Well, between that, IA breathing down my neck, my son's budding criminal career, and my wife's fucking divorce lawyers, I'd say my hands are pretty full, wouldn't you?
— Eric talks about his situation[src]

Detective Eric Matthews is a fictional character from the Saw franchise. He serves as the main protagonist of Saw II and a supporting protagonist in Saw III and Saw IV.

He was portrayed by Donnie Wahlberg.

Biography

Corruption

Eric Matthews was a homicide detective who worked for the Metropolitan Police Department. Due to his aggressive and occasionally violent behavior towards suspects, he came into conflict with the Internal Affairs Division several times. Despite these disputes, Eric was still respected by his colleagues, who considered him a fearless officer. However, unbeknownst to them, Eric faked the evidence in many of his cases and thereby wrongfully arrested several innocent people. Among these people, who were unjustly convicted because of his actions, were Amanda Young, Jonas Singer, Gus Colyard, Addison Corday, Xavier Chavez, Laura Hunter, and Obi Tate. (Saw II)

Family Problems

At one point in his life, Eric married a woman with whom he had a son, Daniel Matthews. However, Eric eventually engaged in an affair with Detective Allison Kerry, his partner at that time. When Eric's wife found out about his infidelity, she filed for divorce and took Daniel with her. His betrayal didn't only destroy his marriage but also resulted in Eric's alienation from his son. On several occasions, Daniel committed petty crimes, probably to provoke his father. However, he was never sent to a detention center for his offenses. Out of anger and frustration, Eric eventually ended his affair and professional partnership with Kerry.

Eric argues with his son

One day, Daniel visited him as Eric wanted to regain his confidence. However, shortly after his arrival, he was caught stealing by a security officer. As Daniel was still a teenager, the officer called his father. When the latter arrived shortly afterward, the guard let him sign a few documents and took him to his son. After Eric had signed the papers, he and Daniel were allowed to leave. On their way home, they engaged in an argument. Daniel, who was still angry at him for cheating on his mother, told him that he might be a good cop but not a good father and suggested going back to his mother earlier. In a fit of rage, Eric angrily yelled at him to go away, which Daniel subsequently did. (Saw II)

Michael Marks' Death

Eric and Kerry at the crime scene

Upon returning home, Eric had regrets about the things he said to his son. When he didn't hear anything from him until the next day, he tried to call him. As Daniel wasn't available, Eric left a message on his mailbox, asking him to call back. Moments later, he was contacted by his sergeant, who informed Eric that one of his informants, a drug addict named Michael Marks, had been found dead in a basement during asbestos disposal. Michael had been forced to wear a mechanical trap, a so-called death mask. Within 60 seconds, Michael had to cut out his right eye to obtain a key, which had been surgically placed in his orbital cavity. Otherwise, the two halves of the mask, which were both spiked with nails, would close in on his head and kill him. However, Michael's attempts to save himself remained unsuccessful, ending in his death. Shortly afterward, Eric arrived at the crime scene, where Kerry was already waiting for him. Although Eric wasn't happy to see her, he agreed to take a look at the corpse. Due to a tattoo on his leg, Eric was able to identify Michael as his informant. However, when he saw a jigsaw piece cut from Michael's skin, he realized that the murder had been committed by a wanted serial killer known as Jigsaw. As he neither wanted to have anything to do with the case nor with Kerry, he was about to leave but was held back by his former partner, who told him to "look closer." When he asked her what she meant, she pointed at a message written at the ceiling, which said, "Look closer, Detective Matthews."

