Content warning: The following contains discussions of violence, murder, and suicide.
In Peaky Blinders, Shelby family patriarch Thomas “Tommy” Shelby has everything that makes a perfect antihero. He finds it easy to kill, a trait that can be traced back to his time as Sergeant Major in World War I, and has better strategies than all of the competition. Most importantly, he speaks confidently and convincingly too.
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Tommy has a penchant for infusing creativity into his sentences. This has made him come up with some of the best remarks in the highly-rated BBC drama. Whether he’s talking to a family member, a high-ranking government official, or a foe, a dialogue scene involving the Birmingham crime boss is never bland and the best Thomas Shelby quotes will be remembered for years to come.
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Updated on April 6th, 2022, by Rhys McGinley: With season 6 now fully released, Peaky Blinders is officially over as a TV show, and it left on a high note with the finale especially delivering some of the show’s best moments and classic quotes. Most of the best Peaky Blinders quotes, including this season, come from its main protagonist, with there being so many memorable Thomas Shelby quotes for fans to enjoy. Of course, there are a tonne more fantastic Tommy Shelby quotes in the first five seasons also, which audiences will long remember as they think about one of television’s great antiheroes.
Dressed For Free
“I Don’t Pay For Suits. My Suits Are On The House Or The House Burns Down.”
As Grace and Tommy prepare to go to the races together for the first time, she laments about not finding an appropriate dress to wear. She then asks him if he has paid for the suit he’ll be wearing. Well, he doesn’t pay.
Being the boss of the most feared criminal organization in Birmingham has its perks. The fashion-savvy Tommy Shelby expects tailors to hand him the best suits, or else they’ll be made to go out of business. It’s for their own good – and his too – because he gets to satisfy his fashion appetites without spending a dime. This move matches old mob practices where small businesses are expected to remit part of their revenue to the reigning criminal organization.
No Room For Emotion In Public Speaking
“Conviction Introduces Emotion, Which Is The Enemy Of Oratory.”
Winston Churchill—one of the few real-life characters in Peaky Blinders—requests a meeting with Tommy where he compliments him for giving a beautiful speech in the House Of Representatives. The then Home Secretary wonders whether Tommy believes his own words. Tommy doesn’t. According to him, being emotionally attached to an issue makes it harder to talk about it.
In this scene, Tommy and Chruchill realize they have much more in common than they thought. They both understand the importance of saying what needs to be said to achieve a specific goal. Churchill also points out that Tommy’s quote is borrowed from Greek literature. This revelation paints Tommy as not just a gangster but a scholar too.
A Big Decision
“If You Make The Wrong Choice, You Won’t See 11:44.”
Tommy once interrogates an associate of The Economic League, aka Section D, in prison, but the man refuses to talk. Tommy thus takes out his clock. It’s approaching 11:43. He gives the man seconds to decide who he is more afraid of, the Blinders or Section D.
The Blinders’ boss has a strong belief in his own abilities; hence he thinks of himself as far more capable than all his enemies. In truth, the far-right organization has proven to be way more dangerous than the Blinders as it has some of the most sadistic and evilest people on the show. Nevertheless, the manner in which Tommy packages the words in his threats always does the trick.
If You Have Got It, Flaunt It
“Good Taste Is For People Who Can’t Afford Sapphires.”
Tommy goes on to make a beautiful necklace for Grace when he receives sapphires from Russians as payment. Since they are going to a charity event, she is concerned that it wouldn’t be in good taste for her to wear sapphires. Tommy doesn’t agree.
The Birmingham crime lord has never been focused on pleasing others. His concern has only been to what makes him happy. Grace is right to be concerned about showing off in an event that is meant to help the less fortunate but Tommy also rightfully believes that the rich ought to not have to be apologetic about their wealth. It’s a matter of perspective. There are some romantic Thomas Shelby quotes, but this line is more of a helping hand for Grace as she gets accustomed to Tommy’s life.
The Ultimate Opportunist
“When Fortune Drops Something Valuable Into Your Lap, You Don’t Just Dump It On The Bank Of The Cut.”
Among the many important things that happen in the Peaky Blinders pilot is the Birmingham gang grabbing the wrong crate of weapons during a routine pickup. It turns out it’s a cache of government artillery headed for Libya. Tommy is urged to return it, but he refuses.
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Trouble comes in the form of Inspector Campbell, who is sent to retrieve the weapons. However, Tommy’s decision to hold on to the weapons proves to be the right move later on. If he’d given back the weapons, he’d never have achieved certain things in his life, including marrying Grace and being a close associate of Winson Churchill.
An Inspiration, Not A Traitor To His Class
“I’m Just An Extreme Example Of What A Working Man Can Achieve.”
Niall Delvin gets paranoid when mines and factories shut down because of the Shelby company’s activities. He tells Tommy that they might get shot for being traitors to their class. However, Tommy doesn’t believe he is a traitor to his class. He only sees himself as a hardworking man.
Crime shows and movies have always reminded viewers that established criminals see no problems with their actions. They consider their trade to be as important as any other job. Tommy shares the same opinion. He is also right about himself being a hardworking man since he rose from a frontline soldier in the trenches to one of the biggest crime lords in Britain.
The Brains & The Brawn
“I Think, Arthur. That’s What I Do. I Think. So That You Don’t Have To.”
Arthur once calls out Tommy for thinking that he can take on Billy Kimber by himself. Tommy puts him in his place, instructing him to leave “thinking” to him since he’s what he’s good at it.
