DC Animated Universe

"What would we do without you Alfred?
I shudder to think.
— Alfred[2]

Alfred Pennyworth was the butler to Thomas and Martha Wayne, and later to their son Bruce, the first Batman. Before entering the Wayne family's service, he was an agent of the British Secret Service.


Alfred was once a clerk at the British intelligence. One of his assignments was Project Excalibur, a missile defense program of which he had half of the launch codes. His past came back to haunt him briefly, when he was forced to leave Bruce's employ without notice to help rescue an old colleague who had been kidnapped by Red Claw.[3]

After leaving intelligence work, Alfred assumed a life as an ordinary domestic servant. He served Thomas and Martha Wayne at Wayne Manor since before their son was born and helped to raise him.

Alfred sees Batman for the first time

Alfred witnesses the birth of Batman.

When the Waynes were killed by a mugger, Alfred helped shelter the orphaned Bruce, and assisted him in his training to become a crime-fighter. Alfred was fiercely loyal to his master and would never betray him. Indeed, Alfred was like a surrogate father to Bruce; offering him guidance and advice when he could. He would continue to do so as well for Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake.

During his many trials, Bruce came to rely on Alfred as a source of advice and moral support, one of the few men with whom he shared confidences. There were also multiple times when Alfred came to the rescue of Batman. Alfred was also an invaluable source of aid in all aspects of Batman's life, from keeping his home in perfect order, to helping him maintain his public facade as Bruce Wayne, and occasionally carrying out espionage and investigation on his behalf.

During the Thanagarian invasion, Alfred helped shelter the Justice League in Wayne Manor after the Watchtower was compromised and Thanagarians kept searching for them. Following the invasion, he was among the individuals apart from Flash, J'onn J'onzz and to an extent Superman to accept Hawkgirl's heroic efforts in stopping the invasion, despite having betrayed them earlier. [4]

At some point in the future Alfred passed away, leaving Bruce alone at Wayne Manor.[5]


"Just one thing, McGinnis: you ever call me "Robin", and I'm out of here".
"No problem... Alfred.
Maxine Gibson
Terry McGinnis[6]

By the time Terry McGinnis adopted the identity of the Batman, Terry learned at least something about Alfred's role and relationship with Bruce, which was reflected in many ways by Terry's own relationship with Maxine Gibson. Like Alfred, Max was technically brilliant in a number of ways that made her invaluable to Terry, she was able to help him maintain his "public life" and guard his secret identity, and finally, it was a great comfort to Terry that he could share his identity and his occasional doubts with a sympathetic listener.[6]

During one of Commissioner Barbara Gordon's visits to Wayne Manor after they had reconnected, she commended the tea Bruce had made, to which he replied "I learned from the best. Now if only I could figure out how he made those little teacakes", which Barbara pointed out were crumpets.[7]

Abilities and equipment[]

Alfred had no superhuman powers or abilities, nor did he claim to be extraordinary in any way. However, he was extraordinarily competent in all the fields necessary to help maintain Batman's life, from ordinary housekeeping, cooking, mechanical maintenance, and computer operation. He also proved to be a competent medic and lab assistant.

His background in intelligence also made him a skilled analyst, investigator and spy. He was also, on occasion, a competent hand-to-hand combatant.


"What rot, sir! Why, you're the very model of sanity. Oh, by the way, I pressed your tights and put away your exploding gas balls."[8]

A traditional English butler, Alfred always kept a stiff upper lip, even under the extraordinary circumstances imposed by his master's secret identity. No matter what the situation, Alfred always responded with resolve, equanimity, and good humor.

Though he and Bruce occasionally quarreled, Alfred's loyalty remained absolute. Partially this could be explained by continued loyalty to Thomas Wayne, and a traditional sense of duty to one's master. At the same time, Alfred found ways to express his pride in Bruce and his belief in the cause he was fighting for.

Alfred was also compassionate and understanding, presumably even more so than his master. When Hawkgirl who was distrusted by some of the Justice League (including Batman) and a majority of the public for her role in the Thanagarian invasion, Alfred who sensed her conflict reminded her that when she ultimately did the right thing by choosing to side with the League and help save Earth, she became a hero in his eyes.

