Warning: Much like the main page, this page contains a large number of spoilers. Many of the examples below will assume you know the spoilers revealed by the endings of Saw, Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV; as a result, those spoilers are frequently left untagged. Even then it is advised to have finished the series first. You Have Been Warned.
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John Kramer / Jigsaw
Played by: Tobin BellJohn Kramer was an engineer who was driven to become the Messianic Jigsaw Killer after a series of tragic events and circumstances — his unborn son was killed when his wife, Jill, had a miscarriage; this caused John to drive her away, making her divorce him. John was later diagnosed with an inoperable tumor, which led to cancer. When his insurance company turned down an experimental treatment that could have potentially saved his life (or at least prolonged it), John attempted suicide. When he survived, his new outlook on life became his motivation to become the Jigsaw Killer.Jigsaw kidnaps people that he believes aren't valuing their lives or are intentionally hurting others, then forces them to go through sadistic "tests" where there are usually only two outcomes: live (and gain a new outlook on life) or die. John was eventually killed by Jeff Denlon, one of the last of his direct victims. Events ensuring his legacy would live on, however, were already in motion — Mark Hoffman, one of John's apprentices, continued Jigsaw's work after his death.Notably, John himself admits that he never came up with the name "Jigsaw" or "Jigsaw Killer"; the press dubbed him so because of his penchant for carving a jigsaw-shaped piece of flesh from his dead victims — a reminder of the "missing piece" of the "human puzzle" those victims lacked, which he believes could have saved their lives- the apparent "survival instinct".
"I want to play a game."
- Affably Evil: He's fairly approachable, polite, and truthful to the victims whom he tests and places in life-threatening, yet, escapable traps. Unlike his apprentices, John appears to genuinely want his victims to pass their tests and survive his traps. He is also honest at all times.
- Badass Longcoat: He is frequently seen in a hooded black long coat with a blood red interior.
- Big Bad: Of the first three movies, and becomes the Predecessor Villain after his death in Saw III.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In the first movie, he's the cancer patient that Dr. Gordon is going over with his interns.
- The Chessmaster: Seriously, this guy has a plan for EVERYTHING.
- Crazy-Prepared: As the series progressed, it becomes frightening how far ahead he'd planned and prepared. Even his own death factored into his plans.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: When you look at how some of his traps work, you realize they couldn't have been cheap to build, such as the one in the second movie where the victim had to find a key hidden in giant a pile of syringes. If he could afford all these parts to his traps, why couldn't he afford cancer treatment? (This becomes a major plot point in the fifth movie.)
- Dark Messiah: His true goal is to make people he feels are wasting their lives gain new appreciation and respect for how precious life is by putting them through hell if they want to continue living.
- Deadpan Snarker: His humor is very much on the dry side, usually of the Gallows Humor variety.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In the first film, he slashes the throat of one detective trying to arrest him and lets a second get blown away in a shotgun booby trap, but in the second film he says he has never murdered anyone. See his second example under Hypocrite for more.
- Evil Genius: He demonstrates a massive intelligence, but, unfortunately for the world, he uses it for evil.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: And if you ever harm them, then may God have mercy on your soul, because Jigsaw and/or his apprentices won't.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- All of his traps (at least, the ones he genuinely designed himself; his apprentices often deviate from this) are survivable. They may involve self-mutilation, psychological scarring, non-intuitive thinking, or all three, but you can survive them. The first time the police discover a trap that was not survivable, it is considered to be a major break in Jigsaw's MO.
- He doesn't lie. He may not fully tell the truth or give Cryptic Conversation, but he doesn't outright lie.
- In Jigsaw, he spares an unconscious man from dying to one of his traps set up for a group of five, as it isn't fair for him to die just because he didn't wake up the same time the other four did.
- Evil Is Petty: Jigsaw's motives are nowhere near as noble as he likes to think.
- While his primary victims are "people who have wasted their lives," Jigsaw also targets people who have wronged him in some way, and later in the series targets the police operatives investigating him. As the series continues and backbuilds his history, it becomes increasingly clear that many of his victims are people he has a personal connection with and just doesn't care for how they chose to live their lives.
- The criteria of targeting "people who have wasted their lives" or lived lives that caused harm to others, is pretty broad. The victim roster ranges from drug dealers and rapists, to prostitutes and drug addicts, to people feeling suicidal and practicing self-harm, to just people that suffered Bystander Syndrome and did nothing while seeing something terrible happen. In Jigsaw's mind, all of these offenses are deserving of death.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He speaks in a whispery, almost mechanical sounding low tone.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He was just a cancer patient who wanted to commit suicide. When he survived the attempt, his outlook on life changed, for the worse.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Designing and building his numerous traps requires a great deal of technical expertise and ability. It is revealed in later movies that he is an engineer.
- Gambit Roulette: Pretty much everything that happens in all seven movies is at least partially according to his design. This in spite of the fact that he dies in the third movie.
- Handicapped Badass: He's dying a slow death of cancer, and is in a lot of pain. He even says so in the second movie. Doesn't seem to slow him down all that much.
- Hannibal Lecture: Is a master of this. Most prominent is in the second movie where he talks with Detective Matthews as part of a "game", promising he'd see his son again if he adheres to the rules.
- Happily Failed Suicide: For him, anyway. Everyone else...
- He claims to despise murderers and denies that he is one. Putting aside the fact his games are pretty much universally intended to kill the people that play them, the games are often Kaizo Traps that trick his victims into dooming themselves, or else his hints to them on how to win are so vague and cryptic that they're useless. He also tends to include innocents in his games, like Lawrence's wife and daughter in the first movie and Matthews' son in the second. Matthews even lampshades that his son has done nothing wrong and doesn't deserve to be part of the game just to punish him, and Jigsaw doesn't deny this nor explain it.
