The CW had long been interested in an action-adventure series centered on a strong female character. On January 27, 2010, The CW ordered a pilot episode of Nikita. On May 18, 2010, Nikita was officially ordered to series for a fall premiere. The 2010 television series is more closely tied to Luc Besson's 1990 French film Nikita than the 1997 television series, La Femme Nikita. However the series does borrow many characters, or at least character names, from the previous television series.
Executive producer Craig Silverstein was approached by Warner Bros. who owned the rights. Silverstein said, "My first thought was I love Nikita. My second thought was, 'it's been done.' Could it be done fresh? Could we have a take where you didn't know where this story would end?" As a result, two major changes have been made, one of which is the decision to have the story take place after Nikita has escaped. Maggie Q stated, "No one's told her story after the fact. No one knows where she is going." In addition, a new character, Alex, was introduced who has an unexpected backstory. The series will be a mix of a weekly mission/counter-mission, and a story arc running through the first season that explores Nikita's relationships with Alex and Michael.
Executive producer Craig Silverstein describes the story as a "dark fairytale. This girl is taken from one life, her identity is erased, she's put in another life and she's transformed. It's like Alice in Wonderland. She's told, "Eat this, drink that, steal this, kill that," and she's not told why. And, she begins to find her own identity through that."