Series: Peaky Blinders

May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the Devil knows you're dead.
"We're Peaky Blinders. We're not scared of coppers. If they come for us, we'll cut them a smile each."
— John Shelby, 1x01

Peaky Blinders is a BBC series set in post-WWI Birmingham, centering around the the Shelby family, whose men have returned from the Great War and begun to build up their street gang into a criminal empire. It stars Cillian Murphy as new kingpin Tommy Shelby, Sam Neill as CI Campbell, sent to Birmingham to clean house, and Helen McCrory as Shelby matriarch Aunt Polly.

The show has aired two seasons on both BBC and Netflix, with the Weinstein Company owning the American distribution rights to at least three seasons.


Peaky Blinders provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: Freddie Thorne's struggle between his labor union obligations and romantic interest in Ada. He marries Ada and sides with the Shelbys at the end of season one, but there is never any fallout because he dies between seasons one and two. Labor unions are never mentioned again.
  • Abusive Parents: According to the creator, this and Domestic Abuse was Truth in Television in 1919 Birmingham, and they can't show half of the violence that would have gone on.
    • Arthur Senior. At best, he's a con-artist who abandoned his family ten years ago. At worst, it's very likely he beat his sons (considering the way Arthur Junior reacts toward him during the boxing scene, Senior goading him to "take it like a man" and Junior wanting his father's approval). Either way, his behavior hurt the family so much that neither Tommy nor Polly will tolerate him in their house.
    • Ada starves herself and her baby out of spite toward her family.
    • Polly's case records state that her children were taken away because she was an abusive drug addict, though she denies it. Whether the charges were trumped up due to her criminal/gypsy background is left ambiguous.
  • Action Dad: Who knew John Shelby had four kids?! It becomes five in season two, and yep, still badass.
  • Action Mom: What Ada Shelby turns into in 1.06.
  • Aloof Big Brother:
    • Tommy to John and Ada, and to Arthur as well, despite being younger than Arthur.
    • Arthur to Finn. Tommy is more of a father-figure to him, John doesn't seem to be too aloof, but Arthur plays the trope pretty straight with Finn.
  • Amicable Exes: John Shelby and Lizzie Stark seem to be on pretty good terms by the end of season 2, considering that he called off their engagement in season 1 because she was still secretly working as a prostitute.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • In 1.05, since Grace is no longer his subordinate, Campbell makes an extremely awkward proposal to her without even the slightest history of prior romance between them. When she turns him down, he becomes irate and demands to know whether Tommy is the reason she's turned him down.
    • Grace gives one of her own to Tommy in the season finale. He rejects her—at first.
    • Two of them in 2.06 - one from Grace to Tommy, saying she's pregnant with his child and loves him, but Tommy's kind of busy with his assassination assignment, and his first reaction is to tell her to pass the child off as her husband's, since that's what they've wanted for so long, and the other from Campbell to Polly, basically trying to convince her that they have a sexual and emotional connection and that his heart belongs to her. She shoots him in the lower body region.
  • Apron Matron: Aunt Polly. Not even Arthur mouths off to her.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Grace to Tommy, in 1.03.
      Why did you change your mind?
    • Tommy to Grace, in 1.05.
      Why did you shoot, Grace?
  • Arranged Marriage: Tommy gets John hitched to Esme to end the war with the Lees. John's less than happy about it at first, but he's convinced to calm down by his brothers and the fact that the girl's very pretty.
  • Artistic License History: The Peaky Blinders were in reality a youth street gang that had petered out by the early 20th century, rather than a post-WW1, family-run organized criminal empire. The show seems to present the idea that members of the street gang grew up and built a crime family while carrying on the spirit of the gang.
  • Asian Hooker Stereotype: Chinatown has a brothel/laundry service providing Chinese prostitutes. Campbell makes use of it.
  • Asshole Victim: Field Marshal Russell, who turns out to be responsible for various unspecified atrocities in Cork and an attempted rapist.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Both the Peaky Blinders and the police force run on this.
  • As You Know: Does Tommy really need reminding that a lot of the pubs in the area pay them protection money?
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: While occasional bits of period music are used, the majority of the soundtrack is modern blues-rock. From the credits track of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" to The White Stripes' cover of "St. James Infirmary", this is not your granddaddy's soundtrack.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A familial example is Tommy and Ada. Ada may resent her brother, hate his vendetta against her husband, and want to cut off all contact with the Shelbys, but when it comes down to it, Ada forgives Tommy for the problems with Freddie and later allows him to frequently stay in her home in London.
  • Badass Baritone: Tommy.
  • Badass Crew: The Peaky Blinders.
  • Badass Family: The Shelbys.
  • Badass Longcoat: Campbell's gets a great introduction in the pilot. Each of the Shelby brothers have one, too.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: All three Shelby brothers dress very nicely. However, they stick to their roots and continue wearing razor-bladed flat caps with their suits instead of more formal bowlers.
  • Badass Mustache: Campbell and Arthur.
  • Badass Preacher: Jeremiah.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The page quote, from young up-and-comer John Shelby.
    • Campbell gets a lengthy one, in the form of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the police.
    • Campbell again in 1.02: "We will take them before last night's beer turns to piss and wakes the devils up. We will leave no stone unturned. Every gun, every bullet, brought to me for inspection. Now, take your positions!"
  • Bad Boss: Alfie shows shades of this when he punches one of the new Black Country recruits unconscious because another recruit made a joke about there being no bread in Alfie's "bakery"
  • Bad Dreams: Tommy's opium-fuelled flashbacks to the war, usually triggering a Catapult Nightmare.
  • Bad-Guy Bar:
    • The Garrison Tavern, unofficial headquarters for the Peaky Blinders.
    • The Black Swan - and later, the Black Lion - are even more of an example, both the headquarters for the IRA in Birmingham.
  • Bait and Switch:
    • The expectation in the opening scene of the pilot is that Tommy Shelby wants the Chinese girl as a prostitute. He actually wants her to use her eye-catching red dust to tell his prize horse's fortune and drum up bets for the horse's next race.
    • Tommy makes the Italian mob-types believe he shot Danny for killing the Italian shop owner. He actually faked Danny's death and is sending him as a mole into London.
  • The Barnum: Arthur Senior, who shills his dreams of opening a casino in America to Arthur Junior. Junior falls for it, hook, line, and sinker, to the disappointment of his family.
  • Bash Brothers: Arthur and John tend to be the best example of this. When Tommy's along, it's a Bash Trio.
  • Batman Gambit: Many of Tommy's plots require his enemies to behave a certain way.
    • Tommy assumes that his alliances with Billy Kimber (through business) and the Lees (through marriage, plus a Bait and Switch) won't fall apart before he and his gang can carry out Black Star Day. Grace nearly throws a spanner into the works, but the plan still comes off.
    • Tommy assumes before meeting Alfie Solomon that his second man will be forced to wait outside, that Alfie's assistant will allow him to tie his shoes out of sight, and that Alfie will heed his empty threats.
    • Tommy assumes at Epsom that Lizzie will be willing and able to seduce the Field Marshal.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For Tommy: Don't call the Shelby boys' mother a whore. Don't threaten any member of the Shelby family.
    • For Polly: Don't act foolish or ignore her advice. Do not lie to her or break your word to the family.
    • For John: Don't call Lizzie a whore.
    • For Campbell: Questioning how he's dealing with the Peaky Blinders.
