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All the Opening Sentences from Stephen King Books, Ranked

Updated March 11, 2019 46.5k votes 6.8k voters 102.4k 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
    3,039
    492

    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
    2,943
    673

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

    The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 
  • 3
    1,665
    363

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

    The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon 
  • 4
    1,636
    413

    YOU'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE.

    Needful Things
  • 5
    965
    248

    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
    1,485
    420

    Jack Torrance thought: Officious little pr*ck.

    The Shining
  • 7
    1,083
    298

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

    The Dark Half
  • 8
    1,310
    375

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

    Cujo
  • 9
    1,070
    300

    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
  • 10
    1,025
    291

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

    'Salem's Lot
  • 11
    959
    272

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

    11/22/63
  • 12
    888
    248

    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
    981
    285

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

    The Green Mile
  • 14
    1,013
    299

    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
    980
    294

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

    Christine
  • 16
    727
    212

    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
    652
    190

    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
    810
    258

    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
    677
    210

    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
    632
    219

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

    Dreamcatcher
  • 21
    724
    262

    "ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited.

    The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass
  • 22
    505
    169

    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
  • 23
    533
    185

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

    Carrie
  • 24
    583
    214

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

    Misery
  • 25
    471
    162

    From two thousand feet, where Claudette Sanders was taking a flying lesson, the town of Chester's Mill gleamed in the morning light like something freshly made and just set down.

    Under the Dome