Back at the police station, the events at the crime scene resulted in an argument between them. While Kerry examined a videotape found at Michael's crime scene, which had been used to give him his instructions, Eric interrupted her and compared her to Jigsaw, claiming they had much in common as they both liked to play with other people. When Kerry apologized for her behavior at the crime scene and tried to convince Eric to help her, he reminded her that this was her case, and they were no partners anymore. Angered by this, she asked Eric when he stopped to be a cop before leaving the office. (Saw II)

Raid on Wilson Steel

Rigg and Eric on their way to Wilson Steel

However, as Eric was haunted by nightmares later that night, he remembered an engraving of Wilson Steel on the mask that had killed Michael and immediately called his colleagues. The next day, he went to the Wilson Steel Plant, accompanied by Kerry and a SWAT team led by Sergeant Daniel Rigg. While the detectives stayed outside, Rigg entered the building with three of his men. Unfortunately, they accidentally triggered a booby trap set up by Jigsaw in a staircase, which caused two officers' death, while a third one, Officer Pete Baker, was severely injured. When Rigg called them in for reinforcements, Eric, Kerry, and the remaining SWAT members stormed the plant. Moments later, they finally made their way to the upper floor, where the Jigsaw Killer, who was, in fact, a civil engineer named John Kramer, sat at a table and waited for them. (Saw II)

Test

Initially, Rigg ordered his men to arrest him. However, John spoke to Eric and told him that he should stay where he was until Eric had dealt with his "problem." Then, he told him to take a look in the next room. Eric carefully approached the door to the adjacent area, along with Kerry and Rigg. After securing the room, they discovered several surveillance monitors hidden under a white cloth. Upon looking at the monitors, they saw what appeared to be another one of Jigsaw's games. Eight people were trapped in a room, one of whom Eric recognized as his son, Daniel. When he saw the footage, Eric angrily attacked John. However, he was held back by Rigg. John explained the rules of his game to him. To save his son, Eric had to sit down and talk to John for two hours while his colleagues left the area. After that time, Daniel would be released. Otherwise, he and the other prisoners would succumb to deadly nerve gas.

Eric accepts to talk to John

Eric went back to the surveillance area and immediately tried to call his son, hoping that Jigsaw was only bluffing. However, when Daniel didn't answer the call, he realized that John was telling the truth. Therefore, Kerry tried to calm Eric down. However, this attempt remained unsuccessful as Eric got more and more nervous, especially when the first victim, Gus Colyard, was killed by a booby trap a few minutes after the game began. On Rigg's advice, Kerry called for a tech team to trace back the video broadcast. Meanwhile, Eric talked with John, who repeated his demand. When he returned and informed his colleagues about the ultimatum, Kerry engaged in an argument with Rigg, who suggested to grill John about the victims' whereabouts by using violence. She told him this wouldn't work, stating that John fit a specific psychological profile. Eventually, she convinced Eric to accept John's challenge and play by his rules while she kept an eye on the game's progress. As he took a seat at John's table, Eric placed a walkie-talkie beneath his chair, so his colleagues could listen to their conversation.

John introduced himself to Eric and engaged in discussion with the detective. When Eric referred to his Jigsaw persona, John stated that this nickname had been given to him by the press and police, claiming that he never encouraged them to do so. He explained that the jigsaw pieces he cut from his dead victims' bodies were meant to symbolize their lacking survival instinct, which, according to John, was the most essential human element of all. As they talked to each other, Eric tried to direct the conversation towards his son. However, when John demanded that Eric listened to him and reminded him not to forget the rules, Eric insulted him and made it clear that he deemed talking to him a waste of time. Seeing how uncomfortable he felt, John tried to provoke him and spoke about Eric's occasionally violent temper, thereby alluding to an incident five years earlier when Eric brutally battered a suspect and broke the latter's jaw with a flashlight. When talking about Eric's status as a fearless officer, John wanted to know whether he felt safer now that he only sat behind a desk instead of being on patrol. Afterward, he asked him to get him a glass of water, which Eric reluctantly did.

As the game went on, Eric became more and more distressed. Upon his return to John, the latter compared his work to Charles Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest, stating that most people didn't have what it took to survive. John asked Eric why he was so desperate to see Daniel again and wanted to know whether he appreciated his son's life. When confronted with the last thing he said to his son, Eric claimed that he always loved Daniel despite their strained relationship. As Eric was about to lose his temper again, John explained the reasons for his games to him and revealed that he suffered from incurable cancer. After receiving his diagnosis, he had ultimately tried to end his life by driving his car off a cliff. Contrary to his expectations, he survived the crash. At this moment, John decided that he wanted to live. Severely injured, he crawled out of the wreck and pulled a jagged piece of metal out of his body. Thereby, he realized that he had only learned to cherish his life when his death had been imminent. Because of this, he decided to spend the remaining time of his life on testing other people's will to live in order to convince them to value their lives and the lives of those around them. Unwilling to listen to him any longer, Eric stood up and went to his colleagues.