    • For Arthur: Just about anything in season two, but especially don't try to kill his little brother.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Grace and Ada.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Tommy, for all of his siblings. Even Arthur, who's older than him.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Oh, guess.
  • Binge Montage: In season two, Arthur meets cocaine, and it's love at first sight. He gets a number of ever-increasingly out-of-control coke scenes.
  • Black Sheep: What Ada Shelby has become in season two, as she wants to stay in London and be "free" from the notoriety of being a Shelby. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen.
  • Bluff the Impostor: How Tommy figures out Grace isn't who they appear to be - any "good Catholic girl" would cross herself when she entered a church.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: John, most of the time. Arthur gets like this in season two, and it's not a good thing at all.
  • Boom, Headshot:
    • Billy Kimber
    • Field Marshal Russell, with his own revolver, no less.
  • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Tommy claims that Ada's artist boarder is an anarchist and consequently has knowledge of explosives.
  • Bond One-Liner: Polly's got the best to date after killing Campbell once and for all:
    Don't fuck with the Peaky Blinders.
  • Break-In Threat: The Lee family gets inside the Shelby house and betting shop, trashing the place and leaving behind a booby trap for Tommy to find.
  • British Accents: Quite a few of the Brummie accents are fake. Cillian Murphy's is pretty strong (although notably he can't quite get out 'strategy'), Helen McCrory's less so in season one, though it looks to be improving. Since the Shelby family are supposed to be only a few generations out of Ireland and have Romany blood on their mother's side, it does make sense that their accents would be Irish-impacted, which Arthur Senior and Arthur Junior's are. Sophie Rundle and Joe Cole seem to have more of a Black Country influence. As for the rest of the cast, Sam Neill's Northern Irish is dead on, based upon his father's accent, and with coaching from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt. Annabelle Wallis does a Northern Irish as well. No one's really sure what accent Iddo Goldberg is using for Freddie, considering it's Brummie by way of Dublin and Liverpool, which could hint at Freddie's family origins. You could cut Tom Hardy's Yiddish-Essex hybrid with a knife, but it's accurate. Ironically enough, Charlotte Riley, who plays May Carleton, is one of the few Northerners in the cast, but her character is London-born with an RP accent.
  • Broken Ace: Arthur Shelby Jr. Favored son, physically imposing and powerful, no trouble with the ladies, prestige due to his family name . . . and alcoholism, depression, suicidal ideation, a vicious case of PTSD from WWI, and in S2, severe blackout rages combined with his frustration in always coming second-fiddle to his more ambitious and charming younger brother.
  • Broken Pedestal: Both Tommy and Campbell have it for Grace.
  • Bungled Suicide: Arthur attempts to hang himself after being humiliated by his father and duped into giving him 500 pounds, which he stole from the family. The rope breaks. Tommy tells him to use a gun next time.
  • The Bus Came Back: At the end of 2.04, Tommy places a phone call to a hotel room in London. It's Grace and her American banker husband.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor thirteen-year-old Finn Shelby, who just wants to be as cool as his big brothers. He constantly gets shoved around and told to "go stick [his] head in a bucket".
  • Cain and Abel and Seth: The introduction of Michael Gray, Polly's son complicates the already-fragile relationships among the Shelbys. In particular, John and Polly square off on whether or not allowing Michael to participate in the less-legal side of the business is a wise idea.
  • Call Back:
    • In 1.03, Tommy stands in the Chinese laundry, examining the suits with Billy Kimber's name on the tags. In 1.06, Mr. Zhang examines a row of suits with the Shelby brothers' names on the tags.
    • In 1.04, Tommy tells Danny that every night, he can hear the German diggers tunneling through his wall, and unless he smokes opium, they tend to make it through (and trigger a full flashback to the battle) before the sun rises. In 1.05, after sleeping with Grace, Tommy says that the digging's stopped.
    • Episode 1.01 had Grace in a green dress and ethereal music playing walking into Birmingham, just the back of her in frame. The shot is recreated in 2.01 with Polly in a red dress and ominous music playing walking out of Small Heath and to the medium's house.
    • Season one involves Danny's fake grave being used to hide the stolen guns, the cause of much trouble and people trying to kill Tommy. Season two has Tommy about to meet a sticky end in an unmarked grave - and then being saved by a double agent in the Red Right Hand.
  • Call Forward: In 1.06, Tommy name-drops the "Sabinis" and the "Solomons" as the only two gang families in England that are bigger than the Shelbys. As of season two, Tom Hardy is playing Alfie Solomons and Noah Taylor is playing Darby Sabini.
  • Casualty in the Ring: In 2.02, Arthur loses his shit and beats a boy to death in the boxing ring. Tommy covers it up.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Tommy has one in episode 3.
  • The Chanteuse: Grace is the "Irish pub singer" subset. It's this talent which gets her the job at the Garrison Tavern and brings her to Tommy's attention.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • A literal gun is the derringer that Campbell gives Grace in 1.02. She places it in her purse, and nearly uses it in 1.03 when Billy Kimber attempts to rape her. The gun comes back again in 1.06, when Grace pulls it on Polly in the Garrison. It finally goes off spectacularly in 2.01: Grace shot Campbell that night at the train station, through her purse.
    • The need to fake Danny's death to appease the Italian mob served more purposes than getting Tommy eyes and ears in London and avoiding the death of a mostly-innocent man. It turns out that the Peaky Blinders have used Danny's grave to stash the stolen BSA guns.
    • Polly threatens to shoot Tommy for not telling her where her son is, but actually does shoot Campbell after he rapes her and interrogates Michael.
    • The veritable slew of people who point guns at Thomas Shelby in season two - the IRA, Campbell, Sabini, Alfie, Polly, Ada, Lizzie... all culminating in 2.06, when the Red Right Hand are about to shoot Tommy in a field and bury him in a pauper's grave, but a double-agent working with Churchill turns on the others and saves Tommy's life.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Tommy, who's playing the police, the Bolsheviks, the Lees, Billy Kimber, and his own family, all in pursuit of becoming a legitimate businessman.
    • Campbell thinks he's one. The one big gamble he manipulates - pulling the police back from Small Heath to let the Peaky Blinders and Kimber's men annihilate each other - he comes out on the wrong side of due to Ada and Tommy, each in their own way, keeping the bloodshed to a minimum, and mostly everyone surviving.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The plot of the show is a long list of one gang doublecrossing another gang:
    • In Birmingham: The Shelbys and the Lees are loose allies until a brawl drives them into a gang war. This was done intentionally by Tommy so he could ally the Shelbys with Kimber against the Lees. Then the Shelbys reconcile with the Lees and doublecross Kimber.
    • In London: The Shelbys reach out to the Jews to ally against the Italians and get a foothold in London. Then the Jews and the Italians reconcile and unite against the Shelbys, but the Jews make a new deal with the Shelbys and doublecross the Italians.
  • The Clan: The Shelbys and the Lees.
  • Click Hello: Do not leave guns lying around Aunt Polly's home. She returns it to John like this, pistol-whipping him to emphasize how stupid an action it was.
  • Cliff Hanger: Season 1 ends on a pretty big one. Season 2 ends on a fairly minor one.
  • Coffin Contraband: Danny Owen's fake grave is where Tommy's stashed the guns from the BSA robbery.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Tommy apparently doesn't believe in knocking and bursts in on John and Esme mid-sex. His excuse is that they should've locked the door, as it could have been anyone. After he leaves, John and Esme start back up again.
