Real Name: Alfred Pennyworth
Place of Birth: England
Known Relatives: Jarvis Pennyworth (father, deceased), Wilfred Pennyworth (older brother), Daphne Pennyworth (niece)
First Appearance: Batman #16 (April-May 1943
Created by writer Bob Kane and artist Jerry Robinson, he first appeared in Batman #16 (April-May 1943). When Alfred first appeared, he was overweight and clean-shaven. However, when the 1943 Batman serial was released, William Austin, the actor who played Alfred, was trim and sported a thin moustache. DC editors wanted the comic Alfred to resemble his cinematic counterpart, so in Detective Comics #83 (January 1944), Alfred vacationed at a health resort, where he slimmed down and grew a moustache. This look has remained with the character ever since, even surviving his death (in Detective Comics #328 in 1964) and resurrection (in Detective Comics #356 in 1966).
The Pre-Crisis comics (i.e., comics published by DC Comics between 1938 and 1986) established Alfred as 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.
In the Post-Crisis comics' continuity, Alfred has been the Wayne Family butler all of Bruce's life and he helped his master establish his superhero career from the beginning. Alfred was hired away from the British Royal Family by Bruce's parents, and virtually raised him after their murder. Alfred has also been romantically linked to Dr. Leslie Thompkins.
His resourcefulness came to the fore in the No Man's Land storyline, especially in Legends of the Dark Knight #117. 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 on-panel fight sequence between him and a pair of slavers that ends with his rescue by a just-returned Batman.
Known Abilities: A former field medic, Alfred if capable of performing minor surgery and stitching wounds for Batman.
In Other Media
- Alan Napier portrayed Alfred on the 1960's TV Series starring Adam West. In one of the last episodes of the series Batgirl accidently finds out that Alfred is Batman secret accomplice -hence Batman is Bruce Wayne; however at the same time Alfred accidently finds out that Batgirl is Barbara Gordon-so neither can expose the Secret identities of Batman; Robin and Batgirl.
- Michael Gough portrayed Alfred in the movies Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), and Batman and Robin (1997). In Batman & Robin, he was visited by his niece Barbara Wilson who becomes Batgirl. 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 featuring Batman.
- 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.
- Alastair Duncan provides Alfred's voice on the animated TV series The Batman. In this incarnation of Batman it is revealed that Alfred's grandfather served Pengiun's family in England, but was mistreated and then fired.
- Michael Caine portrayed Alfred in the movie Batman Begins (2005), and has been confirmed to be returning to the role in subsequent sequels.
- 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's been kidnapped unsuccessfully 27 times.
- He is the only member of the Batman Family that is allowed by Bruce Wayne to own a firearm.
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.