As they witnessed another game playing out on the monitors, Eric angrily asked where the tech team was. When Kerry answered that they should arrive any second, Rigg angrily told her that they didn't have much time left and had to come up with a new plan if they wanted to save the victims. Upon seeing John's blueprints, notes, and drawings on the wall, Kerry suggested provoking him by destroying them. However, as Eric did so, John was barely impressed by his fit of rage and death threats. While watching him calmly, he responded that Eric wouldn't be able to convict him if he destroyed all the evidence in his hideout. Eric stopped when the tech team finally arrived to trace the video broadcast to its source. When he decided to end his conversation with John, the latter told him to look in the drawer of one of his desks. Upon doing so, he and Kerry found the files of the prisoners in the house - Gus Colyard, Obi Tate, Jonas Singer, Laura Hunter, Addison Corday, Xavier Chavez, and Amanda Young, the first known survivor of Jigsaw's games. Eric had wrongfully arrested all those people for crimes they didn't commit by faking the evidence in several cases. John mocked him and told him that Daniel would be in danger if his fellow prisoners learned about their connection.

Eric threatens John with his gun

Shortly afterward, Eric saw how Daniel and Amanda were pursued by one of the other prisoners, Xavier Chavez, and therefore ultimately lost his composure. To force John to reveal his son's whereabouts, he violently battered him, broke one of his fingers, and threatened him with his gun. Although Kerry tried to stop him, she was held back by Rigg. Eventually, John ended Eric's test with the words "Game Over" and promised to take him to the house. However, he demanded to go there with Eric alone. Eric agreed, and they left the building in a hidden elevator. Pursued by the officers of the SWAT team, they fled with one of their armored vehicles. On their way, John directed him to the house. Meanwhile, the tech team managed to trace the video broadcast to another location at 237 North Hyde Crescent. At that point, neither Eric nor his colleagues knew that the game was already over. John had merely presented them with a recording of the events that he broadcasted from the second house. When John and Eric finally arrived, John gave him the key and waited in the car.

Eric enters the tunnels

Eric entered the building through a backdoor. As he searched the house, he came across the dead bodies of Laura Hunter, Gus Colyard, and Jonas Singer, who already showed advanced signs of decomposition. Eventually, Eric made his way to the room where the game had begun and went through an open trapdoor, which led him to an underground tunnel network. Upon following the tunnels, Eric reached a dilapidated bathroom, where he found the remains of Xavier Chavez and the skeletons of Adam Stanheight and Zep Hindle, two victims of one of Jigsaw's previous games. When Eric entered the bathroom and saw a lifeless body in a bathtub, covered with a black cloak, he initially believed it to be Daniel. However, when he approached the tub, he was taken by surprise and injected with an anesthetic by the person. Eric tried to shoot the attacker, who covered their face with a sinister pig mask, but quickly lost consciousness due to the narcotic. (Saw II)

Confinement

When Eric lay on the floor unconscious, his opponent took off the mask. It was, in fact, Amanda Young, who was the first person who ever survived one of Jigsaw's tests and joined his mission afterward. During the game previously witnessed by Eric, she had merely pretended to be a victim to ensure that the other prisoners followed John's rules. Now she wanted revenge on Eric as the latter had unjustly arrested her, which resulted in her becoming addicted to heroin while in jail. Amanda shackled him to a pipe by his right leg. Afterward, she took the magazine from his weapon and disappeared, leaving only the empty gun, a flashlight, a hacksaw, and an audiotape in the room. Once Eric woke up, he was disoriented at first but eventually found the tape recorder lying next to him. When he started the tape, he realized that Amanda had recorded it and that she had been an accomplice of Jigsaw all the time. She revealed to him that she would be John's successor once he died and that Eric was her first test subject. Seconds later, Amanda appeared at the door. Eric angrily shouted at her and threw the tape after her, but she closed the door with the words "Game Over," leaving Eric alone in the darkness. (Saw II)

