He might not be an Academy Award-winner like Jeremy Irons or Michael Caine, but Michael Gough has one achievement that no other Alfred has even come close to: he managed to outlast not one, but three Batmen. Over the course of his tenure in the role, he appeared in four movies, an audio drama, and a handful of advertising campaigns, including one that made the pretty spurious claim that the Caped Crusader was really into Diet Coke.
It's easy to see why he'd have so much longevity. With a voice and demeanor as crisp as his tailored morning coat, Gough was the perfect counterpoint for Tim Burton's vision of a Batman whose eccentricities weren't just limited to, you know, the whole thing where he dresses up as a bat and throws gangsters into chemical vats. Like Jeeves, the archetypal butler of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster stories, he was a butler who knew what his employer needed long before the employer did and was as capable of pouring a glass of water before being asked as he was hanging out in the Batcave remixing super-criminal stump speeches.
Unfortunately, Gough's Alfred never really seemed to get the whole "secret identity" thing. In the first movie, he was also a little too eager to lead strange women into the Batcave in hopes that he could marry Bruce off and, presumably, retire to a nice beachfront villa in Santa Prisca, and, by the time we get to the fourth, he's recruiting new crimefighters to join the team without so much as a by-your-leave. That said, he also provides the much-reviled Batman & Robin with a subplot about Alfred contracting a terminal illness that features some genuinely good work, including George Clooney's best moments as Batman. Sure, that might seem like faint praise in a movie that's monumentally goofy at best, but the fact that Gough could lend that much gravitas to a film like that speaks to just how good he was in the role.