Series / Peaky Blinders

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May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the Devil knows you're dead.

"Take a little walk
to the edge of town
Go across the tracks
Where the viaduct looms
like a bird of doom
as it shifts and cracks
Where secrets lie in the border fires
in the humming wires
Hey man, you know you're never coming back
Past the square, past the bridge
past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man
in a dusty black coat with a red right hand"

Peaky Blinders is a BBC series set in post-World War I 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. The street gang is known as the Peaky Blinders, and their hats… are their hats. Peaky Blinders stars Cillian Murphy as new kingpin Tommy Shelby. The supporting cast includes Helen McCrory as Shelby matriarch Aunt Polly, Sam Neill as CI Campbell and Tom Hardy as Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons.

The show has aired three seasons on both BBC and Netflix, with the Weinstein Company owning the American distribution rights to at least three seasons. Word of God from creator Stephen Knight is that he plans to take the Shelbys right up to the beginning of World War II.


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 initially 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.
    • Tommy becomes one in season three.
  • Action Mom: What Ada Shelby turns into in 1.06 and Polly has been for years.
  • Addled Addict: Unlike Tommy, John, Arthur, and others, Esme's coke addiction seems to be getting out of control.
  • Adult Fear: How Father Hughes and the Economic League get Tommy to toe the line in 3.02.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Polly gives a fairly successful one to Reuben in 3.06, telling him she wishes she could have an ordinary life with him and that they have a chance for a future together.
  • Anti-Hero: Our protagonists are brutal gangsters, but they're always set against people who are much worse, making them sympathetic.
  • Anyone Can Die: As of Series 3, Billy Kimber, Freddie Thorne, Danny Owen, Chester Campbell, and Grace Burgess have all kicked the bucket.
  • Apron Matron: Aunt Polly. Not even Arthur mouths off to her.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Grace to Tommy, in 1.03.
      Grace: Why did you change your mind?
    • Tommy to Grace, in 1.05.
      Tommy: Why did you shoot, Grace?
    • Polly to Tommy, in 2.01.
      Polly: Maybe it's time you forgot about her?
  • 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.
    • It's mentioned that Tommy and several other British officers served in the Battle of Verdun. Verdun was a battle between the French and the Germans. It would have been extremely unlikely for Tommy to have served there.
  • 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.
    • Anton Kaledin is not a very nice man, being a Soviet turncoat and mole.
  • 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: Arthur has quite a low, growly voice.
  • Badass Crew: The Peaky Blinders.
  • Badass Family: The Shelbys, as well as the adjacent Peaky Blinders like father-and-son Jeremiah and Isiah.
  • Badass Longcoat: Campbell's gets a great introduction in the pilot. Each of the Shelby brothers have one, too. Polly gets a high-fashion one in the third season.
  • 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:
    • 1.01, John Shelby:
      John: We're Peaky Blinders! We're not scared of coppers. If they come for us, we'll cut them a smile each.
    • Campbell gets a lengthy one, in the form of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the police.
    • Campbell again in 1.02:
      Campbell: 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.
    • Isiah and Finn, or Isiah and Michael can lean toward this as well.
  • 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.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: In 3.06, Charles' kidnapping pushes Tommy over the edge into believing that it was Polly, Michael, Linda, or Esme who betrayed him. It was none of them, but he doubles-down at the end of the episode and has Arthur, Michael, John, and Polly arrested, convinced that the "deal" he's supposedly made with more powerful people than their enemies will save them.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For all the brothers: Don't call the Shelby boys' mother a whore. Don't threaten any member of the Shelby family.
    • For Tommy: Grace and his son Charles.
    • 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/White 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 doesn't stick, as she ends up becoming an official member of Shelby Company Ltd in Season 3.
  • 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.
    • What the Shelbys do to Kaledin when he proves to be a traitor.
  • 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.
    • One of Alfie's bodyguards gets shot in the side of the head by Michael.
  • 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:
    Polly: 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 improves in subsequent seasons. 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.
    • Alfie Solomons shows back up for the final two episodes of season three, after being absent from the first four.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In 3.02, Tommy reminds his family that the Changrettas are "those bastards who wanted Danny Whizz-bang dead".
    • Tommy carves "Hughes" on a bullet in 3.04 just like the Lees wrote "Tommy" and Tommy wrote "Kimber" on a bullet in 1.02 and 1.06.
