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The jigsaw piece I cut from my subjects was only ever meant to be a symbol that that subject was missing something, a vital piece of the human puzzle: the survival instinct.
— Jigsaw explains the true purpose of the jigsaw pieces[src]

The Jigsaw Pieces John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer, cut from the bodies of his deceased victims were a recurring symbol throughout the Saw franchise and symbolized the missing survival instinct of those who weren't able to pass their tests.

History

Cecil Adams' Test

Jigsaw piece cut from a victim's body

When John Kramer became Jigsaw and started his self-imposed mission of testing other peoples' will to survive in order to make them appreciate their lives he decided to brand his victims who were unable to survive the deadly games Jigsaw forced them to play. As he saw the human body as some kind of a complex puzzle he chose to cut a jigsaw piece from the body of every deceased victim as a sign of their lacking survival instinct. His first victim was Cecil Adams, a drug addict who accidentally caused the death of his unborn child during a robbery. Albeit heavily injured Cecil managed to escape his trap but died when he tried to attack Jigsaw and therefore toppled in a cage full of razor wire, which eventually killed him and therefore made him fail his test nonetheless. After his death Jigsaw cut his first jigsaw piece from his skin and took it with him. Some time later, the Metropolitan Police Department found Cecil's corpse and discovered the wound resembling a jigsaw piece. Mistaking it as a mere signature left by the killer, they gave him the nickname "Jigsaw Killer" or simply "Jigsaw". (Saw IV)

The Pendulum Murder

Jigsaw piece cut from the body of Seth Baxter

At one point early in Jigsaw's murder series, one of the investigators, Detective Mark Hoffman, built an inescapable trap on his own to kill the murder of his sister, Seth Baxter, who had been released from a life sentence due to procedural errors. To frame Jigsaw for the murder Hoffman cut a jigsaw piece from Seth's corpse and took it with him. However John Kramer knew that Hoffman was responsible for Seth's death and therefore gathered evidence against him. Afterwards he abducted Hoffman and offered him an ultimatum: John could either publish the evidence or Hoffman could become his apprentice. After some hesitation Hoffman accepted the offer and decided to help John to continue his games. (Saw V)

Jigsaw's Apprentice

Shortly afterwards John and Hoffman abducted Paul Leahy for Hoffman's first actual game. Unfortunately Paul failed his test and died of blood loss while his abductors were watching him through a peephole from the next room. After his death they cut a jigsaw piece from his skin as well before leaving the crime scene. Approximately three weeks later Paul's corpse was found by Detective Allison Kerry, Detective Steven Sing and Detective David Tapp.

Not much later Hoffman abducted another victim, Mark Wilson, and forced him to play another game. Just like the previous victims Mark was unable to pass his test and died in his attempt to survive. Hoffman cut the jigsaw piece from him and vanished before his colleagues, Tapp, Sing and Kerry, found the crime scene shortly afterwards. (Saw, V)

Eric Matthews' Test

Several months ago Jigsaw and his apprentices were still at large and continued their mission undaunted. One of their next victims was Michael Marks, a drug addict and informant of corrupt Detective Eric Matthews who had been targeted by Jigsaw as well. After Michael's death a jigsaw piece was cut from his skin and Jigsaw waited for his corpse to be found. Deducing the clues he left behind Detective Matthews was able to find his hideout at the Wilson Steel Plant and went there the next day together with Detective Kerry and a SWAT team led by Sergeant Daniel Rigg. When they arrived there and found Jigsaw they learned that the latter had abducted eight new victims including Detective Matthews' son, Daniel. In order to see his son again Eric merely had to sit down and talk to Jigsaw for a period of two hours which he reluctantly accepted. During this conversation John told Eric about the true meaning of the jigsaw pieces cut from the bodies of the deceased victims. (Saw II)

