Arts & Entertainment


29 Most Iconic Quotes from ‘Tombstone’

best tombstone quotes

The classic 1993 Western Tombstone is full of memorable quotes from Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the infamous Cowboys of Southern Arizona. Here’s a look at the movie’s lines that have stuck around.

Thirty years after its release, Tombstone is still considered one of the best Western movies ever made (and also won the Tombstone vs. Wyatt Earp duel). The Tombstone cast is also one of the best Western ensembles ever put together.

The cult classic, along with others like Unforgiven, Dances with Wolves and The Quick and the Dead, breathed new life into the Western genre in the ’90s, and to this day modern films still pay homage to Tombstone, just as it paid tribute to Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s.

Related read: Best Western Movies on Netflix Right Now

29 Best Quotes from Tombstone

Here’s a look at some of the best and most memorable quotes from Tombstone, from the self-deprecating lines of Doc Holliday to the powerful, vendetta-driven pledges of Wyatt Earp.

The Best Doc Holliday Quote

1. “Five hundred. Must be a peach of a hand.”

Doc Holliday’s opening lines set the tone for his character in the movie: strangely confident and whimsical despite his sickly appearance due to tuberculosis. It’s a fitting opening scene for Doc, who sits across from Ed Bailey, a larger, more able-looking gambler. A sprawling pot lies spread on the table between them.

2. “Isn’t that a daisy?”

This is the first of several times Holliday utters an iconic line involving “daisy” or “daisies” and again sets the tone for what’s to come. You don’t need to know the exact meaning of the phrase to know what it’s meant to do to Ed Bailey, who falls hook, line and sinker for Doc’s southern slang.

3. “I calculate that’s the end of this town.”

The real Doc Holliday sometimes wore out his welcome in small frontier towns, and moved across the West with stops in towns in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. After the fictional fight with Ed Bailey, Doc Holliday and Big Nose Kate know the drill: grab the pot and get out while the goin’s good.

Related read: Big Nose Kate: A Fiercely Independent Life on the Frontier

4. “Wyatt, I am rolling.”

It’s no coincidence that Doc and Wyatt first meet up in Tombstone when Wyatt is in potential (though unlikely) danger, this time from disgruntled gambler Johnny Tyler. Doc’s entrance in Tombstone isn’t the last well-timed arrival to help his friend Wyatt, slyly foreshadowing what’s to come.

tombstone doc holliday quote

5. “Not me. I’m in my prime.”

A recurring theme in Tombstone is the contrast between Doc Holliday’s ailing physical appearance and his ability to still be a badass. Johnny Ringo isn’t the first or last to underestimate Holliday in his meager condition, and their meeting in the saloon is one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.

Uh, you must be Ringo. Look, darlin’, Johnny Ringo, the deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill, they say. What do you think, darlin’, should I hate him?”

In typical drunk playfulness, Holliday decides he will indeed hate Johnny Ringo, setting the tone for their showdowns later on.

Related read: 9 Curious Facts About Annie Oakley, Sharpshooter Extraordinaire

6. “In vino veritas.”

One of Holliday’s best lines is uttered almost as an afterthought, a candid retort to Wyatt’s keeping of the peace. It also reveals Ringo’s own knowledge of Latin, and Doc knows the Cowboy’s more like himself than he imagined, though he’s still not alarmed by Ringo’s bravado.

doc holliday quotes

7. “I have two guns, one for each of ya.”

Doc Holliday once again hits the streets of Tombstone just in time to help Wyatt, who’s fending off a potential mob led by brothers Ike and Billy Clanton. The underestimation of Holliday continues with Billy, who doesn’t think the gunslinger’s in any shape to fight.

WRONG AGAIN BILLY CLANTON.

Fred White’s death at the hands of Curly Bill Brocius also marks the turning point of the movie, where things for the Earp brothers go from hey, this is uncomfortable but still manageable to damn, we really need to do something about the Cowboys.

Related read: 6 Tombstone Filming Locations You Can Still Visit Today

8. “I’ve not yet begun to defile myself.”

Despite being on a two-day bender, Doc Holliday believes himself to be in gambling shape, and who’s to say otherwise? Wyatt offers a half-hearted attempt to send him home, but to no avail.

When Ike accuses Doc of cheating, the game falls apart, Virgil Earp restrains Ike and Doc collapses in the saloon, the first time we see the true extent of Holliday’s physical condition.

Related read: 50 Native American Proverbs, Sayings & Wisdom Quotes

9. “That is a hell of a thing for you to say to me.”