    • Tommy has a habit of this, as he walks in on Arthur fucking a prostitute in season 2. They even hold a conversation before Arthur - ahem - finishes up, and goes into the other room to talk business with Tommy.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies / Mle Trois: Tommy and the Peaky Blinders vs. Billy Kimber and the Lees vs. Campbell and the police. Enemy Mine and Villain Team-Up occur, but each side is ultimately out for their own interests.
    • Again in season two between Sabini's Italian gang, Alfie's Jews and the Peaky Blinders.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Campbell puts Arthur through this in the pilot.
    • Arthur slices off a bit of a gangster's ear to send a message to the Lee family.
    • What happens to Stanley Chapman under Campbell's watch.
    • Very strongly implied to have happened to Michael under Campbell's orders.
  • Color Motif: The show is mostly a grey-brown urban landscape with one dominant color in each scene. It remains to be seen what they might mean.
    • Red: the dust the fortuneteller uses, the interior of Churchill's train, Grace's Cheltenham dress, Billy Kimber's pocket square and home, most of the Chinatown scenes, Polly's Garrison dress, May's Epsom dress.
    • Green: Grace's traveling suit, the interior of the Shelby home, Grace's bedroom.
    • Lilac/Purple: the art gallery where Campbell and Grace meet, the tea room where Campbell and Tommy meet.
    • White: the smoke of Campbell's train, the dossiers Campbell looks through, the snow Grace walks through, Ada's dresses and furs, Freddie's union hall, the white horse, the door to the betting shop Tommy walks through at the end of episode five, Grace's furs at Epsom.
    • Yellow: the interior of the Garrison, the boxing ring where Arthur attempts suicide, the candles in the church, the train station where Grace shot Campbell, the new Garrison interior.
    • Blue: Polly's wardrobe, Freddie's basement flat, much of the gypsy camp, May's home, Grace's ball gown.
  • Combat Medic: Jeremiah, who hasn't picked up a rifle since the war, but will make wisecracks about God while he's digging a bullet out of you.
  • Cool Horse: Tommy tends to acquire them. First Monaghan Boy, the black horse that he performs the powder trick on in the pilot. Then a gorgeous unnamed white horse he wins in a bet from the Lee family, but it ends badly. In season two, he buys a racehorse named Grace's Secret in a bid to topple the Sabinis.
  • The Consigliere:
    • Aunt Polly for most of the family, but Tommy in particular.
    • Roberts is the cooler, wiser head that prevails upon Billy Kimber.
    • Tommy plots to turn Grace into another one, more along the lines of the traditional Mafia consigliere. He needs a "Roberts", like Billy Kimber has, someone with class, who will be accepted by society as the public face of his new company in non-criminal matters.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Campbell would like to remind you that Stanley Chapman died of falling down stairs, not an extended torture session in the basement of the local jail. And to go find some stairs to actually throw him down, just in case the coroner does ask questions.
  • Corruption of a Minor: The Peaky Blinders find nothing wrong with taking an eleven year old along on shakedown, letting him run around their betting shop, and sending him to steal things from the local pub. Continues when he's about 13, and he and his friend are full-fledged members of the gang.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: Grace doesn't know that a Catholic would cross themselves when they enter a church, and anyone who really had experience working in pubs would know how to pull a pint properly.
  • Couch Gag: The title sequence is simply the opening scene of each episode, with the theme song and credits played over it, culminating in the title card. As such, it's different every time.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Ironically enough, it's Campbell who gets this - lying in a pool of his own blood after being shot by Grace.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Tommy picks a fight with the Lee boys, but what sets all three Shelby brothers off is their mother being called a whore. They beat the holy hell out of the Lees, utilizing the razors sewn into their caps, but hey, at least they get great backing music while they do it (The Raconteurs' "Blue Veins")!
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : There are lots of montages and slow-motion sequences of the Shelbys partying or Power Walking down the street while badass blues-rock blares on the soundtrack.
  • Dating Catwoman: Ada Shelby is seeing Freddie Thorne, resident Bolshevik unionizer.
  • Death Faked for You: Danny, who actually believes Tommy's going to shoot him. He's sent off to London to be Tommy's eyes and ears instead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Runs in the Shelby family - Polly, Ada, and Tommy are the ones who employ it the most, for varying reasons.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Despite Polly's considerable influence, it's the men of the Shelby clan (Tommy in particular) who have all the say.
    • In spite of being a wild man, Arthur finds the wild jazz music of London to be "racket" and hates it.
    • Veterans regularly tell Campbell to his face that he's less of a man because he did not serve in the Great War.
    • In multiple scenes, the 11-year-old Finn is shown drinking beer with his family.
    • Some bars will refuse service to a black man, and one bar patron refuses to drink in the same bar as a black man.
  • Denying the Dead Parent's Sins: Polly quite noticeably does not do this for her late husband. She tells Michael that his father was a drunk and an abuser and died a pointless death.
  • Dirty Cop: Campbell's first move in office is to clear out the extremely corrupt Birmingham PD and bring his own men in. He eventually falls into this himself, though, much to the horror of Sgt. Moss, who seems to mostly be a fairly principled guy.
  • The Don: Tommy is beginning to look and act the part in season two, though Darby Sabini is the real Godfather-type.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Polly's clearly not afraid to use corporal punishment on the boys. She tells John that her boot's harder than any excuse he has for his childish behavior, and Tommy says the only reason she doesn't hit him with the fireplace poker is because she knows he's right about Freddie and Ada.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Little Finn picks up a hammer to use during the Cheltenham raid. John takes it away from him... and gives him a cleaver.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: In season two, John has become this to Tommy. He feels that Tommy's plans for expansion to London are foolish when they're already making so much money, and believes he should have more control over day-to-day operations.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After being a major part of season one, Freddie dies between seasons one and two of illness.
  • Easy Evangelism: Arthur Senior, the Shelby patriarch, has apparently found Christianity while he's been away from Birmingham. Subverted, as he's lying.
  • Eleventh Hour Ranger:
    • Jeremiah, the street preacher shown in short bits throughout the series, turns out to have been The Medic for the boys when they were in France. Tommy calls upon him to join them to battle Kimber - good thing, too, since Tommy ends up shot in the shoulder by Kimber.
    • Also in 1.06, Freddie, after the Peaky Blinders spring him from jail. He comes to help them fight Kimber bearing the single machine gun they managed to hide from Campbell.
  • Emotional Bruiser: The Shelby brothers, as opposed to the stoic Inspector Campbell.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Tommy Shelby, dressed in all black, riding a black horse down the middle of the deserted Chinatown street. He's theatrical, in charge, and decidedly not a white-hat type.
    • Campbell reading the dossiers of the suspected leaders of the Peaky Blinders, establishing his doggedness, preparation, and thorough understanding of the gangsters he's been sent to root out. He gets a second one for season two, the step-clank sound of his cane and complete ignoring of a screaming interrogation going on behind him.
    • Grace walking alone in the snow down the main street, ethereal music in the background. She's mysterious, and her green dress clues us into her Irish heritage.
    • Polly pulling a gun on John, shouting at him for leaving it around the shop for Finn to play with, and pistol-whipping him to remind him to be more careful. She's the authority in the family and will discipline the boys no matter how old they are.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The Lees call the Shelby brothers' mother a "didicoy whore". This is a bad idea.
  • Everybody Smokes
  • Evil Matriarch: Aunt Polly seems to be the most level-headed of the Shelby clan, but she's still running a street gang.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • The IRA hitmen sent to Birmingham in revenge for the killing of Ryan. They corner Tommy in the Garrison and are about to execute him - shame they didn't check the back room or pay more attention to pub employees.
