There are some clever souls out there who really put their thinking caps on about this storyline. Here are some theories on how it is going to play out:

!!Death of the Typical
Snyder’s Joker story has been taking the comic world by storm, and everybody is wondering what is going to happen next. The traditional theories hold that some member of the Bat Clan is going to bite the dust, and most of those betting on the forthcoming demise of an ally of the Bat are placing their chips on Alfred talking his final bow.

I would not be surprised if some member of the cast gets offed just because of the media blitz and corresponding sales boost that would no doubt accompany it, but I have to say that I think most of this speculation is off base. Snyder did not call this arc “Death in the Family,” “Death of an Ally,” or “Death of a Friend.” He chose the name “Death of the Family,” and I have faith enough in Snyder’s work to believe that he chose a name which actually fit the story.

If Snyder did choose the story name with care, that begs the question…just how could Joker kill the Bat Family? Even if you killed a patriarch of the family like Alfred or Commissioner Gordon, the family would go on, so what can we expect in the next few issues of Batman?

Considering the amount of people buying Batman each month, I am sure someone somewhere has voiced all these theories, but I have not heard any of them. All these scenarios are based on my own personal musings. I have organized these by starting with the theory I would most like to see come to pass and moving towards those I like less.

!!Death of a Legacy
What if Joker did not kill the Bat clan directly but rather destroyed the Wayne family legacy?

Joker is claiming to know the identities of Batman and company, but even if he is lying, he still knows exactly where Batman’s crew gets their funding, Bruce Wayne and the Wayne fortune. Batman has always been a character propped up, in part, by his toys, and he has come to rely on them even more than usual more recently. How did Batman defeat the army of talons that attacked the Bat Cave? Did he outsmart them or use crazy ninja skills to beat them? Nope, he jumped in a giant Iron Man type armor and tore them apart piece by piece. I could give a half dozen more examples from the past year alone, but I think you all know that what I say is true.

If Joker could somehow destroy the Wayne fortune, it would send the entire family back into the crime fighting stone age forcing the entire crew to rethink the way they fight crime. No longer would writers have the easy out of adding a piece of previously unheard of tech to defeat a bad guy in the eleventh hour. Bruce Wayne would probably still have some significant money holed away, but if the Bat Family had to get by with a couple million as opposed to untold billions, it would change everything.

!!Death of Morality
What if Joker killed the family by splitting it into two factions?

We know Joker is planning to hit the family and hit them hard. What if Joker managed to push one member of the family so far that they snapped and crossed the line? What if one of Batman’s children killed the Joker to defend the rest of the family? Batman would have to condemn their action creating a split between the family members that backed the killer and those that opposed him. From that point, it would not take long for a Bat Civil War.

Which of Batman’s children would do such a thing? I cannot see Barbara pulling the trigger. She is probably the most forgiving among the Bat clan. Jason would do it in a heartbeat, but that would not shake the family too much. Tim killed Joker in the DCAU, but that is sort of a different interpretation of the character. Damian already has plenty of blood on his hands, but would one more murder shake the family? Very little. Personally, I would love to see Nightwing do it. Tim and Damian look up to Dick in a big way, and their loyalties would have to be divided if they had to choose sides. Dick would never do such a thing, you say? Remember, Dick allowed Blockbuster to be killed in a similar situation back in the nineties. If backed into a corner where the only way to save the family was to kill Joker, I would not put it past Grayson to pull the trigger.

!!Death of Integrity
Joker claims to know a secret about Batman which he will no doubt unveil later in the story, but what secret could be so powerful that it would completely unravel the fiber that holds together the Bat Family? How about Batman being a killer?

Hear me out on this one.

I cannot picture Bruce going around secretly killing people now, but I can see it being a dark secret from his early years as Batman. Perhaps when Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham seven years ago, he was not determined to abstain from killing. In the earliest issues of Batman’s appearances in Detective Comics, he is shown dropping criminals off of rooftops to their presumed deaths. What if this was written back into cannon? I can easily see Bruce having killed a villain in a moment of vengeance only to realize the immeasurable suffering he released on the family of the criminal and repent of his actions making a vow never again to take a human life.

If Bruce had been covering up a murder for all these years while insisting on unflinching moral integrity from his protégés, that would shake the family to its core. The Bat Family would be severely strained, and some would likely turn on Bruce. Every member of the Bat clan would have to reevaluate their no kill policy and ask themselves whether they were abiding by it because it was right or because that was how Batman told them to operate. In addition, just think of how ticked Jason would be that Bruce had killed some criminals yet let Joker live.

** OK, I love this theory for a lot of reasons, but here's my favorite (a WMG of its own): I',m not sure where I heard this, but I'm almost certain I heard that in one of the original stories, the original (Joker-pre-chemical facepeel) Red Hood one I think, that Batman intentionally knocked him into the vat of chemicals. Even if not, there's always the retcon option available. Anyways, imagine if they went with this theory and the joker revealed that Batman was responsible for making him because he tried to kill him. Could really explain his no-killing rule given how this instance turned out. I know, ridiculously unlikely, but it's just a very cool thought.

!!Death of Denial
Joker claims that his whole motivation for his current series of attacks is because Batman does not really want his family. Batman was stronger when he was alone, and on some level, he wishes his kids were not holding him back. What if Joker was absolutely right?