- In the first movie he slashes Tapp's throat and tricks Sing into triggering a row of rigged shotguns that kill him. The two were primarily interested in bringing Jigsaw to justice and saving lives.
- He tests Easton because of how arbitrarily he chooses whether or not people die in his duties as an insurance executive. He does this by arbitrarily having innocent people killed just so Easton is forced to choose who lives and who dies.
- Despite his claims that he actually wants his victims to win their games, when it looks as though Jeff is going to make the correct choice and pass the final part of his test, Jigsaw doesn't look particularly overjoyed. In fact, he looks disappointed. He is correspondingly thrilled when Jeff fails as it means he gets to go through yet another game.
- John saves Logan during the events of Jigsaw out of a belief that every person should have a fighting chance in his games ( Logan didn't have one due to the fact that John had accidentally overdosed him). However, when John makes a similar mistake in Saw (Adam loses the key in the drain, something which John could not have forseen), he does nothing and leaves Adam to die.
- Invincible Villain: Every film ends with him getting his way, even the ones set after he dies. Every single character for the most part plays right into his hands and he plays them all perfectly, while the most the heroes can try to do is simply survive. (And more often than not, they don't.)
- It's All About Me: John, did you ever once stop to consider maybe your victims don't really want your help?
- Kaizo Trap: A recurring theme of his traps is that his subjects are liable to doom themselves if they do the wrong thing, often relying on some sort of Batman Gambit to trick them into making the trap inescapable. For exampe, in the second film, the Razor Box trap has two holes in the bottom for one to stick their arms through to reach an antidote vial, but the coverings of the wholes are razor-sharp and cut into your arms if you try to pull them back out. The trick is that on the other side of the box is a lock and key that open it up, if the victim would only take a moment to study the trap and find it before sticking their arms in.
- Karmic Death: A staple of his traps, though not universal. He himself is killed (with a saw no less) by one of his many victims. He even dies with a piece of him missing, like the puzzle pieces he took from his victims. His was in his head, perhaps symbolizing his sociopathy and lack of humanity.
- Kick the Dog: Even being Affably Evil, Kramer was still capable of performing nasty stuff during a test subject's game. Some notable ones were:
- Poisoning Zepp, the only hospital employee who bothered to treat him with decency or kindness, and forcing him to carry out his orders.
- Leaving Adam to die in the bathroom at the end of the first movie, even though he had "won" his test by surviving past the time limit.
- Mocking Jeff's son death in Saw III by using Billy.
- Taunting Eric by telling him that his son will probably die soon.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: While some of them clearly deserve it more than others and others are decent people who just made life choices Jigsaw didn't approve of, many of his victims were terrible people who he subjected to a Karmic Death.
- The Kindnapper: He claims that he kidnaps people and places them in lethal deathtraps to help them appreciate their lives and to rehabilitate them.
- Knight Templar: He honestly believes he's doing the right thing by making his victims appreciate their lives more. A survivor in Saw VI, Simone, however, makes it very clear that it's not working, and even angrily calls out the people who say that it helped them.
- Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Occasionally makes puns in his explanation tapes and chuckles at them. The fact that he's describing torturous traps is what makes him deviate from the usual examples in this trope.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: The events of the last three films of the series were carried out after he had died, with John's wishes and intentions guiding things along. This phrase is even invoked in the fourth film.John: You think it's over, just because I'm dead? It's not over. The games have just begun.
- Never My Fault: Despite his claims that he is trying to help his victims, it rarely, if ever, seems to work, as most of his victims are killed while the few that survive their game are severely traumatized. And of course, he claims the people that died were missing an essential part of themselves, the 'survival instinct,' so to speak. Apparently, if you aren't willing to do absolutely anything (up to and including committing murder) to survive, you simply don't value your life enough. He also never admits to being responsible for the deaths he causes, even in the tests where someone deliberately has to die for another to live. They're making the choice, not him, never mind that he is responsible for putting them in a life-or-death scenario in the first place.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: If you can actually get close enough to him, his primary means of self defense is a concealed blade.
- Playing Possum: Spends the majority of the first film mimicking a corpse in the middle of the bathroom.
- Posthumous Character: After III and IV.
- Pride: Jigsaw is so convinced that his worldview and life's work are correct that he refuses to stare the blatant fact that his methods have never helped anyone in the face. All they've done for the most part is ruin countless lives indiscriminately. May also mix with envy, considering it's kind of hard for perhaps even Jigsaw himself to see where his desire to help other people appreciate their lives ends and where his rage and jealousy that all these people (in his mind) do is waste the precious gifts he was denied begins.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: In the end, his actions result in his own death and the death of the woman he loved. The only thing John leaves behind is his murderous legacy, which is the antithesis of everything he claimed it to be.
- Relative Button: Sure, they're divorced, but don't you ever harm his ex-wife Jill.
- Serial Killer: In the eyes of the law and the vast majority of rational human beings everywhere, though Jigsaw himself would dispute this characterization. In his mind, he doesn't kill anyone. He only sets up situations where others will either fail to survive or their choices will be responsible for the deaths of others.
- Start of Darkness: The events that led to John taking up his "work" are detailed over several films.
- Thanatos Gambit: Post Saw III, all games were this but it isn't until the last movie when the actual plan was pulled off.
- Tom the Dark Lord: This Evil Genius Serial Killer who later becomes a borderline Dark Messiah is an unassuming old man named John.
- Tragic Villain: And how! He lost his son in a miscarriage, he went through a messy divorce, he contracted cancer and was denied health insurance, and he grew disgusted seeing those unappreciative of the precious gift of life that he was being denied.
- Eighth installment adds even more to that: he lost his nephew in a motorcycle accident, and his cancer was left untreated until it was too late because some intern plastered his nametag onto a wrong X-ray.
- Trap Master: One of the most well known examples.
- Übermensch: He is completely convinced that his tests are helping people learn to value their lives.
- Villainous Legacy: Jigsaw is killed in Saw III, but the series is continued on by his apprentices and the plans he's left for them to follow.
- Villains Never Lie: The key difference between himself and his apprentices; John may not fully tell the truth or give Cryptic Conversation, but he doesn't outright lie.
- Visionary Villain: He genuinely believes that he's helping people realize their true potential by bringing them to the brink of death. He's a self-help guru whose idea of helping the world involves lots of blood.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Very extreme. He wants each victim to gain a "new outlook on life", and feels they can only do that by forcing them to survive a gruesome near-death experience.
- Wham Shot: Provides one at the end of the first movie.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He was driven to murder after losing his unborn son and being diagnosed with cancer.
Detective Mark Hoffman
Played by: Costas MandylorJigsaw's first canonical apprentice, and the third Jigsaw Killer (after Amanda Young). Hoffman is a cop assigned to the Jigsaw case. He uses the knowledge he has of Jigsaw by virtue of following the case to murder his sister's killer using Jigsaw's MO. The frame job catches John's attention, and Hoffman is blackmailed into helping Jigsaw. Shortly afterward, he becomes a willing accomplice. At some point, he began to fall in love with his carnage and, like Amanda, did not completely buy into Jigsaw's philosophy. After Jigsaw and Amanda's deaths, Hoffman continued John's work until the final film. His true identity as Jigsaw's accomplice/successor was discovered in the sixth film, but was only revealed to the police force at large in the last film.
"You want to know the only thing wrong with killing you, Jill? I can only do it once."
- Ascended Extra: He is in Saw III for all of 30 seconds. He becomes a bit more important later.
- Ax-Crazy: In 3D. With his identity as a Serial Killer known to the public, he sees no reason not to become a raging psychopath, killing anyone who is in his way for the remainder of the film as sadistically as he can.
- Asshole Victim: No tears were shed after, with all of his murders, he was finally killed himself in an inescapable trap, like those he made.
- Big Bad: After John's death, he became this. However, it took a couple of films to solidify him as a legit threat.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Outwardly presenting himself as a hard-working and caring cop, while hiding what a cold manipulative, murderous, apathetic, asshole bastard he truly is.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Much like Amanda, he appeared in a small scene in III and ended up being shown he was the first canonical apprentice and took up the Jigsaw killer reign after the deaths of Kramer and Young.
- Co-Dragons: With Amanda, though she didn't like him being there. The feeling is mutual with her.
- In Saw VI, Jill knocks out Hoffman and strapped an updated reverse bear trap mask on him with no means of escape as she had also strapped him to a chair before activating it. In desperation, Hoffman breaks his own hand to get it out of a strap to unstrap his other hand, then smashed the mask between bars to delay it from opening all the way in order to get it off. He manages to hack it, but gets the right side of his cheek ripped open.
- In Saw 3D, he really wants to get to Jill. Getting in his way? That is a very bad idea.
- Dirty Cop: Besides becoming one of Jigsaw's apprentices, he uses his knowledge of the legal system and due process to keep other cops off of his trail.
- Dragon Ascendant: After John and Amanda's deaths.
- Dragon with an Agenda: So he tries. Jigsaw apparently always seem to have the last laugh.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: One of his most prominent victims was a criminal who murdered his sister.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Even Hoffman has to look away as Strahm is crushed to death.
- Eviler Than Thou: Unlike Amanda (who apparently saw her inescapable traps as either ridding the world of unchangeable people or Mercy Kill examples) or John (who wanted his victims to live and be better), Hoffman just wants to kill those who know too much. Even that goes out the window in 3D, as, with his identity as the last Jigsaw known, he goes on a maniacal killing spree for the remainder of his screen time until he is caught.
- Faux Affably Evil: His entire affable demeanor is pretty fooling at first, that is until you witnessed his true colors under the Jigsaw persona is when you realize that his affable side is pretty much just an act to lower suspicions.
- Genius Bruiser: Hoffman's both as smart as Jigsaw and much stronger.
- Glasgow Grin: He receives half of one after narrowly escaping the Reverse Bear Trap.
- Jack the Ripoff: What drew attention to the original Jigsaw, who took offense that he would use his name and methods for revenge.
- Karmic Death: We don't see him die, but it's pretty obvious at the end of 3D that he's been left to a slow death by dehydration starvation by Lawrence. Word of God even confirmed he never makes it out. All things considered, he absolutely deserves it.
- Kick the Dog: Did this multiple times, including framing Strahm as Jigsaw's apprentice, replacing John's letter to Amanda with one of his own that threatened to reveal her secret, killing FBI lab technician Erickson, and detective Lindsay Perez to maintain his cover, and finally killing nearly 20 police personnel (directly or otherwise) as part of his plan to kill Jill Tuck.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: When his sister is killed by her boyfriend and said boyfriend is let off on a technicality, he avenges her death by killing the man in such a way that it would appear to be another Jigsaw killing.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: As a Knight Templar Big Brother, he avenges his sister's death by killing her boyfriend.
- Serial Killer: Takes up John's mantle of this after his and Amanda's deaths.
- The Sociopath: He seriously surpasses his mentor John Kramer on how many lines he's willing to cross. While the former had a moral lesson in mind with his doings and gave his victims a chance to survive, he makes his traps inescapable in the belief that murderers can't redeem themselves, being hypocritical in that statement while claiming so. His partner Amanda Young is a Broken Bird with standards, and was horrifyingly blackmailed by him simply because he didn't like her. He's also willing to murder people whom he worked with for over 20 years just to get away, as well as putting Detective Peter Strahm in an inescapable trap and blaming him for the murder he himself committed in Saw V. He finally crosses the Moral Event Horizon when he murders his mentor's ex-wife with a Reverse Bear Trap in Saw 3D. Luckily, justice was served to him as Lawrence, a secret apprentice of John's from the first movie, put him at his place and locked him in the infamous bathroom, in which he finally died.
