- “There's nobody like him...anywhere at all.”
- ―Snow White, referring to the Prince
The Prince was the first "realistic" human male that the Disney animators attempted to bring to life. It was found that the Prince was the hardest of all characters to animate. For this reason, his role in the film was minor; he only makes two appearances in the film. The character was mostly rotoscoped from Louis Hightower's live-action performance. The Prince was partly animated by Milt Kahl, who would later be given similarly difficult tasks in the animation of Prince Charming in Cinderella and Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty.
It was originally planned that, jealous of the Prince's affections for Snow White, the Queen would have him brought to her, and she would have him locked in her dungeon. As the Witch, she would have made the skeletons in the dungeon get up and dance. She would have left the Prince in the dungeon, and he was to escape in the manner of Errol Flynn, enabling him to reach Snow White and break the spell. After escaping, the forest animals were to tell him where to go; however, only the horse was to understand, causing the Prince to take the long route and arrive too late to save Snow White. The idea was abandoned when it was realized how difficult it was to animate the Prince convincingly, and the character only appeared when he needed to further the story, which centered primarily around the relationship between Snow White and the Queen.
However, comics released to promote the film include such scenes; the Witch locks up the Prince and tells him what her plans are for Snow White, telling him that she will win his affections, while the Prince is defiant. Later, as the animators became more experienced at animating human characters, a similar concept was used in Sleeping Beauty, in which Maleficent has Prince Phillip captured and taken to the Forbidden Mountains, where she shows him visions of the future she has planned for him.
Sketches were made for the sequence in which Snow White sings "Some Day My Prince Will Come" depicting Snow White and the Prince dancing in the clouds, while small, star-like creatures cavort around them. However, the idea was reused, to an extent, in Sleeping Beauty, in which Prince Phillip and Aurora dance together; their surroundings transform into clouds, presumably to reflect their happiness together.
The Prince has short, dark brown hair with a full fringe, and blue eyes. His overall outfit is a royal blue sleeveless tunic with a gold trim and a cream-colored belt where he keeps his dagger in a sheathe. Beneath his outfit is a white long-sleeved shirt, bluish-gray pants and cream-colored boots with light brown folded cuffs. He also wears a dark red cape that reaches to his knees with a black strap at the front which is connected to his cape.
In its initial appearance and his first meeting with Snow White who works as a scullery maid, he wears a matching royal blue beret with a large white feather at the right side to match his primary outfit before it was discarded to search for her wheareabouts.
In the present artworks and merchandise, the Prince's hair became lighter brown, his sleeveless tunic became blue and his pants are medium blue turning his outfit into a shades of blue.
The Evil Queen, jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty, forces her to work as a servant in her castle. As Snow White works, she sings "I'm Wishing", attracting the attention of the Prince, who's passing by on his horse. As she sings into the well, performing a duet with her echo, she's startled as the Prince suddenly joins in. She runs into the castle, and watches as he sings "One Song". The two fall in love with each other. Watching from above is the Queen, who angrily closes the curtains of her window in jealousy.
When the Queen arrives, disguised as an old hag, to poison Snow White, she, knowing of the romance between the girl and the Prince, fools her into believing that the Poisoned Apple is a magic wishing apple, capable of making her greatest desire a reality. Snow White wishes to live with the Prince and, taking a bite, falls to the floor, taken by the Sleeping Death. Though the seven dwarfs succeed in chasing the Witch to her doom, Snow White remains uncured; the dwarfs place her in a glass coffin and take her to a clearing in the forest.
Meanwhile, the Prince had been searching for Snow White following her mysterious disappearance from the castle. During his travels, he learns of a maiden that lies in a glass coffin, and visits the vigil's location in the forest. He recognizes the maiden as Snow White and sorrowfully sings a reprise of "One Song" as he places one last kiss on his deceased love. To the surprise of the Prince, and surrounding seven dwarfs, Snow White awakens from her curse through "true love's kiss" and warmly embraces her prince. Reunited, the Prince and Snow White ride off to the former's castle to finally begin their lives together.
In the live-action film, Flubber, the Prince made a cameo appearance on the monitor of Weebo the Robot.
