The real reason Richard Brooks left Law and Order as Paul Robinette

Bonus scene of Det. Muncy's Law and Order: SVU goodbye

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Law and Order. 

Law and Order has changed a lot over the past 30 years but what was the reason behind Paul Robinette actor Richard Brooks’ departure? 

Paul Robinette was the NBC legal drama’s Assistant District Attorney for the first three seasons of the show. 

However, when it came to the show being picked up for a fourth outing in 1993, Robinette was nowhere to be seen. 

Unlike other characters, he didn’t have a memorable exit and neither did Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen. 

Both characters left the show without a trace upon its return for season four without an explanation for their whereabouts.

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Why did Richard Brooks leave Law and Order as Paul Robinette? 

Richard Brooks as well as Dann Florek were reportedly let go to open up cast positions for two new female characters, according to a 1997 Orlando Sentinel report. 

So their exits actually occurred for creative decisions, wanting to see more women in the show. 

While the door closed for Robinette and Cragen, it very much opened up for Lieutenant Anita Van Buren actress S Epatha Merkerson and ADA Claire Kincaid star Jill Hennessey. 

Merkerson even confirmed this is the reason for their departure during an interview with NPR.

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She explained: “They were going to cancel Law & Order, I think in its third season because NBC wanted women on the show.

“So Dick [Wolf] let two of the guys [Flekk and Brooks] go, and he brought on two women. 

“That’s how Jill Hennessey and I ended up on the show — because NBC was going to cancel it if he didn’t bring skirts in. It was really that simple.”

Robinette did reappear in Law and Order as a guest star, confirming that he had gone on to become a defence attorney representing victims of institutionalised racism. 

Away from the show, Brooks went on to star in various other projects like The Haves and Have Nots, All Rise, Bosch and The Flash. 

Most recently, he played Joseph in the Freeform series Good Trouble.

Law and Order is available to watch on NBC.

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