- Start of Darkness: Saw V explored this in detail.
- The Stoic: For most of the time, but otherwise he would become Not So Stoic when he became Hot-Blooded.
- Took a Level in Badass: Over the course of VI.
- Villainous Valor: He's a murderous bastard, but escaping the Reverse Bear Trap was pretty damn impressive.
- Villain with Good Publicity: He's a decorated and highly respected police lieutenant with over 20 years experience and numerous promotions under his belt, a fact that's pointed out by Agent Lindsay Perez in Saw IV.
- Wife-Basher Basher: His first murder victim was a Domestic Abuser who killed his sister.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: He plays lightning rounds of this.
Played by: Shawnee SmithJigsaw's second canonical apprentice, a junkie who had been the first to survive his tests. She, like Hoffman, perverted Jigsaw's message by creating traps that were inescapable; she believed that Jigsaw's methods were too lenient. She also had an inadvertent hand in causing the miscarriage of Jigsaw's child.
"He helped me."
- Abusive Parents: Though deleted, in a line of the Saw III script, Amanda states when she was a child her father kept her locked in the basement, in the dark, for hours.
- Asshole Victim: In the 3rd movie, Amanda is shot in the neck by Jeff after she shot Lynn. Considering she perverted Jigsaw's philosophy by making inescapable traps because she doesn't believe the subjects deserve a chance while hypocritically believing herself to be the sole exception, she just becomes a sociopathic serial killer. Not to mention she was the one who caused all of this in the first place all because she wanted to get high on drugs.
- Bastard Understudy: Amanda is loyal to Jigsaw's philosophy, but takes it to a far more extreme degree.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: She was the only person to have ever survived one of Jigsaw's traps at the end of the first film. She eventually helped John continue his work.
- Brainy Brunette: She designed some of the traps and devices herself, in particular the shock collar that Lynn was forced to wear.
- Broken Bird: She's been the victim of Abusive Parents, framed for a crime she didn't commit, very nearly died in a death trap set up by a serial killer, and blackmailed by her rival apprentice... and she becomes a cynical and violent serial killer herself.
- Chekhov's Gunman: She has a bit part in Saw. She becomes much more important later.
- Co-Dragons: With Hoffman, though she didn't like him being there. The feeling is mutual with her.
- Deceptive Disciple: She's not really interested in continuing John's work of "make people suffer so they'll appreciate life more." Amanda just thinks people are irredeemable, and kills them outright.
- Determinator: While not to Hoffman's extent, Amanda really keeps herself in the game during her deception in the second movie.
- Dragon with an Agenda: While she did support Jigsaw's testing, she used inescapable traps rather letting the subject live.
- Even Evil Has Standards: While her traps were inescapable, she seemed to believe that she was doing people a mercy by simply letting them die rather than leaving them to suffer after surviving. A lot of her morality is shown through her actions with Adam: A deleted scene shows her having a guilt-ridden nightmare of his apparition asking her why she did what she did to him, and in the third film she mercy killed him rather than letting him starve and dehydrate to death, genuinely sobbing the whole time and quietly saying she was going to help him.
- Eviler Than Thou: Creates inescapable traps, unlike Jigsaw, who intends for his victims to survive.
- Final Girl: Subverted in the second film when it's revealed she was working with Jigsaw the whole time.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Amanda is apparently real quick to anger, which is not a very good situation if you ever find yourself under this woman's mercy as shown in Saw III with Lynn and especially who found out nearly too late, Matthews.
- Holier Than Thou: Amanda became Jigsaw's apprentice after successfully surviving a trap, but then perverts his philosophy by making inescapable traps designed to kill the victims as she believes they won't change if they do survive while arrogantly believing herself to be the sole exception.
- Human Pincushion: In Saw II, she's the one who gets tossed into the used hypodermic needle pit to retrieve one needle that has the key to the safe with one of that movie's antidotes. It is extremely traumatizing and excruciatingly painful, but she does retrieve the key, only for her comrade to drop it and fail to unlock the safe before it seals up, preventing them from getting the antidote.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Amanda towards Lynn in Saw III, since she wants John for herself. If she only knew Lynn was really Jeff's wife.
- Serial Killer: More up front about this than Kramer, as she doesn't even intend for her victims to live, as the traps she makes are inescapable.
- Stockholm Syndrome: She comes to think of John Kramer as a father figure and is intensely loyal to him. She says that he "helped [her]"... by kidnapping her when she was asleep/unconscious, duct-taping her to a chair with a Reverse Bear Trap on her head that we later find out causes a gory death if it goes off, and basically gets her to kill a guy to enable her very narrow escape from certain Death by Disfigurement.
- Tooka Level In Jerkass: In 3. She stars designing inescapable traps, and she bullies Lynn throughout her test.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In VI, it was revealed she pushed Cecil to steal drugs from Jill's clinic, therefore indirectly responsible for Jill's miscarriage and Jigsaw's Start of Darkness.
- Villainous Breakdown: In the third movie, we see her methodically commit self-harm early on in the film. Towards the end, she does it again, but this time without the ritual, just cutting herself quickly.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Even more so than Jigsaw.
Not a living character, but possibly the film series' most iconic face. A creepy white-faced puppet in a snappy little suit. Usually used to deliver messages to Jigsaw's victims via video screen.
- Advertised Extra: Despite his prevalence in the marketing, he doesn't appear in most traps and has limited screentime.
- Companion Cube: He's an iconic part of the Jigsaw brand, even after Hoffman takes over.
- Creepy Doll: He's not designed to look snuggly, let's put it that way.
- Evil Counterpart: Of a nicer looking harlequin doll John made for his unborn son.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Invoked. His voice is the voice of whoever is controlling him, digitally altered to sound deep and menacing.
