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YMMV / Saw

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Hello, troper.

I wrote this note as an... insurance policy, of sorts. If you are reading this, it is because, while adding tropes to the main page of my films, you added... a YMMV item.

You knew full well the consequences of doing so, yet you put the trope on the main page anyway, foolhardy in your beliefs as to how widespread your opinion was.

Well now you have one last shot at redemption. Below is a partial listing, started by those who came before and made the same grave mistake as you, of subjective tropes found in my films. If you wish to escape your predicament, you must complete this list, before that anvil drops. It is closer now, troper, but luckily for you, there are fewer subjective tropes than tropes that belong on the main page.


And remember, troper, all of these items are subjective; if you do not take into account the opinions of those who disagree with you while adding examples, you will not succeed.

Your opinions brought you here, and now you must put them on display for all to see if you wish to escape with your life.

Live or die, troper.

Make your tropes.

WARNING: This page contains no small number of spoilers, but many of the examples below will assume you have knowledge of the spoilers revealed by the endings of the first four films — and as such, those spoilers frequently go untagged. You Have Been Warned!


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  • Acceptable Targets: Many of Jigsaw's victims are deplorable characters, such as thieves, racists, gangsters, killers, rapists, and lawyers. In some cases, though, the victims have only made minor mistakes in their lives, and others are completely innocent.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Jigsaw a true monster, or a legitimately sick and tragically misguided social engineer? Maybe even something to do with his deteriorating mind?
  • Awesome Music: The series' main theme, commonly known as "Hello Zepp".
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Hoffman, Hoffman, Hoffman. There really is no solid middle ground with this guy. Fans either find him to be devious and formidable as hell or a lousy, crooked detective that doesn't hold a candle to Jigsaw.
    • Jeff and Bobby, the heroes (depending on whom you ask) of Saw III and Saw 3D, respectively. Even with their sympathetic backstories/fates (the former being consumed with grief from the death of his son due to a drunk driver and the latter's lies causing everyone he loves, including his wife, to be killed), they both end up doing more harm than good with the incompetency and arguably hog the plots away from more interesting characters (such as Detective Kerry and the returning Dr. Gordon).
  • Better on DVD: Due to the highly serialized nature of the franchise, the general consensus is that it's best to watch the movies back-to-back, which makes the increasingly convoluted plot much easier to follow.
  • Broken Base:
    • The plot of the movies starting with the fourth one, which kept adding more twists about John Kramer, his life, and how Crazy-Prepared he was. On one hand, some Saw fans find the plots and their twists genuinely entertaining, saying that they leave ways to keep people guessing, and that John is an evil genius who may have a point to all of his tortures. On the other hand, some people find the twists to be ruining the overall story, and that John's pre-planning is so close to clairvoyance that it breaks the Willing Suspension of Disbelief. There's not much middle ground.
    • For that matter, John's role in the fourth film and beyond. Were the new villains trying to leave a Villainous Legacy for the Jigsaw Killer? Had his point already been proved? Or did it just not work at all?
    • The increasingly elaborate traps as the series progresses are either cool ways to ramp up the gore, or miss the point of the whole series. Again, not much middle ground.
  • Catharsis Factor: Considering how many Hate Sink characters there are in this franchise, it's pretty difficult not to cheer when they get brutally murdered. But to be more specific...
    • Saw: Zep Hindle. Although he was forced to go through with (almost) killing Dr. Gordon's wife and daughter to survive, Word of God confirmed that he enjoyed every minute of it. He also shot and killed Detective Tapp.
