"A Death in the Family" is a 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. 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...
NeedsWikiMagicLove. Not to be confused with ''DeathOfTheFamily'', another Batman storyline published over two decades later.
!!This storyline contains examples of:
* 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.]]
* 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 2, making readers wait until part 3 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.
* 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.]]
* 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.