Warning: This article contains spoilers for Top Boy season 5.


British crime drama Top Boy returned to Netflix for its fifth and final season last week, delivering another captivating offering to wrap up Dushane and Sully's stories – and, crucially, reminding us who the victims are.

The protagonists have always done whatever it takes to come out on top, consequences be damned, leaving a trail of innocent victims in their wake, from Kieron, whose heartbreaking death left his cancer-stricken mother bereft and alone, to Erin's father Dris and Stefan's brother Jamie.

The bodycount always extends far beyond the intended targets.

Cast your mind back to Jamie's short-lived fling with Tilly, who was shot by rival gang members aiming at him and his crew. He did his best to protect his brothers from discovering how he was making his money, but failed spectacularly when the police raided his home after a bag of guns was planted at their home on Dushane's orders.

Stefan's innocence was ripped from him by the actions of Dushane, Jamie and Sully – who killed his brother. "There ain't no life around me. It's all gone," he said in the last season, reflecting on a life destroyed by gang warfare.

His arc highlights the often grisly conclusion to a life of crime and violence, which is exacerbated further if you have family to protect.

Little Simz and Ashley Walters in Top Boy sitting together laughing
Little Simz and Ashley Walters in Top Boy. Ali Painter/Netflix

While it might be uncomfortable and unfathomable for some to accept, those who have done their fair share of harming, such as Sully, are also victims.

Across the show's five seasons, he's been stripped of his humanity, which he acknowledges himself in his final conversation: "To be honest, Stefan feelin' done left me a long time ago."

That is the brutal cost of what it takes to become the top boy.

Sully initially entered into that world to give his daughter a better life. He undoubtedly wanted to make her proud. But while that yearning hadn't entirely left him at the end, he had undeniably lost his way, inflicting violence in a manner that indicated he had fully surrendered, such is the corrupting power of being number one.

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Even if he had survived, his soul had succumbed long ago.

Sully's death followed on from the untimely demises of Jamie and Dris, all three of whom were fiercely determined to overcome the social inequality they'd been saddled with.

Initially, their only concern was to provide for their families and be worthy parents. Their hopes and dreams were noble, all three looking beyond the concrete walls of their estate to something more.

But the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

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