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"Another trend I noticed while slowly working my way through the Masters of Bilge canon was that bad writers like to preface their books with a quote from somebody classy.....This made me wonder why great writers didn't start their books with quotations from world-class hacks."
— Joe Queenan in Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon.

An epigraph (from the Greek epi-, "on" or "over", and gráphō, "writing", meaning "writing upon" or, more colloquially, "inscription") is the quotation of a line, excerpt or poetry done at the beginning or (more rarely) at the ending of a work, segment or chapter. Frequent in literature, shows up occasionally otherwise.

In written works, epigraphs are often used to make the reader look in a certain direction while reading, or as instructions on how to receive the work. In Speculative Fiction, it is often used to do an Encyclopedia Exposita. Can also be used for an As the Good Book Says... effect.

Super-Trope to Dictionary Opening. See also Pretentious Latin Motto.



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    Comic Books 
  • The three issues of Neil Gaiman's Black Orchid had quotes from Omar Khayyam, Lou Reed, and E. E. Cummings on the back covers.
  • Every issue of Immortal Hulk begins with a quote that relates thematically to the events of the issue.
  • Issue five of The Monster of Frankenstein has a quote from Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Bad Moon Rising" in its first page, foreshadowing the werewolf business to come.
  • In the collected editions of The Sandman, each story arc is preceded with two quotes. The first one reads as something deep and profound; the second a pithy, less serious comment on the same topic — from the story itself.
  • Each chapter of Watchmen ends with one of these, which is alluded to in the title of the chapter. The final epigraph to the collected edition was chosen both as a reference to a graffito in the series, and for its being used as another epigraph (to the Tower Commission report on the Iran-Contra Scandal).
  • Wonder Woman:

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Barbie movies frequently have an inspirational quote at the end of the credits, usually credited to Barbie herself.
  • Meet the Robinsons ends with a quote from Walt Disney showing source of the film's arc motto "Keep moving forward."
  • The Prince of Egypt features three verses about Moses, sourced from the Book of Deuteronomy, the New Testament and the Qur'an, at the very end of the credits.
  • The mid-credits of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features a quote from the late Stan Lee: "That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Abyss opens with a title card with a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche's "...when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
  • All Too Well: The Short Film opens with a quote from Pablo Neruda, since it accompanies a Love Nostalgia Song.
    Love is so short, but forgetting is so long.
  • Anon opens with lines from a 19th century poem expressing how the poet wants to be invisible even to God.
  • Played for Laughs in The Big Short. "Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry." - Overheard at a Washington D.C. Bar.
  • The opening credits sequence of The Breakfast Club includes a four-line quotation of the song "Changes" by David Bowie.
  • The beginning of Conan the Barbarian (1982) has Nietzsche's Stock Quote "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
  • Cyberjack, the cheesy Michael Dudikoff sci-fi action movie about a bunch of terrorists storming a building to steal a computer super-virus, opens with a quote by, of all people, Stephen Hawking.
  • Do the Right Thing ends with two quotes to underline the conflict of the movie: one by Martin Luther King Jr, arguing that violence is never justified, and one by Malcolm X arguing that violence in self-defense is justified.
  • The Equalizer opens with a quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain: "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why."
  • Evil Easter 3 opens with a quote from religious historian Mattias Gardell that "national socialism could be defeated with garlic". The qoute is (purposely) taken out of context, as the text the qoute is taken from is critical to the idea of Ghostapo occult nazi conspiracies.
  • The Hagakure is quoted throughout the gangster flick Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai starring Forrest Whitaker as a gangster hitman, using title cards.
  • The Great Beauty starts with a quote from Journey to the End of the Night.
  • The House by the Cemetery ends with a quote "No one will ever know whether the children are monsters or the monsters are children", which is falsely attributed to the writer Henry James (film's director Lucio Fulci actually came up with it).
  • Jojo Rabbit has a poem from Rainer Maria Rilke before the credits roll: "Let everything happen to you / Beauty and terror / Just keep going / No feeling is final."
  • Played for Laughs in Kill Bill which quotes "Revenge is a dish best served cold" which is falsely attributed as being an old Klingon proverb.
  • Lady Bird opens with a Joan Didion quote: "Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento."
  • Mad Max: Fury Road ends with a (fictional) quote from The First History Man: "Where must we go... we who wander this Wasteland in search of our better selves?"
  • Three A Nightmare on Elm Street films open with a quote:
  • To bring context to the brutality that is about to be shown, The Passion of the Christ brings us this abbreviated quote from Isaiah 53: 5 "He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; by His wounds we are healed."
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1989) opens with a quote from St. Jean Vitius of Rouen about making a Deal with the Devil. The guy in question actually never existed.
  • Spectre has "The dead are alive", before opening on a parade during Día de Muertos in Mexico, where James Bond follows the trail of a villain.
