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London Gangster

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

The Mafia.... BUT BRITISH!! Since Britain Is Only London, London Gangsters are the British criminals we know best.

The London Gangster is a hard man in a sharp suit with a fondness for Cluster F Bombs and Country Matters (including both mistresses and members of The Oldest Profession). He'll tend to prefer roughing people up with his bare hands (often including brass knuckles as well) or everyday items (cricket bats, lumps of lead pipe, crowbars, snooker balls in socks, etc.) to using handguns (gun control being very strict in the UKnote ), although shotguns, which can be obtained in Britain, may be used (shotguns became an iconic UK gang weapon in Get Carter). note  Nonetheless, Cold-Blooded Torture isn't at all out of the question and the really nasty ones in fiction have a tendency to be Psycho Knife Nuts, with cut-throat razors being an early-to mid-1900s favorite. He speaks in a working class East London, Cockney or South London accent, and his dense slang may feature a little Yiddish.note 

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

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

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

May overlap with White Gangbangers. See also: The Irish Mob (who sometimes show up in Britain too), The Mafia, The Mafiya, The Triads and the Tongs, Yakuza.


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    Audio Plays 
  • Reggie "The Gent" Mead from the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Project Twilight. The owner of The Dusk, a popular casino in Southeast London, he's a classic Cockney thug with superficial charm, a Hair-Trigger Temper, and a penchant for horribly torturing anyone who gets on his bad side; the twist is that he's actually a vampire, and little more than The Dragon to the real villain of the story. For good measure, said Big Bad remarks that Reggie's violent lifestyle is just his way of living out his fantasies, having lived fairly unassumingly by vampire standards up until being inspired to become a gangster by the example set by his idols, the Krays.

    Comic Books  

    Film — Animated 
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish reimagines Goldilocks and the Three Bears as a crime family, and all four characters have very thick London accents.
  • In Rango, Ray Winstone voices Bad Bill, a Funny Animal version of this character. Cockney accent, Psycho Knife Nut, works as an Evil Debt Collector in his first scene, and works as The Dragon to the Big Bad, Mayor Tortoise John. He's also a Gila monster.
  • Johnny's dad in Sing is the Cockney-accented leader of a gang of bank robbers, who expects Johnny to follow in his footsteps as a criminal, which causes a lot of problems for his teenage son, who would much rather pursue his secret dreams of being a singer. Eventually however, the gorilla gangsters come to accept that Johnny's true calling lies elsewhere, and after they're inspired by Johnny to turn over a new leaf themselves, they become valuable allies to him and his friends in Sing 2, who step up to help the Moon Theater troupe fend off their enemies.