    • Saw II: Xavier Chavez. He threw Amanda into a pit of needles during a game that was meant for himself, murdered Jonas, and left Addison to die from blood loss instead of trying to help her.
    • Saw IV: Ivan Landsness. Not only did he rape at least three women, he literally filmed and photographed himself during the act to watch and get off on over and over again.
    • Saw 3D: Mark Hoffman. Despite having a Freudian Excuse for being Ax-Crazy, he has still committed several inexcusable atrocities such as blackmailing Amanda, framing Strahm even after killing him, decimating an entire police force, and murdering Jill.
    • Jigsaw: Anna. She murdered her own baby in a fit of rage and then framed her husband for it, causing him to hang himself out of guilt. She also doomed Ryan's chance of escaping by destroying the key to his shackles.
    • Spiral: Although it's short-lived given what happens next, Zeke beating seven shades of shit out of Schenk is immensely satisfying to watch. Zeke is the first protagonist since Eric or Jeff to beat a Jigsaw killer, or at least someone patterning himself out to be like John.
  • Continuity Lockout: Even with all the occasional retcons, each subsequent film seems to be under the impression that you've watched the first film up until that point. To the point where even the synopsis can spoil too much if you haven't watched past films.
  • Creepy Awesome: Jigsaw and his two disciples, Amanda and Hoffman.
  • Critical Dissonance: The movies were never popular with critics, yet they always had a rabid fanbase willing to have them do gangbusters at the box office. This seemed to be in doubt when the 10th anniversary re-release of the first film fell hard at the box office, leading some to suspect that newer horror franchises (such as Paranormal Activity) had finally supplanted it. Then the eighth film, Jigsaw, was released in 2017 to the same rabid success as its predecessors, proving that rumors of the demise of the franchise were greatly exaggerated.
    • History repeats with the release of Spiral, which opened to negative critical reception but positive fan feedback and decent office performance despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Hoffman has quite a large fanbase who see him as undeniably awesome for escaping the Reverse Bear Trap. In fact, many choose to disregard Word of God saying that he dies in the bathroom. Seriously, canon vs. fanon.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Adam from the first movie is by far one of the most popular characters amongst fans, so much so that many maintain that he's not actually dead, either jokingly or seriously, and use plot inconsistencies and continuity errors as evidence.
  • Evil Is Cool: Jigsaw/John Kramer, a menacing and charismatic villain with an intriguing MO. Even when fans felt that the films were going downhill, Tobin Bell could always be counted on to be menacing and creepy. Some fans feel this way about the succeeding Jigsaw killers, but none could really surpass the original.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Hoffman gets this treatment from the fanbase a lot, thanks to combining the above-mentioned Evil Is Cool-ness with being a decently attractive man.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Fans of Hoffman generally ignore Word of God stating that Hoffman died in the bathroom at the end of 3D.
  • First Installment Wins: The first movie is hailed as a horror classic. The sequels are not as liked (at most there's a pass for the second and third, which still kept writer Leigh Whannell), especially for their overreliance on Gorn and making the plots increasingly complicated and stupid.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Two of them in the first movie, ironically coming from its Signature Scenes at that. The Reverse Bear Trap scene, while fairly understated compared to later films (especially given that Amanda escaped the trap), arguably foreshadowed the series' descent into becoming a pure Gorn franchise. Likewise, the Twist Ending of Jigsaw being the seemingly dead guy on the bathroom floor, which didn't really affect the plot all that much but was still an awesome moment, led the sequels to pile on further twists that eventually degenerated into a Kudzu Plot.