Also, Alfred may well have felt (not without cause) that Bruce couldn't get by without his help.

Background information[]

  • Alfred is one of the most familiar supporting characters from the Batman comics. In the comics, before entering service, Alfred was an actor on the London stage. It has been suggested that it was Alfred who taught Bruce the arts of disguise and impersonation. Alfred also occasionally uses his talents to go undercover himself. The animated Alfred has one very minor difference in appearance from his modern comic counterpart, his hair color. The animated Alfred is generally always seen with white hair (not including facial hair) in more present settings, whilst his comic counterpart has black. The DCAU Alfred is shown with black hair in flashbacks however (such as in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm), implying that the DCAU Alfred is meant to be slightly older than the comic version.
  • In the episodes "Cold Comfort" and "Over the Edge" of The New Batman Adventures, and "Starcrossed" of Justice League, Alfred is jokingly addressed as "Jeeves", a reference to P.G. Wodehouse's unshakable and nearly omniscient valet character. Alfred strongly resembles Jeeves.
  • In the early development of Batman Beyond, the producers did toy with the idea of giving Bruce Wayne a robot like-companion that would contain Alfred's own memories and thought patterns, with his speaking voice. They all laughed the idea down and realized it would be much more poignant to keep Bruce alone in his house, with just his faithful dog Ace keeping him company.[9]
  • For the first three produced episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Alfred was voiced by Clive Revill, before leaving due to a previous commitment. Thereafter, on the remainder of the series, and for the rest of the DC Animated Universe, he was voiced by Efrem Zimbalist Jr.. Andrea Romano remarked that Zimbalist Jr. alongside James Gordon voice actor Bob Hastings were "the unsung heroes of the show", and they were the cohesive glue that held the show together. Ironically, during recording sessions Zimbalist Jr. and Hastings were at each end of the recording booth, physically bookending the cast as well.[10]


Batman: The Animated Series

Feature films

The New Batman Adventures

Feature film

Superman: The Animated Series

Static Shock

Batman Beyond

Justice League

See also[]

External links[]


  1. First three episodes of Batman: The Animated Series in production order.
  2. Stephens, Brynne (writer) & Altieri, Kevin (director) (November 16, 1992). "Heart of Steel, Part I". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 39 (airdate). Episode 38 (production). FOX Kids.
  3. Duane, Diane, Morwood, Peter, Perry, Steve (writers) & Kirkland, Boyd (director) (September 15, 1995). "The Lion and the Unicorn". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 4. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 77 (production). FOX Kids.
  4. Fogel, Rich & McDuffie, Dwayne (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (May 29, 2004). "Starcrossed, Part II". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 25 (airdate). Episode 51 (production). Cartoon Network. Fogel, Rich & McDuffie, Dwayne (writer) & Lukic, Butch (director) (May 29, 2004). "Starcrossed, Part III". Justice League. Season 2. Episode 26 (airdate). Episode 52 (production). Cartoon Network.
  5. Burnett, Alan, Dini, Paul (writers) & Geda, Curt (director) (January 10, 1999). "Rebirth, Part I". Batman Beyond. Season 1. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 1 (production). Kids WB!.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bader, Hilary J. (writer) & Bader, Hilary J., McLaughlin, Shaun (story) & Geda, Curt (director) (October 16, 1999). "Hidden Agenda". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 19 (production). Kids WB!.
  7. Fogel, Rich (story) & Bader, Hilary J. (telepay) & Lukic, Butch (director) (January 22, 2000). "Eyewitness". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 14 (airdate). Episode 27 (production). Kids WB!.
  8. Melniker, B., Uslan, M. (Producers), & Radomski, E., Timm, B. W. (Directors). (1993). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. United States: Warner Bros.
  9. Bruce Timm forum post (August 2020)
  10. Andrea Romano, voice director. Assembling a stellar cast and coaxing the right reading for animation (Cinefantastique 1994).