Formerly a poor shepherd living on a farm with his mother Ruth, David's life is changed drastically after discovering that he had a twin brother James, who was adopted by King George, but died in battle. Rumplestiltskin tells David that the king wants him to take his brother's place in slaying the dragon in King Midas' kingdom. David is reluctant, until Rumplestiltskin tells him that his mother will never want for anything ever again, and the farm will be restored. Eventually, David goes with a group of King George's knights to the dragon's cave, where David is instructed to stay outside so that when the dragon is defeated, David will still be alive. However, when the dragon easily starts killing off the knights one by one, David manages to get the dragon stuck in between some boulders, where he then beheads the dragon. Bringing the dragon's head to Midas' castle, King Midas turns the dragon's head into solid gold, then offers his daughter Abigail's hand in marriage. Although David nearly declines, as he wants to marry for love, King George then threatens his mother's life and the farm's well-being, forcing David to accept into the marriage. However, during the engagement, David meets Snow White, a bandit running from Queen Regina. Snow White robs David of many valuables, including a ring that belonged to David's mother. Reluctantly, Snow helps David get all his riches back from a group of trolls. It is after that, that David and Snow eventually fall in love.
When both of them eventually run away from their step-parents, as David abandons the marriage to be with Snow White, Regina captures David and blackmails Snow by threatening to kill David if she doesn't take a bite from the Poisoned Apple, causing Snow to seemingly die. David rushes to her side, where Snow is resting in a glass coffin, surrounded by mourning dwarves. However, when David gives her one last kiss, it wakes her up and David then proposes. When David's mother is poisoned and starts dying due to one of King George's guards, Snow and David have a small marriage for her before she dies. David and Snow have a second wedding, this time in front of the entire kingdom after defeating King George and his army. However, the wedding is interrupted by Regina, who threatens to take away their happiness if it is the last thing she does, before vanishing. Some time after, Snow is pregnant with their first child, and go to Rumplestiltskin for guidance. Rumplestiltskin explains that their child must be saved from the curse Regina is about to enact, as it will become their saviour. When Regina unleashes the first Dark Curse, David manages to put their baby Emma in a magical wardrobe which transports her to Earth, just before he is struck down by one of Regina's knights.
In Storybrooke, David becomes a coma patient at the hospital. He eventually wakes up a few days after a woman named Emma Swan arrives in Storybrooke, and is found unconscious at a lake. Mary Margaret - Snow's Storybrooke counterpart - gives David mouth-to-mouth which wakes him up. However, David has extensive amnesia and doesn't remember a thing. Despite this, and the fact that he apparently has a wife named Kathryn, Mary Margaret and David eventually fall in love again. However, when Kathryn goes missing, the town blames Mary Margaret and labels her as a tramp when they find out David was having an affair with her. When evidence starts piling up, Mary Margaret appears to be guilty of murder, and even David starts questioning her, which breaks her heart. After Kathryn is found alive, it is revealed that Regina conspired with Rumplestiltskin to frame Mary Margaret. Emma manages to break the first Dark Curse, returning all of Snow's memories.
When a wraith summoned by Rumplestiltskin is sent to kill Regina, Snow and the others decide to save her, despite all the evil she has done. They use the Mad Hatter's hat to open a portal, which banishes the wraith. However, the wraith drags Emma into the portal as well, and Snow goes after her. David is left behind, and blames Regina, who soon after gets her magic back. David is trying to maintain peace and order in Storybrooke, which becomes difficult when George resurfaces and tries to frame Ruby for murder. When David is confronted by Whale, David punches him for sleeping with Snow during the curse. After Rumplestiltskin's girlfriend Belle loses her memories at the town border, he gets David to help him make Belle fall in love with him again. When Regina is kidnapped by Tamara, the fiancee of Rumplestiltskin's son Baelfire, and Greg Mendell, David, Snow and Emma rescue her. Emma and Regina combine their magical abilities to deactivate a doomsday device known as the Trigger. However, Tamara and Greg kidnap Henry and take him away in a portal. David goes with Snow, Emma, Rumplestiltskin, Regina and Captain Hook on The Jolly Roger to save Henry from Pan.
In Neverland, David eventually gets poisoned by a Lost Boy's weapon, which is laced with a deadly Neverland poison known as dreamshade. Slowly dying, David is convinced by Hook to drink magical water which heals David, but there is a catch - David must stay in Neverland forever or he will perish. However, after saving Henry, Rumplestiltskin manages to make enough potion to keep David alive when they return to Storybrooke. After Peter Pan follows them to Storybrooke and casts a second Dark Curse, Regina manages to alter the curse after Pan is killed by Rumplestiltskin, who also kills himself in the process. The second curse whisks everyone from the Enchanted Forest back to the Enchanted Forest. However, when Zelena the Wicked Witch of the West is waiting for them with intentions of stealing David and Snow's second baby which is on the way, they enact a third Dark Curse, with Snow reluctantly using David's heart as the final ingredient. David is killed by Snow when she crushes the heart and activates the third curse, by Regina manages to split Snow's heart in two, so that Snow and David are now sharing a heart. David wakes up, but Zelena interferes and tampers with the curse so that the curse will make everyone lose their memories of the previous year.