    Tommy: To barmaids that don't count.
    • Tommy nearly falls victim to this in 2.03, when the Sabini assassin nearly shoots him. Luckily for him, Arthur and John are quicker on the draw and take care of the problem.
  • Family Business: Bookmaking, fixing races, and doling out beatdowns seem to be a Shelby tradition. Tommy wants to go legitimate, and does when Billy Kimber awards the Shelbys a legal betting pitch at one of his racetracks. Doesn't stop him from continuing on his path of crime.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Inspector Campbell. He'll smile at you, play up the harmless demeanor ... right until he sticks the knife in and tells you how disgusting he finds criminal scum.
  • Fidelity Test: Tommy gives one to Lizzie to see if she's really changed. He gives her 8 pounds for "one last time" - propositioning her to continue as a whore - and she takes him up on it. It means she's lying to John about not being a hooker anymore.
  • Financial Abuse: In the words of Polly, Arthur Senior is a "thieving whore-groping con artist", and it seems that his duping money out of the family is an old habit.
  • Fingore: Campbell breaks most of Arthur's fingers in the pilot.
  • Five-Bad Band:
    • In Season One:
      • Big Bad: Tommy, who runs the Peaky Blinders.
      • The Dragon: Arthur, who believes he's top dog, but Tommy phases out of the leadership.
      • The Evil Genius: Aunt Polly, who dispenses advise and comes up with a good number of strategies.
      • The Brute: John, who is hotheaded and likes to issue threats.
      • The Dark Chick: Ada, who hates being a Shelby, but is pretty good at it.
      • Tagalong Kid: Finn, who takes part in the gang despite being all of eleven.
    • In Season Two:
      • Big Bad: Tommy, to even greater heights as his empire expands.
      • The Dragon: Polly, who Tommy even openly states will take over if he should be injured/dead.
      • The Evil Genius: John's aspiring to this role, questioning Tommy's decisions.
      • The Brute: Arthur's descended to this, becoming Tommy's "mad dog".
      • The Dark Chick: Esme, who may have a little Starscream in her, as Polly suspects.
      • Tagalong Kid: Still Finn, though he's graduated to being a full-fledged member of the gang, with his own razor cap.
  • Foil:
    • Tommy and Campbell, slick British gangster prince versus cunning Irish copper - but since Tommy is of Irish descent and Campbell is a British Loyalist, each of them is from the other's country. Both men commit horrible acts of violence they justify with their own moral code, both are feared leaders you wouldn't want to cross, and both put Grace on a pedestal and are betrayed.
      Campbell: One thing I have learned is that you and I are opposites, but also just the same. Like an image in a mirror. We hate people, and they in turn hate us. More than, they fear us.
    • Polly and Grace, who have a bit of Light Feminine Dark Feminine going on. Both of them operate in unique roles in male-dominated worlds - Polly as the sole woman in the Peaky Blinders, Grace as a mole working with the police.
    • Grace and Ada, though that's mostly due to the way Tommy sees them. He believes them both to be young girls who made mistakes with men, and that having children ruined their lives. Except having a baby doesn't make Ada any less badass, and that harmless persona is only a cover for Grace.
    • 2.06 gives us a very explicit comparison in Grace versus May. Grace is dressed in all pinks and whites, emphasizing her seeming innocence and her pregnancy, but is going about things in a very manipulative way. May is all in red and has some very Femme Fatale vibes going on, but she's straightforward and honest with Grace about her relationship with Tommy and her financial connections for the future.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Freddie tells Tommy in the pilot "maybe you should put a bullet in Danny Whizzbang's head, like they do with mad horses. Maybe you'll have to put a bullet in mine someday." As of the third episode, Tommy's two for two with bullets, faking Danny's death, but shooting him in the head nonetheless, and having to put down the white horse he bought from the Lees.
    • Before singing for Tommy in the Garrison, Grace tells him flirtatiously "I'll break your heart.". Tommy proclaims it's already broken, but by 1.06, Grace really does break his heart with her betrayal.
    • Tommy tells Campbell in 2.02 that he imagines "being shot by a woman hurts the same as being shot by a man". He's referring to Grace, but by 2.06, Campbell will be fatally shot, this time by Polly.
  • Foot Focus: Multiple close-ups of Tommy's boots.
  • Friend on the Force: Both Arthur and Tommy think they can turn Campbell into one for the Shelby family. They are very, very wrong.
  • Functional Addict: Tommy is an opium addict, which may or may not have an effect on his decisions. Also, as we discover in episode four, John does it for the same reasons.
    • Arthur's lapsed into full-blown alcoholism and cocaine use as of season two.
  • Genre Savvy: Tommy, as part of his chessmaster nature. Campbell's no slouch at it either, though he has a giant blind spot when it comes to Grace.
  • Glasgow Grin: Invoked in one of John's lines (the one at the top of the page), and also very apparent on Arthur Sr.'s face. He's played by Tommy Flanagan, who is a Real Life example of this trope.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played with. Ada wants to keep her child because she loves Freddie, not because she thinks abortion is wrong. Polly tells her to get the abortion, because it's more shameful to live as a "whore", with a "bastard child", and that when Ada's older, she'll thank her. Ada decides to go through with it, but at the train station, they meet a returning Freddie, who proposes to Ada and declares they're staying in Birmingham.
    • In addition, it's revealed that when Polly was sixteen, she made the mistake of keeping her child too long, too frightened to tell anyone. Eventually she performed an abortion on herself, nearly dying in the process.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Arthur Senior's Glasgow Grin. Three guesses which side he falls on.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Subverts the usual expectations - the mostly-good guys smoke cigarettes, hash, and opium; Campbell smokes a pipe.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: What Campbell sends Grace to do to Tommy. He's not happy about it.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • Johnny Dogs, the Lees and the gypsy matriarch speak more or less accurate Romani in episode two. Tommy speaks some Romani in episode four that is worse, as you might expect from someone with only a weak connection to his Roma roots.
    • The Italian spoken by Darby Sabini and his consigliere Mario is pretty good.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The Peaky Blinders are Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters, while Campbell is a brutal Knight Templar law enforcement officer with serious sexual problems. Neither is totally right or totally wrong.
  • Gun Struggle: Happens multiple times in episode 3; first with Grace and the IRA sympathizer in the alley behind the Black Swan, second with Grace and Billy Kimber.
  • Handicapped Badass: Campbell, as of season two.
  • The Handler: Campbell has numerous operatives in Birmingham, most notably Grace.
  • Harbinger of Asskicking: You really don't want one of the boys to take their caps off. Trust us on this.
  • The Heart: For all her gloriously bitchy, Iron Lady exterior, Polly is this for the Shelby family. It's Polly who mediates the disputes in the family, Polly who reminds Tommy of what he was like before France, and Polly who realizes Grace and Tommy love each other, despite Grace's betrayal.
    Tommy: Polly tells me you fell in love for real, and Polly is never wrong about matters of the heart.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Tommy, in 1.06.
  • Heroic BSOD: If you can call any of the characters 'heroic':
    • Grace, who gets drunk and then sick with guilt after she kills the IRA member outside the Black Swan. An interesting case because she appears not to care when speaking to Campbell later, even implying it was standard operating procedure when they were in Belfast.
      • Truth in Television, the Belfast police were infamous for their corruption, brutality and hatred of the Irish.