  • Harsher in Hindsight: Saw 3D featured Chester Bennington of Linkin Park as one of the victims of Jigsaw's traps. He wound up committing suicide on July 20, 2017, the same day that the first trailer for Jigsaw came out.
    • In the first film, Lawrence promises his daughter that he's not going to leave her. By the time the seventh film rolls around, his wife's divorced him because of his mental instability and taken their daughter with her. Not to mention that he's working with the same guy as the man that held her hostage, after telling her that "The Bad Man" didn't exist and wasn't hiding in her room.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Some fans refuse to believe that Adam is dead and theorize his body in the sequels has been replaced with another one because of a continuity error (his corpse is shown to be chained by his right ankle while in the first movie he was chained by his left).
  • Ho Yay:
    • Believe it or not, it's been suggested between Lawrence and Adam.
    • Hoffman and Strahm!
  • Idiot Plot: Even people who've dealt with Jigsaw in the past turn into idiots when the plot requires it of them.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: "Chainshipping" for Lawrence/Adam.
  • It Was His Sled: At this point, it's impossible to read anything about the series —including this page— without finding out that Jigsaw is John Kramer. (See?) The once-shocking twist is also naturally lost on anybody who watches the films out of order.
  • Magnificent Bastard: John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer, was a law-abiding civil engineer before losing his unborn son, becoming estranged from his wife, and being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in quick succession. Jigsaw uses his skills and intellect to become a prolific Serial Killer, designing elaborate death traps and picking his victims on the basis of their perceived lack of gratitude for the blessing of life. Fostering multiple protegés, only some of whom are even aware of each other, Jigsaw blackmails a hospital orderly to impersonate him to allay suspicion, manages to escape from police custody by manipulating the lead detective responsible for capturing him, uses his more devoted followers as back-up insurance against those who do not follow his teachings properly, and is responsible for schemes planned so far in advance that he continues to affect events even a decade after his death.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some fans think that what Jigsaw does isn't murder because he gives his victims a way out, and that Jigsaw's principle is noble in that those who survive his games will become better people. This despite his ideals being so full of holes you could use it to strain pasta, his hypocrisy, his sadism, his very-much-a-murderer actions and his pretentiousness and pride of such magnitude that he never once entertains the concept that almost none of the people who survive his traps were better off for it.
    • Perhaps because of this, one of the main themes of Saw III was that Jigsaw's work was ultimately a failure, and that those who survived his games weren't changed at all. Amanda, for example, had resumed cutting herself, and still had the same psychological issues that she had before Jigsaw 'helped' her. If anything, she now had murder as an outlet for them. In fact, his two main apprentices are a good reflection of the flaws in his plan; neither changed their ways after dealing with him and made more murderous (and inescapable) traps, turning them into worse people even after supposedly "understanding life". Only one apprentice, the one from Jigsaw, actually kept his sanity and followed John's work closely - and only because he was mostly sane and rational to begin with.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Many people believe that Hoffman is beyond redemption after all the things he had done, including mimicking Jigsaw's trap to commit murder and blackmailing Amanda to make look bad in front of John.
    • Lampshaded In-Universe by Mallick in V, as he says that everyone of the Fatal Five, including himself are all monsters who deserve Jigsaw's punishments. Zig-zagged in that Mallick acknowledges his own sins and is remorseful, so it could be the first step of his redemption.
  • Paranoia Fuel: If you have ever done something bad in your life, or are doing it right now, Jigsaw will find you and put you through a terrifying, bloody test that will drain your mental health to a grain of salt, or kill you painfully. Admit it, a lot of people had this thought after watching at least one movie.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Hoffman to Jigsaw.
    • Gibson, who replaced far more likable law enforcement officials like Kerry, Eric, Rigg, Strahm and Perez. Unlike the others, he doesn't even survive halfway through his introductory film.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Two cases:
    • First is Jigsaw, as the main character of this Villain-Based Franchise who fans started to get behind after awhile ala Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, etc. His status as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds wins him a lot of sympathy points, and his Affably Evil justifications for the things he does and people he does them to do at times have some merit (but are not completely foolproof).
    • Quite a few people are behind Hoffman because of his actions in V and VI painting him as a badass Determinator who improvises plans on the fly whenever things start going bad for him. Just as many if not more people are happy he got his final comeuppance in 3D.
  • The Scrappy: As the sequel number increases, so do the number of characters generally perceived as annoying or useless. The original Saw is arguably the only one that doesn't have a scrappy in it. It gets rather frustrating when the main character being tested is the scrappy, and even more frustrating when it appears that a scrappy is going to get out of the heap, but ends up getting killed instead. Special mentions include:
