Graveyard Shift All the Opening Sentences from Stephen King Books, Ranked  

Jacoby Bancroft
22.4k votes 3.3k voters 51.8k views 45 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! 

list ordered by

1,307 223
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

1,545 285
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 

695 181

662 171
The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted. The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon 

607 180
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. Cujo

668 207
Jack Torrance thought: Officious little pr*ck. The Shining

461 119
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

477 126
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

497 136
This is the story of a lover's triangle, I suppose you'd say - Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine. Christine

493 136
People's lives - their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences - begin at different times. The Dark Half

431 110
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

511 146
This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain. The Green Mile

420 108
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

463 129
Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son. 'Salem's Lot

453 129
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 

456 135
I have never been what you’d call a crying man. 11/22/63

361 104
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

321 86
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

414 135
"ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited. The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass

361 112
SSDD, it became their motto, and Jonesy couldn't for the life of him remember which of them started saying it first. Dreamcatcher

331 106
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

274 89
"Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully. Firestarter

265 85
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

256 80
Jessie could hear the back door banging lightly, randomly, in the October breeze blowing around the house. Gerald's Game

278 94
"How long will the magic stay?" The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah 

283 99
The gunslinger came awake from a confused dream which seemed to consist of a single image: that of the Sailor in the Tarot deck from which the man in black had dealt (or purported to deal) the gunslinger's own moaning future. The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three

283 104
"Sally." The Stand

262 93
News item from the Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED. Carrie

252 88
For want of a nail the kingdom was lost - that's how the catechism goes when you boil it down. The Tommyknockers

247 88
It was her third time with live ammunition...and her first time on the draw from the holster Roland had rigged for her. The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands

257 94
On a very hot day in August of 1994, my wife told me she was going down to the Derry Rite Aid to pick up a refill on her sinus medicine prescription - this is stuff you can buy over the counter these days, I believe. Bag of Bones

264 99
umber whunn yerrrnnn umber whunnn fayunnn These sounds: even in the haze. Misery

227 80
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

230 88
"Wake up, genius." Finders Keepers

249 107
Right here and now, as an old friend used to say, we are in the fluid present, where clear-sightedness never guarantees perfect vision. Black House

235 100
Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long ears and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes. The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla

187 70
To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon. Lisey's Story

168 69
Augie Odenkirk had a 1997 Datsun that still ran well in spite of high mileage, but gas was expensive, especially for a man with no job, and City Center was on the far side of town, so he decided to take the last bus of the night. Mr. Mercedes

195 88
"Oh! Oh, Jesus! Gross!" Desperation 

180 78
In the northwestern part of Maine - in the area known as the Lakes Direct - the small town of Sharbot curves like a crescent around a beautiful body of water called Dark Score Lake. Dolores Claiborne

166 72
Curt Wilcox's boy came around the barracks a lot the year after his father died, I mean a lot, but nobody ever told him get out of the way or asked him what in hail he was doing there again. From a Buick 8

163 101
My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. Duma Key

138 88
I had a car, but on most days in that fall of 1973 I walked to Joyland from Mrs. Shoplaw's Beachside Accommodations in the town of Heaven's Bay. Joyland

119 91
After deciding he would get nothing of interest from the two old men who comprised the entire staff of The Weekly Islander, the feature writer from the Boston Globe took a look at his watch, remarked that he could just make the one-thirty ferry back to the mainland if he hurried, thanked them for their time, dropped some money on the tablecloth, weighted it down with the salt shaker so the stiffish onshore breeze wouldn't blow it away, and hurried down the stone steps from The Grey Gull's patio dining area toward Bay Street and the little town below. The Colorado Kid

114 117
Fifth Business. Revival