    • Tommy, upon finding out that it was Grace who told the police (and by extension, Kimber) exactly when the Peaky Blinders were planning on attacking Kimber. All he can do is stare unseeing while Polly tells him she'll take care of Grace, because if he does, he might kill her.
    • Polly undergoes a lengthy one in 2.01 and 2.02, becoming ever more guilt-ridden and desperate to find her children. The reveal from a gypsy woman that her daughter is likely dead sends her into a screaming, grief-stricken BSOD. She goes into another, less angry and more completely shocked version when Tommy buys her a house of her own and promises to find her children.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Winston Churchill, in his Secretary of State days, is the one behind Campbell's investigation into the BSA robbery and the Peaky Blinders.
    • Billy Kimber was also a real person who effectively controlled a large number of British racecourses until the early 1930s. At the height of his power the historical Kimber was able to exert influence as far north as Scarborough, on the Yorkshire coast.
    • 2.01 introduces the extremely ruthless London gangster Darby Sabini. Michael Collins shows up in the scene where Tommy goes to the Black Lion.
    • 2.02 introduces Sabini's counterpart, Jewish gang boss Alfie Solomons, also a real London gangster of the time period.
    • 2.05 features a brief appearance by Charlie Chaplin.
  • Holier Than Thou: Campbell. He's really not, as we come to find out.
  • Honey Trap: What Grace is assigned to be for Tommy.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Lizzie Stark, who's taking a typing class and has a sweet relationship with Tommy in season two, despite the previous issues with and regarding John.
  • Hookers and Blow: 2.04 has Arthur taking a bath after taking over Sabini's club with two prostitutes, and he snorts lines of cocaine off the rim of the tub.
  • Horse Racing: The Shelby business is based on horse racing. The opening scene of the show features Tommy executing a scheme to fix a race. Much of Series 2 features Tommy's elaborate plan involving the Epsom Derby, with the finale occurring at the Derby.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: John's new wife Esme, who is in need of a good marriage because she's "been a bit wild." After joining the family, she shows herself to be opinionated and strong-willed.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Billy Kimber would be useless without Roberts.
  • Hypocrite: Campbell lecturing Grace on not trusting a man who "cuts out tongues and kills without discrimination", when he could just as easily be talking about himself.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Arthur hangs a lampshade on the irony of Tommy calling their father a selfish bastard.
    Arthur: You're calling someone a selfish bastard? It's a bit rich, Tommy, coming from you. I mean, thanks to you, we're already down a bloody sister.
  • I Am Not My Father: Tommy and John don't want to be like their father, but they do have designs on the family business and Finn looks to be following in their footsteps. Ada, though, wants no part of being a Shelby, to the point where in season two, we find out she's moved to London and hasn't spoken to any of them in two years.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Campbell has them. All of the Shelby boys also have them, but Tommy's get the most attention (belonging to, you know, Cillian Murphy). Michael has them, specifically marking him as a Shelby.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • Sergeant Moss is appalled that Campbell would go back on his word to Tommy about leaving Freddie alone. Campbell corrects him, his word only applies to people who are not scumbag criminals and Peaky Blinders.
    • Polly loses her shit on Tommy when she thinks he's broken his word that Freddie and Ada will be safe the night of John's wedding. He hasn't, but he didn't count on Grace telling Campbell that Freddie and Ada were at the Shelby house.
    • Tommy breaks it when he fails to protect Lizzie in 2.06.
  • In Love with the Mark: Grace falls for Tommy, which doesn't go down well with Campbell.
  • Insistent Terminology: Campbell has to keep reminding Moss that he employs "operatives", not "spies".
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • Ada and Freddie are having sex when Campbell's men start rousting the Bolsheviks from Garrison Court.
    • John and Esme are still consummating their recent marriage when John is called away on family business.
  • In the Blood: Extra-legal activities, gambling, and violence seem to be common in the Shelby family.
    Tommy: I think we're the first Shelbys in history to have a legal license for anything. What would our granddad say? Be turning in his grave - "honest bloody money? In this house?"
    • Explored further with Michael in season two - does the Shelby blood out when you've been raised by a very different kind of family? In this case, yes. It really does.
  • The Irish Revolution: In full swing given the time period. Ryan, Byrne, and the unnamed third man are all IRA members, and Campbell and Grace have just been involved in Easter Rising.
  • Iron Lady: Polly, for the Peaky Blinders. The gypsy queen is also this.
  • It's Personal:
    • Campbell admits to Moss that his mission in Birmingham has become this. Specifically, when Campbell discovers that Grace has fallen in love with Tommy he's pissed. When he realizes that Tommy is spending the night at Grace's house and presumably sleeping with her he goes from pursuing Tommy as a criminal to pursuing him as a romantic rival.
    • The real kicker is that Tommy knows it, too. 2.05 sees Tommy taking Grace to meet Charlie Chaplin as a kind of seduction or attempt to mend the rift between them, distracting her long enough for him to ring up Campbell and tell him that he'll be returning home with a beautiful woman and who on Earth does he think it could be?
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Campbell certainly isn't above getting his hands dirty, as he brutally beats Arthur Shelby mostly as a message to the rest of the Peaky Blinders not to underestimate him.
    • He does it again to Tommy in 2.02, getting creative with Tommy's extensive injuries from the Sabini beating to blackmail him into working with him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • Campbell "interrogating" a member of the Shelby family should horrify the audience. Fortunately, it's Arthur, a fairly unpleasant guy, so Campbell still comes across as a fairly grey character, rather than pure evil.
    • Subverted with the second beatdown we see Arthur take - one from his father, Arthur Senior. By this time, we've learned about Arthur's depression and desperation to be the favored child, and Senior shows up and treats him like dirt.
  • Knight Templar: CI Campbell.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: All of the Shelby boys are like this for each other, as well as for Ada and Finn.
  • Kosher Nostra: The Solomons of London are a Jewish gang that control Camden Town, run by Alfie Solomons. They even hold a seder in 2.05, during which the Jewish gangsters are wearing traditional prayer robes beneath their other attire. Alfie Solomons is an atypical example in that he's by far the most blue-collar criminal kingpin in the series.
  • Lady in Red: Grace, at Cheltenham. Tommy specifies that the dress she buys should be red.
    • Polly's dress for the Garrison re-opening in 2.02 is a very eye-catching red.
    • And completing the trio of dangerous women in red, May wears a beautiful red dress for the Epsom Derby.
  • Like A Daughter To Me: Grace, for Campbell. Her actual father was assassinated by the IRA in Belfast. Ultimately subverted when it becomes increasingly clear that he's in love with her.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Arthur Senior has this to an extent with all four of his sons, but mostly with Arthur Junior. They're both dreamers who resent Tommy for having so much success in business.
  • London Gangster: Billy Kimber.
  • Lonely at the Top: Tommy displays some shades of this.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Michael Gray, Polly's son that was taken from her when he was six.
  • Mad Bomber: The Lees trash the Shelbys' betting shop, leaving behind a pair of wire cutters. What for? To try and defuse the grenade they've wired into the Shelbys' car.
  • Mafia Princess: Ada. Lampshaded by Freddie.
  • Mama Bear: Polly has this mostly for Ada. She even goes after Tommy first for burning Ada's letter to Freddie and then actually attacks him when she thinks he broke his word and gave Freddie up to the police.
