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Film / Tombstone

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And hell's coming with him.
"All right, Clanton, you called down the thunder, well now you've got it! You see that? It says United States Marshal. Take a good look at him, Ike, 'cause that's how you're gonna end up. The Cowboys are finished, you understand? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin' it. So run, you cur. Run! Tell all the other curs the law's comin'. You tell 'em I'm coming, and Hell's coming with me, you hear? Hell's coming with me!"
Wyatt Earp

Tombstone is a 1993 Western starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton. Set in the 1880s in Tombstone, Arizona, it centers on Wyatt Earp (Russell) and his brothers Virgil (Elliott) and Morgan (Paxton) arriving to the boomtown hoping to settle down and strike it rich. However, they learn quickly that the town is caught in the deadly grasp of the criminal band known as the Cowboys, led by Curly Bill Brocius (Powers Boothe), the quick-draw specialist Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), and the Clanton family. Initially hesitant to join the lawmen of Tombstone, the Earps eventually run afoul of the Cowboys enough to create a conflict, leading to the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral. The Earps are aided by long-time friend Doc Holliday (Kilmer), whose terminal illness and hard-living ways does not prevent him from being the most feared duelist in the West. However, while Doc and Earps are triumphant at the Corral, their trouble with the Cowboys have only just begun...

The film is somewhat accurate, although it does portray an idealized version of the Earps while also making the whole story a lot more dramatic. Furthermore, the film largely follows Wyatt Earp's account of the story rather than conflicting accounts. In reality, the conflict between the Earps and the Cowboys is not entirely clear-cut; the Earps are generally regarded as the "good guys" only because they happened to be the ones wearing badges at the time.

The Other Wiki has articles of interest here and here if you want to see the differences between Real Life and film. IMDB has a fairly complete compilation of differences here

The film had a messy production and wasn't initially screened for critics amidst a heavy holiday window, but wound up a sleeper hit in theaters and grew larger on home video to the point it is arguably the most popular Western film of the post-Eastwood era. It is also noticeable for its wide canvas of characters, with 85 speaking parts. It's an All-Star Cast of 1990s cinema, with, in addition to all the characters listed above, Dana Delany as Josephine Marcus, an actress and the female lead; Paula Malcomson as Virgil's wife Allie; Stephen Lang and Thomas Haden Church as Ike and Billy Clanton; Joanna Pacuła as "Big Nose" Kate Horony; and Billy Zane as the lead actor in Josephine's troupe. Charlton Heston has a cameo as a rancher and none other than Robert Mitchum provides the narration. Many small roles filled with actors who would see much larger success afterward, such as Billy Bob Thornton and Michael Rooker among many others. Kilmer's performance as Doc Holliday also drew raves and still resonates as a rather memetic role, which leads to Doc typically being regarded as his most memorable performance.

This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: When Curly Bill Brocius accidentally shoots and kills Tombstone's town marshal, Fred White, while high on opium. Historically, Brocius and White were friends, and everyone, even Wyatt Earp himself (who arrested Brocius after the shooting and testified during Brocius's trial that the gun went off accidentally) said so (and in the end, Brocius was acquitted of murder and the shooting ruled accidental). In the movie, this is made clear by Curly Bill repeatedly (and mournfully) asking, "Get up, Fred! C'mon now, get up!" The trial itself (which happens off-screen) is changed to the case being thrown out on a technicality.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Several of the Cowboys who were ready to throw down with the Earps laugh when Doc spins his cup around in mocking Johnny Ringo's fancy Gun Twirling.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: As Doc lays on his death bed, he confesses a few of his life's regrets to Wyatt, before encouraging him to pursue Josephine.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Deputy Billy Breakenridge is portrayed as an effeminate and cowardly weakling. Since Breakenridge's portrayal is based on Wyatt Earp's account, this is almost certainly untrue given the history of mutual slander and bad blood between Breakenridge and Earp. In reality, Breakenridge had a reputation as a skilled and widely feared gunfighter.
  • Advertised Extra: Charlton Heston as Henry Hooker is advertised in the trailer to make it as if he's a major character, but in the film he only appears for two minutes as a glorified cameo.
  • Age Lift: Seventy-two year old Harry Carey Jr., a long-time veteran of countless Westerns, plays Marshal Fred White, who was barely into his thirties when the events depicted in the film occurred.
  • Already the Case: Wyatt Earp is seeking his fortune, and a man warns him, "I've never met a wealthy man who didn't wind up with a guilty conscience." Wyatt replies, "I've already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money, too."
  • Ambiguously Gay: Cochise County Sheriff's Deputy Billy Breakenridge, who seems to have a crush on the actor. This characterization of Breakenridge is based on Earp's recollections in real life, which could just as easily be made-up slander given the mutual hatred between Breakenridge and Earp.
    • "Curly Bill" Brocious has a few possible hints as well, though this would be a complete invention.
  • Anyone Can Die: Except Wyatt and Josie.
  • Artistic License – History: The details are Shrouded in Myth, but in addition to some Historical Hero Upgrade and Historical Villain Upgrade modifications, other known facts are altered/omitted:
    • The lead-in to the gunfight is generally accurate but some minor details are changed. Although Ike had been fighting with Doc the night before, he wasn't actually arrested by Virgil until the following morning after he began making public threats against the Earps. Additionally, Tom McLaury did not aggressively threaten Wyatt, but encountered him by chance, after which Wyatt made some aggressive remarks, then slapped and pistol-whipped the Cowboy without provocation. Wyatt also claimed that Tom was carrying a pistol, while others would insist that Tom was armed neither then nor later during the gunfight. Sheriff Behan did try to disarm the Cowboys before confronting the Earps, but they refused unless he disarmed the Earps first; some accounts claim that he told Virgil that he had visited the Cowboys "for the purpose of disarming them" (technically correct, though not very helpful) instead of claiming he had disarmed them.
    • The exact sequence of the events at the OK Corral remains ambiguous, from the words exchanged before shooting starts to who fired the first shot and which of the Cowboys were armed or not. Critics of the Earps point out that many of them were veteran gunfighters (at least Civil War veteran Virgil was; Wyatt had been in one gunfight in Dodge City at that point, and Doc's reputation as a gunfighter is questionable to say the least), while for the Cowboys the shootout was their first (and last) and that it was therefore unlikely that they would have been the aggressors. However, as the film depicts accurately, some of the unarmed Cowboys were allowed to flee unscathed, highlighting that the Earps weren't there to massacre the Cowboys. Also, Earp's defenders point to the testimonies of the unbiased witnesses H.F. Sills (a railroad engineer whose testimony backed up Wyatt's, and who earlier heard the Cowboys threaten murder) and Addie Bourland (a dressmaker who testified that just before the fight, no one had their hands up).
    • Johnny Ringo's death in particular is shrouded in mystery and originally ruled a suicide.
    • The movie depicts that Morgan and Virgil were shot the same night (they were actually shot three months apart), that the Cowboys went after the Earps' wives (they didn't), or the notion that the ex-Cowboys eventually joined Wyatt's posse (which was never confirmed). Virgil was attacked in December and Morgan was killed the following March. And Mayor Clum was shot at by Cowboys while traveling in a stagecoach, not in his home; nor was his wife Mary injured, as she had died a year earlier.
    • The body count of everything that transpires after the Earp brothers are shot is also heavily inflated; historical record supports all of four Cowboys killed during the Earp Vendetta Ride, including Frank Stillwell (killed at the outset at the train station) and Curly Bill.
    • In the movie, Fred White's death is what gets the Earp brothers to rejoin law enforcement. In actuality, Virgil and Wyatt had already become lawmen by this point, and only Morgan rejoined law enforcement after Fred White died.