  • 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.
    • In 1.02, Polly mentions the Marquis Pub as one of the pubs Campbell and his coppers knocked over and blamed on the Peaky Blinders. In 2.04, it's the Marquis that Michael and Isaiah go to and get into a barfight in, and which is torched by John and Arthur in retaliation.
  • 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 1.03.
  • Changeling Fantasy: Deconstructed with Michael. He wants something more exciting than the pretty little village where he grew up, and the Shelbys are certainly that. But he's also visibly taken aback by the grimness of Birmingham. Still, he goes home, and then once he's 18, he chooses to come back.
  • 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. He adds the Italian and Jewish gangs of London, the IRA, and Churchill himself to the mix in season two, and in season three, takes a level in ambition by playing Russian aristocrats, Italian gangsters, and the Economic League (a group of wealthy, insanely powerful men - MP's, judges, and priests) as well.
    • 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.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After planning to go into business (and potentially a romantic relationship) with Tommy in season two, May Carleton is nowhere to be found in season 3.
  • 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.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 1 ends on a pretty big one. Season 2 ends on a fairly minor one. Episode 3.02 has another fairly large one. Season 3 ends on one of the biggest in history.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Tommy, during his wedding day, reads the Peaky boys the riot act in regards to fighting with the cavalry officers.
  • 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 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:
    • The Peaky Blinders vs. Billy Kimber + the Lees vs. Campbell + 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.
    • In season three, tensions arise between the Peaky Blinders, the Changretta family, the Whites supporting the exiled Russian aristocrats, the Soviets, and the Economic League/Oddfellows working against the Soviets.
  • 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.
    • John puts out Angel Changretta's eye for daring to date Lizzie despite Tommy'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 in Small Heath, Grace's bedroom.
    • Lilac/Purple: the art gallery where Campbell and Grace meet, the tea room where Campbell and Tommy meet, Grace's wedding dress.
    • 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, Polly's fundraising and portrait gown.
    • 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 Haircomb: Polly pulls out a very long, very sharp hairpin to threaten Grace.
  • 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.
  • Complexity Addiction: To be fair, Tommy's plans usually involve Xanatos Speed Chess out of necessity, but it doesn't change the fact that he enjoys playing with the lives of others.
  • 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.
    • Tommy gets his wish in his cousin Michael, who is the company accountant for all the legal doings, and kept scrupulously clean of the illegal side, which he begins to resent.
  • Cool Horse: Tommy tends to acquire them.
    • Monaghan Boy—the black horse that he performs the powder trick on in the pilot.
    • A gorgeous unnamed white horse he wins in a bet from the Lee family, but it ends badly.
    • Grace's Secret—a racehorse he buys in season 2 in a bid to topple the Sabinis.
    • An apparently difficult black one which he visits in 3.02 with Grace and his son Charlie and takes to Wales with him in 3.03. Johnny Dogs thinks this one's odd because it won't listen to him and has been "off" ever since Grace died.
  • 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 11-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.
    • Tommy and Grace. They get married in season three.
    • Tommy has a romantic affair with Duchess Tatiana, a ruthless and manipulative Russian fugitive who is embroiled in Tommy's shifting alliances.
  • 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 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.
  • Died On A Bus: Arthur Senior, as we find out in 3.04.
  • 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.
    • Moss himself falls into being the Shelbys' go-to Friend on the Force and accomplice in season two and beyond.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Peaky Blinders run on this, for people who insult them (curb-stomping the Lees in 1.02, for example), but the crowner really has to be Arthur and John's torching of the Marquis pub in 2.04 in retaliation for the pub denizens disrespecting Michael and Isaiah.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: Tommy has tones of this to the everyday citizens of the city. Most notably in the very first episode, before we even see him, the people of Chinatown are seen scattering in terror as news spreads that Thomas Shelby is riding down the street towards them.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After being a major part of season one, Freddie dies between seasons one and two of illness.
  • Due to the Dead: Played with in 3.04. The four Shelby boys go out to the woods to shoot, skin, and cook a stag in honor of the one good memory they have of their father. After it's finished, Tommy declares that neither John nor Arthur will name their unborn children after Arthur Senior, and that the name will die along with all memories of him.
  • 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.