    Polly: (to Freddie) You lay a hand on our Ada, and I'll put you in a wooden box myself.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Arthur and Polly serve as certain public faces of the family; Campbell twigs early on that if he wants to talk to the boss, he should be speaking with Tommy.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Ada really, really shouldn't be sleeping with Freddie Thorne, nor should she become pregnant from this liaison. Naturally, she does.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • It's possible the Lees put a curse on the white horse, or it's equally possible the horse was nearly lame when they sold it to Tommy.
    • Whatever Tommy did to heal himself of that beating from the Sabinis, it involved a boat, gunpowder, alcohol, and possible gypsy magic.
  • The Mole: Grace, who's really an undercover operative for Campbell.
  • More Deadly Than The Male: Ada Shelby is just as cunning and dangerous as the rest of her family, and much more so than her husband, Freddie. Polly Grey laughs in the face of police inspectors and orders around killers twice her size. Grace Burgess shoots IRA operatives and is about to throw down with Polly before being talked out of it.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Employed in different ways in regards to Ada and Grace. When it comes to Ada sleeping around, her brothers don't quite mind, so long as she doesn't get pregnant and word doesn't get around. But if she were to get pregnant and the man didn't marry her, they'd go ballistic. Grace, in contrast, is seen as innocent and virginal by just about everyone in her life, but she's the one who experiences less squeamishness when Campbell asks her to employ feminine wiles to seduce information out of Tommy. She's also the one to initiate sex with him, without hesitation.
  • My Local: The Garrison Tavern.
  • Nave Newcomer: Grace pretends to be this. She's definitely not.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Happens to poor Grace when Tommy auctions her off to Billy Kimber as part of their Villain Team-Up, originally thinking Kimber's harmless and she'll be able to knee him in the nuts and get away. Kimber's much more dangerous than Tommy thinks, and after a last minute attack of conscience, Tommy gets her away from Kimber before either a rape or another shooting happens.
    • Nearly happens to Ada, when Sabini's men attack her. It's unclear if anything actually does happen before Tommy's men show up to save her.
    • Field Marshal Russell attempts to rape Lizzie shortly before Tommy kills him. In this case it's partly Tommy's fault, as he arranged for Lizzie to act as bait to isolate the Field Marshal on the express promise that he would turn up before anything happened. He's late.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Averted; Polly unquestionably ran the business for five years during World War One, and continues to rule the family in private matters.
  • New Era Speech: Campbell gets a rather spectacular one in the pilot, given to the Birmingham police when he brings in a load of new cops from Ireland to swell the ranks and bring about order.
    • Tommy gives one to the family in 2.01 when he proposes the London expansion, which boils down to "we're expanding and if you don't like it, there's the door".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Uh, Arthur, maybe you might not have wanted to promise "help" to the new policeman from Special Branch when he introduces himself to you by kidnapping and torture? It gets the entire Courts threatened and some people rounded up by Campbell, and they think you're responsible.
    • Polly, maybe you might have considered that giving up the Bolshevik leader to Campbell in exchange for Freddie and Ada's safety wouldn't do any good if said Bolshevik leader can't actually give the police any information? You've just condemned a mostly-innocent man to death.
    • Great, Tommy, tell the mole in your organization precisely where you hid the BSA guns, what you do with all the contraband you import, where the Bolshevik renegade is hiding, and when you're going to attack Kimber's organization. Granted, Arthur doesn't precisely help either, but it's really Tommy's fault for being so smitten by Grace he tells her everything.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In season 2, Field Marshal Russell appears to be shaping up as an expy of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Tommy gives one to Byrne when Byrne attempts to strangle him in the Garrison. After fighting his way back to his feet, Tommy headbutts Byrne and begins smashing a spittoon into his head, over and over.
    • Arthur Senior gives two to Arthur Junior over the course of episode five. The second is significantly more humiliating than the first.
    • Tommy gets one from Darby Sabini and his goons due to his London expansion. The Sabini gang beats him bloody, rips out one of his teeth, and cuts his cheek.
  • No Indoor Voice: Billy Kimber tends to shout when he talks, showing him to be a rather uncivilized thug in spite of his money and success.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Campbell's emotionally-charged, long-awaited first meeting with Tommy? Takes place in a tea house, presumably to ensure that they'll each be on their best behavior.
  • Nonviolent Initial Confrontation:
    • For Campbell and Tommy. Not so with Campbell and Arthur.
    • Tommy and Alfie Solomons, in Alfie's "bakery," in order to negotiate an alliance.
  • No Periods, Period: Ada's five weeks late. Seven, if you count weekends.
  • Not So Different: Campbell tells Tommy that they're the same, both hated and feared for the power they wield, both betrayed by the same woman.
  • Nouveau Riche: What the Shelbys become in series two. Tension occurs when Ada finds the new flaunting of wealth distasteful, and also with the various ways Tommy has to invest the illegal funds (buying property, buying a racehorse).
  • Number Two: Polly explicitly becomes this to Tommy in season two, taking over when Tommy is beaten by the Sabinis.
  • Odd Friendship: Arthur and Grace strike one up when they begin running the Garrison. Arthur speaks to her like more of an equal than a simple barmaid or secretary would be, and Grace teases him about his terrible head for numbers.
  • Outlaw Couple: Tommy and Grace play with the trope, especially in 1.03, but ultimately it's averted due to Grace working for Campbell.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Arthur should stop shoving guns into the waistband of his trousers. John and Tommy do the sensible thing and use holsters. He seems to learn better in season two, wearing a holster like the rest.
  • Papa Wolf: Tommy, especially about Finn. Threatening Arthur and John doesn't worry him, but the moment that Finn is put in threatened or actual danger, Tommy loses it.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mama Shelby seems to have died sometime after having Finn, but before the boys went off to war. Arthur Senior disappeared around ten years ago, just after Finn's birth, but shows back up in Birmingham a self-professed "changed man". He sticks around just long enough to dupe Arthur out of 500 pounds, then disappear again.
  • Parental Substitute: Charlie Strong sees himself as one for Tommy, though the opposite doesn't seem to be true. Tommy seems very resentful of Charlie and only begrudgingly calls him "Uncle".
  • Pet the Dog: Tommy hushing the spooked horse. Grace sees how gently he treats the horse, and it improves her opinion of him.
  • Phony Veteran: Arthur Senior apparently served "all over" during World War One. No one's buying it.
  • Power Walk: The Peaky Blinders, led by the three Shelby brothers, get an excellent one in 1.06, set to Dan Auerbach's "The Prowl".
  • Preacher Man: Jeremiah, the Jamaican street preacher who ends up being one of Tommy's lookouts.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The entire cast is prone to this - except Campbell, who normally doesn't swear at all - but one of the best comes from Ada, yelling at the projector operator at the cinema Tommy's just emptied out to scream at her in, "Oi! I'm a Shelby too, you know! Turn my fucking film back on!" And then he does.
    • The only time Campbell swears in the show: "Mr. Chapman, you're fucked."
    • Polly's final line of season two is a combination of this, Bond One-Liner, and Badass Boast: "Don't fuck with the Peaky Blinders."
  • Promotion to Parent: Polly seems to have raised most, if not all of the Shelby children. In addition, Tommy acts as the father of the house, the stern disciplinarian to Polly's more compassionate mother figure.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Arthur and John have them. Tommy tends toward coldness when he's being a bastard. Campbell has one too.
  • Put on a Bus: Grace leaves for America in the season one finale. She returns toward the end of season two.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Ada has two of these with Tommy. At John's wedding, a drunken Ada lays into Tommy for his manipulations of the family (arranging John's marriage, refusing to accept her own marriage, causing her and Freddie to go into hiding. The last straw for Ada with Tommy is Freddie's arrest on the night of John's wedding. She believes Tommy is responsible, and is refusing to see or speak with anyone else from the family as well.