Everyone returns back to Storybrooke again, but neither David nor Snow can remember the past year in the Enchanted Forest, nor can anyone in Storybrooke. However, when Regina manages to break the curse, they remember Zelena's plan. Snow then goes into labor and gives birth to a baby boy, but Zelena takes him away to enact her time-travelling spell, using David's courage as well. Eventually, Zelena is defeated by Regina, who refuses to kill her and instead gives her a second chance. However, Rumplestiltskin - wanting to avenge the death of his son caused by Zelena - kills Zelena, unknowingly causing the time-travelling spell to reopen and drag Emma and Hook back in time. However, Emma and Hook manage to get back and arrive at the coronation celebration where David and Snow reveal their baby's name, Neal.
When Elsa arrives in Storybrooke looking for her sister Anna, it is revealed that David knew Anna back in the Enchanted Forest when he was simply a shepherd. David confronts a former warlord who is now a butcher, Bo Peep, and takes her enchanted crook, which is unable to find Anna but makes out a heartbeat, indicating that she is still alive. David and Emma find Will Scarlet at Robin Hood's camp and David manages to stop Will from escaping. Will eventually leads David and Emma to Any Given Sundae, and they eventually find out that the ice wall and the frozen curse cast on Marian are the actions of Ingrid, who later unleashes the Spell of Shattered Sight upon Storybrooke. David is effected by the Spell, although it is eventually broken upon Ingrid's demise. When Cruella De Vil and Ursula find their way into town, David and Snow become paranoid that Emma will learn from them that she has the potential for great darkness, although they eventually confess this to Emma.
After Emma becomes the new Dark One, David, Snow and the others use a cyclone to travel to the Enchanted Forest where they find her. They are then greeted by King Arthur and his knights who invite them back to Camelot. Six weeks later, the fourth Dark Curse brings them back to Storybrooke, but with no memories of their time in Camelot. They eventually get their memories back, but when Hook dies, David goes with his family to the Underworld to help Emma retrieve him. In the Underworld, David is confronted by his deceased twin brother James, who despises him for supposedly stealing his glory. Tensions rise when David and James eventually engage in a brawl, resulting in James tumbling into the River of Lost Souls. Ultimately, they are unable to resurrect Hook and must return to Storybrooke without him. However, Hook is resurrected by Zeus. David, Snow, Hook and Zelena are briefly trapped in the Land of Untold Stories, although they manage to escape.
David and Snow welcome the Land of Untold Stories to Storybrooke with open arms, offering them all dinner at Granny's. However, David is secretly confronted by the Evil Queen who suggests that his father's death was not an accident. After making a deal and giving Belle a tape from Gold, David eventually learns that his father was killed by Hook on King George's orders. When the Evil Queen threatens to destroy Storybrooke, David and Snow are prepared to sacrifice their joined heart, but the Evil Queen inflicts her Sleeping Curse upon the joined heart. Snow collapses and David kisses her, but when she awakens David falls under the curse, revealing that only one can be cursed while the other remains awake and alone. In retaliation, David frees Aladdin from the Evil Queen's control. The curse is broken when the people of Storybrooke all choose to endure part of the curse, thus diluting it to the point where it becomes harmless.
David meets Snow White, when she attempts to steal from him at the golden castle. He eventually sides with Snow against a group of trolls, and helps her escape from Regina.
After James' death, David becomes Snow's replacement of sorts. Snow eventually takes David's heart, and he becomes her servant.
- Snow White (wife)
- Ruth Nolan (deceased mother)
- Robert Nolan (deceased father)
- Eva White (deceased mother-in-law)
- Leopold White (deceased father-in-law)
- George (former adoptive father)
- James (deceased brother)
- Emma Swan (daughter)
- Killian Jones (future son-in-law)
- Neal Nolan (son)
- Henry Mills (grandson)
- Regina Mills (former stepmother-in-law)
- David is based on the prince from Snow White, the prince from Rapunzel, and the prince from Hamlet.
- Additionally, David alludes to the pauper from The Prince and the Pauper.
- While under the Dark Curse, he had a wife named Kathryn. However, his real wife is Snow White.
- The fan-dubbed ship name for David and Snow is "Snowing".
- S1, E01: "Pilot"
- S1, E02: "The Thing You Love Most" (flashback)
- S1, E03: "Snow Falls"
- S1, E04: "The Price of Gold" (flashback)
- S1, E05: "That Still Small Voice"
- S1, E06: "The Shepherd"
- S1, E08: "Desperate Souls"
- S1, E10: "7:15 A.M."
