Once Upon a Time Favorite Character Moments: David Nolan/Prince Charming

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Signature Line: “I Will Always Find You.”

It takes a lot to live up to the name Prince Charming, but David certainly does. He is kind, brave, heroic, selfless, caring, and honorable. He is “Princely” in every way imaginable despite being raised as a Shepherd. In fact, he is much more decent and princely than his twin brother who was raised as such, always thinking of others before himself. Although David Nolan of Storybrooke, who had no memories of his royal persona was weak and confused, and he makes some grave mistakes in the past, these qualities do not diminish his character. He is a devoted husband who loves his wife unconditionally and is always willing to fight for her. He will always find her. He loves, understands, and supports his daughter, is a loving grandfather, and steadfast friend. And he is never too proud to show his emotions and cry, proving to be an ideal combination of masculine strength and sensitive tenderness. Brought to life by the wonderful Josh Dallas, there are countless favorite moments that showcase the romantic and valorous qualities for this truly charming character.

Favorite Moments:

  1. “David steps in the path of Snow’s arrow.” (Season 1, Episode 16 “Heart of Darkness”)

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When Snow drinks a potion to take away all her memories of her Prince Charming, it changes her. Her love is taken away and so her heart begins to darken, so much so that she plans to kill Regina. After kissing her doesn’t restore her memoires, nor telling her how much they love each other, David does the only thing he can think of. Because she says she appreciates action more than words, he does both, leaping in front of the arrow she aims at Regina, wounding himself in the process, and telling her he would rather die than let her fill her heart with darkness. This willingness to sacrifice himself just so she does not lose a part of herself is the very definition of True Love. He did not care if she didn’t even remember him. All that mattered to him was that the woman he loved found her way back to her true self. She is so touched that he is willing to die for her, she kisses him, and her memories are magically restored. This is one of the most beautiful and romantic moments of the series and a perfect expression of the power of the truest of true love.

  1. “David fights off Black Knights with newborn Emma in his arms.” (Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”)

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There are few moments as epic and heroic as the one where David holds his newborn daughter in his arms while skillfully fighting off a band of Regina’s black knights. He defends himself while holding Emma like the precious treasure she is. He manages to fight them long enough to place Emma in the wardrobe and kiss her goodbye with a hope she will find them. He did not get to spend more than 5 minutes with his daughter before he must say goodbye, but in these first few moments of her life, and the only ones he gets to spend with her as a baby, he protects and keeps his daughter safe and proves what tremendous faith he will always have in her.

  1. “David sacrifices his heart for the new Dark Curse.” (Season 3, Episode 19 “A Curious Thing”)

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When Snow and David discover that only light magic can defeat the wicked witch, so they must enact the dark curse to get back to Emma, David does not hesitate to say they must sacrifice his heart. When the moment comes, Snow does not want to say goodbye- to lose him and for their baby to never know its father. David being the pinnacle of strength and heroism tells her she will never lose him for she will see him every day in the face of their child. And with tears in their eyes she crushes her husband’s heart. With another act of faith and courage he is saved by Snow, but the beauty of this moment for him was his willingness to sacrifice everything for the family he loves.

  1. “David convinces the citizens of Storybrooke to stay in town and not lose a part of themselves.” (Season 2, Episode 2 “We Are Both”)

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When all of Storybrooke discovers you will lose all your real memories of who they are again by crossing the town line, they still want to leave to live a “normal” life away from the dangers of the Evil Queen. They were looking for him to lead and though he was struggling, in this moment her proved what a fine leader he can be giving an impassioned speech about how both the Storybrooke and Enchanted Forests memories they all have are a part of them. Storybrooke David, as he says, was weak and confused, but he did not want to give up that side of him because he helps remind him of the person he wants to be. And in doing so he reminded them all that “You are both. The town is both. We are both.” Such is true in the show and in life- we all have good and bad sides to ourselves that make us who we are.

