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The Entire Shelby Family Tree In Peaky Blinders Explained

Gangster cinema is one of the most acclaimed genres in film. From "Scarface" to "The Godfather," "Pulp Fiction" to "Goodfellas," audiences love to watch tortured men doing bad things in a bleak and unforgiving world. For a long time, the grittiness and violence of gangster movies was considered too extreme for television. 

The success of "The Sopranos" changed that perception, and the last two decades have seen some of the most acclaimed serials being based around crime syndicates, from "Breaking Bad" to "Boardwalk Empire." In 2013, this group gained a new and trailblazing member in the form of British period crime drama "Peaky Blinders." The show focuses on the life and times of the Shelbys, a gangster family that operates out of Birmingham, England, starting from 1919.

The family has a number of notable personalities, chief among them Thomas "Tommy" Shelby, an ex-soldier with dreams of taking his family out of the backwaters of Birmingham and into the highest circles of British society. The Shelby family at the center of "Peaky Blinders" has seen a lot of ups and downs over the show's five seasons. Here's a rundown of the complete Shelby family tree to keep you up to date on the show's twisting mythology.

Tommy Shelby

The main man. The big dog. And a major reason for the show's breakout success. Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby, the protagonist of "Peaky Blinders." As much as the focus is on the Shelby family, it is Tommy who is the driving force behind most of their actions and the one to be held answerable when things go wrong. 

In the beginning, the family (and Tommy in particular) is best known for leading the fearsome Peaky Blinders gang, a crime group known for sporting peaked caps lined with razors to be used in emergency fights to blind their opponents. Before joining the gang, Tommy was a sergeant major during World War I, and his experiences as a digger during the war left an indelible impression on his mind in the form of PTSD and a disinterest in ordinary civilian life.      

Throughout the show, we see Tommy engage in a relentless quest for more power, which takes him from the streets of Birmingham as a smuggler and bookie to the highest circles of the British government as a member of Parliament. Tommy has sacrificed much in this pursuit, but finds himself unable to settle down and be satisfied with what he has already achieved. In a burst of candor, Tommy admits that even if he wins the current battle against a powerful enemy, it does not mean the war will ever end for him, stating, "I will continue until I find a man that I can't defeat."

Polly Gray

While "Peaky Blinders" is mainly a show about violent men doing violent things, the women of the series are no slouches in that department, either. Chief among the ladies is Polly Gray (Helen McCrory), aunt to Tommy and his siblings and the official treasurer of the Peaky Blinders' bookie business. 

Despite not taking an active part in the gang's more violent enterprises, Polly is a well-respected member of the organization due to her tactical mind and business skills. She is one of the few people who can influence Tommy to occasionally change his mind, and the rest of the members of the gang treat her with respect bordering on reverence. Polly's life is turned upside down, however, when she discovers her long-lost son, Michael (Finn Cole).

The rest of Polly's time with the Peaky Blinders is torn between her loyalty to Tommy and their gang and her desire to protect Michael and save him from the uglier aspects of being a part of the family business. McCrory won rave reviews for her performance as Polly Gray. Unfortunately, the actress passed away before she could film any scenes for the 6th season of "Peaky Blinders." 

Arthur Shelby Jr.

Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) is Tommy's older brother, right-hand man, and the loose cannon of the Peaky Blinders. Despite being expected to lead the gang, Arthur grows to accept Tommy's leadership and defers control of the Blinders to his younger brother. After Tommy, Arthur is the most respected, most feared member of the gang, and with good reason. 

Arthur was also a soldier during World War I, and was affected even worse by those experiences than Tommy. He suffered from frequent fits of rage, during which he would go on a rampage and take out anyone who happened to be standing in his way. Arthur later comes to regret his acts of violence, especially after he marries Linda (Kate Phillips) and starts going to church more regularly.

At first, Arthur feels some jealously towards Tommy for the way everyone naturally gravitates towards him. Those feelings later recede into the background as Arthur starts to struggle with the morality of his own actions. The bond between the two as brothers and fighters is tested like never before after their failed assassination of Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) at the end of Season 5, but Arthur remains fiercely loyal to Tommy and the family business and is the first man you want on your side in a fight.

John Shelby

Rounding out the main trio of the Shelby brothers is John (Joe Cole). More emotionally stable than his older brothers, Tommy and Arthur, John also served in the army during World War I, but had a relatively easier time letting go of the trauma he experienced during that time. Much like Arthur, John is completely loyal to Tommy and is content to work under him instead of vying for the position of gang leader. Unlike Arthur, John does not fly into fits of rage, though he is a brutal combatant. Still, John can be easily provoked when he feels himself or his family being disrespected, and this character trait ultimately proved his undoing.

In Season 1, John gets married to Esme Lee (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) and starts a new family with her. As a result, he grows more cautious regarding Tommy's plans to expand their criminal empire by taking on bigger mob bosses. John's temper starts a new war in Season 3 when he threatens an ex-lover's boyfriend who has ties to the Italian mob's Changretta family. The affair escalates, and the Changrettas send a party to Birmingham to avenge the insult against their brethren by the Shelbys. John is one of the first casualties of the war after he is gunned down outside his house by members of the Changretta clan.  

Finn Shelby

Tommy, Arthur, John, and Polly took the Peaky Blinders to heights undreamt of in their time as leaders of the gang, but those four will not be around forever to head the organization. Which is where Finn Shelby (Harry Kirton) comes into the picture. Tommy's youngest brother, and the only one who did not fight in the Great War, Finn is 11 years old in Season 1.

Due to his young age, Finn does not have anything to do with the day-to-day operations of the gang, and his brothers and Aunt Polly are fiercely protective of him whenever Finn brushes up against any of the nastier aspects of belonging to a crime family. As he grows older, Finn is gradually allowed to participate in more of the violence associated with the Peaky Blinders and shows a natural aptitude for the work. 

By the 5th season, Finn is a fully-functioning member of the gang and put in charge of watching over bookmaker Billy Grade while he operates their football betting business. Finn grows close to Billy and even divulges Tommy's top secret plans to assassinate Oswald Mosley to him. Unfortunately Mosley becomes aware of the plan and the assassination does not work. Did Billy tell Mosley about Tommy's plan? And if so, is it Finn's fault the plan failed?

Grace Shelby

The first season of "Peaky Blinders" was as much a love story as it was a gangster epic. Busy with his plans to expand the business, Tommy becomes more and more aware of the pretty new bartender at his favorite pub, Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis). Tommy notes that Grace is clearly too refined and educated for her job, while Grace is aware of Tommy's influence as the two start seeing more of each other. 

It is later revealed that Grace is a spy sent by the Crown to keep an eye on the Shelby family. Grace plays her part expertly and soon has Tommy falling in love with her. But she also finds herself falling for Tommy, even as her handler, Major Campbell (Sam Neill), becomes obsessed with Grace. At the end of Season 1, Tommy finds out about Grace's betrayal, while she kills Campbell after he attempts to shoot her for spurning his advances.  

Over the next few years of "Peaky Blinders," Grace and Tommy have a falling out and Grace marries another man. But the two are still irresistibly drawn towards each other. They finally get married after Grace's first husband commits suicide, and she gives birth to Tommy's son, Charles Shelby. Unfortunately, Grace is shot dead soon afterwards in gang-related violence. Tommy remains buried in grief over Grace's memory for years and is often visited by hallucinations of her in his darkest moments.  

Uncle Charlie

Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy) is one of the most capable members of the Peaky Blinders gang when it comes to manual work. Tommy relies heavily on Charlie to help stock and prepare shipments, and also to take care of the horses owned by Shelby Company Limited. Charlie is present at many of the family meetings where Tommy discusses his most secret plans with his most trusted allies. 

It is a subject of great speculation among "Peaky Blinders" fans regarding Charlie's exact relationship with Tommy and the other Shelbys. They refer to him as "Uncle Charlie," yet he is clearly not related to Tommy on his father's side. This might mean Charlie is Tommy's uncle on his mother's side, but Charlie mentions being in love with Tommy's mother in a later season, so that seems to discount the possibility of Charlie being the brother or cousin of Tommy's mother. 