- Giggling Villain: Manic and shrill, but it ultimately makes him more horrifying.
- Goth Spirals: Red ones on his cheeks.
- Hidden Weapons: Part of his head explodes in Saw IV, launching shrapnel into Detective Perez's face.
- Killed Off for Real: He's incinerated when Hoffman blows up his lair in Saw 3D, signifying the end of the series.
- Mascot: For the franchise as a whole.
- Monster Clown: His design, in an ironic contrast to the tone of the rest of the series.
- Mouth of Sauron: Jigsaw uses him to deliver remote messages.
- Nice Hat: He had a nice bowler hat in the original short film, but lost it in the series proper.
- No Name Given: His name is never actually revealed in the films.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Wouldn't be as terrifying without them.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: For a horrifying puppet from hell, he doesn't get many comments on his appearance. That is, until one passing comment on Jigsaw, but even then, he's "not creepy at all" as said by Ryan.
Played by: Betsy RussellJigsaw's ex-wife. Made her first appearance in Saw III (in flashbacks), and appears throughout the rest of the series.
"I'm only carrying out John's final request."
- Ascended Extra: She first appears in flashbacks in Saw III only to become a more prominent character later.
- Chained to a Railway: Only in a dream, though, in Saw 3D.
- Death by Irony: In Saw VI, Jill intended to kill Hoffman in a reverse bear trap, but managed to survive. In Saw 3D, Hoffman in turn puts Jill in the reverse bear trap, which kills her.
- Distressed Damsel: She turns into this in Saw 3D. Many fans were not pleased.
Played by: Scott PattersonAn FBI agent assigned to work with the local police on the Jigsaw case. He has a prominent role in IV and is the main protagonist in V.
- Captain Obvious: He spends much of his screen time in Saw V telling the audience what he sees and stating things that are already quite apparent.
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Hoffman attempted to use him for this in Saw VI. It failed.
- Determinator: He escapes Jigsaw's inescapable trap with a tracheotomy.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nice job shoving Hoffman into the glass box.
- Squashed Flat: His fate in the cube trap room when he doesn't listen to the entire tape from Hoffman.
- Too Dumb to Live: He ignored John's recorded warning to not go down the hall and he winds up in the cube trap. He ignores Hoffman's recorded warning to go into the glass coffin and he gets squished like a grape.
- Unwitting Pawn: While there are a bunch of these in the series, Strahm is the most blatant example.
Played by: Donnie Wahlberg
The main protagonist of Saw II, and a supporting character in Saw III and IV. A cop that is pulled into the Jigsaw case when one of his informants is killed in a Jigsaw trap.
- Asshole Victim: If you choose to believe Eric truly deserved his punishment.
- Determinator: In the second and third movies. He even smashes his own foot repeatedly in order to get out of a trap.
- Dirty Cop: He makes a habit of planting evidence on people. However, it is shown that the people that he framed were guilty of something, just not necessarily the thing he was framing them for.
- From Bad to Worse: He's in three of the movies. Every time we see him he is in worse shape than the last time we left him.
- Papa Wolf: He was extremely worried when Jigsaw had his son and was willing go to huge lengths to get him back. Unfortunately all that was required of him was to be patient.
- Rabid Cop: It's revealed that he has a very nasty record of violence towards most of the suspects.
- Your Cheating Heart: It's only mentioned in passing, but Eric and his wife separated after he had an affair with Kerry.
- Your Head Asplode: At the end of the fourth movie, between two blocks of ice.
Played by: Dina MeyerA side character in Saw I, II and III. The first cop assigned to the Jigsaw case, and the self proclaimed "Jigsaw Expert". She has been tracking this case from the beginning.
- By-the-Book Cop: Even through she's obsessed with solving the Jigsaw murders, unlike other cops in the series, she still adheres to the rules.
- Decoy Protagonist: Is at the center of Saw III for the first fifteen or so minutes before being quickly killed off.
- Emotionless Girl: According to Jigsaw.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: After two films as a central character, she's the second victim of the third film.
- Workaholic: She admits to be obsessed with solving the case.
Played by: Lyriq BentA side character in Saw II and III, and the main protagonist of Saw IV. He is a cop on the local police force.
- Anti-Hero: One of his fatal flaws. To start, he has a temperamental and focused personality, which stems from such situations, where he acted aggressive, and on some occasions, even turned violent, which brought him into conflict with the Internal Affairs Department. Despite this, Daniel is loyal to both his friends and his department, is extremely dedicated to his work and had a strong sense of justice. However, his quest to save and protect everyone turned into an obsession, which proves to be his undoing. See Unwanted Assistance below.
- Ascended Extra: He is a background character in Saw II and III, with a total of maybe 3 lines of dialog between the two movies. In IV, he is the main protagonist.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: The flaw Jigsaw was trying to get him to overcome.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The above trope usually results in this. Again, see Unwanted Assistance below.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: He is shot at the end of IV, but is otherwise alive. He is declared dead near the beginning of V.
- Survivor Guilt: His problem is that everyone around him keeps dying.
- Unwanted Assistance: Invoked by Jigsaw for his test. His test was to watch people suffer in their traps and seeing them get out of there, or try and help them. By the end of IV, Rigg kills several characters in misguided attempts at saving them.
Characters by Film
Saw I Characters
Dr. Lawrence Gordon
Played by: Cary ElwesHe is one of the main protagonists of the original Saw. The doctor who was treating John at the hospital, he wasn't particularly caring towards his patients, being more interested in treating the disease than the person. He was also taking his family for granted. Jigsaw thinks he has a way to teach him to appreciate them more...
"He doesn't want us to cut through our chains. He wants us to cut through our feet."
- An Arm and a Leg: Cuts off his right leg in order to escape at the end of the original Saw.