    • In 3.05, Tommy calls on Alfie Solomons to assist with the jewel heist on the Russians. He turns out to be a Sixth Ranger Traitor, selling Tommy out to Hughes and allowing baby Charles to be kidnapped.
  • Emotional Bruiser: The Shelby brothers, as opposed to the stoic Inspector Campbell.
  • English Rose: May is one of the few upper-class women in the series.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Peaky Blinders fully accept the black Jeremiah and his son Isiah as their own.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: In 3.05, Tommy discovers he has a taste for this, when Tatiana uses his grief over Grace's death and desire to see her again to rope Tommy into drinking a lot of vodka and letting her choke him.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Tommy Shelby, dressed in all black, riding a black horse down the middle of the deserted Chinatown street as people scatter in terror. He's theatrical, feared, 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: And if they don't, they're about to start.
  • Evil Matriarch: Aunt Polly seems to be the most level-headed of the Shelby clan, but she's still running a street gang.
    • Grand Duchess Izabella Petrovna is pulling the strings for the Russians.
  • 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.
    • In 3.02, an Italian assassin somehow gets into the Shelby Foundation fundraising dinner, shooting Grace instead of Tommy.
  • 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… and 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:
      1. Big Bad: Tommy, who runs the Peaky Blinders.
      2. The Dragon: Arthur, who believes he's top dog, but Tommy phases out of the leadership.
      3. The Evil Genius: Aunt Polly, who dispenses advise and comes up with a good number of strategies.
      4. The Brute: John, who is hotheaded and likes to issue threats.
      5. The Dark Chick: Ada, who hates being a Shelby, but is pretty good at it.
      • Plus Tagalong Kid Finn, who takes a limited part in the gang despite being all of 11.
    • In Season Two:
      1. Big Bad: Tommy, to even greater heights as his empire expands.
      2. The Dragon: Polly, who Tommy openly states will take over if he should be injured/dead.
      3. The Evil Genius: John's aspiring to this role, questioning Tommy's decisions.
      4. The Brute: Arthur's descended to this, becoming Tommy's "mad dog".
      5. The Dark Chick: Esme, who may have a little Starscream in her, as Polly suspects.
      • Plus a Tagalong Kid—still Finn, though he's 13 and 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. The dynamic strikes up again in season three, playing them off of each other as the two most important women in Tommy's life; the question being, does his marriage and child with Grace trump the years and years of trust, loyalty, and family bond between him and Polly?
    • 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—it actually makes her more so—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 1.03, 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.
    • They play it straightforwardly with Sargeant Moss, though.
  • Freudian Trio: The Shelby brothers
    Tommy: I think, Arthur. That's what I do. I think. So that you don't have to.
    1. Id: Arthur — very emotional and hot-headed.
    2. Ego: Tommy — The Stoic, who plans everything.
    3. Superego: John — The middle ground, who treats both his brothers better than either treats the other.
  • 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.
    • Finn and Isiah both use cocaine from season two onwards, though it isn't shown to have any negative effects.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: Michael feels guilty for being groomed as the "legitimate" boss, his hands kept clean while John and Arthur do the dirty work. In 3.05, we find out that Father Hughes molested him as a child, and Tommy has given him permission to kill the priest in retribution. In 3.06, Michael commits his first two murders, shooting one of Alfie's goons in the head to protect Tommy, and later, walking into Hughes's church and slitting his throat to bring Charles home.
  • Gang of Hats: The Peaky Blinders—and their hat literally is hats with razor blades sewn into the brims.
  • 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: Averted multiple times.
    • In season one, 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.
    • It's revealed in 1.02 that when Polly was sixteen, she got pregnant and 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.
    • In season three, Michael gets Charlotte, his fling from the night of Tommy's wedding, pregnant. Since she's already engaged to another man, a British cavalry officer, she asks him to find her someone to "take care of it". Arthur and John provide Michael with a woman who's performed abortions for them in the past, and Michael callously leaves a frightened Charlotte with the woman.
  • 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. But then again, Everybody Smokes.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis:
    • What Campbell sends Grace to do to Tommy. He's not happy about it.
    • Grand Duchess Izabella sends her niece Tatiana to do this to Tommy.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • Johnny Dogs, the Lees and the gypsy matriarch speak more or less accurate Romani in 1.02. Tommy speaks some Romani in 1.04 and 3.02 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, as well as between the Changrettas.