  • Steps Trodden Black opens with an excerpt from The Road Not Taken, from which it takes its title.
  • The ending of Tears of the Sun, a movie centering around Navy SEALs helping a group of refugees escape genocide-ridden Nigeria, has a quote attributed to (but probably not written by) Edmund Burke before the ending credits start: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
  • The Tree of Life opens with a quotation from the The Book of Job:"Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation ... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
  • The 2010 remake of True Grit begins with Proverbs 28:1, "The wicked flee when none pursueth."

  • Hothouse: The story begins by quoting two lines from Andrew Marvell, a 17th century poet.
    My vegetable love should grow
    Vaster than empires and more slow
    — "To His Coy Mistress"
  • Weaveworld (by Clive Barker) has every chapter begin with a quote.
  • Tim Powers almost always quotes a bunch of British poems at the beginning of his books and of the chapters. Often a book will begin with two quotes, one real and one from "William Ashbless", a fictitious poet and shared Author Avatar-proxy of Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock; Ashbless appears in Powers' The Anubis Gates.
  • Joe Abercrombie quotes the line from which the title of each of his books is taken, in The First Law series.
  • Watership Down has one for each chapter. An interesting example in that it sometimes cites non-fiction, notably, The Private Life of the Rabbit, by Ronald Lockley.
  • The Diamond Age starts with a short excerpt from a non-fiction book about sociological change.
  • Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series has quotes from The Bible, the Apocrypha, and other early Christian and Jewish writings appear at above the start of most chapters.
    • Other real-world sources (such as the Roman playwright Terence) get quoted this way as well. The chapter in which Jehana is introduced in Deryni Rising has an epigraph adapted from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned,/ .....Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned." The idea is far older (not to say proverbial), as seen in Euripides' play Medea (263): "In all other things a woman is full of fear, incapable of looking on battle or cold steel; but when she is injured in love, no mind is more murderous than hers."
    • A few sources are from within the Deryni universe. The first chapter of Deryni Checkmate has an epigraph from a "St. Veneric" which mentions the fickleness of Gwynedd's weather in March, and chapter fifteen of the same book has this from an unknown Deryni monk: "The humans kill what they do not understand."
  • Barbara Hambly's Bride of the Rat God quotes the I Ching.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Every chapter starts off with a quote of some kind. The quotes usually tie into the content of the chapter in some way, though the connection is more obvious than others. For example, the chapter that details Rielle's water trial starts off with the Water Rite.
  • The title and chapter pages of Stephen King's more epic novels quote anything and everything from T. S. Eliot and Thomas Wolfe to Blue Öyster Cult and King's own fictional characters.
  • Margaret Atwood is a big fan of epigraphs. The epigraph of The Handmaid's Tale has quotes from Jonathan Swift, the Bible and a proverb. Alias Grace has one or more before each section. Such as this, the epigraph for The Edible Woman:
    "The surface on which you work (preferably marble), the tools, the ingredients and your fingers should be chilled throughout the operation..."
    (Recipe for Puff Pastry in I.S. Rombauer and M.R. Becker, The Joy of Cooking.)
    • Consider this, one of the two epigraphs from Cat's Eye, which makes the way the story is constructed make far more sense:
    "Why do we remember the past, and not the future?" (Stephen Hawking, "A Brief History of Time")
  • Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint - and most of her novels - has one
  • T. S. Eliot:
    • The Waste Land has one. Somewhat notable in that it's a poem and that the epigraph is an important clue to what is going on.
    • "The Hollow Men", a shorter poem, not only has an epigraph, but the section in his Selected Poems containing only "The Hollow Men" has one as well. If you look up "The Hollow Men" on the web you'll probably find the two given one after the other; they're both relevant to the poem's meaning.
  • J. K. Rowling:
  • Each book of the Twilight series begins with a different quote. Twilight has the Bible. New Moon has Romeo and Juliet. Eclipse has the Robert Frost poem "Fire and Ice." Breaking Dawn has three: "Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Orson Scott Card's Empire.
  • The chapters in Annie Dillard's The Writing Life each begin with an epigraph.
  • The chapters in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants begin with epigraphs.
  • City of Bones begins with quotes from Julius Caesar and Paradise Lost.
  • Each book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy begins with excerpts from poems, namely "The Lady of Shalott" in the first book, Paradise Lost and "A Dream Within a Dream" in the second and "The Rose of Battle" in the third.
  • Christopher Moore:
  • Most chapters of American Gods start with one, often foreshadowing later events in the chapters. They range from Robert Frost to e. e. cummings, Sondheim to Tom Waits.
  • Perhaps in deference to the opening quote, Junot Diaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao takes its epigraph from Fantastic Four #49, penned by Stan Lee.
