- "Big things have small beginnings."
- ―David (from Prometheus)
David was an android commissioned and built by Sir Peter Weyland. He would serve as the basic template for the David 8 and Walter model lines, but was apparently himself unique, possessing creative and emotional capabilities in excess of commercial models. In 2091, he was assigned to the crew of the USCSS Prometheus for its mission to LV-223, and was one of the two survivors of the disastrous expedition, along with Dr. Elizabeth Shaw.
David would go on to discover Planet 4, where he would live alone for a decade after committing genocide against the species that inhabited the planet, carrying out genetic experiments involving the black liquid mutagen and seeking to create the "perfect organism". He was later discovered by the crew of the colony ship USCSS Covenant, and ultimately hijacked the vessel for his own ends.
Peter Weyland was responsible for commissioning and creating David; some time after, he asked for the android to describe his surroundings and then for his name. After looking at Michelangelo's masterpiece statue, the synthetic responded with the name 'David'. Weyland told David that one day the two would search for man's creator. David questioned Weyland as to why he must serve him if he himself would live forever and Weyland would not. Weyland, annoyed at this remark, ordered David to serve him tea from a kettle sitting nearby. David begrudgingly complied.
Although David was later approved to join the Prometheus expedition, several personnel at Weyland Industries harbored doubts about the unit due to the fast-tracked nature of his development which was, at the time, seen as a necessary measure in order for David to be able to join the crew and increase its chances of success.
Mission aboard the Prometheus
David 8 wandered the halls of the ship Prometheus, riding a bicycle, dribbling a basketball, learning ancient languages, and watching films, with a particular favorite being Lawrence of Arabia. During crewmember Elizabeth Shaw's hypersleep, David viewed one of her dreams (via a visual visor) about her childhood relationship with her father and their beliefs on faith, which David found inspiring; like Shaw, David had a curious interest in the Engineers and their advanced technology. He served Vickers without question while also taking orders from Peter Weyland, who presumably asked David to collect samples of what they found on LV-223 - the Prometheus expedition's destination.
Able to comprehend the languages surrounding the Engineer structures on LV-223, David activated one of the doorways, and he was fascinated by the large altar of urns inside. Particularly intrigued by the black substance found on the alien structure, David secretly acquired an ampule of it; subsequently, Shaw warned of an approaching windstorm. During their return to the Prometheus, David saved Shaw and her boyfriend Holloway from the storm when she endangered herself trying to retrieve a dropped Engineer head. When discovering that the head was really covered by a skeletal helmet, David was the only one strong enough to be able to unlock it, and was awed by its cellular preservation. He was soon disappointed by its explosive bacterial infection, realizing it was "mortal after all." Driven by curiosity and Weyland's command to him to "try harder," he spiked Holloway's drink with the bacteria from the urns. When ordered to go back to the structure to find their colleagues, David chose to repair one of geologist Fifield's pup sensors which, he knew, was really hindered by a door. Upon discovery, he was amazed when it revealed the main deck of a starship, and its activated virtual map of the galaxy excited him even more upon finding that it was intended to travel to Earth, only to be suddenly switched off. To provide the finishing touch, David finally discovered an Engineer alive in one of the ship's hypersleep chambers.
After the remaining crew returned, believing some kind of alien airborne infection caused the deaths of their members and Holloway's illness, Shaw -- who was coping with Holloway's recent death -- was being prepped by David for an examination. Even when David tried to relate to her situation by bringing up the similarities between the death of her lover and that of her father, which he learned from watching her dreams; this only proved to profoundly disturb Shaw rather than comfort her. When he learned that she was pregnant with an alien creature, he recommended that she be frozen until the alien could be properly removed, to which Shaw emphatically objected; he subdued her with a sedative. Shaw would later escape and remove the creature herself via surgery in the Pauling MedPod. After the surgery and while wandering the halls in a sedated state, she found David nursing Peter Weyland, who had secretly been on board the ship all along. Even when Shaw tried to convince them to abandon the mission and return to Earth, David mentioned the discovered Engineer, at which time Weyland suggested that the crew would revive it.
When going to see the Engineer, David was asked by Shaw about the Engineers carrying bioweapons, at which point David explained his patricidal outlook, reasoning that destruction was a form of creation and that all creations yearned to see their creators dead. After waking the creature and attempting to speak to it in a language it would understand, David was at first in awe, believing that the Engineer was humbled to meet him. He was proven sorely wrong when it decapitated him and killed the others, with the exception of Shaw, who managed to escape during the massacre. Despite being decapitated, David was still able to function, saying goodbye to his dying "father," and warned Shaw that the Engineer was pursuing her.
After Shaw survived her battle with the Engineer, David assured her that it was possible for her to escape the planet, but only if she brought him with her, as only he could navigate the alien craft. Although Shaw agreed to accept his help, she insisted that instead of Earth, they must go to find the homeworld of the Engineers. After retrieving David's body, Shaw stuffed David's head in a duffel bag, and the two departed in one of the Engineers' ships to find the Engineer homeworld.
