The 7 Greatest Butlers in Nerd-Dom


?By Teague Bohlen

The era of the butler is over. Even for those rich enough nowadays to hire someone to cater to their needs full-time, 24-hours a day, these people hire assistants and family members and non-specific entourage members instead of anyone resembling the dutiful, professional valets of yesteryear. But in the imaginary world of comics and TV and the like, one can still find those good-natured, happy-in-their-station, utterly supportive, selfless manservants that populate the honorable butler profession. Who are these paragons of nerdy pop-culture buterling that would make P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves proud? Glad you asked.

7) Riff-Raff of Rocky Horror Picture Show
Riff Raff.jpg?
His name would seem to invite into the parlor all the wrong sorts, but that’s sort of the point, since that’s pretty much who his employer is looking for. And a good butler always gives his master what he’s looking for, from tea and crumpets to young innocents to corrupt. Sure, Riff-Raff sort of mounts a coup there at the end, but that can be forgiven, really, considering that he’s one hunchback that can really cut a rug. Besides, everyone knows the butler did it, so it was bound to be true for someone on this list.

6) Kato from Green Hornet

More a valet and chauffer than a traditional butler, admittedly, but Kato is just too awesome a manservant to leave out. While Britt Reid may not have needed someone answering his doorbell, he did need a bodyguard/driver/mechanic, and Kato fit the bill nicely. Bruce Lee’s portrayal of Kato in the TV series is credited with helping bring about the martial arts craze of the ’60s and early ’70s. It’s easy to wonder why Kato, like his Old West kemosabe Tonto, didn’t just strike out on their own given how awesome they were, but this is usually explained away by suggesting a life-debt that needs repaid, like Chewie to Han, or George Constanza to his father.

5) Lurch of The Addams Family

Lurch is certainly the most lugubrious butler on this list, but that fits perfectly into the dark and off-kilter world of Charles Addams. Lurch usually just groans and moans, but he’s quick to respond to the service bell (on a hangman’s noose, of course) with a sonorous “You rang?” He’s the sort of gentle giant that you don’t want to cross; like his inspiration Frankenstein’s monster, he can both hand you a flower, or drown you in a pond. Which may be an asset, depending on your butlery needs.

4) Aloysius “Nosey” Parker of Thunderbirds
The droopy-eyed, thick-nosed cockney butler (and fellow International Rescue agent) to Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward of Thunderbirds fame, Parker put his years of criminal activity and underworld experience to good use. This is a common theme in pop-culture butlering, having a distant past that somehow informs a cooler aspect of the usually more mundane service industry. It’s unknown whether or not his nickname refers to his prominent proboscis, or the fact that he’s good at overhearing things not meant to be overheard. Which, come to think of it, is another thing butlers are known for.

3) Edwin Jarvis from Avengers
Jarvis puts up with a lot, it needs be said. Tony Stark’s empties, Pym Particle residue all over the place, the Masters of Evil invading the mansion, etc., etc. But he doesn’t always handle the pressure well–he’s betrayed the team at least a couple of times, once because he needed money for his mother’s medicine. (This was retconned later, because the writers needed Jarvis not to look like such an idiot.) Despite his strong loyalty to the team these days, he’s still something of a weak link — he was most recently replaced by a Skrull, and with Jarvis’ authority, wreaked all sorts of havoc. Not his fault, but still…when Captain America says “we have a traitor in the mansion” all eyes have to go straight to Jarvis.

2) Cadbury from Richie Rich
Seeing as how he hails from a Harvey comic, in which continuity is a complete non-issue, not much is known about Cadbury. So far as I know, we don’t even know his first name. But we do know that he’s utterly loyal to the Rich family, serves as best-friend and confidant to Richie, and even has the physical chops to partner up with Super-Richie and become…well, Super-Cadbury. (Yeah, Harvey comics weren’t what one might call challenging reading. Or even thinking.) In essence, Cadbury was always proper, but always up for anything. Which, like the title of his co-starring comic states, makes Cadbury a pretty perfect butler.

1) Alfred Pennyworth from Batman
Seriously, is there anyone else who could top this list? Alfred is the paragon of the gentleman’s gentleman. He’s not just Bruce Wayne’s butler, but his advisor, his superego, his medic, his confidante, and his surrogate father, among other roles. Aside from being a brilliant co-conspirator in the many Bat-secrets (though you couldn’t tell it from the ’80s films, which have Alfred showing the Batcave to just about everyone who shows up at stately Wayne Manor), Alfred has even returned from the dead. Now that’s serious dedication to service.