When it comes to killer dolls, fewer are more brutal—or more terrifying—than Chucky. After all, the titular character from the Chucky television series and Child’s Play film franchise is much more than a kids’ toy. He doesn’t play nicely with others and has a relentless, violent approach to getting what he wants—not to mention that his vacillation from humor and horror make him incredibly unpredictable. And it’s safe to say that the many adults and children who have squared off against him would agree. Between six-year-old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), his foster sister Kyle (Christine Elise), high school student Jake Wheeler (Zackary Arthur), and the scores of other hapless victims of his bloody rampages, Chucky is indiscriminate when it comes to swiftly dispatching the innocents who get in his way. But despite the many characters he has manipulated and murdered, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) is the most tragic in the series’ 34 years.

The best characters are usually those that suffer the most, and boy does Nica suffer. After appearing in Cult of ChuckyCurse of Chucky, and the Chucky TV series, she’s arguably had the most chances to be on the receiving end of Chucky’s torment. And not just for mere weeks, months, or even years. Chucky has quite literally infiltrated her life since before she was born.

In a fun addition to the Chucky mythology, it turns out that Charles Lee Ray was obsessed with Nica’s mother, Sarah, when they were younger. But his romantic feelings were far from mutual, causing Ray to kidnap Sarah and keep her captive while she was pregnant with Nica. After all, if he couldn’t have her, no one could. She managed to escape, but the stab wound that Ray inflicted on her stomach caused Nica to be born paraplegic. The reveal is especially tragic because it shows that not only is Nica one of Chucky’s first victims, but that he has sentenced her to a life of darkness and pain before she even entered the world. Her whole life was affected simply because of her association to someone who rejected his aggressive romantic advances.

But Nica’s troubles continue well into her adulthood…especially when Chucky returns. Nica’s mother’s betrayal was one of the main factors that led to his human death and transferring his soul into a Good Guy doll, so it makes sense that he comes back for revenge. He kills Nica’s mother (and niece), ending his years-long grudge, but is only getting started in making Nica’s life a living hell. Not only does Chucky kill two of the people she loved most, but Nica is blamed for the murders and committed to a mental institution. And just like young Andy Barclay, Nica is forced to come to terms with the horrible reality that Chucky is after her. What’s even more awful is her realization of the nauseating truth that no one, especially the doctors and therapists assigned to “treat” her, believes her. In their minds, she’s sick, clearly experiencing a psychotic episode after her mother’s death. But Nica knows the truth, and it’s here where Chucky’s cruelty can really be seen. He first confined Nica to a wheelchair, but now he has made her world even smaller (and her suffering even greater) as she is confined to a psychiatric facility, bound to a narrative that she knows is false.

But while other franchise characters like Andy and Kyle have moments or years of peace before Chucky’s eventual re-emergence into their lives, Nica has no respite. She’s a smart and capable woman who refuses to give up trying to finally defeat Chucky, but with each small win afforded to her, Chucky—and his lover, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly)—always manage to send her one step back. She tricks and evades him, and even decapitates him, all to no avail. Whether matching his violence or asserting herself as someone unwilling to relinquish her body (and soul), nothing seems to work in Nica’s favor. Which makes it all the more disheartening when, in Cult of Chucky, Nica is made to be the unwitting vessel of Chucky’s pursuit to transfer his soul into living body.

Cult of Chucky and the Chucky television series see her body possessed by Chucky as Nica is forced to be a passenger in her own mind. Not only has her family been murdered, her body violated, and her reputation ruined, but her mind has been compromised as well. It’s especially heartbreaking because it’s the last piece of her that has remained pure, safe from Chucky’s intrusion. Now she has been fully manipulated. After years of trauma and pain, and months of battling the psychotic doll’s relentless pursuit, Nica’s ferocity, independence, and genuine goodness are overtaken. It makes her story and character arc even more upsetting because despite her fight, Chucky continues to pull the strings.

Even when Nica uses her wits to momentarily free herself from Chucky’s grip over her mind and body, she faces new horrors at the hands of Tiffany. Chucky’s lover develops an attraction to Nica, and because Tiffany has her own trauma and abandonment issues, keeps Nica captive. It’s a situation that brings Nica’s story full-circle since it resembles what Chucky did to her mother before Nica was born. But because Nica is such a fighter and uses her brief windows of opportunity to aid in her escape, Tiffany is forced to take unusual and horrific measures. In one of the franchise’s most horrific and chilling scenes, it’s revealed that Tiffany has physically disabled Nica even further, amputating both her arms and legs to keep her from escaping. Just when it seemed that Nica had nothing left that could possibly be taken from her, she’s viciously mutilated, leaving her in the hands of not one psychotic, but two, as she is trapped in a never-ending waking nightmare that she never deserved.

Nica has had some of the most screen time of characters in the Child’s Play franchise, but she’s also suffered the most. Chucky darkened her destiny before she was born, sentencing her to a lifetime of overcoming insurmountable odds, grief, gaslighting, loss, and much more. She’s a purely good character which makes her arc—and seemingly endless suffering—that much more horrific. While Chucky has had many friends ‘til the end across the franchise’s duration, Nica is one that more than deserves to be set free.

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