- "The one minute. The soldier’s minute. In a battle, that’s all you get. One minute of everything at once, and anything before is nothing. Everything after, nothing. Nothing in comparison to that one minute."
- —Thomas Shelby
Thomas Michael ‘Tommy’ Shelby OBE DCM MM MP is the son of Arthur and Mrs. Shelby, brother of Arthur, John, Ada and Finn Shelby, father of Charles and Ruby Shelby, as well as being the husband of Grace and Lizzie Shelby. He is the leader of the Birmingham criminal gang, the Peaky Blinders and the patriarch of the Shelby Family.
Thomas served in World War I with the rank of Sergeant Major and was decorated for bravery (Though he dumped them in a canal after returning from the war). His experiences in World War I left him disillusioned and beset with ongoing nightmares, and he becomes determined to move his family up in the world so that the powers who had always mistreated them could no longer touch them.
After the vendetta with the New York Mafia, and during the year of the Wall Street Crash, Thomas Shelby became a Member of Parliament as a member of the Labour Party, while lending the chair of the legal business to his older brother, Arthur Shelby.
Thomas Michael Shelby was born in 1890, to Arthur and Mrs. Shelby. He was born on a boat, in a barge called ‘The January’ and had an elder brother, Arthur Shelby, who he was extremely close with as a child. Over the years, Thomas’ parents welcomed three more children, John, Ada and Finn Shelby.
Thomas’ parents were both Gypsies, making him and all of his siblings full-blooded Gypsies as well. It is implied by Thomas’ paternal aunt, Polly Gray, that the Lee Family are the Shelby Family’s kin, through their mother. They also have Irish Traveller ancestry, this is because Polly mentioned that alongside Romani, they should not speak Shelta around Karl Thorne, which is the language spoken by Irish Travellers. It is also heavily implied that their father was a partial Irish Traveller.
While growing up in Small Heath, Birmingham, Thomas carried a switchblade and a screwdriver on him and would tell the other children in the area that he could lay curses, so they were afraid of him and didn't pick on or tease him because of it. Thomas and his siblings would have to get their fathers beer from The Garrison. However, because they were so little, it would take two of them to carry one bucket back to their house. Thomas would also fight with his brothers over cigarettes and one time, when Thomas was 9 and Arthur was 12, they got into a massive physical argument. Thomas pinned Arthur against the ground and began hitting him several times over the head, later winning the fight, although Thomas acknowledged that Arthur let him win. Their mother had a close friend, Charlie Strong, who was around a lot during their upbringing, which resulted in them looking up to him as their ‘uncle’.
In 1909, when the youngest Shelby sibling was still an infant, their mother became severely depressed and contemplated suicide. Their father was no help, so Charlie intervened and convinced her to go on the road, so she left Birmingham and travelled to Worcester. When she returned from her trip, she bought back a white pony and gifted it to Thomas. She watched Thomas ride the pony around for a few weeks, seemingly in a much better mindset than she was before her trip. Charlie believed she was better, however he was wrong. Shortly after her return, Mrs. Shelby jumped into the canal and committed suicide, like her own father before her. Charlie had the job of removing Mrs. Shelby’s body from the canal, which broke his heart, as he was secretly in love with her.
Shortly after Mrs. Shelby’s death, Thomas’ father began finding it hard to cope, raising five children on his own. He eventually abandoned them all in the care of his sister, and left Birmingham. Polly was left alone to raise her niece and nephews, and became the head of the house, as well as their mother figure. This resulted in the Shelby siblings gaining immense respect for Polly, when they all began to got older, as they were extremely grateful for all she had done for them.
Sometime before 1914, Thomas fell deeply in love with an Italian girl, Greta Jurossi. Her parents didn’t approve of a Gypsy boy dating their daughter, but Thomas eventually won them over with his charm and sweetness. A few months later, Greta became extremely ill with consumption and although the disease was contagious, Thomas stayed by her bedside for three months, holding her hand. Greta eventually died from her illness, which broke Thomas’ heart.
In May 1914, Thomas met a Romani girl called Zelda, while at the Appleby Fair. Zelda stole Thomas’ watch and chain, but despite this, later that day they had sex underneath a hazel tree. Zelda became pregnant with Thomas’ child and when her father found out, he shot Thomas in the chest with a squirrel gun. Her father wanted to kill Thomas, but before he could do so, Thomas was sent away to fight in WWI, along with two of his brothers.
In early 1915, while Thomas was in France fighting in WWI, Zelda gave birth to their child, a son called Erasmus Shelby. Although Thomas returned from war in 1918, he never tried to contact Zelda and she raised their son alone. When Erasmus became older, he asked his mother who his father was and Zelda told him a false story. Zelda still had the watch she had stollen from Thomas, which had the words “Saxon Shore” carved on the back, so she told Erasmus that his father was the Duke of the Saxon Shore. As a result, Erasmus changed his name to ‘Duke’ and doesn’t like people using his birth name.
It is implied that Thomas had a drastic personality shift, before and after his experiences in the WWI, during which he was a Tunneller or Sapper (a volunteer digging treacherous tunnels covertly, in order to place enormous amount of explosives beneath enemy lines, a tactic used several times in the war, to devastating effect). After the War, he began experiencing symptoms of PTSD and would often experience frightening nightmares, flashbacks and hallucinations, all of which he kept to himself.
Shelby is shown to be a member of the Small Heath Rifles at the rank of sergeant major – a non-commissioned officer in charge of well-being, morale and training of the entire unit (all other sergeants and corporals answer to him as well as to the actual commanding officers). His flawless conduct in this role (made even more difficult on account of his youth at the time) earned him unwavering respect both from members of his unit and other veterans alike and cemented his reputation in the streets.
As to his heritage, Thomas claims that he is related to the Lee family on his mother's side and Johnny Dogs claims that Thomas's grandfather was a "king", most likely a King of the Gypsies. He is the second of the Shelby siblings.
