Samuel Nicholls/Marshall (1991-2001; 2002; 2005)
Episodes: 738–778; 811–2835; 2898–2905; 2938–2964; 3282–3289; 4000
Parents: Greg Marshall & Jacqui Nicholls
Step Parents: Bobby Marshall (former, deceased); Nancy Marshall
Occupation: Night-watchman; Carpenter
Sam was first seen as an eight-year-old boy who was Bobby Simpson’s first fostering case in 1991. After he had been staying with her for a few months, his mother Jacqui suddenly announced that she’d sorted her life out and wanted him back. Bobby’s first instinct was to take Sam and go on the run but she quickly came to her senses and returned him to Jacqui.
Some time later, it was revealed Jacqui wasn’t coping. Bobby was initially reluctant to take him back and risk further heartache, until Sam ran away from home. Jacqui accepted he was better off with Bobby and he quickly settled in with her and Don Fisher, who he dubbed “Uncle Donald”. Another threat to their new life appeared in the form of Sam’s father Greg, who initially applied for custody but then ended up falling for Bobby and the three of them became a family. Sam still showed his worries, thinking Greg would leave them when he got angry with him for messing up Don’s removal boxes. He was inadvertently responsible for delaying Greg and Bobby’s wedding when he got his hand caught in the plug hole of the shower. Michael tried to cut him out but was worried about injuring him and he ended up having to be taken to hospital to have it removed. Sam gained his first surrogate siblings when first Sarah and then Tug moved in with them and was inadvertently responsible for uniting the pair when he told them he’d read Sarah’s diary and she said she wanted Tug to be her boyfriend.
Sam’s new home life was cut short when Bobby was killed. No-one told him that Adam had been charged in connection with the accident, resulting in Sam talking to him on the beach and taking him back to the house. Greg angrily threw him out before telling Sam that Adam killed Bobby. The next time he saw Adam, Sam threw his glider at him, leaving him with a cut head. Fortunately, the more moderate attitude of the likes of Pippa and Morag caused him to forgive Adam and they became friends again. Around the same time, Greg had to leave to take up a job as a trucker and asked Don to look after Sam.
Don had trouble coping and Morag began filling Sam’s head with stories of life in the city. Don agreed to let Sam go and live with Morag but then Ailsa found out that Morag had enrolled Sam at a local school several weeks previous and had been manipulating everyone to get custody. Don asked Sam what he wanted and he asked to live with Morag…but as they were leaving, he announced he didn’t want to leave Summer Bay or go to the posh school Morag had selected. Morag had told him if he stayed the stress would cause Don to have another heart attack. Don and Alf were furious and ordered Morag out of town. Don then arranged for Sam to stay with Michael and Pippa.
After an argument with Michael, Sam ran away and ended up running out in front of Nick Parrish’s police car, causing him to crash. Now more scared than ever, he went and hid at Adam’s house, only to accidentally start a fire. Fortunately Adam rescued him from the blaze. Don was angry when he didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, claiming he was still Sam’s guardian. In order to formalise things, Michael and Pippa asked Greg for permission to officially foster Sam and then asked him if he liked the idea. Sam turned them down, saying Greg would come back for him soon, and was upset to learn Greg had already agreed. Sally asked him to be her brother and he agreed. When he saw the two of them playing together, Don decided not to object.
Sam found himself as the old hand when Jack came to live with them. When he was about to leave, Sam gave him a photo of the family as a going away present, but Jack was furious to find out he had thrown out a picture by his brother to use the frame and nearly hit him. The incident however prompted Jack to stay with the Rosses to get out of his bad habits and apologise to Sam. Sam continued to be indiscreet about his siblings’ relationships, telling Angel that Jack liked her and later selling Casey information on Liam and Stephanie’s relationship. He wasn’t to blame for telling Sally’s boyfriend Tim her relationship history though: Tim bullied the information out of him and afterwards he told Sally he didn’t like him anymore. Sam seemed to be discovering girls himself; when Pippa and Alf discovered several phone calls had been made to a saucy chat line, they assumed Jack was responsible until Sam mentioned the name of the chat line and they realised he had made the calls. He also sent a Valentine’s card to Selina, who thought it was sweet and that she was his first crush. She tried to let him down gently…only for him to reveal he had sent cards to lots of girls.