    Film — Live-Action 



Individual films

  • Circus: Bruno and Caspar are based in Brighton, but otherwise fit the trope. Judging from their accents, they may even be displaced Londoners.
  • Cloud Atlas: Timothy Cavendish is the literary agent for a loutish gangster Dermot "Dusty" Hoggins whose biography "Knuckle Sandwhich" becomes a surprise hit after he throws a literary critic off the balcony at the book's launch because of a snarky review, making a lot of money to Tim and sending Dusty to prison.
  • Darryl in Cockneys vs. Zombies is apparently a retired example, although between his prosthetic leg and the fact that he's outlived all his former "associates", his threats fall a bit flat now.
  • In The Criminal (1960), the Highgate Gang represent the new breed of London underworld who think they can they can muscle in on the score of an ordinary decent criminal like Johnny Bannion and demand a cut of the loot for merely allowing him to operate on their turf. Bannion does not take kindly to this.
  • Gary Oldman (and several others) in The Firm, about rival football firms (semi-organised gangs of Football Hooligans).
  • Most of the characters in The Football Factory, who partake in anti-social behaviour towards rival fans of their favourite football teams, with leaders that act like they're The Mafia.
  • Much of the cast of Gangster No. 1.
  • Michael Caine in Get Carter plays a London Gangster who returns home Oop North for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The film is slightly atypical for showing English organized crime outside of London, but the locals are clearly no match for Jack Carter.
  • High Heels and Low Lifes: Mason is an old-school London hard man, who works for Kerrigan, a highly successful London Gayngster who keeps all of his dirty work at arm's length these days.
  • In Bruges gives us Ralph Fiennes as a foulmouthed London gangster, with two Irish subordinates played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell.
  • The real life brothers Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet portrayed the infamous doppelgangsters in perhaps their most famous biopic, The Krays.
  • Many characters in Layer Cake, with the notable exception of Daniel Craig's character, who takes a lot of crap for not being as "manly" as the rest of them. It's deconstructedXXXX specifically states that he hates the standard stereotype, loud, attention-seeking, wannabe gangsters. The standard example, known as the Duke, causes the entire plot of stealing drugs from war criminals and saying he's working for XXXX's boss because he's a fucking idiot! And things quickly go down the drain for XXXX the second they run into each other. It will also get you killed in the end, as the Duke, Jimmy and Crazy Larry all found out the hard way.
  • The next major open Kray Twins biopic was Legend (2015), with Tom Hardy playing both Ronnie and Reggie.
  • Wilson in The Limey, played by Terence Stamp, who comes into conflict with American gangsters when seeking revenge for his daughter's death.
  • Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday. He actually got a letter of congratulations from Ronnie Kray for his portrayal.
  • In Mona Lisa, George (Bob Hoskins), a low-level working-class gangster recently released from prison, is given a job in London by his former boss, Denny Mortwell (Michael Caine), as the driver and bodyguard for a high-priced prostitute named Simone.
  • The main characters of Nuns on the Run want to leave their gang after their new boss turns out to be too much like this.
  • Despite being an arty hallucinogenic Mind Screw, Performance has been praised as a very realistic depiction of the London Gangster at work. Some of the minor parts were allegedly played by the real thing. (The main gangster character was played by James Fox, very Against Type.) The boss in the film, Harry Flowers, is a Composite Character No Celebrities Were Harmed for both the Richardsons (Cold-Blooded Torture) and the Krays (Gayngster, intra-gang violence).
  • Fanty and Mingo, the twin smugglers from the beginning of Serenity.
  • Hart the Big Bad in Ten Dead Men. Hard as nails, he tolerates no disloyalty. When he catches up with Ryan, a Professional Killer who defected from his firm years ago, he has Ryan's girlfriend executed as Ryan is Forced to Watch. He even keeps a Torture Technician (known as 'the Projects Manager') on the payroll to handle the Cold-Blooded Torture for him.
  • Narcy in They Made Me a Fugitive. He runs a black market racket and has no problem beating women to get what he wants.
  • Vic Dakin (played by Richard Burton) in the 1971 film Villain, which also featured the aforementioned Ian McShane in his youth as his love interest.
  • Rico in Yardie 2018 is officially a white Jamaican gangster — and it shows, since most of the time he speaks with such an accent — but he fits several tropes of the London Gangster too. He's insincerely charming, willing to resort to torture if wronged, and Ax-Crazy, due to being addicted to his own cocaine. Also, he speaks with a London accent when addressing actual Londoners. That said, Rico's drug-induced instability makes him a liability as far as D is concerned — and eventually, King Fox agrees with D, and strangles Rico to death before the climax.

  • Joe Spork, the protagonist of Nick Harkaway's novel Angelmaker is the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, an infamous one of these. Early in the novel, Joe muses about the likelihood of there being makeshift graves and pig farms that his father had a hand in.
  • The 8th CHERUB book, Mad Dogs featured this nearly exactly. The Afro-Caribbean gang (primarily from Jamaica) called "The Slasher Boys" fighting a gang war against the titular Mad Dogs (fronted by a Football Club).
  • A major antagonist in the Timothy Cavendish chapter of Cloud Atlas (and its film adaptation) is Dermot "Dusty" Hoggins, a Cockney gangster who's willing to go to murderous lengths to collect the money from the sales of his autobiography, Knuckle Sandwich. No wonder Timothy's so eager to get away from him. Ironically, in the film, Hoggins is played by Tom Hanks, who's very much not Cockney, but the whole film is full of Fake Nationality, so never mind.
  • The Diogenes Club story "The Soho Golem" features a magic-assisted war between several vice lords in 1970s Soho, one of whom is undead.
  • A family of these show up as allies and occasional employers of Amnesiac Hero Nate Garrett in the first book of the The Hellequin Chronicles, with the father being a Pint-Sized Powerhouse who plays the traditional Affably Evil variant to the hilt, while his wife is equally friendly and, when required to be, terrifying, and the son is absolutely psychotic. However, when they encounter the magical world they wind up very much out of their depth, and when Nate himself (a ludicrously deadly nigh immortal master assassin prior to his amnesia) has some of his muscle memory back and is confronted by the father, he has to remind himself not to kill the man on reflex.
  • Harry Stark in Jake Arnott's The Long Firm.
  • Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist is one of the most depraved criminals in the book. Murderously violent, has a Hair-Trigger Temper and a Right-Hand Attack Dog, carries a cudgel, and does business with Fagin and Monk. And that's not even getting into what he does to Nancy...
  • Rob Toshack is undercover in a goup of London gangsters in Shadow Police book 1.
  • These show up whenever someone from Time Scout goes downtime to Victorian London.
  • The Discworld story The Truth features two hard men called Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, hired by Lord de Worde in a conspiracy to dethrone Vetinari. Their organisation is called The New Firm, for a start. Mr. Pin is the Faux Affably Evil thug who uses cunning, persuasiveness, and the talents of his friend Mr. Tulip to get what he wants. Mr. Tulip is The Brute who's most eager to resort to physical violence, but also has a surprisingly deep knowledge of art. He also appears to be Sir Swears-a-Lot, but in actual fact he's literally just saying "-ing" a lot — and somehow pronouncing the glottal stop. Also, the New Firm are mercenaries, not actual gangsters.