World War One
Shelby is a former British soldier and his war record states that he fought bravely at the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Somme. His actions at Mons reportedly saved thousands of allied lives, for which he received medals of honour after the War, including the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Series 1 · 1919
Shelby rides a big black horse into the Chinese quarters in Birmingham, where the horse is subjected to a "powder trick" in an attempt to rig a horse race. It is revealed that the horse is named "Monaghan Boy". He then returns to the Shelby residence for a family meeting. Upon learning that a new policeman is about to be stationed in Birmingham following the loss of a consignment of guns from the BSA factory, Polly Shelby takes Thomas aside and questions him on the matter. He reveals to her that his men accidentally acquired the wrong crate during a routine pick-up, instead taking a crate that contained Lewis machine guns, ammunition, semi-automatic rifles, and pistols with shells.
Seemingly heeding Polly's advice, Thomas says he'll dump the guns as soon as the full moon wanes, in the hope that the policemen won't pursue the matter further. After Arthur Shelby Jr. is forcibly taken to meet Inspector Campbell, and reveals that Campbell might want to work together with them to recover the missing consignment, Thomas, after a moment's pause, leaves the room without any further discussion of the matter. Some time after, as Curly and Charlie Strong (Thomas's uncle) are preparing to drop the guns off, Thomas changes his mind about leaving the guns for the police to find, and has Curly drop the guns off at the old tobacco wharf, where the Peaky Blinders keep contraband cigarettes—all in favour of some alternative strategy.
Later, it is revealed that the new barmaid at The Garrison Pub, Grace, is an undercover agent working to recover the missing guns, when she meets with Campbell. She then informs Campbell that the leader of the Peaky Blinders is not Arthur, but Thomas.
Not long later, Shelby, Arthur and John Shelby are in the countryside for the fair — also at the fair is the gypsy Lee Family. An insult dealt to their mother by one of the Lee brothers results in a brawl, led by Thomas. On their return, Polly takes Shelby aside to tell him that Inspector Campbell wants to meet him. In return for the unwelcome police raid in Birmingham, Thomas instructs and orchestrates a mass burning of the pictures of the King, and gets a reporter to cover this incident, drawing the attention and displeasure of Winston Churchill to Inspector Campbell.
Later, while collecting his horse from Curly, Charlie presents a bullet with Thomas's name engraved on it — a declaration of war from the Lee clan. While on the streets, he is stopped by Grace when she tosses a bucket of spit before his horse, and he invites her to the Cheltenham Races.
On his return to the Shelby home, Polly informs him of his sister Ada's pregnancy, and he storms off to find Ada at the cinema, demanding the identity of the father of her child.
The fixed race with the horse Monaghan Boy pays off, and the Peaky Blinders make a fortune. However, Thomas had fixed the race without the permission of Billy Kimber, the man who controls all the bookmaking sites at racecourses, and Polly chides him for it.
Afterwards, Shelby reveals his plan to take over Billy Kimber's business when he meets Inspector Campbell and offers him a deal: in return for Inspector Campbell's (and the policemen's) non-interference with the work of the Peaky Blinders and the impending takeover of Billy Kimber's business, Thomas promises the removal of Freddie Thorne from the city as well as the missing guns to Campbell. Thomas ensures his own safety by telling Campbell that if he is taken into police custody, the guns will be dropped off at Liverpool, brought to Belfast and sold to the IRA. Campbell seemingly agrees to the deal, and Thomas leaves after making a snide remark at Campbell's deferment from the war.
One night, while in the throes of a nightmare, Curly wakes Thomas up and tells Thomas that the horse he bought from the fair is cursed, and the curse will soon spread to the heart of the horse. After Charlie deduces that this is the work of the Lee family, Thomas shoots his horse, then heads to the now-empty Garrison Pub for a drink, where he is served by Grace. He then reveals to her that, contrary to what she has said about her past, he knows she's never worked in any pub in Dublin, then goes on to (incorrectly) guess that she was a pregnant runaway, but promises Grace to keep it a secret.
The following day, Billy Kimber storms into The Garrison Pub, demanding to see "any man named Shelby". The Shelby brothers, and Thomas in particular, receive the wrath of Billy Kimber, who accuses Thomas of fixing the races, and subsequently threatens to shoot them. Thomas, however, politely offers to strike a deal with him; given that both Thomas and Billy Kimber are at war with the Lee family, Thomas proposes to work with Billy Kimber to beat the Lee family to both their advantages. Though Kimber doesn't accept their offer immediately, they come to a truce because of Thomas's overly respectful appearance.
The following day, Grace asks Thomas for two more shillings to pay for her dress; he tells her to buy something coloured red. Meanwhile, two IRA members meet with Thomas at The Garrison Pub, telling him they would pay good money for the stolen guns from the BSA factory, should the Peaky Blinders gang be or come into possession of them. Thomas confronts Freddie Thorne — who still hasn't left the city — telling him that his marriage to Ada will not last. Meanwhile Sergeant Moss threatens Thomas, telling him that Ada will be thrown in jail for sedition if Thomas does not deliver Freddie to the police.
As a gesture to gaining his trust, Shelby also warns Billy Kimber that the Lee family is going to be at the Cheltenham races, and that they are planning on robbing Kimber’s bookies.
Thomas has another nightmare of the war, and the next day heads to Cheltenham with Grace. After taking back Kimber's money from the Lees, he makes a deal with Kimber, offering members of the Peaky Blinders to be used as security for Kimber. Kimber agrees, on the condition that he gets to spend a few hours with Grace. Initially Thomas agrees, but he heads to Kimber's mansion and interrupts them, lying to Kimber that Grace has the clap, thereby saving her.
Thomas leaves the Shelby home unattended (except for Scudboat) as John calls a family meeting. Upon re-arriving at the home, Thomas and his family find the place trashed, and they find wire cutters, indicating that somewhere a hand grenade is hidden. Thomas realizes the hand grenade is for him, and finds his brother Finn playing with his car. He saves Finn and throws the grenade, and tells Finn to never pretend to be him, as his life is in constant danger.