  • Gratuitous Use of the Tallit: While Alfie Solomons does wear it correctly (with only the fringe visible), he wears it at times that are incorrect (the Passover seder in 2.05 amongst them).
  • 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 1.03; first with Grace and the IRA sympathizer in the alley behind the Black Swan, second with Grace and Billy Kimber.
    • Happens between Tommy, Lizzie, and Field Marshall Russell in 2.06.
    • Another example is the fight between Arthur and Kaledin in 3.01.
  • Handicapped Badass: Campbell, as of season two.
  • The Handler: Campbell has numerous operatives in Birmingham, most notably Grace.
  • Harbinger of Asskicking: When the caps come off, blood will flow.
  • 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.
  • Heads or Tails: Invoked very dramatically by Tommy in the season one finale.
    Tommy: Before the war, when I had an important decision to make, I used to flip a coin. Perhaps that is what I will do again.
  • Heel Realization: Polly seems to have had hers sometime between killing Campbell in 2.06 and confessing to it in 3.04. In a twist on the trope, she isn't heartbroken that she's committed an evil deed, because "only the unjust taking of life is a mortal sin" and calls Campbell a "bad man" who "hurt her". She's driven to tears because she feels no remorse, and because she's found out that the next life that must be taken is Father Hughes, a "holy man".
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: 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.
    • 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. Hits a third in 3.06, after she learns that Tommy thinks Reuben sold them out by plying her with wine, and that Michael's very likely about to commit his first murder. She slashes up Reuben's painting with a knife, screaming and crying.
    • Tommy has his biggest to date in 3.06, when Hughes and the Economic League kidnap his son Charles from a fundraiser and hold him hostage to ensure that Tommy will blow up the Russian train and steal the white Russians' money as planned.
  • Hide Your Children: John supposedly has six kids, with a seventh on the way. We've only seen them a handful of times, usually at big family gatherings. The rest of the time, they're nowhere to be seen.
  • 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.
  • 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 also has them, specifically marking him as a Shelby.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Polly to Freddie on the subject of Ada.
    Polly: You lay a hand on our Ada, and I'll put you in a wooden box myself.
  • 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.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Polly, in an interesting gender-flip on the trope, is Reuben's. She doesn't think a normal and well-adjusted aristocrat like him would ever truly be interested in her beyond an affair. Compounding this is Tommy's constant insinuations that Reuben knows she can't hold her alcohol and is using her to sell the Shelbys out to their enemies, but Reuben actually is on the level and does love Polly.
  • 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 you're the first Shelby in history to have a legal license for anything. What would our granddad say, eh? He'd turning in his grave—"Honest bloody money? Eh? In this house? Here?"
    • 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.
  • Irish Priest: Father John Hughes.
  • 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. In season two, Campbell (with the approval of Churchill) and a group of pro-treaty Sinn Fein supporters are conspiring to bugger the treaty by using Tommy to assassinate Field Marshal Russell and blame the anti-treaty IRA for it.
  • 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?
    • Tommy's desire to kill Father Hughes is understandable: the man's a pedophile who threatens Tommy's wife and child and is responsible for torturing him extensively. Michael's desire to kill him is even more understandable: Michael was one of Hughes's victims.
  • 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.
    • Tommy nearly commits this in 3.03 on Vincente Changretta, the man who ordered the botched hit on Tommy's life that killed Grace. Arthur shoots Changretta in the head before Tommy gets the chance to torture him.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: One thing Tommy's never done is torture a man purely for the revenge and satisfaction, marking him as a higher class of criminal than Campbell or Sabini. That nearly goes out the window in 3.03, when an increasingly-deranged Tommy seeks recompense from Vincente Changretta for ordering the botched hit that killed Grace. He threatens to cut out Changretta's tongue, his balls, his ears, and decides to go for the eyes first when Arthur shoots the man rather than watch Tommy torture 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 (distinguishing himself from, say, Tommy Shelby's studious adherence to the bourgeois appearance of a middle-class entrepreneur, or Sabini's image of the chic, suave Italian club owner).
  • Lady in Red: Whenever a lady on this show is wearing red, she's about to become threatening to Tommy.
    • 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.
    • May wears a beautiful red dress for the Epsom Derby.
    • Tatiana wears a very sheer, very red dress for the orgy and seduces Tommy.
