Everything happens for a reason.
— David's beliefs
David is a character in The Last of Us. He appears as the leader of a group of cannibalistic survivors and acts as the primary antagonist for Ellie during the winter chapter. He is voiced and mo-capped by Nolan North.
Background & Early lifeEdit
Events of The Last of UsEdit
Ellie first encountered David when she was hunting a deer during the winter of 2033. She was immediately cautious around him and his friend James. David offers to exchange supplies for a share of the meat from the deer that Ellie had tracked and killed. Ellie demanded antibiotics in return, threatening them with her bow if they tried anything. James left to get antibiotics at the group's settlement, and reluctantly left David alone with Ellie.
David and Ellie then took refuge in a barn from the cold weather. David asked Ellie's name, but she, being cautious, didn't give it to him. Their shelter soon gets attacked by the Infected. David helped Ellie fight them off, complimenting her skill with a rifle. As they worked their way through the nearby buildings, fighting off several waves of Infected, Ellie's attitude towards him softens slightly. After completely clearing out the buildings, he and Ellie return to their original refuge. He discusses the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, to which Ellie disagrees.
David decides to prove his theory by revealing that it was in fact his men who attacked Joel and Ellie at the university. A returning James overhears the conversation and holds Ellie at gunpoint, but David demands Ellie be given the medicine and set loose, and James reluctantly complies. David, having let Ellie leave, has his men to track her down. His men mention that they are under strict orders from David to keep her alive, but these orders were ignored when they found out from James that Joel slaughtered half the raiders at the university. Ellie proceeds to run away from David's group and they begin tracking her. While trying to flee, David grabs her from behind as she starts to exit the building and puts her into a sleeper hold until she loses consciousness.
When Ellie regains consciousness in her holding cell, she witnesses James chopping up a corpse on a table, and discovers that David and his group are cannibals. Ellie is visibly disgusted and hostile toward David. They argue and Ellie reluctantly eats the food that David gives her, claiming that it is just deer, nothing more. David pleads to Ellie that he has her best interests in mind, and offers her a place in his group. He then affectionately touches Ellie's hand (he is implied to be a hebephile). Now realizing his intentions, she tries to take advantage of them and plays along by placing her other hand on his. Then she suddenly breaks his finger, and attempts to grab his keys, but David slams her against the cell bars and threatens her life.
The next day, David and James arrive and pin Ellie down onto the table attempting to slaughter her for food. Just before David strikes her, Ellie exclaims she is infected and states that David is infected too because she bit him before she was thrown onto the table. David at first is skeptical, but Ellie insists that he should roll up her right sleeve to show her bite wound. Upon finding out from Ellie that she is infected, James becomes frightened and disgusted but David claims it must not be real because she would have turned sooner. James weakens his grip on Ellie's left hand and David begins to observe his bite from Ellie. Ellie takes this chance to grab a butcher knife with her left hand and strikes it towards James' throat, killing him. James' death infuriates David, where he retaliates by firing at Ellie with his revolver, missing every shot. Ellie escapes from the room with a switchblade, while David grows increasingly frustrated and proceeds to hunt her down again, asking her where she is going and boasting "This is my town" in a demented tone.
David eventually finds Ellie in a decayed restaurant, struggling with her as she attempts to escape from his people out the back door and commenting that she is easy to track. He holds her at gunpoint after throwing her to the ground, asking her how she managed to escape alive. He is momentarily distracted as the building starts to catch fire, due to a lantern shattering during their struggle. As the restaurant slowly becomes engulfed in flames, he locks the exit and taunts Ellie, telling her that she has nowhere to go and would need to take the keys from him if she wanted to leave. David proceeds to stalk her throughout the restaurant, all the while mocking her and expressing his disappointment that she did not accept his offer to join the group. Ellie simply expresses more of her revulsion towards David, and his obvious insanity as she hides behind the dining booths attempting to take the keys from him by sneaking up on him and stabbing him.
After Ellie stabs David from behind once with her switchblade, he throws her off and attempts to shoot her with his revolver, missing as she takes cover. He then draws a machete from a back sheath and continues to stalk her, attempting to shoot or slash her to death. He made use of the broken plates on the floor throughout the building to find her if she stepped on them. She managed to elude David and stabbed him twice more, causing him to panic and bash her into a table behind him before grabbing her hair and throwing her to the floor. He and Ellie then black out beside each other.
When they regain consciousness, David is the first to recover. He ridicules a weakened Ellie as she crawls towards his machete, saying that it is okay to give up. David hits Ellie again, pins her down and grabs her firmly by the throat and nearly strangles her to death. However, Ellie manages to reach the machete and slashes his arm. Gaining an advantage, Ellie proceeds to violently hack at David's head multiple times, until Joel arrives and pulls her away from his corpse, consoling her. Given Ellie's remark of "He tried to-" before bursting into tears, it is likely David intended to rape Ellie, having stated "you have no idea what I'm capable of!"
David's actions affected Ellie long after his death, as she is shown to be more distant and quiet, yet more determined than ever to reach the Fireflies, claiming that what she has done and been through "can't be for nothing."