    Live-Action TV  
  • Arrow reimagines Brick, who in the comics is an African-American kingpin, as a Ray Winstone-esque white East London hard man who is inexplicably immune to being shot in the head and beats his henchmen to death with his bare hands for failing him. He's so tough that in prison Bronze Tiger, an internationally renowned assassin; and Sampson, an unkillable zombie who can't feel pain, are his Co-Dragons.
  • On The Bill, set as it is in an East London police station, you can't throw a truncheon without hitting a London Gangster. One episode from 1995, "Mitigating Circumstances", featured Ray Winstone playing the London Gangster of the episode.
  • Danny Spudge and his uncle Gus in the Black Books episode "The Fixer". Danny is a hulking thug with a brutal past who Never Learned to Read while Gus is a diminutive don who seems personable but has some worrying gravitas (thank actor Mick Walter).
  • By Any Means: In 1x01, an innocent family is terrorised and their father murdered in cold blood. Everyone knows that ruthless criminal Nick Mason is behind it and when Mason, known as the 'Teflon Man', walks free from his trial for the third time in five years that he has evaded justice, Helen Barlow, convinced Mason has at least one corrupt police officer on his payroll, calls on Jack Quinn and his team for help to take Mason down and get him off the streets.
  • 'The Firm' in EastEnders was based on this, and directly named after the Krays' gang. EastEnders also features Tough Cockney Twins Phil and Grant Mitchell, (although they aren't affiliated with the proper gangsters) as well as the more obviously Kray-namesaked Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell.
  • Badger from Firefly is a London Gangster IN SPACE! Complete with East London accent, bowler hat and dreadlocky Yardies. More of a cheeky Cockney sparrow than the usual scary psychopath, though.
  • Comedy Duo Hale and Pace's "Da Management".
  • Featured occasionally in Hustle, they are often portrayed as bumbling, such as Dexter Gold, the crooked gold-merchant who despite being referred to as "one of The Chaps", is utterly unthreatening, incompetent and even sets himself up for a second con. Typically, the truly brutal psycho-killers are foreigners. The earlier seasons had the more traditional East End villains who despite appearances of being rich and respectable, used brutal violence to get where they are. The cast however do go out of their way to avoid being on the receiving end of even the less threatening gangsters' radars.
  • Terry Norton (played by Alan Ford of Snatch. fame) in Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge is a boxing promoter, supposedly, but is alleged to have killed a nightclub bouncer and bribed the jury to let him off. Terry's enraged denial of murder and Implied Death Threats towards Alan don't exactly help his case, either.
  • In Leverage, one of Sophie's recurring personae is a London Gangster; admittedly, a female version.
  • Most of the characters in Macbeth On The Estate, a modernisation of Macbeth into a gangster story with most of the original script. In particular, Duncan, a gang boss played by Mr Winstone himself.
  • The Piranha brothers from Monty Python's Flying Circus, who are a deliberate spoof (with surprisingly little exaggeration) of the Kray twins. The Piranhas' beloved habit of nailing people to furniture (or vice versa) was the Pythons' humorous but understated take on the real exploits of the Richardson brothers and their not-too-merry men. Yes, they really did nail people to the floor (as a prelude to what would follow), and it was not quite as amusing as in the Pythons' version.
  • The Driscoll Brothers, Peckham's answer to the Kray Twins, in Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass.
    • Also Freddie The Frog.
  • Benny Barrett (Malcolm McDowell) from Our Friends in the North, a Soho porn baron who's involved police corruption.
  • Peaky Blinders features at least three of these outside of the Birmingham-based eponymous crime family: Starter Villain Billy Kimber, Darby Sabini, head of the London Mafia, and Alfie Solomons, the most prominent, played by Tom Hardy and a Bunny-Ears Lawyer in charge of the Jewish Solomons Gang of Camden Town. They're quite vicious, but then so are the Blinders.
  • "Genial" Harry Grout from Porridge.
  • Saturday Night Live: Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro' is a can't-miss London gangster film, if you like movies you cannot understand.
  • Corky from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer is a non-human variant. A sleazy Cockney greyhound with a hat and a constant cigarette in his mouth, he serves as a Toxic Friend Influence to Greg Mitchell the Gorgeous Sandy-Coloured Labrador. He constantly encourages him to take dodgy jobs such as kidnapping a duck and stealing money. Eventually, when Greg gets caught, Corky bribes the judge (a bulldog) to let him off, but send Greg to jail for 30 years, enabling Corky to elope with Greg's wife.
  • A regular feature of The Sweeney.
  • The second series of ITV drama Whitechapel is all about London Gangsters as the apparent sons of Ronnie Kray, Jimmy and Johnny, attempt to take over the criminal underworld.

