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 who was originally called Alfred Beagle was a retired intelligence agent who followed the deathbed wish of his dying father, Jarvis Beagle, 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, now called, Alfred Pennyworth had 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 Wayne's butler, only so as to honor the dying wish of his father. At the time he begins working for the Wayne's when Bruce was 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. Even after Bruce was returned, Alfred continued his work at Wayne Manor with Grayson while Bruce spread out as Batman Incorporated.
After the timeline is reset, Bruce Wayne is once again working out of Wayne Manor with Alfred as his primary confidante. When the Joker mounts his latest attack against Batman, his first step is to abduct Alfred, prompting concern from the rest of the family that the Joker knows Batman's true identity, but Bruce affirms that the Joker just chose Alfred because of Wayne's connection to Batman Inc. rather than personal knowledge, later confessing to Alfred that he once 'tested' the Joker and confirmed that the Joker is incapable of acknowledging the idea that Batman may have another identity.
During a major assault on Batman's life, Alfred is reunited with his long-absent daughter, Julia Pennyworth, an agent of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, when Batman finds her in Hong Kong and takes her back to Wayne Manor for medical treatment after she is stabbed with a samurai sword through the chest by a Chinese gang boss the two were hunting. Although Julia is initially hostile to Alfred, feeling that he has wasted his life going from a soldier to tending to a fop like Bruce Wayne, after Alfred is attacked by Hush and infected with a fear toxin, Julia discovers the Batcave and takes on her father's role to coordinate the Bat-Family's efforts. Alfred is briefly transferred to Arkham before it is attacked as part of the conspiracy, but he manages to survive the explosion and trick Bane into helping him reach an emergency cave Batman had installed under the asylum, the cave's defences knocking Bane out and allowing Alfred to call for help. When Hush was briefly kept prisoner in the Batcave, he managed to break out of his cell and lock Alfred in it before sabotaging the Bat-Family's equipment via the Batcomputer as they fought various villains, including crashing the Batwing with Batman still in it. However, he was swiftly returned to captivity when Alfred escaped the cell and knocked Hush out, Alfred harshly informing Tommy that he was hardly going to be locked up in his own home.
When the Joker mounted his final assault, feeling that Batman had 'changed the rules' in their last confrontation, he broke into the Batcave and cut off Alfred's hand. Julia was able to get her father swift medical treatment and he was reported to be in stable condition, but Alfred falls into a deep depression after Bruce's apparent death, even rejecting the idea of having his hand reattached as there was no point without Bruce to serve.
However, after Bruce is discovered to be alive but with no memory of who he is or his life as Batman, Alfred tells Bruce everything that had happened in his life up to the point of the creation of Batman, but accepts Bruce's request not to learn any more, hoping that this would give Bruce a chance at a life without pain and the burning desire to be Batman, allowing his life as Bruce Wayne to finally begin.
However, when the new villain Mr. Bloom launches a mass attack on Gotham, the amnesic Bruce pieces together enough information to deduce that he was once Batman, and convinces Alfred to subject him to a machine that will theoretically download all of his memories as Batman into his mind. Bruce's original plan was for this machine to be used to create a series of clones of himself that could be programmed to continue his mission, but although the process failed because simulations confirmed that the human mind could not handle Batman's trauma, Bruce comes through the process by having Alfred take him to the point of brain-death and then download his memories onto his blank brain. After Bloom was defeated, Bruce arranged for Alfred have his hand reattached.
When the Flashpoint Batman and Bane took over Gotham, they held Alfred hostage as a deterrent to the Batman Family. However, Damian eventually decided to attempt to stop them. After capturing the teenager, Bane went through with his threat and broke Alfred's neck, killing him.
- 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 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. Despite occasionally worrisome about Bruce's safety, he none the less supports him in his crusade to rid Gotham of crime as Batman and is very resourceful to him.
Bruce Wayne (surrogate son)
Robin (surrogate grandson)
- 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
Columbia serials (1943-49)
- William Austin was the first actor to portray Alfred, defining the character to the recognizable version known today. He was replaced by Eric Wilton in the 1949 followup serial.
TV series and Movie (1966)
See: Alfred (Dozierverse)
- 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.
Motion Picture Anthology (1989-1997)
The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
- Michael Caine portrayed Alfred in the movie Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
LEGO film series
Alfred Pennyworth is one of the main characters of The LEGO Batman Movie, voiced by Ralph Fiennes. In the film, he is both a butler and a father-figure to Batman/Bruce Wayne. He also helps Bruce open up to having a family after the latter showed his fear of being part of one. The character also appears in The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.
The Batman (Film)
DC Animated Universe
- 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) and The New Batman Adventures. 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. The portrayal is largely inspired by Michael Gough in the Motion Picture Anthology, Abercrombie first doubled for Gough in a VHS commercial for Batman & Robin.
Alfred Pennyworth makes a small voice cameo in the episode Hawk and Dove, providing Dick Grayson with a small transfer to help Rachel Roth. His actor is never credited.