  • His Dark Materials makes use of this trope in two of its installments: The Golden Compass/Northern Lights begins with a quote from Paradise Lost, (including the lines which gave the series its name) and The Amber Spyglass, along with giving almost every chapter a short quote, uses Walt Whitman's America, a Prophecy and two other poems to set a very poignant mood.
  • Philip Pullman's Spring-Heeled Jack starts off every chapter with quotes, including chestnuts such as "It was a dark and stormy night" and "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...."
  • The Secret Life of Bees begins each chapter with some small, pithy note on bees and their life.
  • The Great Gatsby opens with a wonderful epigraph (which almost provided the title), by "Thomas Parke D'Invilliers" - actually a fictional character in Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise.
  • Most Dorothy L. Sayers novels begin each chapter with a quotation, often from poetry.
  • Ann Radcliffe's novel The Italian quotes several works of William Shakespeare, lines from Milton's Paradise Lost and other writing from before her time.
  • Don Quixote begins with a note from the author, explaining that he despaired of finding a suitable epigraph for the book, until his friend suggested making shit up.
  • A novel called Black Horizon took its title from the epigraph, an anonymous eighteenth-century poem. In the author's book on how to write, he admitted he thought of the title first, then made up the poem.
  • Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels with Literary Allusion Titles often began with an epigraph containing the relevant portion of the poem invoked by the title.
  • Charles Babbage's autobiography, Passages From the Life of a Philosopher, begins with a quote from Don Juan: "I'm a philosopher. Confound them all — birds, beasts and men; but no, not womankind," despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the book.
  • Cornelia Funke begins each chapter of all three of her Inkheart novels with quotes from numerous other works of literature that hint at or relate to the plot of the chapter, including everything from The Princess Bride to Salman Rushdie.
  • Mary Janice Davidson opens every one of her books with three to four epigrahs. Of these, two are serious and the last one is outright silly. (In the Betsy the Vampire Queen books, the last one is usually Betsy herself.
  • Carl Sagan's novel Contact has so many quotes at the beginning of the parts and chapters that it looks like an anthology of quotations.
  • Studs Terkel's collection of interviews, Working, begins with four quotations on the subject of working, from the Bible to a Nixon speech and an ad.
  • Parodied in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series, which includes gag quotes attributed to famous real or fictional characters. Most are invented ("In times of crisis, it is of utmost importance not to lose one's head. — M. Antoinette), but occasionally a legitimate quote is used to preface a chapter whose contents make it funny in context.
    • Russian Alternate History novel writer Vladimir Sverzhin does exactly the same thing (such as musings on running being good for your health attributed to the original Marathon Runner).
  • The Master and Margarita begins with a highly appropriate quote from Goethe's Faust:
    "I am part of that force which wills forever evil and works forever good."
  • Foucault's Pendulum features plenty of somewhat obscure and bizarre epigraphs, some of them in other languages. All or most of them still manage to be relevant, though. The majority is taken from a wide variety of occult literature, but there are also things like a musing on the physics of a hanged man.
  • All of Jasper Fforde's books (Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series) have an excerpt from a fictional article or book at the start of every chapter.
  • Fictional examples are used in The War Against the Chtorr, ranging from newspaper articles and quotes by Solomon Short (a newspaper columnist) in the first two books, limericks in the third book, and quotes from The Red Book in the fourth.
  • Each chapter of The Club Dumas begins with a different quote, several of which come from Alexandre Dumas's works. Interestingly, the well-read will see chapter five's quote and will logically come to an early conclusion about who is the Big Bad. This is a Red Herring that the supposed Big Bad will later call the reader out on.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson begins every chapter with two quotes from "The Calendar of Pudd'nhead Wilson."
  • J. Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans
  • Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart famously takes its title from William Butler Yeats' "The Second Coming;" the stanza containing the "things fall apart" line is quoted as the epigraph.
  • The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, being a historical novel about a famous Russian poet and polyglot, has short relevant lines from poems or songs in different languages at the beginning of every chapter but the last (by which point he dies).
  • Ciaphas Cain note  chapters have fictional epigraphs that are written in-universe by the author.
    • The Horus Heresy novels also make extensive use of them, using either quotes from previous 40k books or real world sources. What's interesting about the real quotes is that they're all a major case of Future Imperfect, mangling either the quote, the source's name and/or background information (getting Laozi confused with Chairman Mao; describing real life military leaders in terms of the Imperium's odd sci-fi Romanesque ranking structure; badly translated quote from The Bible described as fragments of the holy book of some long-extinct cult, etc.). This despite the fact that The Emperor (and a few other characters) has been around since the 8th century BC or longer and presumably could have corrected them if he felt like it.
  • Two of Ken Kesey's novels are prefaced with quotes that each book's title came from.
    • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest used the children's rhyme "Wire, briar, limber-lock/Three geese in a flock/One flew east, one flew west/One flew over the cuckoo's nest"; it's also used later in one of Bromden's flashbacks. (Some scholars later speculated that the geese are supposed to represent Ratched, Mc Murphy, and Bromden.)
    • Sometimes a Great Notion quotes the folk song "Goodnight, Irene": "Sometimes I live in the country/Sometimes I live in town/Sometimes I have a great notion/To jump in the river and drown".
  • Gerald Durrell does this at the beginning of every chapter in some of his books.
  • Several of Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books begin with an epigraph taken from D.H Lawrence (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4), Bertrand Russell (The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole), The Winter's Tale (The Wilderness Years) and Mikhail Lermontov and Hamlet (The Cappuccino Years).
  • The novelisation of the decidedly camp and blockbuster The Avengers film begins each chapter with a more-or-less 'relevant' quote from The Tempest. That particular play might have been chosen because the villain of The Avengers is a man who can control the weather.
  • Barefoot Boy with Cheek by Max Shulman begins each chapter with a phrase that might be taught in a "Beginning French" course attributed to a famous French author.
  • The novel version of Bright Lights, Big City quotes from The Sun Also Rises at the beginning.
  • Both used and parodied in several of Steven Brust's novels, as when each chapter of Teckla is presaged by an excerpt from the protagonist's laundry list.
  • Richard Condon's novels, including The Manchurian Candidate and Winter Kills, often have a quote at the beginning from The Keeners' Manual, which doesn't exist.
  • Coraline begins with a paraphrase of a quote from G. K. Chesterton, "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
  • Isaac Asimov:
  • In The Disaster Artist, the two narrative threads are framed by Epigraphs from two different sources: the segments relating the history of Greg Sestero's friendship with Tommy Wiseau uses quotes from The Talented Mr. Ripley and the segments relating the events during the production of The Room uses quotes from Sunset Boulevard. The final chapter, which describes the theatrical debut of The Room, uses both.
  • The early Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey have snippets of Harper songs at the start of each chapter.
  • The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford, which concerns the English monarchial succession of the 15th century, has an epigraph quoting from the play Perkin Warbeck, which concerns the English monarchial succession of the 15th century and is by the 17th-century playwright John Ford (no relation).
  • Frank Herbert's Dune books begin every single chapter with an epigraph, always from an in-universe source.
  • The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles has not just an epigraph for the novel as a whole, but two epigraphs per chapter.
  • Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather opens with a (paraphrased) quote from Honoré de Balzac's 1835 novel Le Père Goriot: "Behind every great fortune there is a crime."note 
  • Gravity's Rainbow, which is divided into four parts, has one epigraph for each. Specially clever is the one for the last chapter:
    — Richard Nixon
  • Grendel opens with a selection of "The Mental Traveller" by William Blake.
  • In the war novels by Sven Hassel, every chapter begins with a short section of prose, often unrelated to the novel but showing events in the wider war.
  • The Honor Harrington book Cauldron of Ghosts uses epigraphs before certain chapters. Unusually, these are actually quotes from later in the book, sans context.
  • All but the first two Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter use epigraphs at the top of every chapter. As Dexter's chapters tend to be fairly short, that's a LOT of epigraphs. Not that the research fazed Dexter one bit - if he couldn't find a suitable quote, he simply made one up and credited a non-existent source. This happened a lot.
  • Rudyard Kipling frequently supplemented an epigraph to both poetry and prose, up to a short poem before a novel. Some of these either add a twist or are plainly ironic when compared to the text.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin is fond of this trope. Quite a few of her books have epigraphs:
  • In testament to the author's nerdiness, the Mediochre Q Seth Series uses the Oxford English Dictionary for its epigraphs.
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot has an unusual variation. Most chapters have epigraphs (from writers like Shakespeare and such) but where it seems she couldn't find a suitable quote, she makes one herself. You can tell which because they're unattributed and are generally dialogues between 1st Gent and 2nd Gent.
  • Herman Melville's Moby-Dick opens with four pages of quotes about whales (starting with "And God created great whales," from the Bible).
  • A Darkling Plain, the last book in the Mortal Engines quartet, has the last stanza of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach as its epigraph.
  • Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes begins with an Emily Dickinson quote: "Hello, I'm nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too?" Given the plot of the book (two supernatural beings called "Nobodies" meet and fall in love), it's an appropriate choice.
  • In The Oath, Frank Peretti occasionally opens chapters with quotes from letters, diaries, news reports, and interviews to set the atmosphere for Hyde River.
  • Frank Zappa's autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book points out that "[t]he epigraphs at the heads of chapters (publishers love those little things) were researched and inserted by Peter (Occhiogrosso, the co-author) — I mention this because I wouldn't want anybody to think I sat around reading Flaubert, Twitchell and Shakespeare all day." Zappa's reaction to an epigraph quoting Flaubert is "How 'bout that epigraph, huh? Peter, you're cracking me up already."
