Alfred. He’s a butler, a sage and a father figure. He has not only cared for Bruce Wayne, but he has single-handedly preserved his family’s legacy and protected the secrecy of the Dark Knight. Despite those achievements, there’s far more that Alfred Pennyworth has accomplished during his tenure at Wayne Manor and the Batcave. From fighting alongside Bane in Arkham Asylum to forcing Bruce to relive the night his parents died, Alfred’s training in the armed services and the theatre have been used in many strange situations.
He may specialize in serving tea, speak with charming elocution and always appear in a coat and tie, so you wouldn’t exactly expect to pin the “WTF” mantra on Mr. Pennyworth. Whatever you thought about the butler, it’s all about to change. Perhaps more than Batman himself, and certainly more than Robin, the butler of Wayne Manor has an epically curious comics history.
Here are the 15 Most WTF Alfred Pennyworth Moments:
15. When He Killed a Vampire To Escape From Arkham
Alfred Pennyworth is much more than a butler. In Batman Eternal #31, we find him scavenging through the rubble of Arkham Asylum and surrounded by the undead. Recalling the training of his earlier days in the Special Forces, Alfred remembers the “will,” “knowledge” and “training” needed to survive. The valet isn’t alone, however, as he fights vampire-like armies alongside the burly Bane, who has absolutely no idea this elderly Brit is Batman’s butler. The how, what, and why are all a bit unclear, but the fact remains: Alfred totally teamed up with Bane and told him, “I’m more of an asset than you think, my good man. I can lead us out of here.”
They form their alliance out of necessity, and Bane shows great respect for Alfred due to his time in the armed services. After the butler stabs an un-dead creature in the jugular, Bane stands in awe, to which Alfred simply replies, “It’s like riding a bicycle, you never forget.”
14. When He Wrote Batman Fan-Fiction
The cult of celebrity is a powerful thing, even for Alfred Pennyworth. In Batman #135, the longtime denizen of Wayne Manor finds himself unable to resist the allure of Batman and Robin’s crimefighting life, setting pen to paper to better imagine the thrill of being a superhero. Though he can’t join them on the streets of Gotham, Alfred squirrels himself away in the deepest recesses of the mansion and writes Batman fan fiction. It’s endearing, disarming and also borderline obsessive. Batman #135 is the second time Bruce Wayne catches Alfred in the act, and it is far from the last. Oddly enough, Alfred isn’t even embarrassed when Bruce walks in, and he bemoans the fact that no one outside the Batcave will ever read his work.
These aren’t just cursorily-developed stories, mind you. No, Alfred goes whole hog with them, writing in sweeping romances for Bruce Wayne and weekend getaways in the mountains. And there’s not just one Batman and Robin team in Alfred’s adventures, but two. The poor butler just can’t get enough.
13. When He Became the Joker
Batman is dead, and his body lies in an open casket at his wake. So begins Neil Gaiman’s legendary story, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? In this rousing upheaval of the Batman myth, Alfred delivers a moving eulogy where everything we once assumed to be true is deemed a lie. As the eternal butler reveals, Bruce Wayne had suffered the depths of depression for years. He made a lousy Batman who could hardly do his job, let alone apprehend a criminal with much confidence. Out of sheer pity, Alfred drew on his thespian past and hired a cabal of actors to portray various members of the Rogues Gallery. Alfred needed to infuse Bruce’s life with purpose, and with villains he could actually defeat.
On his own, Alfred determined that Bruce’s Sherlock Holmes needed a Moriarty, a “Moby Dick for his Ahab,” so he caked his face in white makeup, red lipstick, a green wig and a purple suit. “It did nothing, until I smiled.” Alfred then recalls the moment the Joker was born, exposing the greatest lie in the history of Batman. Alfred was the Joker all along, the bane of Batman’s existence and his reason for living.
