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It was possible. It was hard, sometimes, to control the animal you'd morphed. So it was possible that's what had happened. The others certainly bought it. Cassie comforted him. But I have an instinct for lies. Maybe it's because I can lie pretty well when I need to. I know a lie when I hear one. David had killed that crow. Deliberately. In cold blood. For absolutely no reason.
~ Marco about David's darker side that first shown for the first time which foreshadowed his later betrayal.
David is a villain from the Animorphs book series. He is a teenager who unknowingly handed his family to the parasitic aliens known as the Yeerks and was forced to become one of the Animorphs, but ended up becoming one of their worst enemies. He appears in what is known as the David Trilogy: consisting in book 20 The Discovery, book 21 The Threat and book 22 The Solution. He later reappears in book 48 The Return. David never narrates an Animorphs book.

Biography

Prior to the story

David is described as a teenage boy around thirteen years old, with blond hair and brown eyes. He is the son of a NSA agent, who had to move from town to town for most of his life, not being able to settle anywhere, due to his father's job. He has a pet cat named Megadeth and a pet cobra, whose venom has been removed, named Spawn. The name of his parents and the profession of his mother are never revealed. His family seems to be rather wealthy, given that they own a large house with a swimming pool.

Role in the Story

David was first introduced when moving into the town where the Animorphs live. He later visited the construction site and incidentally found the Morphing Cube, which he took home and tried to sell on the Internet. The following day, he met Marco, one of the Animorphs, in middle school. Marco spotted the Morphing Cube and failed to talk David into relinquishing it, which later prompted the Animorphs to break into David's house under the shape of birds of prey to try and retrieve it, but he drove them off with a BB gun.

Things turned for the worse when the man who contacted David to buy the Morphing Cube was revealed to be none other than Visser Three posing as a human. Since David unknowingly revealed his address, Visser Three and his forces attacked David's home, which was destroyed in the ensuing battle. The Animorphs barged in and managed to take back the Cube and to save David's life, but ultimately could not save David's parents from being infested by the Yeerks. With David being tracked down by the entire Yeerk Empire, forever barred from a normal life, the Animorphs had two options: to either leave him for the Yeerks to find, since he does not know any of their identities, or make him into one of them, granting him the shapeshifting powers and thought-speak that they share. Only Ax and Marco voted for the former option due to not knowing David or whether or not they would be able to trust him, while Tobias, Cassie, Rachel, and Jake voted for the latter option due to the idea that having more Animorphs might make it easier to stop the Yeerk invasion. David would then favor the shape of a lion and a golden eagle, but he was also able to turn into a rattlesnake and an orca.

Unfortunately, David could never bring himself to trust the Animorphs (save for perhaps Cassie) or adapt to his new life as a rebel fugitive, and because of that, he grew to resent the Animorphs, holding them partly responsible for his misfortune (which, unintentionally, they were). Also, his desire to use his powers for profit, coupled to his controlling nature, resulted in him contesting Jake's leadership of the Animorphs and making too many unnecessarily bold moves, causing much trouble and tension.

As the Animorphs discovered that the Yeerks were planning to assimilate most of the world leaders during a UN summit and try to prevent it, they fall into Visser Three's trap. A frightened David turned on the Animorphs, offering to trade them to the Yeerks in exchange for his life. The Animorphs prevented him from disclosing their identities, but he returned to his old house, shapeshifted as an eagle, and killed a red-tailed hawk, believing him to be Tobias (an Animorph trapped under the shape of a hawk), who was sent by Jake to follow him. With Tobias seemingly killed, David confronted the Animorphs in the city mall and turned into a lion to fight Jake, who turned into a tiger. David defeated Jake by biting his carotid artery open and left him to bleed to death. After narrowly escaping an attempt on their lives by David, Rachel and Ax went to Marco's house to warn him, but David had shapeshifted as Marco ahead of time to ambush them and knocked Ax out with a baseball bat. He then turned into a golden eagle and chased down Rachel, nearly killing her. She was saved by Tobias. (It must be noted that David was convinced to have killed Tobias and believed it to be nothing but an aggressive hawk.)