    • Wyatt's brothers James and Warren Earp (both of whom took part in the Tombstone Vendetta ride) are omitted from the story entirely. Similarly, Ike and Billy Clanton had a third brother, Phineas, who is absent from the movie.
    • Curly Bill Brocius only became leader of the Cowboys after the death of Old Man Clanton. Clanton, who frequently led the gang into Mexico to rustle cattle, was driving a herd back into Arizona and was attacked a mile south of the border on August 12, 1881. Clanton and all but two of the men with him were killed. The Clanton Gang's activities were causing major diplomatic problems, and the US Government had promised their Mexican counterparts, who were threatening a military response, that it would be taken care of.
    • The Clanton ranch, centerpiece of Cowboy operations, is omitted entirely.
    • Milt Joyce of the Oriental Saloon was no friend of the Earps. The altercation in the saloon was actually between Johnny Tyler and Doc Holliday, and escalated into Doc and Joyce shooting at each other. Joyce and Sheriff Behan tried to frame Doc for a double murder committed by the Cowboys a few months later.
    • Ike Clanton was not a full fledged Cowboy, but just a rancher and petty criminal who had a close friendship with them and bought their stolen cattle, though his father had been their leader prior to his death (see above).
    • The Cowboys most certainly didn't advertise themselves by wearing red sashes around their belts like they were Bloods. By the filmmakers' admission this was borrowed from stories of Wild Bill Hickok doing the same on occasion, not the Cowboys themselves.
    • The scene between Wyatt and Doc while Doc is on his deathbed in the Glenwood Sanitorium is a bit unlikely, seeing as they had a falling out after the Earp Vendetta Ride, when Doc insulted Wyatt over his relationship with a Jewish woman, Josephine Marcus, back in Tombstone. They only met twice again afterwards, both in Colorado: in June 1882 in Gunnison, Wyatt helped to keep Doc from being convicted on murder charges regarding Frank Stillwell, and in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel in late 1886.
  • A-Team Firing: All the Cowboys at Iron Springs. This is actually very accurate to the historical record.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Early in the film, Wyatt humorously combines one of these with a short "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
      Wyatt(to Johnny Tyler): No need to go heeled note  to get the bulge on a tub like you.
    • Later and much more seriously:
      Wyatt: Run! Tell all the curs that the law is comin'!! You tell 'em I'M comin!!! And Hell's comin' with me, y'hear! HELL'S COMIN' WITH ME!!!
    • Needless to say Wyatt comes after the Cowboys with a hellbent vengeance.
    • And then there's Doc Holliday's "I'm your huckleberry", which, in context, is his way of saying "If you want to fight to the death, I'm more than happy to oblige you."
    • When one of the Cowboys has Doc Holliday at gunpoint, Doc calmly holds out his (empty) pistols and all but dares him to shoot.
      Cowboy: I got you now, you sonofabitch!
    • Ike Clanton tries to do this several times, but his bravado is always deflated in seconds by superior gunfighters.
      Ike: I swear to God, lawdog, you don't step aside, we'll tear you apar- (Wyatt puts his gun to Ike's forehead and Ike visibly shrivels)
      Wyatt: You die first. Your friends may get me in a rush, but not before I turn your head into a canoe.
    • When Billy Clanton tells Doc he's probably drunkenly "seeing double", Doc whips out an extra pistol and spins them both in opposite directions with the line "I have two guns, one for each of you."
    • One of the most offhanded and casually insulting ever comes from Doc (who else?) when he sees a furious Johnny Tyler watching him while tightly clutching a shotgun.
      Doc: Oh, Johnny, I apologize, I forgot you were there. You may go now.
  • Badass Family: The Earp brothers.
  • Badass Longcoat: Particularly Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
  • Badass Normal: Wyatt Earp and his squad definitely count, especially Doc Holiday. The Cowboys themselves also count; they may be ruthless criminals, but there's a reason the law is reluctant to enforce itself on them.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Played liberally straight.
  • Batman Gambit: Doc Holiday knows Wyatt Earp can't beat Ringo, so while showing himself to be very ill he manipulates Wyatt Earp into giving him his U.S. Marshal's badge, by asking him what it's like to wear one of those. He then sneaks off to the meeting place and uses the badge to manipulate Ringo into dueling him instead, saving Wyatt's life.
  • Because Destiny Says So: It almost counts as a Fridge Logic moment, but the reason after the duel between Doc and Ringo why Wyatt Earp takes off Ringo's boots and stages his death scene like a suicide is to make it exactly the way in Real Life Ringo's body was found.
  • Berserk Button: Don't try to intimidate Wyatt. Just.... don't.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan acts like he runs Tombstone, but the Cowboys mostly ignore him and the Earps consider him more nuisance than threat. Even when he draws his gun, nobody takes him seriously, as he lacks the balls to do anything with it. Then there is Ike Clanton, who is the second most prominent Cowboy after Curly Bill and runs his mouth constantly, but every time a fight gets ready to happen, he turns and runs.
  • Big "NO!": Wyatt Earp, is wading through a river with gunshots just barely missing him; he's shouting "No!" as he shoots at the bad guys. This culminates in a long, slow-motion, "Nooo!" at the end.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The unsubtitled Latin dialogue between Ringo and Holliday. The intention is to show that these two characters are educated. Ringo calls Holliday a drunk; Holiday tells Ringo to mind his own business and dismisses him. Ringo then threatens him by saying something to the effect that fools learn from their mistakes, gesturing to his gun with Doc ending the dialogue with a line ambiguous between calling for peace and threatening death. Commentary
    • Translation of the Latin:
      • In Vino Veritas. [In wine (is) the truth] (I meant exactly what I said.)note 
      • Age quod agis. [Do what you're going to do] (Bring it on.)
      • Credat Judaeus apella, non ego. [May the Jew Apella, not I, believe it] (Tell it to someone who cares.)
      • Iuventus stultorum magister. [Youth (is) the teacher of fools] (Allow me to teach you a lesson.)
      • In pace requiescat. [May he rest in peace] (It's your funeral.)
    • There's also the unsubtitled damnation of the Cowboys by the Mexican priest at the beginning (see Foreshadowing).
  • Blast Out: Portrays the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as a tense standoff before a sly wink from Doc Holliday to Billy Clanton turns it into a full blown blast out.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Wyatt's personalized pistol, a custom made Buntline Special from "the grateful citizens of Dodge City". It's called "The Peacemaker".
  • Blood from the Mouth: Pretty realistic for victims of tuberculosis. When Doc Holliday has this it's an indication that his health is deteriorating.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Many of the Cowboys are fond of making violent threats but few of them have the stones to back it up. Ike Clanton stands out, since he has a marked tendency to try to talk big and demand respect only to be easily and repeatedly humiliated, but he's not the only one. There's also Johnny Tyler, Johnny Behan... take your pick, really.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Doc has killed Johnny Ringo, he's got two: One in private, and one for Wyatt's arrival, as follows:
    Doc: Poor soul, you were just too high-strung...
    [Wyatt arrives, finding Doc standing over Ringo's corpse]
    Doc: It would appear that the strain was more than he could bear.
  • Boom Town: As stated in the prologue, silver had been discovered in Arizona making Tombstone "queen of the boom towns".
  • Born Lucky:
    • Wyatt Earp is the only one of the lawmen never to suffer even a glancing bullet wound. According to his contemporaries, he really did have a reputation for almost miraculously avoiding being shot. After the real-life shootout at Iron Springs, Earp found several holes in his coat but had not been hit a single time himself.
