This article is about the movie character. You may be looking for his video game counterpart.

Face it, Larry, we're both bullshitters. But my camera isn't. It doesn't know how to lie. It only shows you what's put right in front of it.
— Adam reveals to Lawrence that he was observing him[src]

Adam Stanheight is a fictional character from the Saw franchise. He serves as one of the main protagonists of the first Saw film.

He was portrayed by Leigh Whannell.

Biography

Observation of Lawrence Gordon

Adam secretly observes Lawrence

Adam Stanheight was a photographer, who made a living by observing and photographing other people for money. One of his clients was David Tapp, a former homicide detective, who used to work for the Metropolitan Police Department. Under the alias of "Bob," he paid Adam $200 per night to observe the renowned oncologist Dr. Lawrence Gordon, whom he suspected to be a wanted serial killer known as Jigsaw. Adam followed Gordon for several days and took numerous photos of him. On one occasion, he followed him to the run-down Hotel Barfly, where Gordon met up with his medical student, Carla, with whom he had an affair. Eventually, Adam's work made him a target of the actual Jigsaw Killer, John Kramer. (Saw)

Abduction

Adam searches his apartment for the invader

After Adam returned to his apartment to develop the photos, he fell asleep in his darkroom. When he woke up again, he noticed that the electricity in his entire apartment had failed. Upon hearing a sudden noise, Adam realized that someone else was in his flat. He carefully left his darkroom and used the flash of his camera to find the invader. Upon entering the living room, Adam found a mechanical ventriloquist puppet, sitting in his armchair and mockingly laughing at him. He grabbed a baseball bat and destroyed the doll when he realized that the intruder had gone into hiding in his closet. However, when he opened it, he was attacked by an accomplice of Jigsaw, Amanda Young, who covered her face with a pig mask. After a brief struggle, Adam eventually lost consciousness. (Saw, Saw III)

Test

Amanda takes Adam to the bathroom

Amanda took his unconscious body to a dilapidated bathroom in an underground tunnel network, where John Kramer had prepared a deadly game for him. As she entered the room, John stood in front of a mirror and applied fake blood to his head, making him look like he had shot himself. When he ordered Amanda to shackle Adam to a pipe in the back corner of the room by his left leg, Amanda removed his belt and shoes and fettered him with a metal brace. She heaved him into a bathtub filled with water and threw the key to his chain onto his stomach. Meanwhile, John poured a bucket of fake blood on the floor in the middle of the room and injected himself with a medicament that slowed his heart rate and relaxed his muscles. After finishing their preparations, Amanda took Adam's shoes and belt and the things they had used to set up the game and was about to leave. John, however, stayed in the room and lay down in the puddle of blood with a tape recorder in one hand and a revolver in the other, which fully gave him the appearance of a suicide victim. Then, Amanda turned off the light, left the room, and closed the heavy sliding door behind her. (Saw, Saw III)

Adam in the bathroom

Shortly afterward, Adam woke up and gasped for breath after sinking into the water while unconscious. When he scrambled from the bathtub, he inadvertently pulled the plug without noticing how the key, which Amanda had left for him, went down the drain. He immediately panicked and screamed for help when he suddenly heard a man's voice in the darkness. When this man eventually found a switch and turned on the light, Adam recognized him as Lawrence Gordon, who was chained to a metal pipe in the opposite corner of the room, just like him. However, he pretended not to know his fellow prisoner. Instead, he further panicked when he saw the body of John Kramer, covered in blood. Gordon, however, calmed him down again. After introducing himself, he asked Adam whether he knew the dead man or remembered how he ended up in the bathroom, which Adam denied. Despite his fear and distrust, Adam eventually told Gordon his name. Gordon pointed out that their abductor could have killed them already and, therefore, assumed that they wanted something from them. As he further examined the room, he noticed a clock on the wall, which was factory-fresh, as opposed to the environment, and concluded that their abductor wanted them to know what time it was.

