After success cleaning up Dodge City, Wyatt Earp moves to Tombstone, Arizona, and wishes to get rich in obscurity. He meets his brothers there, as well as his old friend Doc Holliday. A band of outlaws that call themselves The Cowboys are causing problems in the region with various acts of random violence, and inevitably come into confrontation with Holliday and the Earps, which leads to a shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.
Former lawman Wyatt Earp, his two brothers and friend Doc Holliday settle in the town of Tombstone in order to lead a profitable and peaceful life, but soon come into conflict with the Cowboys, a band of outlaws led by the Clanton brothers. This retelling of the Earp and Clanton feud also follows up the gunfight at the O.K. Corral with a look at the bloody consequences of the showdown.
A Hollywood historical account of Tombstone, Arizona's famed "Shootout at the O.K. Corral" and the events that led up to it. Tension between "the Law" and "the Cowboys" stirs as the Cowboys, led by "Curly Bill" Broscius, accuse the Earps (Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan) and their outlaw and gambler associate "Doc" Holliday of interfering with their operations inside and outside of town.
Wyatt Earp along with his brothers and their wives move to Tombstone to start a new life putting his life as a lawman and gunslinger behind him. Also coming to Tombstone is Wyatt's good friend, Doc Holliday. However, it turns out that "The Cowboys", a group of men, among whose members include The Clantons, pretty much act as if they are above the law. Wyatt would be asked to be Marshall but rejects the offer but his brother, Virgil who can't stomach the violence around him accepts the job over Wyatt's objections. Eventually a confrontation between them and The Cowboys is going to happen. And who will survive?
A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.
- Curly Bill Brocuis (Powers Boothe) and his band of Cowboys slaughter innocent people at a wedding. Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) arrive in Tombstone, Arizona. The men hope to settle down with their wives and start a new life, this time without having to keep the law. When Wyatt Earp arrives, he meets long time friend and partner Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). The two start talking about their past travels, and it is implied that Holliday is dying of tuberculosis. Holliday tells Earp that a group of vicious outlaw Cowboys run Tombstone. Earp goes home to a wife addicted to a laudanum, a common drug of the time mixing morphine and opium. Earp begins an affair with a traveling actress named Josephine Marcus.
The Tombstone town marshal is killed by a Cowboy. An angry mob wants to lynch the 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 ambush first Virgil, maiming him with a shogun blast to the back. They then creep up on Morgan who is playing billiards and fatally shoot him through the window of a door. Wyatt decides 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, they are ambushed once again by the Cowboys. Wyatt returns to Tombstone and vows to kill every last Cowboy. They track down and kill a number of Cowboys, shooting and hanging them.
Wyatt is confronted by Johnny Ringo, a gunslinger and member of the Cowboys. 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. Doc Holliday volunteers to take on Ringo and shows up ahead of Wyatt. Ringo isn't happy to face Doc who shoots Ringo. Wyatt arrives late to find that Doc has taken his kill. The lawmen leave Arizona and 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.