Troy's Execution

Jigsaw piece cut from the body of Troy

After the events at Wilson Steel, the identities of both, John Kramer as well as his second apprentice, Amanda Young, were known to the public, forcing them to go into hiding. As John's physical condition worsened dramatically, Amanda started to create traps on her own in order to continue his work. Six months later, a former convict and drug addict named Troy became her first test subject. After abducting him, Amanda took him to a classroom at an elementary school and pierced several parts of his body with eleven metal chains. While he was still unconscious, she cut a jigsaw piece from his skin. Afterward she placed a self-built nail bomb, which was connected to a timer right in front of Troy before she left the room. However throughout the last few months, Amanda had started to doubt John's methods, believing that his games wouldn't change their test subjects. Therefore she didn't gave her own subjects any chance to survive and instead manipulated their traps in order to make them inescapable. In case of Troy, she welded the room's door shut, making it impossible for him to escape even if he managed to free himself from the chains. This ultimately caused Troy to be killed in the explosion of the nail bomb. When someone reported the explosion to the police, Daniel Rigg and his SWAT team were sent to the school. When they entered the building, they discovered that the door of one of the classrooms had been welded shut. Ultimately they managed to break through a door by using a blowpipe. Upon entering and securing the room, they found the torn up remains of Troy and called for their colleagues. Shortly afterwards, Detective Hoffman and Detective Kerry arrived at the school to investigate the crime scene. (Saw III)

Simone and Eddie's Test

After the death of Jigsaw at the hands of Jeff Denlon, another one of his victims, Mark Hoffman became John's successor and continued the games. One of the new traps was that of Eddie and Simone, two ruthless money lenders, which only the latter survived. After the game, Hoffman cut the jigsaw piece from Eddie's corpse and disappeared until the crime scene was found and examined by Special Agent Lindsey Perez and her supervisor Special Agent Dan Erickson shortly afterwards.

Reopening of the Seth Baxter Case

Upon this discovery, Eddie's body was taken to the morgue where the coroner, Dr. Adam Heffner, who had been responsible for the autopsy of every Jigsaw victim up to that point, discovered that a knife with a tined blade had been used to cut the jigsaw piece from his skin while the other victims' pieces had been cut off with a plain scalpel. The tined blade had only been used on one other occasion, the murder of Seth Baxter. Due to this circumstance, he called for Perez, Erickson and Hoffman, who all arrived at the morgue shortly afterwards. Due to the possible connection between Seth and Eddie's death, the agents decided to reopen the Seth Baxter case. (Saw VI)

Edgar Munsen's Test

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Ten years after the death of John Kramer as known as jigsaw, the police are in pursuit of criminal Edgar Munsen. As the latter sped through the streets in his car, officer Solomon several of his colleagues including Palermo set up a road block and thereby finally managed to stop his car. Edgar left his car and continued on his flight by foot. The officers pursued him to an abandoned warehouse and up to the rooftop, where they eventually managed to corner him. However, as they aimed their guns at him, he raised a remote. Even though Solomon ordered him to drop the device, Edgar refused to do so, stating that they "could not stop it." Instead of dropping the remote, he desperately told them to call Detective Brad Halloran as five other people were going to die if Halloran didn't arrive within 17 minutes. Eventually, Solomon consented to it and called the detective. Shortly afterwards, Halloran arrived at the scene, along with Detective Keith Hunt. In his attempt to find out what was going on and who was responsible for it, Halloran questioned Edgar, while his colleagues still held him at gunpoint. Edgar claimed that he himself was going to die if he didn't activate the remote. Therefore, Halloran ordered the officers to aim for the remote and shoot it if Edgar pulled the trigger. As the time was running out, Edgar lost his composure and activated the device, causing the officers to instantly shoot and destroy the remote. However, a bullet hit his chest and Edgar collapsed severely injured. Afterwards, the officers lowered their guns, while Halloran angrily asked which one of them shot Edgar in the chest against his orders. (Jigsaw)

