Mark Cuban recently declared that he’s quitting ABC’s Shark Tank after season 16.
Season 15 is currently airing—and already filmed, as Shark Tank typically films its episodes in two batches, at the start and end of summer—which means Mark will be on the show through spring 2025.
The Dallas Mavericks owner announced this on Showtime’s podcast All the Smoke, which went up on YouTube last Tuesday, and no one noticed until today.
Mark said, around the 1:03:00 point in the episode, “This is our 15th year. Next year, 16th year, is going to be my last year, so I got one more year to go. It’s time.” He added that, “I love it, because it sends the message that the American dream is alive and well.”
As his departure approaches, I wonder: Is it time for others to leave? I think the answer is yes.
If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I’d have been skeptical that reality TV shows could survive without their hosts.
But from The Bachelor to The Great British Bake-Off, it’s clear that a strong enough format can withstand changes. Even a show like Dancing with the Stars, which had a rocky transition, is still just the same-old show.
Over its life, Shark Tank has injected new blood/money into the negotiations by adding guest investors over the years.
By Wikipedia’s count, there have been 31 guest sharks. Some of them have made great TV; others are founders of questionable companies, including the creator of the worst product ever featured on the show.
But it was 11 years ago, in 2012, that Shark Tank added its last permanent shark: Lori Greiner, who guested in season three and joined in season four.
Mark Cuban guested in season two and joined in season three. Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, and Kevin O’Leary have all been with the show since season one.
That’s a long time with the same panel, and their interaction and shtick can get old.
I know their contracts stipulate how much they’ll be featured, but as Mark departs, I’d love to see more change-up in the tank.
That doesn’t necessarily mean other sharks have to leave, but maybe they just shouldn’t have permanent chairs. (Okay, yes, Kevin O’Leary should leave; he and his obnoxious interruptions are so boring.)
Mark Cuban will be missed, but I’m sure the show can continue without him. One way to make sure it does that is to add more variety.
Mark’s addition in three of season two’s episodes, and then in a permanent chair for season three, really helped energize Shark Tank, which spent its early years jumping around timeslots and being on the cancellation bubble.
Mark was more aggressive in negotiations, giving some entrepreneurs a countdown to accept his offer. He sparred with Kevin O’Leary, especially, and made the conversations more interesting.
Now, though, entrepreneurs tend to ignore offers from other sharks to look over at Mark to see if he’ll make an offer. He’s the one many of them want to work with.
Perhaps it’s because he has the most cash to play with, as the one billionaire among the sharks (their estimated net worth is far lower than his). Or perhaps it’s just because of his reputation and track record. Either way, negotiations easily tip in his favor. That’s great for entrepreneurs, only sometimes good TV.
At the very least, I’d like to see fewer of the core sharks and more guests—and more of the great guest sharks added into the regular mix.
Shark Tank is already doing that, on a smaller scale: Daniel Lubetzky has been a guest every season since season 11, and Emma Grede has recurred since season 13.
Even if none of the other core six will depart, I would love more shuffling. What about an all-guest shark episode? One with all former Shark Tank entrepreneurs who are now investors themselves? All female sharks?
I fear that Mark’s departure might make the producers and/or network more fearful of change, and want to stick with the core sharks. I think that’d be a mistake, especially considering how tired some of them are (Kevin, cough cough).
There are so many options once those in permanent spots make some space for others. Even just changing their actual seats helped refresh the show back in 2018, so maybe in 2025, Shark Tank can clean out its tank even more.