Such a treat! Julianne Hough returned to the Dancing With the Stars judges' panel for the Monday, Nov. 20 episode — and we seriously couldn't have been happier to have her back. We missed the blonde beauty all of Season 25 after she decided she would not be returning to the hit dancing competition.
After her appearance, she opened up about being a judge on the show again after taking some time off. "I just felt like I could just talk to them, I wasn't concerned in my head of 'I already said that. There's no room to grow or it needs more,'" she told E! News. "I kind of just spoke from the heart, and it was fun. I loved being back in there."
As for a permanent return to the series? "I'm not sure, as of now there's no plans, but we'll see," she said. "Dancing With the Stars is my family and you always come back to family, right?"
And while Julianne came back as a judge, the two-time Mirror Ball Trophy winner showed off her skills on the dance floor once again too. She put on an emotional performance to "Wouldn't Change Anything" by Alexander Jean (Mark Ballas and his wife's band) to tell iconic choreographer Marinda Davis' story. Marinda is, unfortunately, battling seven autoimmune diseases that have left her extremely ill.
Before the show, Julianne opened up about the routine in a touching post paired with a photo album from rehearsals. "Tonight’s the night. So much beautiful work has gone into creating this important and meaningful performance. My friend Marinda was a dancer her whole life, but when she was forced to stop because of her multiple health diagnoses, she seamlessly moved on to choreography. This piece is based on her life-changing story," she began.
"I have been so incredibly fortunate to do the things that I love in my career, but I have to say, this performance will probably be one of the most significant performances I get to do because it’s not about me... it’s about someone else," Julianne added. "The thing that I’ve learned in the last few years is that when you open your heart and resources to others, without wanting anything in return but for them to shine, something forever changes inside of you. That pure joy, gratitude, and love exceeds any accomplishment you could ever have. @marinspirations has completely made an impact in my life in the short time we’ve known each other and I couldn’t be more honored to be portraying her in this heartbreaking yet celebratory piece on #DWTS."
Marinda gave Julianne a sweet shout-out right back. "One of the most special bonds I've ever had in my life. @juleshough I love you to the moon and back again. I can't wait for the world to watch you dance this tonight. "thank you" is the understatement of the year. you are one of the most beautiful people I have ever and will ever know. infinite love. 💜 I wouldn't change anything," she wrote.
Julianne previously announced she'd be making a guest appearance via Instagram on Monday, Nov. 13. "Where my #DWTS fans at?! Get ready... We’re getting the band back together again! I'm coming back as a guest judge NEXT Monday, and I have a very meaningful surprise in store! You won't want to miss this! Tune in on 11/20 at 8/7c #LoveMyDWTSFamily," she wrote on the social media platform alongside a photo of herself with the other judges, Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli.
Fans immediately took to the comments to express their joy, but many thought the surprise might be that Julianne is pregnant with baby No. 1! Others are just excited that they get to see her back in the judge's seat after all this time. "THANK GOODNESS!!! This season missed you!!! Not the same a#without you!!" one wrote. Another added, "Trust me when I say I’ll be tuning in."
Back in September, Julianne revealed she wouldn't be returning for Season 25 of DWTS. "Right now, I wanted to take some time and focus on my acting and kind of get back on that path," she told Entertainment Tonight at the time. "I'm really excited, you know? This is a different chapter. I'm 29 and I feel like I'm sort of coming into my own." She added, "I know that if I keep doing [the same thing] I'm doing that I'm gonna wake up in a couple years and be like, 'Oh man, I wish I would've done [something else] when I really wanted to do it.' It was really hard, but I wanted to make that choice."
But don't worry, Julianne still tunes in to the popular dance competition! "I do miss the show. But what's really fun is, I'm a fan, just like everybody who watches," she confessed. "I watch the show now that I'm home and, you know, I have favorites and everything. Which is great because I could never really have favorites. I had to really kind of separate that [as a judge]." It was so good to see you this week, Julianne!