Eric tries to cut off his foot

Eric started to panic and tried to grab his gun. As it was out of his reach, he used one of his shoes to pull it to him. However, his desperation worsened when Eric realized that the gun was empty. Using his shoe once more, he obtained his flashlight, which was the only remaining light source in the pitch dark bathroom. Eric furiously tried to break the pipe he was chained to. When this didn't work, he looked around the room and found the hacksaw left by Amanda. He immediately grabbed it and tried to saw through his chain. However, as this attempt to free himself remained unsuccessful, Eric eventually gave up. Moments later, he made a horrifying discovery when he spotted a sawed-off, decomposed, and shackled foot lying in the opposite corner. Thereby, Eric realized that he was supposed to cut off his foot to free himself. He immediately took off his sock and used it as a gag when he tried to do so, but quickly gave up and burst out crying as he couldn't bring himself to mutilate his own body like this. However, he came up with another plan when he found the lid of a toilet tank on the floor. Eric picked it up and, after some hesitation, used it to smash his foot several times while screaming in agony. When he was done, he broke his foot one last time and was finally able to pull it out of the shackle.

Eric and Amanda fight

Despite his injuries, Eric took the flashlight with him and reached the door, which was still unlocked. As he tumbled through the tunnels and shouted for his son, he found a metal rod that he used as a crutch. While looking for the way out, he soon realized that he wasn't alone, as Amanda was still hiding somewhere in the tunnels. Therefore, Eric hid behind a corner. When she thought that the coast was clear, Amanda carefully left her hiding spot but was beaten down with the rod by Eric when she passed his way. Stunned by the blow, she tried to crawl away and fight off Eric, who bit the back of her knee and smashed her head against the wall several times while demanding to know where his son was. When Amanda refused to answer and instead spat blood in his face, Eric grabbed his knife and threatened her. However, she embraced her opportunity and brutally kicked his broken foot. Overwhelmed by the pain, he fell to the floor, giving Amanda the chance to leave. As she was weaving towards the exit, Eric shouted after her, insulting her and telling her she was nothing compared to Jigsaw. These insults caused Amanda to stop for a moment before she went back to take her revenge and kill Eric. (Saw III)

Eric in his cell

Unbeknownst to her, Eric survived her attempted murder. Shortly afterward, Amanda left the house severely injured. John knew that something went wrong and ordered another one of his accomplices, Detective Mark Hoffman, to look after Eric. Hoffman, who was, in fact, one of Eric's colleagues, found the latter in the underground hallway. While Eric was unconscious, he dragged him away and took him to a cell located somewhere in the tunnels. Sometime later, Eric's crushed foot was braced, and he was forced to put on an orange prison overall. Throughout the following six months, Eric was kept alive in his cell as his captor regularly supplied him with food through a hatch door. The imprisonment and isolation took a toll on Eric both physically and mentally. (Saw IV)

Daniel Rigg's Test

Eric and Hoffman in the trap

After six months of confinement, Eric was taken to the abandoned Gideon Meatpacking Plant, where he had to participate in another game focusing on Daniel Rigg. Rigg had become obsessed with saving everyone around him after Eric's disappearance. Eric had to stand on a large ice block placed at one end of a big seesaw-like scale and was held in place by a chain noose hanging from the ceiling. When he woke up, several radiant heaters around him turned on and started melting the ice. Moments later, Eric became aware of Mark Hoffman's presence. The latter had strapped himself to a nonfunctional electric chair at the other end of the scale, thereby pretending to be a victim himself. If Eric stepped or fell from the ice block, the runoff water would flow to Hoffman's side and seemingly cause him to be fatally electrocuted.

Meanwhile, Daniel Rigg was attacked and subdued in his apartment at 23 Park Place. When he woke up, he was introduced to his test, which was supposed to cure his obsession with finding and saving Eric. At specific points throughout his game, Rigg was provided with live footage broadcasted from the room Eric and Hoffman were trapped in. Shortly after Rigg's game began, a lawyer named Art Blank arrived at the plant. Upon entering the trap room, he pulled a lever next to the door and thereby activated a mechanism above Eric's head. Hoffman angrily yelled at Art and demanded that he let them go. However, Art ignored them and instead sat down in front of a set of surveillance monitors to observe Jigsaw's games.