  1. “David goes under a sleeping curse to see Snow in the Netherworld” (Season 2, Episode 8 “Into the Deep)

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To protect Henry from putting himself in danger again and to be able to talk Snow, Charming puts himself under a sleeping curse, believing once he sees his wife he will not only give her information they need, but be saved by True Love’s kiss. But as they reach for each other they realize that it is impossible- neither of them are truly there. But that does not matter as David once again proves himself to be a man of unparalleled faith in his wife and their love for each other. They will always find each other. She will return home and wake him from his curse. His unfailing faith is admirable and this moment is beautifully romantic, poignant and another example of how strong David’s convictions are. If there was an award for husband of the year, he surely would win the prize.  

  1. “David bonds with Hook as they venture to Dead Man’s Peak” (Season 3, Episode 5 “Good Form”)

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One of the relationships I love most on Once Upon a Time is the begrudging friendship that has formed between Captain Hook and Prince Charming. It’s unique to say the least. They are essentially the same age and yet Hook is now dating Charming’s daughter. One is a hero, the other a pirate (though Hook’s hero now too). And I am sure neither of them expected to get along with each other when they first met. But on the first time they actually spend real time together we get to see how well they can actually relate to and understand each other amidst the quips and seemingly hostile attitudes. David thinks they are going to find a sextant, but Hook is truly leading him to the water that will save his life. But along the way, Hook questions why David was not honest with his family, and says at least he got to say goodbye as some people don’t get that much. Few people besides Emma can read Hook, or even show concern for him, but David is able to decipher and realize that Hook has lost his brother.  Despite Hook’s silence David just smiles and tells him of the brother he lost before he even met him and you can see that David is actually trying to get to know him. And after Hook’s saves him, David does something even Hook didn’t expect: he leaves out the specifics but sincerely gives him credit and thanks him in front of his family for saving his life. It was the beginning of beautiful friendship, Louie!

  1. “David reminds Emma to look for the good moments in life.” (Season 3, Episode 10 “The New Neverland”)

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When Emma is feeling dejected, worried about Henry, and feeling like she is only a magnet for the bad moments and that the next crisis is always looming behind them, David reminds his daughter that there is more to life than waiting for the next fight. He doesn’t dismiss her feelings, but rather simply says you have to look for the moments in life- the good ones and the bad ones, because they are all what makes life worth living. This sage advice (and I must point out advice that Killian also echoes to her not long after that) truly helps Emma and he proves to be one of the few people who knows how to guide and support her without pushing. He is a wonderful father.

  1. “David stands up to Bo Peep with the help of Anna.” (Season 4, Episode 2 “White Out”)

Though now a regal and brave prince, we must never forget that David was once a shepherd, and one who was at the mercy of a warlord, too afraid to stand up to her. But with the help of his plucky new friend Anna he learns how to sword fight and believe he could possibly fight the impossible battle. But it wasn’t until Anna was in danger that he found his true courage- the courage he always had, but simply needed the push to find it. He learns that it is not enough to survive- you have to live the life you want. Seeing how David became the man he is thanks to a friend’s guidance was lovely and reminder that any back story for this kind and heroic man is heartwarming and moving.

  1. “David and Snow watch and wait up as the doting parents for Emma’s first date with Killian.” (Season 4, Episode 4 “The Apprentice”)

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There are few things om Once Upon a Time that warm and delight my heart as much as overprotective  Daddy Charming. He may have a friendship of sorts with Killian but Emma is still his daughter and when she is about to go on her first date, David goes into Dad mode, saying he is worried that his daughter’s date now has two hands and even offers to drive them!! Just because Emma is 30 years old does not mean he can’t still want to protect his baby girl. And when we see that he and Snow have waited up for Emma to get home, Snow all smiles, but he amusingly saying that he doesn’t really want to hear about everything- i.e. goodnight kisses and such- the result is priceless. That may be the case, but he still waits for her. These moments were so sweet and lovely and show just how much both parents want to cherish all the moments they are experiencing with their daughter for the first time.

  1. “David fights a manifestation of his worst fears.” (Season 3, Episode 14 “The Tower”)

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Terrified of being a bad father to his new child, David is forced to confront this deepest fear after Zelena drugs his tea with a root that will create a manifestation of those fears- a dark version of himself. David fights this dark other “David” that taunts him that he nothing but a poor, scared shepherd that strayed too far from his flock. But it isn’t until he lets go of the idea that he must be fearless but rather admit those fears and face them that he is able to defeat this vision. In this fine moment we get to see now only great development for his character, but the moving truth that courage is not the absence of fear. On the contrary, fears are natural- what matters is finding the courage to face them.

