The chimpanzee was seen fighting to secure and keep his place as alpha male in the group which the BBC series followed.
But just a matter of months after the cameras stopped filming, David was found beaten to death, presumably by another primate in his gang.
The heartbreaking news was confirmed by Jill Pruetz, one of the directors of the Fongoli Savannah Chimpanzee Project who had studied David's troop for two decades.
Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: "He died from wounds inflicted from what I'm sure are these young males.
"There aren't other animals that would have inflicted wounds like that - especially when you have multiple individuals attacking a single individual.
"He was very aggressive that's why he held onto his dominant status for so long."
Jill continued: "He was pretty clever but our best interpretation of what happened is that these adult males jumped him.
"Jumkin who was a beta male is now the alpha. There's a huge absence. It's like more than one chimp is gone.
"The dynamic is really different. I imagine Jumkin will be alpha for a while. However, you can see Luther [another beta] already challenging him a bit."
David was described as a 'strong and determined leader' by the crew and fended off other rival males which challenged his leadership.
At one point, viewers believed he had been killed as he was badly beaten by the younger members of the troop. He was left with a nasty wound in his leg, and some of his fingers had been bitten off in the vicious attack.
But David managed to find the strength to return to the group and defended his title of alpha male from Luther and Jumkin the chimps, nursing himself back to health.
He also made allies in some of the older chimps, grooming them to ensure he retained his title as alpha.
David - who led the group in the jungles of Senegal and Guinea, West Africa - was the longest-reigning alpha in the group's history.