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All the Opening Sentences from Stephen King Books, Ranked

Updated March 11, 2019 48.2k votes 6.7k voters 99.5k views45 items

The first lines in Stephen King books set the stage for the stories that follow. Over his long career, King has written opening sentences that are funny, informative, scary, and downright odd. But which one is the best?

Is it the simple statement about the gunslinger following the man in black through the desert in The Gunslinger, the novel that begins his epic eight-novel fantasy cycle? Is it the more in-depth breakdown of the Boston Globe reporter's surroundings in The Colorado Kid? Is it the random gurgles and moans that kick off Misery? Or is it something else entirely?

There's certainly not a shortage to chose from. Check out the list below to view every first sentence from King's novels and vote up your favorite ones! 

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  • 1
    3,128
    511

    The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years - if it ever did end - began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

    It
  • 2
    3,056
    702

    The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

    The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 
  • 3
    1,714
    384

    The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.

    The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon 
  • 4
    1,690
    434

    YOU'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE.

    Needful Things
  • 5
    977
    260

    On the second day of December in a year when a Georgia peanut farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado's great resort hotels burned to the ground.

    Doctor Sleep
  • 6
    1,535
    447

    Jack Torrance thought: Officious little pr*ck.

    The Shining
  • 7
    1,103
    304

    She sits in the corner, trying to draw air out of a room which seemed to have plenty just a few minutes ago and now seems to have none.

    Rose Madder
  • 8
    1,120
    310

    People's lives - their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences - begin at different times.

    The Dark Half
  • 9
    1,352
    398

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.

    Cujo
  • 10
    1,056
    302

    Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

    'Salem's Lot
  • 11
    1,001
    285

    I have never been what you’d call a crying man.

    11/22/63
  • 12
    925
    260

    No one - least of all Dr. Litchfield - came right out and told Ralph Roberts that his wife was going to die, but there came a time when Ralph understood without needing to be told.

    Insomnia
  • 13
    1,016
    299

    This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain.

    The Green Mile
  • 14
    1,048
    314

    Louis Creed, who had lost his father at three and who had never known a grandfather, never expected to find a father as he entered his middle age, but that was exactly what happened...although he called this man a friend, as a grown man must do when he finds the man who should have been his father relatively late in life.

    Pet Sematary
  • 15
    1,019
    308

    This is the story of a lover's triangle, I suppose you'd say - Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine.

    Christine
  • 16
    754
    225

    Pere Don Callahan had once been the Catholic priest of a town, 'Salem's Lot had been its name, that no longer existed on any map.

    The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower
  • 17
    668
    200

    By the time he graduated from college, John Smith had forgotten all about the bad fall he took on the ice that January day in 1953.

    The Dead Zone
  • 18
    845
    271

    On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic.

    The Talisman 
  • 19
    704
    219

    The event that came to be known as The Pulse began at 3:03 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on the afternoon of October 1.

    Cell
  • 20
    661
    230

    SSDD, it became their motto, and Jonesy couldn't for the life of him remember which of them started saying it first.

    Dreamcatcher
  • 21
    762
    274

    "ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited.

    The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass
  • 22
    547
    191

    News item from the Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED.

    Carrie
  • 23
    523
    183

    Somewhere, high above, the moon shines down, fat and full - but here, in Tarker's Mills, a January blizzard has choked the sky with snow.

    Cycle of the Werewolf
  • 24
    606
    222

    umber whunn yerrrnnn umber whunnn fayunnn These sounds: even in the haze.

    Misery
  • 25
    558
    206

    "Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully.

    Firestarter