  • The first and last books of the Rihannsu series each use a verse from Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay's Epic Poem Horatius, followed by a quotation from a Romulan-written Fictional Document.
  • Geoffrey Household's 1939 novel Rogue Male contains an epigraph describing the behaviour of the rogue males of the animal kingdom which also hints at the themes of the book.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Sanderson likes doing this with his fantasy works - at the beginning of each chapter is a quotation form an in-universe source. In The Final Empire, the epigraphs are from the diary of Alendi, the supposed Hero of Ages, whose packman Rashek killed him and became the Lord Ruler. In The Well of Ascension, the epigraphs were written by Kwaan, the man who first announced Alendi as the Hero of Ages, and gives some hints into the prophecies behind the Hero of Ages. In the third and final book, the epigraphs are written by the Hero of Ages, Sazed, after he takes in both Ruin and Preservation and fixes the world, detailing what he did and how he did it as Harmony.
    • It gets even more complicated in The Way of Kings, the first book of The Stormlight Archive, because the epigraphs are from different sources. In Part 1, the epigraphs are cryptic quotes from people just before their death, which are being collected by Taravangian. They are supposedly the first glimpses of the world beyond, having started seven years before the story starts, roughly when Gavilar first investigated the Shattered Plains, and at least one is a quote from the Lost Herald. In Part 2, the epigraphs are from a letter, probably (but not certainly) written by Hoid and addressed to an unknown person, in which the writer begs whoever the recipient is to end his neutrality and help him in the coming war against Odium. This letter gives hints as to the workings of the Cosmere at large, talking about the Shards on Sel (and how Odium killed them) as well as talking of Odium's ally Bavadin and a mysterious group called 'The Seventeenth Shard. The epigraphs in Part 3 are notes from Jasnah's research on the Voidbringers. Part 4 returns to the quotes from the dying, and Part 5 doesn't have any epigraphs, but considering the massive amount of reveals in those chapters, it doesn't need any.
  • The Second Apocalypse series has a twofer: Each chapter begins with a quote from a fictional In-Universe source, as an Encyclopedia Exposita, and each book begins with a quote from a Real Life source, usually a philosopher, including Nietzsche, Kant, and Hegel, as well as the Bible.
  • All four books of Tad Williams' Shadowmarch series have their chapters begin with excerpts from different in-universe texts. Shadowmarch begins each chapter with a quotation from the Bonefall Oracles, which make up part of the Qar's semi-holy text, the Book of Regret; Shadowplay begins each chapter with a section of the tale of the Theomachy, or Godswar, as interpreted by the three major factions of the series (the Trigonate believers of the northern continent, the Xandians of the southern continent, and the Qar); Shadowrise begins each chapter with a quotation from an essay on the Qar peoples revealed in the last entry to have been written by the playwright and spy Finn Teodoros for Lord Avin Brone, lord constable of Southmarch Castle; and Shadowheart begins each chapter with a section of the child's fable of the Orphan which is revealed in the last entry to have been written for the young prince Olin Alessandros Eddon by the poet Matthias Tinwright, after the events of the series.
  • Both books of The Sundering open with a quote from Paradise Lost.
  • Jean Johnson's Theirs Not to Reason Why series has each chapter begin with a quote from the interview of the main character. It introduces some aspect of the subject of that chapter. It seems an odd construct, until you come to the section of the last book where she actually grants the reporter that interview, and then it all makes sense.
  • Tortall Universe: In Trickster's Choice, chapters are prefaced with either excerpts of a letter or lecture, or with in-universe epigraphs from books on spying or gods or suchlike, depending on what's relevant to the upcoming events.
  • Whateley Universe: On some of the stories, like The Evil That Men Do:
    • Part 1:
      They say, when you gain a lover
      You begin to lose a friend;
      That the end of the beginning's
      The beginning of the end.
      They say the moment that you're born
      Is when you start to die...
      Roger Whittaker, The First Hello, The Last Goodbye
    • Part 2:
      I wouldn't if I were you
      I know what she can do
      She's deadly man, she could really rip your world apart
      Mind over matter
      Ooh, the beauty is there but a beast is in the heart
      Hall & Oates, Maneater
  • The eighth Alex Rider book, Crocodile Tears, uses a definition of the phrase the book is titled for as its epigraph. This was included because Anthony Horowitz's publishers believed the phrase was not widely known and most readers would not understand what the title meant, and they initially wanted him to change the title completely. Horowitz resisted, and his publishers eventually relented on condition the epigraph was included.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls has a quote from the poet John Donne, which also provides the title:
    No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
  • Half Of A Yellow Sun not only has an epigraph from Chinua Achebe at the beginning of the book, but has all the chapters narrated by one of its Switching P.O.V. protagonists start with an epigraph from the fictional book he is writing. In the end, he scraps the book he wanted to write and a mother character turns out to have written the epigraphs instead.
