Niki Sanders

Ali Larter as Niki Sanders

Nicole "Niki" Sanders is a fictional character portrayed by Ali Larter in the television series Heroes. Niki is the wife of D. L. Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) and mother of Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey). Niki, a sufferer of Dissociative Identity Disorder, displays superhuman strength, being able to literally rip others in half. Initially, she is only able to access this power when her alter ego "Jessica" is in control.

Tim Kring, the creator of the show, stated that he originally created Niki with the power to be in two places at once, which stems from her life as a single mother.[1] Niki was also originally written to be a showgirl. However, Ali Larter did not have the proper physique to portray a showgirl, so the character's profession was changed to internet stripper.[2] According to writers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coleite, Niki was written out of the series and replaced with Tracy so that Larter could play a different role, as they realized that they could not go further with the character. The change also allowed them to tell an origin story, where the character discovers that she has powers.[3]

Character HistoryEdit

Early LifeEdit

Born a triplet with Tracy Strauss and Barbara, Niki was given the ability of enhanced strength at birth by the Dr. Zimmerman. She was placed under the care of the Sanders family and bonded with her sister Jessica. However, her father, Hal Sanders, was abusive and due to this, Niki developed a split personality.

Niki remembered none of the beatings, and was devastated when Jessica was killed. Unbeknownst to Niki, Jessica was accidentally killed by Hal. Upon growing up, Niki lost contact with Hal and grew to resent him and later became an alcoholic. She met D.L. Hawkins and had a son- Micah. However, Niki was approached by Hal Sanders, who tried to make amends for his past actions. Niki's main alter ego, Jessica, however, attacked Hal and sent him away before he could do any harm to Niki or her family.


After finishing some work, Niki gets Micah ready for school. When thugs break in, she rushes out with Micah. She speaks with Micah's principal about his enrollment. When she leaves, she sees her reflection moving differently than she is.

Niki takes Micah to Tina's house and returns home. She is confronted by the thugs from earlier, who knock her out. When she awakes, they have been killed. On her way to go get Micah, she blacks out again for several hours. When she returns home she finds a Cadillac with the men's bodies in them. She leaves with Micah to the desert to bury the thugs. After finishing the two go to Micah's grandmother's house. After they leave, Niki is stopped by more of Linderman's men.

Niki then meets with Miss Sakamoto. The two discuss that Linderman will forget her debt if she seduces a certain politician. She drops Micah off and returns to the casino running into the man she is to seduce. She does not go through with the deal, but when she is assaulted by one of Linderman's lackeys she reverts to her alter ego, threatens the man and sleeps with Nathan. The morning after, Miss Sakamoto tells Niki she is now debt free. When she returns home, she finds the police looking for her husband. When they leave, he arrives and the two argue.

When Niki switches back to Jessica, she reveals that is was she that stole Linderman's money. D.L. catches up to her, and the two fight until D.L. knocks her out by phasing into her abdomen. When she awakens D.L. and Micah are gone, and Tina comes to let her know what has happened. Angered, Jessica takes over again, determined to find D.L. She finds them at a cabin in Utah. When she struggles with D.L., she forcefully pushes Micah aside, allowing Niki to regain control. She decides to turn herself in for murder.

Two weeks later, she is in jail waiting for her trial. Because of Jessica's aggression, Niki is thrown into a padded cell. A psychiatrist arrives wanting to see Niki. During the conversation Niki looses control, and when she awakens, Dr. Witherson is unconscious. Aron Malsky arrives to let Niki know she has been released and when she arrives home, Jessica regains control. Niki is helpless when she learns Jessica has become an assassin for Linderman. When she finally regains control, she approaches Nathan, tells him about Linderman's plans and then asks him to knock her out. He happily obliges. Niki convinces Jessica that she needs to save Micah with D.L.'s help. When the two find Linderman, he offers Jessica millions of dollars if she kills D.L. Not having any of this, Niki regains control and embraces D.L. When Linderman shoots at Niki, D.L. takes the bullet, and then kills Linderman.

Niki supports a weakened D.L. When a loud bang is heard, the two phase through a wall. D.L. tells her that she needs to go on her own if she is to rescue Micah. She leaves him and finds Jessica and a dead Micah in a room. The two fight, and when she looks in a reflection, Jessica tells her that the Jessica she is fighting isn't actually her. Niki punches the impostor across the room. Niki rescues Micah and when she looks into a mirror sees only her own reflection. When they go back to D.L., they find Mohinder and Molly. The group goes down to Kirby Plaza thanks to Micah. Outside, Peter and Sylar are fighting. Niki grabs Sylar's parking meter and beats him with it. She then returns to her family to watch the explosion.


After the explosion, Niki is approached by Bob Bishop, who warns her that another split personality will manifest if she does not go with him to receive treatment. Niki refuses, and her new personality--Gina--forms, and leads to D.L.'s murder. Niki, distraught at what she had led to, then agrees to go with Bob. Niki and Micah move on with their lives after telling Niki's dead husband, D.L., goodbye. They later make it to New Orleans so Micah can stay with Nana. Niki explains that she has to go away for a while, but she will return for him.

