Dave is a New York University physics major, lacking confidence and poise, not very popular with girls or even his fellow students. At the age of 10, he experiences a frightening incident when he encounters sorcerer Balthazar Blake after wandering into the bizarre Arcana Cabana curio shop. He’s given a dragon ring that comes to life on his finger, and he’s told that he’ll be a very important sorcerer himself. He then witnesses a furious battle between Balthazar and another sorcerer named Maxim Horvath which made him want to forget the whole matter. Until both Balthazar and Horvath re-enter his life 10 years later, forcing him to confront a destiny he would very much like to ignore!.
Dave's actor, Baruchel, states that; "Dave is his own worst enemy, the architect of his own misery. He spends his life trying to live down that moment in the Arcana Cabana when he first encountered Balthazar and Horvath. He gravitates towards physics, which is the discipline he gives his life to. When he meets up with Balthazar again, the sorcerer tells Dave that it was no coincidence that he drifted towards physics because although illusion and magic are different, magic and science are the same thing". Some of this mainly refers his trauma that he struggles with since he accidentally humiliate himself when Balthazar and Horvath fight each other, in which Horvath accidentally wet the young Dave's pants, something that his peers laughed at. This is also something that he berates on Balthazar when they reunite on Chrysler Building, implying that he was traumatized so much to the point that only psychiatrists could help him get better.
Though he can be a brave person when in the later fight against Morgana le Fay (especially after learning that Balthazar was feeling lonely for centuries and Horvath uses this against him by using a Disguise spell on a pedestrian that made her became Veronica's look-alike), Dave's actual personality are akin to nerdy, clumsy, and insecure college student lacking confidence and poise (though these traits became lessened as the movie progressed). He is also a bad liar, something that Balthazar likes.
Powers and Abilities
- Magic: As a descendent of Merlin, Dave is immensely powerful, unlike other sorcerers he can use his magic without a magic ring; Dave is the only one of Merlin's descendents to inherit his ancestor's powers.
- High-Level Intellect/Skilled Tactician: Dave is highly intelligent. As a sorcerer and college student, Dave is a capable tactician.
- Jay Baruchel stated that "Dave is his own worst enemy, the architect of his own misery. He spends his life trying to live down that moment in the Arcana Cabana when he first encountered Balthazar and Horvath. He gravitates towards physics, which is the discipline he gives his life to. When he meets up with Balthazar again, the sorcerer tells Dave that it was no coincidence that he drifted towards physics because although illusion and magic are different, magic and science are the same thing.", referring at destiny and past misfortune which Dave struggled with throughout the film.
- Dave's character basis are the Apprentice from "The Sorcerer’s Apprentice" poem by Goethe (as well as Sorcerer Mickey in its Fantasia segment adaptation), the titular protagonist of Harry Potter series, Arthur Pendragon in "The Sword in The Stone", Luke Skywalker from Star Wars and titular herl from the Disney film and series Hercules. Out of aforementioned characters, the Apprentice and Sorcerer Mickey are similar to Dave most.
- Dave's clumsy attempt to cut one of his animated mops into pieces is a direct homage to Fantasia's The Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment where Sorcerer Mickey attempted to do the same thing albeit less successful owing to the former's clumsiness. The difference however, is the danger that they faced from inexperienced use of Cleaning Spell: Whereas Mickey came close to drowning, Dave was nearly electrocuted as the flooded water ended up electrified by one of his electronic equipment.
- Dave's clumsy side appeared to be derived from Milo Thatch in Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire.