''A Death in the Family'' is a ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' comic book story arc first published in the late 1980s, which gave fans the ability to influence the story through voting with a 900 number. "A Death in the Family" ran in ''Batman'' #426-429, published in 1988-1989. The story was credited to Jim Starlin (script), Jim Aparo (pencil), Mike [=DeCarlo=] (ink), Adrienne Roy (color), and John Costanza (lettering). Covers were illustrated by Mike Mignola. The story is also collected as a trade paperback under the title ''Batman: A Death in the Family'', which has gone through multiple printings and is still available today.

The story follows Jason Todd, the second Robin. Prior to this, Jason's backstory had been changed in the aftermath of ''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths''. No longer the redheaded child of circus acrobats slain by Killer Croc, Jason was re-imagined as a vagrant who first ran into Batman after stealing the tires off of the Batmobile. After rescuing him from a school dedicated to creating young criminals, Batman recruited the young boy to be the new Robin, as the original, Dick Grayson, had left and became his own man following being shot by the Joker. However, Jason was still full of rage and he would channel it during his beatdowns, culminating in an ambiguous ending where Jason chases down the son of a foreign diplomat in revenge for the girl he killed, only for the man to fall to his death, unknowing to both Batman and the readers if the man slipped and fell or if Jason [[MoralEventHorizon crossed the line and pushed him]]. Fans did not like the DarkerAndEdgier Robin and something had to be done.

In the beginning of the story, Jason and Bruce are in uniform hiding behind some crates while a mob plans. Then, out of the blue, an impatient Jason leaps out from behind the crates and attacks the criminals. When the struggle is over, Bruce asks him what the devil he was doing and said one of these times he is going to get killed. Bruce then asks him if he thinks this is a game, and Jason replies "Yes, life is a game." Bruce therefore relieves him from duty and asks him about his parents. Jason resents this and storms out, refusing to discuss the issue.

A short while later, Jason bumps into a person from his past, who gives him a box containing some evidence that the persons he knew as his parents aren't actually his biological mom and dad. Believing that his mother is alive somewhere, Jason takes off to find her, not knowing that SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is on the loose and that their paths will cross again...

The story was loosely adapted in the WesternAnimation/DCUniverseAnimatedOriginalMovies film ''WesternAnimation/BatmanUnderTheRedHood'', though changing it to be a Ra's al Ghul distraction plot GoneHorriblyWrong and WordOfGod revealed that this event happened in the TimeSkip between seasons one and two of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''.

NeedsWikiMagicLove. Not to be confused with James Agee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title. Or with ''ComicBook/DeathOfTheFamily'', another Batman storyline published in 2012.


* ActionDad - PapaWolf: Batman, obviously. [[spoiler:He is so '''impossibly''' pissed off at SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker for what he did to poor Jason that he comes this close to kill him, and only Superman's intervention stops him.]]
* BallotStuffing: There were rumors stating that there was one voter who was able to change the fate of Jason Todd by voting over 100 times. According to the letter section of ''Batman'' #429, Denny O'Neil said that, up until the last 15 minutes of the vote, the "Jason Lives" option was ahead by 38 votes, only for the "Jason Dies" option to surpass it and win by 72 votes.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: [[spoiler:Sheila Haywood.]]
* CrowbarCombatant: The Joker uses one to deliver a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown to Jason.
* DiplomaticImpunity: [[spoiler:The Joker somehow becomes Iran's ambassador to the United Nations.]]
* DownerEnding: Oh sure, Joker has been stopped, but [[spoiler:Jason and his mother are dead, and due to the Joker's diplomatic immunity, [[KarmaHoudini he does not have to answer to the law for his crimes]]]]. Batman also ends the story on the dismal note that the conflict between himself and Joker will never be resolved.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: [[spoiler:Jason Todd is brutally beaten with a crowbar and dies in an explosion alongside his mother.]]
* HeelRealization: [[spoiler:Sheila's dying moments have her realize that Jason, whom she'd already betrayed, was desperately trying to save her life.]]
* HopeSpot: [[spoiler:Badly concussed but still alive, Robin frees both himself and his mother from their bondage. Knowing that he can't disarm the bomb, they go for the door instead, as Joker's goons have already fled to safety... only to find the door locked. Kaboom.]]
** Said Kaboom happens at the end of part 3, making readers wait until part 4 to see if Jason survives. Adding to the Hope Spot is Batman racing to the scene, only to arrive right when the bomb goes off.
* LonelyFuneral: A total of five people attend Jason Todd's funeral: Bruce, Alfred, Jim and Barbara Gordon, and a priest. Though there are a number of reasons as to why. First, Jason was only in his mid-teens at the time, and as the narration states "Jason's life was too short for his passing to cause many ripples." Second, Dick Grayson, the first Robin and Jason's surrogate brother, had been on an adventure in space at the time, and didn't find out about Jason's death until he returned to Earth. Third, Jason was usually busy with his duties as Robin in Gotham, preventing him from forming friendships with civilians or other heroes.
* MissingMom: Jason is trying to find his. There are three women in this story who potentially fit in the profile. [[spoiler:And the third one is his mom. Her name is Sheila Haywood, she's an aid worker in Magdala, Ethiopia... and she turns out to have ''massive'' issues.]]
* MyGreatestFailure: [[spoiler:The death of Jason]] is arguably this for Batman.
* NeverFoundTheBody: The Joker is shot and left in a helicopter that crashes into the ocean. However, [[JokerImmunity his body can't be found afterwards]].
* ParentalBetrayal: [[spoiler:Sheila Haywood pulls a gun on Jason to prevent him from foiling the Joker's plot since it would expose her own crimes as well.]]
* PietaPlagiarism: Included as the cover and the used in-story, [[spoiler:with Batman kindly holding Jason's lifeless body [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Death_of_Jason_Todd.jpg and sorrowfully carrying him away]] in his arms]]. [[spoiler:[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jason_Todd%27s_Death.jpg It's re-created]] in ''Batman: Under the Red Hood''.]]
** [[spoiler:This trope also showed up in the unused "Jason Lives" ending, though this time with a jubilant Batman exclaiming "He's alive!! Thank God!!" (though its variation would later be used in the ''Batman Annual #25 story'', "The Return of Jason Todd")]]
* PopularityPower: [[InvokedTrope Invoked by DC]] in regards to the ending of the story - Fans could phone one of two telephone numbers to decide if [[spoiler:Jason would live or die at the Joker's hands. He very nearly survived, in part to news outlets picking up the story but merely reporting that it was ''Robin'' who could die & not mentioning it wasn't the original Robin.]]
* SeeminglyWholesomeFiftiesGirl: Dr. Haywood looks just like Doris Day. Otherwise, she is ''nothing'' like Doris Day.
* SenselessSacrifice: [[spoiler:Batman finds Sheila terribly injured from the bomb blast, and she tells him that her son Jason tried shielding her from the full force of the blast and ended up dying. However, his sacrifice is in vain all too soon, as she [[DiedInYourArmsTonight dies in Batman's arms]] shortly afterward.]]
* ShootingSuperman: In this case, ''Punching'' Superman, as Batman slugs Superman in grief. Superman mentally notes that he had to roll with that punch because if he took it, Batman would have broke his entire hand.
* TheUnreveal: While it had been played with before whether the Joker knew Batman's SecretIdentity, the final chapter has a [[ActionFilmQuietDramaScene Quiet Drama Scene]] where the Joker notices Bruce Wayne in the crowd, and they simply stare at each other. [[spoiler:Jason had publicly been Wayne's ward for some time, and had been unmasked and confessed his identity shortly before his death, which the Joker could have overheard.]]
* WhamEpisode: For years, DC had been trying to reinvent Batman the way they'd done Superman and Wonder Woman post-Crisis. For decades, they tried to get the Joker out from under the shadow of the 60s TV show. This arc, combined with ''ComicBook/TheKillingJoke'', did both.