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Top 10 Butlers from TV and Film

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. A good butler does a little bit of everything – including adding a spark to the movies and shows they grace. Often there to offer aid or moral support to the main characters, pop culture butlers are so much more than just a servant: they’re also friends and confidantes. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 butlers from TV and film. Special thanks to our users Jess Leysa Hillman, Jef Otten, Ryan Haven, aldqbigsquare and Darren Lynch for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Craig Butler.

Top 10 Butlers from TV and Film


A good butler does a little bit of everything – including adding a spark to the movies and shows they grace. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 butlers from TV and film.

#10: Coleman
“Trading Places” (1983)

This is a farcical tale, but one with a strong moral basis underneath. It wouldn’t work if it didn’t have Denholm Elliott’s inspired portrayal of Coleman the butler grounding it in reality. Coleman is loyal to his master – whoever that may be at the moment – but his real personal loyalty is never in doubt.

#9: Mr. James Stevens
“The Remains of the Day” (1993)

No butler is more dignified or unperturbed than Mr. Stevens. As played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, Stevens is efficient, unflappable and composed; he is also so fixated on being the perfect butler that he ignores everything else in life. Stevens’ tragedy is that he achieves his goal of being the ultimate butler at the cost of his own humanity; but that tragedy makes for an amazing movie experience.

#8: Mr. Charles Carson
“Downton Abbey” (2010-)

Mr. Carson briefly pursued a stage career as a young man; his true calling, however, was clearly running Downton Abbey. Strict and stern, he has a softer side and is paternal toward his staff. Carson has firm beliefs and opinions, but he’s also man enough to admit when he is wrong. The upstairs inhabitants of Downton Abbey would be far less comfortable without Carson’s firm control of the downstairs.

#7: Cecil Gaines
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013)

Serving as butler for the White House for three decades, Cecil Gaines is in a unique position: he sees the backstory of political decisions that affect the country and the world. However, Gaines finds himself at odds with his son Louis over their political beliefs. But in his own measured and subtle way, he is able to strike a blow for equality and freedom.

#6: Benson
“Soap” (1977-79), “Benson” (1979-86)

Robert Guillaume’s butler Benson was such a hit on the TV series “Soap,” he ended up headlining his own long-running series. In both shows, Benson was the same: a sensible man surrounded by chaos who deals out plenty of wisecracks. If he disliked you, the contempt was clear to see; but if he was on your side, you had a devoted ally.

#5: Mr. Lynn Belvedere
“Mr. Belvedere” (1985-90)

Mr. Belvedere started out in a novel and in film, but it’s the 1980s TV series that made him a household name. Making use of the familiar English vs. American culture clash, the series found the refined Mr. Belvedere dealing with a typically gauche American family. While offering plenty of sneers and putdowns, Mr. Belvedere nevertheless clearly came to care for his young charges – and even learned a thing or two from them.

#4: Wadsworth
“Clue” (1985)

There’s no butler in the board game Clue, but any murder mystery mansion needs one – and thus Wadsworth was born. He becomes the guide to the zany hilarity that ensues as the various guests try to find out whodunit. Tim Curry manages to switch from intensely posh to frenetic at a moment’s notice, keeping the film constantly on the go – and constantly funny.

#3: Lurch
“The Addams Family” franchise (1964-)

Standing six feet nine inches, Lurch is one big butler. Big and dour – gloomy even. But hey, what do you want from a guy who looks like Frankenstein’s monster and serves a house of ghouls? Lurch is a dedicated servant, if a bit destructive on occasion. He’s also handy to have around to scare away unwanted guests. Not a bad quality in a butler.

#2: Geoffrey
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

An Oxford graduate and a gold medal Olympian, it’s almost a crime that Geoffrey ended up as a butler for the Banks family – and Geoffrey would be the first to tell you so. “G,” as he was nicknamed, made sarcasm into an art form – but underneath it all, there was genuine affection. He was a role model the Banks children – and all of us – could look up to.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Hobson “Arthur” (1981)
- J.A.R.V.I.S. “Iron Man” franchise (2008-)
- Niles “The Nanny” (1993-99)
- Woodhouse “Archer” (2010-)

#1: Alfred J. Pennyworth
“Batman” franchise (1966-)

Where would Batman be without the indispensable Alfred? Trusted implicitly by Bruce Wayne, Alfred provides wisdom and sage advice at the drop of a hat. He’s also a quick thinker, able to deliver alibis with ease and aplomb. Most importantly, he cares deeply about Bruce and works tirelessly to keep him safe. No job is ever too much for Alfred – and no man could ever ask for a finer butler…or friend.

Do you agree with our picks? What other butlers should we have engaged for this list? For more enthralling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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