|Real name:||Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth|
|First Appearance:||Batman #16 (April–May 1943)|
|Created by:|| Bob Kane|
|Affiliations:|| Batman Family|
Secret Intelligence Service
|Portrayed by:|| William Austin|
Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne's valet at Wayne Manor. He knows that Bruce is secretly Batman and aids him. Alfred Pennyworth, after a varied career, was employed as the Wayne family valet when Bruce Wayne's parents were killed. Alfred raised the young orphan and reluctantly aided him in his quest to become Batman. His many skills—ranging from cooking to medicine—make him Batman's staunchest ally, along with a formal demeanor that grounds the Dark Knight and deflects those who might otherwise suspect Batman's true identity.
Pre-CrisisAlfred was a retired intelligence agent who followed the deathbed wish of his dying father, Jarvis, to carry on the tradition of serving the Wayne Family. To that end, Alfred introduced himself to Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson at Wayne Manor and insisted on becoming their butler. Although the pair did not want one, especially since they did not want to jeopardize their secret identities with a servant in the house, they did not have the heart to reject Alfred. That night, Alfred awoke to moaning and followed the sound to the secret door to the staircase to the Batcave and met his would-be employers in their superhero identities (Wayne had been injured while out in the field). As it turned out, the wounds were actually insignificant, but Alfred's care convinced the residents that their butler could be trusted. Since then, Alfred included the support staff duties of the Dynamic Duo on top of his regular tasks.
Later, Alfred was reunited with his long-lost daughter, Julia Remarque. This character has yet to appear in the Post-Crisis comics.
Post-CrisisIn the Post-Crisis comics' continuity, Alfred has been the Wayne Family butler all of Bruce's life and had helped his master establish his superhero career from the beginning. In addition, he was Bruce's legal guardian following the deaths of his parents. Alfred's history has been modified several times over the years, creating assorted versions. In one such version, Alfred was hired away from the British Royal Family by Bruce's parents, and he virtually raised Bruce after they were murdered.
Meanwhile, another version of Alfred's Post-Crisis life was slightly more closely linked to his pre-Crisis counterpart. In this version Alfred was an actor on the English Stage, who agreed to become the Waynes' butler, only so as to honor the dying wish of his father. At the time he begins working for the Waynes, Bruce is but a young child. After several months, Alfred voices the desire to quit and return home to continue his life as an actor. However, these plans are momentarily forgotten when young Bruce returns home, after getting into a fight with a school bully. Alfred teaches Bruce to handle the bully strategically, rather than using brute force. Following Alfred's advice, Bruce manages to take care of his bully problem. Upon returning home, Bruce requests that Alfred stays, and Alfred agrees without a second thought.
Following the Infinite Crisis however it appears that Alfred's history has been merged to combine both his pre and post-Crisis histories. He spent years as a member of the British Guard and later became a member of MI-5 before retiring and taking up his love of acting. Following his father's death, he then became the Wayne Family Butler. Whether or not the rest of his history has remained the same or has been yet again altered has not yet been revealed, although it has been occasionally hinted at.
Following the murders of the Wayne Family, Alfred was named Bruce's legal guardian in the will left by Thomas and Martha, however, social services combated the will feeling that Bruce should not be raised by a servant. However, Bruce managed to remain in Alfred's care by, despite his young age, bribing the social service agent into allowing Alfred to raise him.Alfred would later aid Bruce in raising Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake, all of whom would be adopted by Bruce Wayne and become his partner Robin. He also had close friendships with other members of the Bat-Clan including Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain (the latter of whom would also be adopted by Bruce prior to his death). Alfred often acts as a father-figure to Bruce, and a grandfather to Dick, Jason, Tim and Cassandra. However, due to his rather cold personality, Bruce Wayne makes sure that at least some degree of the business relationship between the two always exists. He is also highly respected by those heroes who are aware of his existence, including Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the original Teen Titans.
Alfred has also been romantically linked to Dr. Leslie Thompkins, though his relationship with her never came to anything beyond occasional dates, particularly after she apparently allowed Stephanie Brown to die from neglect. He also developed feelings for Tim Drake's stepmother, but again, nothing came out of it.
During the events of Knightquest, Alfred accompanies Wayne to England and becomes enraged when Wayne insists on endangering his own health while paraplegic. This was the culmination of several weeks of Wayne's self-destructive behavior, and when Wayne returns to Gotham, Alfred remains in England, tendering his resignation. He spends some time vacationing in Antarctica and The Bahamas before returning to England. Dick Grayson tracks him down several months later and convinces him to return to Wayne Manor. In that story, it was revealed he had walked out of his own wedding years earlier.
