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Characters: SAW

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. You Have Been Warned.


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    Villains 

John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell)

John 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, then forces them through sadistic "tests" where there are usually only two outcomes: live (and gain a new outlook on life) or die (and gain a new outlook on the afterlife). 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.
  • Affably Evil: He kidnapped people and forced them to go through their problems in the form of "tests", but the only thing that was different between John Kramer and his other apprentices was that John never lied and was truthful.
  • Big Bad: Of the first three movies, and becomes the Bigger Bad after his death in Saw III.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the first movie, he's the man that Dr. Gordon is going over with his interns.
  • The Chessmaster
  • Crazy-Prepared
  • 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.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first film has him murdering a policeman whose only offense was trying to get in his way. See his second example under Hypocrite for more.
  • 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: His entire philosophy.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare
  • Handicapped Badass
  • Happily Failed Suicide: For him, anyway. Everyone else...
  • Hypocrite:
    • He claims to despise murderers and denies that he is one, yet many of his games either require somebody to commit murder, or will result in someone else's death if they fail. Some games feature both. He likewise seems to target people who have slighted him, using any "flaws" he can find as an excuse to place them in his games.
    • He straight-up murders a policeman in the first movie due to a boobie trap. Said cop is only ever shown prioritizing saving lives over catching criminals, making his death at Jigsaw's hands directly against Jigsaw's stated goals.
  • Karmic Death: A staple of his traps, though not universal.
  • The Kindnapper: He claims to be kidnapping people and placing them in lethal deathtraps to help them appreciate their lives and to rehabilitate them.
  • Knight Templar
  • 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.
  • Posthumous Character: After III and IV.
  • Relative Button: Sure, they may be divorced, but don't you ever harm his wife.
  • Serial Killer: He denies it and some characters agree with him due to technicalities, but that's all they are, technicalities. At best you could call him a serial torturer, which is just as bad, and most of his victims die anyway, not to mention those games of his that require someone to die.
  • Start of Darkness: The events that led to John taking up his "work" are detailed over several films.
  • Thanatos Gambit
  • ‹bermensch
  • Villainous Legacy: Jigsaw is killed in Saw 3, but the series is continued on by his apprentices and the plans he's left for them to follow.
  • Villains Never Lie: While his apprentices stray from this key tenant, the uniting idea of Jigsaw's traps is that there is always a way out, no matter how traumatic or difficult it may be, the victim always has hope to win and be free and alive. And they are usually told exactly what they have to do to win in the recorded messages he leaves for them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Very extreme.
  • Wham Shot: Provides one at the end of the first movie.
  • What Might Have Been: Was originally supposed to have a Heel Realization just before his death in the third movie, when he's too weak and feeble to properly become The Atoner.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds

Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)

Jigsaw'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.

Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith)

Jigsaw'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.

Killed by Jeff Denlon at the end of III.
  • 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.
  • Affably Evil
  • Ascended Extra: She has a bit part in Saw. She becomes much more important later.
  • Bastard Understudy
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil
  • 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.
  • Deceptive Disciple
  • The Dragon
    • Co-Dragons: With Hoffman, though she didn't like him being there.
    • 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 escaping. She also mercy killed Adam rather than letting him starve to death.
  • Eviler than Thou: Creates inescapable traps, unlike Jigsaw, who intends for his victims to survive.
  • 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.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Amanda towards Lynn in Saw III. If she only knew Lynn was really Jeff's wife...
  • Posthumous Character: In VI.
  • Serial Killer
  • 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds

    Heroes 

Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes)

He 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...
  • Anti-Hero: Becomes Type V after his Face-Heel Turn; the only thing that prevents him from being an outright villain is the fact that he's just as moral as Jigsaw and at least follows all his instructions to the letter. Alternatively a Type I Anti-Villain, since 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.
  • Affably Evil: Post Jigsaw philosophy.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil
  • 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 series. 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: Quite possibly the biggest defiance of this trope in film history. 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.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Badass: In the first film.
  • Mr. Exposition: Serves this purpose in the first film.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Especially in the first film. Carey Elwes just did not know how to fake an American accent.
  • Walking Spoiler
  • What Could Have Been: He was originally supposed to appear in the first video game to act as Mr. Exposition.

Adam Stanheight/Faulkner (Leigh Whannell)

The 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 Gordon while Tapp was trying to pin the Jigsaw murders on Gordon.
  • 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."
  • Killed Off for Real: Left to die of starvation by Jigsaw at the first movie's end.
    • Of course, that's not how he eventually died. A flashback in Saw III confirms this.
  • Mercy Kill: By Amanda, after her remorse caught up to her.
  • Nice Guy: Even if his job was "dirty".

David Tapp (Danny Glover)

The detective assigned to the Jigsaw case before Eric Matthews. After finding evidence pointing to Lawrence Gordon as the Jigsaw Killer, he began to obsess over arresting him, even after Gordon's alibi proved that he couldn't be the killer. After Jigsaw wounded him and killed his partner, Steven Sing, he was discharged from the force.
  • Ascended Extra: Is the main character of the (debatably canonical) 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 die)
    • 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.
  • 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 part 4 and (considering if its canon) shown in the true ending of the first Saw game.
  • 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.
  • Lawful Stupid: Seems unable to wrap his head around the possibility that Dr. Gordon may not be the Jigsaw Killer.
    • Somewhat Justified since it is implied that Jigsaw had been deliberately setting Dr Gordon up (stealing his pen and leaving it at a crime scene, which is why Tapp comes to Gordon in the first place). Still, he holds onto that theory long after it became implausible at best (though he may simply have thought Gordon was at least involved, if he wasn't the killer).
    • It's also Ret Conned that Hoffman was meant to be deliberately encouraging him to believe Gordon to be responsible. It's not clear if that stopped with the pen light or if he was feeding into his obsession even after he was dismissed from the force.
    • It still doesn't answer for the time he and his partner saw Jigsaw's face the partner died which proves that Gordan is not Jigsaw.
  • Rabid Cop: His recklessness results in his partner killed, his throat nearly slashed and him dismissed from the force.

Eric Matthews (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.
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Jerkass
  • 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.

Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen)

The 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass
  • Killed Off for Real: By Strahm.
  • 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.

Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh)


A 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.

Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent)

A side character in Saw II and III, and the main protagonist of Saw IV. He is a cop on the local police force.
  • 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.
  • Stop Helping Me!: In-Universe and 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.
  • 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.

Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson)

An 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.

William Easton (Peter Outerbridge)

The 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.

Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery)

The 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
  • 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.

    Side Characters 

Xavier Chavez (Frankie G)

A 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.

Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer)

A 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.

Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell)

Jigsaw's ex-wife. Made her first appearance in Saw III (in flashbacks), and appears throughout the rest of the series. She is eventually killed by Hoffman in the last film.

    Billy 
Not a living character, but possibly its 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.
  • Creepy Doll: He's not designed to look snugly, let's put it that way.
  • Mascot: For the film series as a whole.


Saving Private RyanCharacterSheets/Live-Action FilmsScarface (1983)

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