    • Possibly Doc Holliday, at least while playing cards. At one point Doc had won 12 hands in a row. While Doc's accused of cheating, it's never made clear whether it was legit or not. Then there's the one hand of poker at the end between Doc and Wyatt. Doc is so weak he doesn't even want to play, so Wyatt picks out which cards to discard (thus seeing Doc's hand). Doc still wins.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The gunfight at the OK Corral is really guilty of this. Notably, Doc somehow manages to fire a dozen rounds each from both of his six shooters. Some of it is admittedly due to editing; Doc blasting Tom McLaury with a shotgun (after firing a round into the air to scare his horse) is likely the same moment from two different angles, but in context it looks like Doc somehow manages to fire three rounds from a double-barreled weapon.
  • Bring It:
    • Wyatt during his confrontation with Johnny Tyler:
    Wyatt: Go ahead. Skin it. Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens!
    Wyatt: You gonna do somethin', or just stand there and bleed?
    • Later, Doc utters the first of his great ones:
    Cowboy: (pointing a gun at Holliday) I got you now, you sonofabitch!
    Holliday: You're a daisy if ya do!
    • And then the second:
    Ringo: (to the Earps) Don't any of you have the guts to play for blood?
    Holliday: (holding a gun behind his back) I'm your huckleberry.note 
  • Butt-Monkey: Billy Breckinridge is openly mocked by the Cowboys, prompting Wyatt to remark after the OK Corral gunfight, "All they ever did was laugh at him." Only Curly Bill treats him with any kind of respect. He does Take a Level in Badass later in the movie. Ike Clanton possibly has it even worse than Billy.
  • Byronic Hero: Doc Holliday.
  • Call-Back: Early in the movie a Mexican priest predicts that someone will wreak revenge upon the Cowboys for their crimes and quotes from Revelation 6:8. note  Wyatt unknowingly calls back to this moment with his "Hell's coming with me!" speech. One wonders if Ike Clanton noticed.
  • The Cameo: Charlton Heston appears briefly as Henry Hooker, the rancher who takes in a sick Doc Holliday.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: Even if a viewer didn't know about the real Morgan Earp's fate, the fact he's played by Bill Paxton should probably clue a savvy movie-goer going in that Morgan's chances of getting through the film alive are rather slim.
    • Especially with the presence of fellow Chronically Killed Actor Michael Biehn. The two of them were in five movies together including this one, and Bill Paxton only survived one of them.
  • Circuit Judge: When someone gets tried for a crime, it's whenever Judge Spicer shows up.
  • City Slicker: The acting troupe are an unusual non-villainous instance of the trope; they’re just trying to bring some color and culture to the West.
  • Coin Walk Flexing: Doc Holliday's introductory scene has him playing poker, nonchalantly doing a coin roll as he looks at his hand and then calls a $500 bet. This leads to a confrontation with the guy he just fleeced that turns into a fight which ends with said guy stabbed by Doc.
  • Cold Ham: Doc Holliday's genteel, soft-spoken mannerisms and devil-may-care attitude combine to make him one of the most melodramatic presences in the film despite almost never raising his voice. Contrasting with the bravado-induced Large Ham antics of many of the Cowboys, this makes it clear that Doc is not bluffing when he tells people that he's perfectly willing to kill anyone who threatens him or his friends.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Doc Holliday, a man very much willing to use such tricks as hiding a drawn gun behind his back while tapping his holstered one with his free hand or carrying a knife on his person when someone thinks him easy prey just because he put his revolvers down and out of reach. The cleverest example is probably when a Cowboy is using a horse for cover during the OK Corral gunfight, so Doc fires his shotgun into the air to spook the horse and give him a clear shot at the cowboy.
  • Cowboy Cop: Wyatt when he leaves Tombstone and gets a U.S. Marshal's badge, using it as a means to cover his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Cowboys who wounded Virgil and killed Morgan.
  • Cultured Badass: Johnny Ringo and Doc Holliday. (Ringo as a villain is technically Wicked Cultured.) Early in the film Ringo understands a Mexican priest's warning (in Spanish), and translates it by quoting The Bible. Holliday is described as a (former) Southern Gentleman and plays Chopin on the piano. The two hold a conversation in Latin during their first meeting.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: During the shootout at the OK Corral, the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday wear black Badass Longcoats and hats while the Cowboys wear more colorful clothes with white hats.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Doc Holliday. If his sense of humor was any dryer, it would send the whole town into a drought.
    Doc: Maybe poker's just not your game, Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!
  • Deal with the Devil: Used by the theatre company's rendition of Faust. Curly Bill says he'd take the deal and then shove the contract up the devil's backside. When he asks Johnny Ringo what he'd do, Ringo says he already did.
  • Death Seeker: Doc Holliday, who suffers from tuberculosis and takes every opportunity to be a smart ass to the most psychotic Cowboys.
    Johnny Ringo: I'll put you out of your misery!
    Doc Holliday: Say when!
    • Johnny Ringo shows a reckless need to get into fights and borders this trope as a means of scaring the crap out of everyone else. The one person Ringo DOESN'T want to fight - Doc - just happens to be a deadlier and more sincere Death Seeker than he is. This may be a Truth in Television because the Real Life Johnny Ringo was found dead under mysterious circumstances that left the coroner with only one possible conclusion of "suicide".
  • Deconstruction: The film acts as a deconstruction of John Ford westerns, specifically My Darling Clementine, picking apart the idealized image of the Earps and the clear cut, black and white values that classic westerns represented.
  • Dirty Cop: County Sheriff Johnny Behan sides with the Cowboys and leads a Cowboy-filled Posse chasing after Wyatt's vendetta.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Ike Clanton. He repeatedly talks tough and then collapses into a whimpering mess whenever the shooting starts. During the Corral shootout, the Earps let him go as he surrenders as an unarmed participant; he immediately holes up in a nearby building, takes a gun from the man inside, and starts shooting at the Earps from behind. In his last scene of the film he rips off his Cowboy sash while being pursued by Wyatt and the Immortals. The narrator lets us know - during the Where Are They Now closing as the credits roll - that Ike was later killed during a robbery in New Mexico.
    • Johnny Tyler, who despite talking a big game doesn't have the guts to draw on Wyatt to his face, even though Wyatt is unarmed. Instead, Tyler tries to sneak up on Wyatt with a shotgun and shoot him unaware. That doesn't work either; when he realizes that he's up against the three Earp brothers and Doc Holliday, he drops his scattergun and scurries away, thanking them for the chance to do so.
    • Sheriff Behan, who spends most of the film desperately trying to kowtow to the Cowboys and maintain an "image" rather than actually doing any policing.
      Johnny Behan: (to the Earps who are walking to the OK Corral) Gentlemen, I'm not going to allow any trouble! (Immediately runs off to hide inside the nearest building)
  • The Dragon: Johnny Ringo to Curly Bill Brocius. After the latter's death he takes up command of the Cowboys.
  • The Dreaded: Nobody wants to dance with Doc Holliday. Ed Bailey only tries for it when Doc puts his guns on the table, and he gets a knife to the gut for that assumption. Johnny Tyler immediately surrenders the moment he realizes who he's dealing with rather than risk a gunfight with Doc Holliday, despite the fact that Doc doesn't have his gun at the ready and Johnny already has his shotgun out and aimed at Doc. One of the Cowboys at the OK Corral only does it when he thinks Doc's out of ammo (only for one revolver, by the way) and he himself is already fatally wounded. Even the Ax-Crazy Johnny Ringo totally freaks out when he realizes that Doc's come for him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: As evidenced by Mattie Earp, Wyatt's laudanum-addicted wife. She died later of a drug overdose.
