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The Entire Peaky Blinders Timeline Explained

The world of Peaky Blinders is unabashedly cool. It starts off with the theme song: Nick Cave's searing murder ballad, "Red Right Hand." Then, there's the Shelby crime family at the center of the story. Their escapades in post-World War I Birmingham are cutthroat to be sure — but they also look cool as all get-out. Sometimes, the show feels like an excuse for Cillian Murphy to rain down hellfire in awesome period coats.

But the show's writers aren't just in it for the awesomeness. As the show unfolds and the Shelby family gains more and more power, things get knotty. Birmingham was a hotbed of leftist organizing, fascist agitation, and conservative crackdowns, after all. Peaky Blinders doesn't shy away from this complexity: It revels in its tale of crooked capitalists and bloody resistance. As the Shelby family's fortunes shift and the tides of history pull with more ferocity, Peaky Blinders grows ever more complicated and deep. Saboteurs, moles, and outright fanatics abound, and everyone from power-seeking criminals to the officers of the law are out to bring the Shelbys down. We're here to demystify this web of intrigue with this timeline of the entire series.

World War I

The Shelby family begins as a Romani street gang and small-time bookmaking operation, located in in Birmingham's Small Heath neighborhood circa 1919. Immediately before the events of the show, the Shelby brothers fought for the British in World War I. Though Arthur Shelby is older than Tommy, it is clear that Tommy is the leader of the gang. It's also made apparent that Tommy displayed the same leadership characteristics during the war, quickly rising to the high rank of Sergeant Major.

During the war, Arthur and Tommy dug tunnels under enemy lines to plant explosives. The job was incredibly dangerous — they risked capture by the enemy and death from tunnels collapsing. They also fought at the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Verdun, two of the most infamously bloody conflicts of the war. Unsurprisingly, both brothers suffer from PTSD, though Tommy has a better hold on his condition ... or at least that's how it seems to outside observers.

The brothers return to Birmingham after the war and immediately take back command of their criminal operation, the Peaky Blinders, from their aunt Polly.

A robbery gone wrong

Firmly back at the top of the Blinders, Tommy orders a pickup of some goods coming through the city. The Blinders nick the wrong crate, however, and come into a shipment of weapons from the Birmingham Small Arms Company. The missing weapons bring the attention of the government to the Shelbys' doorstep, and Winston Churchill orders an investigator named Chester Campbell to find the guns. He brings along an undercover agent named Grace to infiltrate the Shelby family.

Campbell swings about somewhat blindly upon his arrival in Birmingham, snatching up Arthur Shelby out of the belief that he's the leader of the Blinders. At the same time, Grace becomes employed at the Shelbys' pub as a bartender. When Arthur returns with the news that Campbell is asking questions, Tommy and John Shelby mull over how to handle the stolen guns. Tommy initially agrees to dump the guns for the police to find, but changes his mind at the last minute.

Seeing this play out, Grace determines that the Shelbys are led by Tommy, and reports what she's learned back to Inspector Campbell.

Striking a deal

Tommy Shelby has more than the feds on his mind. A brawl between a Shelby and a member of another Romani criminal family has led to a blood feud, and Tommy learns that he's a target when a bullet with his name on it is delivered to his doorstep.

Beyond the looming threats of gang murder and the police, however, the Shelbys are doing just fine. They fix a horse race and come up big via their own well-placed bets. Moreover, the brothers' sister Ada is pregnant. Under most circumstances, this would be cause for celebration. But the father of Ada's child is Freddie Thorne, a known communist organizer who will only bring more eyes to the Shelby operation. Plus, the horse race was fixed without the permission of Billy Kimber, the man who runs the races in the Blinders' corner of England.

This is where we first see Tommy's knack for thinking three steps ahead. Tommy meets with Inspector Campbell and agrees to turn over the guns, so long as the law turns a blind eye to his plans to take down Kimber. He also offers up Freddie Thorne to sweeten the deal for the staunch anti-communist policeman. Though Thorne remains free, Tommy does warn his sister's husband that their marriage can't last.