Pale, sweating and barely able to stand, Doc Holliday rambles his way to Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan as they plan what to do with the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral. When Wyatt tries to talk Doc out of fighting, Doc’s damn near offended.

Related read: 8 Things You Might Not Know About Morgan Earp, Wyatt’s Favorite Bro

10. “You’re a daisy if you do.”

The Earps’ and Holliday’s infamous march through Tombstone to the lot near the O.K. Corral ends with a tense standoff between the lawmen and the Cowboys, leading to the infamous but short-lived shootout.

When Frank McLaury appears to have the jump on Holliday, the dentist spreads his arms wide for a clear shot, but McLaury can’t get one off before Doc and Morgan both bury a slug in him.

When the dust settles, Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury lie dead.

I'm your huckleberry

Related read: 22 Must-See Modern Western Movies from the Last 22 Years

11. “I’m your huckleberry.”

Doc Holliday’s famous quote is also one of his least understood, and viewers have argued over the line’s meaning for, well, nearly 30 years. There are a few theories floating around – that the term really is “huckle bearer,” or pallbearer – but Val Kilmer’s aptly titled memoir and his answers in interviews makes it clear that “huckleberry” was the intended term.

Here’s the real meaning of “I’m your huckleberry,” though you really don’t need to know the specifics to understand what Doc’s telling Ringo. Like many of Holliday’s best lines, the technical meaning isn’t as powerful as the message behind it.

Related read: 7 Facts You May Not Know About the Conestoga Wagon

12. “Make no mistake. It’s not revenge he’s after. It’s a reckoning.”

The Earp Vendetta Ride was more than just seeking vengeance for the attack on Virgil, and Morgan’s death: it was an epic quest for justice. It represented the battle between good and evil on the biggest stage, and though the members of the Vendetta Ride were technically wanted men for their vigilante actions, they believed themselves to be on the right side of the moral law.

Related read: 20 Wild West Towns that are Still Inhabited Today — and Well Worth Visiting

13. “Why, Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave.”

When Wyatt leaves bed-ridden Doc to go duel Johnny Ringo, Holliday asks, “what’s it like to wear one of those?” pointing to Wyatt’s marshal’s badge. And when Holliday shows up to duel Ringo in Wyatt’s stead, we see the reason behind his clever question: to make the killing legal.

Holliday’s appearance is surprising both to Ringo, who knows he’s in for trouble, and later to Wyatt, who didn’t know the dentist wasn’t “quite as sick” as he appeared to be.

14. “It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

The story of Doc Holliday is the story of contradictions, paradox and – as he’s aware – hypocrisy. It’s a heartrending final scene between Doc and Wyatt, and the culmination of their often flawed but unforgettable relationship on the frontier.

Related read: 43 Western Boy Names that Pay Homage to the Wild West

15. “There’s no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life. Now get on with it.”

As the two men come to terms with the way their lives have played out, Doc encourages Wyatt to go after what he wants.

Go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that beauty and run, and don’t look back. Live every second. Live right up to the hilt. Live, Wyatt. Live for me.”

And Wyatt does just that, heading to Colorado to find his spirited actress, Josephine Marcus.

Related read: When Did the Wild West Really End?

The Best Wyatt Earp Quotes

16. “I already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money too.”

It doesn’t take long for U.S. Marshal Crawley Dake to approach Wyatt about his plans in Arizona, and Wyatt’s focus on business ventures over peacekeeping is clear from the get-go. This line alludes to Wyatt’s previous law experience in Dodge City, and he’s ready to move on.

17. “We’ll make our fortune, boys.”

The Earp brothers – Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan – and their wives, including Mattie Earp, all group together at the train station, building the themes of family and loyalty that lie at the heart of the Tombstone story.

18. “Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens.”

Wyatt’s first challenge in Tombstone is lowly gambler Johnny Tyler, and he dispatches him with the trademark confidence that made Wyatt effective in Dodge City. “Smoke that skin wagon” is also something everyone should yell at least once in public.

Related: Cowboy & Western Name Generator

19. “Your friends might get me in a rush, but not before I make your head into a canoe.”

Again, Wyatt’s fearlessness helps him out of a jam and no one, Ike Clanton included, thinks Wyatt’s bluffing when he makes a threat. The commotion after Fred White’s death deescalates, but not before Wyatt makes it clear that he’s not going out without a fight.

wyatt earp quote tombstone

20. “Guess maybe you better swear me in.”

Wyatt’s reluctance to join the lawmen in Tombstone comes to an end when the Cowboys make an appearance in town after Ike Clanton’s night in jail. At this point, Wyatt’s resistance is futile.

21. “How the hell did we get ourselves into this?”