  • Land Mine 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.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility:
    • Ada really, really shouldn't be sleeping with Freddie Thorne, nor should she become pregnant from this liaison. Naturally, she does.
    • Grace and her husband have been trying for a baby. She can't get pregnant because he's infertile.
  • Like a Son 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.
  • Made of Iron: Thomas Shelby has been, in order, shot through the chest, brutally tortured and numerous teeth yanked out, beaten half to death, and sustained internal bleeding, multiple broken ribs, and a fractured skull. He has survived all of it, able to heal himself and come back at fighting strength.
  • 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. In season two, she has it for her son, Michael.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Tatiana claims that the sapphire Tommy gave Grace has a gypsy curse on it. Grace does get shot immediately after, but the assassin was gunning for Tommy. Tommy brings the jewel to a gypsy woman, who realizes that Tommy wants her to say that it's cursed to relieve him of some responsibility for what happened. She says that it is cursed, which Tommy clearly doesn't actually believe.
  • The Mole:
    • Grace, who's really an undercover operative for Campbell.
    • Father Hughes for the Communist Russians.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Most of the women on this show are ones to watch out for:
    • Ada Shelby is just as cunning and dangerous as the rest of her family, and much more so than her husband, Freddie.
    • Polly Gray laughs in the face of police inspectors, orders around killers twice her size, and hasn't regretted killing a man in her life.
    • Grace Burgess shoots IRA operatives and is about to throw down with Polly before being talked out of it.
    • Linda Shelby is the brains of her marriage, out-negotiating even Tommy with a sugar-sweet smile on her face.
    • Tatiana Petronova and Izabella Petronova hold all the cards in their family, and Tatiana even out-gambits her grandmother by helping Tommy steal the jewels.
  • 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.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Tommy thinks he can declare Ada off limits to Freddie. Ada marries Freddie and has his child anyway.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Grace pretends to be this. She's definitely not. Michael is this at times in season two, but he's less truly naive and more interested in the new world of Birmingham.
  • 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.
  • Necessarily Evil: Tommy embraces this aspect of himself in season three, when it becomes clear that he and the family are in over their heads with enemies of a much higher caliber than they are. Ironically enough, Polly, who once praised Tommy for having aspects of this in season one, now finds herself disgusted to the depths which he's sunk.
    Polly: Tommy knows, he knows you have to be as bad as they are in order to survive.
  • 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".
  • New Parent Nomenclature Problem: In 2.03, for the first few days of knowing her, Michael has a problem calling Polly "Mum", as he's been raised by another woman and thinks of her as his mother. In a twist, he uses it to manipulate Polly into letting him go to the horse auction with his cousins by telling her, "it'll be all right, Mum".
  • 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.
    • Polly, we realize that you're feeling incredible guilt over your criminal lifestyle, but you've just confessed to murdering a policeman, as well as to planning the murder of a priest, to an ally of one of the most dangerous conspiracies that is headed by the same priest you're about to kill. To be fair, Polly has no idea how far the Economic League's reach is, and as a Catholic, she believes the confessional is a sacred, inviolate space.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In season 2, Field Marshal Russell is an expy of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Campbell seems to believe this after he rapes Polly. It's it that or a Post-Rape Taunt—it's hard to be sure.
  • 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 1.05. 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.
    • Arthur can't stop from doling them out when something sets him off.
    • John beats the crap out of Changretta Junior for trying to date Lizzie.
    • John and Arthur go into a frenzy on an assassin who fatally shot Grace while aiming for Tommy.
    • Tommy gets one from some ex-soldiers during a botched assassination attempt on Father Hughes. They crack his skull, hospitalizing him for months.
  • 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.
    • Tommy's dinner with the Russians, Father Hughes, and Patrick Jarvis MP in 3.03. However, Tommy announces that he cannot "swallow food" in the presence of Father Hughes and leaves after his business is concluded.
  • Non-Violent 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 and a racehorse). By season three, they've got 2 country estates, 3 townhouses, the expanded betting shop, a charitable foundation, and an orphanage.
  • 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.
  • One Last Smoke: When Tommy's about to be killed, he asks for a last smoke. The request is granted.
  • Only Sane Man: Polly, much of the time.
  • 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. Arthur 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. By season three, Tommy is an actual father, and when Hughes and the Economic League threaten Charlie, Tommy goes off the rails in fear.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mama Shelby seems to have died quite a few years ago. 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".