On the night the town was hit with torrential downpour, Sam was away at a camp. Michael went to collect him but on the way back they found the river had flooded and was impassable. While Michael was talking to Alf and Steven on the other side, Sam wandered off down the bank and fell in. Michael dived in after him and got a hold of him but was unable to make it to the bank. Seeing Jack and Liam standing nearby, he called to them for help and managed to pass Sam to Jack…but was then swept away and drowned. Sam was left feeling guilty about the incident and his insecurities increased when Pippa was left in a coma after being attacked by Shannon’s boyfriend Kye. He worried he was going to be taken into care and placed with another family, even more so when Pippa recovered consciousness but initially couldn’t remember him. Even with a bit of prompting, she could only remember that he was Greg’s son and lived with Bobby, and Sam ended up begging her to remember him.
Things soon returned to normal and Sam found himself on the receiving end of his siblings’ relationship choices when Pippa tried to get rid of Justine’s dodgy new boyfriend. Sam refused to serve him at the kiosk and got a beating for his troubles, although the family’s anger towards Justine was mollified when Sam revealed she had defended him. Sam himself began to fall into bad company when he received the news Pippa was going away, hanging out with local hoon Rod Sutton. No-one noticed anything until Sam returned home badly injured in the middle of a row between Pippa and Sally. It turned out Rod had taken him along ram raiding and Justine persuaded him to tell the police. Fortunately, he got away with a good behaviour bond after a short time in custody.
Sam soon came under the care of Travis and Rebecca and decided to amuse himself with a feud with Tiegan, which resulted in him playing a trick on her where he placed her hand in warm water while she was asleep, causing her to wet herself. However, when Tiegan got a hard time at school over the incident, Sam stuck up for her and hit the boy, ending their feud. (They then teamed up to pull the same trick on Vinnie.) His love life seemed to be looking up when Gypsy invited him out, until she admitted she was only trying to make Will jealous and only saw him as a friend.
Sam soon bounced back when he fell for a girl he spotted on his paper round. This turned out to be Daria Ellis, a new girl at school, and they soon began dating. However, when he saw Daria suffer an epileptic fit at the surf club, Sam felt uncomfortable around her and started avoiding her. Gypsy came to the couple’s rescue by roping in Tom to make Sam jealous and force him to admit he did want to be with Daria. He then joined her in being horrified that her dad was dating Sally.
While Daria was away, Hayley Smith arrived in town and Sam was instantly smitten. They began dating but he failed to mention he already had a girlfriend. When she found out, Hayley insisted Sam tell Daria about them but he kept putting it off until Daria walked in on the pair kissing and then announced she was leaving town anyway. Sam and Hayley played truant together in some caves only to stumble upon and be taken hostage by Murray, a drifter who had robbed the Diner and accidentally shot Sally. Will and Gypsy also stumbled upon the situation, and when Murray fell asleep Sam and Hayley made a break for it, unaware Gypsy had been unable to follow. They summoned the police and Will talked Murray into giving himself up.
Sam had never been comfortable living with Travis and Rebecca and ended up moving in with Don. He and Hayley were soon in trouble again when they spent the Remembrance Day one minute silence playing basketball. In an attempt to show them what it was about, Don asked Alf to give the class a talk about his time in Vietnam. When Sam made a joke during the talk, Alf angrily told him about watching his friends get hurt or killed, leaving him ashamed. Sam later joined his mate Brian in “tagging”, annoying Hayley who thought graffiti should be about art. Brian kept going in for more and more dangerous stunts, asking Sam to help him put a tag at the top of a tower by holding him over the edge. Sam agreed but was delayed when he went surfing and arrived to find Brian had tried to do it on his own and fallen to his death. He told Joel what he did but was told he had broken no laws and Travis and Hayley helped him come to terms with his guilt.
Soon after, Sam received an invitation from Ian asking him to live with him and Pippa. He was seriously tempted, especially since Duncan had started telling everyone he was bullying him, but eventually decided Don needed him more. He joined Hayley in playing matchmaker for Will and Peta and was shocked by her racist attitude towards Aboriginal teacher John Russell. His life got a jolt when Mitch McColl arrived in town and kissed Hayley, saying he didn’t know she had a boyfriend. Sam was not happy when Hayley started hiding him at her house and it was clear the pair were attracted to each other. Then Sam was injured while surfing and ended up in a neck brace for a while. He decided to miss the end of year dance and was disappointed when he turned up to find Hayley dancing with Mitch. However, after Mitch gave him the courage to start surfing again, he gave the pair his blessing.
