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Doc Holliday’s 20 Best One-Liners

Summary

  • Doc Holliday’s iconic quotes elevate his character to legendary status in Tombstone.
  • Val Kilmer’s scene-stealing portrayal of Doc Holliday is one of the main reasons fans love the film.
  • The best Doc Holliday quotes showcase his loyalty, wit, and skill, making Tombstone a beloved Western.


The Doc Holliday quotes in Tombstone are one of the big reasons it is one of the most popular Westerns of the modern era. It tells the story of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp after he decides to retire and spend his days in the town of Tombstone, Arizona. However, thanks to outlaws in the town terrifying the citizens and law enforcement refusing to do anything about it, the Earp brothers come out of retirement to bring justice to the town. By their side is Wyatt’s long-time friend, Doc Holliday, a former dentist turned poker-playing gunfighter.

It is Val Kilmer’s scene-stealing portrayal of Doc Holliday that most fans point to when discussing their love for the film. The amazing dialogue, delivered with ease by Kilmer, elevates the character to legendary status. The actor’s performance as the legendary Doc Holliday is so iconic that almost every line that he says feels like an all-time great and so many of them remain memorable long after the credits roll. With fans looking back on Kilmer’s iconic acting career, and the amazing roles he took on, Tombstone ranks near the top of the list, and the best Doc Holliday quotes are a big part of the reason why.

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20 “Not Me; I’m In My Prime.”

Doc To Johnny Ringo About His Possible Retirement

Doc Holliday talking to Johnny Ringo while smoking in Tombstone

One of the key storylines in Tombstone is that Doc Holliday is not in the best of health. While the Earp brothers moved to Tombstone to retire, Doc was also no longer a dentist by trade and was just spending his days drinking, gambling, and spending time with Big Nose Kate. However, his pride was still there and that was on display when he met Johnny Ringo.

While Curly Bill was measuring up Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp at the poker table, Ringo turned his eyes to Doc and asked if he was retired too. Doc just looked at him and said, “Not me, I’m in my prime.” This led to a tense moment between the two, and these Doc Holliday quotes would pay off later in the movie.

19 “It’s Not Revenge He’s After. It’s A Reckoning.”

Doc On The Threat Of Johnny Ringo

Doc Holliday was there to stand by Wyatt Earp’s (Kurt Russell) side to the end. However, even he knew that the fight they were taking on was one that would have dire consequences. Death had already come to the town of Tombstone on both sides, with Wyatt losing a brother and Johnny Ringo losing two. This led Doc to understand what needed to happen next.

When talking about Johnny coming for them, he said it was “not revenge he’s after. It’s a reckoning.” He also knew that Wyatt Earp would lose to Johnny Ringo in a gunfight, setting the villain up as a truly formidable enemy. However, it also set the stage for Doc’s clever and oddly touching way of handling the situation.

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18 “Forgive Me If I Don’t Shake Hands.”

Doc Shutting Down The Corrupt Official

Doc Holliday looking shocked in Tombstone

When the Earp brothers show up in the town of Tombstone, they meet the local sheriff Johnny Behan, who is aligned with the murderous cowboys – even after they gunned down Marshal Fred White. When Wyatt meets the sheriff, he is cordial, but Doc Holliday is not. As Doc looks at the sheriff, he delivers a typical example of his withering insults when he just mockingly says, “Forgive me if I don’t shake hands.” While Doc is very skilled with his guns, such comments as that achieve significant damage on their own. It showed that Doc did not respect the sheriff and revealed to the town who had the real power in this confrontation.

17 “Then Again, You May Be The Antichrist.”

Doc Showing Why Kate Is His Ideal Match

Big-Nose-Kat pursing her lips in Tombstone

Doc Holliday was not alone when he arrived in Tombstone with the Earp brothers, as he had a lover by his side in Big Nose Kate. After Doc collapses and his tuberculosis worsens, a doctor tells him to quit drinking and smoking and leaves the room. That is when Kate takes his shirt off and begins to care for him, telling him that she is a good woman.

