Second only to Robin as Batman’s most popular supporting character—even greater than the Boy Wonder, in the opinion of some—is Bruce Wayne’s faithful valet, Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth. First introduced in print (Batman #16), Alfred was initially portly and bumbling; the Alfred we’ve come to know—slim, mustached, gentlemanly—appeared in the 1943 movie serial.
Alfred has several origin stories, including one in which he is a retired intelligence agent who comes to Wayne manor to fulfill a dying wish of his father. Newer versions imagine Alfred as always being a part of the Wayne household, ultimately taking on the role of surrogate father after the untimely death of young Bruce’s parents. (“Alfred,” says Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan, “is a man given the responsibility to raise the most incredible child of a generation.”) Throughout his many adventures Alfred has demonstrated great proficiency in many skills, including: swordsmanship, archery, emergency medicine, computer programming, hand-to-hand combat and horticulture.