  • Pedophile Priest: Father Hughes. First hinted-at in 3.01, when Hughes hints he'd like to "visit" the orphaned children in the new orphanage the Shelbys are building. Confirmed in 3.05, when Michael confesses that Hughes did something to him when he was first taken from Polly. Michael was six at the time.
  • Pervy Patdown: Taken to extremes by the Petronovas, as Tatiana feels up a naked Arthur and John to check if they're Russian spies in disguise. It's initially funny, but Tatiana's overtures to a very freaked-out Arthur tip it from funny to uncomfortable.
  • Pet the Dog: Tommy hushing the spooked horse. Grace sees how gently he treats the horse, and it improves her opinion of him.
    • Some of Tommy's most touching scenes in season three are with his young son Charles. No matter how dark and driven he gets, he treats Charles as the light of his life.
  • 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".
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Done indirectly by the wardens at the prison who taunt Michael by telling him exactly how Polly got him released and directly by Campbell, but not to our "hero" Tommy, but to his victim, Polly. He tries to invoke "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization. Polly shoots him in the heart.
  • 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."
    • Arthur's incredibly succinct response to finding out Tommy sold them out to the police: "FUCK YOU!"
  • 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.
    • John hits his in 3.03, after Tommy's secretive, vengeful orders to shoot Mrs. Changretta and bring him Vincente Changretta to torture in retaliation for Grace's shooting. John is sick of being treated like a "tin soldier", told to "do this, John, do that, John, shoot your fucking teacher, John", and gets into a screaming match with Tommy over it.
  • 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.
    • Sinister Minister Father Hughes is implied to be a child molester - Michael says he "knows things" about him and obsessively campaigns to be the one to kill him, despite having been protected from that side of the business.
  • 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.
    • Michael is feeling the effects of this in season three. As the "legitimate" bookkeeper, but still a trusted member of the family, he knows about all the illegal goings-on, but is barred from participating and protected from any fallout. John and Arthur resent the way their younger cousin, who has never fired a gun in his life, is being groomed to be the new boss, and Michael hates being treated like a child.
  • "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".
    • Tommy gives two in 3.06. The first is directed to Polly, Ada, Linda and Arthur, and John and Esme, as he is convinced one of them has betrayed him and gotten Charles taken by the Economic League. He's wrong, but he viciously tears each one of them apart, twisting their actions into possible motives. Polly gets the brunt of it, as he nearly convinces her that Reuben's been using her, getting her drunk and flattering her in order to hurt the Shelbys, because after all, what could a rich, normal man like Reuben ever see in someone like Polly? The second speech is to the entire gathered Shelby family, as Tommy reveals that he did what he had to do.
  • 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 1.04. 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.
  • Remarrying for Your Kids: John cites his children as the main reason he needs a wife.
    "Aunt Polly, you know what it's been like since Martha died… Truth is, my kids have been running bloody rings around me. Running barefoot with the dogs until all hours… What the kids need is a mother. So that's why I'm getting married."
  • 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.
    • John and Arthur, for Michael. They're incensed that their cousin is trusted to be a "boss" while they're expected to be good soldiers and do what Tommy and Polly say.
    • Esme, who is feeling stifled in a marriage she didn't want in the first place, ordered to stay cooped-up and pregnant while John can do whatever he likes.
  • 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.
  • 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. Grace in season three.
  • 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.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In 1.06, Polly tells Ada about her children and refers to her daughter as Sally. In season 2, she's referred to as Anna.
    • In 1.06, the letterhead Tommy uses gives his middle initial as "J", but in 3.01, his middle name is given as "Michael."
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: On his cousin Michael's 18th birthday, Arthur suggests—not very seriously—that they get him a prostitute. Their mother/aunt shuts down the idea right away.
    Arthur: Eighteen years old. You're a man today! Give him a drink, John boy. And after that, we'll go find you a lady of the night.
    Polly: No!!
  • 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: Applies to most of the boys who served in World War One.
    • Danny's is Tear Jerker: PTSD and he keeps flashing back to France and accidentally kills a man during a blackout.
    • Tommy smokes opium to keep away his PTSD dreams of the war. John smokes opium to cope as well.
