David8, commonly known as David, was an android built by Peter Weyland and was the template for the David 8 and Walter androids built by Weyland-Yutani. In 2091, David was part of the crew on the USCSS Prometheus who embarked on a mission to LV-223. David, along with Elizabeth Shaw, were the only survivors of the mission. Both of them would travel to Planet 4 in search of the Engineer homeworld.
He used the black liquid to destroy them and then spent the next 10 years living alone, using the black liquid to create the perfect organism. The USCSS Covenant discovered him on the planet and he later escaped the planet and took over the Covenant.
David was initially created by Peter Weyland. Weyland asked David to describe his environment and asked what his name was. David was looking at Michelangelo’s David statue and said his name was David. Weyland said they would search for the creator of mankind in the future. David then asked Weyland why he must serve him if he will live forever and Weyland will eventually die.
Mission to LV-223
While the crew were in hypersleep aboard the ship Prometheus en route to the moon LV-223, David was seen in the halls, riding a bicycle, playing basketball, learning languages and watching Lawrence of Arabia. While Elizabeth Shaw was in hypersleep, he viewed her dreams about her childhood and her father. David was very interested in the Engineers and their technology and was able to understand the language surrounding their structures on LV-223.
When they arrive, a holographic presentation by the supposedly deceased Peter Weyland introduces David as his surrogate son. The crew soon embarked on an excursion towards one of the artificial structures on LV-223 containing submerged Engineer ships. David activates an ancient hologram showing Engineers escaping through the corridors of the ship. Following the hologram, he finds a room filled with ampules containing a black mutagen. He secretly recovered an ampule of it to take back to the Prometheus.
Shaw realised a windstorm was approaching so the team returned to the Prometheus. On the way, David saved Shaw and her partner Holloway from the storm after she had tried to retrieve the Engineer head. Inside, the crew realised the Engineer head was really a helmet and David was the only person strong enough to open it.
An unidentified voice over the radio tells David to “try harder”. After speaking to Holloway, David spiked Holloway’s drink with a drop of the black liquid. The crew returned to the Engineer ship and David found the main deck of a spacecraft. He activated a virtual map of the galaxy showing various planets and he realised the ship was originally about to travel to Earth. David soon came across an Engineer in stasis in a hypersleep chamber.
After the crew returned to the Prometheus, they believed some of the crew had been infected with an airborne virus. When David is examining Shaw, he discovers Shaw is pregnant with an alien creature. He told her she should be frozen so they could remove the alien later. She refused and she was given a sedative. When she awoke, she escaped and removed the creature herself from the MedPod. When Shaw later explored the ship, she found David tending to Peter Weyland who had been on the Prometheus the whole time.
Shaw tried to convince them to forget about the mission and return back to Earth. David said he had found an Engineer and Weyland suggested that they could revive it. Shaw, David, Weyland and his team go to the flight deck of the Engineer ship. Shaw asked David why the Engineers were carrying a bioweapon. He explained that destruction was a form of creation and said all creations longed to see their creators dead. The team awoke the Engineer and David spoke to it in its language. David was captivated by the Engineer but it soon turned on them. The Engineer decapitated David and killed the others while Shaw escaped. David was still functioning and said goodbye to Weyland.
The Engineer activates the spacecraft and attempts to leave the planet before the Prometheus crashes into it, sending it hurling back down to the planet. David’s detached head warns Shaw the Engineer survived and is heading towards her. Shaw survives the battle. David then contacts Shaw and asks her to retrieve his head and torso so he can pilot another Engineer ship. Shaw said she would cooperate with him if he took her to the Engineer homeworld. He agrees to take her there.
Journey to Engineer Homeworld
Shaw managed to reattach David’s head to his body aboard an Engineer’s ship and they set coordinates to the Engineer homeworld, known as Planet 4. Shaw goes into hypersleep in one of the Engineer’s stasis pods and David takes over the Engineer ship. David used the time to further study the Engineers and concluded Engineers and humans were inferior to androids. When he reaches their planet, he unleashes thousands of Ampules that contain the pathogen onto the Engineers, killing them all.
Life on the planet has been exterminated or had been mutated and the Engineer ship that David was on, crashed onto the planet. Shaw at died at some point and David started using the Engineer temple as a laboratory. He began documenting all the life on the planet and continued his experiments with the black liquid. He used Shaw’s body for further experiments. His further research led him to create hybrid creatures using the pathogen. David created a few large eggs but he needed a living host for them.
The USCSS Covenant arrived on the planet and two Neomorphs attacked the crew. David appeared and drove them off with a flare. He led the group back to his temple. The crew of the Covenant had a later-generation android with them called Walter. He learns about the 2,000 colonists and 1,000 embryos in stasis aboard Covenant. David takes a special liking to the synthetic, Walter. He tells him that Shaw died when the Engineer ship crashed and said that he loved her. David teaches Walter how to play the flute. Walter explains that even though he is more advanced, he has been inhibited from creating, due to David’s more human-like idiosyncrasies and ability to think for himself.
When a Neomorph appears in the temple and kills Covenant security officer Rosenthal, David attempts to communicate with it. The ship’s captain Oram kills it. David leads Oram to his laboratory and tells him how he experimented with the mutagen. He leads him to the eggs where one opens and a Facehugger attacks Oram. Soon, a variant of the Xenomorph emerged.
Walter finds the corpse of Shaw and finds out David killed her and the Engineers. David impales Walter in the neck with his flute, seemingly destroying him. David then attacks Daniels but Walter reappears and they fight. Daniels escapes and David terminates Walter and assumes his identity. David amputated his hand, took his clothes and changed his appearance to match Walter’s to disguise himself. David reaches the cargo lander and helps the remaining crew kill the Xenomorph.
Aboard the Covenant, the ship’s computer informs the survivors that an unidentified organism is on board. David helps Daniels and the pilot, Tennessee lead the Alien to the terraforming bay where it is flushed into space. David helps Tennessee and Daniels into cryosleep. Just before, Daniels recounts her dream about a cabin on the lake which she told Walter about. When David doesn’t recognize her story, she realises that Walter is actually David. David then sends her to cryosleep. He regurgitates two Alien embryos and stores them in a freezer next to the human embryos. He sends out a transmission pretending to be Walter and says that all crew members except for Daniels and Tennessee were killed in a neutrino blast and they are en route to their original destination, Origae-6.
Personality and Traits
David was interested in Lawrence of Arabia which inspired him to model himself on the lead – T.E. Lawrence which included repeating his lines and restyling his hair. David was curious about the Engineers like the crew, but he wanted to understand if man’s existence was similar or different to his own. He could understand human emotions but couldn’t really express them himself. His curiosity of the black liquid led him to spike Holloway’s drink with the liquid and see what happened to him.
David became even more cold and calculating. When he reached the Engineer homeworld, he unleashed the pathogen onto the Engineers, killing them all. David found himself isolated for a decade on the Engineer homeworld performing his experiments and creating new life. He seemed to understand human emotions even more and expressed his love for Shaw. Despite this, he still viewed humans as an inferior species to himself and was ready to sacrifice the Covenant crew to further his research.
Writer Jon Spaihts created David in his first draft of the screenplay called Alien: Engineers, to explore the ideas of creations being in the presence of their creators. Unlike the crew of the Prometheus, David was already in the presence of his creators and became disillusioned by them and considered himself to be a sentient being. In Spaihts’ script, David doesn’t contaminate Holloway with the dark liquid. Instead, he is knocked unconscious, attacked by a Facehugger and makes it back to the ship where he is killed. David begins exploring the areas on his own because he feels he belongs with the Engineers. Shaw goes to stop David but he ties her up and exposes her to a Facehugger. Ridley Scott liked the idea of David having contempt for his human creators and urged Damon Lindelof to expand it further The changes were incorporated into Lindelof’s Prometheus script.
Michael Fassbender was Ridley Scott’s first choice to play David. Fassbender first met Ridley Scott in 2008 after the director had seen Fassbender’s film Hunger. Fassbender had seen the previous Alien films before but chose not to watch them in preparation for the film. He had quite a bit of free reign on how to model the David character. The actor looked at Sean Young’s character Rachael, a replicant in Blade Runner.
Fassbender was also inspired by other film performances: Douglas Rain as HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Dirk Bogarde in The Servant. Additionally, Fassbender modelled his walk around American Olympic diver Greg Louganis. In the script, David was interested in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and therefore Fassbender modelled his appearance on Peter O’Toole’s character T.E. Lawrence. It was Ridley Scott’s idea for Fassbender to dye his hair saying it would give the character an unsettling appearance.
Since Prometheus, Fassbender met with Ridley Scott several times to discuss the next movie. Fassbender said that they never discussed the evolution of the David character. When he got the script, everything was already there. The Alien Covenant Blu-ray featured many deleted scenes with regard to David’s actions and motivations. We would have seen more of David in his laboratory, mixing parts of Neomorphs using the black liquid to create the Xenomorph eggs. It’s implied that David’s plan was to lure the colonists to Planet 6 to use as hosts for his experiments rather than a means of escape. The scenes would have hinted that David was going to work with Weyland-Yutani and use Daniels to create an Alien Queen. He wanted to use his experiments to take over the galaxy.
NECA released a David figure as part of Prometheus Series 2 in 2013.
- David’s name starts with the letter D which follows a pattern in the Alien franchise where Androids have names at the start of the alphabet. Ash in Alien, Bishop in Aliens, Call in Alien Resurrection and David in Prometheus. The pattern was broken when Alien Covenant came out with Walter the name of the android.
- David’s name begins with the fourth letter of the alphabet whereas Walter’s name begins with W which is fourth from the end.
- A Weyland Corp logo can be seen on some of David’s fingertips when he spikes Holloway’s glass.
- David is actually quite similar to David in A.I: Artificial Intelligence. They both have blue eyes and blond hair and are made fun of by people around them and yearn to be more human-like.
- In the Alien Covenant novelization, David shows Oram a fossilized egg and a dead Facehugger, saying that they were created by the Engineers a long time ago. David then continues by saying he wanted to create a similar perfect lifeform too. This is very different to the film where it is implied that David was the original creator of the Xenomorph species.
- In David’s laboratory, you can see many sketches of the creatures on the planet and of his experiments. These pictures were later released in 2018 by Titan Books – Alien: Covenant – David’s Drawings.
- Some of the viral marketing of Prometheus said that David was one of many commercially produced David 8 androids. In Alien Covenant, the opening scene shows that he is the original prototype of the entire range.
- Other viral marketing also said that David was named after Weyland’s biological son which was proved incorrect in Alien Covenant.
- David’s exact age isn’t very clear. There was a viral video called Happy Birthday, David on the Prometheus Blu-ray which was dated 2078. David appears at the start of Alien Covenant with a middle-aged Peter Weyland which must have taken place many years before Weyland appears in his holographic message at the start of Prometheus, which was dated 2091. The viral Weyland Industries website said he had been manufactured on January 7, 2025.
- In China, Alien Covenant was cut down to 116 minutes and among the scenes removed was the scene of David kissing Walter.
- The scene where David swallows the Alien embryos – the idea for the scene was found when Ridley Scott was doing research for his next film Cartel and found girls were swallowing cocaine capsules to smuggle drugs.
- When David takes the place of Walter and leaves a message in his voice – this is a similar concept to what the ending of Alien was going to be like. Originally, Ridley Scott wanted the Xenomorph to take over the Nostromo and leave a message in the voice of Dallas.
- In an extended version of the prologue, Peter Weyland and David discuss Richard Wagner’s “Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla”. The piece relates to a takeover of creators by their creations. This is a similar concept to what’s happening in the film between the Engineers and the humans and between David and the humans.
- At the start, Peter Weyland explains to David that he is unable to create life because he is not human. This is David’s motivation later in the movie.
- In contrast to David, Walter speaks with an American accent. This can be explained that David was created personally by Peter Weyland who is British and Walter was a mass-produced android.
- David is named after Michaelangelo’s David statue. He also has the corpse of an Engineer in his laboratory that is posed similarly to the statue.
- After David is created, he is told to choose a piece of music to play on the piano. David chooses a piece from Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, which is about a dwarf who abandons love in order to steal a source of power, and uses it to create something that eventually causes the downfall of the gods themselves. This is paralleled in the film as David sets aside his love for Shaw so he can use the power of the Engineers – the black liquid to create the perfect life form. This results in the utter destruction of the Engineers.
- David’s music choice at the end is Wagner’s piece “about the gods entering Valhalla, and the gods are false and artificial.”
- David calls the creatures the “perfect organism” as Ash did in Alien.
- At the end of Alien Covenant, when David is staring at the Xenomorph in the monitor, it attacks the camera. This is a reference to Alien Resurrection when Dr. Gediman is staring at an alien through the glass.
- When David attacks Daniels, there is a reference to 1982’s Blade Runner. Daniels stabs David under the chin with her husband’s horseshoe nail that she was wearing as a necklace. David then says, “That’s the spirit!” In Blade Runner, Roy Batty, the last replicant, forces a nail through his hand. Then, when Deckard hits him with a pipe, Batty responds by saying, “That’s the spirit!”
- During his confrontation with Walter, David asks him if he’d rather “serve in Heaven or reign in Hell.” The line is a reference to John Milton’s poem “Paradise Lost”, where Lucifer claims it is “better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” This is similar to David’s motivations to no longer be a servant to humans. “Paradise Lost” was also the original subtitle for this film.
- In Alien Covenant, David sings “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” during a scene of transformation. This is a nod to Lawrence of Arabia.
- Walter shows David’s imperfection by pointing out his mistaken identification of the author of the poem Ozymandias as Lord Byron, when it was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley was the husband of Mary Shelley, who wrote the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, in which a man-made creature educates himself and comes to hate his creator; as David has.
- In the Aliens novelization, Bishop says that a ‘more bolder’ synthetic than himself might actually be able to walk among the aliens unharmed. David attempts this with the Neomorph before Oram kills it.
- During the fight between David and Walter, David inflicts a stab wound on Walter whose skin regenerates. Walters says it’s part of his upgrades since the previous model. When we see “Walter” later, he still has scars and cuts hinting that he is not Walter, but David.
- Another hint is when “Walter” is standing on the back of the ship as it takes off near the end of the film, his hood is momentarily blown up by the wind, hinting that he is actually David as when David is first introduced, he is wearing a hooded robe.
- David asks Walter if he ever dreams. The same question was asked of the robots in Blade Runner.
- When David is talking to Walter and is about to kill him, he gives him a gentle kiss before he stabs him. This is a reference to Blade Runner where Roy Batty is talking to his creator. He gives him a gentle kiss and kills him.