Fans of DAYS OF OUR LIVES were upset when Arianne Zucker announced in March of 2017 that she was leaving the soap after 18 years as Nicole Walker. Chatting with Soaps In Depth after her exit, the actress admitted that she was grateful to the show for not killing her off so she could still return to Salem one day! “I love the fact that my line was ‘As God is my witness, I will be back!’” Zucker confided. “I mean, that’s kind of great.” So fans were thrilled when she reprised her role as Nicole returned to DAYS in October of 2018, even though it was just for a short stint. And when she popped up again in 2019, she was actually Kristen in disguise, though the real Nicole eventually returned to Salem. But for how long?
Nicole made her debut back in 1998, arriving in Salem with dreams of being a model. She fell in love with Eric Brady, who convinced his sister, Sami, to give the newcomer a modeling contract and put her on the cover of Bella Magazine. Smitten with the blonde, Lucas Horton tried to steal Nicole away from Eric. She agreed to marry Lucas in exchange for five million dollars, but when Victor Kiriakis took the money away from her, she realized her horrible mistake. She then cozied up to Victor and married him next, faking his death to enjoy his fortune as the grieving widow and pursue his grandson, Brady Black. In order to keep Brady for herself, Nicole tried to disfigure his first love, Chloe, but Sami exposed her scheme forcing Nicole to run away to Los Angeles.
Returning a couple years later, Nicole tried to insist she was still married to Victor but then learned that marriage and her one to Lucas were invalid because she was still married to her abusive first husband, Trent! After sleeping with EJ DiMera, Nicole became pregnant, but when she miscarried, she continued to fake the pregnancy so he wouldn’t leave her. She tried adopting Mia’s baby to claim it as her own, but her lies were exposed and she was sent to prison.
Anna helped get Nicole out of jail, and assisting EJ with his run for mayor of Salem brought them back together again. But she dumped him after learning he’d cheated on her with Sami! Nicole learned she was pregnant again, and Rafe Hernandez stepped in to claim he was the daddy to protect them from EJ. But sadly, Nicole lost this baby as well and forced a fight with Jennifer so she could fall down a flight of stairs and blame her for losing the baby. After the truth was exposed, a distraught Nicole tried to take her own life but was stopped by Rafe and Daniel Jonas.
When Eric returned to Salem as a priest, the fact that he was now a man of the cloth made Nicole wary of the feelings she still had for them. Although they briefly became engaged, Nicole dumped him for Daniel, but he died in a tragic car accident that Eric was responsible for. Chloe Lane had agreed to act as a surrogate for Daniel and Nicole and while the first attempt failed, the second worked. But Chloe claimed the baby as her own because Nicole had gotten involved in a relationship with Deimos Kiriakis, and she didn’t want the child anywhere near that villain. After the truth came out, Nicole absconded with little Holly, and nearly went to jail for kidnapping. But Chloe agreed the girl should be with her mother, and Nicole was reunited with her daughter.
When Deimos was murdered, there were plenty of suspects, but it turned out that Nicole was the guilty party, and her confession was even caught on tape! Also caught between Brady and Eric, Nicole opted to run away, breaking Eric’s heart to save him the pain of losing her. But when Eric learned the truth about why Nicole really left town, he tracked her down and was stunned to find out she’d married Xander Kiriakis! She explained she had no choice because Xander had the tape of her confession and forced her into becoming his wife. Eric and Nicole plotted to get away from Xander to live happily ever after, but after an explosion at a warehouse, Nicole found herself trapped in the rubble as the fire blazed out of control. She managed to pass Holly to Eric, but couldn’t escape herself as the building exploded again!
Everyone was happy when Nicole turned up very much alive but stunned when it was revealed that it was really Kristen DiMera in an elaborate mask! Once her scheme was exposed, Kristin bargained for immunity from her crimes by claiming that she’d saved Nicole from the explosion. Eric tracked down Nicole in Chicago and brought her and Holly back to Salem where Xander agreed to sign divorce papers. Although Nicole discovered Sarah Horton was pregnant with Eric’s baby, she agreed to keep the secret from him. After a year passed overnight, Nicole was still struggling with keeping Eric from his daughter and after he proposed to her, she finally caved and confessed that Mackenzie was his child. Eric was furious and split up with Nicole, who found herself drawn back to Brady, though they ultimately chose to remain in the friend zone.
As Nicole and Eric found their way back to each other, she also discovered the shocking truth that Xander and Victor had switched Sarah and Kristen’s babies! Nicole told Eric that his child with Sarah had died and Mickey was actually Brady and Kristen’s daughter they had been told died at birth. Although the truth hurt, Eric had Nicole to support him and he popped the question. They married in a lovely small ceremony, but Sami crashed the wedding!
Nicole had bonded with Allie Horton and Sami was enraged when Allie wanted Nicole to raise her baby when it was born. After some nasty back and forth, Sami allowed Nicole to help raise Henry if Allie moved in with her. Eric had returned to work in Africa, and when he couldn’t come back to Salem for the holidays, Nicole grew closer to Rafe. Nervous, she then pushed Ava and Rafe together but then ended up having a drunken one-night stand with Xander that she immediately regretted!
Sami paid Xander to confess to the affair at Nicole and Eric’s anniversary party which spelled the end of their marriage. Rafe had fallen for Nicole but she was concerned about making Ava jealous and instead tried turning her attention to E.J.. However, they couldn’t resist their feelings for each other, and Rafe and Nicole ultimately slept together. Nicole tried to push him away and even slept with E.J., but Rafe wouldn’t give up on her. When Rafe was arrested for being a dirty cop, Nicole was determined to prove Ava had framed him. When Eric returned to Salem, he wished Nicole well with Rafe, but before he could confess his true feelings, she’d already eloped with the cop!
Nicole had a close moment with Eric after he rescued her from a mugger in the park, and they later had sexy dreams about each other. She got jealous when Eric moved on to a relationship with Jada Hunter, and Rafe eventually confronted his wife about her closeness with her ex. Feeling conflicted, Nicole fired Eric from Basic Black, but soon rehired the photographer and even modeled for him, which set off further sparks!
Stay tuned to see what happens next!