The British gαngster drama Peaky Blinders follows an extensive cast of characters who engage in criminal activity, but they all have personalities that either interfere with or aid in these activities. Many viewers argue that the series is really only about its main character, Thomas Shelby, who is given the most screentime and opportunity to develop.
Tommy is surrounded by his family and various other figures who come and go. Some of them change along with him, inspire him to change, or change because of his actions. Others seem to remain steadfastly the same throughout all five seasons – if they live that long.
10. GROWN A LOT: Linda Shelby
By the end of season 5, Linda Shelby is almost unrecognizable compared to who she is when she first joins the show in season 3. Viewers first meet her as Arthur’s devoted wife who may just be even more devoted to her religion.
She is devoutly religious and encourages Arthur to look to God, too. She tries to keep him tame via manipulation, but eventually, she finds herself dragged along into his world of wild behavior and vi0lence. She joins the Shelby family in their criminal work, even wanting to help them hurt others. Eventually, she becomes αddi𝘤tᥱd to cocaine and tries to ƙ𝔦ℓℓ Arthur before disappearing.
9. HASN’T GROWN: John Shelby
Sadly, John isn’t around for the entire show. He can be interesting to watch, especially in conjunction with his two older brothers. Still, that doesn’t mean he grows much throughout the series.
His personality remains pretty much unchanged, regardless of what he goes through. He’s quick-tempered, quick to fight and turn to vi0lence, and has little patience. The only way he changes as he grows older is that he shoulders more responsibility in the Shelby enterprise.
8. GROWN A LOT: Michael Gray
Polly’s son Michael is introduced as just an idea, but he doesn’t physically enter the story until the second season. He appears to have been living a safe, sheltered life with his adoptive parents – a life he quickly gives away in favor of embarking on business pursuits with Thomas.
Michael becomes increasingly independent, straying further and further from Polly’s protective grasp. He ventures into the world of illegal business dealings, moving to the States, where he meets Gina. Gina seems to further change him, and when he returns with the announcement that they are engaged, everyone is shocked at who Michael has become.
7. HASN’T GROWN: Esme Shelby
John’s wife, Esme, doesn’t grow a whole lot after the first season. For the most part, she seems immature, impatient, and more outspoken than anyone is comfortable with.
She retains her sense of righteousness and never gives up fighting in situations that everyone else considers hopeless. Nothing can ever sway Esme in the moment or in the longterm. She may be resentful, but she’s always got strong opinions.
6. GROWN A LOT: Polly Gray
Polly is one of the most courageous characters in the series. She’s never one to back down from a fight, though she wasn’t always as gutsy as she is in the later seasons. Earlier, she is content with having less power in the business and keeping her head down.
Now, she likes to keep Tommy in check and wants more for her own career. She’s experienced a lot of trauma that has shaped her and helped her evolve, like losing and finding her children, being ຣᥱ𝑥ually and romantically involved with traitors and enemies, and falling in love with men who are doomed to ɗ𝔦ᥱ.
5. HASN’T GROWN: Chester Campbell
Sam Neill’s Chester Campbell is a menacing villain for the show’s first two seasons, and he certainly leaves his mark on the characters even after he ɗ𝔦ᥱs.
Though he’s not around for long, Campbell causes a whole lot of trouble for the Shelby family. He doesn’t seem to change much himself, though. He’s a bitter, vi0lent, old-fashioned man who doesn’t consider anyone or anything but his own quest for vengeance and pleasure.
4. GROWN A LOT: Lizzie Starke
Lizzie is a minor character in the earlier seasons and someone who fans would never expect to become so important later on. In the first season, she is a prostitute who sees many men, including John and Tommy. John wants to marry her, but Tommy convinces them both not to go through with it.
Lizzie becomes a close friend of Tommy’s, assisting him in business and later comforting him through his grief after Grace ɗ𝔦ᥱs. They have a child together, but Tommy neglects them both. Lizzie becomes frustrated and tries to assert her authority, but often this is in vain. Throughout all of this, Lizzie’s greatest change of character is her acceptance of her own self-worth and claiming of autonomy.
3. HASN’T GROWN: Tommy Shelby
Interestingly, though the show is essentially an intimate examination of his character, Thomas doesn’t actually change that much. He goes through more than any other character does, and viewers almost see the world through his eyes. However, Tommy seems to make the same mistakes over and over again. He continues to self-sabotage through his αddi𝘤tion to vi0lence, 𝘤igαrᥱttᥱs, and shallow love affairs.
Tommy ends up in similar situations every season, usually because of his own misjudgments. He’s always pragmatic, cold, impersonal, and business-oriented. He never accepts help and never listens to his loved ones when they beg him to give up his vi0lent ways. He grieves, has a reality check when he’s almost ƙ-𝔦-ℓ-ℓed, even goes through a frail stage, but his external actions don’t yet show signs of growth. This doesn’t mean he isn’t interesting to watch, but he hasn’t yet learned from his mistakes.
2. GROWN A LOT: Ada Shelby
Ada grows from a foolish, rash girl to an educated, mature, composed young woman. She has no idea what she’s doing in the first season and doesn’t have much purpose in life other than to be with Freddie.
She gives birth to their son, whom she names after Karl Marx – an indicator of her growth in itself – and forces herself to learn responsibility. She becomes highly independent and forms her own set of opinions, becoming an advisor and confidante for Tommy.
1. HASN’T GROWN: Arthur Shelby
Aside from Tommy, Arthur has the most opportunities to grow throughout the season, but he never does. When he’s married to Linda, he’s just acting and viewers can sense that his change of behavior is a temporary reprieve.
Even when tempted with the possibility of escaping this dark life, Arthur finds reasons to stay. He relishes moments where he can vi0lent, and this is something Linda can’t stand. But, like Tommy, Arthur is still one of the most interesting characters to watch, and worthy of sympathy and empathy nevertheless.