    • Polly hits a combination of this and a Despair Event Horizon in 2.02 when Tommy reveals the double-whammy that her stolen daughter is dead, but that her son is alive and although Tommy knows where to find him, he won't tell her. Tommy thinks he's protecting Polly by not telling her where Michael is, but all Polly can see is Tommy keeping her from the son who was taken away from her when he was six. She pulls a gun on him, presses it to his head, and demands he tell her, but Tommy reminds her if she shoots him, she'll never know.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: We knew Campbell was a sick fuck when it comes to taking women by force (as evidenced by his rape of the prostitute in 1.06), but he takes a special level in awful in 2.05 when he rapes Polly very specifically to not only humiliate her and make her beg for her son's release, but to get back at Tommy for "taking" Grace from him.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Pretty much every character has disparaged Campbell for not serving in World War One, making him very defensive about it. One reason the Shelby brothers are so highly regarded is because all three eldest brothers are decorated war veterans.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Campbell to the new Birmingham police recruits.
    • Aunt Polly to Tommy, when she finds out about the guns. She gives him another one in the next episode when they're fighting over Ada and Freddie. She gives a third speech to Grace, fairly spectacularly, in 1.06.
    • Polly's back at it in 2.01, telling Tommy off for talking a good game about women being equal partners in the business, but "not listening to a word we say".
  • Recycled Soundtrack: A lot of material is lifted from The Proposition, co-written by Nick Cave, who also supplies the theme song.
  • Relative Button: Campbell presses Tommy's in episode 4. He starts by listing off the way he'll kill Tommy and the elder Shelby brothers, then Ada and her unborn child. Finally, he says the only one he'd spare would be Finn - but only so that he could send eleven year old Finn to prison with child molesters and killers. Tommy snaps, raises his gun to shoot Campbell, but can't quite pull the trigger.
  • The Resenter: Ada, to Tommy - and by extension, the rest of the family. She's furious that Tommy can treat anyone like dirt and get away with it.
    • Also Arthur, who resents Tommy's gradual takeover of the family, and whose inferiority complex causes him to attempt suicide.
  • The Roaring Twenties: Season two is set in 1922 and the scenes set in the Eden Club in London really play the trope straight, with flappers, cocaine, and Bugatti cars.
  • Romani:
    • The Lee family is a clan of Romani living on the outskirts of Birmingham. They're one of the major criminal players vying for control of the area.
    • The Shelby family has blood Romani ties. Their maternal grandfather was supposedly a king amongst them, and Tommy reminds the current queen that they're family. They get prejudice on both sides. The Lees taunt the Shelby brothers that their mother was Didicoy, a half-blooded gypsy. Everyone else disparages the Shelbys for being savage gypsies, likely to steal your silver and kill your men.
    • Episode 2.01 introduces Mrs. Pryce of the Black Patch, who seems to fit many of the stereotypes of Romani women - telling fortunes and summoning spirits. Esme, who was a Lee before she married John, tells Polly that Mrs. Pryce is a charlatan, fulfilling another stereotype of gypsies being liars.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Arthur, of all people, turns out to be really good at these, with John as his Number Two. They whip the Peaky Blinders up to go and attack the Lees at Cheltenham as part of Tommy's plan to impress Billy Kimber.
    • Tommy gets an excellent one that he gives to the Peaky Blinders outside the Garrison, as Kimber's men are arriving to kill them.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Danny, twice in season one. Campbell in season two.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Campbell is responsible for a truly disturbing example in 2.05. Particularly ironic and apropos due to Tosca itself being a big presence in 1.02, where the Campbell/Scarpia parallels begin.
  • Screaming Birth: The trope is played with by Ada Shelby in 1.04. The lady in question does not deliver mere seconds after her water breaks, but does (very understandably) spend a while screaming and crying because her child is in danger of being born breach.
  • Shaming the Mob: Ada's attempts to prevent a shootout in the finale. Applies to both definitions of the word 'mob'.
  • Shed the Family Name: 2.01 plays this straight with Ada Shelby, who wants to escape the family, and plays around with it in regards to Polly, who is revealed to be a Shelby by birth, and is now trading on the social capital of the name.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Played straight by Tommy, Freddie, Arthur, and most of the boys who served in World War One. Taken to its Tear Jerker, PTSD conclusion by Danny, who keeps flashing back to France and accidentally kills a man during a blackout.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Freddie Thorne, frequently.
    • Cillian Murphy only gets one in the first season, but multiple in season two. Fandom is appreciative.
    • Arthur gets one in 2.01, showing off his new boxing-honed physique.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Arthur. Darby Sabini. Alfie Solomons as well, to a lesser degree.
  • Shoot the Dog: Shoot the horse, really, which is what Tommy has to do to the white horse he won off the Lees. It's implied they sold it to him knowing it had a rotted hoof and would be lame soon anyway.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the scene where Tommy fakes Danny's death, he quotes the Christina Rossetti poem "In the Bleak Midwinter".
    • The opera that Campbell meets Grace at is Tosca.
    • In 2.06 Campbell employs a group of Ulster Volunteers known as the "Red Right Hand" in a nod to the theme song. Also counts as Fridge Brilliance when you realise that the heraldic symbol of Ulster (and the badge of the Ulster Volunteers) is a red hand. A right one, no less.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Grace gives one to Polly in 1.06, quite succinctly, in regards to why Polly is so violently protective of Tommy.
    Grace: Maybe what really upsets you is that someday, you might lose him.
  • Siblings in Crime
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Grace. Polly and Ada's tempers are a bit too fearsome to be this.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Lizzie Stark, John's proposed wife and later, Tommy's new secretary.
  • Slut Shaming:
    • Tommy, Arthur, and Polly ridicule Lizzie for being a hooker. Mostly, though, the real source of outrage is that she lied to John.
    • Moss's only comment for Grace, when it's revealed she's Campbell's mole and also has been sleeping with Tommy? "Whore." Furthermore, in his letter, Campbell calls what she's done "disgusting beyond all measure" and says her father would be ashamed of her. Made all the more ironic because the reason why Campbell can't make the delivery himself is because he's visiting a brothel in Chinatown.
  • Spooky Seance: Subverted in 2.01. The expectation is that the seance Polly attends will be unnerving, with the gypsy woman channelling Polly's daughter. We never actually see the seance - the scene is more focused on Polly revealing that she's dreaming of her daughter, she's a Shelby by birth (presumably Arthur Senior's sister) and then running out of the house in tears after an unknown reveal.
  • The Stoic: Campbell. Goes Not So Stoic when it comes to Grace telling him she can't marry him.
  • Straight Edge Evil: Campbell starts out as this, so self-righteous he doesn't even swear. By episode four, he's drinking on the job, dropping F-bombs and sliding down the slippery slope faster than a kid on a slip-n-slide.
  • The Strategist: Polly, ironically enough, the only one in the family who didn't go to war, is this. She's got a good head for business, and her plans are sound, except unlike Tommy, she can't turn a situation around that isn't going her way.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Ada
  • Sweet Home Midlands
  • The Teetotaler: Byrne, the IRA representative in 1.05.
  • That Man Is Dead: In 2.02, Ada screams at her rescuers "My name is NOT Shelby!"
  • Thicker Than Water: Family is everything, and you don't break your word to your family. In 1.05, the Shelbys believe Tommy lied about giving Freddie safe passage to see his son born when it was really Grace who told Campbell, and they turn against him. Then, in episode six, Tommy and Polly realize that Grace snitched on them to the police, who tipped off Kimber, and Polly only spares Grace because she honestly fell in love with Tommy.
  • Trip Wire Goes Click: The Lees leave a grenade wired to the car door of Tommy's car. Finn sets it off while playing, but luckily, Tommy's there to grab the grenade, throw it into an alley, and scoop Finn up.
  • The Troubles: Where CI Campbell made a name for himself. Originally from Northern Ireland, Campbell became an agent working against the IRA. Also the reason Grace became an agent - the IRA killed her copper father. Tommy is threatening to kick it all back off again by having the gun shipment sent to Belfast if he's killed.
  • Took a Level in Badass;
    • After spending two episodes mostly as the Butt Monkey of the family, Arthur takes a rather large level in 1.03 when he leads the raid on the Lees, and cuts part of one of the Lees' ears off as a threat.
    • Harry, the barman at the Garrison, in 1.05, when he stands up to Campbell and the police raid. Harry comes across as mild-mannered, likeable, most of the time, but when Campbell orders him to give up Tommy, Harry lies boldfacedly to Campbell and says he doesn't know where Tommy is. He does give Tommy up when Campbell puts a gun to his head, but the initial gesture of defiance was pretty cool. In the final episode of the first series, he also shows a lot of courage in standing up to Tommy.
    • Ada Shelby and her baby carriage in 1.06, who march right into the middle of an all-out gun battle between the Peaky Blinders and Kimber's men and give them a very stern talking-to, daring them to hurt her.
    • Arthur seems to have combined this and Took a Level in Jerkass in season 2. He's in fighting shape, apparently becoming a more vicious and skilled boxer than he was before, but if he's not either medicated or kept occupied, he tends to beat anyone in his way to within an inch of their lives.
    • Polly takes one in the season two finale when she does what not only her nephews, but Grace, failed to do - kill Campbell once and for all.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Campbell wasn't exactly a nice person in season one but he still had gentle moments, mostly with Grace. By the second season, he's barely concealing his vicious and ruthless nature.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior:
    • Finn Shelby in season one, as a eleven year old participating in gang warfare, racketeering, and underage drinking.
    • There's something off about Michael Gray, from his unsettling monologue about wanting to blow up the wishing well in his village, to having no reaction when Sabini's assassins make an attempt on Tommy's life, to showing surprisingly-deadly skill at barfighting.
  • Uncertain Doom: It's left purposefully unclear at the end of the season finale if Grace was shot by Campbell, Grace shoots Campbell, someone else shoots one or both of them, or what Tommy decided, to stay with his family or run away with Grace to New York. All we know is that there was a gunshot.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: The BSA robbery. Tommy didn't actually mean to steal the weapons the British government was shipping to Libya; he was trying to steal motorcycles from the same warehouse, and kept the guns when he found out what he'd actually stolen.
  • Villainous Rescue: In 2.01, Tommy is about to be executed by the Sabini gang, but before they can finish him off, the police raid the warehouse and Campbell comes swaggering back to Birmingham.
    • In 2.06 Tommy is saved from execution by Campbell's Ulster Red Hands (A Loyalist Militia Group) by one of them who is loyal to Churchill over Campbell
  • Villain Protagonist: Kind of. Tommy isn't a monster, and he's not even the worst person on the show, but he's still a pretty bad guy.
  • Villain Team-Up: Tommy pulls this on three separate occasions. First he cuts a deal with Campbell - he and the Peaky Blinders will find the guns from the BSA robbery, quell the unionizing and run Freddie Thorne out of Birmingham, if Campbell turns a blind eye to Tommy's gambling operations. Second, he proposes, much more politely than he did to Campbell, to Billy Kimber that he and the Peaky Blinders be allowed to fix races and run security on Kimber's behalf, taking over from the Lee family. And then he arranges a marriage between his brother and a Lee girl, forging an alliance with the Lees to take down Kimber.
  • Villainous Valor: Field Marshall Russell is a war criminal and an attempted rapist but despite being surprised and with his pants down he gives Thomas a stronger fight than anyone else in the series
  • War Is Hell
  • Weaponized Headgear:
    • The Peaky Blinders get their name from the razor blades they sew into the brims of their caps.
    • Aunt Polly pulls a very long, very sharp hairpin to threaten Grace.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Tommy Shelby and Freddie Thorne.
  • Wham Line:
    • From the pilot: "I'm in position, sir."
    • From 1.05: "My name is Arthur Shelby! Any man here think he can take me?" "... Dad?"
    • Polly, in 1.06: "Who else did you tell [about Black Star Day]?"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tommy Shelby in 2.06, where he arranges for ex-prostitute Lizzie to help him isolate Field Marshal Russell at the Epsom Derby, with the clear implication that she is supposed to seduce him in order to do so - despite the fact she has no desire to return to her former trade, and the fact Tommy has explicitly asked her not to in the past; she is not impressed by his promise that this is "the last time". Despite his assurances that he will show up before anything happens, Tommy is delayed, the Field Marshal tries to force himself on Lizzie and while Tommy does eventually turn up and kill him, Lizzie is left extremely traumatised by the experience and clearly regards the whole episode as a betrayal, her only words to him after he rescues her being "Fuck off".
  • Woman in White: Ada in season one. Polly at Epsom in season two subverts the personality traits associated with the trope. Grace in all her furred finery when she comes to see Tommy at Epsom.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Polly is frequently put in the position of arguing for the men in the gang to behave more cautiously or to give up on crime altogether.
    • Both Polly and Ada urge Freddie to see sense and leave England before Tommy comes after him.
    • Esme seems to be taking up the mantle in season two, warning both Tommy and John how dangerous and unpredictable the London gangs are.
  • The Worf Effect: Arthur, the Boisterous Bruiser of the gang, is the most common recipient of various thugs' wrath.
  • World War One: The three eldest Shelby brothers, Freddie Thorne, and Danny Owen all served together in France. None of them came back the same. Danny has full-on flashbacks to combat, Arthur frequently gets the "Flanders Blues" (severe depressive periods), John and Tommy smoke opium "for headaches", and Tommy has Bad Dreams of the time they faced a German detatchment tunneling into their territory, saying he hears the shovels when he tries to sleep.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The Lees booby-trap nearly kills Finn, but not actually intentionally, since their trap was meant for Tommy.
    • Inspector Campbell might not bash Finn's head in himself, but he would throw Finn in adult prison with child molesters with very little remorse.
    • After Ada's much-discussed [[spoiler: Shaming the Mob bit with the baby carriage, most of the gangsters on both sides lower their guns, because nobody wants to engage in gunplay when there are ladies with babies present.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: An exploited trope by Ada, who steers her baby carriage between two gangs on the brink of a shootout. Even when Kimber personally shoots Tommy and Danny, the rest of the gangs hold their fire.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Campbell portrays Birmingham this way when he first arrives, and he's not far off.
    • London is portrayed as the Big League of crime in comparison to Birmingham.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Campbell's first scene in season 2 is him letting a man he hired to kill an Irish activist be hanged for murder. It's clear that he had this planned for Tommy after he completed his assignment for him.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Arthur and John think it's been too long since Tommy's had a woman.
  • Your Mom: Anyone stupid enough to do this to any of the Shelby brothers usually ends up on the wrong end of the boys' caps.