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Those who don't appreciate life do not deserve life.
— John explains his philosophy to Eric Matthews.[src]

John Kramer, also known as The Jigsaw Killer or simply Jigsaw, is a fictional character from the Saw franchise. He serves as the primary antagonist of Saw, Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV, one of the two primary antagonists of Jigsaw, the posthumous overarching antagonist of Saw V, Saw VI, and Saw 3D, and a posthumous background antagonist of Spiral. Overall, John was the primary antagonist of the franchise.

He was portrayed by Tobin Bell.


Early Life

John Kramer was a successful civil engineer. Along with his friend and lawyer, Art Blank, he founded the Urban Renewal Group, a foundation dedicated to property development for low-income people under the motto "Four walls build a home." The company bought up abandoned real estate and renovated them into low-cost housing. The first building purchased and fixed up by the group was the Gideon Meatpacking Plant at 11235 Blake Drive.

John at the party.

At one point in his life, John married a woman named Jill Tuck and supported her work at the Homeward Bound Clinic, an ambulant recovery clinic for addicts under the motto "Cherish your Life." During a party at the clinic sponsored by an insurance company named Umbrella Health, he became acquainted with William Easton, Umbrella's manager. As they talked about their work, William presented him with a mathematical formula he had developed to decide which people would get insured by Umbrella. While William was visibly proud of it, John questioned this business policy because it put William in a position to decide about his clients' life and death. According to John, this business practice completely ignored the clients' will to live, which he deemed the most crucial element of human nature. However, despite their disagreements, John himself eventually became a client of Umbrella. (Saw IV, Saw VI)

Gideon Kramer

John shows the clock to Jill.

Besides his professional career, John's private life took a happier turn in 1994 as he and Jill were expecting their first child. John, who had already meticulously planned that their son should be born during the Chinese Year of the Pig, also gave him his name, Gideon, inspired by his first building. Sometime later, John obtained a workshop, which he proudly presented to Jill. On this occasion, he also showed her an old clock, which was a part of a deal he had made. The clock greatly fascinated him because it still worked, even though it was almost 300 years old. As a surprise for Jill, he also presented her two homemade gifts for their son - a child's bed and a wooden ventriloquist puppet.

John argues with Cecil.

Despite their happiness, John soon started to worry about Jill's safety, who continued to work at the clinic even during the late months of her pregnancy. During an incident at the clinic, John had to interrupt a brawl between two patients named Cecil Adams and Gus Colyard. The two of them got into an argument when Cecil vociferously complained about the long waiting time, subsequently causing Gus to slap him in the face. After having been separated from each other, Cecil pulled a knife from his pocket. Therefore, John tried to calm him down. When Cecil angrily asked him about the reason for his intervention, John merely answered that Cecil would soon become a problem for everyone around him due to his reckless behavior. Even though Cecil finally put the knife away, John's worries about Jill's safety would soon turn out to be justified. (Saw IV)

Family Tragedy

John and Jill at the hospital

One night in the fall of 1994, John sat in his car and waited for Jill outside the clinic when he was approached by Addison Corday, a young prostitute, who offered him her company. However, John declined her offer and told her to go home as a beautiful girl like her should not do such work. Shortly afterward, he suddenly noticed how Cecil stormed out of the clinic and ran away after he had tried to rob Jill. John immediately entered the building and found Jill squatting on the floor after Cecil had accidentally slammed a doorknob into her stomach. Even though he took Jill to the Angel of Mercy Hospital, where one of the nurses, Deborah, immediately took care of them, the doctors could not save their unborn child's life. One of them, Dr. Steve, eventually delivered John the sad news. While John sat at Jill's bed and held her hand, she told him that she only wanted to help the people at her clinic. John, however, bitterly answered that they could only save themselves. (Saw IV)

Professional Dispute

John picks up the puppet.

After Gideon's death, John suffered from severe depression, which ultimately caused him to withdraw from his wife and the Urban Renewal Group. When Art Blank asked Jill about John's whereabouts, she helped him look for her husband, and they went to the latter's workshop together. While Art curiously looked at some blueprints and drawings on a table, Jill suddenly saw John sitting on a chair in a corner and asked him not to get angry with her for bringing Art to the workshop. When turning towards his partner, Art accidentally knocked the wooden ventriloquist doll that John had built for his unborn child off the table. He asked John about his condition and offered his condolences to him. However, he also tried to convince John to continue his work for the Urban Renewal Group because forty low-income families were already waiting to move into the houses they planned to restore. John, who was angry about his visit, told him to leave. After initially hesitating, Art gave in and asked John to call him once he felt better. Moments later, Jill left, too, and reminded John that she also suffered from the loss of Gideon. Once he was alone, he picked up the wooden puppet from the floor and stroked its hair, wistfully thinking about his lost child. His blunted affect eventually led to his divorce from Jill. Furthermore, he asked her not to come back to him again. (Saw IV)

Terminal Diagnosis

Shortly afterward, John's physical condition worsened. When he went to the Angel of Mercy Hospital, the renowned oncologist Dr. Lawrence Gordon diagnosed him with colon cancer and a frontal lobe tumor. However, during an earlier visit to the hospital, one of the residents, Dr. Logan Nelson, made a careless mistake and inadvertently mixed up John's x-rays with those of another patient, Alex Rubinstein. Therefore, his cancer had further evolved and was no longer curable at the time of its diagnosis. (Saw, Jigsaw)

Becoming Jigsaw

Thoroughly depressed, John 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 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, John chose to spend the remaining time of his life testing other people's will to live, hoping that this would convince them to value their lives and the lives of those around them. However, his newly discovered will to live could not reunite him and Jill again, and therefore, he continued to ignore her attempts to contact him. (Saw II, Saw IV)

Cecil Adams' Test

John abducts Cecil Adams.

At this time, John began to focus on other people's lives and chose Cecil Adams as his first test subject. After observing him for some time and thereby discovering that Cecil had not changed his reckless behavior, John felt vindicated in his plan. Thus, he spent much time observing Cecil and emotionally prepared himself for the first part of his self-imposed mission. When the time had come, John followed Cecil to a Chinese street festival celebrating the Year of the Pig. Upon doing so, he witnessed how Cecil talked to a saleswoman. After distracting her, Cecil quickly stole one of the small terracotta figures from her booth and went away. Meanwhile, John grabbed a pig mask to cover his face and a second mask, which he filled with a cloth drenched in chloroform. Then, he pursued Cecil and sedated him in the crowd without anyone noticing him. After that, John took him to his workshop and strapped him to a chair. Thereby, two blades, which were attached to the ends of the armrests, impaled Cecil's wrists.

John reveals the knives to Cecil.

When Cecil woke up and saw the blades, he immediately panicked. As he recognized John, he begged him to let him go and asked for forgiveness for Gideon's death. John claimed to have already forgiven him and only put him in this situation to help him change his life. After a brief discussion, he revealed a vicious device to his prisoner, which consisted of eight sharp knives. When Cecil asked him what it was, John explained that it was a tool, which could save his life. After that, he bolted it to the chair, so the eight horizontally arranged knives were positioned right in front of his face. While doing so, John confronted Cecil with his crimes and further explained that he had to press his face into the knives to free himself from his arm and leg restraints. Otherwise, he would bleed to death. Cecil insulted him and desperately screamed for help. However, when John showed no mercy, he pressed his face into the blades while screaming in agony. In the end, the chair suddenly collapsed and allowed him to escape. He immediately approached John and tried to strike him dead with a broken-off piece of the chair. However, John evaded his attack effortlessly, which caused Cecil to fall into a cage filled with razor wire, where he ultimately bled to death. After his death, John cut a jigsaw piece from his skin to symbolize Cecil's lacking survival instinct. Furthermore, he took the stolen soldier figure from his body and kept it as a memento. Afterward, he disposed of Cecil's corpse.

