Top Five Lonesome Dove Quotes Ever Uttered by a Movie Character

Many Texans consider themselves experts in the story lines and characters of “Lonesome Dove” – the epic, made-for-TV miniseries which came from a novel by Larry McMurtry of the same name, and first aired on CBS in 1989. Often imitated but never duplicated, this series set the bar high for TV westerns and starred two of our favorite actors – Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. The latter being from San Saba, Texas, we tended to take a more considerable liking to this film and its characters as a result. But for the most part, we loved quoting this movie. What fan wouldn’t? There are some very telling and poignant lines that each of these characters uttered, which we could still learn to live by to this day, despite the setting and time period of the original film. If you’re wise, you’ll glean some words of wisdom in the lines below. But if, like us, you’re simply a fan, we hope you’ll enjoy what we believe to be five of the top quotes these characters ever uttered.

1. “I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.”


Photo: Facebook/Lonesome Dove Fan Club

This one is spoken by Jones’ character, Captain Woodrow F. Call, after beating an army scout in front of some horrified townspeople. They appear to need an explanation, and so he obliges them.

2. “If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things – like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.”


Photo: Facebook/Lonesome Dove Fan Club

This line is given by Duvall’s character, Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae. It’s directed at Diane Lane’s character, Lorena “Lori” Wood, when she says she’s bound and bent to move to San Francisco. However, the words of truth that are spoken in these lines could be applied to present-day living quite easily…perhaps minus the feisty gentleman part, but you get the drift.

3. “…you ride with an outlaw, you die with an outlaw.”


Photo: Facebook/FliXposed – Classic Film Community

In this part of the mini-series, the character of Gus is speaking to Robert Urich’s character, Jake Spoon. Spoon went astray in the series, and his untimely end came inadvertently at the hands of his friends, who were working on teaching him a lesson. It’s akin to the current social discussions had around being the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and the metaphor, “…water seeks its own level.”

4. “It ain’t dyin’ I’m talkin’ ‘bout. It’s livin’.”


Photo: Facebook/Lonesome Dove Fan Club

Exasperated with Woodrow, Gus tried to explain to him his reference on making a life, breaking away, and doing something new. The same holds true for many of us today.

5. “Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit”


Photo: Facebook/Jake Finley

This last one isn’t as much a quote as it was a part of the Hat Creek Cattle Company & Livery Emporium sign in Lonesome Dove. Larry McMurtry used it in the creation of the novel and many understand this to mean, “A grape changes color around other grapes.” In layman’s terms, it references personal development and maturation, which each of these characters go through in the series, and which all of us tend to do when traveling through life.


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Written by Spring Sault