  • The Robotech novelizations have each chapter lead by an in-universe quote, usually from various historical works that cover the Robotech Wars retrospectively, but also including more informal sources ranging from main characters' memoirs to relevant quips made by anonymous Spear Carrier types. The author(s) stated they were directly inspired by Dune.
  • La Grande Encyclopédie des lutins, by Pierre Dubois, is a catalogue of various fairies and fey creatures. Each entry is preceded by a quote from a book, which either refers directly to the given type of fairy, or at least vaguely fits its theme. However, some of the quotes are apparently made up.
  • Adam Mickiewicz's poem "Romantycznosc" (Romanticity) begins with a quote from Hamlet: "Methinks, I see... where? – In my mind's eyes." It is quoted from the part where Hamlet says he sees his dead father in his "mind's eye". Mickiewicz's poem itself is about a hallucinating girl who claims to see her dead lover.
  • Each of the parts in Accelerando opens with a different quote:
    • Part 1, "Slow Takeoff":
    The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim. — Edsger W. Dijkstra
    • Part 2, "Point of Inflection":
    Life is a process which may be abstracted from other media. — John Von Neumann
    • Part 3, "Singularity":
    There's a sucker born every minute. — P. T. Barnum
  • But What If We're Wrong?, a book speculating about how widely accepted views might change in the future, begins with this quote:
    If what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I’ll have failed completely. — Arthur C. Clarke, speaking in the year 1964, attempting to explain what the world might be like in the year 2000
  • The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, about the history of information theory and communication, starts with two epigraphs relating to the theme (the first one comes from Zadie Smith's White Teeth). (The book also includes relevant quotes at the start of every chapter.)
    Anyway, those tickets, the old ones, they didn’t tell you where you were going, much less where you came from. He couldn’t remember seeing any dates on them, either, and there was certainly no mention of time. It was all different now, of course. All this information. Archie wondered why that was. — Zadie Smith
    What we call the past is built on bits. — John Archibald Wheeler
  • Jake And The Dynamo, a Magical Girl novel, opens with this fitting quote:
    It is rare that one can see in a little boy the promise of a man, but one can almost always see in a little girl the threat of a woman. — Alexandre Dumas
  • Lord of Light is set on a planet where Hindu Mythology has been made real while the protagonist plays the role of Buddha, and accordingly it features quotes from Buddhist and Hinduist literature, such as the Upanishads.
  • Sundiver, a science fiction novel about an expedition to the Sun, starts with the quote by the astronomer Arthur Eddington: is reasonable to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be competent to understand so simple a thing as a star. — A. S. Eddington, 1926
  • Three Christs of Ypsilanti, a nonfiction book about three mental patients, each claiming to be Jesus Christ, opens with the quote by the philosopher Bertrand Russell:
    “Every man would like to be God, if it were possible; some few find it difficult to admit the impossibility.” — Bertrand Russell, Power
  • Ryan Holiday's Trust Me, I'm Lying, about fake news and inaccuracy in online journalism, starts with the following quote by writer James Agee. Every of its chapters also starts with a quote, mostly damning towards journalism.
    The very blood and semen of journalism, on the contrary, is a broad and successful form of lying. Remove that form of lying and you no longer have journalism. — James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
  • Writing on the Wall, about the history of social media since ancient time through successive eras of human history, includes a relevant quote from the given era at the start of every chapter. For example, the chapter on the ancient Roman equivalent of social media starts with a quote from Cicero:
    You say my letter has been widely published: well, I don’t care. Indeed, I myself allowed several people to take a copy of it. — Marcus Tullius Cicero, Ad. Att. 8.9
  • Brown Girl in the Ring: From the prologue:
    Give the Devil a child for dinner,
    One, two, three little children!
    -Derek Walcott, Ti-Jean and His Brothers
  • Phantastes: From the first chapter:
    “A spirit . . .
    . . . . . .
    The undulating and silent well,
    And rippling rivulet, and evening gloom,
    Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming,
    Held commune with him; as if he and it
    Were all that was.”
    SHELLEY’S Alastor.
  • InCryptid: Every chapter and prologue, as well as some of the short stories (not the prequel ones) has an epigraph by a member of the Price-Healy family (or the Baker family, who married in). The Istas and Ryan shorts, as well as "The Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork", cite cultural proverbs for the epigraphs. A list can be found here.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Each Andromeda episode begins with a (fictional) quote.
  • Criminal Minds usually begins and ends with an epigraph read by whichever character the episode focuses on.