Gordon then tried to open the sliding door within his reach when Adam suddenly found a white envelope with his name on it in his pants pocket. It included a mini-cassette with the message "Play me" written on it. Gordon found such an envelope in his pocket as well. Besides another cassette, it also included a key and a single bullet. He immediately tried to use the key on his shackle. As this attempt remained unsuccessful, he threw it to Adam, who couldn't free himself either. Moments later, Adam noticed the tape recorder in John Kramer's hand. As it was out of reach, he tried to use his shirt to get possession of it. When this didn't work, Adam tied the plug from the bathtub to one of the sleeves. After some more attempts, he finally got the recorder when the stopper got caught up in a loop attached to it.

Adam plays the tape

When he put the cassette into the recorder and played it, a distorted voice gave him a gruesome ultimatum. His abductor mockingly confronted Adam with his voyeuristic work, which mainly comprised spying on other people. On this day, he would watch himself die unless he did something about it. Once the tape was over, Gordon asked him for the recorder to listen to his own recording. Out of fear that he could destroy the tape player by throwing it across the room, Adam refused and demanded the tape from Gordon, which the latter eventually threw to him after briefly protesting against it. Gordon's tape had been recorded by the same distorted voice, which confronted him with the fact that he gave people the news of their impending death on every day of his working life. Now, it was his task to kill another human himself. The voice demanded that he killed Adam by 6 o'clock. Otherwise, his daughter, Diana, and his wife, Alison, would die, while he would be left to rot in the bathroom. Furthermore, he learned that there were many clues and useful tools hidden in the room, which could help him solve his task. One of these clues was a cryptic message, according to which an "X marked the spot for the treasure." Additionally, the voice told him about the seemingly dead John Kramer, pointing out that the only thing left to do, when there was that much poison in one's blood, was to shoot oneself.

Adam searches the toilet

When the recording ended, Gordon once again demanded the recorder from Adam. This time, Adam threw it to him without hesitation. Upon repeatedly winding the tape back and forward, Gordon discovered one final clue. At the end of the recording, he heard the voice whispering, "Follow your heart." Seconds later, he noticed a heart drawn on the tank of a water closet next to Adam. Despite his disgust, Adam searched the dirty toilet, albeit unsuccessful. However, when he examined the tank, he found a black plastic bag inside, which contained two hacksaws and his photos of Gordon. Adam immediately tried to saw through his chain and tossed the other saw to the doctor. Unnoticed by his fellow prisoner, he threw the bag with the photos into the empty bathtub. As the men tried to cut through their chains, Adam's saw broke after a few seconds. He angrily hurled it towards a mirror on the wall, causing a single shard to break out. When Gordon's attempts to free himself remained unsuccessful as well, the latter eventually concluded that the saws weren't meant to cut through their chains, but to cut off their feet. Thereby, he realized that they had been abducted by the Jigsaw Killer and told Adam how Jigsaw had tried to frame him for one of his murders by leaving Gordon's penlight at a crime scene five months earlier.

Adam threatens Gordon with the glass shard

Although he was shocked by the things Gordon told him about Jigsaw and his deeds, Adam's distrust grew further and, for a moment, even lead him to the conviction that Gordon himself had something to do with his abduction. In a fit of rage, he grabbed the shard from the mirror and threatened to kill Gordon if he didn't tell him what was going on around them. However, he stopped when he realized that the shard belonged to a one-way mirror. Adam threw pieces of broken tiles at the mirror, thereby destroying the glass entirely. In doing so, he discovered a camera positioned behind it. To his dismay, it was protected by a second, shatterproof glass pane. Gordon tried to calm him down so they could concentrate on Jigsaw's clues instead of becoming exasperated with the camera. When Adam subsequently asked him whether he even thought about the things Jigsaw could do to his family in the meantime, Gordon told him about the final conversation with his daughter on the night of his abduction.

Adam finds the photo

Thereby, he put oil on troubled waters. When Adam asked him whether he wanted more children, Gordon denied this as it was already hard enough for him and his wife to do justice to Diana. During their conversation, Gordon threw his wallet to Adam to take a look at some photos of Diana. However, when Adam searched the purse for a picture of Gordon's wife, he made a horrifying discovery. Instead of the photo he was looking for, he found an image signed with the word "Regards" and a drawn jigsaw piece. The picture showed Diana and Alison, gagged and tied up in the bedroom of their apartment. As he didn't want to worry him, Adam didn't tell Gordon about the picture and instead gave him the wallet back, claiming that the photo of his wife wasn't there. While the confused doctor searched the purse, Adam unobtrusively took another look at the picture. On the backside, Jigsaw had written the message, "X marks the spot. Sometimes you see more with your eyes shut."

When Adam's uncooperative attitude caused another argument between him and Gordon, he suddenly asked the latter to turn off the light. Despite being skeptical, Gordon did as he said. Upon doing so, they spotted a glowing "X" on the wall, which hadn't been visible in the light, leading Adam to the conclusion that it was drawn with fluorescent paint. Gordon smashed the marked part of the wall with his hacksaw and discovered a hollow space with a small box hidden inside. He opened it with the key he had found in his envelope at the beginning of his game. It contained a mobile, a lighter, two cigarettes, and a written message, which told Gordon that the cigarettes were harmless, that he didn't need a gun to kill Adam, and that "smoking was only poisonous when it ended in bloodshed." When Adam, who didn't notice any of this, asked him for a cigarette, Gordon denied his wish. Instead, he tried to call the police. To his disappointment, the mobile couldn't be used to make calls, but only to receive them. However, this caused him to remember the night of his abduction, where something similar had happened to him in a parking garage before he was attacked and subdued by a person with a pig mask, just like Adam.

Adam smokes the cigarette

After telling him about this, Gordon asked him how he knew that they had to turn off the light. When Adam claimed it was because of his instinct and tried to avoid the question, the doctor got angry once again until Adam finally revealed the photo of his abducted family to him. Prompted by his fear for Diana and Alison, Gordon thought about another way out and came up with a plan. Unnoticed by Adam, he dipped one of the cigarettes in the blood of the lifeless body of John Kramer, which, according to Jigsaw's clues, had to be poisoned. Afterward, Gordon turned off the light and told Adam about his plan, which required him to fake his death. When he turned the light back on, he threw the second, harmless cigarette and the lighter to Adam. Moments later, Adam pretended to collapse due to the poison. However, their plan failed when Adam received an electric shock from his shackle, which caused him to panic once again. Angered by this, Gordon blamed him for the failure of their plan. The shock, however, caused Adam to remember his abduction as well.

Adam shows the photos to Gordon

After he told Gordon how he was kidnapped from his apartment, the phone rang. When the doctor answered the call, his frightened daughter begged him to save her and her mother. Afterward, he also spoke with Alison, who warned him not to trust Adam as he had known him long before their game began. When Gordon confronted him with that warning, Adam finally admitted that he had observed and photographed him throughout the previous days and showed him the photos, which he had found in the bag with the hacksaws. This revelation resulted in yet another argument, during which Adam told Gordon that he had followed him to the Hotel Barfly, where he met up with his mistress, Carla, the night before. Gordon angrily asked him who hired him, convinced that Adam's client was also their abductor. However, when Adam described the man as a "tall black guy with a scar around his neck," Gordon realized that it was Detective David Tapp. The latter had become obsessed with the idea that Gordon was the Jigsaw Killer after his partner, Detective Steven Sing, was killed five months earlier.

