Tombstone is an exciting story about lawman Wyatt Earp and his struggle to bring violators of the law to justice. The story begins with Curly Bill Brocuis (played by Powers Boothe) and his band of mercenaries, named the Cowboys, slaughtering innocent people at a wedding. The next scene shows the protagonist Wyatt Earp (played by Kurt Russell) and his brothers Virgil (played by Sam Elliot) and Morgan (played by Bill Paxton) arriving in Tombstone, Arizona. The men hope to settle down with their wives and start a new life, this time without having to regulate the law. Little do they know, these brothers are going to have to uphold the law yet again in Tombstone. As soon as Earp arrives, he meets a long time friend and partner Doc Holliday (played by Val Kilmer). The two start talking about their past travels, and it is implied that Holliday has tuberculosis, a disease which was fatal in that time period. Holliday also informs Earp that a group of vicious outlaws named the Cowboys run the town of Tombstone, and they have been asserting their will over the helpless villagers. Earp goes home, and the audience finds out that Earp's wife is addicted to a medicine called laudanum, which is a mixture of morphine and opium. Earp, distressed by his wife's problem, begins an affair with a traveling actress named Josephine Marcus.
Later that night, the town marshal is killed by a Cowboy. An angry mob instantly wants to lynch this murderer, but Earp steps in and prevents the man from being killed. Virgil, who feels sorry for the people of the town, agrees to take the position of town marshal. Virgil instates a new law that no men are allowed to carry weapons into town, and all weapons must be checked in on the outskirts of town. This law maintains peace in Tombstone for a while, but eventually Brocius and his gang come riding into town, completely armed. Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan, and Doc Holliday decide to confront the Cowboys and try and get them to give up their weapons. They confront the Cowboys at the OK Corral, and they tell the men of their intentions to arrest them. The men resist, and a shootout breaks out. The lawmen kill many Cowboys, but one by the name of Ike Clanton escapes and tells the other Cowboys the news.
Later, the Cowboys get revenge by ambushing the Earp Brothers. In the attack, the Cowboys injure Virgil, and unfortunately kill Morgan. After this, The Earps decide that the best thing for them and the people of the town would be for them to leave town. On the way out of town, their party is attacked by the Cowboys again. After this, Wyatt returns to Tombstone, and vows to kill every last Cowboy. After many successful killing parties, Wyatt is confronted by Johnny Ringo, a famous gunslinger and member of the Cowboy gang. Ringo challenges Earp to a duel. Wyatt accepts, but he and Doc Holliday both know that Ringo is a much faster gunfighter than Wyatt. In the next scene we see Ringo waiting for Earp to show up. Surprisingly, Doc Holliday shows up to duel Ringo. Doc, an excellent gunfighter, kills Ringo, and Wyatt arrives late to see that Doc has taken his kill. After this, every character goes his separate way. Virgil goes to California to become sheriff of a small town. Doc goes to a hospital to spend the remainder of his days, where he is visited frequently by Wyatt Earp. Finally, Wyatt Earp is shown settling down with Josephine Marcus, and living out the remainder of his days in peace.