Jill confronts John with the photos.

Soon afterward, the body was discovered by the homicide division of the Metropolitan Police Department. When Jill learned of Cecil's death from a newspaper, she feared that John might have had something to do with it and went to his workshop to call him out on her suspicion. Believing to be alone, she searched the rooms and found numerous photos of Cecil on a table. In the back part of the workshop, Jill also discovered a large, elongated construction hidden under a large cloth. As she was about to pull it away to see what it was, John suddenly appeared. He angrily grabbed her arm and tried to drag her out of the room, scolding her for coming back to the workshop. However, Jill broke free and confronted him with the photos and the newspaper article about Cecil's death. When she asked him what he had done to him, John told her that he had taught Cecil not to take his life for granted. Shocked by the fact that John was indeed responsible for his death, she asked him what had happened to him. Her question angered John and provoked him to grab a crowbar and angrily smash the ancient clock before he managed to calm down again. Afterward, he told her once more to leave, which she subsequently did. (Saw IV)

Cancer Therapy

Despite the bleak prospects of his health, John's reinforced will to live encouraged him to undergo chemotherapy, external beam radiation therapy, and further examination by Dr. Gordon and Dr. Lynn Denlon. In addition, he regularly returned to the hospital for routine check-ups to keep track of his declining health. During this time, he received broad support from his helpful neighbors, Anna and Matthew. However, as expected, the treatments and therapies remained unsuccessful, and John's health further declined. (Saw III, Jigsaw)

John argues with William.

Eventually, John learned about an experimental gene therapy developed by a doctor in Norway, who believed that John was a promising candidate for a new test series. However, when John asked his insurance company, Umbrella Health, to bear the treatment costs, they repeatedly declined all of his requests. Therefore, he went to William Easton's office to talk to him in person, hoping for the latter's understanding. While William initially had a sympathetic ear for him, he did not change his decision. Instead, he made it abundantly clear that accepting his motion was not financially feasible for Umbrella, mainly due to his age and the slight chances for recovery. Furthermore, he explained that John would lose his insurance protection entirely if he decided on the experimental therapy, much to the latter's anger. John asked William if he thought that the living would have the ultimate judgment over him as the dead would have no claim over his soul and indirectly threatened him by stating that he may be mistaken in that regard. Then, he threw the printout of his request in the garbage can and left William's office. (Saw VI)

The Barn

Still believing in his self-imposed mission, John planned more games and created a mechanical ventriloquist puppet named Billy, a bigger, sinister version of the doll built as a gift for Gideon. He wanted to use it to speak to his test subjects and deliver them the instructions for their games. While looking for new test subjects, John soon realized how the relationship between his neighbor, Anna, and her husband, Matthew, went sour, especially after their child's birth. One night, while John worked in his house, he heard Anna next door as she desperately yelled at her crying baby. Later that night, Matthew was arrested by the police after supposedly rolling over his baby while sleeping and thereby accidentally suffocating his child. As he blamed himself for his child's death, he was committed to a psychiatric facility, where he eventually hung himself in his cell. However, John soon realized that Anna had smothered her baby in a fit of rage and then put her dead child next to her sleeping husband to divert suspicion from herself.

Therefore, he chose Anna as a test subject for another game taking place in early 2003. Besides her, four other people were forced to participate in this test. The first one was Logan Nelson, who was responsible for the delayed diagnosis of John's cancer. Another participant in the game was Carly, a thief who had inadvertently caused an asthmatic woman's death by stealing her purse, which contained her inhaler. The next test subject was Mitch, a young man who once sold a motorcycle with faulty brakes to John's nephew, which caused the latter's death in a car accident. The last victim was a man named Ryan. In his youth, his reckless behavior had caused a fatal car accident, resulting in the death of two of Ryan's friends and the driver of another car. After that, Ryan had blamed his deceased best friend for the tragedy. Their game took place in a barn located on a pig farm, which belonged to Jill's family but had been closed down after an outbreak of Aujeszky's disease.