When the two of them lapsed into silence again, Adam suddenly noticed that one of the photos from the bag wasn't from him. It showed a man standing at the window of Gordon's bedroom, but Gordon claimed that, besides Diana and Alison, nobody had been in their apartment the night before. Adam showed him the picture, causing the shocked doctor to recognize the man as Zep Hindle, an orderly at the Angel of Mercy Hospital, where Gordon worked as well. Seconds later, Adam noticed that the time of their game was over. Shortly afterward, the mobile rang again. To Gordon's surprise, it was Alison who called him after freeing herself from the sadistic orderly. However, only moments later, he also heard several gunshots and the desperate screams of his daughter. Gordon started to cry, but suddenly lost consciousness when he received an electric shock from his shackle.

Adam immediately tried to wake him up and was afraid that Gordon was dead until the latter woke up again. However, Gordon suffered a mental breakdown, which became even worse when the phone rang again but was out of reach after he had inadvertently thrown it away when he was electrocuted. In a last desperate attempt to save his family, Gordon used his shirt to stanch his leg and, despite Adam's efforts to calm him down, cut off his foot with the hacksaw. After he freed himself from his chain, he crawled to the middle of the room and took the revolver from John Kramer's hand. Then, he used the bullet from his envelope and shot the frightened Adam, who collapsed immediately. Shocked by what he had done, Gordon screamed at the camera and begged for his family's life.

Adam begs Gordon not to leave him

Moments later, the door was opened, and Zep Hindle entered the bathroom. Gordon frantically yelled at him and tried to shoot him, even though he had no more bullets. Unimpressed by his threatening gestures, Zep aimed his gun at Gordon and wanted to kill him as the doctor didn't kill Adam in time. However, before he could do so, he was attacked by Adam, who had survived the gunshot. As they lay on the floor and struggled for the gun, Adam disarmed his enemy and smashed his head with the lid of the toilet tank. Gordon crawled towards his cellmate and eventually convinced him to stop. Due to the pain, Adam burst into tears as the bullet had injured his shoulder. Gordon told him he'd bleed to death if he stayed with him and promised to get help. Despite Adam's desperate attempts to hold him back, the severely wounded doctor crawled out of the room.

Adam is left to die in the bathroom

When he was alone, Adam searched Zep's body for a key to his shackle. To his surprise, he found another tape recorder in his jacket pocket, which contained a message for Zep. The latter had been poisoned by Jigsaw and was forced to abduct Gordon's family. To obtain the antidote, he had to kill them in case that Gordon failed his test. Adam realized that Zep was also just another Jigsaw victim, when the actual killer, John Kramer, got up from the floor and removed his mask. He told Adam that the key to his chain was in the bathtub. However, as Adam realized that the key had gone down the drain when he woke up, he aimed Zep's gun at John, who incapacitated him with another electric shock. While Adam lay on the floor, shivering, John turned off the light, closed the door, and left the screaming young man with the words "Game Over." (Saw)

Death

Amanda suffocates Adam with a plastic bag

Shortly after he was left to die, Adam was severely weakened by his bullet wound and the lack of food, making it hard for him to remain conscious. Sometime later, Amanda Young returned to the bathroom because she felt guilty for his fate and had nightmares of Adam's ghost haunting her. In an act of mercy, she attempted to suffocate him with a plastic bag. Despite his weakened state, Adam desperately tried to fight her off. However, he couldn't overcome Amanda. In his death throes, his head hit the toilet, which ultimately caused him to lose consciousness and die by asphyxiation. (Saw III)

Post-Mortem

Adam's corpse

After his death, Adam's corpse remained in the bathroom. Several months later, the decomposition of his body had significantly progressed when the bathroom was used for another deadly game. On the run from Xavier Chavez, a dangerous murderer and another test subject of Jigsaw, the teenager Daniel Matthews found the bathroom, accompanied by Amanda. The latter pretended to be a victim on her own. The next day, Daniel's father, Detective Eric Matthews, found the room, too, while looking for his son. However, when he entered it and approached the bathtub, Amanda subdued him and chained him to another pipe. When he woke up, he immediately panicked but ultimately managed to free himself by smashing his foot with the toilet tank's lid. Thereby, Eric was able to pull his foot out of his shackle. (Saw II, Saw III)