  • Frontier: Every episode is preceded by a quote that sounds like it could have been made by an 18th century writer commenting on the nature of power, perseverence, or man's soul, but invariably turns out to be someone rather unexpected for a historical drama, like Beyoncé.
  • The first episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace cuts to a King Lear quote about 5 minutes in. In the middle of a scene. For no reason.
  • Every episode of Grimm begins with a quote. Usually from a fairy tale, but as the series went on they started having to widen their sources a bit.
  • Iron Chef always begins with a quote from French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin: "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
  • All first season episodes of Millennium (1996) save for the pilot have a literary quote intertitle between The Teaser and act one. The practice was mostly dropped after that, but with the occasional return.
  • Every episode of Wilfred begins with a quote, with one word highlighted to reveal the episode's title and theme.
  • The Wire has an epigraph to each episode, always a quote from later in that episode, usually with an ironic subtext in hindsight.
  • One episode of The X-Files opens with a quote from William Shakespeare's Henry IV: "For nothing can seem foul to those that win."

  • Several of Doctor Steel's songs have epigraphs, some sampled from old Public Service Announcements such as "Duck and Cover", others deliberately done as a parody of such announcements.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams's Sinfonia Antartica has quotations preceding each of its five movements. These are sometimes recited. (Which is wrong, because the composer explicitly instructed that they should be printed in the programme to be read silently by the listeners, and because recitation destroys the attacca transition into the fourth movement.)
  • Claude Debussy's suite En blanc et noir for two pianos has epigraphs for its otherwise untitled movements.
  • Most of the tracks on Sabaton's The Art of War album have relevant quotes from the book of the same name either at the start or the end of the song.
  • In keeping with Kanye West having an ego the size of Jupiter, rather then having a epigraph at the start of the music video for his song Diamonds From Sierra Leone, he instead quotes himself from the song about to play.

  • Dimension X's "Universe": At the start of this episode, which was based on Robert A. Heinlein's "Universe", an in-universe holy book is quoted. The scripture is also cited about four minutes later in the story, a Creation Myth that describes how everyone's place in the world.
    "In the beginning, there was Jordan, thinking his lonely thoughts. Out of the lone-ness came a longing. Out of the longing came a vision. Out of the dream came a planning, and out of the planning came a decision. Jordan's hand was lifted and the ship was born!"

  • Tony Kushner's Angels in America:
    • The published script of Millenium Approaches begins with this one:
      In a murderous time
      the heart breaks and breaks
      and lives by breaking.

      Stanley Kunitz, "The Testing Tree"
    • And part two, Perestroika, begins with this one:
      Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer whole.
      Ralph Waldo Emerson, "On Art"
  • Dead End is prefaced with this Thomas Paine quotation:
    "The contrast of affluence and wretchedness is like dead and living bodies chained together."

    Video Games 
  • DOOM (2016) opens with an excerpt from a fictional, quasi-biblical text describing the Doom Slayer's previous bloody exploits throughout Hell:
    So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.
    —Corrax Entry 7:17
  • At the beginning of the final level of DOOM Eternal's main campaign as the Slayer jets off to defeat the Icon of Sin, the following passage, apparently from the same fictional text, is displayed over the loading screen:
    'For he will walk among us, and he will smite the evil from this earth. For he who comes in our time of need is not of mortal breed, he is the Destroyer, the right hand of our Creator and the one who brings fear where there is no hope.' Corrax tablet 3:13
  • Tales Series:
  • Too Human used the Nietzsche quote "Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one" in its advertising material. Not sure if it's used in the game itself.
  • inFAMOUS has these on loading screens that come up, usually when the day changes. The themes are on the (potentially destructive) nature of power. For example:
    "If you want to test a man's character, give him power."
  • At several points in Final Fantasy XII, there will be a quote from a book written by the character Ondore, who also functions as a narrator upon the larger plot of the game. This also extends to its setting prequel, Final Fantasy Tactics, which feature quotes from a Saint Ajora Glabados, the inspiration for the game's Corrupt Church.
  • A variation of sorts exists in some Call of Duty games: upon most player deaths, the game usually displays a quote about the more sobering realities of warfare (or the cost of a modern piece of military equipment).
  • Deus Ex has one for each ending. For example becoming a Deus Est Machina results in the Voltaire quote "If There Were No God, It Would Be Necessary To Invent Him.".
  • Dragon's Dogma starts with a quote from Henri de Régnier. The delightful and ever-novel pleasure of a useless occupation. It plays with the idea of the New Game+ option. It's also a reference to the ever repeating cycle of the Arisen becoming the Seneschall and existing to provide life to the world only to be replaced by the next Arisen.
  • Occurs several times in The Elder Scrolls: The first (The best techniques are passed on by the survivors) and the third (Each event is preceded by prophesy; but without the Hero there is no event).