As time went by, Eric told Art to fuck himself and tried to hang himself with the chain noose by jumping off the ice block. However, Art prevented him from committing suicide and forced him back on the ice. When he revealed to him that Hoffman would be electrocuted if Eric left the block, Hoffman begged Eric to listen to him. Eric insulted the man but eventually stayed on the ice when the latter went back to the monitors.

Art prevents Eric from suicide

While the game progressed, Eric begged Art to shoot him as he didn't want to play any longer. Therefore, Hoffman angrily yelled at him and told him to be quiet. Later on, Eric pretended to be unconscious. When Hoffman asked Art to take a look at him, Art became worried and tried to wake Eric up. Eric then attacked him and once again fell off the ice block in the process. While struggling with him, Art forced him back on the block and told him that he wasn't the one that Eric should worry about. Furthermore, he informed them that all of them would be set free if Rigg passed his test, thereby revealing that he was merely another victim on his own. Following the instructions Jigsaw provided for him sometime earlier, Art gave Eric a gun and a bullet and told him that he had to choose whether he wanted to live or die.

Eric spots the ice blocks above him

At some point, however, Art started to become nervous when he noticed the mechanism above Eric's head. It was connected to two mechanical arms suspended from the ceiling, each holding a large ice block. When he saw a chain that linked the mechanism to the room's door, Art realized that the ice blocks would swing down and crush Eric's head if the door was opened before a 90-minute-timer went off. Therefore, they had to prevent Rigg, who was on his way to the plant, from entering the room before the clock expired. As the timer was ticking down, Art, Hoffman, and Eric started to panic. Eric yelled at Art and demanded him to tell them who was coming. However, Art ignored him and kept his eye on the surveillance monitors. Eventually, he took off his jacket and revealed a mechanical device attached to his back, which would cut his spine if he disobeyed Jigsaw's orders. Furthermore, he took out a button from a bag and told the detectives that it would free them once the timer went off. (Saw IV)

Death

Eric tries to stop Rigg from entering

Only minutes later, Rigg finally arrived at the Gideon Meatpacking Plant and reached the room where his friends were trapped. Eric yelled at him not to open the door. However, Rigg ignored his warning and burst through the door with only one second left on the clock. Upon doing so, he was shot in the chest by Eric in a final attempt to keep him from entering. When he opened the door, Art approached him and was, in return, shot in the chest by Rigg, causing him to collapse. Moments later, Eric's head was smashed by the massive ice blocks. Rigg subsequently fell to the floor, screaming in grief and agony upon watching his friend's demise. (Saw IV)

Post-Mortem

Eric's corpse

He angrily yelled at Art as he believed him to be Jigsaw's accomplice. Art tried to explain that he was tested by Jigsaw and reached for his bag, causing Rigg to shoot him in the head. However, it turned out that Art was merely grabbing a tape recorder. Upon listening to the recording, Rigg realized that his test wasn't to save Eric but let Eric save himself. Moments later, Hoffman freed himself from the chair, and calmly approached Rigg. When he saw him, Rigg finally realized that Hoffman was Jigsaw's accomplice. However, due to his gunshot wound, he collapsed as Hoffman left the room. The latter turned around one last time and ended Rigg's game with the words "Game Over" before he disappeared and left Rigg to die. Shortly afterward, Rigg succumbed to his injury. (Saw IV)

Later that night, the Metropolitan Police Department found and raided the plant. As they secured and searched the entire building, they discovered the many corpses of Jigsaw's victims, including Eric. All of them were sent to the morgue, where Dr. Adam Heffner performed the autopsies on their bodies. (Saw V, Saw VI)

After John Kramer's and Amanda Young's deaths at the hands of Jeff Denlon, another one of their victims, Eric and his deceased colleagues - Daniel Rigg, Allison Kerry, David Tapp, and Steven Sing - were given a memorial. A picture of him stood next to those of his colleagues. On this occasion, Detective Hoffman and the Chief of Police each delivered a speech to honor them and their efforts. (Saw III, Saw V)

Non-Canon Appearances

The Full Disclosure Report

Eric Matthews' aggressive behavior was addressed in the "Full Disclosure Report," a documentary focusing on Jigsaw's earliest crimes. As the Metropolitan Police Department experienced public resentment around that time, Eric was approached by a reporter of KCUD2, who confronted him with allegations of corruption and police brutality. Eric reacted angrily and aimed his gun at the reporter but was held back by a SWAT officer. Afterward, Eric left the scene in his car. Rich Skidmore, the host of the "Full Disclosure Report," commented on the accusations, stating that corrupt officers like Eric hindered the Jigsaw investigation's progress.

The Scott Tibbs Documentary

After the disappearance of Adam Stanheight, another one of John Kramer's victims, 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. On the night of Eric's abduction, Mr. D, one of Scott's friends, called him to the Wilson Steel Plant. Upon his arrival, the plant had been secured by the police. Moments later, Detective Jenkins spoke to several reporters at the scene and told them that Jigsaw had been identified as John Kramer. He revealed that, while eluding custody, Jigsaw had taken Eric Matthews with him as his hostage. Therefore, he sent a public appeal to John to show mercy with Eric.

Personality

Eric Matthews had a temperamental and focused personality. These traits regularly caused him to lose his temper when things didn't go his way. He often acted aggressively and sometimes even turned violent in such situations, which repeatedly brought him into conflict with the Internal Affairs Department. Additionally, Eric tended to see himself as the victim and had problems admitting his own mistakes. He also didn't care about other people's feelings and was loyal to no one but himself.

His egoism became apparent when Eric faked evidence in numerous cases and thereby unjustly arrested innocent people, who were subsequently convicted. In doing so, he pushed his career at the expanse of others. Another example of his dishonesty and lacking loyalty was his affair with Allison Kerry, which ultimately resulted in a messy divorce from his wife and his alienation from Daniel. Despite their strained relationship, Eric deeply loved his son and was willing to go to great lengths to save him when Jigsaw abducted him. However, he didn't ask for his son throughout Daniel Rigg's game, indicating that Eric had given up his hope that he would ever see Daniel again.

Furthermore, his mental condition was negatively affected by his months-long confinement. Due to the trauma caused by Jigsaw's game and Eric's subsequent imprisonment, the latter had lost his will to live, which was evidenced by his attempted suicide and his demands on Art Blank to kill him. However, the fact that he asked him to free them shortly before Rigg's game ended suggested that Eric briefly regained his desire to survive.

Trivia

  • In the original script for Saw IV, Eric Mathews was supposed to be the main protagonist and had to play a game with the help of a poisoned Mark Hoffman. However, his screen time was significantly reduced as actor Donnie Wahlberg initially didn't want to reprise the role and only agreed to return shortly before filming began.
  • In a deleted scene from Saw III, Eric was killed by Amanda. Upon hearing his insults after their fight in the tunnels, Amanda returned and brutally murdered him with his knife. Afterward, she left his corpse behind and went to John, telling him that Eric was alive and locked away in the bathroom.
  • Eric shares a name with Boy Meets World character, Eric Matthews.
  • Eric Matthews was initially named Eric Mason.
  • In the Director's Cut of Saw IV, Eric was briefly seen in his cell, playing with and talking to a dead rat. On Donnie Wahlberg's request, the scene was excluded from the theatrical version.
  • In the original script for Saw IV, Daniel Rigg didn't open the door to the room where Eric was trapped as he finally understood the rules of his game. Therefore, Eric was initially supposed to survive.
  • During the ending of Saw 3D, Eric's gun and shackle can be seen in the bathroom.
  • During a scene in Saw V, Peter Strahm comes across the blood trail left by Eric after escaping from the bathroom. However, it wasn't seen again in Saw 3D.
  • Eric's gun is a Smith & Wesson Model 5946.

Appearances and References

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