The recreation of the Murderer's trial

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When the first Jigsaw victim was found, Eleanor Bonneville recognized the call sign of the jigsaw piece carved out of the victim's skin. After hearing John Kramer's voice on a thumb drive, she first denied the idea that Kramer was alive. Halloran and his partner, Keith Hunt, begin to investigate the 'game' more seriously.Edgar was taken to the St. Peter's Hospital, where he had to be put in an artificial coma. Some time later, he was briefly revisited by Halloran, who wanted to look after him after the mutilated corpse of a woman had been found before the entrance of the hospital. When he left again, Officer Canter remained at the hospital and guarded the door to Edgar's room. (Jigsaw)

Edgar Munsen's death

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However, when Canter fell asleep, Logan entered the room and injected a medicament into Edgar's infusion bag, causing him to wake up. Afterwards, Logan abducted him and eventually killed him by slicing his throat. After examining the body, she told Logan she found that there might be a way she be able to find the place of death, but they were interrupted when a second Jigsaw victim was found. Following his death, Logan cut a jigsaw piece from Edgar's cheek. Afterwards, he put his corpse into the coffin of John Kramer, before burying it again. The next day, the police commissioner ordered John's corpse to be exhumed in order to calm down the public after the recent murders. In the presence of several reporters and under Detective Keith's watch, the grave was dug up again and the coffin was opened. When Keith recognized Edgar Munsen, he immediately informed Detective Halloran. Later on, Halloran ordered Keith to arrest Logan as he had started to suspect him. Logan, however, told Keith that Halloran was actually the killer and the one responsible for shooting Edgar on the rooftop. Keith gave him the opportunity to prove his theory and accompanied him to the morgue. Logan removed the projectile from Edgar's chest and put it into a cleaning solution. Unnoticed by Keith, he replaced it with a bullet of a Glock 17, the gun used by Halloran. Therefore, he finally convinced Keith that Halloran had killed Edgar. (Jigsaw)

Raid on Eleanor's Replica Lair

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Halloran becomes suspicious of forensic pathologists Logan Nelson and Eleanor Bonneville, specifically Eleanor. Though in turn Logan, a military veteran whose wife was killed two years prior, is suspicious of Halloran's motives in investigating the case. The police captain orders John Kramer's grave to be exhumed in order to put an end to the rumors that the 'game' is really another Jigsaw game, and that somehow John is still alive, inside the coffin is instead Edgar's body, with a jigsaw piece cut out of his cheek. Logan and Eleanor speak in a bar about their distrust of Halloran, before Eleanor takes Logan to her "studio", revealing that she is an obsessive fangirl of the Jigsaw case and has built many replicas of his previous traps, which she worries could incriminate her. Hunt has followed them and takes photos of her studio, which he shows to Halloran. Halloran, Hunt and an SWAT team then raid Elanor's lair upon doing so they find a body. Halloran orders the two to be arrested, though Logan is able to convince Hunt, an old friend, that Halloran is actually to blame, as he had past dealings with Edgar. (Jigsaw)

Use in other Media

Saw: The Video Game

In Saw: The Video Game Jigsaw's modus operandi was mentioned in various newspaper articles written by Globe Staff writer Oswald McGillicutty.

Saw II: Flesh & Blood

In Saw II: Flesh & Blood the jigsaw pieces were mentioned as well in various files and audio tapes recorded by David Tapp. It is further revealed that there were two more victims between Cecil Adams and Seth Baxter, Ronnie Navarro, a Blood Eye drug dealer, and Mitsuka Ito, a member of the local Yakuza from 119th Street. According to the files neither of them survived their game and a jigsaw piece had been cut from both of their bodies after their failure.

Full Disclosure Report

The jigsaw pieces were also mentioned in the documentary Full Disclosure Report, which focused on Jigsaw's early crimes. Deputy Jason Johnston, who gave an interview for the documentary, said that the pieces had been cut from the victims' backs.

Appearances and References


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