Over six months later, nothing more than his skeleton was left of Adam's corpse. Around this time, Lawrence Gordon returned to the underground bathroom once more. After his escape, he had become John Kramer's accomplice and came back to fulfill his final task given to him by his mentor. After Detective Mark Hoffman, another one of John's accomplices and his eventual successor, got out of control and murdered John's ex-wife, Jill Tuck, Gordon took Hoffman to the bathroom with the assistance of two pig-masked helpers. They chained him to the same pipe as Adam, before Gordon turned off the light and left him to die with the words "Game Over." (Saw 3D)

Non-Canon Appearances

The Full Disclosure Report

Adam's disappearance was mentioned in the "Full Disclosure Report," a documentary focusing on Jigsaw's earliest crimes. After his abduction, Detective Ron Willis and his colleagues searched his apartment. Thereby, they found an e-mail from Detective Tapp's alias, Bob, who hired Adam to observe Lawrence Gordon. They also discovered Adam's photos of Gordon and the destroyed ventriloquist puppet in his living room. During his interview for the Full Disclosure Report, Willis published those details of the investigation.

The Scott Tibbs Documentary

After Adam's disappearance, his best friend, Scott Tibbs, filmed a documentary about the Jigsaw Killer. Along with his fellow band members from their rock band, Wrath of the Gods, Scott wanted to find out more about the killer's motives. At the beginning of this documentary, he presented a photo of Adam to introduce him to his viewers.

Personality

Adam Stanheight was a selfish young man, who had no respect for the privacy of those around him. Therefore, it didn't bother him that his work required him to spy on other people as long as he got paid. Presumably, his egoism was also one reason for the lacking contact with his family. Besides that, he was arrogant and often reacted to questions and uncomfortable situations by being mockingly sarcastic and making provocative jokes.

Furthermore, Adam wasn't trustworthy. He often held back crucial information for the sake of his interests, as was the case during his captivity, when he didn't tell Lawrence Gordon about the photos he had taken of him throughout the previous days. However, he was aware of his dishonest traits and wasn't ashamed of them.

Nonetheless, Adam was also capable of genuine empathy and compassion for others. For example, he was visibly worried about Gordon's family's well-being and tried his best to calm him down when he suffered an emotional breakdown during their captivity. At the end of the game, Adam even acted rather selflessly, as seen when he risked his own life to save Gordon from Zep Hindle, although Gordon had tried to kill him moments earlier.

Trivia

  • According to the producers of Saw, Adam's last name was Faulkner, but the FBI document in Saw V gave his last name as Stanheight. In the original script of the first movie, his surname was Radford.
  • When Adam's and Zep's corpses appeared in Saw II, Saw III, and Saw 3D, Zep's corpse still had his hair while Adam's head was bald, even though both of them were at approximately the same level of decomposition.
  • Due to several errors, many fans theorized that Adam was saved, and his corpse was replaced with another victim's body.
    • In Saw and Saw III, Adam was chained by his left ankle, but in Saw II and Saw 3D, his corpse was chained by his right ankle.
    • In Saw II, Adam's head was tilted downward, while in Saw 3D, his skull was upward and tilted.
    • In Saw and Adam's death scene in Saw III, his gunshot wound was on his shoulder. However, in Saw II and the opening scene of Saw III, it was just above his chest, while in Saw 3D, it appeared to be on his stomach.
  • Adam's flannel shirt was in the bathroom from the beginning until the end of the first film but wasn't seen again in the later movies.
  • In a deleted scene of Saw III, Adam ran into Amanda upon leaving his apartment and asked if he could take a picture of her.
  • Adam became one of the most popular characters of the whole series, which Leigh Whannell credits to giving him the best lines.

Appearances and References

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