Like other Disney characters, the Prince received many cameos in House of Mouse, but for him they were always non-speaking. He was usually seen at a table with Snow White.
Additional back story was revealed in the series' fourth season, where David was shown under the strict rule of his landlord, Little Bo Peep. Though too intimidated by the witch to escape his slavery, David is taught the skills of bravery and battle by the traveling Princess Anna, who he provided shelter for, as she was the fiancée of his good friend, Kristoff. Through Anna's wisdom, David is able to fend off Bo Peep, and he uses such lessons for the rest of his days, as seen in the current timeline.
When James is killed in battle, David takes his brother's name in exchange for the prosperity of his mother Ruth's farm. King Midas declares David fit to marry his daughter Abigail and unite the kingdoms. However, David wants to marry for love, but George vows to kill his mother Ruth if he declines. Before his marriage, he falls in love with Snow White, who nicknames him Charming, later inviting her to run away. After continuous interceptions by George, the Evil Queen Regina captures him to convince Snow to willingly eat an apple containing a sleeping curse. He later awakens her and the pair marry, before Regina announces that she will cast a curse to destroy their happiness.
Once Snow and Charming return from their honeymoon, they are met by the Queens of Darkness, Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella De Vil. They learn of Regina's plan to cast the Dark Curse and the Queens inform them that there is a tree known as the Tree of Wisdom that can tell them how to escape Regina's Dark Curse, but it can only be accessed by two of the most valiant heroes. The five travel, but when Snow and Charming try to access the tree, it doesn't work, and the reason why is because Snow is pregnant, with a child with the potential for great darkness.
Rumplestiltskin informs them that their expected child will break the curse in 28 years.
Snow and Charming then go to a unicorn, which can give visions of a persons unborn child. Charming sees and innocent baby, but Snow sees an evil teenage version of her daughter who rips her heart out. They then meet the Apprentice who tells that there is a way of ridding their child's darkness. They have to transfer it to another child. Snow and Charming realize that they can't do this to another child, but a peddler they meet, informs them that the sorceress Maleficent has turned into a dragon and laid an egg. They confront Maleficent and steal her egg, even though she begs them not to. Snow states that they'll give her the egg back after they're done with it. They give the egg to The Apprentice who then manages to transfer Emma's darkness into the egg, however, being the child of Maleficent, along with Emma's darkness it too much of a great risk and he decides to banish it to A Land Without Magic. The pair are even further horrified when they discover that Maleficent's egg contained a human baby and not a dragon and now they cannot return her back to Maleficent.
Emma is born shortly before the curse takes hold, and Charming places her in a magical wardrobe to protect her from the curse, before being fatally wounded by the Queen's knights.
In Storybrooke, he first appears as a John Doe, who has gone unidentified for years. He awakens after Mary Margaret reads him their story. He reunites with his wife Kathryn, and is identified as David Nolan. David suffers from amnesia and cannot remember his fake life with Kathryn. He falls in love with Mary Margaret and begins an affair with her, ending his marriage to Kathryn, who is soon reported as being murdered - a plan arranged between Regina Mills and Mr. Gold. David becomes a suspect in her disappearance, until evidence against Mary Margaret is found. Kathryn is found alive, though David's relationship with Mary Margaret becomes strained, as he did not believe her innocence. He decides to move to Boston, though the curse is broken shortly after, and he reunites with Snow and Emma. David agrees to send a wraith released into Storybrooke through a portal, though his wife and daughter are dragged with it. David looks after his grandson while Emma and Mary Margaret are absent. After failing attempts of transportation, David falls under a sleeping curse to communicate with Mary Margaret. He is awoken by true love's kiss when the two return. When Henry is kidnapped to Neverland, David travels with Mary Margaret, Emma, Regina, Mr. Gold, and Captain Hook in order to rescue him from Peter Pan. In Neverland, David is poisoned by Dreamshade, though Hook partially cures him and the group successfully return to Storybrooke where Mr. Gold fully heals him. After Pan enacts the original curse once more, David is returned to his original world with the remaining inhabitants, while Emma and Henry escape to New York City.
