Thomas 'Tommy' Michael Shelby is the leader of the Birmingham criminal gang Peaky Blinders and the patriarch of the Shelby Family. His experiences during and after the First World War have left him disillusioned and determined to move his family up in the world.
It is implied that there was a drastic personality shift before and after his experiences in the First World War, during which he was a Tunneller or Sapper (a volunteer digging treacherous tunnels covertly, in order to place enormous amount of explosives under the enemy positions, a tactic used several times in the war to devastating effect). After the War he began experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Thomas Shelby is shown to be a member of the Small Heath Rifles at the rank of sergeant major – a non-commissioned officer in charge of well-being, morale and training of the entire unit (all other sergeants and corporals answer to him as well as to the actual commanding officers). His flawless conduct in this role (made even more difficult on account of his youth at the time) earned him unwavering respect both from members of his unit and other veterans alike and cemented his reputation in the streets.
As to his heritage, Thomas claims that he is related to the Lee family on his mother's side and Johnny Dogs claims that Thomas's grandfather was a "king", most likely a King of the Gypsies. He is the second of the Shelby siblings.
First World War Edit
Thomas Shelby is a former british soldier and his war record states that he fought bravely at the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Somme. His actions at Mons reportedly saved thousands of allied lives, for which he received medals of honour after the War, including the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Series 1 Edit
Series 2 Edit
Two years later (1922) Edit
Series 3 Edit
Two years later (1924) Edit
Series 3 starts with the marriage of Thomas to Grace. After they are married, it's revealed that Thomas now owns a large house in the country, possibly to do with marrying Grace and his gradual increase in success in his business. His family and Grace's both come back to the house afterwards, where they have a party, with the Shelby men and the Irish family bonding slightly.
Thomas is waiting for his businessman to make contact with him (who we later find out are Russians) and they do at his wedding. This ends with Arthur Shelby killing a man.
Despite living in the country now, Thomas frequently visits his home in Birmingham city and business is good, although he has initial reservations about Arthur's wife.
When Grace is shot, he is heartbroken and returns to his much colder demeanour, initially not wanting to speak to his family very much and being very withdrawn from family life, very caught up in business with the Russians.
When he gets a tip off that the Priest working for the Russian family is a double-agent, he attempts to assassinate him, but is found out and attacked because of something Polly admitted in confession. He is very badly injured, with a suspected fractured skull and a hemorrhage. He is sent in his state to the home of the Romanovs, and apologises to Father Hughes in front of them.
He is also in a sexual relationship with Tatiana Petrovna, the niece of Leon Petrovich Romanov, the Russian man Thomas is doing business with. In an episode in Thomas' house in which Tatiana nearly shoots herself playing a frantic and sexualised game of Russian roulette, he breaks down as she keeps mentioning Grace, a tactic to get him to presumably break.
The initial business he had with Leon was to export large artillery vehicles, which he will get to the destination by having an explosion, implying that the vehicles got blown up, when really they will be on a different train- although this gets changed when he finds out that the Russians can't be trusted to pay him the agreed amount, valued by Alfie Solomans.
When Thomas deviates from the plan and Father Hughes finds out about the tunnel they are digging to retrieve the jewels from the Russian household, he kidnaps Thomas's son, and in return Thomas has to blow up the train and frame certain people, and at least 6 people have to die.
Thomas gets Arthur and John to blow up the train, but in the meantime Michael finds the Father Hughes and cuts his throat with a knife, after earlier Thomas ordered him to kill him.
Thomas then returns the jewellry and such to Tatiana, who is waiting to presumably make a getaway somewhere, and informs him that a man is waiting for her. In exchange for the goods, she gives him a large case of money and kisses him, and then asks for money for the sex they had and for helping him get over Grace's death. He rebuffs her, saying, "You didn't even come close."
The season ends with Thomas paying each of his family members and closest workers a sum of money for their problems, with most of his family angered or annoyed at him for interfering with Russian business in the first place, which he remarks in regard to Arthur, "You were right."
However, as Arthur is saying goodbye (as he plans to leave for New York) Thomas comments, "You won't get far." and then proceeds to tell them they will all be arrested for their various crimes and should comply with the police force. They are all angered, and Thomas watches as Arthur, John, Michael and Polly are all handcuffed and taken away.
Shelby Company Limited Edit
Thomas is instrumental in the success of the Shelby family business, which became a Limited Company under Thomas's ownership, as well as the first Shelby family company to have a legal racetrack pitch.
Series 2 revealed that the Shelby Company Limited is making over 100 pounds a day, on average. Thomas pushes the company further by expanding it south to London, as well as by sending crates of cars (with hidden bottles of single malt Scotch Whiskey inside—these bottles are then sold in North America in order to bring in profits for the company).
In Series 3, it is shown that, thanks to the actions of Thomas and the family over the past few years, the company is even more successful than it had been in the previous series, as it continues to expand and grow, as well as thanks to the cash provided by Winston Churchill.
In Series 1, Thomas first meets Grace and quickly grows fond of her. This mutual attraction eventually leads to love but the relationship is rocked when Thomas discovers that Grace was secretly operating as an agent for the Crown. Despite her mission, she too fell in love with him and urged him to run away to New York with her at the end of the season, but he declines.
Series 2 sees Grace return two years later, married to a wealthy American. Thomas is at first sardonic by her reappearance, but they end up spending the night together, a clear indicator that neither have lost their feelings for one another. In the second series finale, Grace tells Thomas that she is pregnant with his child and that it's him, not her husband, whom she loves.
Series 3 begins two years later. Grace has given birth to a healthy boy, Charles Shelby, and her and Thomas have married and now live in a beautiful country estate. However, near the beginning of series 3, Grace is shot and shortly after dies.
His sexual interest in series 3, he sleeps with her on a few occasions, as she was "offered" by her Aunt to help close the deal with the family. Although he may harbour some feelings of love for her, they don't come close to his feelings for Grace and he rebuffs her coldly at the end of series 3, as she leaves the city and presumably the country.
"Do I look like a man, who wants a simple life?"
"Everyone's a whore, Grace, we just sell different parts of ourselves."
"You can change what you do, but you can't change what you want."
"I am a horse"
"I still prefer the garrison"
When talking about his father's profession: "Well, he, erm He told fortunes and stole horses. Often he would tell a man that his horse would be stolen and they would marvel at his powers when it was."