Tommy sets up dueling alliances over the course of the first season. He calms Billy Kimber by revealing plots against him by the Lees and cools his feud with the Lee family by letting them in on his plot to overthrow Kimber. But those carefully laid plans take a long time to play out, and any one variable going wrong threatens to throw the entire operation into disarray.

The stress gets to Tommy, and he spends quite a bit of time sitting at the bar of The Garrison Pub, getting closer and closer to new bartender Grace. While he quickly susses out that she's never worked as a bartender before, he believes that she's a runaway and not the undercover agent she actually is. He grows fond of Grace as his machinations are set in motion, and allows her to see more and more of the business he's involved in.

While all of this is going on, the IRA comes into the picture, seeking some of those BSA guns that started the whole mess. The Shelbys take a meeting with them, but don't agree to anything.

Off to the races

Before Tommy lets the Lees in on his operation, he has to make sure he won't be shot on sight by the family. The Lees come very close to killing the Peaky Blinders leader at one point, leaving a hand grenade booby trap in his car. Tommy very narrowly saves his brother's life and decides it's time to make peace with the Lees.

He first tries to mend the schism between the two families by appealing to blood. He claims that he's kin to the Lees on his mother's side. That does little to calm the family, so he clues them in on his planned attack on Billy Kimber's horse racing business. To seal the deal, Tommy's brother John marries a Lee woman named Esme, bonding their families together in a non-violent way.

Believing them to be on his side, Billy Kimber sets up the Shelbys with their first legal racing operation. Back at The Garrison Pub, more IRA members come to ask Tommy about the stolen guns. He tells this crew that he'll sell them the guns, then goes to Inspector Campbell with the news. He hopes to turn over the IRA members to keep the police out of his own business.


Around this time, Freddie Thorne is finally arrested after Grace gives away his location to the police. In spite of her continued reporting to her superiors, she becomes closer and closer to Tommy. She eventually becomes complicit in his illegal activities when she shoots and kills an IRA man who storms The Garrison Pub, looking to harm the Shelbys' leader.

Grace's work for the police then very nearly gets the Shelbys killed: She tips off her commanders about the Shelby plan to take over the Kimber operation, including the date and time of the attack. After that, she resigns. Kimber's moles on the police force relay this info to him, so he decides to confront the Blinders in Small Heath.

Kimber shoots Tommy in the chest, but Tommy returns fire and hits Kimber in the head. Though Grace betrayed the Shelbys, she is deeply in love with Tommy and urges him to run away with her to London. Tommy writes her a letter, saying he'll let her know if he'll leave Birmingham in three days. Grace leaves ahead of Tommy, and is chased by Inspector Campbell at the Birmingham train station. He pulls a gun on her, but she gets away after shooting him in the leg.

First London...

The Blinders suffer two big setbacks at the beginning of the second season. Their local pub, The Garrison, is blown up while the family mourns the death of Ada's son, Freddie. The IRA swoops in shortly after and pressures Tommy into a hit. When word gets to Campbell, he uses his leverage over Tommy to force him to carry out another hit on behalf of the government. But it's not all bad news: Tommy is able to track down his aunt Polly's long-lost son Michael and bring him home.

At the same time, the Shelby operation is expanding into London. Barging into new territory ruffles quite a few feathers, most notably the Sabini crime family. For the first time, we see the Shelbys truly out of their depth — the London crime families are bigger, more violent, and better prepared than anything the Peaky Blinders have faced. Desperate, Tommy reaches out to Alfie Solomons, head of another London family, in the hopes of an alliance. But the Shelbys' reputation precedes them, and Alfie secretly plots to undo the Blinders with the help of the Sabinis.

The Solomons' scheming lands Arthur and John Shelby in jail. Eventually, Alife Solomons reveals his intentions, hoping to extort the Shelbys. Tommy's ability to keep all his plates spinning comes through once more: He threatens Solomons with a rigged explosive device and gets the gangster to agree to taking a portion of the Shelby business, instead of the entirety.

Then Europe...