After finishing his preparations, John abducted his five victims and took them to a room inside the barn, where the game was supposed to begin. Inside the room, he fettered each of them with a metallic neck shackle attached to long chains leading to five doors on the other side of the room. Additionally, John put buckets with eye slits on their heads, which were attached to their shackles by two laterally positioned metal pins. Finally, he injected Carly with a deadly poison before leaving the room through a secret door.

Shortly afterward, the prisoners were awakened by an audible alarm and the lights, which turned on around them. They immediately started to panic, screamed for help, and tried to remove their shackles. These attempts, however, were interrupted by John, who spoke to them over a loudspeaker. He accused all of them of harming other people with their lies and demanded that they confess their sins to save themselves. Furthermore, he explained that they all had to sacrifice some of their blood if they wanted to get out of the room alive.

John saves Logan Nelson.

After his speech, the chains were tightened, and the prisoners were dragged towards the five doors. Attached to each of these doors were several rotating circular saw blades in various sizes. After they initially tried to fight back by brute force, Anna finally realized that each of them had to sacrifice a small amount of blood and, therefore, reluctantly cut her arm on one of the blades. Thereby, she only suffered a superficial slash wound and was able to take the bucket from her head. The others emulated her deeds and saved themselves. After that, the doors opened, and they were dragged to the next room by their chains. However, Logan, who only woke up near the end of the game, could not react fast enough and was pulled on his back into the blades. As he did not want to let him die due to an error, John deactivated the saws and left his hideout. Unnoticed by the other prisoners, he removed Logan's bucket and freed him from his shackle. While the others faced their next test, John heaved Logan's unconscious body on a gurney, treated the severe cuts on his back, and sutured his wounds.

John prevents Anna's escape.

Meanwhile, the game went on and claimed Carly's and Mitch's lives, while Ryan lost his right leg in another trap. Eventually, Anna, who was still mostly unharmed, decided to leave Ryan behind and broke the rules by trying to escape through a door marked with the inscription "No Exit." After levering it up a tiny crack, she attempted to crawl outside. However, as she did so, John already waited for Anna and injected his former neighbor with an anesthetic while hiding his face behind a pig mask. Afterward, John also sedated Ryan and took the two of them to a milking room. There, he chained them by their legs to metal bars on the opposite sides of the room. After doing so, he gave his attention to a construction in the middle of the room, which he used to correctly adjust a mechanical mounting device that would be a part of Anna's and Ryan's final test.

John prepares the final test.

When the two of them woke up shortly afterward, Anna was shocked to see John. She and Ryan begged for their lives, whereas John only scolded them for their sins, which had brought them into this situation in the first place. While he confronted Ryan with the deadly car crash and Anna with the murder of her baby, he finished his work on the contraption in the middle of the room and told his prisoners that they did things "backwards." Now, he would give them the chance to "turn it all around." Afterward, he took out a shotgun and showed them a shell, which he described as their "key to freedom." After loading the gun, he placed it on the mounting device and left the room along with his pig mask and the adjusting machine before closing the door and leaving the two of them in the milking room.

Soon afterward, he returned and saw that Anna and Ryan had failed their test and died in the process. Convinced that she had to kill Ryan to save herself, Anna had tried to shoot him. However, the shotgun had been manipulated, causing it to shoot backward and kill Anna in the process. Thereby, the keys to their shackles, which had been hidden inside the shell, were destroyed. Without any hope of survival, Ryan eventually succumbed to the severe loss of blood caused by the amputation of his leg. When the game was over, John put their corpses next to each other and left them in the room. (Jigsaw)

Recruitment of Logan Nelson

After Logan, the only survivor of the massacre, recovered from his injuries, John convinced him to join him in his mission. As Logan felt responsible for the careless mistake at the hospital years earlier, he agreed to John's offer. Furthermore, John revealed that Logan had taught him that their actions must never come from anger or vengeance. He promised him that they would bring justice to those who wrongfully harmed others, telling Logan that they'd "speak for the dead." With Logan's help, John continued his deadly games and was given the nickname "Jigsaw" by the press and police due to the puzzle pieces he cut from his victims' bodies to symbolize their failure. However, their collaboration quickly came to an end when Logan joined the US Army and was deployed to Fallujah in May 2003. (Jigsaw)

