How & Why Did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders?

How Why did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders

One of the best period dramas of the last few years is definitely Peaky Blinders. This cool British TV series came into prominence in 2013 and immediately gained fans all over the world. The story is set in Birmingham, England, where a criminal gang called Peaky Blinders starts exploiting and “acting” in the aftermath of the First World War, specifically in the 1920s. The Peaky Blinders gang consists of the Shelby family, mixed of Irish and Romani origins, and their crime boss, Tommy Shelby, is at the center of the series. Over the seasons, fans meet the whole Shelby family, including Michael Gray, Tommy Shelby’s cousin. This article will discuss how and why Michael betrayed Tommy in Peaky Blinders.

Michael Grey betrayed Tommy twice in the series. The first came in the fourth season when Michael chose not to tell Tommy of his assassination, which seriously damaged their relationship. However, the ultimate betrayal comes in the fifth season when Michael returns from America after losing huge profits from Shelby Company LT. After strained relationships with his family and Tommy’s suspicions that his cousin is working behind his back, Michael doubles down and decides to take over the Shelby Company LT from Tommy, by reinstating him and his wife Gina as the heads of the company. When Tommy and the rest of the family find out what’s going on, the leader of Peaky Blinders banishes Michael and Gina from his company and, ultimately, their lives.

We will discuss this topic more by mentioning the motivations for Michael’s betrayal, the influences on his decisions, and why Tommy decides to cut off his cousin from Peaky Blinders. If you are interested in this topic, stay with us until the end. Beware of Peaky Blinders spoilers!

Who is Michael Gray in Peaky Blinders?

Michael Gray first appeared in the Peaky Blinders series in season two and was introduced as Polly Gray’s son and cousin of the Shelby family. From birth, like most children of that era, Michael had a tragic family history. His father died drunk and drowned on a dock, while his mother, Polly, lost Michael when police took him away from her.

Michael lived with his foster family until he was seventeen when he arrived in Birmingham to reconnect with his biological mother and met Tommy Shelby. Tommy introduces Michael to the rest of the family, while Polly seems reluctant to expose Michael to the criminal doings of Peaky Blinders.

How & Why did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders?
Polly and Michael Gray.

When Arthur almost kills a man out of pure rage, Michael realizes his true family business of Shelbys. Afterward, Michael ends up in prison for defending his friend Isaiah’s honor after others discriminate against him for his skin color. Isaiah and Michael were kicked out of the pub, but when Gray told his cousins John and Arthur what happened, they decided to destroy it. This act ends up with Michael and Arthur being arrested by Major Campbell and thrown into prison.

When Polly makes sure of Michael’s release from prison, her son hears that Polly offered sex to Major Campbell to release her son. Michael is disgusted, and Polly tries to convince him to go to London, away from Birmingham and Shelbys, while Polly murders Major Campbell. Michael stays with his family because he feels wanted by his mother and because he wants to the real money with Tommy.

Michael becomes the accountant of Peaky Blinders, and everything gets more complicated for him and his family. One of the family’s younger members, Michael, encounters ghosts from the past in Father John Hughes and executes his first victims. He is shocked when Polly’s nightmare comes true – Michael is a murderer and even more involved in the gang’s family business. It also propels the hate for Tommy and his rise to greatness that he gets at the expense of his family.

The murders he was involved in put him in jail with Arthur and John Shelby, but they were saved from hanging at the last moment by Tommy. Michael’s hatred for Tommy slowly starts to surface in season 4 of the show, and it only continues to grow as the show continues.


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Michael gets addicted to cocaine after his prison sentence, and his mother, Polly, isn’t doing well either – both of them are traumatized by the happenings in prison, which affects their relationship significantly. When Luca Changretta puts a hit on Tommy, Michael decides to reveal anything to his cousin, which in the end, sends him to New York to expand the business of Shelbys.

While there, Michael meets and falls in love with Gina Nelson, a manipulating woman that only goes for money. Michael is infatuated with her from the beginning and eventually gets married. Gina is indirectly one of the biggest factors in why Michael decides to betray Tommy, and she only fuels Michael’s already existing rage towards his cousin.

