Is ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Based On A Real Motorcycle Club?

There are a lot of things to love about Kurt Sutter’s iconic biker series, Sons of Anarchy. Apart from all of the violence and tragic storylines, Sutter’s ability to bring a level of realism to the show really pushed it over the top. In fact, Sons of Anarchy remains one of the most popular shows in the history of FX and has spawned a successful spin-off in Mayans MC. But just how much of the show is based on real motorcycle clubs?

Kurt Sutter and Charlie Hunnam of 'Sons of Anarchy'
Kurt Sutter and Charlie Hunnam | Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Motorcycle clubs share a close bond of brotherhood

Just like in Sons of Anarchy, members of real outlaw clubs share an intense bond within their own ranks. This is one reason why violent encounters between motorcycle clubs often include large groups of individuals, as they are all ready to die for one another.

In 2015, for example, two opposing biker gangs got into a massive fight in Waco, Texas, leaving nine people dead and 170 in jail.

According to WNYC Studios, the deadly Waco brawl started over a dispute about a logo the rival gangs wore on their club jackets. Once a few members started fighting, everyone piled in until the police arrived to break things up. Scenes like this were fairly frequently on Sons of Anarchy, which also showcased tight bonds within clubs.

Case in point, during the final season of the show, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) asked all of his fellow members if they are willing to die for him. Everyone wearing a SAMCRO patch answered yes without question.

There is a difference between motorcycle clubs and motorcycle gangs

Outlaw clubs fall into the category of motorcycle gangs, which are more like what we saw in Sons of Anarchy. These groups deal in all kinds of illegal activity, including selling drugs and weapons. Motorcycle clubs, on the other hand, are basically groups of individuals who share an enthusiasm for bikes and live normal lives outside of the club. There are significantly more motorcycle clubs on the road than there are gangs and the two generally don’t mix.

Like SAMCRO, outlaw clubs are classified as gangs by law enforcement, mainly because they operate just like The Bloods, The Crips, and MS13. This includes fighting over territory, colors, and drugs. Just like violence was a major part of Sons of Anarchy, it serves as a vital tool for clubs to enforce their way of life. These gangs also feature hierarchies that are not unlike military rankings.

Does ‘Sons of Anarchy’ accurately portray life in a motorcycle gang

Between close bonds of brotherhood to violence and illegal activity, there are clearly some similarities between Sons of Anarchy and real motorcycle gangs. But beyond that, the show took some creative license and romanticized certain elements.

In his book, Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws: My Infiltration of America’s Deadliest Biker Gangs, former DEA undercover agent Charles Falco revealed what it is really like wearing the patch of an outlaw.

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In an interview with Men’s Journal, Falco confessed that life in a motorcycle gang is much different to what fans watched on Sons of Anarchy. While the show portrayed characters like Jax in a somewhat heroic light, Falco says that there is nothing glamorous about being in a gang.

“There is no romantic view. These guys are thugs, and more than anything, they’re murderers, drug dealers, and bullies. They don’t like normal society and they hate normal civilians,” Falco shared.

Kurt Sutter hits back at supposed real life ‘Sons of Anarchy’ club

Back in 2012, Discovery came out with a reality show titled The Devils Ride, which it advertised as a real life version of Sons of Anarchy. The show followed a fictional club in San Diego and lasted for three seasons.

In light of the claims, Sutter took to Twitter and slammed the series for using his brand to promote their product. The Sons of Anarchy creator also made it clear that the club in the series is nothing like SAMCRO.

One of the members of the club featured in Devils Ride responded to Sutter’s heated post. The man, who went by the nickname Sandman, poked fun of Hunnam’s portrayal of Jax on the show and invited him down to San Diego for a fight.

In response, Sutter told the man that he was picking a fight with the wrong guy and that Hunnam is the one person he would not want to make angry.