12. Every Time He Mocked Batman
“Why so serious?” Heath Ledger’s Joker may have said it first, but he spoke for nearly everyone in the Batman universe. The Dark Knight is an absurdly melancholy and self-loathing figure, and though Alfred Pennyworth is a paragon of patience in dealing with him, he hardly censors his sense of humor. From the Silver Age, to Efraim Zimbalist in DC Animated Universe and Jeremy Irons in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Alfred has long been a snark-machine whose restrained voice belies his sarcasm.
One classic moments shows Alfred mocking Bruce right to his face. While getting his combat wounds stitched up, Bruce lets slip a quiet, “Ouch.” Within seconds, Alfred blurts, “Call the Press Corps! I’ll take out an ad in the Gotham Times…Batman Says Ouch!” Or how about that time Alfred waxed philosophical about Batman’s origins: “What if nothing had flown in the window at Wayne Manor that night? Would you have become The Curtain, a stage-themed Avenger of Evil?” Priceless.
11. When He Let Bruce Kidnap Dick Grayson
This one is quite obvious, and it makes dear Alfred look truly out to lunch. Let’s be real: Alfred Pennyworth is basically Bruce Wayne’s dad. As such, his paternal role demands he show some leadership in and out of the Batcave. Alfred knows Bruce is emotionally stunted and in constant pursuit of the unattainable. He has spent years raising him and keeping him on the straight and narrow. Therefore, when Batman showed up to Wayne Manor with an eight-year old boy and Alfred did not have a conniption, we have to throw the flag.
Social workers would have a field day interviewing Alfred on this one, asking him something along the lines of, “which part of abducting a freshly orphaned boy and turning him into a child soldier made sense to you?” There isn’t even enough distance between Bruce and Alfred and the Child Catcher of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to make this more tolerable. Wayne Manor is on the outskirts of Gotham for a reason, and its inhabitants clearly play by different rules than the rest of society. If the truth of this situation got out, Alfred would definitely need to lawyer up.
10. When He Got Fat-Shamed By the Writers
When Alfred Pennyworth first trotted onto the scene in Batman #16, he was portly and charming, like a Charles Dickens character lost in Gotham. Though his larger frame would serve as an identifiable trait for some time, the 1943 Batman TV serial swiftly affected his body image. Rail-thin actor William Austin played the bluet on the series, and his gaunt aesthetic simply didn’t gel with the beefier character in Detective Comics. Even fat-Alfred realized this, telling Bruce, “The fact is, sir, I’ve felt the need of a bit of tonin’ up, sir!” Spending time around Bruce and Dick made poor Alfred self-conscious, so Master Wayne (really, the writers) sent Alfred on an extended vacation to shed some pounds.
In the next frame, we see Alfred running for his life, spending time in a literal sweat box and splitting logs. “I spent my holiday at a health resort, cultivatin’ a new figure by hard work – and you’ll never know how hard!” The trip clearly worked, because the new Alfred is about eighty-pounds lighter and totally emaciated. And who said fat-shaming is a new phenomenon?
9. When He Staged a Repeat of the Wayne Family Murders
Alfred Pennyworth may be a retired actor, but he never shed his penchant for theatricality. In Legends of the Dark Knight, Volume 1, the butler does something truly terrible. It’s early in Batman’s crime-fighting career, and he feels so confident in his abilities that he bets Alfred a dollar that he’s truly invincible. Taking him to task, Alfred then hatches a plan framed around the night Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed. Hiring a team of individuals to recreate that fateful event, Alfred sets Bruce Wayne up for failure and an emotionally traumatic experience.
While on patrol, Batman spies a helpless family being held at gunpoint in a seedy Gotham side-street. Without hesitating, the Caped Crusader throws himself into defense mode, only to find that the child he thought he saw was actually a dwarfish man armed with a baseball bat. Batman has been trapped, and he is knocked out cold within seconds. Now at the mercy of the criminals, Batman prepares for the worst until he recognizes Alfred Pennyworth calmly approaching in the alleyway. Though the Dark Knight is battered and beaten, the butler simply reaches into his utility belt to claim the dollar from the bet.
8. When He Beat Superman To a Pulp
“Does Superman bleed?” Thanks to his ferocious performance in Injustice: Gods Among Us, Alfred put an end to this enduring question. After watching Batman get maimed by a beast-mode Superman, the butler ingests a nanotech pill that gives him super-strength and the confidence to take down Kal-El. While Superman arrogantly appreciates his beat down over Batman, Alfred catches him off guard and headbutts Clark Kent right on bridge of his nose. This effectively turns his nasal appendage into a blood geyser and renders him useless in the rest of the fight.
This is Alfred in warm-up mode. The battering butler then proceeds to push the stunned Superman to the ground and kick him in the face, shattering his leather shoe in an instant. Straddling Superman’s body, Alfred lays waste to his noggin, each punch sending shockwaves through the pavement as he screams, “You don’t get to hurt my family anymore!” After decades of patience, Alfred has finally had enough.
7. When He Punched Deathstroke
It has been said that Slade Wilson is the fiercest fighter in all of DC Comics. He hasn’t just beaten Batman in a fight, he’s routed the Dark Knight and made him look like a ragdoll. His punches are fierce, but his Katanas are what made him a household name and a fearsome warrior. In Outsiders Volume 4, #18, we find Alfred Pennyworth at the peak of his powers, seeking justice and defending the innocent, even if it means he himself might not survive.
It all started when Deathstroke shoots two men that subsequently land on the butler’s car. Though Alfred is none too pleased, Slade adds insult to injury by calling him, “Wayne’s errand boy.” Huge mistake. As Slade proceeds to stab one of his victims through the heart, Alfred cracks him clean across the face and interjects, “I will not stand here and let you butcher this man.” That’s right. Alfred punched Deathstroke right in the kisser.
6. When He Slapped Bruce Wayne
The seeds of Alfred’s physical strength have always existed, but they’ve seldom been explored. In Earth 1, he finally gets to play in the big leagues and takes Bruce Wayne to the cleaners. This craggy and white-haired Alfred is a Royal Marine who saved Thomas Wayne during a skirmish in the Middle East. He got his leg blown off and replaced with a state of the art prosthetic, courtesy of the Wayne family.
Fast forward thirty years when Bruce Wayne is building his new small business: becoming the Dark Knight. He’s in a foul mood, pretentious beyond belief and moody as all get out. Alfred, armed only with a cane and his militant wit, slaps Bruce cleans across then face and challenges him: “Show me I’m wrong, you entitled brat. You aren’t even close to ready.” Like a linebacker, Bruce sacks the old man and charges him into a wall. Alfred remembers his training and unleashes its fury on Bruce, elbowing him, kicking him and clothes-lining him without mercy. It’s a violent, but disciplinary action, and Alfred runs through the list of Batman’s shortcomings: “No guns? No recon? No tactics? Just a stupid bat costume? A useless cape?” The butler has his number, and the only reason Bruce sneaks out alive is because he kicked Alfred in the one place that isn’t his own: the prosthetic leg.
5. When He Blasted A Predator With a Shotgun
If Arnold Schwarzenegger can barely survive a Predator, you know Batman is in for the battle of his life. Indeed, Gotham’s guardian was out on a routine investigation when he found himself blindsided by the hideous alien creature. That shameful encounter led to Batman spending several weeks in remission as the Predator wreaked havoc across the city. While Alfred tended to Bruce’s injuries and helped him get back on his feet, it would soon be the butler’s responsibility to subdue the invisibility-cloaked demon.
From the GCPD to the Batcave to Wayne Manor, Batman battled the Predator in a glorious rematch. Though he grew weaker with each encounter, the Predator received the coup de grace from Alfred, who showed up with a blunderbuss and pumped the beast full of lead. Though the butler’s victory stance is admirable, it’s the close-up on Batman that deserves extra attention. Crushed by the tonnage of the fallen Predator, he screams, “Alfred! I told you to get clear!” Cheer up, Batsy, the old man just saved your life.