Doc looks at her and agrees that she is a good woman, but then adds, “Then again, you may be the Antichrist.” There is genuine love and affection between the two, but they are also two people who enjoy the wild side of life with Doc showing Kate respect by pointing out her dangerous side.

16 “Wyatt Earp Is My Friend.”

Doc On Why He Chooses To Fight

Doc Holliday playing poker with Wyatt Earp on his death bed in Tombstone

The best Doc Holliday quotes show that he is loyal and determined – as long as it is to a person that he feels is worthy. No one is more worthy of Doc’s respect than Wyatt Earp. Even with Doc’s health failing, he is on the streets during the Fight at the O.K. Corral and holds his own in the battle.

It is here that Texas Jack exasperatedly asks Doc why he is out on the streets fighting when he should be in his room resting. This leads to just five words from Doc that really show who he is – “Wyatt Earp is my friend.” With that, he made sure he lived long enough to ensure that Wyatt was safe. This sense of brotherhood is what helped make Tombstone such a beloved Western.

15 “You Know, Ed, If I Thought You Weren’t My Friend, I Just Don’t Think I Could Bear It.”

Doc Taunting A Lesser Card Player

Doc Holliday playing poker in Tombstone

Doc Holliday is depicted in the movie as an excellent card player and this gets him into his fair share of fights. When he’s introduced at the beginning, one such argument happens right off the bat. Holliday is playing against a man named Ed Bailey, who takes exception to Holliday’s victory and begins getting aggressive, only for Holliday to crank up his sarcasm and push right back. Of all the Doc Holliday quotes, this shows how he treats someone he has no respect for. While he will die for Wyatt, men like Ed don’t deserve more than one line and a dismissal.

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14 “I Stand Corrected, Wyatt. You’re An Oak.”

Doc Teasing Wyatt About His Love Interest

When Wyatt Earp first meets his main love interest, the actress Josephine Marcus, face to face after a performance, she enters the saloon by dancing with various men across the floor toward Earp. Holliday had deliberately set Earp up by getting him to insist that he was a faithfully married man who would forsake all other women before she walked in and when Earp proves to be a man of his word and declines to dance with Josephine, Holliday is forced to admit defeat. However, the tone with which Doc delivers the line suggests that he is well aware he’ll be proven right before long.

13 “Evidently, Mr. Ringo’s An Educated Man. Now I Really Hate Him.”

Doc Mocking Johnny Ringo’s Intelligence

Johnny Ringo aiming a gun in a saloon as Curly Bill watches in Tombstone

Holliday’s main rivalry in the movie is between him and the ruthless gunslinger Johnny Ringo, whose reputation appears to match Holliday’s own as does his intellect and skill with a pistol. On their first meeting, the two immediately get into a little war of words, spilling over from English into Latin. This prompts Holliday to explain in a typically hilarious and sardonic manner. What makes these specific Doc Holliday quotes so great is that Doc hates Johnny because he reminds him of himself. However, Doc proves smarter here because he studies Johnny’s movements with the gun and uses them against him in their final duel later in the movie.

12 “I Know, Why Don’t We Have A Spelling Contest?”

Doc Antagonizes Ike Clanton

Ike Clanton looking angry in Tombstone

Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday is a character who just can’t help himself when he sees an opportunity to amuse himself and verbally take his opponent down a few rungs, even Tombstone‘s cowardly villain Ike Clanton. About halfway through the movie, once the central conflicts have begun to show themselves, Holliday once again gets into an altercation due to being too successful at cards. After beating Ike 12 hands in a row, things start to get heated. Holliday, seeing the opportunity to really push his opponent, suggests that poker isn’t Ike’s game and proposes this alternative as a joke, finally causing Clanton to snap.

11 “My Hypocrisy Goes Only So Far.”

