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London Gangster

"The Mafia? Hah! I've shit 'em."
Harold Shand, The Long Good Friday

Since Britain Is Only London, London Gangsters are the British criminals we know best.

The London Gangster is a hard man in a sharp suit with a fondness for Cluster F Bombs and Country Matters. He'll tend to prefer roughing people up with his bare hands to using guns (gun control being very strict in the UK), but Cold-Blooded Torture isn't at all out of the question and the really nasty ones in fiction have a tendency to be Knife Nuts. He speaks in a working class East London, Cockney or South London accent, and his dense slang may feature a little Yiddish note 

The Don of a London Gang is usually a Shout-Out to the Kray twins (see page image), a pair of famous British gangsters in the 50s and 60s. He's a Self-Made Man and/or Nouveau Riche who's fiercely proud of having worked his way up from the gutter — even if that "work" involved scaring other people into giving him money. He's charismatic and generous when you're on his good side and a terrifying psychopath when you aren't.

Occasionally a particularly transparent Shout-Out to the Krays will go as far as featuring tropes from their lives, like Big Bad Duumvirate, Siblings in Crime, Creepy Twins, Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas and Gayngster. As you might have gathered, the Kray twins are iconic in the UK — Britain's answer to Al Capone.

We almost never see gangsters from Oop North, despite Manchester and Liverpool having considerable levels of organised crime in real life. The Yardies, however (Afro-Caribbean gangs, originally from Jamaica) are bound to get a mention.


Comic Books


Live-Action TV
  • 'The Firm' in Eastenders was based on this, and directly named after the Krays' gang. EastEnders also features Tough Cockney Twins Phil and Grant Mitchell, (although they aren't affiliated with the proper gangsters) as well as the more obviously Kray-namesaked Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell.
  • The Piranha brothers from Monty Python's Flying Circus, who are a deliberate spoof (with surprisingly little exaggeration) of the Kray twins.
  • A regular feature of The Sweeney.
  • "Genial" Harry Grout from Porridge
  • On The Bill, set as it is in an East London police station, you can't throw a truncheon without hitting a London Gangster. One episode from 1995, "Mitigating Circumstances", featured Ray Winstone playing the London Gangster of the episode.
  • Most of the characters in Macbeth On The Estate, a modernisation of Macbeth into a gangster story with most of the original script. In particular, Duncan, a gang boss played by Mr Winstone himself.
  • The Driscoll Brothers in Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass.
    • Also Freddie The Frog.
  • Comedy Duo Hale and Pace's "Da Management".
  • Badger from Firefly is a London Gangster IN SPACE! Complete with East London accent, bowler hat and dreadlocky Yardies. More of a cheeky Cockney sparrow than the usual scary psychopath, though.
  • In Leverage, one of Sophie's recurring personae is a London Gangster; admittedly, a female version.
  • The second series of ITV drama Whitechapel is all about London Gangsters as the apparent sons of Ronnie Kray, Jimmy and Johnny, attempt to take over the criminal underworld.
  • Saturday Night Live: Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro' is a can't-miss London gangster film, if you like movies you cannot understand.
  • Featured occasionally in Hustle, they are often portrayed as bumbling, such as Dexter Gold, the crooked gold-merchant who despite being referred to as "one of The Chaps", is utterly unthreatening, incompetent and even sets himself up for a second con. Typically, the truly brutal psycho-killers are foreigners. The earlier seasons had the more traditional East End villains who despite appearances of being rich and respectable, used brutal violence to get where they are. The cast however do go out of their way to avoid being on the receiving end of even the less threatening gangsters radars.

  • The 8th CHERUB book, Mad Dogs featured this nearly exactly. The Afro-Caribbean gang (primarily from Jamaica) called "The Slasher Boys" fighting a gang war against the titular Mad Dogs (fronted by a Football Club).
  • Most of the novels of Martina Cole.
  • Harry Stark in Jake Arnott's The Long Firm.
  • A family of these show up as allies of Nate Garrett in the first book of the The Hellequin Chronicles, with the father being a Pint-Sized Powerhouse who plays the traditional Affably Evil variant to the hilt, while his wife is equally friendly and, when required to be, terrifying.
  • These show up whenever someone from Time Scout goes downtime to Victorian London.
  • Joe Spork, the protagonist of Nick Harkaway's novel Angelmaker is the son of Mathew “Tommy Gun” Spork, an infamous one of these. Early in the novel, Joe muses about the likelihood of there being makeshift graves and pig farms that his father had a hand in.


  • The BBC Radio 4 serial G.F. Newman's The Corrupted is set in the 1950s, as control of London gangland is moving from Billy Hill to the Krays and Richardsons. The protagonist's uncle with a Hair-Trigger Temper moves from failed boxer, to Hill's heavy, to "protecting" his own patch from the Krays.

Video Games
  • The stereotypical mob family in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, creatively named "The Family". Though, this could be a subversion, since they act more like an Italian mafioso family than a British one.
  • Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 is filled with these types, including Albert and Archie Crisp, a suspiciously familiar Big Bad Duumvirate of Cockney twins.
  • The Getaway series features plenty of these, as well as The Yardies and the triads. The PSP-exclusive spin-off Gangs of London along with the traditional London gangsters, also contains some more exotic examples for a London setting, including Italian, Turkish, Russian and Chinese gangs.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the Penguin has been re-imagined as a Guy-Ritchie-ish English gangster with a thick East End accent and brutal means of enforcement. If you read his backstory you will learn that he comes from a prominent American family, but was sent to England for his education. Unfortunately he preferred hanging out with the rough crowd in seedy parts of the town over school.
  • Devin Mallory in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the senior members of the Thieves Guild.

Web Original
  • Terrence of KateModern, in his earlier 'gangster' persona.

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alternative title(s): Kray Winstone
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