- S1, E11: "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree"
- S1, E12: "Skin Deep"
- S1, E13: "What Happened to Frederick"
- S1, E14: "Dreamy"
- S1, E15: "Red-Handed"
- S1, E16: "Heart of Darkness"
- S1, E18: "The Stable Boy"
- S1, E19: "The Return"
- S1, E20: "The Stranger"
- S1, E21: "An Apple Red as Blood"
- S1, E22: "A Land Without Magic"
- S2, E01: "Broken"
- S2, E02: "We Are Both"
- S2, E03: "Lady of the Lake"
- S2, E04: "The Crocodile"
- S2, E05: "The Doctor"
- S2, E07: "Child of the Moon"
- S2, E08: "Into the Deep"
- S2, E09: "Queen of Hearts"
- S2, E10: "The Cricket Game"
- S2, E11: "The Outsider"
- S2, E12: "In the Name of the Brother"
- S2. E13: "Tiny"
- S2, E14: "Manhattan"
- S2, E15: "The Queen is Dead"
- S2, E16: "The Miller's Daughter"
- S2, E17: "Welcome to Storybrooke"
- S2, E18: "Selfless, Brave and True"
- S2, E19: "Lacey"
- S2, E20: "The Evil Queen"
- S2, E21: "Second Star to the Right..."
- S2, E22: "...And Straight On 'Til Morning"
- S3, E01: "The Heart of the Truest Believer"
- S3, E02: "Lost Girl"
- S3, E03: "Quite a Common Fairy"
- S3, E04: "Nasty Habits"
- S3, E05: "Good Form"
- S3, E06: "Ariel"
- S3, E07: "Dark Hollow"
- S3, E08: "Think Lovely Thoughts"
- S3, E09: "Save Henry"
- S3, E10: "The New Neverland"
- S3, E11: "Going Home"
- S3, E12: "New York City Serenade"
- S3, E13: "Witch Hunt"
- S3, E14: "The Tower"
- S3, E15: "Quiet Minds"
- S3, E16: "It's Not Easy Being Green"
- S3, E17: "The Jolly Roger"
- S3, E18: "Bleeding Through"
- S3, E19: "A Curious Thing"
- S3, E20: "Kansas"
- S3, E21: "Snow Drifts"
- S3, E22: "There's No Place Like Home"
- S4, E01: "A Tale of Two Sisters"
- S4, E02: "White Out"
- S4, E03: "Rocky Road"
- S4, E04: "The Apprentice"
- S4, E05: "Breaking Glass"
- S4, E06: "Family Business"
- S4, E07: "The Snow Queen"
- S4, E08: "Smash the Mirror"
- S4, E09: "Fall"
- S4, E10: "Shattered Sight"
- S4, E11: "Heroes and Villains"
- S4, E12: "Darkness On The Edge Of Town"
- S4, E13: "Unforgiven"
- S4, E14: "Enter The Dragon"
- S4, E15: "Poor Unfortunate Soul"
- S4, E16: "Best Laid Plans"
- S4, E17: "Heart Of Gold"
- S4, E18: "Sympathy For The De Vil"
- S4, E19: "Lily"
- S4, E20: "Mother"
- S4, E21: "Operation Mongoose, Part One"
- S4, E22: "Operation Mongoose, Part Two"
- S5, E01: "The Dark Swan"
- S5, E02: "The Price"
- S5, E03: "Siege Perilous"
- S5, E04: "The Broken Kingdom" (flashback)
- S5, E05: "Dreamcatcher"
- S5, E06: "The Bear and the Bow"
- S5, E07: "Nimue" (flashback)
- S5, E08: "Birth"
- S5, E09: "The Bear King" (flashback)
- S5, E10: "Broken Heart"
- S5, E11: "Swan Song"
- S5, E12: "Souls of the Departed"
- S5, E13: "Labor of Love"
- S5, E14: "Devil's Due"
- S5, E15: "The Brothers Jones"
- S5, E16: "Our Decay"
- S5, E17: "Her Handsome Hero"
- S5, E18: "Ruby Slippers"
- S5, E19: "Sisters"
- S5, E20: "Firebird"
- S5, E21: "Last Rites"
- S5, E22: "Only You"
- S5, E23: "An Untold Story"
- S6, E01: "The Savior"
- S6, E02: "A Bitter Draught"
- S6, E03: "The Other Shoe"
- S6, E04: "Strange Case"
- S6, E05: "Street Rats"
- S6, E06: "Dark Waters"
- S6, E07: "Heartless"
- S6, E08: "I'll Be Your Mirror"
- S6, E10: "Wish You Were Here"
- S6, E11: "Tougher Than The Rest"
- S6, E12: "Murder Most Foul"
- S6, E15: "A Wondrous Place"
- S6, E17: "Awake"
- Bk 1: "Reawakened"