Nicky Nichols

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Nicole "Nicky" Nichols
Orange Is the New Black character
Nicky Nichols.jpg
Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols
First appearance"I Wasn't Ready" (2013)
Portrayed byNatasha Lyonne
Carla Oudin
(flashback scenes)
Presley Ryan
(age 13)
Full nameNicole Nichols
FamilyMarka Nichols (mother)
Les Nichols (father)
Red (prison mother)
Tricia Miller (former prison sister; deceased)
Significant otherLorna Morello (complicated)

Nicole Nichols is a fictional character played by Natasha Lyonne on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She is a recurring character in season one and a main character from season two onwards. Lyonne received an Emmy nomination in 2014 for the role.

Casting and background[edit]

Natasha Lyonne had intended to audition for the part of Lorna Morello but, according to Lyonne, "they wouldn’t let me [audition for Morello], because they already liked me for Nicky."[1] Yael Stone, who had auditioned for the role of Nichols, was cast as Morello.

Lyonne feels that she can relate closely to Nichols's storyline as she has had experience of drug addiction. She says, "believe me, there's no shortage of things for me to draw on when it comes to Nicky's backstory".[2] The scar that is visible on Nichols's chest during the series is a real scar from Lyonne's heart surgery in 2012.[3] Orange Is the New Black is Lyonne's first time as a series regular.[4]


Season 1[edit]

Nichols is first seen in the premier episode.[5] Early on, she becomes friends with the series' protagonist Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling). Nichols has a sexual relationship with Lorna Morello which ends in the fifth episode because Morello says that she wants to remain loyal to her fiancé and complains that Nichols is "making her feel like a cave".[6] Galina "Red" Reznikov (played by Kate Mulgrew) is a close friend and 'mother figure' to Nichols, however, the two have a disagreement when Red cuts off fellow inmate Tricia Miller (played by Madeline Brewer) and allows her to be sent to solitary confinement.[7] Nichols retaliates against Red by reporting to a correctional officer exactly how Red manages to smuggle contraband into the prison.[8] In the final episode of the season, Nichols is seen to be seducing Alex Vause (played by Laura Prepon), who is a love interest of Chapman.[9]

Season 2[edit]

Nichols engages in a competition with Carrie "Big Boo" Black (played by Lea DeLaria) to see who can have sex with the most women in the prison.[10] Nichols spends a long time trying to seduce one of the correctional officers. She is not successful.[11] Eventually, they both call it a draw at 36 points and engage in a 'cookie-eating contest' instead.[12] The other major storyline for Nichols in this season involves heroin that she accepts from another inmate.[13]

Season 3[edit]

Nichols and Big Boo, attempt to sell their stash of heroin and they cooperate with correctional officer Joel Luschek, who finds a buyer.[14] Nichols then says that it has been stolen but, in reality, she has hidden it for her own use. Other inmates Leanne Taylor (played by Emma Myles) and Angie Rice (played by Julie Lake) find the heroin and start taking it. Luschek discovers this and confiscates the drug.[15] When assistant warden Joe Caputo (played by Nick Sandow) discovers the heroin, Luschek blames Nichols and Nichols is sent to a maximum security prison.[16] This is Nichols's last appearance in the third season.[17]

Season 4[edit]

In the midst of season four, Nichols can be seen in an episode as a maximum security inmate, along with Sophia Burset (played by Laverne Cox) and Stella Carlin (played by Ruby Rose). Luschek repents of his actions against Nichols, and asks new inmate Judy King to use her connections to get Nichols out of maximum security. She returns to minimum security where she is welcomed with a big party. Her drug problem persists, however.