Tommy ends his feud with the Sabinis and successfully carries out his government-ordered hit on the same day, killing Field Marshall Henry Russell at a Sabini racetrack. Tommy is then kidnapped by forces seemingly loyal to Russell — but before he can be executed, one of the gunmen turns on the other two and kills them. He reveals that he's under orders from Winston Churchill, and tells Shelby to go home.

The series jumps ahead two years, revealing an even more successful Shelby family with a country estate. Tommy has finally married Grace, and the organization appears to be on the rise. However, the family's communist affiliations come back to bite them, as anti-communist forces in the UK continually force the family to carry out dangerous hits and robberies or risk jail. Things escalate when Father Hughes, working on behalf of the Economic League, kidnaps Thomas and Grace's son. He forces the Shelbys to bomb a train and rob Russian oligarchs in the hopes of provoking a conflict with the USSR.

Another feud erupts between the Shelbys and an Italian crime family, the Changrettas, that ends with Grace shot dead. The bloodshed continues when Father Hughes is murdered by Polly's son, Michael. With Hughes out of the picture, the Shelbys hope to take the spoils of the robbery for themselves. After giving the ill-gotten goods to a Russian heiress, however, Tommy reveals to his associates that they are going to be arrested.

And finally, the world

Tommy reassures his associates that they will be released and that he'll be able to keep his word. Still, the prison stint does a number on the morale of the Shelby family, and they all end up wondering just how far they can trust Tommy.

The feud with the Changretta family doesn't wrap up neatly — it carries on even as the Shelbys sit behind bars. Every surviving member of the organization comes home to a letter from the Changrettas, saying that they will all be killed. For a while it looks like the Changrettas will make good on their promise: They kill John Shelby and wound Michael on Christmas Day. Tommy intentionally walks into an ambush and kills three Changretta men before escaping. Arthur appears to be killed in a Changretta attack on a boxing match run by the Shelbys.

The Peaky Blinders have more than the one feud to worry about. Communist organizing is growing at Shelby-owned factories, and Ada Shelby's attachment to the movement continues to make things uncomfortable. Beyond that, the Solomons have turned on the Shelbys yet again, working with the Changrettas to end the rule of the Peaky Blinders once and for all.

Tying up loose ends

The Changrettas propose a truce at Arthur's (secretly fake) funeral, demanding that Tommy Shelby pay restitution by turning over his entire organization to the Changretta family. However, Tommy has other ideas. He reveals that he's taken advantage of the Changrettas' relative weakness in the US while they were focusing on England. Via Michael, Tommy has conspired with the other New York crime families against the Changrettas, leaving them incredibly vulnerable in what should be their seat of power.

After Tommy reveals he's won, Arthur appears and kills Audrey Changretta. Tommy then turns his sights on Alfie Solomons. He finds the old gangster on a beach with his dog. Alfie reveals that he has cancer, and hoped to draw the wrath of the Peaky Blinders so that he might die without having to waste away or kill himself. Tommy obliges Solomons, then decides he needs a break from the criminal life.

He can only stand so much quiet, however: He quickly grows bored with his lordly existence and decides to take his scheming into the realm of politics. He uses his communist contacts as a stepping stone to get in good with the terrified British government and becomes a Labour MP for Birmingham.

His worst foe yet

In Parliament, Tommy meets a new villain who can go toe-to-toe with him. Oswald Mosley is a conservative politician who has discerned the creeping tide of fascism rising in Europe and decided he wants in. The MP and Cabinet advisor represents the neighboring district to Tommy's, and he hopes to form an alliance to bolster his nascent political movement. Tommy is put off by Mosley politically and personally, and the soon-to-be fascist does himself no favors when he antagonizes Tommy over his new wife's former occupation as a sex worker.

On the orders of Winston Churchill, whom Tommy owes his life, Tommy orchestrates an assassination plot: Churchill wants Mosley dead before he can rally people to his fascist cause. Tommy plans a hit during a speech by Mosley, one where Tommy will be standing on stage to avoid suspicion. Mosley hears of the plot and has several of Tommy's men killed, before escaping with his life.