Thomas goes to the Lee family to settle the dispute between the Lees and the Shelbys once and for all, claiming that he is related to the Lee family on his mother’s side, Thomas tells them that he will be betraying Billy Kimber, and that he needs men to help. In exchange, he marries his brother John to a Lee family member named Esme to join their families.
Thomas delivers to Inspector Campbell the address of Stanley Chapman, a communist, instead of Freddie Thorne. Billy Kimber meanwhile hands Thomas the Shelby Company Limited’s first legal racetrack pitch.
Thomas brings Grace to the Catholic Church, knowing that she is a liar and confronts her about it. He also offers her a job and compliments her, telling her she has an air of class, and he kisses her. He gives Grace her first job, telling her to invite Ada to John’s wedding with Esme. After the wedding ceremony, Thomas allows Freddie to see his newborn son, but Grace reveals Freddie’s location to the police and Freddie is taken into custody.
Shortly after Freddie is arrested, Thomas tells Grace to mark a specific date on the business calendar—‘Black Star Day’, the day in which he will take out Billy Kimber and his men at the races.
An Irishman named Malacki Byrne visits Thomas at The Garrison Pub, claiming that he is the cousin of one of the IRA men who had visited previously was shot and killed. He threatens Thomas, so Thomas admits that he has the stolen machine guns, but that he will sell them to him for the right price. Thomas later tells Inspector Campbell of Malacki's situation and makes a deal so that he can give Byrne to the police.
Malacki and Maguire enter the pub, where Grace is hidden at the back with a gun. Thomas speaks with them, and they tell him that they will kill him. Grace reveals herself and shoots Maguire dead, while Thomas fights with Malacki until finally killing him. The police enter far later than they had promised to Thomas, and take away the bodies.
After Inspector Campbell finds the machine guns in the fake grave of Danny Whizz-Bang, he hunts for Thomas at The Garrison Pub, but Grace takes Thomas to her home, thereby saving his life. At Grace’s small home, they have sex and Thomas asks her if she’ll stay with him.
Thomas comforts his brother Arthur after Arthur attempts suicide, despite the fact that Arthur had stolen money from the Shelby family for their father. He informs Arthur that he is now an equal shareholder of the Shelby Company Limited, and that he owns 1/3 of the company, as do Thomas and John.
Thomas informs the Peaky Blinders that today is ‘Black Star Day’, the day in which they take out Kimber and the Lee clan. He discovers Grace’s betrayal, and faces Billy Kimber alone in front of The Garrison Pub with his gang of Peaky Blinders and their machine gun and rifles. Billy Kimber manages to shoot Thomas in the chest, but Thomas is able to shoot him in the head, killing him instantly and ending the short war between the two gangs. Thomas leads a goodbye ceremony to Danny Whizz-Bang, who was killed during the event by Kimber’s men.
Thomas writes a letter to Grace telling her that he will give her his decision (whether or not to leave the city with her) in three days.
Series 2 · 1922
Thomas, along with his aunt Polly, find The Garrison Pub destroyed as a result of bombs with confetti. Thomas is called for at the Black Lion, where he is taken to a back room and threatened by an IRA woman named Irene O’Donnell and another man. He is told by them that he is to carry out an assassination.
Thomas calls a family meeting, informing everyone that he is planning on expanding the family business to London. He heads to London with his brothers John and Arthur, visiting a jazz club run by Darby Sabini.
Back in Birmingham, Thomas is held and beaten by Sabini’s men, while his sister Ada is abducted. Sabini’s men attempt to kill Thomas but he is saved by Chester Campbell.
Having saved him earlier from Sabini's men, Inspector Campbell meets Thomas in the hospital, where he further threatens him. Thomas discharges himself out of the hospital, and with the medical help of Curly , heads to Camden Town to meet with Alfie Solomons . Upon his return, he informs Ada that he bought her a house in London, and proceeds to buy Polly Shelby another house in Birmingham, as her birthday present.
Thomas writes a letter to Campbell's handler Winston Churchill , asking for an export licence in return for going along with Campbell's plan for an assassination.
Thomas is also able to discover what happened to Polly's children. The girl died of spring fever, but he locates the boy, Michael Gray . After meeting the boy, Thomas tells Polly that she must wait until he’s 18 years of age to meet him, otherwise the boy will be taken from her again.
Thomas also receives a letter from Grace, but burns the letter before reading it.
Now in better shape, thanks to Curly, Thomas and his new recruits head to Camden Town with aims of starting work with Alfie Solomons and his new army of bootleg distillers — who pose as bakers amid fears of being exposed. The Peaky Blinders take interim leadership from Billy Kitchen, the "Head Baker".
Thomas meets up with Major Campbell, pointing out that the Birmingham police have amusingly put him up in a hostel run by a semi-retired prostitute and brothel owner, indicating that they know of Campbell's secret activities.
Along with his brothers John and Arthur, Thomas hires men to get themselves arrested overnight on purpose. One of their recruits is the Digbeth Kid, and the plan goes wrong when the boy gets murdered in his cell by Darby Sabini's men. Thomas calls a family meeting about the incident, and informs his family of his plan to buy a racehorse, thus giving them a credible reason to infiltrate the race courses dominated by Sabini's men.
At the auctions, Thomas meets the aristocratic May Carleton and sees in her an opportunity to move up in the world.
After their plan goes south, leading to the death of one of their own, Thomas attends the funeral of the Digbeth Kid, only to get a slap in the face from a mourner, before paying off the family for their trouble.
