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.
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.
Dave was based upon the Apprentice from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice poem by Goethe, as both well known for an apprentice of powerful sorcerer and their attempt to cheat with magic led themselves into a serious trouble.
Dave shares similarities to Sorcerer Mickey from the Fantasia segment The Sorcerer’s Apprentice as apprentices with a powerful sorcerer, which is fitting as both characters fill the role of the titular apprentice from the original poem.
Dave also attempts to cut one of the animated cleaning mops like Mickey did to an animated broom with an axe, but Dave was less successful, either it was due to his clumsiness or the animated mop was more agile than the broom in Fantasia.