  1. “David tells Snow a chance at redemption is possible as long as they work to be their best selves.” (Season 4, Episode 16 “Best Laid Plans”)

After he an Snow make a grave mistake that separate Maleficent from her unborn child, Snow wonders if they can come back from what they have done and if redemption is even possible. Their actions were indeed severe, but one mistake does not have to define your entire life. David assures his wife that he must believe that a chance at grace is possible. But he implores that can only happen if they do their best to spread hope, love and faith every day, and importantly to be the best versions of themselves. I loved this moment because we not only saw more depth given to his character, but still see the epitome of what makes him so wonderful. It is easy to have faith when you never make a mistake; it takes a strong sense of self and strive to be better, to make mistakes and do your best to overcome them.

  1. “David has a dream about teaching Emma to dance.” (Season 3, Episode 14 “The Tower”)

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Both beautiful and heartbreaking is the dream David has of dancing with his daughter Emma, teaching her to waltz in preparation for her first ball in the nursery that was meant to be hers. He looks at her in amazement and pride beaming at her natural grace and that this was everything he ever wished for her. The sad part was that this was only a dream- one that quickly becomes a nightmare as Emma is ripped away from him unable to save her. The scene, made exquisite by music and cinematography, is matched by the visceral reaction we have because of how deeply Charming simply wants his daughter to feel as special and beautiful as he sees her. If only he had seen Emma dance at her first ball as he had so wished to, but when she was right there to behold he had no idea who she was. Perhaps someday his dream will come true.

  1. David talks with Killian, in disguise as Prince Charles, about his upcoming marriage.” (Season 3, Episode 22 “There’s No Place Like Home”)

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As Killian seeks help to rescue Emma and get things back on course, he takes the time to ask David about his upcoming wedding to Princess Abigail. As David wonders if True Love even exists and Killian assures him that it does, despite being unsure of his feelings for “Princess Leia” being reciprocated and fearing he parents disapprove. I loved the unique dichotomy of the scene as David says they would be crazy not to approve given the lengths he has gone to save her, to which Killian responds “I hope you remember that.” David of course has no idea the double meaning of this entire conversation, but it’s uniquely beautiful that they were able to have an honest conversation about love with this kind of anonymity. And although I would adore direct acknowledgment that David does indeed remember this conversation, he must have as he has begun to approve of his daughter’s love.

  1. “David sees his mother’s ring on Snow for the first time.” (Season 1, Episode 3 “Snow Falls”)

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Even when the circumstances behind the way Snow and Charming first met were altered, many things remained the same, including this iconic and sweet moment. When he sees his mother’s ring on Snow’s finger you literally see him fall in love. His expression is perfect and gives my heart all the feels, as they would say in the fandom. It may have taken them a while to find each other again, but this was the moment he knew that his mother was right about True Love following this ring wherever it goes. And he knew his life would never be the same.

  1. “David defeats the Siren and saves Abigail’s true love, Frederick.” (Season 1, Episode 13 “What Happened to Frederick”)

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A touching example of David’s chivalry and strength was when he agreed to help save Abigail’s love Frederick, saying even if his true love seems impossible the least he can do is help reunite someone with theirs. And indeed he proved himself able to resist the temptation of the Siren in Lake Nostos who took Snow’s form promising him everything he wanted. And even though he fell prey to her seduction for a moment, he finds his strength, wanting the real thing or nothing at all. He defeats this temptress and is able to free Frederick with the magical waters from the lake. Perhaps it was seeing another couple so happily reunited, or perhaps he inherently does not give up easily, but he then decides to go after Snow with one of the most beautiful and indisputably true lines of the entire series: “True Love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for. Because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” 

Honorable mention: “David says Goodbye to his mother.” (Season 1, Episode 4 “The Shepherd”)

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I never fail to cry at this heartrending scene where David must say goodbye to his mother, choosing to protect her and the kingdom rather than his own happiness. When he says “I didn’t come here for advice. I came to say goodbye” the tears start flowing, especially when she gives him a ring with the faith that True Love follows it whatever it goes. Any scene between David and his mother is a heartwarming treasure.

