Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma

Thomas fookin’ Shelby is one of the most popular characters in recent times, which is the epitome of confidence. While many fans think he is the alpha male of the Shelby pack, some believe that he is a Sigma male and in a league of his own.

No matter what room he enters, Tommy owns it. No matter who is having a conversation, Tommy would have the last words. No matter who stands in his way, he will bring him down. That’s Thomas Shelby for you.

Now, I know you’re here to find out if Thomas Shelby is alpha or sigma. I’ve got an answer for you. In fact, I also have five simple things you can do to become Thomas Shelby. Let’s go.

Thomas Shelby is a sigma male who exhibits staple traits such as enigma, self-priority, and adaptability. He is a classic non-conformist/rebel who believes he is beyond the social hierarchy.

The entire concept of social hierarchy and alpha/beta/omega/sigma males is more of a pop culture trope than actual science. In fact, the research that claimed it to be facts has long been debunked, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our fun deconstructing someone as mysterious and self-assured as Thomas Shelby – The man with no limitations.

Peaky Blinders Season 6 Official Trailer | Netflix India

Before I jump right in and go into geek mode, let me tell you how we’ll be playing this out. First, I’ll take you through the general differences between Alpha males and Sigma males. After this, we’ll narrow those broad descriptions down to our main man, Tommy.

1. Difference Between Alpha Males and Sigma Males

I. Societal Norms:

An alpha is a huge believer in the social hierarchy and the norms that exist within it. In fact, they aim to climb and get to the top of it and stay there.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: Fandom

On the other hand, a sigma male doesn’t care about the social hierarchy and considers it an unnecessary construct. Therefore, he operates out of this and can be considered a rebel.

II. Leadership:

Alpha males crave leadership. They are pretty eager to take charge, lead a team, and give results in whatever situation they are placed in.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: IMDb

Sigma males think of it as a waste of their time. So, while they can solve the same problems with equally good or better solutions (compared to alphas), they choose not to. The reason behind this is the next factor – motivations.

III. Motivations:

Alphas have the motivations most people in society are familiar with. These include glory, appreciation, acceptance from society, and more. In essence, they want to be on the pedestal everyone looks up to in awe.

There’s nothing else that makes a sigma male cringe more than these aspirations of an alpha. To them, it’s all pretense and has no value. In fact, they know that deep down, alphas seek to be a part of the top tier in society and look down upon their desperation for it.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: IMDb

What motivates a sigma male, then? A sigma male prioritizes himself and those he cares for. His/their safety, security, happiness, prosperity, etc., is all that matters to him. So he’d do anything for this.

IV. Aura:

Alpha males do not have a subtle aura. They make their presence felt in any room they enter. This can be through aggression, attention-demanding actions, and tropes that exude the same energy.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: Fandom

The sigma males don’t put in all this effort. They might even be the most silent in any room, observing everything. They aren’t shy but merely react to the mood they are in. If they want to solve a problem, they’ll be the person who does it without any razzle-dazzle and simply walk away.

Alternatively, if they don’t want to be a part of whatever is going on, they’ll most likely zone out. However, their eyes are sharp and can catch the slightest twitches on a person’s face.

V. Weakness:

An alpha male’s biggest fear and weakness is seeing all their textbook formulaic actions fail/not give them results. They’ve worked hard and strived to get to the top by still following the world’s rules. So, despite their best efforts, they feel helpless when they do not get what they want.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: IMDb

Sigma males have the exact opposite fear/weakness. For someone who is a natural non-conformist, they might want to step back when the situation demands some sort of compliance or compromise. It would stir up chaos in them, and whatever they do next would be unpredictable.

So, these are the main differences between the alpha males and the sigma males. Now, let’s see which category Thomas Shelby fits in.

2. Why is Thomas Shelby a sigma male?

Thomas Shelby is a sigma male because he possesses almost all factors of a quintessential sigma male. He is rebellious, mysterious, enigmatic, and self-assured. His unpredictability can throw his rivals off-guard and can lead to their downfall.

I. Thomas’ Quest for A Grander Life

Let’s begin with societal norms. Thomas and his brothers served in the army during World War I. They were the lowest ranking soldiers stationed in the underground trenches where there was barely any light. Most of them returned home, but the war never left them.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Thomas Shelby | Source: IMDb

While many dealt with PTSD in different ways, Thomas was determined to live a better life. He wanted his family to live a better life too. For this, he was ready to do anything necessary.

He didn’t accomplish this the usual way. These included the beaten path of getting a job, climbing up the ranks, getting noticed by the higher-ups, and so on. I mean, you know the drill. Instead, he became notorious for the bookie business and the gang’s criminal activities. They were the Peaky fookin’ Blinders.

One dialogue that highlights Thomas’ off-beat way of doing things is his dialogue – ‘Because we fuckin’ can! And if we can, we do!’ This was in season 4 when Thomas decided not to apologize to the Italians. Instead, he made a spontaneous plan to take over two of their pubs the same night.

II. Transfer of Leadership from Arthur to Tommy

Our protagonist, Tommy, didn’t want to lead the business. He let his elder brother Arthur do it briefly. We see this for very little time in season 1. This is because Thomas has no interest in who’s in charge as long as the jobs get done, the money flows in, and there’s food on everyone’s table.