  • Ear Ache: Wyatt literally drags Johnny Tyler out of the Oriental by his ear when he throws him out.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Doc Holliday's first appearance has him casually and calmly winning what's implied to be yet another poker game, and when the losing player Ed Bailey gets angry and starts insulting the "lunger" Doc stays calm and quippy about how he hopes this doesn't mean they're not friends anymore. When Ed attempts to make a move on him, Doc quickly and suddenly pulls out both his pistols on him and makes a few flips with them before putting them down on the table. When Ed still tries his luck with his seemingly unarmed opponent, he gets a hidden knife to the gut, all while Doc maintains his affable yet unflappable demeanor.
    • For Virgil, it's when he sees that the Cowboys have even injured the town's schoolmarm and terrorized innocent children. His conscience will not rest until he gets sworn in as a deputy.
    • Wyatt's blunt handling of a bullying faro dealer (Billy Bob Thornton) that was ruining a hotel's business, throwing him out (literally) on his ear and negotiating a sweet job with the owner in return.
      • Before that there's a scene where Wyatt sees a man whipping an unruly horse, something Wyatt takes exception to. He grabs the whip and gives the man a couple thwacks. "Hurts, doesn't it?"
    • A secondary one comes for Doc when he casually chats with the Earp brothers while Johnny Tyler is standing there with a gun aimed at him, before turning and cheerily sending Johnny on his way after admitting that he, Doc, had forgotten Johnny was standing there.
    • The Cowboys shoot up a wedding in the opening scene, executing the bride and groom and terrorizing the guests. They purposefully avoid killing the priest, who continues to shout verses from Revelation at them, until Johnny Ringo shoots him on an impulse. Now, who do you think will turn out to be the sociopath of the group?
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Sherman McMasters, arguably something of a Token Good Teammate for the Cowboys, drops his red sash in front of Wyatt and fall in with the Earp brothers after someone fires a gun into the Earp household, nearly killing the brothers' wives; McMasters flatly states that attacking defenseless women was something he simply couldn't stomach. (This is foreshadowed by his distaste during the implied rape scene at the Mexican wedding in the introduction.) He even joins Earp in his vendetta against the Cowboys.
    • Though he laughs it off almost immediately afterwards, Curly Bill is visibly shocked when Johnny Ringo shoots the Mexican priest at the beginning. He also repeatedly tells Ringo to cool down and—parallel with Earp—tries to maintain what passes for peace in the town. In addition, Curly Bill's shooting of marshal Fred White is a complete accident while high off his ass on opium, and can be heard begging "C'mon, Fred, get up!" in a horrified tone of voice.
      Curly Bill: I tell you boys, even I'm worried about what's gonna happen once Ringo runs this outfit, God have mercy!
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: About the only time Dirty Coward Ike Clanton shakes off his cowardice during the entire film is when he grabs a gun and tries to save his younger brother Billy during the corral shootout, and Ike is obviously distraught about Billy getting shot to pieces. That said, as soon as he runs out of bullets he runs away, leaving a now dead Billy and the rest of his friends behind.
  • Evil Counterpart: Johnny Ringo, to Doc Holliday. Both well-educated men, both death-dealers (and in their own ways, death-seekers). Ringo is The Dragon to Curly Bill, with Doc The Lancer to Wyatt. Also Curly Bill to Wyatt - both being the leaders of their respective gangs. Amplified by the fact that Wyatt kills Curly and Doc kills Johnny.
    Doc Holliday: Look, darling, Johnny Ringo. The deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill, they say. What do you think, darling? Should I hate him?
    Kate: You don't even know him.
    Doc Holliday: Yes, but there's just something about him. Something around the eyes, I don't know, reminds me of... Me. No. I'm sure of it, I hate him.
    • There's also the memorably funny/badass scene where Johnny Ringo tries to intimidate Holliday with some admittedly impressive Gun Twirling tricks...which Holliday then mocks him for by recreating with spins of his drinking cup.
    • There's also the fact that Holliday knows he has tuberculosis and that his days are numbered; by stating that Ringo, who is also aware of Holliday's condition, reminds him of himself, he is not-so-subtly calling Ringo a Dead Man Walking.
  • Fanfare: Just really on the dramatic end.
  • Fastest Gun in the West: Doc Holliday. After calling Johnny Ringo the "deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill," he beats him in a quick-draw contest almost before Ringo can pull his gun from its holster.
    • Interestingly, it's also deconstructed in an earlier scene when Doc tries to provoke a fight with Ringo. He encourages Ringo to draw his gun, but already has his own gun out, concealed behind his back.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Wyatt's importance is demonstrated in his first appearance, when the camera catches his feet and pans up as he stands waiting to get off the train.
  • Firing One-Handed: Wyatt Earp blows away a fleeing enemy with a double-barreled shotgun... one-handed, while riding on a horse, at full gallop. Granted, since it's a shotgun, you don't have to be precise, but...
    • If someone wasn't firing Guns Akimbo, they're doing this trope.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the beginning, the Mexican priest condemns the Cowboys in Spanish until Ringo shoots him. Curly Bill asks Florentino what he said, and Florentino says a "sick horse" will get them. Ringo corrects him, saying that the priest was quoting the Bible, referring to the "pale horse" ridden by Death. Of course, "pale" and "sick" can both refer to Doc Holliday, who kills Ringo.
    • Sherman McMasters is the only Cowboy who looks uncomfortable when the other Cowboys start dragging the bride away at the beginning of the movie. He eventually joins Wyatt in fighting the Cowboys.
    • Out of the three Earp brothers, Morgan gets hurt the worst in the fighting at the OK Corral. Though he doesn't die from the injuries gained there, he's the only Earp to die.
    • Morgan also brings up what he read in a book about people seeing a light as they lay dying. He later says as his last words that he "doesn't see a damn thing."
    • When talking about the priest's final words, he added in "and hell came with him", mirroring what Wyatt, the man who ends up killing the lot of them, says in his famous This Means War! speech.
  • Good Bad Girl: Josephine. As she puts it:
    Josephine: (To Wyatt, cheerily) Oh, I know. Don't say it: I'm rotten. I tried to be good. It's just so boring.
    Wyatt: (Awed) The way you talk...
    Josephine: Never heard a woman talk like that?
    Wyatt: ...Never.
    Josephine: I don't have time to be "proper". I'm a woman, I like men. If that means I'm not "ladylike", then I guess I'm just not a lady. At least I'm honest.
    Wyatt: You're different...there's no arguing that. But you're a lady, all right. I'll take my oath on it.
  • Good Is Not Nice/Good Is Not Soft:
    • The Earp Vendetta Ride shows that they weren't really discreet in how they went about their business. They're out to murder the Cowboys, no two ways about it. The Federal Marshal badges just let them pretend it's about law and order.
      Wyatt: From now on, I see a red sash, I kill the man wearing it!
      • Doc is a nice enough and funny guy, and he'll even give someone a chance to walk away, but he has a ruthlessness about him that even Wyatt in the depths of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge lacks. When "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson and "Texas Creek" Jack Vermillion start a brief shootout, Doc is noticeably the only person among the Earps and Sheriff Behan who doesn't flinch when the bullets suddenly start flying. And at the O.K. Corral, while everyone else is either nervous or tense, Doc is cool as ice and even smirking (and ends up starting the shootout when he shoots Billy Clanton a wink that makes the Cowboy go from nervous to furious and drawing his gun).
  • Gotta Kill Them All: After Wyatt Earp's family is attacked by the red sash-wearing Cowboys, he declares, "From now on, I see a red sash, I kill the man wearing it!"