He then makes his way to meet Inspector Campbell, who needs him to carry out another assassination, this time of Field Marshal Henry Russell. Upon arrival, he realises Campbell and the pro-Treaty Irish Republicans have been working together all along. Thomas informs Campbell that Donal Henry is a spy reporting every word Campbell tells him back to the anti-treat Paddies, and that he’ll carry out the assassination is if Donal is killed. Henry’s body is soon found in a pile of coal, and Thomas starts planning the assassination.
The Blinders are in need of a new accountant, and thus Thomas ends up arguing with Polly over whether or not he'll hire Michael for the job. They eventually come to an agreement.
Thomas has hired May Carleton to train his new horse, whose name is Grace’s Secret. He invites himself over to May Carleton's mansion to see just how the other half live and get a progress report on his horse. Thomas then later ends up having sex with May later that night.
On Thomas's return to Birmingham he receives the details of his assignment from Campbell. Thomas assures Campbell that if he is killed, he’ll have Campbell killed as well.
In Thomas’s office, he pulls out a letter, dials a number, asks to be connected to the Ritz Hotel in London, and waits. On the other end, a spiffy dude with a New York accent picks up. Thomas doesn’t say anything and disconnects from the line.
Thomas holds a family meeting to figure out how many losses the gang and their connections have taken due to the coppers raiding their bars and business setups. He meets with Inspector Campbell at The Catholic Church. Campbell simply informs Thomas that his reason for throwing Arthur and Michael in jail was to motivate Thomas to properly carry out his task of killing Henry Russell.
Thomas takes Grace Burgess to see Charlie Chaplin in person and ends up spending the night with her, where she tells him that she has been trying to have a baby with her husband, but has fears that she may be the cause of her infertility issues. Thomas urges her to tell her husband the truth.
Thomas visits May Carleton and informs her that he can no longer continue their relationship as he still has feelings for Grace.
He also meets with Inspector Campbell to inform him of the new location of Henry Russell's assassination, which will take place at the Epsom racetrack on Derby day.
After being threatened several times, Thomas writes a letter to the editor of the New York Times, explaining that Winston Churchill is having him perform a high-profile assassinations on behalf of the crown. He names Chester Campbell and gives the sealed envelope to his sister Ada Shelby, who is ordered to mail it if Thomas fails to return from the Epsom races, where the Derby is being held.
Thomas heads to Camden Town, along with Ada's housemate James, to meet with Alfie Solomons, where he agrees to hand over 30% of his company (instead of Alfie's proposed 100%) by telling Alfie that he has a grenade rigged to explode.
Before they get to the races, Thomas explains to the Peaky Blinders and their gypsy allies that they must take over Darby Sabini's race track licences, and that he will be creating a diversion to distract the police from their actions.
At the races, Thomas speaks with May Carleton and informs her that they will meet when his duties are over at the end of the day. While doing business, Thomas is stopped by Grace Burgess who says she needs to speak with him as it is an important matter. Though Thomas seems slightly rushed and agitated he allows her to speak, Grace reveals that she still loves him and is pregnant, and that the child she is carrying is his. Thomas informs her that he will come and find her after the race.
Thomas’s plan, however, does not go to plan, finding himself delayed in getting to Lizzie, who is sexually assaulted by the Field Marshal Henry Russell. When Thomas does arrive, his gun jams, but he grabs his target’s own pistol and shoots Russell dead.
Thomas is carted out to an abandoned field where he faces certain death. He faces his execution with a mixture of anger at the approaching end to his weary acceptance that death has stalked him much of his life. But after Thomas enjoys his final cigarette, one of the three would-be assassins shoots the other two in the head and leaves Thomas lying in a grave, confused and alive. The man says, “At some point in the near future, Mr. Churchill will want to speak to you in person, Mr. Shelby. He has a job for you.” He tells Thomas to go home.
Back in his office, Thomas speaks with Michael Gray, who wishes to work for him as the Shelby Company expands. Thomas makes an announcement that he's planning on getting married, though he does not state to whom.
Series 3 · 1924
Series 3 starts with the marriage of Thomas and Grace. After they are married, it's revealed that Thomas now owns a large house in the country, possibly to do with marrying Grace and his gradual increase in success in his business. His family and Grace's both come back to the house afterwards, where they have a party, with the Shelby men and the Irish family bonding slightly.
Thomas is waiting for his businessman to make contact with him (who we later find out are Russians) and they do at his wedding. This ends with Arthur Shelby killing a man.
Despite living in the country now, Thomas frequently visits his home in Birmingham city and business is good, although he has initial reservations about Arthur's wife.
When Grace is shot, he is heartbroken and returns to his much colder demeanour, initially not wanting to speak to his family very much and being very withdrawn from family life, and more so caught up in business with the Russians.
When he gets a tip-off that the Priest is working for the Russian family is a double-agent, he attempts to assassinate him but is found out and attacked because of something Polly admitted in confession. He is very badly injured, with a suspected fractured skull and a haemorrhage. He is sent in this state to the home of the Romanovs and apologises to Father Hughes in front of them.
He is also in a sexual relationship with Tatiana Petrovna, the niece of Leon Petrovich Romanov, the Russian man Thomas is doing business with. In an episode in Thomas' house in which Tatiana nearly shoots herself playing a frantic and sexualised game of Russian roulette, he breaks down as she keeps mentioning Grace, a tactic to get him to presumably break.
The initial business he had with Leon was to export large artillery vehicles, which he will get to the destination by having an explosion, implying that the vehicles got blown up when really they will be on a different train- although this gets changed when he finds out that the R
When Thomas deviates from the plan and Father Hughes finds out about the tunnel they are digging to retrieve the jewels from the Russian household, he kidnaps Thomas's son, and in return, Thomas has to blow up the train and frame certain people, and at least 6 people have to die.
Thomas gets Arthur and John to blow up the train, but in the meantime, Michael finds Father Hughes and cuts his throat with a knife, after Thomas ordered him to kill him.