Tommy is aware that Arthur is more of a brawns than brains kind of person. He knows his brother isn’t the best decision-maker, and that’s why he brushes off his concerns very quickly. Tommy’s conclusions about Arthur are quickly proven when Arthur’s carelessness makes him the first member of the Peaky Blinders to be arrested by Inspector Campbell. The two share a long list of great moments, being one of the best relationships in the series, and this is one of them.
One Rule For The Wedding
“No Fighting. No F***ing Fighting, No Fighting, NO F***ING FIGHTING!”
As the central character with whom fans spend the most time throughout Peaky Blinders’ five seasons, Tommy Shelby is almost always a key part of some of the show’s most iconic scenes.
That includes this, one of the most recognizable moments from the show with one of Peaky Blinders’ most iconic quotes, this scene at his wedding. Tommy is a great leader and inspires both fear and confidence in those around him, and this is a classic example of that as he attempts to keep the families civil. Ending his plea for peace by attacking a waiter who bumped into him made this moment all the better.
All It Takes Is A Bad Look
“It’s Not A Good Idea To Look At Tommy Shelby The Wrong Way.”
After discovering that Grace never worked in Dublin as she claimed, Tommy begins suspecting her. To spook her, he tells her a story of how he shot his horse for looking at him the wrong way.
The Blinders’ boss has always been a dangerous man, but he is aware that some people might not be aware of how ruthless he can be. It’s his duty to remind them. The subtle threat somehow works because Grace, who is an undercover agent, becomes more cautious and less aggressive while pursuing Tommy. This way, she takes too long to get the information required. Time breeds affection as she finds herself falling in love with him.
Dealings With The Crown
“I Have Made Arrangements With Men I Trust… If I Should Die, Then You Will Die. Know That!”
The deal between Tommy and The Crown includes plenty of favors. One of those involves Tommy assassinating Field Marshal Henry Russell. Tommy does not trust Major Campbell, so before he sets off for the mission, he assures him that if something were to happen to him, the retaliation would be swift.
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Tommy’s poise is evident once again in this scene. He knows the risk of his mission, but that doesn’t get him worried. His eyes are on the benefits. Having been a good boss all along, he trusts his people to revenge for his death if it were to happen. Tommy also proves once again how he has mastered the art of making subtle threats.
A Rule For Parley
“You Don’t Parley When You’re On The Back Foot.”
Birmingham Boys head Kimber is angry when he first hears that Tommy is fixing the races. Tommy makes the gangster warm up to him by offering help in fighting the Lee Family. Tommy later explains his strategy, saying he had to negotiate with Kimber from a strong position or else he’d have been humiliated.
Negotiating from a strong position is a strategy that Tommy employs time and time again in the series. He always has some form of leverage, and this not only keeps him alive but also helps him achieve a lot in life. He uses it while dealing with Winston Churchill and also with all his major enemies.
His Final Words
“I’m Guessing You People All Decided That The Only Person Who Could Ever Kill Tommy Shelby, Is Tommy Shelby Himself.”
The big final twist in Peaky Blinders’ finale was the reveal that Tommy did not have Tuberculoma, that it was all a ploy concocted by Mosley to take Tommy out of the picture, knowing he would plan to kill himself.
This line is so fantastic and is a fitting way to close out the show, with a big reason why being how true it rings. Time and time again, Tommy proves himself to be better than his opponents despite their power and stature in society. He bests them to the point where they rely on him killing himself. It will be interesting to see if this quote rings true by the time the movie rolls around.
“If You Want To F***, I’ll F***. But You’ll Have To Cross The Floor Because I Refuse To F*** On Tory Benches.”
Throughout its six seasons, there are some hilarious Peaky Blinders quotes, a lot of which come from Alfie Solomons, but many from Tommy too, including this, which was enjoyed by millions of Scots, Irish, Welsh, and English.
As well as being a funny dig at the Tory party and fascists whom Tommy is exhaustively fighting against, it is a fantastic showcase of Tommy taking back power from Diana who forced him to have sex with her in the previous episode. Here, he pretty much shows that nobody holds too much power over him with one of the best quotes from the final season.
In The Bleak Midwinter
“So F***ing Close. Oh, And There’s A Woman. Yeah. A Woman I Love. And I Got Close. Nearly Got F***ing EVERYTHING!”
The end of season 2 brought about one of the tensest, most wonderfully acted, and iconic scenes of the show, as it looked as though Tommy Shelby’s time was up as Major Campbell’s goons kidnaped him.
In a moment of honor, taken from wartime in France, Thomas was allowed the last cigarette, which he used to give an impassioned, frustrated roar about being so close to having everything. It is goosebump-inducing, doubly so when a double agent saves Tommy. Arguably the best moment and quote from the entire show.
He Has None
“I Have No Limitations.”
On a couple of occasions, Tommy is told that he does not know his own limitations, which in turn gets the people he loved killed. After shooting Michael in the face, Tommy states that he has no limitations, and it is badass.
There are so many Thomas Shelby quotes that ooze confidence and are epic in how they will be remembered by fans. This is another in a catalog of those quotes, and it may well be the best to date. No matter the odds, Tommy seems to always come out on top, outsmarting his opponents and proving himself to have no ceiling, to have unlimited potential to do and achieve whatever he so desires to rule, lead, and also make a difference.
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About The Author
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Philip Etemesi is an author, journalist, screenwriter and film critic based in Nairobi. Kenya. As a child, he preferred watching movies like The Goodfellas instead of Home Alone. His girlfriend constantly has to pull him from the front of the TV but he just keeps returning. Stubborn dude! An animal lover, Philip also has a pet giraffe called Refu.
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