Pennyworth returns to Epix this weekend after an explosive cliffhanger that had all of us Pennyheads—that is the official term for fans of Pennyworth, I just decided—gasping like we’d just been hit by the Raven Society’s death gas. Of course, many of you likely don’t know what I’m referring to because you’ve had a hard time getting past the idea of Alfred Pennyworth as an action hero and have never seen the show.
Look, I get it. When you think of DC’s wide universe of characters, Alfred Pennyworth isn’t the first one who comes to mind as needing his own series, but that’s part of what makes Pennyworth so spectacular. Batman’s butler typically isn’t the center of attention—which means we have no idea what to expect when he is. However, the notion of Alfred as a man of action…well, if you don’t see him as one, you just haven’t been paying attention, son. A former military man who also happens to be the person Batman trusts more than anyone? You just know that Alfred knows how to handle himself and we’ve seen countless examples of this in the comics. In fact, there have been more than a few times when Alfred has singlehandedly saved everyone’s ass, and by “everyone,” I mean some of the biggest heroes in the DC Universe.
You doubt me? Well, to prove myself to you—and to get all of the rest of us Pennyworth fans ready for the show’s return—let’s look at five of the more memorable examples.
Where to Read It: 1943’s Batman #16
Alfred has been saving the Dark Knight's butt ever since his first appearance. Admittedly, early Alfred Pennyworth was clumsy and wasn’t always too observant, but he still pulled off some last-minute saves including in his debut. Using dumb luck and amateur detective skills, Alfred was able to find Batman and Robin after they had been tied up by gangsters. The butler frees the Dynamic Duo, allowing them to round up the gang, and when Batman is held up at gunpoint, Alfred used a nearby rope to drop a stage curtain on the crooks, letting the Caped Crusader live another day.
If Alfred Hadn’t Shown Up: Batman would’ve been shot to death by the crooks and Robin would’ve immediately gotten tied up (because it was the Golden Age and that’s ALL HE DID back then). The saga of Batman would’ve ended after only four years, and we never would’ve had all the awesome stories, television shows and movies that have become an important part of our lives. So, yeah, thanks for showing up, Alfred!
No More Dead Robins
Where to Read It: Batman #442
During his first outing as Robin, Tim Drake bit off more than he could chew by going up against Two-Face. He probably should’ve started with someone easier because Two-Face made quick work of the newest Boy Wonder. Fortunately, before Harvey could go all "Death in the Family" on poor Timmy, Alfred sprang to the rescue, wrestling Two-Face long enough for Robin to regain his composure.
If Alfred Hadn’t Shown Up: Two-Face would’ve killed Tim Drake, making him the William Henry Harrison of Robins. Also, let’s not forget that Jason Todd had been killed the previous year, which would’ve meant two dead Robins in the span of twelve months, which would be pretty embarrassing. Plus, we never would’ve gotten to know Tim Drake and that’s not a world we want to live in.
Stuck a Feather in His Cap and Called it Macaroni
Where to Watch It: Harley Quinn Season 2, Episode 5: “Batman’s Back Man”
After the Dark Knight was nearly killed in the Harley Quinn first season finale, Alfred warned Batman he wasn’t ready to go out and fight crime. Not after injuring his back to the point he could barely walk. However, according to Batman, it’s always time to fight crime, so he went out anyway, using an armored Batsuit he got from Lucius Fox. Of course, Alfred was right and Batman quickly found himself at the mercy of Two-Face’s thugs. Luckily for the Dark Knight, he was rescued by a Victorian-themed superhero known as Macaroni. Macaroni had a giant wig, a big cane, a powdered face and a distinguished outfit. Are any of you surprised that he turned out to be Alfred?
If Alfred Hadn’t Shown Up: Batman would’ve been killed by Two-Face’s goons, which would have prevented him from sending the Batplane to save Harley in “Dye Hard.” Thus, Doctor Psycho and his Parademons would’ve conquered the Earth, ushering in a new era of toxic masculinity. Oh yeah, and wanton pain, torture and death.
Alfred v Superman: Butler of Justice
Where to Read It: Injustice: Gods Among Us #36
In another reality where Superman started going down a fascist path, Batman pushed back against the Man of Steel’s tyrannical ways. In one of their earlier battles, Superman was beating Batman to a pulp, when Alfred stepped in to defend his employer. Thanks to a nanotech pill, Alfred had the strength to headbutt Superman, stomp on his face and slam his skull through the floor. Let’s face it, the only thing scarier than angry Alfred is an angry Alfred with super-strength.
If Alfred Hadn’t Shown Up: Superman would’ve pulverized Batman and the Resistance against the Man of Steel would’ve lost its leader. Plus, this moment was a highlight of the whole Injustice comic series, and we would have missed out on it!
Alfred the Zombie Slayer
Where to Read It: Batman Eternal #31
Zombie infestations can be irksome, even if you’re the mighty Bane, who once found the villainous Deacon Blackfire’s undead forces swarming around him as he navigated his way through Gotham’s sewers. Fortunately, Alfred was there to lend Bane a hand and the two teamed up and took down all of Blackfire’s zombies. Even better, after dealing with the roaming undead, Alfred tricked Bane into inhaling a knockout gas, allowing him to ensure the infamous villain didn’t then turn on him. People have beaten Bane before, but not many have done it mere moments after fighting off an army of monsters.
If Alfred Hadn’t Shown Up: Gotham would have had to deal with both the undead and Bane, something that would’ve been unpleasant for everyone. Alfred’s continued presence is probably the reason the DCU hasn’t experienced a zombie apocalypse yet (barring the alternate reality of DCeased).
Honorable Mention: Alfred vs. Predator
One of Alfred’s most legendary bailouts occurred in the 1991 Batman vs. Predator crossover limited series, in which Alfred saved the Dark Knight from one of the deadly alien sportsmen. The fight was over in two hits—Alfred hitting the Predator with his shotgun, and the Predator hitting the floor. Alfred versus Predator = one very dead Predator.
Pennyworth returns Sunday, March 7 at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on Epix. For all the latest on young Alfie’s wartime adventures, visit our official series page.
Are you a Pennyhead? Are you pumped for the show’s return? And can you think of any great Alfred Pennyworth bailouts that we left off the list? Let us know over in the DC Community!