Thomas then returns the jewellery and such to Tatiana, who is waiting to presumably make a getaway somewhere, and informs him that a man is waiting for her. In exchange for the goods, she gives him a large case of money and kisses him, and then asks for money for the sex they had and for helping him get over Grace's death. He rebuffs her, saying, "You didn't even come close."
The season ends with Thomas paying each of his family members and closest workers a sum of money for their problems, with most of his family angered or annoyed at him for interfering with Russian business in the first place, which he remarks in regard to Arthur, "You were right." He confesses to having made many mistakes and requests them to accept the money that he pays as a means of his apology.
However, as Arthur is saying goodbye (as he plans to leave for New York) Thomas comments, "You won't get far." and then proceeds to tell them they will all be arrested for their various crimes and should comply with the police force, reminding them to trust him as he made a deal with people even more powerful than their enemies. They are all angered, and Thomas watches as Arthur, John, Michael and Polly are all handcuffed and taken away.
Series 4 · 1925-1926
The series begins around Christmas-time, where we discover that he is largely alienated from his family. However, the whole Shelby family is being hunted down by the Italian mafia from New York, which Luca Changretta, the son of Vincenzo Changretta, is the leader of. Luca Changretta plans to kill every Shelby family member as vengeance for his father's death.
Tommy's life becomes increasingly difficult when his younger brother, John Shelby is killed by Changretta and his men, marking the start of the war between the two families. Grieving from the loss, Tommy enlists the help of Aberama Gold — a hitman for hire — to protect his family and take out Changretta. Tommy agrees to let Aberama's son, Bonnie fight for him in Shelby controlled fights with the assumption that he would fix the fights to better the Shelby's.
Meanwhile, Tommy engages in a long struggle with Jessie Eden over the gender pay-gap between male and female workers in Shelby factories. Tommy sarcastically remarks that he will fix the problem by cutting male wages, with Jessie remarking that revolution is in the air. Eventually, Jessie is able to convince Tommy to revoke the wage cut and ensure equal pay between the genders in all his factories.
Tensions also begin to rise between Tommy and Arthur, who is angry that Tommy replaced him in the company while he was away recovering from drug abuse. However Arthur promises to prove himself, taking back his position within the company.
Due to Changretta's threat, Michael decides to give up Tommy in return for Changretta ensuring that his mother is not harmed. Much to Michael's surprise, he is unaware that Tommy is aware of what Michael has done and is leading Changretta into a trap. Shooting matches between Changretta and Tommy surmount and Tommy realises that he no longer has the support of Sergeant Moss and the Birmingham Police force.
The war between the Changretta's and Shelby's eventually comes to an end when Audrey Changretta visits Tommy announcing that the Changretta's consider the vendetta won, demanding that all Shelby property be signed over to them. Tommy agrees, much to the Shelby families dismay. The following day, Changretta visits Tommy with paperwork pertaining to the release of Shelby property to his family. However Tommy reveals that he has been in contact with many families in the US who wish to take control of Changretta business, including Alphonse Capone. He reveals that he contacted the men Changretta has brought with him and offered them a higher price to stand by while Changretta is killed. Changretta is killed not long after by Arthur.
Series 5 · 1929
1929 is a hard year for Tommy as he and Charles still struggle from the death of Grace. However the crash of Wall St means that Tommy is quickly dragged back to Earth. Tommy alerts the Shelby Company board that not all is lost as they have investments in America that are safe. Meanwhile, Tommy brings hope to the small town of Small Heath, giving away free drinks to the locals and inciting them to ignore what they have heard about economic downturn as the Peaky Blinders will take care of them.
Furthermore, Tommy settles into his new role as the MP for South Birmingham, and is met by a new face, Oswald Mosley who admits that he has heard all about Tommy and is surprised to see him in such a position considering his past.Things begin to heat up when Tommy is targeted by Jimmy McCavern and the Billy Boys — a rival gang to the Peaky Blinders who have had enough of their tyrannical control. McCavern's attack on Aberama's son causes tensions between Aberama and Tommy, who he believes to be partially responsible. Further tensions begin to rise between Tommy and Michael, who Tommy believes to be responsible for losing Shelby Company Limited huge profits and that he is a traitor, conspiring to overthrow Tommy as head of the company. His fears are later proven true as in the last episode of series 5 Michael, who is being manipulated by his wife Gina proposes restructuring the company, with him and his wife Gina in charge of the company and the rest of the Shelby family retiring from the company. Tommy angrily rejects Michael's proposal and throws it in the fireplace, Gina presses Michael to reveal that the American's no longer wish to associate with the Peaky Blinders. Tommy said he gave Michael an opportunity to redeem himself but instead betrayed him and he banishes Michael and Gina from the family telling them to leave and never come back before warning Gina not to 'fuck with the Peaky Blinders;'
Despite the economic downturn, Tommy opens several orphanages and increases charitable donations. Tommy attempts to increase the amount of children under Peaky care by confronting the sisters of St. Hilda's orphanage who are known to be abusing children. He threatens them and demands that all children under their car be released to Shelby orphanages.
Tommys role as MP for Birmingham begins to escalate as he feels threatened by Mosley. Tommy begins relaying information about Mosley to the British Government, before finally deciding to take action himself. He formulates a plan to assassinate Mosley, however is unsuccessful when the plan is foiled and Aberama is killed. These events seemingly strain Tommy's already rocked mental health, with hallucinations of Grace becoming more frequent as Tommy becomes distant with his family and series 5 ends with Tommy screaming in the field near his country home with a gun to his head after seeing yet another hallucination of Grace.