- Artificial Limbs: He's given a prosthetic foot by Jigsaw, but it leaves him a limp that he needs to correct with a cane.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Of all of the people who continued John's work, he seemed to get it the closest.
- Your Cheating Heart: Subverted. He considers it, but ultimately can't bring himself to go through with it.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The best example in the series. While he does show up at the beginning of the film, his sudden reappearance at the end of Saw 3D is a Deus ex Machina to stop Hoffman once and for all. It isn't seconds later, where its explained that John had inducted him into his philosophy.
- The Dragon: More or less takes this role in Saw 3D, to posthumous Big Bad John Kramer.
- Evil All Along: In a manner of speaking. He's at least more moral than Hoffman and even brings about his doom in the final scene of the Saw VII. In fact, he's among the nicer of Jigsaw's men.
- Face–Heel Turn: He was inducted into Jigsaw's philosophy after Jigsaw nursed him back to health.
- Fatal Family Photo: Notably averted. Gordon shows Adam a picture of his family in the first movie, and yet he is still alive in the 7th one. Considering the series' ludicrously high mortality rate, his survival would be impressive even if he didn't tempt fate with this trope.
- Freak Out!: Goes completely nuts when he thinks his family has been killed, leading to him cutting off his foot and shooting Adam.
- Irony: He was originally suspected by Detective Tapp of being Jigsaw. He was innocent at the time, but after going through his test he ended up becoming Jigsaw's most valued accomplice.
- Karma Houdini: He is the only known apprentice to not have been killed or confirmed to have been killed.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Leaving Hoffman to die in the bathroom.
- Large Ham: There are some moments in the first movie, but in Saw VII/3D, he seems to have taken classes about this.
- Mr. Exposition: Serves this purpose in the first film.
- Noble Demon: After his Face–Heel Turn; he's just as complicit as John is when it comes to torturing and killing people (some innocent, some less so). Albeit, he seems to stick closer to John's moral code than Amanda or Hoffman had. He at least doesn't do anything blatantly evil in Saw 3D and his only real contribution to the film is putting Hoffman in his place.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Especially in the first film. Carey Elwes just did not know how to fake an American accent.
- Walking Spoiler: Thanks to the Wham Shot in the seventh film.
Played by: Leigh WhannellThe other main protagonist of the original Saw, locked in the bathroom with Dr. Gordon. A photographer by trade, Adam was paid by David Tapp to take pictures of Lawrence.
"Face it Larry, we're both bullshitters. My camera, it doesn't know how to lie. It only shows you what's put right in front of it."
- Bad "Bad Acting": His attempt to convince Jigsaw that he's poisoned. It works as well as you would expect.
- Deadpan Snarker: "I went to bed in my shithole apartment, and woke up in an actual shithole."
- Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Beats Zep's head into a bloody pulp right as he's about to kill Lawrence.
- Freak Out!: Completely loses it after realizing Jigsaw has been in the room with him the whole time.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Claims his last girlfriend broke up with him because he's too angry.
- Mercy Kill: By Amanda, after her remorse caught up to her.
- Nice Guy: Even if his job was "dirty". He expresses genuine concern about Lawrence's family, and beats his would-be murderer to death.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Adam's actor, Leigh Whannell, is Australian, and though he's not perfect at hiding it, he's leagues ahead of Cary Elwes.
Played by: Danny Glover
- "Who said anything about a warrant?"
- Ascended Extra: Is the main character of the game.
- Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Despite having the best lead they've ever had to the Jigsaw Killer, Tapp, for some inexplicable reason, chooses to ignore protocol and charge in to arrest him without a warrant. As anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the law will tell you, any evidence taken without a warrant is inadmissible in a court of law. Nothing was achieved by this, except getting his partner killed and getting his own throat slashed. (Though, in this blunder, they had managed to save one person seemingly set to his death.)
- It seems like they were just following a lead and didn't necessarily expect to run into the actual killer or find his lair- either way, if they had caught him, Jigsaw would not have gotten Off on a Technicality in Real Life even if they did require a warrant, since Fruit of the Poisonous Tree does not apply in such extreme situations, especially when a life was saved. The law is not that dumb.
- Cowboy Cop: Doesn't seem to care too much about following procedure. This comes back to bite him.
- Determinator: This is the guy who, in the game, managed to rip off the Reverse Bear Trap without a key just by fiddling with the mechanics. Granted it's because he's studied the trap, but nobody else has done that.
- Driven to Suicide: Confirmed in Saw IV and (depending whether it's canon) shown in the true ending of the first Saw game.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Arguably his own fault, since his reckless actions got his partner killed, but taken to ridiculous levels in the video game, where everyone he saves blames him for their dilemmas.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Really inexcusable in this case, due to Tapp being a police officer with, presumably, hours of practice on the firing range.
- Rabid Cop: His recklessness results in his partner killed, his throat nearly slashed and him dismissed from the force.
- Scary Black Man: He has his moments, especially regarding the lengths he's willing to go to catch Jigsaw.
- Slashed Throat: Jigsaw slashes his throat with a concealed blade. He survives, albeit with a large scar across his neck and partially damaged vocal chords.
Played by: Michael EmersonAn orderly who tended to John Kramer while he was being diagnosed with cancer. He formed a sort of bond to the madman, which went horribly when Kramer decided to include him in his rise to evil.
"It's the rules."
- Asshole Victim: Although he was forced to do what he did to stay alive, Word of God is that he enjoyed it.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He shows up in one flashback scene before it's eventually revealed he's an antagonist.
- Disc-One Final Boss: His death leads to the franchise's true villain being revealed.
- The Dragon: Jigsaw blackmails him into this position.
- Kick the Dog: Some of his actions while holding Alison and Diana hostage are needlessly cruel, like forcing Alison herself to tell her husband that he's failed.
- Pet the Dog: He showed kindness to John, referring to him by name when Gordon simply referred to him as a patient. Gordon implied that Zep had a habit of forming bonds with patients.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He kidnaps Lawrence's family simply so he can survive his own test.