    • Arthur has a vicious case of PTSD from WWI, and severe blackout rages.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Freddie Thorne, frequently.
    • Cillian Murphy only gets one in the first season, but multiple in seasons two and three. Fandom is appreciative.
    • Arthur gets one in 2.01, showing off his new boxing-honed physique.
    • Isiah gets them frequently, due to his boxing and fighting prowess.
  • 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". It returns as one of the hymns at Tommy's wedding in 3.01.
    • 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 right hand.
  • 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: The Peaky Blinders wouldn't be as successful without all three Shelby brothers' talents.
  • Silk Hiding Steel:
    • Grace and May.
    • Polly evolves from Hot-Blooded in the first two seasons to this in season three, where her new financial and social status requires a different sort of approach.
  • Sinister Minister: Father John Hughes, and how - many hints indeed are dropped throughout season 3 that he molests children, culminating in Michael offering to shoot Hughes because of (heavily implied) abuse by him after being taken into care.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Arthur. Darby Sabini. Alfie Solomons as well, to a lesser degree.
  • Slave to PR: This is Campbell's main weakness in season one. The government covered up the theft of the guns and Campbell has to recover them without the public finding out about it. When Tommy figures this out, he stages a public protest against the police's actions and brings a reporter to cover it. The government suppresses the article and Campbell is chastised for not being discreet enough. From then on, Campbell cannot act directly against the Peaky Blinders since he knows that Tommy will make the entire affair public in retaliation.
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath: Tommy was flirting with the line in the first two seasons, but by the end of season three, he's firmly hit this status.
  • Spit Shake: Tommy and Aunt Polly seal a deal with one in 2.04.
  • 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 Starscream: Esme Lee Shelby, who hates being cooped-up, playing wife and mother while John runs around with his brothers. So far, all of her attempts to sow dissent have failed, but she seems to be on a slow burn toward this.
  • 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 1.04, 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.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Grace, in the final scene of 3.02, is shot by an assassin gunning for Tommy. Her death is used to give Tommy more pathos.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Ada
  • 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 1.06, 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.
  • 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 1.06, 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.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: John's Berserk Button over Lizzie Stark and his desire to beef up the Peaky Blinders' image with the Italians sets off a chain of events that leads to Grace being shot and killed instead of Tommy.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior:
    • Finn Shelby in season one, as an 11-year-old participating in gang warfare, racketeering, and underage drinking. He's no longer a child in season two, but having a thirteen year old snorting cocaine and giving it to his older brother as well is quite unsettling.
    • 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 Right Hands (a Loyalist militia group) by one of them who is loyal to Churchill over Campbell.
  • 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: And World War One was more hellish than most.
  • 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.
  • The West Midlands: Set primarily in Birmingham.
  • 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]?"
    • The Wham Line to end all Wham Lines has to be Tommmy, in 3.06: "You can go, Arthur, but you won't get far. I spoke to Moss last night, he told me that the Chief Constable of Birmingham has issued a warrant for your arrest. Murder, sedition, conspiracy to cause explosion. John, they're coming for you as well. Murder, conspiracy to cause explosion. Michael, for the murder of Hughes. Polly, the murder of Chief Inspector Campbell."
  • 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".
    • Tommy clearly took topping his asshole behavior at Epsom as a challenge - the scene in 3.06 where he pays off his family, lectures them on how disgusting and how fruitless their social-climbing is, and caps it off by informing Arthur, John, Michael, and Polly of their arrests is an even bigger WTHH moment.
  • Wild Card: Michael Gray seems to be the answer to many of the Shelbys' problems: Polly gets her son back, Tommy gets a bookkeeping whiz who remains unaware of the illegal side of the business… but considering Michael's unfazed reaction to the Sabini assassination attempt, and his prowess at barfighting, just how innocent and unaware is he?
  • 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 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.
    • When Tommy reveals that the Oddfellows have taken his son, Alfie states that he knew and doesn't care, but Tommy recognizes his shock at the information in spite of his denial.
  • 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.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: What Tommy's playing in season three. Each time Hughes, the Economic League, or the Russians throw a wrench into his plans for the heist, he switches course. In the end, he comes out on top, but he's forced his cousin to become a killer, forced John and Arthur into blowing up a train with innocent people on it, and sold his entire family out to mysterious "allies" who will help him defeat the Economic League conspiracy.
  • 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.
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