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David Dunn is a fictional character and protagonist in M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable film series, portrayed by American actor Bruce Willis. Dunn is a former college football prodigy and a security guard who discovers he has superhuman abilities. He is the protagonist in Unbreakable, has a minor cameo in Split, and again is a major character in Glass.

David Dunn
Unbreakable character
David Dunn as portrayed by Bruce Willis in Unbreakable
First appearanceUnbreakable (2000)
Last appearanceGlass (2019)
Created byM. Night Shyamalan
Portrayed byBruce Willis
Davis Duffield
(Young; Unbreakable)
Colin Becker
(Young; Glass)
  • The Overseer
  • The Green Guard / Guardian
  • The Tip Toe Man
  • The Enforcer
  • The Protector
OccupationSecurity guard
Football player (formerly)
SpouseAudrey Dunn (deceased)
ChildrenJoseph Dunn (son)


Fictional character biographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

David Dunn was born in Philadelphia and became a football player during college before being caught in a car accident with his girlfriend Audrey. David is left unharmed but Audrey is injured. This causes David to quit football to be with Audrey.


In the year 2000, David boards the Eastrail 177 train home but is later caught in a crash. David is recovered and is examined by doctors who reveal he was the only survivor of 132 other passengers and hasn't broken a single bone. This grabs the attention of comic book store owner Elijah Price who contacts David to taunt him by convincing David he has unique superhuman abilities. He then interrogates David about any similar past incidents in an attempt to expose his abilities. This begins to scare David and leaves the store.

The following day, Elijah visits David at the stadium where David becomes suspicious of a man carrying a gun. The man quickly leaves in a rush but Elijah reluctantly follows the man who did have a gun proving Elijah's theory correct about David. Joseph also convinces David he is a superhero so he decides to do some bench presses revealing his super strength.

Eventually, David becomes more aware of his powers and decides to test them out in a subway by allowing people to push through him. As people walk pass him, David begins to see visions of crimes they committed. David sees a crime committed by a janitor who had killed a man.

That night, David follows the janitor to the home where he finds the same man dead along with his dead wife, but frees the children. The janitor pushes David into a swimming pool, exposing his weakness to water. The children rescue David, who then kills the janitor.[N 1]

The following day, David is hailed a superhero in the newspaper. He later exposes Elijah for causing a hotel fire, an airplane bombing, and the Eastrail train derailment. Price is sent to an institution for the criminally insane.


David has a cameo appearance in the 2016 film Split who is now a security store owner and visits a cafe where he tells a woman, who relates the film's protagonist Kevin Wendell Crumb / The Horde to Elijah, that she was referring to "Mr. Glass".


Nineteen years later, David has become a superhero vigilante named "The Overseer" and is working with Joseph. When not being a vigilante, David runs a home security store.

When David learns about the emergence of Kevin Wendell Crumb, a supervillain with a identity disorder involving 24 personalities dubbed by the media as "The Horde", he decides to track him down but is lead to an abandoned building where The Horde is keeping hostage of a group of cheerleaders. David rescues the cheerleaders but is confronted by one The Horde's personalities "The Beast". Their confrontation is interrupted by a group of Philadelphia police officers lead by Dr. Ellie Staple. Staple places the two in an institution where Elijah has been held since his arrest. David and Kevin are put in separate rooms which hold security measure holding their weaknesses to maintain them.

Later, Elijah becomes interested in the Beast so he decides to free him and team up together to escape. However, before leaving, Elijah contacts David over the PA to reveal to him his plan to destroy the Osaka Tower in Philadelphia before Elijah would expose real-life superheroes. This prompts David to escape his room and confronts the Beast again outside the facility. The fight is interrupted when Joseph exposes that Kevin's father was also on the Eastrail 177 leaving Kevin alone to his mother who begins abusing him leaving Elijah to come to the conclusion of his creation of both David and Kevin's alter egos The Overseer and The Horde. The Beast thanks Elijah for his creation and brutally injures him then throws David into a water tank in an attempt to drown him but manages to regain strength to escape but is weakened due to the water.

David’s life is ended when he is drowned in a water-filled pothole by one of Staple’s men. Staple reveals that she is part of an organization with the goal of silencing people with superhuman abilities to maintain a societal balance. She additionally calls on a sniper to kill Kevin while Elijah dies from his injuries.

Joseph is eventually sent the security footage of the brawl between David and Kevin at the institution, which Casey Cooke and Elijah's mother also receive. They collaborate to upload the footage to the internet, revealing to the world the existence of superhuman abilities.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

David Dunn possess super-strength enough to rip off a car, bench-press 500 pounds, break down a steel door, bend bars, and throw anyone into a wall. He has nigh-invincibility that enables him to withstand traumas and shocks that would've killed a normal human.

Additionally, David possess the ability to read the minds of others, particularly as they relate to acts of violence, by touching them. He has demonstrated the ability to discover actions a person has committed in the past (such as Price’s sabotage of the train and the unnamed murderer’s crimes) as well as potential/planned acts of violence (learning a man smuggled a gun into the sports stadium). At the end of his life, he read Dr. Staple’s mind and learned her part in the anti-superhuman conspiracy.


David has a weakness to water. It is because of this that being exposed to water would weaken him and drain his strength. He had a near-death experience when he nearly drowned at a young age.


When M. Night Shyamalan conceived the idea for Unbreakable, the outline had a comic book's traditional three-part structure (the superhero's "birth", his struggles against general evil-doers, and the hero's ultimate battle against the "archenemy"). However, he found the origin story most interesting, and chose to write Unbreakable as one. Willis became attached while shooting The Sixth Sense, also directed by Shyamalan.[1]


Willis received critical praise for his performance as Dunn in Unbreakable. Critic Roger Ebert believed that Willis' "subtle acting" was positively different from the actor's usual work in "brainless action movies".[2] Quentin Tarantino, who directed Willis in Pulp Fiction, has also praised his performance in Unbreakable, saying he considers it his best work.[3]


  1. ^ Dubbed by fans as the Orange Man.


  1. ^ M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer, Eduardo Serra, James Newton Howard, The Making of Unbreakable, 2001, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  2. ^ Roger Ebert (2000-11-22). "Unbreakable". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  3. ^ Tarantino's Top 20. Spike.

External linksEdit