Nikki Wade, Bad Girls
Nikki Wade (Mandana Jones). Introduced in Season 1, outspoken inmate and an out lesbian Nikki Wade was serving a life sentence for killing a policeman who raped her then-girlfriend Trisha. Hated by guard Jim Fenner, Nikki was respected by most of the other inmates although she refused the title of “top dog”. Nikki often stood up to the abuse from prison officials and inmates, had a contemptuous relationship with the prison officers. After being dumped by Trisha, Nikki fell in love with Wing Governor Helen Stewart and pursued her shamelessly.
When she first met the young, educated, and idealistic Helen, they often clashed, though their interactions quickly turned flirty and they formed an easy friendship through their mutual love of literature and hatred of Jim Fenner. In episode 1×07, Nikki found out about Sean and confronted Helen about her feelings. Helen insisted that she was straight, but when a drug scandal hit G-Wing in episode 1×09, she turned to Nikki for support and they shared their first kiss. Helen broke off her engagement to Sean by the end of Season 1.
In the first episode of Season 2, Nikki continued to push Helen into acknowledging her feelings (and confesses she is in love with her), but Helen kept her distance because of her professional responsibilities. However, by the next episode, she had resigned from her position as Wing Governor, and went to Nikki’s cell and kissed her before leaving Larkhall. She then sent Nikki postcards from outside, and visited her a few episodes later, much to the surprise of the other guards.
In episode 2×07, “The Set Up,” Helen returned to Larkhall and talked to Nikki about her legal appeal, begging her to stay out of trouble. She also reminded Nikki that while she was no longer in charge of G-Wing, she still worked for the prison system and they have to be careful about hiding their relationship. However, Nikki soon became jealous over Helen spending time with a male guard, Dominic, who had a crush on her. Although Helen was still struggling with her sexuality, she grew more secure in her feelings for Nikki, and confessed to Dominic that she was in love with the inmate. Despite this, and due to Nikki’s jealousy, she was forced to break up with her, before a desperate Nikki took advantage of a PO party, broke out of prison, and went to see Helen at home, where they spent the night together (2×13).
In Season 3, Helen broke up with Nikki again in an attempt to protect then both, asserting that she couldn’t allow the relationship to compromise either her career or Nikki’s chances with the Criminal Cases Review Commission. Throughout the rest of the season their relationship was rocky; Helen was sexually assaulted by Jim Fenner and started dating prison medical officer Dr Thomas Waugh, while Nikki grew closer to another inmate, Caroline.
When Nikki won her appeal in the final episode of the season, “Coming Out” (3×16), Helen showed up to congratulate her. She told Nikki: “I’ve been such an idiot, Nikki.[…] No, let me say it. Thomas is gorgeous; he’s everything you could want in a man. But I want a woman.” The writers of the series have subsequently indicated that they intended Helen’s declaration to be her coming out as a lesbian (and not coincidentally, also the title of the episode).
In their final scene on the show, Nikki and Helen kissed passionately on the sidewalk.
- 33 episodes. Regular character in Seasons 1-3
Female love interests:
- Helen Stewart (Simone Lahbib, lesbian, main cast, 31 episodes)
- Trisha (Victoria Pritchard, lesbian, guest, 3 episodes)
- Caroline Lewis (Helen Grace, lesbian, guest, 2 episodes)
Relationship story arc with a woman: Yes
No male love interests
Relationship story arc with a man: No
Male love interest after being identified as a lesbian? No
Filter Relationship Arc:
Storyline during sweeps? No
 A relationship story arc is defined as explicit, developed on screen, and lasting more than 3 episodes. It is listed as questionable or subtext if romance is only implied, mentioned instead of shown on screen, part of a dream sequence, or otherwise not explicit for the viewer.
 Sweeps episodes air in February, May, July and November, the periods when advertising rates are set. A character is marked as "sweeps" when there is a very limited number of episodes that address their sexuality, all air during sweeps period, and the storyline is otherwise ignore/dropped.