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The Meaning Behind Tommy Shelby’s Chest Tattoo in ‘Peaky Blinders’

  • Tommy Shelby’s chest tattoo resembles sun rays, symbolizing his dual nature.
  • The tattoo design is inspired by a real-life tattoo of Jesus, reflecting Tommy’s complex character.
  • Other tattoos, such as “Forrard” and TGC, highlight Tommy’s past, heritage, and personal losses.

Tommy Shelby’s Chest Tattoo: What Does It Represent?

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders
Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

In “Peaky Blinders,” Tommy Shelby’s tattoos hold deep meanings, with the chest ink being particularly significant. This tattoo resembles sun rays and symbolizes the duality of Tommy’s character—both his loving, caring side and his ruthless, gangster persona. The design of the chest tattoo is inspired by a real-life tattoo typically featuring Jesus in the middle of the rays. However, Tommy’s version notably excludes Jesus, reflecting his views on religion and his life of crime.

Some interpretations suggest that the tattoo resembles the Roma wheel, which connects to Tommy’s Romani heritage and his desire for freedom. This symbolism aligns with Tommy’s belief in living and dying free, not beholden to anyone. The tattoo represents his internal struggle and the contrasting sides of his personality, making it a profound aspect of his character.

READ MORE: ‘Peaky Blinders’ Movie Promises Larger Scale and Hints at Shelby Family’s Fate Ahead of Filming.

How Does Tommy’s Chest Tattoo Relate to His Relationships?

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders
Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Tommy Shelby’s chest tattoo also symbolizes his complex relationships and loyalty. The ink, positioned close to his heart, signifies his commitment to his own freedom and the life he chooses to lead. This underlying meaning may explain why his relationships often end poorly, as Tommy prioritizes his independence over being bound by love or marriage.

For instance, his marriage to Lizzie Shelby faces constant turmoil. Despite marrying her, Tommy’s loyalty lies with himself and his family, rather than his spouse. This tattoo is a reminder of his core beliefs and the life he is determined to lead, which inevitably impacts his relationships.

READ MORE: Aisha Tyler on How Matthew Perry Helped Her Overcome ‘Friends’ Fears

What Do Tommy’s Other Tattoos Mean?

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

Tommy Shelby has several other tattoos, each with unique meanings. On his right bicep, a star with the word “Forrard” references his service during World War I, with “Forrard” being a variant of the command “Forward.” This tattoo highlights his military past and the experiences that shaped him.

His left bicep features a rose and a horseshoe, commemorating his victory in the betting license battle depicted in the first season. This tattoo is a nod to his achievements and his rise within the criminal world.

READ MORE: The Reason Jim Parsons Almost Declined the ‘Young Sheldon’ Finale and What Changed His Mind

The initials TGC on his right arm stand for Tommy, Grace, and Charlie—himself, his first wife, and his son. This tattoo is particularly poignant following Grace’s death in season 3, serving as a reminder of what he lost and what drives him to succeed at all costs.

Release details for the “Peaky Blinders” movie are yet to be announced.

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