Season 5[edit]

During a prison riot, Nichols decides to take over the pharmacy with Lorna Morello. Later, while Soso is depressed and asking Nichols for drugs, Nichols confess that she has hopelessly fallen in love with "an incredible, insane, beautiful woman" who would never love her back. Morello overhears everything but does not comment. In a later episode, Nichols and Morello restart their sexual relationship, but Morello ends it a few hours after, saying that during their intercourse she realized she was pregnant. Nichols does not believe her and is heartbroken. Vause finds her crying in the shower. While Red is becoming paranoid because of the correctional officer (CO) Piscatella, Nichols decides to take care of her but is eventually abducted by the CO. She is kept in a room tied up with the rest of her prison "family". After they are able to escape, Nichols goes back to the pharmacy to see Morello and realizes that she is actually pregnant. She then calls Morello's husband to convince him to stay with her because "some people would give anything to be loved like that". While the police begins to raid the prison, she asks Morello to surrender and tell them that she is pregnant. Nichols then returns to Frieda's bunker and they all wait for the police to enter.

Critical commentary[edit]

Sarah Karlan of BuzzFeed praised the character's "impossibly quick wit" and "perfectly deadpan delivery".[18] Rebekah Allen of SheWired said Lyonne is "wonderful" in the role, and called Nichols one of the best characters on the series.[17] MTV's Crystal Bell called Nichols a "fan-favorite" and "our beloved smart mouth" and expressed disappointment at the character's departure in the third season.[19]

Lyonne received an Emmy nomination for her role as Nichols. She lost out to fellow Orange Is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Busis, Hillary (June 23, 2014). "27 things we learned at the Orange Is the New Black press day". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  2. ^ Rayford Rubenstein, Janine (July 31, 2014). "OITNB′s Natasha Lyonne Talks Emmys Jitters and Season 3 Spoilers: 'So Much Bloodshed'". People. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  3. ^ Yapalater, Lauren (July 30, 2013). "23 Surprising Facts About Orange Is The New Black". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Brown, Emma. "Natasha Lyonne, Locked Up". Interview. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  5. ^ Henderson, Danielle (July 19, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black Episode One Recap: A Nice White Lady". Vulture. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  6. ^ Henderson, Danielle (August 2, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black Episode Five Recap: Definitely a Chicken". Vulture. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  7. ^ Davis, Ali (July 18, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black recap (1.8): Moscow Mule". After Ellen. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  8. ^ Henderson, Danielle (August 13, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black Episode Eight Recap: Your Fault, Your Mess". Vulture. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Davis, Ali (July 25, 2013). "Orange Is the New Black recap (1.13): Can't Fix Crazy". After Ellen. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  10. ^ Barns, Sarah. "'Playing Big Boo is my dream come true,' says Orange Is The New Black′s Lea DeLaria". Daily Express. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Yahr, Emily (June 6, 2014). "Orange Is the New Black Season 2 recap: Halfway through already? Let's discuss". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  12. ^ Piccoli, Dana (June 23, 2014). "Orange Is the New Black recap (2.6): You Also Have a Pizza". After Ellen. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  13. ^ McNutt, Myles (July 1, 2014). "Orange Is The New Black: "40 OZ Of Furlough"/"Little Mustachioed Shit"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  14. ^ Amatangelo, Amy (June 14, 2015). "Orange Is the New Black Review: "Mother's Day"/"Bed Bugs and Beyond"". Paste. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  15. ^ Dornbush, Jonathon (June 11, 2015). "Empathy Is a Boner Killer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  16. ^ Amatangelo, Amy (June 15, 2015). "Orange Is the New Black Review: "Empathy is a Boner Killer"/"Finger in the Dyke"". Paste. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Allen, Rebekah (July 29, 2015). "Natasha Lyonne Opens Up About that Dreadful Nicky Nichols Development in OITNB Season 3". SheWired. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  18. ^ Karlan, Sarah (June 12, 2014). "For Anyone Slowly Falling For Nicky Nichols On Orange Is The New Black". BuzzFeed. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Bell, Crystal (June 15, 2015). "Did Orange Is The New Black Really Say Goodbye To This Fan-Favorite Character For Good?". MTV. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  20. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards 2014: The winners list". CNN. August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2015.