Eventually, Shaw was able to successfully reattach David's head to his body. The two were successfully able to locate the Engineer's homeworld before Shaw entered one of the ship's hypersleep chambers. David told her he would wake her upon their arrival, using the duration of the voyage to further study the Engineers. Upon arriving at their homeworld, David — having come to the conclusion that the Engineers and humans were equally inferior to androids — used the ship's armory of Steatite Ampules to wipe out the Engineer civilization on Planet 4, unloading them on the unsuspecting masses.
Following the Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 inside the ampules exterminating or mutating the non-botanical organic life, David claimed the Engineer Temple as a laboratory and began meticulously documenting the native fauna, flora, and fungi, using the planet and what was left of its inhabitants to continue his experiments with Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 while amassing a collection of detailed biological illustrations and records of his experiments. At some point he killed Shaw, conducting experiments on her dissected corpse while building a grave and mourning her death. Through experimentation on hybridizing the creatures formed from the mutagen, David created several large eggs but was stalled in his research, needing a living host to serve as an incubator for his creation.
When the USCSS Covenant arrived on the planet, David intervened to drive off a juvenile Neomorph and led the survivors to his base, forming a bond with Walter, a later-generation android. When the Neomorph infiltrated the temple, David approached it and attempted to communicate with it, but it was killed by Chris Oram. Enraged, David took Oram to his laboratory and explained his research, then tricked him into activating an Ovomorph. Following the birth of a prototypical variant of Xenomorph, dubbed the Praetomorph, David attacked Daniels, expressing the intent of doing to her what he had done to Shaw, but was confronted by Walter. Walter then told Shaw to go even as David began to reach for something behind his back.
After a brutal fight, David killed or disabled Walter and amputated one of his hands to disguise himself as his "brother," as well as donning Walter's clothing and altering his voice to sound indistinguishable from Walter's. Upon reaching the USCSS Covenant, David helped the surviving crew, assisting them in killing a second Praetomorph, and placed them into hypersleep. However, he subsequently hijacked the ship and set off for the planet Origae-6 to continue his experiments after placing two Facehugger embryos into a freezer.
Advent of a New Era
Sometime after, David sent out a transmission from the Covenant directly to Weyland-Yutani. In his transmission, he elaborated upon the experiments he had conducted upon the surface of Planet 4 over the years and his fatal disagreement with Shaw. He then revealed some of the plans he currently had for the future, including experiments on the Covenant crew and his desire to turn Daniels into his new "Queen", as well as sending his sketches and designs of his experiments for Weyland-Yutani's use.
Personality and Traits
David was almost childlike in his curiosity with understanding humans. His interest in Lawrence Of Arabia inspired him to model himself after the lead protagonist, T.E. Lawrence, from quoting his lines, to styling his hair. He sensed that the crew still viewed him as just an android, even being taunted by Holloway's biased remarks towards him as being such. Despite this, David was able to tolerate his treatment with the crew, and would still be willing to assist them. He also tried to comprehend his emotions in an appropriate manner of social interaction, especially when he found a curious interest in Elizabeth Shaw. Like Shaw, David hoped to discover the Engineers and their advanced technology, although his aim was to understand if man's existence was similar to, or different from, his own.
On the negative side, despite being able to understand human emotions, he was unable to project them himself. David himself freely admitted that he was capable of carrying out unethical deeds without obligation, though he also admitted to disliking unnecessary violence. David's curiosity and lack of compunction led to Holloway's death in which he spiked his drink with Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 to observe the resulting effects (with Holloway's inadvertent permission).
David appeared to be torn by his ingrained allegiance to Peter Weyland. His behavior became cold and detached while executing Weyland's directives, and more compassionate when left to his own devices. He expressed to Shaw his desire for Weyland to die, possibly to free himself, or because he disagreed with Weyland's desire for an extended life.
Following his decade-long isolation on the desolate Engineer planet. David had become dangerously ambitious, his curiosity in the creation of life evolving from a fascination to an all-out obsession. Prior to what he was like several years ago, David seemed to have gained his own sense of individuality and the ability to possess genuine human emotion, as he openly expressed his love for Shaw in the presence of the less emotive Walter. Ironically, despite gaining a greater sense of humanity, or at least what he believed to be, David became dispassionate with the human species, considering them inferior. He himself came to establish something of an egomaniacal god-complex in his pursuits to create his own penultimate creature. As such, he planned to sacrifice the crew of the Covenant in the same manner as Shaw for the purpose of his research. Along with his disdain for humanity, David held the Engineers in the same low regard, which resulted in him committing genocide against the race on Planet 4.
Though just as calculating as before, David had developed a more eccentric persona.
- For Noomi Rapace's Prometheus screen test, David was played by actor Rafe Spall, who plays Millburn in the finished film. In the test, the actors performed the scenes where Shaw talks with David's severed head over the radio, before going to meet with him and plan an escape from LV-223.
