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

Jacoby Bancroft
25.8k votes 3.8k voters 58.9k 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

1,527 259
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.

1,763 328
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 

820 205
Needful Things

788 197
The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.
The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon 

711 207
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.

775 238
Jack Torrance thought: Officious little pr*ck.
The Shining

559 152
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

546 147
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

560 155
People's lives - their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences - begin at different times.
The Dark Half

484 124
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

533 146
Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.
'Salem's Lot

495 130
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.

587 170
This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain.
The Green Mile

571 164
This is the story of a lover's triangle, I suppose you'd say - Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine.

523 151
I have never been what you’d call a crying man.

507 144
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 

416 118
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

363 103
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

465 157
"ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited.
The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass

406 128
SSDD, it became their motto, and Jonesy couldn't for the life of him remember which of them started saying it first.

378 121
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.

301 91
Jessie could hear the back door banging lightly, randomly, in the October breeze blowing around the house.
Gerald's Game

317 103
"Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully.

325 113
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

314 107
"How long will the magic stay?"
The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah