The Best Last Lines in SF

or some of 'em anyway.

By definition, this thread WILL contain spoilers for a number of really good sf books and stories. I’m going to put spoiler space in this first message, but I don’t think anyone else needs to. Scroll down at your own risk.

Science Fiction & Fantasy, especially in short stories, have some of the best/most memorable last lines of any genre. Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite last lines (some well known, some not), but not the titles/authors. Feel free to guess title and author, or ask if you’re stuck or argue my picks, and please post your own.




(just to get this one out of the way)
“It’s a cookbook!”

“Well, I’m back,” he said.

" ‘Well,’ Dee said ‘If the boy wants to be an accountant that badly, I’m sure not going to stand in his way’ "

“One by one, without any fuss, the stars were going out.”

“Next day it snowed, and killed off half the crops - but it was a good day.”

“The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.”

“Cool and discreet, honey, in the dancing frost while the thermometer registers 10 (story title omitted).”

" ‘Peek-a-boo,’ said Mink."

“But they went the long way, and saw the elephant”

“I threw it in his face”

“You have created a new world among the three of you. I congratulate you. Happy goldfish bowl to you, to me, to everyone and may each of you fry in hell forever. Arrest rescinded.”

“And whether the above true account and history of The Alien be received as such, or as fiction, there can be no doubt that on a not far off September, a thing from some infinite sphere above landed on this earth–and departed.”

“There was no paradox at all. The cube remained. But the entire rest of the Universe, professors and all, vanished.”

“I threw it in his face.”

“Then he screamed, too. But the sound was not one that could ever have emerged from a human throat. Still, that was natural enough–under the circumstances”

“P.P.S. Please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard…”

Some I just thought of :

I have no mouth, and I must scream.

“You misunderstand … I was the master.”

It’s not the very last line, but it’s the killer one :

“Yes – now there is a God.”

Oh, let’s see… Sheckley’s “The Accountant”, Bradbury’s “The Nine Billion Names of God”, Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life”, Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit”, Keyes’s “Flowers for Algernon”… some of the others ring a bell but I can’t quite remember.

“There has been joy. There will be joy again.”

“The primroses were just beginning.”

“There was nothing left to do.”

Arthur C. Clarke wrote “The Nine Billion Names of God,” not Bradbury.

Incidentally, just about ALL of Arthur C. Clarke’s older short-stories ended with a huge twist-ending in the very last sentence. “The Haunted Space Suit” had a beautiful last-sentence catastatis, while “A Walk in the Dark” and “The Other Tiger” both ended with a great big shocker.

And don’t even get me started on Clarke’s short-story “History Lesson”.

I’m always disappointed in the actual last line (which is something like “A bolt of lightning came down from the sky and fused the switch open, incidentally killing <character’s name>.”) The line you quoted is such a better ending. But it’s a great story either way.


Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star still makes me cry every time I read it… the last line is like a punch to the gut, especially if you were raised Christian.

(Somewhat paraphrased, since I don’t have the book infront of me…)
And UniVac said: ‘Let there be light.’ and there was.

The next day two kids came down claiming they had found a dead man on Echo Hill.

And there was a distant sound of thunder.

I love Big Brother.

That’s from A Game of Thrones. Or was it A Clash of Kings?
The best of all time has got to be:

He loved Big Brother.


“I threw it in his face.” is from Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein. Take THAT Ace Quiggley! Yuk Yuk Yukkity Yuk!

Here’s some:

“But he would think of something.”

“My word, I’m not even a hundred.”

Death and destruction!

Damn you, spoke-.

There is a short story by H. Beam Piper titled “He Walked Around the Horses” about the disappearance of a British diplomat in 1809(the disappearance really happened.) The story is told in a series of letters between GErman and British official who find him(he “slid” into an alternate universe) The last letter, which details a number of parallels between his “home” world and theirs, ends like this:

"I was baffled however, by one name, frequently mentioned in those fantastic papers. This was the English general Wellington.I haven’t the least idea who this person might be.

I have the honor, your excellency, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Sir Arthur Wellesley

It cracked me up when I read it. The poor guy would never know!

Ah well, Maeglin, you were the first to post the line correctly.

Second is * The Moon is a Harsh Mistress * (actually I think it’s more like, “Great Bog, I’m not even a hundred yet.”

Third is * The Puppet Masters, * one of my favorite Heinleins, although I think the ending line is a little overboard.

The line Sassy’s trying to remember is, “What was the need to give these people to the fire, that the symbol of their passing might shine above Bethlehem?”

This is the last text line from * The Lord of the Rings. *

That sounds like Ira Levin’s * This Perfect Day, * but I’m not sure.

A favorite ending line of mine, as best I can recall it, is “. . . and he turned his back on the dwindling Sun.” Anybody recognize it?

These must have been so easy that no one felt the need to answer:

“I have no mouth, and I must scream.” (Harlan Ellison)

“‘It’s a cookbook,’ he said.” (Damon Knight)

“You misunderstand … I was the master.” (Harry Bates)

Y’all were real close on the wording of the bolt of lightning one. (Frederick Brown)

Here’s a couple:

“And with glazing eyes Stephen Crane smiled up at the stars, stars that were sprinkled evenly across the sky. Stars that had not yet formed into their familiar constellations, nor would not for another hundred million centuries.”

“Ten minutes later Gallegher was singing a duet with his can opener.”

“Then she put the tablets in her mouth and swallowed them down with a mouthful of brandy, sitting behind the wheel of her big car.”

Nope. Jerome Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life.”

Game of Thrones.

And I think the quote is closer to “He had won his battle. He loved Big Brother”

Either way, it’s great.


I don’t know this one. Story title please?

One of the all time, gut-bustingly funny stories/series ever written: “The Proud Robot” by Lewis (Kuttner and Moore) Padgett.


“I am legend.” (Richard Matheson)

“Scott Carey ran into his new world, searching.” (Richard Matheson)

“To this account, I, Severian the Lame, Autarch, do set my hand in what shall be called the last year of the old sun.” (Gene Wolfe)