Peaky Blinders: Arthur’s disappointing conclusion

Peaky Blinders’ television run gave viewers a disappointing conclusion, which is reflected in the storyline of beloved character, Arthur Shelby.


Devising a conclusion for a fan-favourite series is never easy, as the ending must live up to the expectations of the fans, with enough intrigue or plot twists to still surprise viewers. Striking this balance can be difficult for any series.

However, this is even more difficult when the series in question has faced backlash for its inconsistency in the seasons leading up to the series finale.

One such series is the British period crime drama, Peaky Blinders. The sixth and final season of the series has come under fire for its underwhelming conclusion, exacerbated by the arguably disappointing conclusion for character Arthur Shelby.

Why did Peaky Blinders end?

Before Peaky Blinders confirmed that the sixth season would be its last, it was believed that the series would conclude with its seventh season.

However, due to external factors out of the control of the production team, the creator of the show, Steven Knight, decided to conclude with the sixth season.

The first of these external factors was the delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in the film and television industry. The second factor was the untimely passing of actress, Helen McCrory, who played the character of Polly Gray.

Peaky Blinders: Arthur’s disappointing conclusion

Peaky Blinders’ sixth and final season left fans disappointed. In recent seasons, before the show’s conclusion, it faced backlash for prioritising cinematography and visuals over the expected big action scenes and stand-offs that are motivated by a plausible storyline.

The biggest let-down was arguably the treatment of the main supporting character, Arthur Shelby, who was played by Paul Anderson.

Arthur was written as the eldest and “brawn” of the Shelby clan, second in command to title character, and leader of Shelby Company Limited and the ICA. He was notorious for his temper and for being the strongest of the Shelby children.

However, throughout the seasons, he dealt with mental health issues and a drug addiction, which was the biggest point of contention as his storyline concluded in season six.

Arthur’s convenient drug addiction

There was a four-year time jump between seasons five and six of Peaky Blinders. In this time, Arthur became a full-blown addict, who was left by his wife, Linda, after she shot at him and disappeared from the show.

During the season, Arthur did not have much screen time and it seemed to many that his drug addiction served as the perfect plot device to minimise his screen time even more.

When he was needed, he could be portrayed as clean, and when he was not, he barely appeared.

Linda’s surprise return

As convenient as his addiction was at the beginning of season six, it was, apparently, just as easy for Arthur to beat his opium addiction.

What it took was for Tommy to pick him up by his suspenders and give him a motivational heart-to-heart speech for him to get clean.

Just like that, Arthur was back to his old violent self and what followed was the surprising and unmotivated return of his wife, Linda.

Linda appeared briefly in a few scenes, always with Arthur. That was until the final scene, where Arthur was a no-show, and this was also given an arguably sub-par excuse.

Arthur missing from Peaky Blinders final scene

Peaky Blinders concluded with the final family dinner, as Tommy is set to leave to prepare to die. However, his right-hand man and brother are not present.

The series attempts to excuse his absence by suggesting that he is at the local market looking for fish to avoid saying goodbye because he is not fond of goodbyes. As a result, Linda reads Arthur’s goodbye note to Tommy.

However, this does not make sense as Arthur was the only one aware of Tommy’s tuberculoma diagnosis, so why would he not come to bid his brother farewell? Because of this, fans never get to actually bid farewell to their beloved character properly.

Final thoughts

Peaky Blinders seemingly tried to condense what seemed like a scheduled two-season series finale into one, which, according to many, caused the quality of the story to be overshadowed by the cinematography and visuals.

This tactic seemed to work adversely to what fans of the show fell in love with – the interpersonal relationships of the characters.

Arthur Shelby is arguably the most short-changed by the sixth and final season. This is because fans believe that his character did not have any motivation in the final season and was merely used as a plot device to drive the story forward.

This was a let-down, considering that he was the second lead character of the series.