Whether or not Charlie is related to Tommy by blood, it is clear the Shelbys consider him part of the family – so much so that Tommy referred to Charlie as his kin when questioned on the subject by Jimmy McCavern. What Tommy prizes above all else is loyalty, and Charlie has proven himself again and again to be more loyal to the Shelbys than many actual blood relatives. 

Arthur Shelby Sr.

You have to wonder about the kind of father who could raise four men like Tommy and his brothers. "Peaky Blinders" fans used to wonder the same thing, until they actually met Arthur Shelby Sr. (Tommy Flanagan) in Season 1. Turns out the elder Arthur had walked out on his family years before the start of the show, and the brothers were essentially raised by their Aunt Polly, since their mother was also long deceased. 

The absence of their father affected Tommy and his brothers in different ways. Arthur Jr. still wants to make up with his father, and even agrees to help Arthur Sr. open a new casino with his own money. Tommy, John, and Finn, on the other hand, have grown largely indifferent to their father due to his long absence from their lives. Tommy even warns Arthur about trusting their father too much. When Arthur learns that his father plans to run off with the money Arthur loaned him, the younger Shelby is left heartbroken and tries to take his own life.

In Season 3, Tommy and the others find out their father was killed in an alleyway attack. This leads to a rare moment in which the Shelbys reminisce about the only good memory they have of Arthur Sr., when he taught them to kill and gut a stag.

Michael Gray

After devoting her whole life to the Shelby brothers, their Aunt Polly's world is turned upside down when she discovers that her son Michael, whom she had thought dead, was still alive. Michael was being raised by a foster family, but he left them to go live with his birth mother after being attracted to the world of the Peaky Blinders.

At first, Tommy and his brothers welcome Michael with open arms out of respect for Polly. Michael proves himself a natural fit for Tommy's gang – both the management part and the fighting part. Despite Polly trying her best to have Michael lead an honest and respectable life away from gang-related activities, he willingly sinks deeper into the world of the Peaky Blinders.

By Season 5, Tommy has sent Michael to represent the Shelby company in America. Unfortunately, Michael loses millions of the company's money at the stock market. He returns to Britain under a cloud of suspicion with his new wife, Gina, and seems to be plotting to take Tommy's place at the head of the company.   

Ada Thorne

The fourth oldest Shelby sibling, and the only girl in the family, is Tommy's sister Ada (Sophie Rundle). The brothers had no intention of letting Ada anywhere near Peaky Blinders-related violence or any sort of unsavory business, but she was too headstrong to be controlled.

In Season 1, Ada enters into a relationship with known communist Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg). Freddie and Ada's relationship has to be kept a secret – but then she gets pregnant. Heeding Aunt Polly's advice, Ada is on her way to a distant hospital where she can get an abortion when she's stopped by Freddie and subjected to a proposal. Ada accepts, and the two get married. Unfortunately, Freddie dies soon afterwards, and Ada is left to raise their son Karl alone. She keeps her distance from the Shelby family while continuing to support her late husband's political programs.

Later seasons see Ada patch things up with her family and start working in the more legitimate side of the Shelby Company in their U.S. branch. She also enters into a new relationship with Ben Younger (Kingsley Ben-Adir) which results in her getting pregnant again. Unfortunately, Ben dies before he comes to know of his unborn child, and Ada is left once again to raise a baby without a father.    

Freddie Thorne

Before Tommy became a dreaded gangster, he was a well-meaning kid in his teens whose best friend was Freddie Thorne. With the start of the first World War, Tommy and Freddie signed up for the army at the same time. Freddie even saved Tommy's life during a battle and was one of the few people Tommy genuinely looked up to and respected.

The two had a falling out after the war ended, however, when Freddie became a communist. Their relationship is further strained when Freddie secretly starts dating Tommy's sister, Ada. Despite pressure from the Peaky Blinders, as well as the police officers keeping a close eye on Freddie's political activities, he marries Ada so they can raise their unborn son together at end of Season 1. 

At the start of Season 2, though, it turns out that Freddie died due to "pestilence," leaving his wife and son without support. Tommy attends Freddie's funeral, revealing that the two had made a pact during the war that Tommy would speak at Freddie's funeral if the latter passed away before him.  