Favorite Little Moments:

– One of the loveliest things I noticed about the way Josh Dallas plays David in relation to Emma is the way he cradles her head as if she were still a baby. In almost every single moment David hugs his daughter this gesture is steadfast. I tweeted Josh Dallas about this lovely acting choice and low and behold he responded and confirmed this 🙂

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– Seeing Killian so frantic, desperate and distraught over Emma nearly freezing to death in an ice cave, I think he finally saw the depth of this man’s feelings for his daughter. So when Emma is pulled out he literally puts her into Killian’s arms- a sort gesture of approval that I absolutely loved.

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– As the begrudging friendship between David and Killian has developed one of my favorite things are the little “bro nods” they so often share. There is an unspoken understanding between them and it is wonderful to witness this on so many occasions.

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– Similarly it was not surprising that David would push Killian out of the way of a falling lamppost. He would have done the same for anyone as that is the kind of person he is. But on a deeper level he is saving both his friend and the man who loves his daughter. I can’t help but love this!!

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– Seeing Charming have a vision of his future daughter as this sweet, beautiful, innocent baby was touching as it showed how he always sees her as the most precious thing in the world.

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– Seeing David take on the fatherly/grandfatherly role so quickly with Henry when Snow and Emma were separated from them was absolutely heartwarming. I don’t think anything beats him playing sword fighting with him, bowing down saying “My liege.” Smiles for days with this moment!!

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– While under the spell of “Shattered Sight” the worst selves of the residents of Storybrooke come out. But for David, nothing was that horrible. The most hilarious thing is the worst insult he can give to Kristoff was that it’s ridiculous to sell ice in a frozen Arendelle. This is actually kind of precious.

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– The banter between David and Snow when he traps her in a net is a classic moment in the series, and I just find it funny how one of the first things he calls the woman who will become his true love is “thieving scum.” Never judge by first impressions.

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– When his young son is kidnapped mere moments after his birth, he so quickly transitions to protective warrior mode, taking off his hospital gown and grabbing is sword with a look that means business. Never mess with David when he is determined. And when he returns safely back, his smile is so gentle and warm. Him and Snow were given what they were denied before, and he shows his equally strong and tender qualities.

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– The very first moment of Once Upon a Time was given to the heroic Prince riding his noble steed, to wake his love with true love’s kiss. It was love at first sight for me, and an iconic moment was cemented into television history.

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Favorite Reader Moments:

When it came to the favorite reader moments for David, the top four were all included on my list and they were wonderful ones indeed. While the numerous other favorites were combined with some of my own as well as very sweet little moments that showcase what is best about his character. The top 4 moments are:

  1. David implores Emma to look for the good moments in life in “The New Neverland”
  2. David fights off knights with baby Emma in his arms in the “Pilot”
  3. David works with Killian to free Emma from the ice cave in “White Out”
  4. David’s worst self comes out under the spell of “Shattered Sight”

The rest of the favorite moments are (in episode order):

  1. David on his horse in the opening shot of the “Pilot”
  2. David gives Snow True Love’s Kiss in the “Pilot”
  3. David defeats the Siren and helps Abigail in “What Happened to Frederick”
  4. David steps in front of Snow’s arrow in “Heart of Darkness”
  5. David fights Maleficent in dragon form in “A Land Without Magic”
  6. David gives an impassioned speech in “We Are Both”
  7. David rescues Emma from drowning in “The Heart of the Truest Believer”
  8. David fights a dark manifestation of himself in “The Tower”
  9. David and Emma put together a baby crib in “The Jolly Roger”
  10. David teaches Henrys to drive in “The Jolly Roger”
  11. David picks a flower for Snow in “A Curious Thing”
  12. David sacrifices his heart in “A Curious Thing”
  13. David shows his protective nature when Emma and Killian go on their first date in “The Apprentice”

Thank you to the following readers for sending in their favorite David moments: Maii, Mimi, Hagit, Melissa, Meredith, Emily, Alyssa, and Sharon 🙂

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