- Red Herring: Was one of the two characters who were believed to be Jigsaw in the first movie.
- Sadist: Scenes include him mockingly waving at Adam and Lawrence through the camera feed while saying "I see you", and menacing Alison and Diana with a gun while listening for their heartbeats to see how much they increase. On the commentary, it is stated that this was done to show that he enjoyed being given power over others.
- Starter Villain: He may be a small fry in the long run, but Zep is the first revealed antagonist in the franchise (not counting Billy).
- Too Dumb to Live: Despite working at a hospital, it never occurred to him to go to a poison control center for help.
Saw II Characters
Played by: Frankie GA drug dealer captured by Jigsaw and forced into the "Gas House" of Saw II with a half dozen other "subjects". He is notable in the series for being the only antagonist that is, at no point, aligned with Jigsaw in any way.
- Ax-Crazy: When he realizes how to get the combination to the safe.
- Berserk Button: He doesn't take the realization that Daniel is Eric Matthews' son very well at all.
- Brooklyn Rage: May or may not be a New Yorker but fits the bill.
- Dirty Coward: Xavier is so hellbent on getting the antidote he needs to survive that he threw Amanda into the trap intended for him.
- Hot-Blooded: Always angry and violent, even before he starts killing everyone.
- Jerkass: He's utterly rude to the other "subjects", and that's before he goes off the deep end.
- Jerk Jock: He's an overly aggressive meathead who alternates between bullying the other captives and trying to solve every problem with his muscles.
- Slashed Throat: How he's killed.
Played by: Tim BurdAn arsonist who is one of the captives of the "Gas House" of Saw II. Jigsaw/John Kramer insinuates on a tape that Obi had actually helped him get the "subjects" for the house by kidnapping one.
Saw III Characters
Played by: Angus MacfadyenThe main protagonist of Saw III. His son was killed by a drunk driver. He is unable to let go, to the detriment of the rest of his family, his daughter Corbett, and his wife, Lynn. Jigsaw devises a series of traps in an attempt to help him let go and forgive those responsible for his son's death.
- Aborted Arc: In Saw IV, the arc about saving his daughter by playing another game is abruptly cut short by Strahm shooting him dead.
- Decoy Protagonist: The last minute or so of Saw III sets him up as the protagonist for the next movie as well - "In order to save your daughter, you will need to play a game." Apparently the new writers brought in for IV didn't want to follow up on that plot line, since he is shot by Strahm seconds later. In another version of the Saw IV script, it was shown that Jeff was to have played a game similar to Strahm's in Saw V but with saw blades, and would have considered to be inside like a giant blender of sorts. He was still killed regardless.
- Papa Bear: All of his rage is over the death of his son. Anyone even remotely involved with the boy's death is responsible in his eyes.
- Parental Neglect: He's so busy grieving for his lost son that he has been neglecting his daughter.
- Revenge Before Reason: His fatal flaw.
Played by: Bahar SoomekhA major character in Saw III, Lynn is kidnapped by Amanda and forced to perform a brain surgery on John Kramer to keep him alive. In order to ensure her cooperation, a devise is placed on her neck that is hooked up to John's heart monitor, ensuring she only lives as long as he does.
- Emotionless Girl: To some extent. Justified, as she's grieving for her and Jeff's deceased son.
Saw IV Characters
Played by: Louis FerreiraA criminal defense lawyer as well as a friend and business partner of John Kramer. As his friend, Art supported his Urban Renewal Group, a foundation dedicated to property development for needy people under the motto "Four walls build a home." However, despite this social commitment, Art's work had a less honourable side, as he defended people for crimes they were guilty of. This got him targetted by John when he started the Jigsaw killings.
- Amoral Attorney: He successfully defended a rapist, a pimp, and an abusive husband & father.
- Asshole Victim: Subverted. He did defend several criminals guilty of serious crimes, yes - but he also supported John's Urban Renewal Group, a foundation dedicated to property development for needy people. Not to mention, he wasn't a willing pawn like Zep in the first Saw.
- Big NO: When Rigg bursts through the door at the last second before he can deactivate his trap along with Matthews' and Hoffman's.
- Boom, Headshot: While pulling out a tape recorder to prove he's not one of Jigsaw's accomplices, Rigg mistakes the tape recorder for a weapon and shoots him through the head, the bullet exiting out the back of his skull and causing brain matter to shoot out with it.
- Glasgow Grin: Is left with one after being put through a trap that involves his mouth and cheek being stitched shut.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Art runs at Rigg and gets shot in the left pectoral muscle. He collapses to the ground, but is otherwise okay. It's not until he's shot in the head by Rigg that he dies.
- Red Herring: Strahm suspects he's an accomplice of Jigsaw, and obviously so does Eric Matthews.
- Reckless Gun Usage: He points a revolver at a restrained Hoffman to calm an also restrained Matthews down... while keeping his finger on the trigger.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Every other word is a swear.
Played by: Billy OtisA drug addict and a thief. Cecil is Jigsaw's true first test subject. He first appears in Saw IV (in flashbacks), and also has a brief appearance in Saw VI (also in a flashback).
- Asshole Victim: Being a mugger responsible for the death of a baby in one of his muggings makes him deserve everything coming to him.
- Drugs Are Bad: Cecil is a drug addict, one of the reasons Jigsaw chooses to test him.
- Five-Finger Discount: Cecil is seen stealing in Saw IV, and at one point even tries robbing a rehabilitation clinic for Amanda Young, an act which ultimately leads to the death of John and Jill's son, Gideon.
Saw V Characters
Played by: Joris JarskyThe boyfriend and murderer of Hoffman's sister. Hoffman used his knowledge of Jigsaw to kill him and frame Jigsaw. When the real Jigsaw found out, he blackmailed Hoffman into becoming his accomplice.