Michael was always characterized as a smart but silent and observant young man. Michael was put on the side during his teenage years, but the crimes of his gang, prison time, Tommy’s rise to power, and manipulation of his wife on his life choices, made Michael really jaded and distant.

Now that we know Michael’s character let’s see how he betrayed Tommy in Peaky Blinders.

How Michael betrays Tommy in Peaky Blinders?

Over the years, Michael transformed from an innocent and normal young boy to a cold and notorious criminal. Despite his mother trying to remove him from Peaky Blinders, Michael is fully in the gang starting with season three.

After ending up in prison and seeing Tommy rise to the top of the social ladder at the expense of others, Michael is slowly starting to develop hate for his cousin.

How & Why did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders?

Michael definitely betrayed Tommy in the fifth season, but the fourth season sees Michael already breaking Tommy’s trust. When Polly strikes a deal with Luca Changretta that if the Italian mobster spares Michael, Charlie, and Arthur, she will ensure that Changretta gets to Tommy.

Polly tells Michael about her deal with Luca but doesn’t tell him that she worked with Tommy to trick Luca and kill him instead. Before the meeting with Changretta, Tommy speaks with Michael, who doesn’t tell him that he will be ambushed in the meeting.

Thankfully for Peaky Blinders, Tommy survives, but Michael’s silence leaves a sour taste in Tommy’s mouth.

True betrayal comes in the fifth season when Michael turns his back on Shelbys for good. After the events of season four, Tommy sent Michael to New York to expand their business. However, Michael doesn’t listen to Tommy’s warnings about selling the company’s stocks, and Shelby Company Limited is ruined.


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In the meantime, Michael meets Gina in Detroit and falls in love with her. After the Wall Street Crash, they decide to return to Birmingham, and the Shelby family is less than happy.

Michael already resents Tommy, but when Gina starts to manipulate him to take over the family company from Tommy, Michael is fully on board the betrayal train.

How & Why did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders?
Tommy destroys Michael’s proposal.

Despite the tensions and rumors of Michael putting a hit on Tommy, the leader of Peaky Blinders still lets Michael into the family business. However, Michael doesn’t stop plotting behind Tommy’s back and finally reveals his plans at the end of the fifth season. Michael wants every family member to retire, and he, with his wife, Gina, will be the leader of the restructured Shelby Company LT. Tommy is livid and cuts off both Michael and Gina from the family and their assets and tells him never to come back.

Of course, IRA killing Polly kickstarted Michael’s hate for Tommy even more. Still, the storyline of the fifth season sets Michael as one of the antagonists of the series and the main antagonist of the sixth and last seasons of Peaky Blinders.

Why Michael betrays Tommy in Peaky Blinders?

Why Michael betrayed Tommy? For simple reasons. When Michael was introduced in the second season of the show, viewers could see that Michael was much quieter than his family. He was always more observant of his surroundings and was mostly looking for the affection of his biological mother, Polly.

However, the abuse and trauma Michael experienced in his youth resurface in the third season when he ends up in jail with his cousin Arthur. Michael is an established gang member but holds reservations about Tommy, despite his cousin leaning on him more.

When Polly reveals the plan for Tommy’s ambush, Michael is torn on what to do, but ultimately, he stays silent when Tommy talks to him before the potentially fatal meeting. Tommy feels betrayed since he puts more faith in his cousin and even puts his brother John to the side in favor of Michael.

How & Why did Michael Betray Tommy in Peaky Blinders?
Michael’s betrayal.

When Michael is sent to America to lead the Shelby Company LT, Gray fails to listen to Tommy, which leads to their business in New York going under. Despite having reservations and suspicions that Michael is scheming behind his back, Tommy still entrusts Michael with his opium business.


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However, Michael’s hatred, coldness, and influence of his manipulating wife, Gina, overwhelm Tommy’s trust in him and schemes to overtake the family business from his cousin.

After Polly’s death, Michael is set on killing Tommy but ultimately fails, fulfilling Polly’s prophecy that Michael will die.

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