Linda Shelby

Arthur Shelby has never been an easy man to get along with, but the one person who could influence him more than any other was his wife Linda. The two met when Arthur was struggling with his sobriety, and Linda used religion as a means of helping Arthur control his influences. 

The relationship gets serious in Season 3 of "Peaky Blinders," and Linda urges Arthur to stop his association with crime and make an honest living instead. Tommy begins to dislike the level of control Linda exerts over his brother, but Linda eventually marries Arthur and gives birth to their son, Billy. She also becomes addicted to cocaine and grows increasingly disillusioned with the family shed married into. 

Season 5 sees the marriage deteriorate completely. Linda looks for a way to divorce Arthur, but all the lawyers are too afraid of the Shelbys to take her case. When Linda tries to talk to her husband, he brushes her concerns aside. After he slashes the face of a man Linda had grown close to, she decides Arthur is beyond saving and attempts to shoot him, but Polly shoots Linda in the arm, instead. Coming back to their senses, Linda and Arthur part ways for good, and she finally becomes free of the Shelby family.

Esme Shelby

Before getting mixed up with Billy Kimber, the Italian mob, and Nazis, the biggest enemies of the Shelby family were the Lees, a Romani family from Birmingham who often got into fights with the Shelbys over control of their immediate area (although what you see onscreen is not actually Birmingham). As a means of brokering peace, Tommy arranges for his brother John to marry Esme Lee.

John agrees to the union, mostly so his four children from his deceased wife will have a mother figure in their lives. What starts out as a business contract soon turns into a genuinely loving relationship, however, and John and Esme often present a united front on Shelby family matters. Esme starts working at the Peaky Blinders' betting shop and grows closer to the other women in the family.

Over time, Esme gives birth to two more children, and John takes her to live in the countryside with their expanding brood. Unfortunately, the Changretta family has targeted the Shelbys for elimination, and John is one of their first victims. Devastated by his death, Esme curses Tommy and the rest of the Shelbys, vowing to take her children away so they can live a decent life removed from the influence of the Peaky Blinders.

Gina Gray

A late arrival to the Shelby clan, Gina Gray (Anya Taylor-Joy, of "The Queen's Gambit" fame) is Michael's wife, whom he met in America. The two get married on the way back to Britain after Gina becomes pregnant with Michael's child. Despite being a newcomer, Gina shows no signs of fear or nervousness but greets Polly, Tommy, and the rest of the Shelbys like an equal.

This rubs the rest of the Shelbys the wrong way. It doesn't help when it becomes apparent that Gina is pushing Michael to take over the family company. Tommy refuses to even entertain the notion, and this drives Michael further away from the family and into Gina's arms. Through various hints dropped in Season 5, Gina appears to be plotting with Michael and her relatives back in America to dispose of Tommy and his allies once and for all. "Gina is obviously American and she comes from quite an influential American family," director Anthony Byrne told Obsessed with Peaky Blinders. "Who are not overtly a crime family, but there's a lot of grey there."

Lizzie Shelby

Few characters have experienced as much change across the length of "Peaky Blinders" as Lizzie Stark (Natasha O'Keeffe). She starts out as a common sex worker who John is considering marrying for the sake of having a mother for his children. Tommy hears about the plan and arranges to have the wedding called off, believing Lizzie would not remain faithful to John.

Despite the end of that relationship, Lizzie continues to be on good terms with John, and continues having Tommy as her customer. Over time, Tommy's trust in Lizzie grows, and he offers her a job as a secretary. Things turn bitter when Tommy asks Lizzie to seduce a man as part of a plan, which almost ends with Lizzie getting raped. Later on, Lizzie's relationship with a new boyfriend becomes the flashpoint for the war between the Shelbys and the Changrettas.   

Despite their tumultuous history, Lizzie and Tommy grow closer, especially after Lizzie becomes pregnant with Tommy's child. The two get married, but despite Lizzie giving birth to Tommy's daughter Ruby, their marriage is not a happy one. Tommy still hallucinates about Grace on occasion, and he sleeps with other women. Season 5 ends with Lizzie and Tommy coming to an uneasy understanding as they try to make their relationship work again.