- Asshole Victim: He was a murderer. He was given false hope by being told that he would live if he crushed his hands and ended up doing so for nothing though, so there's a tiny drop of pity there.
- Bastard Boyfriend: He killed his girlfriend.
- Blatant Lies: He claims the murder was an accident, but a flashback shows that Hoffman's sisters throat was slit. Yeah, he "accidentally" slit her throat.
- Dirty Coward: He whines, yells for help, says it was an accident, and has trouble even completing the task of crushing his hands.
- Off on a Technicality: He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but was released 20 years early due to an unexplained legal technicality.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His actions lead to Hoffman becoming Jigsaw's accomplice, and a person far worse than Seth.
Played by: Julie BenzA real estate developer who orchestrated the burning down of a building, killing 8 people. She is one of the Fatal Five.
- Iron Lady: She's the senior vice president of a real estate development company and will do sketchy thing to get her work down.
- Pragmatic Hero: Kills Lubba instead of Mallick the drug-addict because he would be less likely to turn against her in the next room.
- The Bad Guy Wins: While she isn't the villain of the movie, she manages to make it out alive despite being the most responsible for the fire.
Saw VI Characters
Played by: Peter OuterbridgeThe main protagonist of Saw VI. He is the head of a local health insurance office and is in charge of, among other things, allowing or denying claims. One of his customers was John Kramer; Easton personally denied coverage for an experimental treatment for John's brain tumor. That was probably not a good idea.
- Decoy Protagonist: As he realizes, the game in Saw VI isn't his, it's that of the family of one of the people he's let die.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: By the end of the movie, he did learn a thing or two about helping people. If he had lived, he may have become a better person.
- Redemption Equals Death: He passes all the tests and learns his lesson about helping people. Then it's revealed that the family of one of the people he let die are also playing a game: Letting him live or not. They choose not to, as they never forgave him, and he dies one of the most violent and painful deaths in the series.
- Sadistic Choice: Most of his tests revolve around this.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Despite learning his lesson and passing all his tests, he dies one of the most violent and painful deaths in the series.
- Would Hit a Girl: Well, she did try to cut him open.
Saw: The Final Chapter Characters
Played by: Sean Patrick FlaneryThe main protagonist of Saw 3D. Dagen realized that Jigsaw victims could make a lot of money by telling their story — if they weren't so traumatized by the experience. To this end, Dagen decides to lie about being a victim, publish a book about his "experience", and go on the talk show circuit to rake in the cash and fame. Jigsaw takes issue with this...
- Asshole Victim: By proxy.
- Determinator: Dagen is an asshole for lying, but he was fully willing to do what it took to keep his friends and wife alive, even if that meant ripping out his own back teeth and re-creating the trap that had gotten him there in the first place.
- Happily Married: After getting fame for his (false) survival story against Jigsaw, then gets happily married to the woman he loves. Too bad the "happily" part was short-lived after he and anyone associated with him get captured for one of Jigsaw's games.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: His final test involves recreating the trap he lied about surviving in the first place: hoisting himself up by chains hooked through his chest muscles to stop a trap from springing. His failure to recreate the trap as he described it cost him dearly.
- Only in It for the Money: His reason why he said he was a "victim" of Jigsaw; it would allow him to earn quick cash.
Played by: Matt PassmoreThe main character of Jigsaw. Logan is a medical examiner that works with the police. When the Jigsaw murders start up again, he is eventually made into a suspect. It's revealed that he is, in fact, Jigsaw's first apprentice.
- Action Dad: He has a daughter, but he can also hold his own in a fight when he kidnaps his victims.
- Badass Baritone: Not quite the same as John Kramer, but he can sound very intimidating when he delivers his The Reason You Suck speeches.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Was tortured as a prisoner of war during his time as a military medic.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: He works with the police to solve crimes. Including the Jigsaw murders, which he is personally responsible for.
- Hypocrite: He has the nerve to judge other people for their sins when he essentially, though not maliciously (it was an innocent mistake) condemned an innocent man to die a slow, painful, and altogether avoidable death out of sheer carelessness/negligence. He was also put into a Jigsaw game himself for that, then likely survived the experience only because of the compassion of the man whose life he doomed.
- Legacy Character: He is ultimately the apprentice who succeeds John as Jigsaw.
- Poetic Serial Killer: As expected of a Jigsaw apprentice.
- Villain Protagonist: The killer in addition to the main character.
- Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about this guy without bringing up The Reveal.
- Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: He's a well-intentioned forensic pathologist. He is also the new Jigsaw.
Played by: Hannah Emily AndersonThe assistant medical examiner who collaborates with Logan in investigating the new Jigsaw murders.
- Hospital Hottie: A extremely attractive medical examiner.
- Nightmare Fetishist: She is absolutely obsessed with Jigsaw, to the point of trolling the dark web for sites and information on him and having an entire warehouse full of replicas of the various traps he built over the course of the series.
- Red Herring: The viewers are led to believe that she's the new Jigsaw killer because she's a Fangirl of Jigsaw and has built replicas of many of his previous traps. But the real killer is Logan.
Played by: Callum Keith RennieThe chief detective investigating the new Jigsaw murders.
- Anti-Hero: He is a very brusque crooked cop. He also genuinely wants to stop the Jigsaw murders and doesn't hesitate to confront the killer without any backup.
- Cowboy Cop: Rolls up to an active crime scene in a Chevrolet SS while smoking a cigarette and not wearing a bulletproof vest, unlike his partner.
- Dirty Cop: He is guilty of tampering with evidence and letting his criminal informants go, one of whom ended up killing Logan's wife.
- Rabid Cop: According to Logan, he has a tendency to rough up suspects.
- Smoking Is Cool: Is seen smoking a cigarette several times to emphasize his somewhat reckless and laid back attitude.