Back in the Enchanted Forest, David learns that Snow is pregnant but also discovers that Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West wants their baby. The two realize they must enact a new curse to return to Storybrooke and make Emma stop Zelena. A reassuring David lets Snow crush his heart, though she later asks Regina to split her heart in two to give to both of them. Zelena then adds a forgetting potion to the curse, removing their memories of the past year. A year later, Emma returns to Storybrooke, and David and Mary Margaret reveal they are having a baby. Zelena poses as the couple's mid-wife, stealing a symbol of David's courage from him. Zelena is ultimately defeated and Mary Margaret gives birth to a son, whom she names after Henry's father and Rumplestiltkin's son, Neal.
When Elsa arrives into Storybrooke looking for her sister, Mary Margaret and David help her try to find her sister. Once Ingrid casts the spell of Shattered Sight all over Storybrooke, everyone turns into their worst selves including Snow, David, and Kristoff who are all locked up within the sheriff station. David and Mary Margaret are locked inside prisons are limited to verbally abusing each other, but Ingrid sacrifices herself and the spell of shattered sight is finally broken. The shards turn into snow and Storybrooke returns to normal, including David. Mary Margaret and David run up to Emma to hug her. As Neal begins to wake up, David tells Mary Margaret to forget what happened under the curse, then the couple kiss.
Emma, Mary Margaret, and David then arrive to a mansion in which Hook found a portal. They go to make sure Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff make it back to Arendelle through the portal door. As the they go through the portal, they thank the three, and Anna tells the them that she wanted to thank Hook and Gold, only to have David mentioned that Gold was once Rumplestiltskin, and Anna tells them that she knows of him from their past encounter.
Upon entering the town, Cruella and Ursula meet with David and Mary Margaret, who swear the twosome into never revealing their pasts with each other in the Enchanted Forest. Ominously, Mary Margaret promises to tear out their hearts herself if they don't comply. When they discover Cruella and Ursula's plan to resurrect Maleficent, Snow and David travel underground to get rid of her ashes to prevent the plan, but it is there, they are ambushed and knocked unconscious by Ursula. To fully resurrect Maleficent, Cruella then obtains the blood "of those who wronged her most" which is Snow and Charming's, and spills it on Maleficent's ashes who is then resurrected. Maleficent informs them she will cause them suffering and pain like they caused her. Snow and Charming decide not to tell Emma their secret.
David and Mary Margaret are then informed that Gold plans to use The Author to turn Emma dark. When Maleficent casts a sleeping curse upon the whole town, they discover they are immune as they have been previously under the curse.They realize that Maleficent, Cruella, and Gold are trying to obtain the page in which The Author is trapped in. The pair meet with Henry and take the page from him, but Mary Margaret convinces David that they should that they should stop lying and tell the truth to Emma. After they tell them, Emma refuses to talk to them, distraught over their evil actions and their lies. They decide to free The Author and discover that he is the peddler they met, on the day they banished Maleficent's child.
David and his family soon learn from Maleficent that her daughter alive. While Emma tries to locate her and bring her back to Storybrooke to redeem her parents, David and Mary Margaret beg for Maleficent's forgiveness, which she refuses to do so. Eventually Emma finds Lily and is able to talk her into coming to Storybrooke to meet her mother. When Lily arrives, Maleficent has trouble connecting with her and comes to David and Mary Margaret for support and help as they dealt with a similar situation when Emma arrived in Storybrooke. They trio go out to find Lily, but find that she has turned into a dragon and is unable to control herself.
After Mary Margaret is almost killed by Lily, Emma reunites with her parents, although this is short lived when Emma sacrifices herself to become the new Dark One. With the other residents, Mary Margaret transports to the Enchanted Forest, taking Emma to Camelot in order to find Merlin and remove her darkness. However, weeks later, they return to Storybrooke with missing memories as to how they failed. In "Siege Perilous", David is knighted by King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and bestowed the Siege Perilous seat at the Round Table. But later gives this up when he learned of Arthur's deception, which would later result in David having Arthur arrested in Storybrooke.