His resourcefulness came to the fore in the No Man's Land storyline, especially in Legends of the Dark Knight #118. Batman is missing for weeks, leaving Alfred alone to watch his city for him. He uses his skills as an actor, storyteller, medic, and spy to survive and collect information on the recently destroyed society. Alfred even uses hand-to-hand combat in a rare one-panel fight sequence between him and a pair of slavers that ends with his rescue by Batman.
At a point in which Commissioner Gordon was shot and nearly killed, Alfred took notice that Bruce was behaving increasingly out of sorts. Feeling that Bruce had pushed his entire family as far away as possible, Alfred gave Bruce his resignation and left his employment. Alfred, however, continued to work with the Bat-family, going with Tim to the Brentwood Academy for Boys, working as his butler. Following Bruce being accused of murdering a girlfriend (actually executed by David Cain), Alfred returned to Bruce's employment.
In Batman #677, agents of Batman's mysterious enemy the Black Glove attack and beat Alfred in front of Bruce and Jezebel Jet, severely injuring him. In the same issue, a reporter from The Gotham Gazette suggests to Commissioner Gordon that Alfred may be Bruce's biological father and that this may be a reason for the murder of Martha Wayne. Alfred later denies the entire story, agreeing with Bruce that it was a fabrication. Alfred is the last member of the Bat-Family to see Bruce alive, prior to his reported death at the hands of Darkseid.
In Batman And The Outsiders Special, Alfred is seen apologizing at the grave's of Thomas and Martha Wayne at the loss of Bruce, commenting that he grieves as a parent, regarding Bruce as his son. Later, a secret panel in Alfred's room opens, the result of a failsafe planted by Bruce in the event of his death. Bruce leaves his one final task, and also gives him an emotional goodbye, telling Alfred he considered him as a father.
Alfred then assembled a new team of Outsiders, now under his control, while continuing to serve as the Wayne family butler to Bruce's adopted children: Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and eventually, Damian Wayne.
- Skilled actor
- Trained in emergency medical techniques
- Proficient with mechanical and computer systems
- Expert in domestic sciences
- Unflappable manner
- Unlike Batman, perfectly willing to wield firearms during times of crisis
Alfred has taken on the role as Bruce Wayne's surrogate father figure after the death of his parents. Aside from that, Alfred is loyal, intelligent, caring, hardworking, tireless, sometimes sarcastic, wise, brave, bold, protective, kind and fatherly.
- While not as skilled at hand-to-hand combat as Bruce Wayne, Alfred is nearly as resourceful. Batman: Gotham Adventures 16 has him kidnapped, only to readily escape and overcome his captors without even mussing his suit. It is later mentioned that he has overcome 27 kidnapping attempts.
- He is the only member of the Batman Family that is excused by Bruce Wayne to own a firearm, other than the police officers, like Gordon and Bullock, who could be considered honorary members of the family.
- The character is very popular, having received a nomination for the R.A.C. "Squiddy" Award for Favorite Supporting Character in 1994 and for Best Character in 2001. He was also nominated for the Wizard Fan Award for Favorite Supporting Male Character in 1994.
- Like most of the Earth-One Batman Family members, Pennyworth never met Beagle though did meet with the Earth-Two Huntress and Earth-Two Grayson who mentioned Beagle to Pennyworth.
- As revealed in Batman & Son, Alfred reads the Artemis Fowl novels.
- Alfred has been an actor in Britain's Theatre.
- Alfred has two different live-action incarnations who were portrayed by actors with the same first name: Alfred Pennyworth (Burton/Schumacherverse) (Michael Gough) and Alfred Pennyworth (Nolanverse) (Michael Caine).
In Other Media
Batman serial (1943)
- William Austin was the first actor to portray Alfred.
Batman and Robin (1949)
Batman (TV series)
- Alan Napier portrayed Alfred on the 1960's TV Series starring Adam West. In one of the last episodes of the series Batgirl accidentally finds out that Alfred is Batman's secret accomplice - hence Batman is Bruce Wayne; however at the same time Alfred finds out that Batgirl is Barbara Gordon - so neither can expose the secret identities of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.
Burton/Schumacher film series (1989-1997)
Batman: The Animated Series
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr. provided Alfred's voice on Batman: The Animated Series (with the exception of four episodes from the first season in which Alfred was voiced by Clive Revill). This version of Alfred combines elements from Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis continuities; Alfred has been serving the Wayne Family since before Thomas Wayne's death and helped his young charge assume the Batman identity, but was also revealed to be a former agent for British Intelligence.
Birds of Prey
- Ian Abercrombie portrayed Alfred on the short-lived TV series, Birds of Prey.
Nolan film series (2005-2012)
- Michael Caine portrayed Alfred in the movie Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).