- "Big things have small beginnings."
- ―David (from Prometheus)
A synthetic is activated alongside Peter Weyland, who asks for the android to describe his surroundings and then asks for his name. After looking at Michelangelo's masterpiece statue, the synthetic responds with the name 'David'. Weyland tells David that one day the two will search for man's creator. David questions Weyland as to why he must serve him if he himself will live forever and Weyland will not. Weyland, clearly annoyed at this remark, orders David to serve him tea from a kettle sitting next to him. David begrudgingly complies.
Mission aboard the Prometheus
David 8 is first seen wandering the halls of the ship Prometheus, where he rides a bicycle, bounces a basketball, learns ancient languages, and watches films (with a particular favorite being Lawrence of Arabia). During Elizabeth Shaw's hypersleep, David views one of her dreams (via a visual visor) about her childhood relationship with her father and their beliefs of faith, which David finds inspiring. Like Shaw, David has a curious interest in the Engineers and their advanced technology. He serves Vickers without question but he is also taking orders from Peter Weyland, who presumably asks David to collect samples of what they find within the structures.
Able to comprehend the languages surrounding the structures, David activates one of the doorways, and he is fascinated by the large altar of urns inside. Particularly intrigued by the black substance found on the alien structure, David secretly brings back an ampoule of it, when Shaw warns of an approaching windstorm. During their return, David saves Shaw and Holloway from the storm when she endangered herself trying to retrieve a dropped Engineer head. When discovering that the head is really covered by a skeletal-like helmet, David was the only one strong enough to be able to unlock it, and was awed by its cellular preservation, only to be 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 spikes Holloway's drink with the bacteria from the Urns. When ordered to go back to the structure to find their colleagues, David chooses to repair a pup sensor, which, he knew, was really hindered by a door. Upon discovery, he becomes amazed when it reveals the main deck of a starship, and its activated virtual map of the galaxy excites him even more when finding that it was intended to travel to Earth, only to be suddenly switched off, but not until he finds one Engineer alive in a hypersleep chamber.
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 tries 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 proves to profoundly disturb Shaw rather than comfort her. When he learns that she is pregnant with an alien creature, he suggests that she must be frozen until the alien is able to be properly removed, which Shaw emphatically wants removed immediately, and he injects her with a sedative to calm her down. She would later escape and take it upon herself to remove it via surgery in the Pauling MedPod. After the surgery and while wandering the halls in a sedated state, she finds David nursing Peter Weyland, who had secretly been on board the ship all along. Even when Shaw tries to convince them to abandon the mission and return to Earth, David mentions the discovered Engineer, at which time Weyland suggests that the crew must revive it.
When going to see the Engineer, David is asked by Shaw about the Engineers carrying bioweapons, at which point David explains his patricidal outlook, reasoning that destruction is a form of creation and that all creations want to see their creators dead. After waking the creature and attempting to speak to it in its own language, David is at first in awe because he thinks the Engineer is humbled to meet him. But as it lays its hand on top of his head, he proceeds to decapitate David and kill the others, with the exception of Shaw who manages to run away and escape during the massacre. Despite being decapitated, David is still able to function, saying goodbye to his dying "father," and warns Shaw that the Engineer is coming after her in the escape pod.
After Shaw survives her battle with the Engineer, David assures her that it is possible for her to escape the moon, but only if she brings him with her, since only he can navigate the alien craft. Although Shaw agrees to accept his help, she insists that instead of Earth, they must go to find the homeworld of the Engineers. After retrieving David's body, Shaw stuffs David's head in a duffel bag and the two depart in one of the Engineers' ships to find the Engineer homeworld.
In the events leading to Alien: Covenant, Shaw is able to successfully reattach David's head to his body. The two are successfully able to locate the Engineer's homeworld before Shaw enters one of the ship's hypersleep chambers. David tells her he will 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 are equally inferior to androids — uses the ship's armory of Steatite Ampules to wipe out the Engineer civilization, dropping them down from the sky.
Following the Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 exterminating or mutating the non-botanical organic life, David claimed the Engineer Temple as a laboratory and began using the planet and what was left of its inhabitants to continue his experiments with Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15. At some point he killed Shaw, conducting experiments on her dissected corpse while building a grave and mourning her death. Through experimentation on 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 approched 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 varient of Xenomorph, David attacked Daniels, expressing the intent of doing to her what he had done to Shaw, but was confronted by Walter.
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 replacing his voice box with Walter's. Upon reaching the USCSS Covenant, David helped the survivng crew, assisting them in killing a second Xenomorph, 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.
David is almost childlike in his curiosity with understanding humans. His interest in Lawrence Of Arabia inspires him into modeling himself after the lead protagonist, T.E. Lawrence, from quoting his lines, to styling his hair. He senses that the crew still views him as just an android, even taunted by Holloway's biased remarks towards him as being such. Despite this, David is able to tolerate his treatment with the crew, and will still be willing to assist them. He also tries to comprehend his emotions in an appropriate manner of social interaction, especially when he found a curious interest in Elizabeth Shaw. Like Shaw, David hopes to discover the Engineers and their advanced technology, in order to understand if man's existence is similar or different from his own.
On the negative side, despite being able to understand human emotions, he is unable to project them himself. David himself admits that he is capable of carrying out unethical deeds without obligation, albeit he admits 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.
David appears to be torn by his ingrained allegiance to Peter Weyland. His behavior becomes cold and detached while executing Weyland's directives, and more compassionate when left to his own devices. He expresses to Shaw his desire for Weyland to die, possibly to free himself or because he disagrees 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. However, ironically despite gaining a greater sense of humanity (or at least what he believes to be), David has become dispassionate with the human species, considering them inferior, and planned to sacrifice the crew of the Covenant just like Shaw, for the purpose of his research. Though just as calculating as before, David has developed a more eccentric persona prior to his what he was like several-years ago. Along with his disdain for humanity, David also now holds the Engineers in the same low regard, which resulted in him committing genocide against the race on Planet 4.
- 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.
- 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 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 been 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 novelisation 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.
- 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.