  • Grave Humor: Seen in Boot Hill. "Here lies Lester Moore, took four slugs from a .44. No Les, no more." In fact, this is a real gravestone at the cemetery.
    Wyatt Earp: I just want you to know it's over between us.
    Curly Bill: Well... bye.
    Johnny Ringo: Smell that, Bill? Smells like someone died.
  • Guns Akimbo: Doc Holliday confronts Billy Clanton (Ike's younger brother) and pulls a pistol on him. Clanton says that Holliday is so drunk (which he clearly is) he's probably seeing double. Holliday then pulls out a second pistol with the other hand, points both of them at the guy, flips each one in a different direction while still holding his cup, and says, "I have two guns... one for each of ya."
    • Everybody does this at least once in the movie. At the gunfight, Doc provides covering fire by dual-wielding his Colt Single Action Army and Colt Lightning together.
    • Curly Bill wears a two-gun rig and sometimes uses both pistols. He aims and fires one while cocking the other. It requires some coordination, but it's actually realistic.
  • The Gunslinger: Lots of them, of the Quick Draw variety, as one might guess from the film's subject. Especially, and in order of increasing quickness, Curly Bill, Wyatt, Johnny Ringo, and Doc Holliday. The latter two are in Fastest Gun in the West league.
  • Gun Twirling:
    • Johnny Ringo when he first confronts Doc Holiday. And then memorably parodied by Doc Holliday with a tin cup in place of a gun.
    • Also done memorably by Doc later on, with two guns. One clockwise, one counter-clockwise. He's still holding his tin cup.
  • Handshake Refusal: Doc Holliday refuses to shake the hand of the corrupt fop of a sheriff who is in league with the Cowboy gangs, though this is because he's a Lawman, and has nothing to do with his corrupt foppery.
  • Happily Married: Virgil and Allie Earp. According to numerous biographies and eyewitness accounts, this was Truth in Television. Then with Wyatt and Josie.
    • Subverted all to hell with Wyatt and Mattie. Whatever reasons they married were soon lost the second Mattie found the laudanum.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Johnny Ringo. Doc Holliday surmises that Johnny has a gaping hole in him that can never be filled with enough murder, theft or other horrible deeds because Johnny is angry at the whole world for being born.
    • Johnny Tyler, the crooked blackjack dealer who Wyatt swiftly deals with.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Doc Holliday is suffering from tuberculosis through the entire movie, visibly pale and frequently broken in cold sweat. Doesn't stop him from being a very, very good gunfighter.note 
    • The ending narration notes that Virgil Earp became a sheriff despite only being able to use one arm.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom: This movie gave the trope its original title, when Wyatt tells Ike that "Hell is coming with me!" He still winds up being this for the Cowboys.
  • Heel–Face Turn: McMasters decides the Cowboys organization have crossed it and quits in protest.
    • Breckinridge after Cowboys murder the actor Fabian. In a Deleted Scene he even hunts and kills those responsible.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Doc and Wyatt. The two are willing to do anything for each other.
    "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson: (after Doc has a bad coughing fit) Doc, you oughta be in bed. What in the hell are you doing this for anyway?
    Doc Holliday: Wyatt Earp is my friend.
    "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson: Hell, I got lots of friends.
    Doc Holliday: ...I don't.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Joanna Pacuła is more conventionally attractive than the real "Big Nose" Kate Horony.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • While Doc Holliday's reputation as a feared gunfighter is acknowledged, the Earp faction in Tombstone is whitewashed. Holliday and the Earps had numerous run-ins with the law and assorted violent encounters before arriving in Tombstone. When they were lawmen themselves, they often exploited their authority for profit (though, it should be noted, this wasn't uncommon in the Old West - indeed, many men went into law enforcement precisely because doing so ensured a cut of taxes raised and kickbacks from local businesses). While the staging of the gunfight is mostly accurate, some of the set-up is altered to make the Earps and Holliday look more favorable: for instance, Wyatt pistol-whips Tom McLaury after the latter challenges him to a fight, when in reality Wyatt assaulted McLaury without provocation, which gratuitously escalated an already tense situation between the Earps and Ike Clanton.note 
    • That said, Wyatt Earp actually had a reputation for being a remarkably fair frontier lawman before coming to Tombstone. Where many of his contemporaries might shoot first and ask questions rarely, he mostly used his pistol as a club, which, if not exactly gentle, still allowed the man on the receiving end to continue breathing. Although he was willing to kill someone if he had to, it was never his go-to option. (As he says in the movie, he had only been involved in one shooting prior to coming to Tombstone.) At least until Morgan got shot...
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: While more accurate than most earlier Earp-OK Corral films, Tombstone still villainizes the Cowboys more than is probably historically justified. As in most movies, the real situation's much more Grey-and-Gray Morality than its screen depiction.
    • Ike Clanton gets this, according to his descendants. Historical records don't really support their claims, though; even if specifics of his behavior are exaggerated, the fact that he picked a fight with the Earps and Holliday only to flee the scene leaving his brother and friends to die is undeniably true. The film's version is definitely a simplification, however; it presents Ike as a Cowboy enforcer from the first, while historically he was only closely associated with them (he was a major purchaser of the cattle they stole and had family in the gang) but not a direct participant in their crimes until after his brother's death.
    • While the real Johnny Ringo is somewhat Shrouded in Myth, what is known about him suggests a more complicated character than the film's version. He occasionally served as a lawman in Texas (evidently a good, relatively honest one) and was active in land speculation and local politics in Arizona Territorynote  Like many of the Cowboys, Ringo seems to have drifted in and out of crime rather than being a committed outlaw. Historians have only ever tied Ringo to two killings, both in connection with the Mason County War in 1870s Texas, along with the non-fatal shooting of Louis Hancock in a bar in 1879 in Safford, Arizona. Admittedly, Ringo did possess a Hair-Trigger Temper, especially when drinking, which did nothing to discourage his reputation as a fearsome killer.
    • Of those involved in the OK Corral, only Frank McLaury had any real experience as a gunfighter note  while Billy Clanton and Tom McLaury were rustlers who'd never been linked to any killings. While the Clantons were well-known for their ties to the Cowboys, the McLaurys were generally able to keep their criminal activities discreet, to the point where Frank McLaury threatened to sue Mayor John Clum for libel for publicly identifying him as a rustler.
    • The Cowboys in general are portrayed as an organized gang of vicious killers who are tearing the town apart and ruthlessly persecuting the heroic Earp family. In reality, the Cowboys were a loose association of cattle rustlers who primarily stole cattle in Mexico (then moved their activities stateside once the Mexican government began cracking down on them). They had a lot of local support and helped consolidate local resistance against northern industrialists, with whom the Earps allied themselves. Their feud with the Earps, however, was quite bloody and the Cowboys weren't above murdering the Earps and their supporters after the OK Corral gunfight. Oddly enough, the film does portray a public and politically charged funeral for the victims of the OK Corral shootout, which conflicts with the rest of the film's characterization of the cowboys as Hated by All.
  • Honour Before Reason:
    Virgil: They're carrying guns, Wyatt.
    Wyatt: Virg, that's a misdemeanor. You go down there to arrest them, something goes wrong, maybe this time somebody really gets his head broke. You'll have Cowboys coming round looking for trouble from here to Christmas. You wanna risk all that over a misdemeanor?
    Virgil: Damn right I'll risk it. They're breaking the law!
    • Although the Cowboys were making direct threats to their lives as well.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Tombstone, Arizona.
  • Immune to Bullets: Wyatt Earp. With all the gunfights he ends up being in, he walks away from each one without so much as a flesh wound, while all the other heroes, Doc included, get hit at least once. This is remarked on as borderline miraculous after the fight at the Iron Springs waterhole where he walked out of cover into the middle of a crossfire and picked off the Cowboys one by one with bullets flying past the whole time.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Most notable when Wyatt wades across a watering hole into a hail of bullets, and all the bad guys miss him. This is based on a real life event where, according to eyewitnesses, this is exactly what happened.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Doc Holliday, who really did die of tuberculosis. He's coughing in his very first scene.
  • Instant Death Bullet:
    • Fred White is killed by one accidental discharge from Curly Bill's gun.
    • Averted at the O.K. Corral, where nearly all the gun-totting Cowboys get shot in the first exchange, but linger and manage to get off a few more shots before they're downed by repeat gunfire. The only one who immediately dies is the one who Doc shots in the chest and stomach with his shotgun. Also averted when Johnny Ringo is left staggering around weakly for a few seconds before collapsing to the ground after Doc shoots him in the head.
  • Insult Backfire: This legendary comeback.
    Billy Clanton: The drunk piano player? You're so drunk you can't hit nothin'. In fact, (pulls out a knife) you're probably seein' double.
    Doc Holliday: (pulls out another pistol and spins them both in opposite directions while still holding his drinking cup) I have two guns, one for each of you.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Wyatt and Doc Holliday are crack shots. Probably the most severe instance is Wyatt, using his horse as cover by hanging off the side of it while it's galloping, reaching underneath the horse's neck to shoot someone on the other side.
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: McMasters, who doesn't seem to be quite as enthusiastic a villain as the other Cowboys, has enough when the Cowboys come after women. He announces he's quitting the Cowboys, throws his red sash on the ground, and says he'll give Wyatt all the help he needs. After that he does in fact join Wyatt's posse.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Doc Holiday expresses bemused disbelief that a simple "mining camp" like Tombstone would ever "grow up" into a proper city, Sheriff Behan attempts to claim that with how fancy everyone dresses that Tombstone in a few years will be "just as big as San Francisco and just as sophisticated." Cue a sudden shootout nearby where a man accusing another man of being a liar and cheat is shot to death by the accused who took exception to that insult.
    Doc: *clearly amused* Very cosmopolitan.
  • In Vino Veritas: Holliday quotes the trope by name during his first exchange with Johnny Ringo to let everyone know that while he is drunk, he also means everything that he says — namely, that he hates Ringo at first sight.
  • Kissing Cousins: Doc reveals towards the end that the only woman he ever loved was not Big Nosed Kate, but rather a first cousin of his (Sister Mary Melanie), who left him at 15 to join a convent over the affair.
  • Knight, Knave, and Squire: The Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. Virgil and Wyatt share the role of the Knight (in shining and sour flavors respectively), Doc Holliday is the Knave, and Morgan the Squire.
  • Large Ham: Wyatt has his moments. So does Curly Bill.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Cowboys all get theirs at some point. Even Ike, who managed to escape Wyatt, gets shot and killed later in life.
  • Limited Wardrobe: While the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday wear different outfits throughout the films, the Cowboys wear the exact same thing from start to finish, including Curly Bill with his trademark red vest while Ike and Billy Clanton always wear blue vests.
  • Love at First Sight: The first time Wyatt and Josephine lay eyes on each other is played this way. Even Doc Holiday lampshades it:"Well... an enchanted moment!"
  • Love Triangle: Wyatt, Mattie (his wife), and Josie (the actress).
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Josephine Marcus.
  • Manly Tears: Doc sheds these as he and Wyatt say their last goodbyes at Doc's deathbed. Wyatt is visibly holding back tears too.
  • Match Cut: An audio match cut, and three at once, as the sound of Morgan striking a pool ball, a clap of thunder, and a gun shooting Morgan In the Back are all matched up together.
  • Meaningful Echo: Doc to Ringo " I'm your huckleberry [...] Say when! "
  • Mistaken For An Impostor: When the famous Wyatt Earp introduces himself to the owner of the bar where he and his brothers will run a gambling operation, the bar owner snorts and says "Yeah, right."
  • More Criminals Than Targets: The movie never explains how the dozens of Cowboys, who make up a good percentage of the entire economy of Tombstone, fund their outlaw lifestyles off the same population. Historically they didn't, with a primary business of rustling cattle from Mexico and thereby bringing value into the economy of the Tombstone area.
  • More Dakka: That sure is one impressive 18-round revolver Doc Holliday is carrying, isn't it? No wonder he won the shootout at the OK Corral with firepower like that!
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Much of the reason the Earps are gunning for the Cowboys and vice versa is because of Ike Clanton. He runs his mouth off more than Doc Holliday, threatening the Earps and Holliday, raising paranoia about how they came to Tombstone to bring the law. All the Earps wanted to do was make some money and retire in peace.
  • Noodle Incident: The events of Dodge City that made Wyatt a living legend are only referenced within the film without the details. The real life events are documented, making it more like an aversion of As You Know.
  • Novelization: A paperback novel of the same name adapted from Kevin Jarre's screenplay, written by Giles Tippette and published by Berkley Publishers, was released on January 1, 1994. The book dramatizes the real-life events of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Earp Vendetta Ride, as depicted in the film. It expands on Western genre ideas in Jarre's screenplay.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Johnny Tyler realizes he almost threatened Doc Holliday with a shotgun. Then he hears Doc address the man he'd grabbed the shotgun for as "Wyatt," figures out he'd tried to gun down Wyatt Earp, and truly comes to understand the depth of shit he'd just stepped in.
    • When Wyatt sees the looks on the Cowboy's faces in the O.K. Corral standoff and sees they're going to draw, he mutters, "Oh my God".
    • When Wyatt is dragging Curly Bill into custody while surrounded by the Cowboys, Ike Clanton approaches him while threatening that "we'll tear you apart." He gets too close and Wyatt puts the gun to his forehead. Ike's expression goes from "macho bravado" to "loosened bowels" in milliseconds.
    • When Johnny Ringo sees who he thinks is Wyatt Earp showing up for their gunfight, he's very confident and arrogant, knowing he's faster than Wyatt. When he sees that it's actually Doc Holliday, he stops dead in his tracks. Right at this point his facial expression is one of the best Oh Crap moments in the history of cinema. Trying to talk his way out of it carries absolutely no weight with Holliday, who makes it perfectly clear to Ringo that it's way too late for him to back down now.
    • The film spent a lot of time building up to the showdown between Ringo and Doc, and a considerable amount of foreshadowing and preparation went into it. The main reason for Ringo's Oh Crap expression is not only was he not expecting Doc, but he's at a severe disadvantage and he knows it. If you pay attention to the movie, Doc has seen Ringo draw, but Ringo has never seen Doc draw. (He has seen that Doc, drunk as a skunk, can twirl a tin cup as easily and skillfully as Ringo can twirl his own revolvers.) Further, the way each one wears their gun is entirely to Doc's advantage. Ringo wears his on his hip, in the traditional fashion, but Doc wears his across his stomach, with the butt of the gun towards his drawing hand. When you look at the scene, Doc's hand is so close to his gun he can casually tap it, and the total distance he has to move his hand to draw and fire the gun is very much less than Ringo, with his traditional holster, has to cover. Ringo even tries to negate Doc's advantage here by keeping his body angled in such a way that Doc cannot see his gun, but there's no way he can start to draw the gun without his shoulder and upper arm telegraphing the movement.
    • Ringo also has a subtle one during his first meeting with Doc. Watch his face when Doc is twirling his teacup, mocking Ringo's gun twirling a moment before. Ringo's smug expression is gone, and instead he's got a concerned, uneasy look on his face. He just showed Doc how fast and skilled he is with his gun, and Doc is not impressed.