Sam received another offer to leave the Bay, this time from Greg. Sam was disappointed when Greg spent the whole of a visit working and ended up picking a fight with Will. Don encouraged him to do what would make him happy, resulting in Sam thinking he didn’t want him around. However, when Don told Greg how much he cared about Sam, Sam decided to stay in the Bay.
Sam next took an interest in Claire Rogers, who had alienated most of the town by claiming she’d had an affair with her teacher Harry Reynolds. Sam persuaded Claire to admit she’d lied and she thanked him by sleeping with him. Sam nearly ruined things between them by immediately telling Will and Mitch about it, resulting in Gypsy finding out and labelling Claire a slut in front of the school. Sam apologised to Claire and fell out with his friends. Just as they were all building bridges, it was revealed that Hayley had been sexually harassed by Claire’s father Brian, who she was working for. Sam knew Hayley wouldn’t make it up but Claire refused to believe her father was guilty and split up with him.
With a surfing competition coming up in the Bay, Sam told Don he wanted to quit school and join the pro surfing circuit. Don was reluctant to agree but told Sam he could do it if he won the competition. Sam befriended one of the other competitors, Pongo, who beat him in the competition. However, Don noticed how pleased Pongo was and realised he should give Sam the chance to feel the same way, so he let him go.
When Sam returned for a visit a few months later, he seemed more cynical than ever. Finding Hayley in a vulnerable state after her father’s death and her recent break-up with Mitch, Sam persuaded her to sleep with him. As Sam and his friends were preparing to leave, Hayley turned up with her bags, expecting to go with them, but Sam told her it had just been a bit of fun.
Sam returned again after the Diner burnt down; he had inherited Bobby’s share and Alf and Ailsa wanted him to reinvest the insurance money in the new Diner they were trying to set up. Sam refused, accusing them of cheating him because of the low profit. Will, unhappy with the way Sam had treated Hayley, called him out for a fight but as soon as they got outside Sam knocked him down from behind and gave him a minor beating before leaving.
Vinnie found marijuana in Sam’s car and Rhys later caught him buying drugs at the drop in centre, throwing him out. He tried to big himself up by making fun of Hayley in the surf club but Noah publicly pointed out that everyone knew what a loser he had become. Sam drove off in a huff…straight into Harry and Shauna’s car. He was taken to hospital with minor injuries but the police found the drugs in his car. He got away with a fine and was surprised when Don continued to support him and Will and Hayley came to the hospital to offer an olive branch. He also befriended Sandy, who had just given birth and left him looking after Bella Rose when she went to the bathroom, and offered to help her with the baby. He admitted to Don that he’d been a failure on the pro surfing circuit because he hadn’t felt as safe as he had when living in Summer Bay. He decided to head up the coast to tie up his affairs and then move back.
Sam was delayed returning and was horrified when he found out that in his absence Sandy had left town, thinking he’d abandoned her. Although she’d left instructions that she didn’t want to be contacted, he persuaded Jade to give him her address and found her living with Bella Rose’s father Warren, who had only taken them in because it meant they’d get a flat. He was hitting her and spending their child allowance on beer. Sam took Sandy and Bella back to the Bay and promised to look after them. He suggested they get a place in the city but they were both left confused after sharing a kiss. Don asked Sandy if she felt she was being fair to Sam, resulting in her doing a runner. Sam searched for her fruitlessly but Don found her at the drop in centre and persuaded her to talk to Sam. She admitted she was falling for him but was worried he’d leave them again, before they shared another kiss. The unconventional family then left to stay with a friend of Sam’s in the city until they could find their own place.
Sam returned a year later for the town’s sesquicentenary celebrations, when it was revealed he had been working as a night-watchman to pay for Sandy to go to college and although he was proud of her, he nevertheless found his own life directionless. Alf noticed he did a good job of making some booths for the celebration and managed to get him an apprenticeship with a carpenter in the city. Three years later he was briefly seen at Alf’s 60th birthday party.