‘1883’: Major ‘Tombstone’ Nod Revealed

by Jon D. B.

1883 is setting the bar for modern Hollywood Westerns, and it’s tipping its hat in big ways to classics like Tombstone that paved the way. Warning: Major spoilers are ahead for Episode 2 of 1883.

On December 24, 1993, Western fans would see Tombstone for the first time. Starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Sam Elliott as his brother, Virgil, and Val Kilmer’s career-defining performance as Doc Holliday, the George P. Cosmatos and Kevin Jarre directed picture would set a new high for Hollywood Westerns decades after the genre fell from prominence.

Now, almost 30 years later, Yellowstone mastermind Taylor Sheridan is ushering in a new age of Westerns courtesy of his flagship franchise. Its first spinoff, 1883, will be the first to tackle a proper period Western, and Sheridan isn’t taking this lightly. He’s pulling out all the stops, including casting Western icons Sam Elliott and Billy Bob Thornton to play prominent roles in the first season.

Fascinatingly, the last time these two legendary actors would work together was Tombstone itself. Now, however, they give life to Pinkerton Agent Shea Brennan (Elliott) and Marshal Jim Courtright (Thornton) in 1883.

‘1883’ Honors ‘Tombstone’ With Epic Gunfight Lineup

As such, Sheridan couldn’t let his 19th-century epic come to light without at least a few nods to the giants that came before it. The most prominent comes in the form of the 1883 company’s showdown in Fort Worth, Texas. The stellar lineup that occurs before this Fort Worth gunfight is a direct nod to the Tombstone lineup outside the O.K. Corral – and both feature Sam Elliott at their heart.

Here’s the scene courtesy of 1883‘s 2021 lineup featuring two Tombstone alums, Billy Bob Thornton and Sam Elliott:

Pictured L-R: Billy Bob Thornton as Jim Courtright, Tim McGraw as James Dutton, Sam Elliott as Shea Brennan and LaMonica Garrett as Thomas of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ (C) 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

And here’s the original Gunfight at the O.K. Corral as it plays out in 1993’s Tombstone:

For the classic sequence, Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers, Morgan (Bill Paxton) and Virgil (Sam Elliott) join forces with Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). The Earps have left their gunslinger ways behind them to settle down in the town of Tombstone, Ariz. But we all know how long that lasts.

They aren’t looking to find trouble, but trouble has a way of finding them. Wyatt enlists his best friend, Doc Holliday, to help restore order to a lawless land – and the rest is history.

Some Things Never Change. In the Western Genre, That’s a Good Thing

Although far more brief, the 1883 scene above plays out very similarly. Within, James Dutton (Tim McGraw), Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott), and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) seek out the help of Shea’s old ally, Marshal Jim Courtright (Billy Bob Thornton) to restore order to Fort Worth, Texas.

Thornton plays a similarly sized role to Tombstone‘s Johnny Tyler, however, as he’s merely a guest-starring role for 1883. Regardless, the lineup is a stellar nod to this 1993 classic. With it’s inclusion, Taylor Sheridan makes his newest epic feel all the more at home in the Western pantheon. And we can’t wait to see how the rest of the series unfolds.