Ellie's relationship with David has been the source of a traumatizing experience for her. It is also rife with tons of ironies, for instance when David allows Ellie to leave with the penicillin, she uses it to heal Joel, who later goes on to help Ellie kill most of David's group. David also tries to keep Ellie alive, even though she later kills him with his own machete that he tried to kill her with.
David often talks to Ellie in a patronizing tone and treats Ellie like a child, namely when they first meet, David offers to exchange supplies for a share of the meat from the deer that Ellie had tracked and killed, saying that his group needed the meat because they had many women and children to feed. He emphasizes the phrase "Women and children" several times in the hopes that Ellie, being young, would naturally feel sympathy. David took advantage of her being a child by making her believe she was in control when confronting him and James, complying with Ellie's demands despite having an idea of who she is. When the Infected attacked, he revealed his true colors by saving her with a hidden revolver, asserting she never had control at all; he was just sizing her up.
Similar to Joel, he views himself as Ellie's protector, saving her from a Clicker and captured her personally to "keep her alive". He even offers Ellie a place in his group, viewing her as "special". However, he is much more manipulative with her than Joel is. When Ellie reacts with rage and disgust, he tries to calm her down as though she were an irate irrational youth. He dismisses Ellie's disdain for him and touches Ellie's hand only for her to break his finger and attempt to steal his keys, causing David to lose faith towards Ellie; he no longer desires to have her become a part of the community. Despite having once protected Ellie from Infected, David was now willing to kill Ellie due to her stubborn nature.
As Ellie killed more and more of his men, (including his second in command, James), David grew more fixated on her and made several attempts to kill her. He does show some guilt when he decides to try to kill Ellie. He tells her he's sorry about Callus's death, (caused by his men when they shot him in an attempt to capture Ellie), although he taunts her that they are going to eat him, and that if she gives up now, he promises he will make her death as quick and painless as possible.
However, David met his demise when he was violently hacked to death with his own machete by Ellie. Considering his violent death, his actions left a mark on Ellie, making her distant and quiet towards Joel yet more determined to reach the Fireflies in the following chapter.
James is implied to be David's right-hand man and is a cannibal like the rest of the group. David personally views the man as his friend. Unlike David, James is not seemingly as kind-hearted and does not always agree with David's decisions. Knowing that a group of David's men were killed in the University by a man and a little girl , he overhears David's conversation with Ellie about the incident and is reluctant to let Ellie leave, but complies none the less; one of the few cannibals to do so.
When James notices Ellie waking up, he informs David straight away, presumably following David's policy of securing a new "pet." James appears to work for David at times, butchering a human corpse for him and the group. He also assists him in their attempt to butcher Ellie, demonstrating David relies on him on several occasions to help. He even went out hunting with David, displaying a gesture of protection when Ellie threatened him.
When James is killed by Ellie though, David indicates sadness for his death, saying that James was just trying to do his job, and Ellie shouldn't have killed him.
Personality and TraitsEdit
David initially does not resort to violence easily. At first, he shows concern over Ellie and does his best to help her and it is hinted at that he cares for the people in his group and their well-being, as early on he is shown hunting for food with his partner James instead of having someone else do it. He is also portrayed as being charismatic, leading his group and controls people like James and Ellie without the need to be aggressive or hostile towards them; he asks and they do.
His true colors are shown, however, when he reveals that his group are the ones that Ellie and Joel fought at the University. Later it is revealed that David and his men have resorted to cannibalism, treating humans as food rather than people. He also exercises a belief in fate, asserting "everything happens for a reason", hinting he believes his encounter with Ellie felt like destiny to him.
It is implied he had disturbing intentions for Ellie, supported by his touching Ellie's hand and calling her "special". Ellie is also mentioned as "David's newest pet" by one of the cannibals that Joel interrogates, suggesting he has captured and manipulated other children beforehand.
When David is attempting to murder Ellie, he paces around in a hurried, slightly jerking manner and he sounds almost insane as he stalks around looking for her. His manic movements could also be the result of his infection that Ellie granted him when she bit him.
Skills and abilities Edit
David demonstrated leadership qualities by how he was voted leader of his town and has influence on his men. However, he didn't have full control over them, as evidenced when some questioned his leadership, a small group even disobeyed his order to keep Ellie alive. However, James followed him, having heeded his command to not kill Ellie despite what she had done to his friends.
David was also shown to be an excellent combatant in how he killed Runners and Clickers with just his revolver and even managed to kill a Bloater with Ellie's assistance. He was also able to use a hunting rifle, though he stated Ellie was a much better shot than him with it. He wielded a machete which he could use with lethal efficiency, being able to non-canonically kill Ellie with just one slash.
Similar to Joel, David was also adept at stealth in how he easily tracked Ellie on multiple occasions and successfully strangled and disarmed her at the same time. He was quiet enough to not be heard and would strike out of nowhere when given a chance, making it very difficult for Ellie to stab him for a third time. He also had a high pain tolerance, only grunting when stabbed and retained the strength to pin and strangle Ellie almost to her death despite having been stabbed several times.
David also had a good sense of hearing, able to track Ellie in the restaurant when he heard her step on broken plates from even the very back of the room despite a fire blazing in the background. He was quite fast, able to sprint over to Ellie in a matter of seconds and could continue doing so until he lost sight of Ellie, displaying incredible endurance.
- "Hello. We just wanna talk."
- "I'd say we make a pretty good team."
- Ellie: "Psshh. We got lucky."
- David: "Lucky? No, no... No such thing as luck. No, you see I believe that everything happens for a reason"
- "This is my town!"
- "I know you're not infected. No one that's infected fights this hard to stay alive."
- "And get this, he's — a crazy man traveling with a little girl."
- "Now don't get upset. It's not your fault. You're just a kid."
- "How'd you put it, huh? Tiny pieces? See you in the morning, Ellie."
- "You know I love how you think that you're better than this. Better than us. But you're not."
- "I gotta admit. You had me back there. For a second you shook my faith. But only for a second."
- "You keep on surprising me Ellie!"
- "Oh, hey, Ellie? I'm sorry about your horse. I truly am. I hope you take comfort in knowing we won't waste any part of him."
- "That was good, kid, Everything's gonna be alright"
- "It's a shame you wouldn't come around. But it's too late now."
- "You give up now and I promise to be quick. Promise."
- "Run little rabbit, run."
- "I knew you had heart. You know it's okay to give up. It ain't no shame in it."
- "Huh. I guess not. Just not your style is it?"
- "You can try beggin'."
- "You think you know me? Huh? Well, let me tell you somethin'. You have no idea what I'm capable of." (Last words)
- It has been confirmed that David had sexual intentions towards Ellie due to a lack of surviving females. He shows affection towards Ellie by holding her hand and initially wanting to only capture her, rather than kill her.
- In an interview with IGN, Nolan North said that he wasn't trying to "rape her, or anything like that... at first". He felt, as the actor that portrayed him, that David wanted to repopulate the Earth and would not miss an opportunity to impregnate a woman, especially one talented in survival, as few still remain. When Ellie kept refusing, Nolan also stated that David was a type of person who always tried "to get what he wants."
- The writers of The Last of Us initially called David "the cannibal king" but fleshed out his character, giving him a name, when Nolan North secured the role.
- Neil Druckmann reportedly informed North to not "play a bad guy, [David] has to be charismatic enough for Ellie to trust him".
- David appears to be ambidextrous, as he uses both hands at different times when firing his revolver. His machete is at his left side, but he picks it up with his right hand.
- David is the only antagonist that Joel does not directly fight against.
- Despite David's claims that there are women and children in his group, only one woman is ever seen and heard in-game.
- David has a very high pain tolerance, able to fully sprint even when stabbed twice by Ellie and still get up after the third stab.
- David seems to be losing control of his group, as you can hear some of his men say that after they kill Ellie they are going to put his leadership up to a vote because they are tired of him and his "hobbies." Also, they disobeyed his orders and attempted to kill Ellie, even though he wanted her alive.
- Nolan North revealed in the Q & A panel at SacAnime 2013 that in certain scenes between David and Ellie, he and Ashley Johnson actually swapped roles, with North mo-capping Ellie and Johnson mo-capping David.
- In Grounded difficulty, David will hear Ellie while crouched unless she is moving slowly; he is the only human in the game to show this behavior, as generally only Infected can hear the player moving at full speed while crouched.
- David is the only non-infected enemy in the game the player has a boss battle against.
- In cutscenes on the PS3, David's jacket is green, but in the same cutscenes on the PS4, it is blue. It is green during gameplay in both versions, however.
- There are two visual errors in the restaurant boss battle: David's broken right finger is no longer in a splint and perfectly normal. Also, the scabbard for David's machete does not appear until they wake up after the fight, the machete simply appearing idly on his back before this. Also, his splint appears to be back by then.
- Another error occurs in the cutscene where Joel finds Ellie right after the battle. As Joel grabs her, you can clearly hear the machete falling to the floor. However, as they leave, the machete is sticking up.
- Ellie and David may teleport many times during the boss battle depending on where David is when the player stabs him. The most notable is when near the area just outside the kitchen, they both teleport inside the kitchen, to then teleport by the booths for the sequence where Ellie crawls towards the machete
- There is a possible coding error as after stabbing David for the first time in his boss battle, his AI will sometimes revert to an ally and will continuously say "Lord forgive them." and not attack Ellie. The reason for this is unknown and will be fixed after stabbing him again.
- In the winter chapter when you’re fighting off infected with David, if you enable photo mode and set hide characters to hide enemies David will disappear. Similarly if you enable hide buddies David will remain visible.
- If one runs to the door that David ambushes Ellie in, and attempts to open it, it will cause Ellie to move back, and the surrounding area will begin to burn, and the scripted dialogue plays out, but David appears outside, sometimes, his machete and revolver will float near the window, and they/he will fire at Ellie if she nears it. Once one restarts from the checkpoint, she will have kept her revolver along with her switchblade instead of David confiscating the prior. Ellie can shoot David, but it won't damage him in any way, although he will bleed.
- Sometimes, Ellie's model disappears and her flashlight is all that remains when she crawls for the machete after waking up in the burning building.