The following day, David met the Animorphs at school shapeshifted as Marco again and demanded the Morphing Cube, which he planned to trade to the Yeerks in exchange for his and his parents' freedom. Cassie warned him that Visser Three would never keep his part of the bargain, but he does not relent and instead set out to pursue his original goal of forming a gang of shapeshifting thieves. Rachel ran after him and threatened to kill him and his parents should he betray them to the Yeerks.

Later, the Animorphs manage to thwart the Yeerks' plan to infest the world leaders and escape through the ocean, shapeshifted as dolphins. There, David attacked them under the shape of an orca, but ended up driven away after a fierce battle, which culminates in Cassie turning into a humpback whale and scaring him away. The next morning, David hid out in Rachel's home, possibly as a flea, and he and Rachel engaged a vicious vendetta against one another, with Rachel realizing, much to her horror, that she shared some of David's violent, possibly sociopathic tendencies.

Later, the Animorphs learn that Jake and Rachel's cousin, Saddler, who was fatally wounded in a car accident, has made a miraculous full recovery. However, it turns out that Saddler died (it was thought by fans that David had killed him, but author K.A. Applegate has refuted this, reminding fans that David had stuck by his code of never taking a human life), and David had shapeshifted into his form in order to take his place in society and regain a normal life. Despite being tempted to leave David on his own, they eventually realized that his powers and greed were bound to become a liability sooner or later, even risking to jeopardize their chances to win the war.

You know, Rachel, it's a shame it worked out this way. I mean, if you weren't such a harsh person I would have invited you to quit this little gang and hook up with me. Jake doesn't even know how to use his powers. I mean, come on, who cares if the Yeerks are around? With Animorph powers we can have anything we want.
~ David revealed his future evil plan with Escafil Device

The Animorphs pretended to give in to David's blackmail and met him at a Taco Bell, telling him that they divided the Morphing Cube into several pieces that are hidden in the construction site where he found it. Rachel, specifically chosen by David, led him to the construction site, with the other Animorphs tailing them, but David outsmarted them and trapped them in a Pepsi bottle as cockroaches, running the danger of staying in these forms for the rest of their lives if they kept them for more than two hours. Rachel and David turned into rats to travel into the pipes beneath the old construction site, where the Morphing Cube's pieces are supposedly hidden, but David eventually got an inkling that this was a trap and tried to escape, fighting Rachel to make that escape. But Rachel prevailed, and she lured him into a cage. After Rachel's escape, Tobias revealed to David that he was alive. He had freed his friends from the bottle, and with David now trapped in the cage, he had been prevented from demorphing. Although none of the Animorphs wanted to do it, knowing how cruel it was, they had no choice but to hold David in the cage until he became a nothlit, a person trapped in morph. Then, Rachel and Ax took him to a barren island located one mile offshore, where he would spend the rest of his life alone, and as a rat, ignoring his telepathic pleas and curses. Later, those boating by the island would perceive his telepathic screams as ghostly and believe the island to be haunted.

The Return

David returned much later in the series, when he struck a bargain with Crayak. If he managed to win Rachel on to Crayak's side, he would be turned back into a human. Crayak sent two teenagers to be his henchmen, and they took him off the island.

After a strange series of disturbing dreams and situations, Rachel found herself trapped underground inside a cube, where she encountered David in his rat form. David attempted to manipulate his archenemy, claiming that he controlled an army of rats which he used to escape the island and to steal vast fortunes, which he used to bribe his two flunkies into helping him. He then showed him an image of Cassie being trapped, and told her that if she did not turn forever into a rat, Cassie would be killed. Crayak then barged in, and Rachel understood that David lied and that Crayak was the sole party responsible of the recent events. Crayak offered to make her powerful enough to win the war on her own if she promised to kill Jake, but she refused, and he retaliates by turning her into a rat and forcing her to fight David. He then staged a fight between her and Visser Three (now Visser One), but she kept resisting him.