Doc To Wyatt About Turning Down The Badge

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp, and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp walking away from an explosion in Tombstone

Doc Holliday was deputized before joining Wyatt Earp on his vendetta ride to hunt down the cowboys responsible for murdering Wyatt’s brother Morgan. Before dueling with Johnny Ringo, Holliday was sure to show his opponent the badge letting him know he had the legal right to shoot him dead. After killing Johnny Ringo, Doc took off his badge and placed it on the corpse. When Wyatt arrives on the scene, Doc explains that, although he is happy to stand beside his friend on his quest for vengeance it doesn’t hide the fact that inside he will always be a killer, and he’s at peace with that.

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10 “There’s No Normal Life There’s Just Life. Now Get On With It.”

Doc To Wyatt On The Right Path In Life

Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp posing in Tombstone

In his final conversation with Wyatt Earp, he drops some more insightful quotes to his best friend after the hardened lawman confesses all he wants now is a little normalcy. Doc drops the hard truth on his only friend from his deathbed emphasizing that no matter what people do, they all end up in the same place in the end so they better find happiness while they can. Wyatt seems to take Doc’s words to heart and seeks out Josie – the woman he loves. However, up until talking with Doc, Wyatt was too afraid to commit.

9 “I’m Your Huckleberry.”

​​​Doc Challenging Johnny Ringo

Doc Holliday approaches Johnny Ringo from the shadows in Tombstone

Perhaps the quote most associated with Doc Holliday, he spoke the line twice in Tombstone the first time was in response to Johnny Ringo’s open challenge to Wyatt Earp and his crew. However, Ringo’s fellow cowboys broke up the fight before anything could happen. Johnny Ringo wouldn’t be so lucky the second time when he greets who he thinks is Wyatt Earp only to realize it is actually Doc Holliday who has come to fight instead.

Holliday cooly announced his arrival with his most famous line and dispatched Johnny Ringo minutes later. The taunting line shows the ease at which Doc approaches a deadly situation, as if it is a game. The look on Johnny’s face when Doc emerges from the shadows to deliver this line is one of the most satisfying moments in the movie.

8 “Johnny I Apologize, I Forgot You Were There.”

Doc Dismissing Johnny Tyler

Wyatt Earp was walking the dusty streets of Tombstone discussing business with his brothers, unaware he was being stalked by a gun-toting Johnny Tyler (Billy Bob Thornton), whom he had slapped around moments earlier. Before Tyler could pounce he was interrupted by Doc Holliday who had been watching the scene play out. The mere presence of Holliday was enough to scare Tyler and stop him in his tracks, unsure of what to do next. As Holliday and the Earp brothers stood catching up in the street Doc finally let the cowardly Johnny Tyler off the hook by dismissing him with this hilariously insulting line.

7 “I’ve Not Yet Begun To Defile Myself.”

Doc On His Drinking Habits

Big Nose Kate sitting on Doc Holliday's lap in Tombstone

Besides gun fighting and poker, Doc Holliday had another destructive hobby – drinking. As he got older and the effects of Doc’s tuberculosis began to worsen, he relied even more on alcohol to soothe his pain. While playing poker and winning hand after hand against Ike Clanton, Doc began to insult the slow-witted cowboy. Ike responded with violence before Wyatt Earp intervened and apologized on Holliday’s behalf, blaming his actions on being drunk. However, no one knows his own limits like Doc Holliday, who assured everyone that he was just getting started.

6 “Why Johnny Ringo, You Look Like Somebody Just Walked Over Your Grave.”

Doc Teasing A Frightened Johnny Ringo

The sadistic cowboy known as Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) had challenged Wyatt Earp to a duel to the death, but it was Doc Holliday who showed up instead. As confident as Ringo was, it was hard to ignore the fact that Holliday was a well-known killer with legendary speed. Johnny Ringo couldn’t help but show his inner fear at the sight of the former dentist and his doubts about his ability to beat him bubbled to the surface. Holliday had obviously seen that look before in many of his past opponents and continues to take control of the situation by mocking Johnny’s fear even as he prepares to kill him.