    • Even before Dead Meat made him a further joke, Jeff from III was very disliked for taking way too much time to do literally anything and for screwing things up once he eventually got down to doing them, resulting in the deaths of six people, including his own wife.
    • Shelby from the Shotgun Carousel and Simone from the opening trap of VI. Simone gets Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in 3D, but Shelby? No such luck.
    • Brent, the horribly annoying and murderous teen from VI. Not even having recently lost his father can make him in any way endearing or likeable.
  • Sequelitis:
    • Fans have debated whether the series has suffered from Sequelitis, and if so, at what point. Some say it was the second film ("Saw never needed a sequel!"), others say it was the third ("the second film only counts!") or fourth ("the third movie finished the series perfectly!"), and others say it was the fifth ("that movie just plain sucked!"). Oddly enough, most of these usually agree that the sixth was a surprising improvement and felt like a return to form for the series. 3D was almost universally panned by fans and critics alike at first, but opinion eventually became too wildly varied to pin down any fan consensus.
    • Honestly, the series was supposed to stop at the third film, but when Lionsgate saw how much money it was bringing in, they demanded that the script to III be changed to allow more movies to be made. The suckiness of IV and V and Sequelitis in general are the fault of Executive Meddling.
  • Squick: Lots of it. Every film in the franchise (following the first) is practically built on it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: "Hello Zepp" is extremely reminiscent of "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney.
  • Tear Jerker: As dark and disturbing as this franchise is, it still has a few heart-wrenching moments.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: A common issue fans have with the series is that it tends to be too trigger happy with some of the major characters when they still had a lot of story left to offer. Some examples incude:
    • Allison Kerry in Saw III. A major protagonist in the previous two movies who appears to be stepping into a leading role... only to fall victim to Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome and never be mentioned again for the rest of the film.
    • Peter Strahm in Saw V, a badass Determinator FBI agent who had upgraded from supporting character to a main protagonist, survived an inescapable trap, and began piecing things together about Jigsaw and his apprentices... only to be killed in an incredibly nasty way at the end of the film, which didn't really amount to a strong impact on the A-plot anyways.
    • Lindsey Perez in Saw VI. A popular character who died offscreen only to be brought back (with the previous death being retconned into an attempt at faking it)... to be unceremoniously killed off again. Though this time it was onscreen, at least.
    • The latter two are made even more confusing, since Saw 3D introduced a brand new cop character to take on the role of main protagonist when either one could have taken the role on, providing a character that audiences already had an investment in (rather than wasting time developing a major, never before seen new character in the final film) while also creating a stronger connection to the previous films.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: While the franchise started off with effective use of psychological and tragedy elements to provoke feelings on audiences, later films make it hard to care about the protagonists and other characters, due to the movies' constant use of Anyone Can Die and Downer Endings. More often than not, a protagonist who's making good progress will abruptly die as a form of Shoot the Shaggy Dog or Yank the Dog's Chain at the end of their debut installment, and if they don't, it will happen in the next one with the application of Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome or Decoy Protagonist. The progressively larger amount of Scrappies as the storyline advances doesn't help either.
  • Wangst: Jeff Denlon, the protagonist from Saw III, suffers from this badly. Understandably, he is still grieving the drunk-driving related death of his young son, but to the point that he can't function, ignores his surviving daughter or complete any of his tasks, which results in getting several people killed, including his wife. He also kills John Kramer via a Slashed Throat, believing that he actually did some good as a means to an end. He eventually gets his from Strahm in Saw IV.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Despite only being a major character in the first film, Detective David Tapp has had two video games dedicated to a What If? scenario where he plays his own game, and is the Survivor representative of the series in Dead by Daylight.
  • The Woobie: Given most of the characters go through horrible physical and psychological torture, usually leading to incredibly painful and unceremonious ends for themselves, their friends, or family, it's easier to list the ones who don't qualify.



  • Game-Breaker: Punching with your fists is an easier and much quicker way of defeating an enemy than using any weapon in the game, perhaps barring the revolver.
  • Narm:
    • In the first game, after going through a minigame that involved Jeff getting impaled numerous times, David Tapp calmly asks him, "Are you bleeding?"
    • You wouldn't think an options menu would be unintentionally hilarious, but Saw manages. The audio test for dialogue volume is a man screaming for help on loop. However, the voice acting sounds more like something that wouldn't be out of place in Rick and Morty.
    • In the second game, after saving Sarah, Michael Tapp asks her "do you know your name?"
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: A minor case; though praised for its story and immersive environment, the game was panned due to its wonky controls and combat system.


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