- David continues the tradition in the Alien franchise of giving Synthetic characters names that begin with subsequent letters in the alphabet — Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens, Call in Alien Resurrection and David in Prometheus, A-B-C-D. This tradition was continued in the Fire and Stone comic book event, which featured the synthetic Elden, but was averted with Walter.
- Coincidentally, David's name begins with the fourth letter of the alphabet, while Walter's name begins with the fourth letter from the inverted alphabet sequence. This is perhaps a hint upon the similar, even mirror-like nature of the two characters who eventually come to oppose the other's actions.
- The scene from Lawrence of Arabia that David is shown watching at the start of the movie, in which Corporal Potter asks Lawrence about his habit of extinguishing matches with his bare fingers, is also mentioned by Peter Weyland in the short film TED Conference, 2023.
- If one looks closely when David examines a drop of the Black Liquid on his fingertip, it can be seen that a few of his fingerprint's friction ridges form the Weyland Corp logo. This can also be seen in David's introduction video.
- David bears some similarity to the android character David in A.I: Artificial Intelligence. They both have blond hair and blue eyes, and both characters are taunted by people around them regarding their wish to be a "real boy". The only difference is that David from Prometheus has the appearance of a man of around thirty years of age, whereas David from A.I: Artificial Intelligence resembles a boy. It is not known whether these similarities are intentional or not.
- David's personality shares many similarities with fellow synthetic Davis One, with both being curious androids whose cold outward appearance is contrasted by their deep thinking nature and intent on learning more about human emotions. Additionally, they both possess similar-sounding names with a number at the end.
- In the novelization of Alien: Covenant, David shows Oram a fossilized Ovomorph and the dead Facehugger within, pointing out that they are an Engineer creation, created long before he arrived on the planet. David goes on to express a desire to play God, stating that he wishes to create a similarly "perfect" lifeform himself. This is in contrast to the film, which shows no sign of a fossilized egg and no mention of the Engineers being the creators of Xenomorphs, thus leading audiences to believe that the film was implying that the Xenomorphs were David's creations. This is supported by statements made by Ridley Scott in interviews and podcasts.
- Just as the title of the film and name of the featured ship in Alien: Covenant bear a significant Biblical connotation, so too does David's name after the events of the respective film. As shown in the beginning of the film, David gets his name as a result of seeing the statue created by Michelangelo which was based on the Biblical figure of David. The figure of David from the Bible was known to have begun his fame and journey towards kingship when he slew the giant Goliath. He would then proceed to defeat many of Israel's enemies and become its King. In the film, David the android is shown to have bombed and massacred the Engineers, arguably a race of giants when compared to man in terms of physical height and technological prowess. He then rages a battle against man, the other lesser but growing race of giants, when he is shown to have killed Shaw and turned against the crew of the Covenant.
- David is currently the only individual to have killed more than one Engineer, committing mass genocide against the entire species.
- David's sketchbook, as seen in Alien: Covenant, was released in 2018 by Titan Books under the title Alien: Covenant - David's Drawings.
- Marketing materials for Prometheus seemed to imply David was simply one of a long line of commercially produced David 8 androids. However, this was retconned in Alien: Covenant, which instead shows in its opening scene that he is in fact the original prototype for the entire range.
- Partly as a result of the above change, David's exact age is unknown. The book Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report states that he was released in 2090, but the short film Happy Birthday, David, included on the Prometheus Blu-ray, is dated 2078. The opening scene in Alien: Covenant, meanwhile, shows David being activated by a middle-aged Peter Weyland who is seemingly many years from the decrepit old man appearing in the holographic message to the crew of the Prometheus, recorded in his Mars office in 2091 (as seen in Prometheus). Notably, the now-defunct Weyland Industries viral website listed the first David as being manufactured on January 7, 2025, which would be a better fit with the events seen in Covenant.
- Another detail that has since been contradicted by Alien: Covenant was a tidbit revealed in the Weyland Industries viral site, which claimed that David was affectionately named after Weyland's biological son. Since the website is made from an in-universe perspective, it is possible that like the Weyland-Yutani Report, certain details have been simply made up as propaganda by their respective companies.
- Happy Birthday, David
- Weyland Industries Testimonial
- Prometheus Transmission
- Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
- The Crossing
- Alien: Covenant/novel
- Alien: Covenant - Origins (mentioned only)
- As Daniels explores the interior of David's temple, she comes across a sketchbook, with numerous disturbing drawings of Shaw's corpse that David had illustrated.
- S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 47 (2014), Insight Editions.
- David's actor's (Michael Fassbender) height is 5ft 10 ¾ (179.7 cm), so that is also how tall David would have been.
- Jack Palagen, Michael Green (writers), Ridley Scott (director). Alien: Covenant (2017), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- Alien: Covenant - Origins
- Advent (short film)
- Alan Dean Foster. Alien: Covenant, p. 243 (2017), Titan Books.