Arthur is more brawn than brains. During the war in France, Arthur was a Sapper with his brother Thomas, digging very treacherous tunnels in order to place enormous amount of explosives under the enemy positions: a tactic used several times in the war to devastating effect at both the Battle of Verdun and the Battle at the Somme. It is suggested he may have served at Gallipoli through his distaste for Turks and the smell of stagnant water.
Series 1 Edit
After returning from France, Arthur feels that he should be the head of the family business. However, he can't command the necessary authority and Thomas slowly starts to assume leadership.
When Chief Inspector Campbell comes to Birmingham, Arthur is arrested, beaten and questioned as the assumed leader of the gang, but knows nothing about any stolen machine guns.
Eventually, Arthur Shelby comfronts Thomas telling him that he has no idea what is going on. Thomas tells him that the Peaky Blinders have the stolen guns and takes him to The Garrison Pub, which is now Arthur's.
When his father, Arthur Shelby, shows up, Arthur Jr. takes the opportunity to prove to everyone that he knows business just as well as Thomas. He gives his father money without the permission of Thomas or Polly, but soon realizes that his father is a selfish liar. Arthur tries to confront his father before he leaves for good, but becomes intimidated by the man's strength and anger, knowing that he wouldn't win in a fight against him.
The events cause Arthur to re-evaluate himself and as a result, he attempts suicide by hanging himself. The plan fails when the rope tears from the hook.
Series 2 Edit
Two years later (1922) Edit
An increasingly unhinged Arthur continued to struggle with war trauma, when he kills a young boy in the boxing ring by beating him to death. He is later confronted in The Garrison Pub by the mother of the boy he killed. She pulls a gun on him, but it misfires and shoots the mirror behind the bar. Arthur lunges toward her, empties the gun of bullets and tells her that she’ll be compensated financially. Broken and furious, she flips over the table and screams, “Somebody has to stop you people”.
Arthur accompanies Thomas and the gang to the auctions to buy a race horse, thus giving them a credible reason to infiltrate the race courses dominated by their London rival, Darby Sabini. When assassins try to kill Thomas, the same uncontrollable rage takes over Arthur who brutally beats one of the assailant.
Later, Arthur and John are drinking in The Garrison Pub, when Michael and Jeremiah Jesus’ son, Isaiah, come in telling them of a scuffle they had in the The Marquis of Lorne. Arthur and John burn the pub to the ground with the barkeep inside, to protect the reputation of the Peaky Blinders.
When their supposed ally Alfie Solomons invites Arthur and Billy Kitchen over for Passover at the distillery, things escalate rather quickly after Alfie sacrifices the goat named after Thomas. Alfie shoots Billy Kitchen in the head and his men tie up Arthur to wait for the police to haul him off to jail for the murder..
In prison, Arthur is beaten badly. He gets a visit from his brother John, who tells him that Thomas has plans to get him released, not before mocking him: "You’ve tried to hang yourself twice, now the king’s going to do it for you”.
Thomas negotiates a deal with Alfie to have the murder charge against Arthur withdrawn just in time to join the Blinders and the Lees heading off to the races.
At the Epsom Derby, Thomas assassinates Field Marshal Henry Russell, which creates the diversion that Arthur and the gang need to hold up Sabini’s bookmakers and burn their licenses, while the police are distracted.
Series 3 Edit
Two years later (1924) Edit
Meets a woman. Finds God (old testament). Has a baby. Tries to move to California, does't work out.
Arthur is seen having a soft spot of Grace in the first series and often asks her for help with business calculations when he is having trouble. He accidentally slips out family business information to Grace, but makes sure to inform Thomas that Grace has been asking questions about how the family runs their business. In the third series, when Grace married Thomas, Arthur casually refers to her as his 'sister', indicating that he has welcomed her into the family despite her past history with the Shelbys.
When Arthur first meets him, he tells Michael that he already knew him when he was a child: “I used to throw you out the window so John could catch you.” Just like John, Arthur treats Michael like a brother and makes sure to keep an eye out for his safety.
Sometime between the years of 1922 and 1924, Arthur meets Linda, a previous member of a Christian religious movement and they marry. She helps Arthur put his life back together and deal with his mental health issues, firstly by helping him stay sober as much as she can.
Arthur is known to see women, two at a time on occasion, as seen in the beginning of the first series where he goes to the movies with two girls and receives sexual favors from both. It is unknown if these women are prostitutes. He also sleeps with the girls who work in The Eden Club while he runs it.
Arthur: "I've been a fucking idiot. I haven't appreciated nothing, John."
John: "Are you fucking repenting or something?"
Arthur: "Drawing. I used to be good at drawing."
John: "Arthur, please, for God's sake, I don't need this."
Arthur: "I should have listened more in class."
John: "What fucking class? You were never there!"
Arthur: "I used to draw horses. Stallions. Great big ones. They looked real."