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'Wynonna Earp' Season 4 Episode 4: Who are the Clantons, longtime rivals of Earp family? All you need to know

The Clantons and the Earps had a bitter rivalry that came to a head in the historic Gunfight at the OK Corral
Still from 'Wynonna Earp' (Syfy)
Still from 'Wynonna Earp' (Syfy)

Spoilers for 'Wynonna Earp' Season 4 Episode 4 - 'Afraid'

Everyone's heard of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, and if you're an Earper, you know of Wyatt Earp's and Doc Holliday's role in the historic shootout. Unless you took a closer look at the history books, however, you might not have heard of the Clantons. The gunfight established a hatred between the two clans that has spanned generations and goes much deeper than some mere Revenant curse. We take a look at Billy and Ike Clanton, and why their hatred for the Earps has lasted for well over a century.

Billy and Ike Clanton were two of seven children born to the legendary Newman Haynes Clanton, known to most as "Old Man Clanton." The old man was infamous for stealing cattle from Mexican ranchers and selling them cheap in the United States. The apple didn't fall very far from the tree as far as Billy and Ike were concerned, and it wasn't long before the two were rustling cows all on their own. Their cattle ranching empire would have gone on growing unchecked, at least until the Earp family stepped in and brought down the law.

Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp were constant thorns in the Clanton's sides. Accompanied by Doc Holliday, they brought justice to the ominously named Tombstone, Arizona, and repeatedly found themselves at odds with the Clanton family. All of this came to a head at the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral on October 26, 1881. The fight was in fact located nowhere near the OK Corral ranch itself but was certainly based on a dispute for the same. A loosely organized group calling themselves the Cowboys had all come into conflict with the Earps, especially Ike Clanton, who was a heavy drinker and was often heard threatening the Earps. The Earps came out on top during that eventually brief but memorable 30-second fight, leaving the corpses of several dead, including Billy Clanton. 

Ike Clanton immediately attempted to have the Earps thrown in jail on a murder charge. Though the Earps were arrested for the crime and spent some time in jail awaiting trial, they were ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing in a court of law. Though Ike Clanton provided some very impassioned arguments against the brothers, none of them was substantiated. What is interesting is the fact that Ike Clanton reportedly testified in court that the Earp brothers had cursed him. 

Clanton never let go of the bitterness he had towards the Earp brothers. He and his brother Phin Clanton were later accused of attempting to kill Virgil Earp with a gunshot that crippled Virgil's arm, though no one was able to prove it was them. When Morgan Earp was killed under mysterious circumstances, it drove Wyatt Earp over the edge, sending him down his own dark path of vengeance towards the Clantons, but Wyatt never found any of them, ever again.

Ike Clanton was eventually killed by a constable named Brighton, who pursued Ike on charges of murder and cattle rustling. In the real world, what are believed to be the remains of Ike Clanton were dug up by one of his descendants, Terry "Ike" Clanton, in a shallow grave. Terry has unsuccessfully tried to get the Tombstone city officials to exhume the remains of his other Clanton ancestors, so they could be re-interred in the town's famed Boot Hill graveyard.

In the show, however, life -- or afterlife -- turned out very different for Ike Clanton. The monster we see in the fourth episode of 'Wynonna Earp' Season 4 is called "Uncle Ike" by Holt. The Clantons have apparently been around for several generations, as has the original Ike Clanton himself - and to this day, hatred continues to sustain them all. The clan rivalry is one that goes even deeper than the connection between the Earps and the revenants, and Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano) and her family may be up against their deadliest threat yet.

The next episode of 'Wynonna Earp' airs August 23, on Syfy, at 10 PM ET.