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri:
    • It uses Genesis 3:24 over the opening movie to great effect
      Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden. He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
      — Conclave Bible, Datalinks
    • There's a video here.
    • Alpha Centauri also has quotes for each tech and facility. Most of them are fictional quotes from the faction leaders, while there are literary or other references sprinkled in.
  • Then there is Civilization IV in which every technology has a quote with it from The Bible to Oscar Wilde to Sputnik. Narrated (mostly) by the man.
  • Before the title screen, Eternal Darkness has the first stanza from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Eversion was originally created for a contest for games inspired by passages from H. P. Lovecraft's notebook. Accordingly, the game opens with the chosen passage (which alludes to the character's eponymous power):
    sounds - possibly musical - heard in the night from other worlds or realms of being.
  • Most Uncharted games begin with a quote from a famous real-life explorer, whose historical adventures are relevant to the respective game's storyline. Click to open each article to read the quotes:
  • The Total War series tends to feature epigraphs in its loading screens.
  • Every time you boot up an X-Universe game, you're treated to a quote from somebody like Arthur C. Clarke or Albert Einstein.
  • SOMA opens with a quote from Philip K. Dick.
    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
  • Layers of Fear starts with an excerpt from The Picture of Dorian Gray,
    Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a painting of the artist, not of the sitter.
  • The Ancient Art of War opens each match with a quote from Sun Tzu.
  • Beating The King of Fighters XIII with Ash Crimson ends with the Pippa Passes poem by Robert Browning, which was also used as Arc Words in Neon Genesis Evangelion: "God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world!"
  • The Stinger in Metal Slug 3D ends with the words, "In history, there is no end."
  • X-COM:
    • X Com Enemy Unknown opens with an Arthur C. Clarke quote:
      Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
    • The expansion pack XCOM: Enemy Within replaces it with a quote by R. Buckminster Fuller:
      Those who play with the devil's toys will by degrees be brought to wield his sword.
  • Medal of Honor: Vanguard, a game about the US Paratroopers in World War Two, opens with this quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower: 'I do not believe in the Airborne Division.'
  • Mega Man X8 ends with a quote from Dr. Light: "Humans and robots living together in harmony and equality. That was my ultimate wish."
  • Hollow Knight begins with a quote from an in-universe poem, Monomon the Teacher's Elegy for Hallownest:
    In wilds beyond they speak your name with reverence and regret,
    For none could tame our savage souls yet you the challenge met,
    Under palest watch, you taught, we changed, base instincts were redeemed,
    A world you gave to bug and beast as they had never dreamed.
  • At the beginning of "Episode 2: Memory" of Code 7, S.O.L.I. recites the first stanza of Queen Mab by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  • Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion opens with this cryptic poem:
    Pale summer moonlight shimmers on the seafloor.
    An octopus, unaware that dawn will bring capture,
    Rests within a trap, dreaming fleeting dreams...
  • Every run in Suzerain starts with quote by Nazım Hikmet Ran from his short poem titled "You":
    You are my enslavement and my freedom.
    You are my flesh burning like a raw summer night.
    You are my country.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain follows up its audio-only introduction of the Third Boy at the start of the game with a quote from Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran:
    It is no nation we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native tongue is our true fatherland.
  • Death Stranding opens on an excerpt from Kobo Abe's Nawa which explains the concept of the stick and rope being tools to ward off bad things and bring good things closer, respectively.
  • Some of Graham Nelson's works start with a quote from another work.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry contains one or several poems signed Frederica Bernkastel in the beginning, the middle or the end of the arc. They are cryptic but often contains clues or show the emotions that Rika, the true protagonist goes through. Sadly they were not present in the anime version but the ones found in the novels and the manga can be found here.
  • The Fountain opens with a quote from Ode to Aphrodite by Sappho:
    "I beg you, do not break my spirit, with pain or sorrow, but come — if ever before from far away you heard my voice and listened."

    Web Animation 
  • Broken Saints has an apropos quote at the beginning and end of each of the 24 chapters. The exception is in Chapter 24, which also has one at the beginning of each act.

  • Every chapter of Star Impact ends with a fictional in-universe quote, each of which Title Drops the chapter's name:
    Chapter 1: If it makes impact, then it's a meteorite.
    Chapter 2: It can exist without either, but without the moon and stars, the night sky is incomplete.
    Chapter 3: A dragon is not evil. No, to devour heroes and kings its but its nature. A reality.
  • The Ten Tailors Of Weston Court opens with a quote from George "Beau" Brummell regarding the tailor John Weston:
    "That fellow Weston is an inimitable fellow - a little defective perhaps in his linings, but irreproachable for principle and button-holes. He came to London, sir, without a shilling; and he counts more realized thousands than our fat friend does frogs on his Brandenburg. He is not only rich, but brave; not only brave, but courteous; and not alone courteous, but candid."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation