Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Nicky Nichols

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Marka Nichols

Nicky Nichols 18 Reasons Nicky Is Irreplaceable on Orange Is the New Black

First appearance
"I Wasn't Ready"Season 1, episode 1July 11, 2013

Possession of heroin, Breaking and entering

Portrayed by
Natasha Lyonne, Carla Oudin

Lorna Morello, Piper Chapman, Alex Vause, Tiffany Doggett, Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson

Nicole "Nicky" 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.


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Critical reception of Nichols has been generally positive. The role has also earned Lyonne an Emmy nomination.

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Casting and background

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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." Yael Stone, who had auditioned for the role of Nichols, was cast as Morello.

Lyonne feels that she can relate closely to Nichols' 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". The scar that is visible on Nichols' chest during the series is a real scar from Lyonne's heart surgery in 2012. Orange Is the New Black is Lyonne's first time as a series regular.

Season 1

Nichols is first seen in the first episode. She becomes friends with the series' protagonist Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling) within the first few episodes. Nichols had a sexual relationship with Lorna Morello which ended in the fifth episode because Morello said that she wanted to remain loyal to her fiancé and complained that Nichols was "making her feel like a cave". 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. Nichols retaliates against Red by reporting to a correctional officer exactly how Red manages to smuggle contraband into the prison. 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.

Season 2

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. Nichols spends a long time trying to seduce one of the correctional officers. She is not successful. Eventually, they both call it a draw at 36 points and engage in a 'cookie-eating contest' instead. The other major storyline in this season for Nichols involves heroin that she accepted from another inmate.

Season 3

Nichols, along with Big Boo, attempt to sell their stash of heroin and they cooperate with correctional officer Joel Luschek, who finds a buyer. 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 their heroin. When assistant warden Joe Caputo (played by Nick Sandow) discovers the heroin, Luschek blames Nichols and Nichols is sent to a maximum security prison. This is Nichols' last appearance in the third season.

Critical commentary

Critical reception for Nichols has been overwhelmingly positive. Sarah Karlan of BuzzFeed praised the character's "impossibly quick wit" and "perfectly deadpan delivery". Another critic, Rebekah Allen had praise for both Lyonne and her character, "Natasha Lyonne is wonderful. Nicky is one of the best characters on Orange Is the New Black". MTV's Crystal Bell called Nichols a "fan-favorite" and "our beloved smart mouth" and expressed disappointment at the character's departure from the series.

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


Nicky Nichols Wikipedia