sure, Dancing With the Stars isn't for everyone. At least for the most part the stars who went early, even in a blaze of blah feelings like Lolo or Mischa, aren't remembered in relation to the show for too long. Seriously, at 23 seasons and counting it's getting hard enough to keep track of all the winners, let alone the dozens of others who've competed over the years.

But DWTS sometimes does remain a memorable spot on the resume, for better or worse. Take the odd case of Sabrina Bryan. As a Cheetah Girl she had her Disney fans, and she was dancing circles around everyone else in season five. But then she was eliminated in week six, much to everyone's surprise, and when she returned seeking redemption as an all-star in season 15, the exact same thing happened. 

Dancing With the Stars GIFs


"It's tough, you know what I mean? It just feels like déjà vu, when are we gonna wake up from this nightmare?" Bryan admitted to E! News after elimination 2.0 in 2012, even revealing that she sensed it was going to happen before show time. "But at the same time, last night was incredible. It was so amazing. It was such an experience and I feel so grateful to even have this chance on the show again."

And it remains anyone's guess as to why the votes just weren't there, despite her considerable skills.

In hindsight, with a bit of controversy already swirling over Glee star and former Beyoncé backup dancer Heather Morris' addition to the season 24 lineup, could it have been pro-dancer backlash working against Bryan, even back in 2007?

"Of course it can seem unfair but 'blah, blah, blah'—but you've seen some of the best dancers, aka Christina Milian and Sabrina Bryan, you've seen loads of great dancers go out early," Bryan's season five partner (turned boyfriend for a while) Mark Ballas told The Celebrity Cafe in 2013.

"At the end of the day, if you have dance experience it really doesn't come into factor. I've seen so many great people go out first. It is all about how you work with your partner and if you have a fan base as well."

All of which becomes glaringly obvious soon enough once the stars take the floor.

The 24th season of Dancing With the Stars premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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