By the time “Death of the Family” wraps up, Joker will have led a personal attack on every member of the nuclear Bat Family. After all of this concludes and Bruce has felt the emotional weight of fearing for his family every second of the day, what if he decides that Joker, despite his insanity, was right? What if Batman does fight crime better on his own without having to constantly worry about those tugging at his cape? Batman could disband the Family, cut off their access to his systems, and tell everyone else to quit. Would it work? Absolutely not. However, it would require everybody but Batman to change their operations drastically, and DC could tell stories that focused strictly on Batman.

!!Death of "The Rules"
Half of Joker's obsession with batman has been that neither can sway the other: batman won't kill joker because it's the one thing keeping him from being as brutal as Joker, and Joker won't kill Batman because where's the fun in that.

But what if Joker's endgame isn't to provoke Batman into breaking the no killing rule, but to provoke the rest of the family to, and thus prove them "unworthy" of Batman's love. or worse, use the knowledge that the rule exists to keep the bats suffering HeWhoFightsMonsters to transform batman's allies into a new rouges gallery. Jason has already taken on Joker's old alias and broke the rules long ago, his intentions for Barbara have taken [[spoiler: a really sinister tone when you factor in Harley's new LegacyCharacter status]] and Alfred, Tim, Dick and Damian have all shown capacity for super-villainy (whether they do so willingly or not) in various past storylines (Alfred), alternate universes (Dick & Damian) or in the DCAU (Tim).

Doing this might, in Joker's mind, serve to make Batman stronger by ridding him of the allies that "weigh" him down, and replace a rouges gallery that he thinks isn't up to scratch; with a new dangerous one that will force Batman to become more brutal in order to fight.

!!"Death" of the Family
The Joker intends to do something worse than kill them: he intends to destroy the connections that each member has with each other. With the bond broken, Joker can have Gotham, and Batman, to himself. This will turn it into his own playground of anarchy and dispair and Batman into a broken man.
* [[spoiler: Confirmed. Joker drives the family into distrusting Batman.]]

!!"Death" of the Joker
Where could one take the Joker after the events of "Death in the Family" play out? This is the most dangerous, deranged and evil the Joker has ever been, and it will be hard as hell to find any possible storyline that could top it, if not impossible. At the end of the road, since Joker considers himself the "jester" to Batman's "king", Joker is, in a twisted sense, part of the Batfamily. The arc has shown him to be the greatest threat the Batfamily has ever faced, on top of being the one who has hurt them the most.

Include "The Killing Joke" and Jason Todd's death, Joker has gone too far to be left alive. But before he does, he will reveal what the "dark secret" is:

!!It's Not the Joker

"The Joker" is not the Joker. He's literally some other guy in a mask. I haven't put much thought into this other than, "what would be the easiest way to undo Joker having his face cut off?"

!!It's Hush.

The whole "Joker-cuts-his-face-off" thing seems to be commonly disliked, and I prefer this explanation: It's Hush. I mean, he is a well-accomplished surgeon, and we've seen from Arkham City that making a fake face and cutting his own off would be in character. It would also explain how he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne.
* That... Is shockingly very possible. Not to mention in some sense, Hush IS the very first of all of Batman's enemies, as his hatred for Bruce Wayne began when they were just children.

!!The Joker is a {{Yandere}}

Look at his act so far in the arc. He told Harley that he did not love her, He decided to get rid of the Bat-family, [[spoiler:[[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking His eyes dilated at the end of the Batman #15]]]]. Hell he even acts like a StalkerWithACrush to the point that Catwoman called him out on it. Ergo TheJoker is and [[FridgeHorror always had been from a start a]] {{Yandere}} who wants Gotham and ''especialy'' Batman all to himself and decided that with the recent CourtOfOwls and his yearlong absence, it is now time for him to strike and [[TheUnfettered to do whatever it takes to reach that goal.]]

!!The Joker is actually Alfred
I personally can't take credit for coming up with this (it's [[http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/showthread.php?220261-quot-Death-of-the-Family-quot-Prediction this person]] who did) but I think it makes a surprising amount of sense. And what better way to kill the "family" of the Bats than to have the "father" of them turn out to be the villain?

[[WMG: The Joker will bleach his muscle.]]
His face has begun to rot, and probably won't last long. The Joker will try to fix this by bleaching his face muscle, in order to look like he has a face again. [[UncannyValley This will only serve to make him creepier.]]
[[WMG: The Joker's Real Name.]]
I'm surprised no one did this already. But this troper believes there are 3 possibilities.
* Jack Napier: Because DC loves to make references to their movie adaptations.
* Joe Chill: Because Bob Kane said once if he went back to the beginning he would have made it so the Joker killed Bruce's parents.
** Link or it didn't happen.
* Alternate Universe Bruce Wayne: Because the Joker is the polar opposite of Batman it should be no shock that he is also the opposite of Bruce Wayne kinda like Ultraman and SuperMan.
** [[{{Series/Smallville}} Gee, I wonder where you got that idea.]]
* Larry Davis: He was Funnyman. He wasn't always Funnyman (S+S would invent the character ~8 years later), but his current incarnation was once a redheaded comedian whose vigilante activities would eventually turn to regular crime, ending with becoming Red Hood and the chemical bath.
* Benny Steeplechase, because ''Thrillkiller''
* The Hyper Adapter that inspired Batman to become Batman....

[[WMG: Joker is so different because he's spent an entire year with no contact with Harley]]
Harley has always been Joker's MoralityPet. If there was ever any shred of sanity left in him, she was the only thing keeping it alive. And now, he finds out that she hooked up with Deadshot while he was gone. Despite the impression he gives off, he was actually hurt by this. So he gets back at her by tricking her into thinking there were other Harley Quinns before her, his own twisted way of making her think she was just as replaceable as he apparently was.