Quotations All the Opening Sentences from Stephen King Books, Ranked  

Jacoby Bancroft
20k votes 3k voters 46.5k 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
1,167 191
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
1,380 251
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger 

3
599 145
The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted. The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon 

4
617 155
YOU'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE. Needful Things

5
537 160
Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. Cujo

6
390 96
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

7
592 187
Jack Torrance thought: Officious little pr*ck. The Shining

8
410 106
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

9
440 120
People's lives - their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences - begin at different times. The Dark Half

10
416 110
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

11
440 122
This is the story of a lover's triangle, I suppose you'd say - Arnie Cunningham, Leigh Cabot, and, of course, Christine. Christine

12
376 94
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

13
462 135
This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain. The Green Mile

14
413 116
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 

15
417 120
Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son. 'Salem's Lot

16
410 126
I have never been what you’d call a crying man. 11/22/63

17
378 123
"ASK ME A RIDDLE," Blaine invited. The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass

18
323 96
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

19
283 78
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

20
328 104
SSDD, it became their motto, and Jonesy couldn't for the life of him remember which of them started saying it first. Dreamcatcher

21
297 97
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

22
240 77
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
227 71
Jessie could hear the back door banging lightly, randomly, in the October breeze blowing around the house. Gerald's Game

24
239 81
"Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully. Firestarter

25
252 91
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

26
245 88
"How long will the magic stay?" The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah 

27
236 85
News item from the Westover (Me.) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: RAIN OF STONES REPORTED. Carrie

28
221 78
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

29
223 82
For want of a nail the kingdom was lost - that's how the catechism goes when you boil it down. The Tommyknockers

30
232 89
umber whunn yerrrnnn umber whunnn fayunnn These sounds: even in the haze. Misery

31
246 98
"Sally." The Stand

32
201 72
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

33
224 89
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

34
206 79
"Wake up, genius." Finders Keepers

35
226 98
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

36
164 63
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

37
207 93
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

38
170 76
"Oh! Oh, Jesus! Gross!" Desperation 

39
146 61
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

40
147 63
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

41
151 72
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

42
145 90
My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. Duma Key

43
119 77
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

44
101 83
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

45
98 103
Fifth Business. Revival