The long walk toward the O.K. Corral offers Wyatt a brief moment of reflection. His attempts to avoid being a lawman in Tombstone have failed, though it’s his loyalty to his brothers and justice that put him in the situation, and it’s hard to fault him.

Related read: Is Tombstone a True Story? Here’s What’s Accurate (and Not)

22. “I don’t think I’ll let you arrest us today, Behan.”

Wyatt’s refusal to recognize Behan’s flimsy authority is bold and warranted, especially considering Behan’s actions leading up to, and during, the shooting near the O.K. Corral.

wyatt earp quotes from tombstone

23. “You called down the thunder. Well, now you got it.”

Morgan’s death prompts Wyatt’s infamous vendetta against the Cowboys, starting with the death of Frank Stilwell at a Tucson train station. He makes the intent of his Vendetta Ride to Ike Clanton loud and clear.

Related read: 10 Facts About John Moses Browning, the “Father of Modern Firearms”

24. “You tell ’em I’m comin! And hell’s comin’ with me, you hear?”

This is hands down my favorite line from the movie. It sets the stage for the Vendetta Ride and there’s a clear change in Wyatt’s approach to dealing with the Cowboys. Through most of the movie he’s looking to avoid confrontation with the outlaws, but no longer.

The Cowboys are finished. You understand me? I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it. So run, you cur. Run! Tell all the other curs the law is comin’! You tell ’em I’m comin! And hell’s comin’ with me, you hear? Hell’s comin’ with me!”

Related read: 9 Things You May Not Know About Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger

25. “I don’t even know how we’ll make a living, but I promise I’ll love you the rest of your life.”

With Curly Bill dead, the Cowboys torn apart and his Vendetta Ride in the books, Wyatt’s ready to move on and live the life of adventure that Doc urged him to take. He finds Josephine in Colorado and pledges his unwavering love.

In real life, Josephine would be the fourth wife of Wyatt Earp.

The Best Quotes from Johnny Ringo & Others

johnny ringo tombstone quote

26. “He’s quoting the Bible, Revelations. ‘Behold, a pale horse. The man who sat on him was death. And hell followed with him.'” – Johnny Ringo

After the Cowboys decimate a Mexican wedding, Curly Bill Brocius asks Johnny Ringo what the priest said. Ringo, who knows Spanish and Latin, helps the ‘boys figure out the biblical verse.

It’s an iconic line that foreshadows the rest of the movie and parallels Wyatt’s train station vow to Ike Clanton.

27. “Like you said, Wyatt, we’re brothers. Gotta back your brother’s play. Just did like I figured you would.” – Morgan Earp

Morgan, the youngest of the three Earps in Tombstone, doesn’t get the same memorable lines as Wyatt, but loyalty to his brothers runs deep. He may be naïve about the violence, law and order of the West, but his bravery and commitment to justice can’t be questioned.

28. “You tell the Earps, I see ’em on the street, and Doc Holliday, I’m gonna send them to hell on a shutter.” – Ike Clanton

In the real-life shootout, Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne both took off running as the action unfolded, Ike telling Wyatt that he was unarmed and not looking to fight. He also dove into C.S. Fly’s studio, just as he did in the movie.

But before the main showdown, Ike was full of talk, threatening the Earps and Holliday in front of the townspeople. After Morgan’s death, he again shows his cowardly side when faced by Wyatt and his posse at the Tucson train station.

29. “Don’t let ’em get you, brother. You’re the one.” – Morgan Earp

Morgan’s death was exactly what Wyatt wanted to avoid in Tombstone: re-entering the dangerous fray of lawmen and outlaws.

At the core of Tombstone is where loyalty to family and loyalty to duty overlap and conflict. And as much as Wyatt didn’t want to take up his peacekeeping role in Tombstone, his commitment to justice and family made it the only choice he had.

He was the one.

Explore Tombstone & Beyond

References & Further Reading
  1. Clavin, Tom (2021). Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell. St Martins Pr.
  2. Farkis, John (2019). The Making of Tombstone: Behind the Scenes of the Classic Modern Western. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
  3. Guinn, Jeff (2012). The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral – And How It Changed the American West. Simon & Schuster.
  4. Kilmer, Val (2021). I’m Your Huckleberry: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster.
  5. Roberts, Gary L. (2007). Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend. Wiley.
  6. Tefertiller, Casey (1999). Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend. John Wiley & Sons.

D.T. Christensen is the founder and editor of OldWest.org, a history website committed to sharing and preserving stories of the American West. He was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, studied journalism at Northern Arizona University, and lives in Massachusetts with his wife and kids.

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