|Character played by: Maggie Sullivan|
|Job/Career or Title||Nurse, bionics team member|
|SMDM|| The Seven Million Dollar Man|
The Bionic Criminal
Carla Peterson was the head nurse working for Rudy Wells in the OSI's bionics program. Following Steve Austin's crash and bionic reconstruction, she and Steve carried on a brief romance. After they broke up, Steve would still encounter her from time to time, such as during his regular psychological evaluations.
After Barney Hiller was reconstructed following his accident, Carla fell in love with him, too, to the point where she broke confidentiality and security rules by providing Barney with tapes of Austin's psych evaluation. She had hoped that by showing Hiller proof that a man could become normally adjusted following bionic replacement surgery, that he, too, would be able to make the transition. Her clandestine aid was observed by Austin, however, and she was subsequently fired for this. Later, Austin used his leverage to get her rehired by the OSI, in exchange for his agreeing to accompany Hiller on his first mission.
Carla witnessed Barney's instability first-hand, but chose to stay with him, supporting him after his bionics were "permanently" tuned down to human level. She later married Hiller.
DeconstructedThe character of Carla Peterson considerably complicates Six Million Dollar Man continuity.
- Rudy Wells says that Steve was "playing patty cake" with Carla following his bionic replacement surgery, implying that she is meant to be the same nurse that cared for Steve following his accident in the original telemovie. In fact, the plot of "The Seven Million Dollar Man" rather depends on the audience believing that Steve and she have a relationship that dates back to Rudy's original bionic replacement procedure. However, the nurse in that movie, and its re-edited episode, "The Moon and the Desert", is Jean Manners, played by Barbara Anderson.
- The syndicated version of The Solid Gold Kidnapping attempts to redress the issue by injecting Peterson into the earlier story. Though not present in the original telemovie, Maggie Sullivan is seen in the episodic version of "Kidnapping", through the integration of material from "Seven Million". Thus, if one counts the episodic, and not the film, version of "Kidnapping" as canon, it's just possible to believe that Peterson was present for some of the early psychological evaluations of Steve. Nevertheless, Steve's description of Carla being there for "all those days and nights that I spent staring up at the hospital ceiling" is still difficult to reconcile against known facts — syndicated or otherwise. One possibility is that, for reasons left unrevealed, Jean Manners changed her name to Carla Peterson (not an impossible consideration for someone working for a top-secret organization) and in fact the two actresses are playing the same woman. Another possibility is that Steve is referring to some post-pilot film event, remembering that the original pilot ended with him going into electrosleep in the hospital. Perhaps an unchronicled complication set in that saw Carla, not Jean, nursemaid Austin, but which was resolved by the time Austin - depicted as being a virtual prisoner of the bionics lab - experiences the events of "Wine, Women and War".
- It may be coincidence that Carla shares her last name with Bruce Peterson, the test pilot who was involved in the real-life crash featured in the series.