Furious, Crayak left Rachel under the shape of a rat and departed, leaving her in the hands of David and his flunkies. However, Rachel persuaded David's flunkies to turn on him by promising them the money that David allegedly stole as a reward. The two teenagers freed her and enabled her to turn back into a human just in time. She then freed Cassie and went after David. Finding himself at the mercy of his archenemy for the second time, David begged her to kill him, as he would much prefer to die rather than spend the rest of his life as a rat. Whether Rachel granted his wish or took him back to the island is never revealed, and because of her eventual death in the final book of the series, none of the Animorphs would ever know David's final fate, either.

Personality

The first thing to know about David is that he is very independent and proud. He dislikes being given orders and tends to look down on authority figures, with the exception of his father. Perhaps due to moving around the country too often to form real bonds, he avoids socializing, seems to dislike company, and he can be very scathing and vituperative when speaking to people.

Moreover, he is selfish, greedy, cocky, arrogant, and domineering. He dislikes anyone who has an advantage over him or surpasses him in any way, he always wants to be in charge, and he likes to show off and flaunt his perceived superiority. As such, he always tries to one-up anyone who has bested him, and to repay everything he perceives as a humiliation. He has a hard time questioning himself, to the point of being unable to even fathom that the gang of thieves he plans to form could disregard his authority or betray him.

David proves to be very intelligent and driven, being very skilled in exploiting the situation to his advantage and thinking on the spot. However, he is also too impulsive and reckless for his own good, and most often, his delusions of grandeur get the better of him. For instance, he developed an obsession with beating Rachel that led to his eventual defeat.

He displays loose morals and a difficulty to care about others, that grow into full blown ruthlessness and cruelty as the story goes on. At first, he does not care about killing animals under a predator's shape just for the thrill of it, and immediately desires to use his shape-shifting powers to steal riches. He eventually sheds all qualms about killing another Animorph under an animal shape, but never sway on his resolve to kill a human in spite of the appearances.

Although David's actions are far too repulsive amd objectionable to be fully excused, it must be noted that more than anything, he is a scared teenager who was thrown headfirst into a life-threatening war, for which he was thoroughly unprepared. David deeply despises the Animorphs, resenting them for drafting him without considering his wishes, and leaving him no choice but in a barn. It must be noted that they did not make a real effort to reach out for him, though he did not make it easy for them from the start. Nevertheless, he equally hates the Yeerks, who took away his family, and wants to get away from both factions.

It is made quite clear that David's sanity gradually deteriorates as the story goes on. He yearns to escape the conflict and regain control over his life, and latches on any possibility to regain a semblance of normalcy, but his ruthless and violent tendencies make him ready to do the worst to get what he wants. David's sanity slippage culminates to a point where he is willing to kill the Animorphs without second thoughts, and comes to believe that they must pay for wronging him, making him rather pathetic.

Interestingly, David could be said to be an amalgamation of all of the other Animorphs in personality. He was decisive and instinctive like Jake, reckless and violent like Rachel, predatory and solitary like Tobias, discerning and manipulative like Cassie, and sarcastic and clever like Marco. These personality traits made David not a very viable member of the team, as he did not mesh well with the group's dynamics. They did, however, make him a survivor, and it can be said that he was perhaps the most dangerous enemy the Animorphs ever faced, even more so than Visser Three.

Quotes

What choice do I have, Jake? No family. No home. Can't even step out in public as a human. Yeerks after me. The rest of my life I live in Cassie's barn? Do what I'm told? Let Marco hammer me? Let Rachel look down her pretty nose at me? And in the meantime risk getting trapped as a flea or something? Or killed? Maybe you want to be the big hero, Jake, but not me. I have this power now. I'm going to use it.
~ David's despair over his life that marked his fall from grace.