After arriving at the Company facility, Niki is treated for her split personalities and loss of control over her powers. However, Niki, not in control of her powers, escapes from her confinements, making her way past guards and wreaking havoc. She happens upon Mohinder and Bob, with Mohinder immediately recognizing her and knocks Mohinder into a door. She grabs Bob by the neck in an attempt to strangle him, but Mohinder tases her. Later, Bob assures her that she will be helped with her Multiple Personality Disorder. As Bob leaves, Mohinder attempts to free her, but Niki tells him to stop, explaining that she came of her own free will, even leaving her son behind, so that she can seek aid from the Company.

Niki is partnered with Mohinder in the Company, and she explains that Bob had told her of Mohinder's trust issues, and she is there to ensure that there aren't any problems. The next day, Bob warns Niki and Mohinder about an upcoming attack by Maury Parkman. Niki teams up with the pair, along with Matt Parkman and Nathan Petrelli in order to defeat Maury. Bob orders Mohinder to inject Maury with the Company's strain of the Shanti Virus, and Niki goes with Mohinder to retrieve it. However, Maury, who is able to control minds, manages to take control of Niki plagues her with visions of D.L.. The vision of D.L. convinces her to kill Bob and Niki then proceeds to punch Mohinder when he tries to help. Niki then goes after Bob and smashes through a door with her bare hands. However, Niki is talked down by Nathan, though she can't fight off Maury's mind control and injects herself with the virus.

Niki is injected with Mohinder's blood, though it is revealed that her strain of the virus is immune to the cure. After realizing that she would die without a cure, Niki returns to New Orleans to be with Micah. Niki explains that because of the virus, she doesn't have much time to live. Micah's bag is soon stolen, in it D.L.'s medal, and after Niki insists that the police should handle it, Micah and Monica go off to retrieve it themselves. However, Monica is captured by the thugs who stole the medal, and Micah goes to Niki for help. Micah tells his mother that Monica was kidnapped, and they have to save her. After Micah tells his cell phone to track the GPS signal in Monica's cell phone so they can locate her, they find a burning building in which Monica is being held. Niki races in to help her. Niki is able to free Monica from her binds and help her escape the building, but is unable to escape herself. Unfortunately, the fires intensifies and Niki is killed as the building explodes.


Soon after her death, however, it is revealed that Niki was a triplet with Tracy Strauss and Barbara and that she was adopted by the Sanders family. Also, her ability was given to her by a Dr. Zimmerman, and was synthetic.

Tracy Strauss, discovering this, travels to New Orleans to discover more about Niki. However, when she arrives at the Dawson's home, she finds the remnants of Niki's wake, along with her body. After she closes the casket, Micah finds her and realizes that Tracy isn't his mom, but that she looks just like her.

Later, Micah tells his laptop to find information and yield any matches on Tracy and Niki, and one match comes up: a birth record.

Alternate futureEdit

Future Niki Sanders

Niki as seen in the future of "Five Years Gone".

In the graphic novel "Walls, Part 1", it is revealed that sometime after the explosion, Niki was placed in a prison for evolved humans and put under maximum security until Peter Petrelli and Hiro Nakamura rescued every prisoner, including her. She is also shown to have taken complete control over her body. Sometime after being freed in "Five Years Gone" it is revealed that her son and husband have been killed, Micah by the explosion and D. L. by Sylar. Because of this, Jessica has simply disappeared. Niki is involved in a relationship with Peter Petrelli and works as a barroom stripper under the stage name of "Jessica". She is often emotional and in pain, which only grows when she discovers that Peter caused the explosion and not Sylar, as she originally thought.

Powers and abilities Edit

Niki was not born with the genetic code for abilities, but was synthetically given powers under the Company's orders by Dr. Zimmerman. She has the ability of enhanced strength, allowing her to pull out the door of a safe box with her bare hands,[4] throw her husband several feet across a small area with a single hit, break away from restraining cuffs that are "strong enough to hold down an elephant", and literally tear her opponents apart. She also displays signs of increased physical durability, being able to endure a blow from a shovel in "Fallout", only to stand back up again relatively unharmed, as well as able to endure the stress inflicted upon her body by her own strength (she does not, for example, injure her hand when punching through a solid wooden door). The ability is originally only used by her alter-ego, Jessica. In "How to Stop an Exploding Man"; however, Niki is able to fully use her super-strength after some encouragement from Jessica.

As a side-effect of her ability, Niki has "alternate" personalities. Jessica is one of these, named after Niki's late adoptive sister. At the start of the series, Jessica surfaces during times of great stress,[5] but surfaces with increasing ease as the series moves on. When Jessica surfaces, the transformation is instantaneous and almost unnoticeable, but is made apparent by Niki's sudden violent and strong-willed behavior. Jessica also freely demonstrates the superhuman strength Niki has only recently unlocked. She also gains a peculiar tattoo resembling an RNA helix on her right shoulder. This helix symbol has been a reccurring element in the series.

Jessica seems to have been aware that she is sharing Niki's body for longer than Niki realizes, leaving notes, gifts, and instructions for Niki, and telling a thug not to "threaten our son." Niki becomes aware of Jessica with the aid of reflective surfaces such as mirrors, and begins communicating with her. Jessica's ability to surface seems to increase over time, as Jessica is able to actively surface more often and more easily than she does in early episodes. The blackout effect on Niki also seems to lessen over time; the two personalities often directly fight each other for control and seem aware of what is said even when they are not active.

It is revealed in "Four Months Ago..." that Jessica is not Niki's only personality. A third personality emerges: Gina, a pseudonym Niki assumed when she ran away to L.A. when she was younger.

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