William Munny, a former murderer and general bad son-of-a-gun, has been leading an honest life of farming with his two children when he meets a young cowboy with one last job that he can't afford to pass up.
English Bob's nickname "The Duke of Death" is based, perhaps facetiously, on John Wayne's nickname.
William Munny, an ex-gunfighter, murderer, thief, and drunk, now lives on a farm with his two children. Munny still mourns the loss of his wife, the woman who cleaned him up and made him honest, to smallpox, but is still trying to raise their two children as best he can. The farm is quickly failing, so when a young upstart, The Schofield Kid, arrives with a job, Munny has no choice but to listen. A prostitute in the nearby city of Big Whiskey was abused and disfigured by an angry Jon, and her friends have put together a bounty on the men's heads. Munny is reluctant, his killing days being well
This farm's gonna do great
behind him, but for his children's sake, he agrees. They set out to find Munny's friend Ned Logan for some added muscle. Logan has also settled down and started farm with his Indian wife. The old man also agrees, though reluctantly. Back in Big Whiskey the sheriff, Little Bill Daggett, is also trying to start a new life for himself and is building a house near the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, his carpentry skills are severely lacking and the house is already leaking heavily in a rainstorm as his deputy tells him of the prostitutes' plan. Daggett strongly opposes guns or bounty hunters in his town and decides to make an example of the first gunslinger to show up to collect the bounty. The British bounty hunter English Bob shows up, along with his biographer W.W. Beauchamp, to collect and is promptly and savagely beaten by Daggett. He is driven from the town, but Beauchamp stays to chronicle the exploits of his new idol. Munny, The Kid and Logan arrive in Big Whiskey through a fierce storm, Munny already near death with a fever, and the men all head to the whorehouse to get out of the storm. Munny decides to stick to the saloon when Daggett finds him with a gun concealed in his coat. Daggett brutally beats Munny, much in the same way he did a number on English Bob, and orders him out of his city. Logan and The Kid escape from the whorehouse after realizing the sheriff is onto them. They regroup with Munny and nurse him back to health with the help of the prostitute who was scarred up. The trio ambush their targets in a canyon kill one of them, but Munny and Logan realize they've lost the stomach for killing and Logan heads home. Munny is committed to helping The Kid finish the job and goes with him the cowboys' camp. The Kid makes the kill on their last target, but after they've escaped the camp confides in Munny that he'd never killed anyone before and feels remorseful for what he's done, even though the man may have deserved to die. The Kid collects the reward money from the grateful prostitutes. Meanwhile, Logan is captured by Daggett's men and beaten to death after he tells them about Munny and the Kid. Munny is told about his friend's fate by one of the prostitutes and he takes out a bottle of whiskey, which he'd not touched a drop of since his wife cured him of his wicked ways, and downs the bottle. He tells The Kid to give his portion of the money to his children and to give Logan's to his wife if Munny isn't heard from. Munny rides into town to exact vengeance.
This is bad news for everyone.
When he arrives, he sees Logan's corpse on display outside the saloon and Little Bill inside with a posse in case Munny showed up. Munny kills the unarmed bar owner, and proceeds to shoot Daggett and kill his posse without being hit. He staggers to the bar and begins to drink more when Beauchamp begins to interview him on how he won the fight. Munny says that he got mostly lucky and orders Beauchamp to leave before he too winds up dead. Daggett turns out to still be alive and Munny finishes the job after the two exchange terse words. He also kills Little Bill's deputy, who'd also survived. As Bill leaves, he threatens to not only kill whoever takes a shot at him, but kill their families, their dogs, and burn their houses to the ground. He leaves town without incident and returns to his family.