4. When He Served Batman Ice Cream
In the New 52, all bets are off. We’ve seen a lot of weird things in Gotham, but the random simplicity of Alfred’s ice cream obsession deserves some respect. In The Dark Knight #4, Batman is hot on the heels of foiling Poison Ivy, whose science lab he just visited. When he returns to the Batcave, Bruce Wayne is in the zone and not to be bothered. He’s in the holy of superhero holies, after all.
Despite Bruce’s intensity, Alfred moseys on down to the computer room with two ice cream cones in hand. Knee deep in algorithms and codes, Bruce muses, “Snacks at this hour?” Donning a curiously melancholy expression, the butler launches into a monologue about the frozen delight: “People drink ginseng tea to hone their powers of concentration, sir. I, on the other hand, have ice cream.” Bruce talks about the bio-electronic relay system he’s looking at, but Alfred repeats himself again, “Ice cream, sir.” Apparently he really wants Bruce to have a cheat day. And then, for the first time in all of Batman’s history, we see the impossible: Bruce Wayne flying off in the Bat-plane holding a cone of pistachio ice cream.
3. When He Dreamed of Decapitating the Joker
What dreams does Alfred Pennyworth enjoy? In Batman and Robin Vol. 2, #17, we enter the sleepy solitude of the butler’s dream state. As we quickly learn, however, there is no peace in Alfred’s imagination. Possessed by his hatred of the Joker, Pennyworth finds himself in a nightmare where the Clown Prince of Crime hacks away at the lifeless corpses of the Bat Family: “Come and take a swing! This is more fun than whack-a-mole!” Aiming down the sights of his double-barrel shotgun, Alfred gives the Joker a final chance to drop the hammer, but the freak taunts him further, “make me.” With great relish, Alfred pulls the trigger on his shotgun and takes the Joker’s head clean off.
As soon as the clown’s corpse hits the deck, Alfred springs out in bed and awakes from the dream. Though at first he looks panicked, he settles back into the comfort of his sheets with an irrepressible smile.
2. When He Designed Batgirl’s Costume
The 1997 Batman & Robin had a great many flaws, but few of them could outshine the tremendous creep-factor of Alfred and Batgirl. While tiptoeing into the Batcave one evening, Barbara Wilson sets off a few sensors and is greeted by a pre-programmed video of her uncle Alfred. This “virtual simulation” (as he calls it) repeats words here and there to convey technological authenticity, but unfortunately, it just reads as illicit excitement. When Barbara tells Alfred that she would like to help Batman and Robin, the virtual Butler immediately responds that he was anticipating this moment and “took the liberty to create something in [her] size.” Oh, no.
With a bashful grin, and without knowing what fabric Alfred used for his niece’s new suit (leather…), Barbara enthusiastically replies, “suit me up, Uncle Alfred.” Joel Schumacher got away with murder. Enter the most erotically designed superhero costume on record, accentuating all of Uncle Alfred’s favorite parts.
1. When He Became Batman for a Night
In both the animated and live-action universes, Alfred has impersonated Batman on multiple occasions. While becoming a decoy for Adam West’s Bruce Wayne, the English butler threw on the cape and cowl, making Batman sound as high-brow as ever. Though the British accent didn’t quite fit with the Dark Knight’s costume, Alfred’s mustache looked rather nice when he filled in for Batman in Rebirth. “Filled in” may be an understatement, as Batman called Alfred in a state of panic, requesting he hurl himself into battle against the lunatic superhero, Gotham, so he could buy the real Batman some time.
Alfred did his duty, threw on a backup Batsuit and drove the Batmobile directly into Gotham at nearly 200 MPH. Arriving on the scene in style, Alfred did his best Batman impression and convinced absolutely no one. Fortunately, his ward showed up in the nick of time, allowing Alfred to flee the scene and reach safety.
What other WTF Alfred moments are there? Let us know in the comments below!