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"I have no wish to spend my few remaining years grieving for the loss of old friends. Or their sons."
―Alfred[src]

Alfred Pennyworth was the butler to the Wayne family and lifelong caretaker of the orphaned Bruce Wayne. Alfred remained his loyal confidant when he began vigilantism as the Batman.

Biography

Alfred comforting an 8 year old Bruce in his younger years.

Early Life

Alfred Pennyworth was raised in an unspecified area of England. According to one account, he had a brother named Wilfred and a younger sister named Margaret. The same story claimed Alfred had served as a butler at Buckingham Palace.

Alfred eventually came to live in Gotham City, and was employed as a butler by Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife, Martha. He served the household and helped look after their son, Bruce. When the Waynes were murdered by an unknown mugger, Alfred became Burce's legal guardian. He helped him organized both social engagements and prepare for his war on crime as Batman. Bruce often regarded Alfred as a father figure rather than just his butler.

Batman

The Charity Gala

During the charity benefit for Gotham City's 200th Anniversary Parade, Alfred served guests and organized staff during the event. He also served Alexander Knox, who gave him a crumpled dollar as a tip. When Commissioner Gordon left the event for urgent reasons, Alfred informed Bruce whilst he conversed with with Knox and Vicki Vale. Alfred's comments gave Bruce prompting to investigate further, before which he gave Alfred a series of instructions in his absence.

Bruce's Date

Alfred and Bruce in the Batcave in Batman.

During Bruce's later date with Vicki, they joined Alfred in the kitchen. During it, he told Vale about an incident involving a horse-riding where he'd been caped in mud. As the evening got late, Alfred excused himself to got to bed. The following morning, Alfred ran into Vicki as she left the manor. When she wished him well on their trip, Alfred responded that they weren't leaving the city any time soon. This tipped of Vicki that Bruce had lied to her.

War with the Joker

When Bruce returned later that evening after being caught in the middle of a gunfight at Gotham Square, Alfred provided him a drink of water and let him know that Vale had called to check on him. He encouraged Bruce to open up to her, noticing he'd become smitten with her. Bruce quickly changed the subject by informing Alfred that Napier had survived and had taken over Carl Grissom organization. Leaving to get him police files for Napier, Alfred voiced his approval for Bruce to pursue Vicki further.

Alfred later returned at the end of Joker's Smylex Commercial, prompting Bruce to turn it off to investigate. Noting Napier's proficiency with Chemistry and his gloating in the commercial, the two set out to buy as many health and beauty products to identify the deadly toxin that he'd used in the products. Alfred later relayed a message to Bruce of an upcoming date with Vicki. However, Bruce quickly remembered they'd not agreed to meet and realized it had been set up by the Joker.

Opening to Vale

After Bruce had brought Vicki to the Batcave, Alfred suggested that he focus on his relationship with her and let her know about his "double life". When Bruce remains dismissive, he let him know that she would eventually figure it out, one way or another. When Bruce returned after an encounter with the Joker, he asked Alfred to dig up files on Thomas and Martha's murder. Alfred did as he asked, but suggested he'd let the past go.

Before or during Joker announcement that he'd be hosting the 200th Anniversary Parade, Alfred met with Vicki, who revealed she knew Bruce was Batman. Deciding to let her see him, Alfred brought her into the Batcave to speak with him. He then left the two to discuss it before he went after the Joker.

After the Duel

Managing to keep his position, Alfred was dispatched by Bruce to pick Vicki up from the Batsignal's unveiling at the GCPD Headquarters. Meeting her at a street corner, he let her know he'd prepared Champaign for her. As they prepared to leave for the Manor, Alfred let Vicki know Bruce would be later, though she wasn't surprised.

Batman Returns

Lighting of the Tree Ceremony

A following Christmas holiday, Alfred went shopping for presents. During it, he talked with a paperboy about the recent sightings of the Penguin. It's unclear whether Alfred was caught in the later attack by the Red Triangle Gang, though it's possible he left the area before the chaos.

Investigating Penguin

Whilst putting up Christmas decorations for the season, Alfred and Bruce watched a news report on the Penguin after he saved Mayor Jenkins' child from a clown. Unlike Bruce, he seemed sympathetic to him and his plight. Whilst Bruce investigated the Penguin and the Red Triangle gang, Alfred brought him gazpacho soup for his meal. He observed several of the discoveries, including the two parties' histories and their links to a series of child vanishings.

Meeting Miss Kyle

After an incident with the Catwoman, Alfred was called to treat Bruce's injuries from the confrontation. The following evening, he served him and Max Shreck's secretary, Selina Kyle, as they watched the Relighting of the Tree Ceremony on TV. After Bruce decided to investigate the kidnapping of the Ice Princess, he ran into Alfred and asked him to give an excuse to Selina for his absence. Moments later, she also left and encountered him, asking him to give Bruce a similar excuse. Alfred seemed somewhat relieved that Bruce had found someone after Vicki left.

Exposing Cobblepot

After Batman had been framed for the Ice Princess' murder, Alfred helped Bruce to sabotage the event and expose Penguin's true nature to Gotham. After being given a lecture of security by Bruce, he declined to enter the cave via the iron maiden entrance, instead taking the stairs.

After arriving, he used the Batcomputer to hack into the loud speakers at the event. With this, Bruce then played recordings he'd taken when Penguin had hijacked the Batmobile and played them to Gothamites. This caused them to turn on Cobblepot and him to show his true colors to the city.

Whilst Bruce was fixing the Batmobile, Alfred came to deliver invitations to the Maxquerade Ball. After when Bruce proved disinterested, he ripped them up. However, Bruce changed his mind after realizing Selina might attend, causing Alfred to begrudgingly retrieve them.

Stopping Penguin

Alfred helping Bruce in the Batcave in Batman Returns.

