Carly moves to Walford to live with the her adoptive father, Kevin Wicks and her brother Deano Wicks, after splitting from her husband Nico Pappas. Nico's father, Yanis Pappas, gives him a restaurant in Cyprus and Carly refuses to work there. She finds employment as a mechanic and is sponsored by her boss, Phil Mitchell, to attend college. Carly initially feuds with Dawn Swann. Carly publicly exposes Dawn as a liar and they brawl; however, they sort out their differences and become close friends. Carly begins a romance with Martin Fowler, but he takes the relationship more seriously than she does and she eventually ends it to begin a sexually charged relationship with Jake Moon, which ends a week later.
Whilst the Wickses holiday in Dorset, Carly is unwittingly introduced to her estranged mother Shirley Carter, and despite Kevin's best efforts, Shirley traces them to Walford and makes herself known to Carly and Deano. Carly rejects her mother, incensed that she had abandoned her for so many years. Further animosity occurs when Carly discovers Kevin is not her biological father, and Shirley had a one-night stand with a man named Daniel. She rejects Kevin, branding him a phoney. Devastated, Kevin runs away, and in his absence Carly momentarily bonds with Shirley, though it is short-lived and when Kevin returns, she reconciles with him, and is once again hostile to Shirley, spitting in her face on one occasion. Carly's stepsister Chelsea Fox sets her up on a date with salesman Warren Stamp, even though Preeti Choraria had endured a bad experience on a prior date with him. Chelsea does this as she wants to eliminate Carly as competition for her boyfriend Sean Slater, who has been flirting with her. Carly is almost raped by Warren, but is rescued by Sean. Carly and Sean have sex and then begin dating, and when Carly tells Chelsea a feud erupts. This leads to Chelsea and Deano's attempt to frame Sean for an assault on Patrick Trueman. Sean is imprisoned and is only released when Carly hands stolen CCTV footage exonerating him over to the police, betraying her brother and Chelsea who are arrested for perverting the course of justice. Carly's relationship with Sean ends however, when Sean arranges for Deano to be beaten up by a gang of thugs. Carly believes her family will not forgive her betrayal, so she leaves Walford and takes a job in a gay bar. Deano flees to stay with her in October, fearing Sean and his trial the following day. Carly helps Deano face up to his responsibilities and returns to walford to support her family when Deano is sentenced to six months in prison.
Despite Sean's assaults on her brother, Carly briefly resumes a sexual relationship with him, but he has little interest in her as he is besotted with Tanya Branning. Carly discovers that Kevin has died in a car accident. She visits his body in the morgue and screams, momentarily asking for support from Shirley, who was with Kevin when he died. The following day, however, Carly is incensed that Shirley had been the last face Kevin had seen before he died; she tells Shirley that she wishes it had been her that died instead. She rejects Shirley's further attempts to comfort her, and after Kevin's funeral, Carly and Kevin's wife Denise Fox leave Walford to travel the world and scatter Kevin's ashes. Denise returns and reveals that Carly has decided to stay in Thailand. A month later, Carly sends Denise a postcard asking for Kevin's signet ring and it is revealed that Carly is living in Redfern, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.
In 2012, Denise reveals to Shirley that Carly has given birth to a son, and gives her Carly's telephone number to contact her. However, when Shirley phones Carly to congratulate her, Carly rejects Shirley, telling her to never call her again, causing Shirley to break down in tears. In September, Phil calls Carly, asking her to return to Walford to help her mother who has been drinking heavily because Ben Mitchell murdered her best friend Heather Trott, though Phil does not tell Carly this. Upon seeing Shirley in a drunken state, Carly turns to leave while Shirley desperately calls her back. The following day, Carly catches up with Denise, who explains that Shirley is in a bad way because Ben killed Heather. Carly and Shirley make amends and Carly introduces her baby son Jimmy to Shirley. Carly then convinces Shirley to leave Walford with her.
In 2020 it is mentioned that Carly still seems to be on bad terms with Shirley when Shirley is talking to Jean.