  • One-Man Army: Wyatt at the Iron Springs shootout. He wades into a hail of gunfire without so much as a scratch, and kills almost half a dozen Cowboys in return, including their leader. This actually happened in real life.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, we get six Johns and two Williams: John Henry "Doc" Holliday, John Peters "Johnny" Ringo, John Wilson "Texas Jack" Vermillion, John "Turkey Creek Jack" Johnson, Johnny Tyler (the obnoxious dealer who Wyatt throws out of his own poker game) and John Harris "Johnny" Behan, the corrupt, cowardly sheriff, as well as William Harrison "Billy" Clanton and William Milton "Billy" Breakenridge (the bespectacled sheriff's deputy).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: John Henry Holliday is only ever referred to by his nickname 'Doc', save for one very brief mention of his full name in the opening narration.
  • Opening Monologue: Introduces the setting, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and the Cowboys. (Narrator played by Robert Mitchum.)
  • Opium Den: Appears twice: First when Curly Bill gets high and accidentally shoots the marshal, and then later in a montage when a Cowboy is shown absentmindedly trying to smoke from Wyatt's gun barrel (and yes, it does go off in his mouth).
  • Out Sick: Subverted. Doc Holliday wants to accompany Wyatt Earp to his private duel with Johnny Ringo, which Wyatt is convinced he cannot win. It appears as though Doc has tuberculosis and can't get out of bed. He plaintively asks Wyatt what it's like to wear "one of those", meaning the deputy badge. When Wyatt gives Doc the badge to make him feel better, he goes to the meeting to find that Doc, who is actually sick but it's not as serious as he let on, has beaten him there and killed Johnny Ringo for him.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Josie carries one in her first scene.
  • The Piano Player: Doc has fun with this at the bar in one scene.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Cowboys don't get up to much organized crime - they mainly just drink, gamble, make trouble, and shoot people who try to stand up to them. This is because the actual historical Cowboys were cattle rustlers who crossed the border into Mexico to steal cattle to sell back in Arizona. Hence why they're regarded as good for business in Tombstone until they make too much trouble.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Done in a conventional fashion with revolvers and also via the stock of a shotgun to bloody effect.
  • Plot Armor: In contrast to his brothers and Doc, who all get hit at least once, Wyatt Earp does not incur a single bullet wound in any of the numerous gunfights he's in. Even more impressive is that the historical records back this up.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: As Sheriff Behan introduces himself to Wyatt, he mentions being a member of the local Anti-Chinese League, among other things.
  • The Power of Language: Like many action/adventure pictures, the film has several moments when life or death hangs on a single word. Still, this trope is most powerfully and vividly illustrated by the interrupted exchange between, appropriately, the two most literate of the gunslingers:
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Curly Bill is usually the one to talk the other Cowboys (especially Ringo) out of impulsively fighting the Earps, urging them to wait for the opportune moment to strike.
  • Precision F-Strike: The music lover apparently hasn't heard of "Frederic fucking Chopin". This is the sole F bomb in the film.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Doc is introduced to us playing poker against a losing, and increasingly furious, Ed Bailey, who is nicely played by Frank Stallone:
    Doc: Why Ed, what an ugly thing to say! Does this mean you're not my friend anymore? You know, Ed, if I thought you weren't my friend I don't think I could bear it.
    Doc proceeds to backup his cutting wit by cutting Mr. Bailey down to size.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Doc gives an awesome one to Johnny while he's staggering and dying from a gunshot to the head.
    Doc: You're no daisy! You're no daisy at all!
  • Pretty Little Headshots: During their showdown, Doc outdraws Ringo and shoots him in the forehead. Ringo is killed, but only has a small, neat, nearly bloodless hole in his head from the bullet. In reality, getting shot in the forehead at that range with Doc's gun would have blown the top of his head off. It's not just the bullet, it's the ballistic pressure wave.
  • Professional Gambler: Doc Holliday. The degree to which his Real Life counterpart corresponded to this trope is debatable.
  • Psycho for Hire: Johnny Ringo. Firmly established within the first few minutes when he guns down a priest, something the other Cowboys had avoided during a massacre moments prior.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Wyatt Earp starts the film not wanting to be a lawman anymore. He helps keep order after the marshal is murdered killed, but then tries to convince Virgil and Morgan that being a marshal is a bad idea. Near the end of the film he says that all he ever wanted was a normal life.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat: Again, the scene where Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo trade thinly-veiled barbs at one another in Latin.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Shootout at Iron Springs, where Wyatt Earp strides slowly through a hail of gunfire, picking the cowboys off one by one and eventually shooting Curly Bill himself comes across as ridiculous Hollywood exaggeration of history for the sake of a tired action movie cliche....except that's exactly the way it happened in real life, and Wyatt Earp never got so much as a scratch at either Iron Springs or the OK Corral.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Curly Bill, after a night in an opium den, starts shooting wildly at buildings and people, culminating with a dogged attempt to shoot the moon out of the sky.
  • Re-Cut: An extended version was released on DVD. About nine minutes of never-before-seen footage were restored. The most noticeable are:
    • A scene showing the depths of Mattie's addiction to laudanum and her jealousy over Josephine.
    • A somber soliloquy by Doc quoting Kublai Khan.
    • A scene explaining Kate's sudden disappearance from the film, with Doc stressing the importance of friendship.
    • A scene with McMasters and the Cowboys meeting one last time. A small scene showing the graphic result of that meeting has been re-inserted, with the line "They got McMasters!" being moved into this small insert.
  • Reconstruction: Whilst the protagonists are portrayed as shaded in and imperfect, at the end of they are still presented as the heroes of the story and the Cowboys whilst not simple card carrying villains are still the bad guys. Wyatt's victory and chance to live a new life with Josephine is presented triumphantly, corroborated by the ending narration, and the Cowboys have a designator of their villainy like the westerns of old with the red sashes in lieu of black hats. The ending starts bittersweet but ends on an upbeat note.
  • Redemption Equals Death: After leaving the Cowboys, Sherman Mc Masters is eventually found gruesomely murdered in an effort to get Wyatt's attention.
  • Refusal of the Call: Wyatt refuses to take up the mantle of lawman again, despite every official under the sun pleading with him to make a return. He becomes Resigned to the Call in support of his brothers, and later throws himself headfirst into the fray, becoming a U.S. Marshall to hunt down the Cowboys after they murder Morgan.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: One of Curly Bill's revolvers goes off and kills Fred White while he's surrendering them.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Wyatt does not want to fight or become a lawman again and does everything he can to avoid it until Morgan is murdered.
  • Resigned to the Call: After Town Marshall Fred White is killed by Curly Bill, Mayor Clum tried again to recruit the Earps to be lawmen, and Virgil leads the brothers in refusing again. Clum gives them a What the Hell, Hero? speech, and Virgil realizes that someone has to do it and nobody else will.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Wyatt Earp, a well-known peace officer, settling down in Tombstone. He refuses to get into any trouble saying he's retired. Of course, things soon get messy as the leader of the Cowboys kills the town marshal, so Wyatt's two brothers take his place. As one of them is maimed by criminals, and another is killed, this gets personal, so Wyatt confronts the outlaws.
  • Retraux: The opening montage mixes authentic old-timey silent footage (namely, clips from 1903 and The Great Train Robbery) with brief clips of Kurt Russell as Wyatt and Val Kilmer as Doc made to look old.
  • Right Behind Me: Ike drunkenly threatens the Earps for arresting Curly and Doc for beating him out of poker only to find Virgil standing behind him.