  • An episode of The Magnus Archives centers on one who turns to supernatural means to seek revenge on a fellow criminal who double-crossed him.

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

    Tabletop Games  

  • The Champions supplement Kingdom of Champions features both Mystery’s gang (who fall into the trope by default) and Brown Fox (who epitomises the self-controlled but formidable version).
  • One playset for Fiasco is specifically built around playing out the inevitable display of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder that is Fiasco in the London gang scene. The playset in question is creatively known as "Gangster London".
  • The Xtreme version of Captain Cosmic has this characterisation in Sentinels of the Multiverse, although the Xtremeverse is enough of a Crapsack World that he's still considered one of the heroes. Notably, while the main-timeline Captain Cosmic takes cues from medieval history to make his Hard Light constructs (with a lot of armour, shields and swords), Xtreme Captain Cosmic is noted for making lots and lots of shiny golden guns.

    Video Games 
  • There are two gangs vying for control of London in Assassin's Creed Syndicate: the villainous Blighters and the heroic Rooks, controlled by the Templars and the Assassins respectively. The Blighters are brutish thugs who threaten and harass the general public, while the Rooks tend to act more like Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters. Jacob and Evie Frye, the leaders of the Rooks, are generally benevolent figures whose main reason for forming a gang was to bring down the oppressive Templar regime and they're also Siblings in Crime which basically makes them antiheroic Victorian London Expies of the Kray twins, whereas the leader of the Blighters, Maxwell Roth, is a more traditional portrayal of a London Gangster, being a charming yet violent Self-Made Man whose tactics grow increasingly more ruthless as the game goes on.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, The Penguin has been re-imagined as a Guy-Ritchie-ish English gangster with a thick East End accent and brutal means of enforcement. If you read his backstory you will learn that he comes from a prominent American family, but was sent to England for his education. Unfortunately he preferred hanging out with the rough crowd in seedy parts of the town over school.
  • The Penguin in Batman: The Telltale Series also has a similar background of being an English gangster, but is in far better physical condition and thus far more brutish and hands-on.
  • Delvin Mallory in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, one of the senior members of the Thieves Guild, has a voice fitting one of these and he oversees distribution for "more personal" Guild jobs.
  • Billy Kane of Fatal Fury is an expatriate Englishman working as The Dragon to an American crime boss, so he fits the trope at least in spirit if not to the letter.
  • The Getaway series features plenty of these, as well as The Yardies and the triads. The PSP-exclusive spin-off Gangs of London along with the traditional London gangsters, also contains some more exotic examples for a London setting, including Italian, Turkish, Russian and Chinese gangs.
  • Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 is filled with these types, including Albert and Archie Crisp, a suspiciously familiar Big Bad Duumvirate of Cockney twins.
  • The stereotypical mob family in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, creatively named "The Family". Though, this could be a subversion, since they act more like an Italian mafioso family than a British one.
  • Saints Row: Starting from the second game, the Boss can be portrayed as a Londoner if you pick the British Voice, and they fit much of the criteria in terms of personality: Ax-Crazy, Sir Swears-a-Lot, and being Affably Evil towards people they like. Customizable appearances enable you to make the Boss a Sharp-Dressed Man.
  • Birdie from Street Fighter is a heavyset black Cockney thug with a moustache and Delinquent Hair who loves beating people up with a chain. He's also a surprisingly good martial artist. That said, he used to be a bouncer, not a gangster, and he's not all that bad a guy.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception starts with Nate and Sully meeting up with Evil Brit Talbot in a London pub to talk business. When negotiations go sour, the American protagonists end up in a prolonged Bar Brawl (turned Bathroom Brawl in Nate's case) with the locals, who appear to consist of Cockney gangsters. Heavyset men in working-class flat caps, mainly bald, and leather jackets, with a pool table and all too eager to take a swing at the local American nuisance. One of these men, Charlie Cutter, corners them outside the pub and shoots them in front of Big Bad Catherine Marlowe. Charlie Cutter is actually a subversion. He's not a gangster, he's an associate of Nate and Sully's pretending to be on Marlowe's side, and they work together in search of clues to Iram of the Pillars. He's even implied to be the current boyfriend of Nate's old flame Chloe Frazer.

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

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Kray Winstone