Series 6 - 1934
Series Six for Tommy picks up straight at the end of series five with Tommy pointing a gun to his head and failing with a suicide attempt as Arthur emptied all of the bullets out of Tommy's gun beforehand. Tommy collapses in the mud before his wife Lizzie tells him he has a call waiting for him. Tommy receives a call from IRA agent Captain Swing who takes credit for foiling the attempted assassination of Oswald Mosley. She returns the bodies of Barney Thompson, Aberama Gold and Polly Shelby (Helen McCrory) who were also killed during the assassination attempt. The entire Shelby family gather for Polly’s funeral with Michael swearing revenge on Thomas for his role in Polly’s death. Four years later in 1933 Thomas, now sober, sets up a meeting with an estranged Michael and business associates of Jack Nelson, a south Boston gang leader and uncle of his wife Gina Grey on Miquelon Island. Following unsuccessful talks to re-enter into business, Thomas lands Michael in prison for possession of opium after tipping off the American authorities. Afterwards Tommy pays Gina a visit in her house where she is seen drinking now legal whiskey and listening to jazz music. Gina smugly tells Tommy that the offer he gave to her uncle has been rejected. Tommy then threatens to sell the opium to the Jewish gang which would start a gang war for control, wiping the smug look from Gina's face. Later, Thomas is phoned by Lizzie who announces she and the children cannot travel to Canada due to Ruby’s sudden illness. Believing her sickness is a message and gypsy related, Tommy decides to return to Britain.
Tommy, still a Labour MP, returns to the United Kingdom and is informed Ruby is recovering. He has a seizure in the Shelby bathroom and Lizzie urges him to see a doctor, but he refuses. After Jack Nelson expresses interest to meet the fascists, Tommy sees an opportunity in an alliance with Captain Swing. He visits Alfie Solomons and announces the death of Charlie Solomons, Alfie's uncle, on the Cotton Club at the hands of Nelson's gang. After a tense meeting with Mosley and Diana Mitford, Tommy meets Nelson and agrees to feed information about England's political goings to his gang in exchange for opium. Tommy is informed that Ruby is sick again and decides to contact Esme Shelby, the former wife of John. As Ruby falls sick with consumption and treated with gold, Tommy goes in search of the source of the curse that he believes has been laid upon his family and eventually reunites with Esme, the widow of his late brother John. Ada takes over Tommy's role in Birmingham and meets with Oswald Mosley, his mistress Diana, Jack Nelson, and Gina. Tommy discovers that the person who he gave the cursed Sapphire that once belonged to his late wife, Grace, who died after Tommy gifted it to her, had a daughter that died at the age of 7, prompting Tommy to believe that it was this woman who had cursed Ruby in revenge. Tommy returns to Birmingham and goes straight to the hospital where Ruby is. His wife Lizzie meets him at the entrance to tell him that the gold salts treatment didn't work, and that Ruby had died.
As the Shelby family mourns, Tommy enacts revenge as he murders the family of the woman who cursed his daughter. Distraught in grief, Tommy ignores letters from his personal doctor as his relationship with Lizzie strains even further. Tommy is then told by Esme about a son he never knew he had by the name of Duke Shelby. The meeting between Captain Swing of the IRA, Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford, Jack Nelson and Tommy takes place: Jack agrees to let Tommy trade opium in Boston as he gains information from Mosley about the political future of England and agrees with Captain Swing that the Irish working class can be turned. After Tommy sees Mosley leave Gina's apartment. Tommy walks in and tells her straight away that he knows about her affair with Mosley and blackmails her into getting information about Mosley and Uncle Jack when they go to Germany to meet the senior member of the German government in a couple of weeks, otherwise he will tell Michael and her uncle and she will be disowned by him for cheating on her husband, since Jack is a Catholic and it is forbidden for wives to cheat on their husbands. Tommy asks Gina what Michael's intention towards him are and he will know if she lies to him. Gina tells Tommy that all Michael wants is to get this opium business finished and they will part ways once again. Tommy then walks off smirking clearly able to tell Gina was lying. Tommy finally meets with his doctor and is told that due to coming into contact with his daughter while she was ill, he has developed inoperable tuberculoma and that he now only has between 1 year and 18 months left to live. Tommy talks to his late Aunt Polly asking her to give him the time he needs to do what he must do. Tommy deals with the Chinese business that got Arthur hooked on Opium by walking into their shop, taking their remaining drugs and throwing them into the canal with a bomb. He introduces his newly found son, Duke, at a family meeting, to Lizzie's disliking. Tommy sleeps with Diana Mitford as a payment for Diana's cause. Eventually she arrives at the Shelby family home with Oswald and tells Lizzie that her husband was disloyal to her in an act purely devised to split her and Tommy away from each other with Mosley believing that Tommy deserves better if he is to move up in the world.
Lizzie finally leaves Tommy after his affair with Diana, taking their son Charles. Tommy finally admits to Arthur that he is dying after Arthur finds his X-Ray. Tommy sets the rest of the Peaky Blinders to dismantle his house, and gives false information to the IRA informant Billy Grade to lure the IRA into a trap; Duke eventually kills Billy after Finn refuses to do so. Captain Swing and other IRA assassins go to the Garrison to kill Arthur, but are killed after a shootout in Garrison Lane, with Arthur personally killing Captain Swing and avenging Polly's death. On Miquelon Island, Tommy meets Michael, who has finally been released from prison. Johnny Dogs switches a car-bomb intended for Tommy, which after the meeting explodes and kills Michael's associates. Michael goes outside thinking he has killed Tommy but upon seeing his associates car in flames and Tommy coming out of the car unharmed realises he is about to die. He says one last goodbye to Johnny Dogs before berating Tommy one last time that he killed his mother Polly Gray when he tried to kill Oswald Mosley, Tommy says Polly made her own choices but Michael says nobody makes a decision without his opinion, not Ada, not Arthur and not Michael himself, nobody can escape his lethal hand. Tommy says Polly visits him in his dreams but she will no longer before shooting Michael in the head for trying to kill him and betraying his family taking care of Michael as a threat once and for all and winning their war fulfilling Polly's prediction. Tommy then says to Michael's corpse that he has 'no limitations'. Tommy holds one last feast near his newly demolished house where he says goodbye to his family. A month after saying goodbye to his family, an alone Tommy prepares to shoot himself. But after seeing a vision of his late daughter Ruby, and his personal doctor pictured with Oswald Mosley in a partially-burnt newspaper, Tommy realizes he had been given a false diagnosis of inoperable tuberculoma. Tommy goes off to kill his doctor, but ends up sparing his life. After returning and watching his wagon and remaining possessions burn, Tommy rides away.
