Does Tommy Die In Peaky Blinders? Unraveling the Truth

Last Updated: October 24th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

If you’re a fan of the Peaky Blinders series, you aren’t alone. Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, is one of the most watched series Netflix has ever had and with good reason.

peaky blinders netflix series

Warning! Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t watched the final episode of Peaky Blinders season 6 and don’t want to know what happens, skip this article.

You’ve been warned!

Trailer for the Peaky Blinders Season 6


Tommy discovers that he has a brain tumor and believes it is inoperable. Does he die from that tumor? Does Tommy take his own life? Does Gina Gray finally do away with Thomas and Arthur?

If you watched the finale but didn’t really understand what happened, I’m going to do my best to explain it to you.

Does Tommy Shelby Die?

Do Michael Gray and wife Gina succeed in their plan to kill Tommy Shelby, along with other members of the Shelby family?

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby in the Peaky Blinders TV series

The short answer here is No.

The better answer is- kind of/sort of.

Let me explain.

Tommy discovers that he has a brain tumor. He has a big farewell dinner for all the Peaky Blinders and torches his mansion. It doesn’t make sense to me, personally, I mean, why not sell it and spread the wealth, but that’s just me.

Tommy puts all his final belongings in a Gypsy wagon and is prepared to meet death on his terms. It appears that Tommy wants to die on his own, rather than wait until death makes his life miserable and he dies being spoon-fed.

However, before he can do this, Tommy discovers something.

That doctor who told Tommy that he had an inoperable brain tumor? He’s good friends with the fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley.

Tommy is suspicious and discovers that he isn’t sick at all! Pity about the mansion, but Tommy is aware that he can go one of two ways.

     1. Thomas Shelby can come back fighting, build up his family business again, and return to life as normal.

     2. He can continue to let everyone think that he killed himself in the Gypsy wagon. This plan frees him from the criminal life and life in England if he wishes it.

The burning Gypsy wagon leads many to think that Thomas Shelby kills himself and that, once dead, his spirit rides away on a great white horse.

That’s not entirely true, however. Tommy doesn’t kill himself, but he does set fire to the wagon. He then rides off on a white horse, like a knight of old, free to do what he wishes.

So while Thomas Shelby doesn’t physically die, his faked death sets him free to start over.

What Is the Meaning of the White Horse in the Final Episode?

Cillian Murphy by Chris Saunders: Shine A Light, Sheffield 2019

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy photographed by Chris Saunders (2016)

Think back to the very beginning of the series. Thomas Shelby has a beautiful black horse that he takes to a gypsy for smudging in hopes that it will win the race.

Typically, a black horse symbolizes death or evil. In most Westerns, the good guys ride white horses, while the bad guys ride black horses.

We meet Harry, the bartender, who tells someone asking who the man in the photo on the wall is and Harry tells them, “Oh, that’s Thomas Shelby. Happy kid, you know, wonderful kid. Then he went to the war and now he’s dead inside.”

One can assume that the writers were trying to tell us that Thomas Shelby isn’t so much evil but that the good person he was has died in the war, hence he rides the black horse of death.

Think a bit farther along in the series when Thomas has a beautiful Appaloosa horse. This horse is a mixture of white and black with lots of grey.

Was this color choice simply by chance? Or were the writers trying to suggest that Tommy was changing and was a mixture of good and bad, with lots of grey areas?

Now we come to the final episode where Tommy walks away on a white horse. Some believe that Thomas Shelby is dead and is riding a spirit horse, but he is very much alive. I believe the horse represents the good in Tommy. Now that the criminal aspect of his life is dead, he is clean and pure as the horse he rides.

Of course, you can see that, even mounted on the white horse, Tommy is wearing the Peaky Blinders hat, but perhaps he has removed the razor blades, right?

Who Else Dies in Season 6?

Oh my, season 6 is nothing short of a blood bath, but it might be easier to list the people who are still alive!

Let me give you a brief rundown on all the bodies stacked up in the final season.

  • Michael Gray (Finn Cole)– for all his arrogance, Michael Gray goes to jail, gets out of jail courtesy of Jack Nelson, returns to his wife Gina Gray, and gets shot in the face. So much for his plan to take over the family.
  • Michael’s friends– A wide assortment of Michael’s friends die when Johnny Dogs pulls his switcheroo with the dynamite. The dead include Conner Dunn, Dot Kelly, and more.
  • Billy Grade (Emmett J Scanlan)– Duke Shelby (Conrad Khan) shoots Old Billy for spilling the beans about the plan to kill Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) to the IRA.
  • Laura McKee (Charlene McKenna)– Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) kills her for killing his aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory).

Several other minor characters also die, but this needed to be done to clear the table for the upcoming film.

Film? Is There Going to be a Peaky Blinders Movie?

black and white profile image of thomas shelby, leader of the peaky blinders gang

Word has it that this is one of the reasons that Thomas Shelby and Arthur were not killed off in the series.

Peaky Blinders is so popular that a movie only makes sense, and you can’t really do that if you kill off the main characters unless you want to do a “back up” film where we see characters before the series, such as a movie featuring Tommy in the war.

No one has suggested a release date or even a hint about the title, but I’m betting it’s something like “Shelby Company, LTD.”

Final Thoughts

There will be no Peaky Blinders Season 7, and while I think this series could have gone on through WW2, no one at Netflix asked my opinion.

Or it could be that no one at Netflix wanted to deal with a real-life English gang and the Nazis all in one series.

I’ve heard rumors that the movie will be set in the 1940s, but we will have to wait to see how it all unfolds.

Thomas Shelby will be too old to join the war effort of WWII, but perhaps he will meet his final end in the movie since he didn’t die in the series.

Does Tommy Die In Peaky Blinders? Unraveling the Truth
Does Tommy Die In Peaky Blinders? Unraveling the Truth
The final episode of Peaky Blinders has left some people confused. Did Thomas Shelby die? If so, how did he die? Get ready for some spoiler alerts!
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