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5 “I’m Afraid The Strain Was More Than He Could Bear.”

Doc Holliday covered in sweat in Tombstone

After shooting and killing Johnny Ringo in their climactic duel, Earp arrives to find Holliday kneeling over Ringo’s body. Before Earp’s arrival, he laments rather sarcastically that Ringo was just too “high-strung” and adds this explanation when Earp walks over. Even after besting Johnny and saving his friend, Doc still insults his dead enemy, suggesting to Wyatt that it was Johnny’s own fault he is dead. It is another one of the most cutting Doc Holliday quotes that presents him as something of an anti-hero who can be cruel yet someone to easily root for.

4 “In Vino Veritas.”

Doc Stands By His Drunken Insults

Kate and Doc Holliday posing by a rock wall in Tombstone

Upon meeting Johnny Ringo, Doc Holliday immediately insults him. In an attempt to broker peace, Wyatt Earp apologizes on Doc’s behalf attributing his behavior to being drunk to which Doc replies in Latin, “In Vino Veritas,” or “In wine there is truth.” Doc Holliday is simply pointing out that just because he is drunk does not mean he’s not speaking the truth. Ringo too is an educated man and the two gunslingers have a tense conversation completely in Latin. What is great about the scene is that the audience doesn’t need to understand what they are saying to know these two are on a collision course to war.

3 “I Have Two Guns, One For Each Of You.”

Doc Threatening A Cowboy

Earlier in the evening, Doc had been playing piano after a night of drinking and poker. He is interrupted when Wyatt finds himself surrounded by a group of cowboys wanting to free their leader who is accused of murder. Doc wanders into the street to help his friend when one of the cowboys refers to him as “the drunk piano player,” and tells him he’s so drunk he’s probably seeing double. Never at a loss for words, the deadly gunfighter pulls out both pistols and remarks, “I have two guns, one for each of you.” It is one of the funniest Doc Holliday quotes that show he is never someone who should be underestimated.

2 “You’re A Daisy If You Do.”

Doc Challenges A Cowboy

Doc Holliday smiling with his gun raised in Tombstone

During the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Doc found himself in the sights of real-life gunslinger Frank McLaury who barked, “I’ve got you now, you son of a bi**h.” Always cool under pressure, Holliday simply replied, “You’re a daisy if you do,” and watched as McLaury was shot by Morgan Earp. According to witnesses of the gunfight, Doc Holliday actually uttered these now-iconic Doc Holliday quotes when he found himself in the crosshairs of Frank McLaury, which only adds to the legendary outlaw’s legacy. He had no fear of death, and this was just another example.

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1 “I’m Dying How Are You?”

Witty At Even The Worst Times

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday lying in his deathbed in Tombstone.

Even at his lowest point, Doc Holliday was capable of delivering witty one-liners. This darkly comedic line was his response to his best and only friend Wyatt Earp. The lawman had come for one of his regular visits with Holliday who was nearing the end of his battle with tuberculosis. Doc was laid up in bed at a Colorado sanatorium. Wyatt casually asked Doc how he was doing. Holliday just as casually replied, “I’m dying, how are you?” Doc Holliday kept his amazing sense of sarcasm with him until the very end.

  • Tombstone Movie Poster

    Tombstone
    Summary:
    A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.

    Release Date:
    1993-12-25

    Budget:
    $25 million

    Cast:
    Bill Paxton, Charlton Heston, Sam Elliott, Powers Boothe, Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Michael Biehn, Jason Priestley

    Director:
    George P. Cosmatos

    Genres:
    Western, Drama, History, Action, Biography

    Rating:
    R

    Runtime:
    130 minutes

    Writers:
    Kevin Jarre

    Studio(s):
    Disney

    Distributor(s):
    Disney

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