After Bruce foiled Penguin's plan to kidnap and murder Gotham's firstborn children, Alfred manned the Batcomputer whilst Batman rushed to Penguin's Lair in the Batskiboat. Having obtained the coordinates at the Old Zoo's Arctic World, Alfred helped him navigate the Gotham Sewers to confront Cobblepot.

Eventually, Alfred learned about Penguin's contingency plan to destroy Gotham Plaza with radio-controlled Penguin Commandos. After informing Bruce, they worked together to stop the plot. Alfred eventually jammed the signal and gave Batman control of the Penguin Commandos, allowing him to send them back the Zoo and turn on Penguin.

Search for Selina

After the incident at Arctic World, Alfred helped Bruce search the streets for an indication she was still alive. During one of their patrols, they stopped after Bruce saw Catwoman's shadow in an alleyway. However, this was in vein and Bruce only returned with a cat. As they gave up for the night, Alfred tried to cheer up the downfallen Bruce with a Christmas greeting as they returned to Wayne Manor, likely to respond to the Batsignal being relit.

Different Fates

Several accounts are offered for what happened to Alfred, most of which divert after Penguin's defeat.

According to one account, Alfred and Bruce gave up their search for Selina. They instead resolved to protect Gotham from further threats. Alfred remained in Bruce's employ at Wayne Manor and supported him in fighting various costume criminals, including former ally Two-Face. At some point, he also learned that his sister Margaret had died in a car crash with her husband, leaving his niece Barbara an orphan.

Batman Forever

Alfred in the Batcave in Batman Forever.

When Dick Grayson came to live with them at Wayne Manor, Alfred perhaps saw a little of Bruce in him and offered him guidance. While Bruce was out one night, Alfred helps Dick settle in. After he picked up Dick's bike helmet, Alfred noticed a robin that was airbrushed on its surface. Dick said that he got the name after he saved his brother's life and quoted: "I flew in like a robin." When Dick discovered that Bruce was Batman, he wanted to help although Bruce declined. Through Alfred's help and design, Dick became Robin, and Batman then accepted him to the team.

Batman & Robin

Alfred talking with Bruce in Batman & Robin.

Alfred, after years of service to Bruce, was stricken with a rare disease. His niece, Barbara Wilson, came to visit him at Wayne Manor, and intended to take him away in the belief that Alfred was only a servant to Bruce. However, Alfred assured Bruce in a later conversation after Bruce learned of his illness that Alfred's only regret in life was that he had never been able to assist Bruce in his crusade in person, and concluded that spending his life tending to heroes had been a worthy one. As Alfred's condition worsened, it was revealed that he was suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome and that the only person who could cure it was Dr. Victor Fries, aka Mr. Freeze, who was dedicated to curing the disease as it was the same one that his wife, Nora, suffered from.

As Batman and Robin searched for Freeze, Alfred told Barbara to give his brother, Wilfred, a disc, and said: "Only family can be trusted". Through Barbara's computer skills, she learned of Bruce's and Dick's alter egos and decided to help them. After Barbara infiltrated the Batcave, a computer-generated simulation of Alfred revealed that, anticipating her interest in helping his charges, Alfred had already created a suit for her, which allowed her to become Batgirl. Once Batman defeated Freeze, he was able to convince the former doctor to provide the cure, and introduced it into Alfred's system.

Alfred, after he was cured in Batman & Robin.

The next morning, Alfred was cured, warmly thanked Bruce, Dick, and Barbara for all their efforts in saving him, and Batgirl joined the team.

Another account also confirmed that Alfred stayed in Bruce's service. However, it also claimed he began to have doubts about Batman's impact on Gotham.

Batman '89

Alfred notices the Batsignal

On the morning after the Halloween Riots, Alfred welcomed Harvey Dent into Wayne Manor to speak with Bruce. After preparing breakfast, he woke Wayne up to receive his guest. Alfred served both men during their meeting, overhearing Dent's plans to bring down both Batman and Commissioner Gordon in response to the recent attacks. After Harvey left, Alfred talked with Bruce about his proposal, suggesting that Dent might have a point with the recent events.

Later that night, Alfred informed Bruce of the Batsignal's lighting. However, since Batman had begun convening with Gordon through a communications channel, he warned him that it was likely not to be the Commissioner who had activated the signal. The following morning, Alfred discovered Bruce mourning in the Batcave after an incident in Burnside.

After the demonstrations in Burnside, Alfred discovered Bruce had purchased a Giant Penny from the Gotham City Bank. Venturing into the Batcave, he found him exercising and informed him of the arrival, learning he intended to move it into the cave. Eventually, Alfred learned of Bruce's encounter with a similar vigilante and his indirect involvement in the National Guard's of a youth he'd been chasing. Recognizing he'd stopped going out due to the guilt, Alfred suggested that he tried philanthropy to ease his conscious and help Gotham without the cowl.

Appearances

Semi/Non-Canonical

Behind the Scenes

  • Michael Gough also portrayed Alfred in the BBC radio-drama presentation of the Knightfall Story Arc from the Batman comics, and in a series of OnStar commercials that featured Batman.
  • Michael Gough and Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon) were the only two actors who appeared in all four films from the 1989-1997 film series. This is often used as evidence in favor of the Schumacher films being canonical to the "Burtonverse".

Trivia

  • Alfred letting Vicki into the Batcave was widely criticized by fans at the time, as it seemed to indicate he was willing to give up Bruce's activities as Batman to others. Screenwriter Sam Hamm was among those who voiced their disproval, commenting "That have been Alfred's last day of employment at Wayne Manor". However, Vicki's prior scene indicates she had deduced Bruce was Batman, suggesting she'd informed Alfred of her knowledge before he'd let her in.

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