Tommy was essentially the mind behind the business. However, he had to take over because Arthur’s PTSD was causing problems. Throughout the show, we’ve seen him battle it by abusing alcohol, cocaine, opium, and any intoxicating/mind-altering substance.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Arthur Shelby | Source: IMDb

Thomas saw all this and knew he had to do something to save the business and accomplish his ambitions. So he took over. This also reflects the self-importance he possesses.

III. Thomas Shelby: An Enigma. A Watchful Beast.

Thomas’ demeanor is never aggressive. There are very few times when he’s shown aggression, including situations where he was up against his rivals in a physical face-off. For instance, he defeated Billy Kimber with just one bullet to his head. One gunshot, and Billy and his entire business was finished.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Peaky Blinders | Source: IMDb

The women he’s encountered throughout the show have found him mysterious, one of the main reasons his existence appealed to them in any way or form. But besides all this, he’s always observant of the things around him.

The slightest action/reaction on someone’s part raises Thomas’ eyebrows, and he knows what’s up. We never know how Tommy found out other’s secrets, but as he often says, ‘I have friends.’

If he were an alpha male, we would see him boast about his friends, but he doesn’t. He knows the value of that information and guards it with his life. In season 6, we never knew how Thomas came to know of Gina and Mosley’s affair. We don’t know how he came to know Billy Grade was the Black Cat. There are numerous examples, but I guess you get the point.

IV. Thomas’ Only Defeat: Oswald Mosley

Thomas never backed down when there was a fight. In fact, he won each one of them except his last one, with Mosley. He failed to have him assassinated at the end of season 5, and at the end of season 6, Mosley is still alive.

Oswald Mosley is well on his way to making Britain a fascist country. However, we can only hope that Thomas will stop him in the spin-off movie that’s currently in the making. But why exactly did he lose? What was different.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Oswald Mosley | Source: IMDb

One reason was what Michael said. Thomas was indeed getting tired. But the more significant reason was a classic sigma male’s weakness – societal structure and hierarchy. Mosley, through his connections, had the IRA in his pocket. His influence in the political arena was more prominent than that of Thomas’ a mere outsider.

If we take a closer look, we can also see that US’ Jack Nelson was involved. He had direct connections with President Roosevelt and an interest in Mosley’s policies. So when Jack Nelson saw a potential market for his business and a common ideology, he found a partner in Oswald Mosley.

These two conform to the system, work well within it, and are classic examples of alpha males. The two managed to keep Thomas Shelby at bay longer than anyone else ever has.

However, the tables might turn because Thomas has found chinks in the metaphorical armor that this system is and could be able to destroy it. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

All these traits, behaviors, actions, and reactions throughout the show prove Thomas Shelby is a sigma male. Now, as promised, I’ve got a few tips and hacks for you on becoming a sigma male-like Thomas Shelby.

3. How to be a Sigma Male Like Thomas Shelby

There’s no guide or formula to being a sigma male. After all, the point of being a sigma is not to follow any formula. However, what you could do is try these five simple things in a situation.

I. Be a Man of Few Words

Being a man of few words has numerous advantages, and the best one is that people perceive this as wise. Whether it is true or not, it still creates that perception. So speak when spoken to, and make your words count because you have only a few.

Peaky Blinders Season 6 | Mood Teaser | Thomas Shelby | Netflix India

II. Be Observant

Cognizance is a valuable asset that can help you in any situation. It can help you understand people, problems, scenarios, etc., better than others. Once you have this knowledge, you have the power (Wise words by Little Finger).

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Thomas Shelby | Source: IMDb

You can then go on to act on that information in any way or form. Do not mistake awareness with analyzing too much. It’s just taking stock of information without trying too hard to process it. Sit with it, and something will just pop.

III. Be Calm

Calmness is yet another quality that can take you a long way. No matter how dire your situation is, level-headedness and stability will always come in handy. Whether you’re way past your deadline or you’ve messed something up, being calm will give you ideas and ways to overcome the setback.

Breaking Down Thomas Shelby: Alpha or Sigma
Thomas Shelby | Source: IMDb

A sigma male always stays calm, even if a storm wreaks havoc within him. After all, the people around you should never know what’s going on inside that enigmatic mind of yours.

4. Conclusion

With all this, we’ve successfully deconstructed Thomas Shelby and being a sigma male. You could do all this to become one or just throw this away (metaphorically). As I said earlier, being a sigma male is not conform to anything, so why would you let an article dictate what you should be.

After all, you can’t be a sigma male if you limit yourself to a mere 2000 words written by a stranger who knows nothing about you. However, there’s one thing you need to know or understand. In fact, just one sentence which comes from the great Thomas Shelby himself: ‘You have no limitations!’

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5. About Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders is a British period crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, England, the series follows the exploits of the Shelby crime family and their leader Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in the direct aftermath of the First World War.

The fictional family is loosely based on a real urban youth gang of the same name, active in the city from the 1890s to the early 20th century. It stars Cillian Murphy, Sam Claflin, Aidan Gillen, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, and Tom Hardy

Peaky Blinders season 6, which is also its last, will premiere on February 27 on BBC One.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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