Shelby Company Limited
- Main article: Shelby Company Limited
Thomas is instrumental in the success of the Shelby family business, which became a Limited Company under Thomas's ownership, as well as the first Shelby family company to have a legal racetrack pitch.
Series 2 revealed that Shelby Company Limited is making over 100 pounds a day, on average. Thomas pushes the company further by expanding it south to London, as well as by sending crates of cars (with hidden bottles of single malt Scotch Whisky inside—these bottles are then sold in North America in order to bring in profits for the company).
In Series 3, it is shown that thanks to the actions of Thomas and the family over the past few years, the company is even more successful than it had been in the previous series, as it continues to expand and grow, as well as thanks to the cash provided by Winston Churchill.
Unlike the Shelby siblings, Thomas is a very calm and observant man, showcasing his wit and ruthlessness to anyone who threatens him or his family. He is widely respected among his local community and is seen as a dangerous foe by his enemies. Under his leadership, the Peaky Blinders have risen from a local Birmingham street gang to a national enterprise that has gone toe-to-toe with the New York Mafia. His experiences in World War 1 have made him fearless and almost impossible to intimidate. Though being a ruthless gangster, Tommy is not heartless, as he has shown great remorse for his actions. By Season 5, Tommy has become severely depressed and unhappy in life and to be suicidal, as he almost kills himself several times in Season 5
Living... in post-WWI Birmingham, England, with his five siblings and his aunt Polly. It’s a full house and the Shelbys have plenty to do. As important members of the Peaky Blinders, a local criminal gang, “Tommy” and his relatives navigate the treacherous social landscape to solidify their power within the city.
Profession... boss of the Peaky Blinders. His brother Arthur may be older and brawnier, but Tommy has the brains and initiative. Dissatisfied with the group’s current status, he’ll do whatever it takes to dominate. His gang acknowledges his immense efforts: “It is Tommy that has given this family strength and power. You have to be as bad as them in order to survive.”
Interests... smoking, drinking, and gambling. Thomas Shelby indulges in the hobbies of a typical gangster of almost any era. He conducts business with a cigar in his mouth and a glass of whiskey in his hand. He also has a strong interest in horses, largely in part to his Gypsy heritage and businesses in racetracks and gambling.
Relationship Status... single. Warmth and romance aren’t his strengths. If the relationship isn’t strategically valuable, Tommy isn’t interested.
Challenge... holding onto power. With the arrival of Major Campbell – a police chief inspector – and the tireless scrutiny of Sir Winston Churchill, organized crime is facing some tough opposition. Tommy and his Peaky Blinders plan on circumventing the crackdown, but it’s not going to be easy.
Personality... stoic, intelligent, ruthless, calculating, and ambitious. Tommy is one man you don’t want to cross. Everyone in town knows that “it’s not a good idea to look at Tommy Shelby the wrong way.” He also suffers symptoms of PTSD ever since coming back from France. Tommy is a master tactician, a war hero, gangster, businessman, politician. He's turned his trauma into relentless ambition to improve his standing among London society.
Thomas first meets Grace shortly after she begins working at his local pub, The Garrison, and quickly grows fond of her. This mutual attraction eventually leads to love, however the relationship is rocked when Thomas discovers that Grace was secretly operating as an agent for the Crown. Despite her mission, she too fell in love with him and urged him to run away to New York with her, escaping both the Crown and the life of a Peaky Blinder. Despite his feelings for Grace, he thankfully declines, opting to stay in Birmingham and lead the Peaky Blinders.
Grace returns two years later, but is married to a wealthy American. Thomas is at first sardonic by her reappearance, but they end up spending the night together, a clear indicator that neither has lost feelings for one another. In the second series finale, Grace tells Thomas that she is pregnant with his child and that it's him, not her husband, who she loves.
Another two years passes and Grace has given birth to a healthy boy, Charles Shelby, and she and Thomas have married and now live in a country estate. However, her life with Thomas does not come without risk, as Grace is shot and shortly dies, leaving their son solely in the care of Thomas, who remains grieving long after her death and hallucinating her ghost. Photos and paintings of her are kept all around his house in her memory.
Series 1 sees Lizzie engaged to be married to John. Thomas, upon finding out about the marriage, proceeds to test Lizzie, offering her money to sleep with him one last time. She is reluctant at first but takes the money. Thomas tells John of the event, leading to the marriage being called off, but not before John found out Thomas was one of Lizzie's regular clients after he arrived back from the war in France.
In Series 2, Lizzie is next seen after having sex with Thomas, telling him she wishes just once he wouldn't pay her, like normal people. He doesn't take much interest in the conversation but is next seen back in his office with Lizzie once again, telling her to close her eyes. He offers her a job as his secretary, telling her she would no longer do her other work as a prostitute, this time with "no exceptions".
In episode 6, she is escorted to the Epsom Derby by Jeremiah Jesus to Thomas, who has a job for her. After they take a seat, he explains to her he needs her to distract a soldier, by taking him to a 'quiet place'. She instantly knows that he is implying she seduces him, but retorts using his own words, telling him that he said there would be no exceptions. He continues that he promises to get there before 'it' starts, and Lizzie eventually accepts. Once with the soldier, he becomes violent when she tries to slow things down, and Thomas doesn't arrive until after the soldier is raping Lizzie. Thomas pulls his gun and begins to fight with the man until he is able to shoot him with his own gun. Lizzie is shakily pointing his gun at him, crying and screaming where he was. He attempts to comfort her, but she angrily pushes him away and leaves.
By the end of Series 4, Lizzie had gotten pregnant and given birth to Thomas' child.