    • Frank Stilwell doesn't even have enough time to regret asking where Wyatt is before the latter shoots him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wyatt Earp swears to wipe out the entire band of Cowboys after they ambush his brothers. See the quote at the top of the page.
    • The film shows Wyatt and his allies wiping out a mass army of Cowboys, but in the real vendetta ride Wyatt killed four men (Frank Stilwell, "Indian Charlie" Cruz, Johnny Barnes and Curly Bill) before fleeing to Colorado after two weeks of riding. The film's climactic duel between Ringo and Holliday is based loosely on Wyatt's claim that he had snuck back into Arizona to finish the Rampage of Revenge on Ringo.
    • Though :
    Doc Holliday: No, make no mistake. It's not revenge he's after. It's a reckoning.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Both the priest in the beginning speaking untranslated Spanish at Johnny Ringo before being shot, and Wyatt's quote at the top of the page reference the Biblical Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. note  Guess how many lawmen go to confront the Cowboys at the OK Corral?
    • In addition, the fourth lawman (Doc) is the only one that's not an Earp brother, and his tuberculosis makes him notably the palest of the three. Guess who goes to confront Johnny Ringo at the end?
  • Running Gag: The number of times Wyatt has to tell people he's retired as a lawman. By the time the mayor tries to ask him, he can't even get two words out after introducing himself before Wyatt cuts him off.
  • Saloon Owner: Milt.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When the stage coach rolls up with the recently-killed actor, Josephine shames the mob by pointing out that he only wanted to make their lives better by performing on stage. The sheriff's deputy Breckinridge (who had sided with the Cowboys) decides that this has gone too far, saying "We have to have some kind of law," and quits.
    • Also Ike Clanton's forte. He runs from a fight no less than 5 times.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Sheriff Behan wears the hell out of those pinstripes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The excerpt from Henry V that is recited by Mr. Fabian is the same passage that Dutton Peabody speaks to himself while walking down the street in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
    • When Josephine appears for the first time, Virgil says "What kind of town is this?", a notable quote-pull from Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine.
    • Doc Holliday's initial confrontation with Johnny Ringo (including the famous "I'm your huckleberry" line) was adapted from the 1927 novel Tombstone: An Iliad of the Southwest by Walter Noble Burns, itself a highly-acclaimed retelling of the events at the OK Corral in its time.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Duel between Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo. They stand an arm's length from one another, circle slowly, and draw. Slightly subverted though in that the duel was supposed to be between Wyatt and Ringo, and at seven o'clock.
  • Sissy Villain: Deputy Billy Breakenridge is a corrupt lawman on the take from the Cowboys (which was true) and is also portrayed as an effeminate weakling (which was almost certainly not true - he had a reputation as a skilled and feared gunslinger).
  • Smart People Know Latin: Doc and Ringo have a whole conversation of death threats in Latin.
  • Smug Snake: Cochise County Sheriff Behan is in it to gain power and popularity and nothing else. He even sides with the Cowboys while they still have a numbers and firepower advantage over Wyatt and the other marshals. Nobody on either side ever takes him seriously.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, culminating in a duel of Latin phrases.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Doc Holliday is originally from Georgia and speaks with a distinct accent that makes him sound like a southern gent, and he has an entire exchange with Ringo in Latin. And let's not forget that nickname comes from him being a Doctor of Dental Surgery.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Josephine, through and through. She's free-spirited and independent, can ride a horse with the best of them, and even plays the part of Mephistopheles in the acting group's scene from Faust. She even confides with Wyatt that she isn't sure if she qualifies as a "lady". He earnestly tells her she is.
  • Stock Footage/Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: A cowboy near the beginning of the film shoots at the camera/audience. The footage is straight from The Great Train Robbery; the actor is Justus D. Barnes.
  • Southern Gentleman: Doc Holliday oozes charm, even when he's snarking.
  • The Stoic: Virgil Earp
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Wyatt feels nothing but remorse over killing a man in a gunfight (despite being on the side of right and doing his job as a lawman) in the George Hoyt shooting in Dodge City. He tells Morgan that he shouldn't ever want to find out what its like to kill another man, right or wrong.
  • Tap on the Head: Wyatt's preferred method of subduing Cowboys was to "buffalo" them, IE. smacking them in the head with the barrel of a revolver.
  • Team Power Walk: The Earps with Holliday walking towards the OK Corral. They did make that walk in Real Life. It's so awesome that this movie replays the Team Power Walk during the end credits.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: At the gunfight, Wyatt and Doc pretty much empty their revolvers into Billy.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Invoked by Wyatt on the way to the O.K. Corral.
    Wyatt: How the hell did we get ourselves into this?
  • Token Romance: Wyatt's thing with the actress serves little more than to expand on his inner conflict and to provide a happy ending. But then again, said romance happened in Real Life too...
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Not literally pitchforks, but pickaxes. A lynch mob, including miners with pickaxes, appears after Curly Bill kills the town marshal. Wyatt disperses the mob by saying there will be a trial.
  • Tragic Bromance: Wyatt and Doc's friendship ultimately becomes this when Doc succumbs to his tuberculosis.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: In Doc's first appearance in the film, he gets in a Gambling Brawl with another card player and pulls a knife on him. The bartender starts to reach for a double barrelled shotgun under the bar, only to stop when Kate claps a pistol to his head.
  • Undying Loyalty: Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: Doc, you oughtta be in bed. What the hell are you doin' out here?
    Doc Holliday: Wyatt Earp is my friend.
    Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: Hell, I got lotsa friends.
    Doc Holliday: ...I don't.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Wyatt Earp's laudanum-addicted wife. Treated as part of the Token Romance plotline.
  • Victory Through Intimidation: How Wyatt gets the cowboys to back off after Curly Bill shoots the sherriff. Ike Clanton threatens that they will all tear Wyatt apart:
    Wyatt: You die first, get it? Your friends might get me in a rush, but not before I make your head into a canoe, you understand me?
  • Villain Opening Scene: The first scene is Curly Bill and a gang of Cowboys shooting up a wedding.
  • Villains Out Shopping: When the travelling show comes to town, The Cowboys show up en masse, and seem to have a genuinely good time and be very appreciative of the performance. They even give Fabian a standing ovation for his rendition of the St. Crispin's Day speech. They do, however, freak out one of the performers by shooting at him for the hell of it.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: Attempted on Morgan after he's shot in the overnight Cowboy raid. The doctor gives up before Morgan dies.
  • What a Drag: McMasters is killed this way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Town Marshall Fred White is killed by Curly Bill, Mayor Clum comes to the Oriental to try to recruit the Earps again, and Virgil leads the brothers in refusing.
    Virgil: We’re busy. {goes back to playing pool}
    Mayor Clum: You boys are making lots of money in this town, that’s good. Meanwhile, decent people are suffering.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The narrator describes what happened to various characters later in life.
  • Wicked Cultured: Johnny Ringo, who's able to quote the Bible from memory and recite Latin phrases to Doc.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: Wyatt invokes this one, placing his revolver to Ike Clanton's head as the other Cowboys threaten to shoot him up.
    "Your friends might get me in a rush but not before I turn your head into a canoe, do you understand me?"
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: "Why, Johnny Ringo, you looked like somebody just walked over your grave."
  • Young Gun: Wyatt Earp's younger brother Morgan, to some extent. This is mostly in his portrayal as the least experienced of the four heroes at the OK Corral and in Wyatt's disapproval of his participation.
  • You Remind Me of X: Doc Holliday does the Deadpan Snarker version, saying how Ringo reminds him of himself... which just means that Doc really hates Ringo.


Doc Holliday coin walk

Doc Holliday does a coin walk in his first scene.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoinWalkFlexing

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