After Emma restored his memory, David follow his daughter to the Underworld to help rescue hook, only to learn that his late twin brother James is the Sheriff in this realm and discovered from Cruella de Vil that James has resentment against David over being raised by their mother and having a family that James envies. When the two finally meet for the first time, David attempted to explain to James (who still believed he was "Prince") over what happened back in the Enchanted Forest, but James cut to the chase and used a stun gun on David. He played "Shepherd", taking his brother's place in a scheme for him and Cruella to leave the Underworld with Hades' help by tricking Emma into finding the location of where Robin Hood was keeping his and Zelena's baby. When James attempted to send his niece and Robin to the River of Lost Souls at the harbor, David stopped James and tried to convince him that he can be at peace and move on, but James continued to believe that killing David was his unfinished business. James attempted to pull a knife to kill David but he missed and is sent into the water, where he was consumed by the lost souls. As David watched this unfold, Emma told her father that despite his effort to save him, it was already too late for James anyway.
When Aqua comes to Dwarf Woodlands she encounters the Prince at the castle as he desperately tries to find Snow White. When she tells him that she was cursed by the Wicked Queen and is in a deep sleep, he asks Aqua where he can find her and she tells him to go to the Dwarf's Cottage, where he will find her in a glass coffin. After this he makes his way to the cottage and when he finds her, he kisses her and she awakens and together they ride off on his horse.
The Prince and Snow White were shown in the end credits in the meadows picking flowers with the Dwarves.
The Prince appears in the 1979 Radio City musical where he was played by Richard Browne. While still a rather minor role, it is much more expanded than his film iteration. He has a scene in which he and The Huntsman inform the King of the Evil Queen's treachery, and even more significant he receives a new song called "Will I Ever See Her Again?" in which he wonders if he will find his Snow White in time.
In this story, the Prince is still a minor character, but plays a more expanded role. He is actually shown to have met the Evil Queen, prior to the events of the film.
The Prince can be seen as an audio animatronic in Snow White's Scary Adventures, seen riding off with Snow White during the ending scene.
The Prince also appears Fantasmic!, where he and Snow White ride on a boat across the water during the princess-themed medley. In during which, Snow White sings "Some Day My Prince Will Come". In some showings, however, the Prince is absent. He has also made appearances riding the Mark Twain Riverboat during the show's finale.
The Prince appeared in Snow White: An Enchanting Musical, playing the same role he did in the movie.
- In the comic version by Hank Porter, when the Prince surprises Snow White it is from behind a dummy she made. When she asks who he is and where did he come from; he responds, "Where I came from doesn't matter! The only thing that does matter is that I am here. As for my name, I like the one you gave me―Prince Buckethead―though perhaps it is more honest than flattering." This embarrasses Snow White since she did not know he was hiding behind the dummy she named "Prince Buckethead".
- At the 1938 Oscars, Shirley Temple mentions the name "Ferdinand" among others while presenting Walt Disney his awards. Many have interpreted that she was referring to the Prince, saying that Ferdinand is his name. However, she was not referring to the Prince, but rather to Ferdinand the Bull. As confirmed by Dave Smith, Historian of the Walt Disney Studio Archives, the Prince (along with fellow prince Prince Charming) was never given a name in the film and "Ferdinand" has never been used as one by the company.
- Despite this, many Disney fans still believe that the Prince's name is Ferdinand.
- Disney Latino revealed through a video of Top 10 Romantic Moments the name of the Prince is "Fernando", the Spanish translation of the name Fernidand.
- Disney France once revealed in a TV-spot that his real name is Florian. That same TV-spot also gives Prince Charming's real name is Henry (or "Henri," as it would be in French), although Disney on Parade called him "Prince Alto August Ferdinand".
- There's a story that artwork and documents exist in the Walt Disney Studio Archives that call the Prince "Frederick".
- The Enchanted Stables collection reveals his white horse is a mare named "Astor". This is re-confirmed in the Disney Princess book "Special Horses."
- Disney sometimes markets the Prince as Prince Florian for Disney on Ice.
- While the Prince has a dagger, he never uses it.
- The Prince was intended to be the deuteragonist, but the difficulty found in animating him forced Disney to reduce his part significantly. As a result, he has a small role as the majority of Snow White's scenes focus on her with the dwarfs, or the Evil Queen.