In Series 4, Thomas turns up at out of blue at Jessie Eden’s home looking for knowledge of the Italian family trying to kill the Shelby’s. She was under the false impression that he came with an “improved offer” on the pay wage for his factory workers. During a conversation with Eden, she recalls the knowledge of a past lover of his, Greta Jurossi, daughter of Italians who “died at age 19 of consumption.” Greta’s sister, Kitty Jurossi, and friend of Eden said Thomas was “at her bedside for three months. Every day, holding her hand,” and shortly after went to war. Kitty Jurossi claimed he was a sweet boy before the war and was a member of the Communist Party. Eden returns a photo to Thomas from Kitty of he and Greta at Blackpool beach. On it was written “Wild Rovers beside the seaside. June 15th, 1915”.
In the same episode, Tommy takes Lizzie to a dock beneath a bridge he had “not been in a long time” where a girl “would wait for hours for me when I couldn't make it... and I’d wait for her if her family kept her in.” At this point, he hints that it was Greta by mentioning that it was “Some girl... some girl before France.” presumably for sex.
Polly and Thomas share a close relationship, both within the Peaky Blinders and family. Within the Shelby family, Polly has looked after Thomas since they were young. When Thomas found out about Polly's search for her children, he aided her in finding them, however was reluctant to reveal their location, fearing that her anger would ruin the relationship between the two before it had begun.
Within the Peaky Blinders, Polly is one of his most trusted advisers, often advising him on gang business as the treasurer for the gang. In series 1, Thomas places Polly as interim leader while he is away on gang business, stating that she become permanent leader if he did not return.
Arthur is Thomas' elder brother and the two have a close but complex and strained relationship. Thomas uses the Peaky Blinders wealth and persuasion to purchase the Garrison, to which he entrusts to Arthur's management. He further involves his brother as 1/3 owner of Shelby Company Limited, proving the relationship between the two to be a strong and trustful one.
Despite their closeness, Thomas shows no love for Arthur's actions and attempts at suicide. While he forgives Arthur for giving their father £500 of the Peaky Blinder's money, he expresses contempt at Arthur's failed attempt to hang himself, sarcastically suggesting that next time he shoot himself. Furthermore, during Thomas' wedding where he prevents Arthur from saying his best mans' speech.
Like Arthur, John is Thomas' brother and a close and trusted ally. He is also entrusted 1/3 of Shelby Company Limited and is initially the bookkeeper for the Peaky Blinders, believing himself to be better than his brothers.
Tensions arise between the brothers when John announces he is to marry Lizzie Stark, someone that — unknown to him — Thomas has been sleeping with since his return from the war. Not wanting to see his brother hurt, Thomas reveals this information to John, causing complications in their relationships and leading to John calling off the engagement. Thomas does, however believe John to be an important member of the Shelby family, arranging for his marriage to Esme Lee, a member of a large gypsy clan. Thomas believes the marriage between the two to be an important way to unify the two clans against Billy Kimber and the Birmingham Boys. In the end, John seems to enjoy his marriage to Esme.
In 1926, Thomas warns John about the incoming attack from the Changretta Family, however John misses the call and is later shot dead by the family, much to Thomas' sadness.
As his sister, Ada and Thomas initially share a close relationship. Tensions between the two, however, begin to grow as she engages in a relationship with Freddie Thorne, an old friend turned enemy of Thomas' and the Peaky Blinders. The relationship between Ada and Thomas becomes further strained as Ada falsely believes Thomas to be the one who turned Freddie over to the police — something that is rectified at the end of series 1, leading to the two becoming close again.
Later, after the passing of Freddie, Thomas uses the wealth amassed by the Peaky Blinders to purchase a house for Ada and her child, proving his love for her. He further believes her to be the only one capable of talking sense into Polly over her son, Michael Gray. She later becomes an important figurehead in the family company, Shelby Company Limited.
Thomas and May Carleton’s relationship is that they’re both quite lonely in their own ways. Thomas is probably the first man that she feels passion for since her husband passed away.
His sexual interest in series 3, he sleeps with her on a few occasions, as she was "offered" by her Aunt to help close the deal with the family. Although he may harbour some feelings of love for her, they don't come close at all to his feelings for Grace and he rebuffs her coldly at the end of series 3, as she leaves the city and presumably the country.
- "Do I look like a man, who wants a simple life?"
- "Everyone's a whore, Grace, we just sell different parts of ourselves."
- "I am a horse."
- "He looked at me the wrong way. It's not a good idea to look at Tommy Shelby the wrong way."
- "Whiskey's good proofing water. Tells you who's real and who isn't."
- "I still prefer The Garrison."
- "He told fortunes and stole horses. Often he would tell a man that his horse would be stolen and they would marvel at his powers when it was."
- "I'm chosen? I'm chosen. Can the chosen one smoke?"
- "Lizzie, I want it known, that money was for you because, some nights, it was you who stopped my heart from breaking. No one else.”
- "Why not?"
- "I know what it is... it's just myself talking to myself about myself. "
- "All this death, Lizzie. Fuck, let's have some life, eh?"
|Series 1 Appearances|
|Episode 1.1||Episode 1.2||Episode 1.3||Episode 1.4||Episode 1.5||Episode 1.6|
|Series 2 Appearances|
|Episode 2.1||Episode 2.2||Episode 2.3||Episode 2.4||Episode 2.5||Episode 2.6|
|Series 3 Appearances|
|Episode 3.1||Episode 3.2||Episode 3.3||Episode 3.4||Episode 3.5||Episode 3.6|
|Series 4 Appearances|
|The Noose||Heathens||Blackbird||Dangerous||The Duel||The Company|
|Series 5 Appearances|
|Black Tuesday||Black Cats||Strategy||The Loop||The Shock||Mr Jones|
|Series 6 Appearances|
|Black Day||Black Shirt||Gold||[]||[]||[]|