Recruitment of Mark Hoffman

Shortly afterward, in early June, someone else used John's modus operandi. One of the detectives working on the Jigsaw case was Mark Hoffman, whose sister, Angelina Acomb, had been murdered by her boyfriend, Seth Baxter, during a domestic dispute in 1997. Even though Seth received a life sentence in 1998, he was released from prison in May 2003 after five years due to a procedural error. The following month, Hoffman abducted him and put him in a self-built trap without giving him any chance to escape. Then, after Seth's inevitable death, Hoffman cut a puzzle piece from his skin to throw suspicion on Jigsaw.

However, John had observed Hoffman during the police investigation and knew that he had been responsible for the murder of Seth. Therefore, he gathered evidence against Hoffman and sent him an anonymous letter with the message, "I know who you are." to his office at the police station. When Hoffman returned to his apartment house shortly afterward, John was already waiting for him in an elevator. While riding up, Hoffman noticed that only his floor had been selected on the panel. Furthermore, he realized that John was holding something in his hand. However, when Hoffman slowly reached for his gun, John suddenly attacked him and injected him with an anesthetic, which caused him to pass out. Afterward, John took the unconscious detective to his workshop, strapped him to a chair, and positioned a shotgun in front of him. The trigger of this gun was connected to his arm restraints by a cord.

John gives Hoffman his ultimatum.

When Hoffman woke up, John immediately confronted him with a newspaper article that accused Jigsaw of being responsible for the murder of Seth Baxter, which John described as a distasteful imitation and thereby revealed himself as the actual Jigsaw Killer. Hoffman tried to free himself but stopped when John put a mirror in front of him and showed him the cord connected to the trigger. During their conversation, John spoke about Hoffman's sister's death, his drinking problem caused by his depression, and his revenge on Seth. Hoffman insisted that Seth did not deserve a chance to live, which angered John, who saw the act of killing as something horrible and distasteful and therefore claimed that he always gave his test subjects a chance. Then, John put his finger on the trigger, and Hoffman prepared himself to die. However, when John finally pulled the trigger, he realized that the gun was empty. Moments later, John freed him from his restraints and made him an offer. Hoffman could help him set up his future games and thereby learn his philosophy of justice, as otherwise, John would publish the evidence for his murder of Seth. Hoffman answered that he could also kill him as nobody would believe John's evidence more than him. However, John remained unimpressed and asked him if he really wanted to take the risk of ruining his own life to protect the legal system that had caused Seth's release from prison. Thereby, he finally managed to convince him to become his accomplice. (Saw V)

Paul Leahy's Test

Their first test subject was Paul Leahy, a patient in the Homeward Bound Clinic, who had unsuccessfully tried to kill himself by cutting his wrists in early 2004. The following month, his game was set to play out. Therefore, John and Hoffman prepared a deadly scenario in a basement. Within two hours, Paul had to find a way from the back part of the room to the exit door on the other side, while almost the entire room was filled to the brim with sharp razor wire. When they found Paul at night, he sat in his car. After getting drunk, the latter tried to commit suicide again by cutting his wrists with a glass shard from his broken liquor bottle but was interrupted when John and Hoffman bumped his car's rear. When he got out to see what happened, he was suddenly attacked by the men, who covered their faces with pig masks. Paul tried to fight them off and nearly managed to do so by almost strangling Hoffman but was ultimately sedated by John with an anesthetic. (Saw, Saw IV, Saw V)

Hoffman warns John of Detective Tapp.

When he lost consciousness, John and Hoffman took him to the basement where they had set up the game. After Hoffman undressed him and took him to the back part of the razor wire cage, John started the timer for the game. Then, they went into hiding next door. Through a peephole in the door, they were able to observe Paul's progress. On this occasion, Hoffman admitted that he did not expect the feeling of remorse. John answered that it was necessary to abandon all of their emotions for the sake of their work. While Paul fought for his life, Hoffman warned John of one of his colleagues, Detective David Tapp, getting closer to discovering his identity. Therefore, John, who already knew about Tapp, gave him a penlight he had stolen from Dr. Lawrence Gordon and told Hoffman to throw suspicion on the doctor. When Paul's game was over, and he had succumbed to his injuries caused by the razor wire, John cut a jigsaw piece from his skin and then left the basement along with his accomplice. (Saw, Saw V)

Amanda Young's Test

John prepares Amanda's game.

A few weeks later, in late March 2004, John prepared another game while he was in his new hideout, an abandoned mannequin factory at 213 Stygian Street. This game focused on Amanda Young, another patient of the Homeward Bound Clinic. After abducting her, he took her to an abandoned warehouse. There, he strapped Amanda to a chair and put a mechanical contraption on her head, which he had previously built on the pig farm with Logan's assistance. This device, which was equipped with a timer, was hooked into Amanda's upper and lower jaw and would rip her mouth open if she did not manage to free herself within 60 seconds. He also abducted Donnie Greco, another one of Jill's patients, and injected him with an opiate overdose, rendering him unable to move or feel anything. When John prepared Amanda's game, he made Donnie swallow the key to her trap and painted a black question mark on his stomach. After finishing all of his preparations, John left the building. When Amanda finally woke up, she received her instructions from a video, which showed John's mechanical puppet. Despite her panic and the short time limit of merely 60 seconds, Amanda killed Donnie and managed to save herself in time. (Saw, Saw III, Saw IV, Jigsaw)

Mark Wilson's Test

Around that time, Hoffman set up another game to test a man named Mark Wilson, who claimed to be seriously sick, although he was perfectly healthy. After abducting him, Hoffman undressed him, slathered his body with a jellylike, flammable substance, and trapped him inside a dark room with the only light source being a single candle. Furthermore, he injected him with a slow-acting poison and placed the only antidote inside a safe. Mark had to find the correct combination among hundreds of numbers written all over the walls to save himself. This task was made even more difficult as the entire floor was covered with broken glass shards. When walking around the room with the candle, Mark accidentally ignited the jelly slathered on his body, causing him to burn alive. After Mark's death, Hoffman left Dr. Gordon's penlight at the crime scene before leaving. Meanwhile, John returned to the Angel of Mercy Hospital for a routine examination. (Saw, Saw V)

Recruitment of Amanda Young

John converts Amanda to his beliefs.

The day after Mark's death, Gordon introduced John to his medical students. However, he was interrupted by Zep Hindle, one of the orderlies, who reminded him that John was "a very interesting person" as he was disgruntled by the fact that Gordon continuously only called him "the patient." Annoyed by this interruption, Gordon sarcastically thanked Zep for the information. As Zep left and Gordon was about to continue his medical round, he was once again interrupted and called to his office. When he entered it, he was greeted by Detective David Tapp and Detective Steven Sing. After Mark's body had been found and the fingerprints on the penlight had been identified as Gordon's, they took him to the police station for further interrogation. At the same time, John left the hospital and broke into Amanda Young's apartment while she made her testimony the same day. When she returned home, John told her not to be afraid of him and that her life had just begun. Genuinely convinced that John had helped her, she agreed to become his accomplice. During a baptism ceremony, John converted Amanda to his beliefs and gave her an envelope, which contained the instructions for their first game. (Saw, Saw III)

Evading Apprehension

John returns to his hideout.

Upon continuing his games, John chose a man named Jeff Ridenhour as his next test subject. After abducting him, he took him to his lair in the mannequin factory and strapped him to a mechanical chair before leaving his hideout again. Shortly afterward, the detectives Tapp and Sing managed to find and break into the factory. However, when they heard a nearby elevator, they went into hiding. Moments later, John arrived, disguised with a black cloak and hood. Tapp and Sing observed him as he approached Jeff and told him that he would become a test subject for one of his gruesome projects. At this moment, the detectives left their hiding spot and aimed their weapons at John. John reacted quickly and activated the mechanical chair by stepping on a pressure button on the floor. Thereby, two drills started to approach Jeff's head from both sides. While Sing desperately tried to deactivate the contraption, Tapp held John at gunpoint. Even though John told them that the key to the trap was in a box next to Jeff, Sing could not find the right one in time as there were dozens of keys attached to the key ring. In the last nick of time, Sing saved Jeff nonetheless by shooting the drills. However, the shots distracted Tapp and allowed John to slash his throat with a hidden blade and run away. Sing pursued him and shot him in a hallway, causing him to collapse. Thinking that he was dead, Sing approached his body and thereby stepped on a tripwire. This carelessness proved to be fatal as the wire triggered another trap, which caused Sing to be killed by four shotguns attached to a ceiling beam. Afterward, John, who wore bulletproof body armor under his cloak, left the factory without any significant injuries. (Saw)

Adam Stanheight's and Lawrence Gordon's Test

Five months later, in the fall of 2004, John decided that it was time to test Dr. Lawrence Gordon in another deadly game. While observing him, he became aware of a young freelance photographer named Adam Stanheight, who also followed Gordon. After Detective Sing's death, Tapp had suffered a mental breakdown and was subsequently discharged from the police force. However, as he was still convinced that Gordon was the Jigsaw Killer, he had hired Adam for his observation. Therefore, John decided that Adam should also participate in the game, which would take place in a dilapidated bathroom in an underground tunnel network. (Saw)

John injects himself with a muscle relaxant.

Gordon was eventually kidnapped and chained to a pipe in the corner of the room by his right leg. Later on, Amanda arrived with Adam, whom she had abducted from his apartment. 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 ultimately 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)

John poses as a suicide victim.

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 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.

Adam tries to obtain John's recorder.

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 contained 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 could not 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 did not 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.

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 instructions. 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 cassette had been recorded by the same distorted voice, which confronted him with his profession and the fact that he gave people the news of their impending death 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.

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 also remained unsuccessful, the latter eventually concluded that the saws were not 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.

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 did not 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.

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 his family. However, when Adam searched the purse for a picture of Gordon's wife, he made a horrifying discovery and 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 did not want to worry him, Adam chose not to tell Gordon about the picture and instead gave him the wallet back, claiming that the photo of his wife was not 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 had not been visible in the light, leading Adam to conclude 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 did not need a gun to kill Adam, and that "smoking was only poisonous when it ended in bloodshed." When Adam, who did not 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 could not 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.

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. Then, 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.

After he told Gordon how he was kidnapped from his apartment by a person with a pig mask, 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 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 who still blamed him for Detective Sing's death five months earlier.

When the two of them lapsed into silence again, Adam suddenly noticed that one of the photos from the bag was not taken by 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. 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. Unfortunately, though, 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, Gordon 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.

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 did not 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. In pain, Adam burst into tears as the bullet had injured his shoulder. Gordon told him he would 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.

John reveals himself to Adam.

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 John 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)

Recruitment of Lawrence Gordon

John treats Gordon's wound.

Due to his injury and the severe loss of blood, Gordon did not make it very far. Shortly after his escape, he reached a hot steaming pipe in one of the underground hallways leading to the bathroom. After initially hesitating, Gordon pressed his stump against the pipe to cauterize the wound. Even though this was successful, he lost consciousness due to the immense pain. Shortly afterward, he was found by John, who had followed his blood trail. As he dragged him away, Gordon briefly regained his consciousness and recognized his patient, who smiled at him and congratulated him for his survival before he passed out again. John took the unconscious doctor to a room with medical supplies. When Gordon woke up again, he started to panic but calmed down when John treated his wound and adjusted a prosthesis to his stump. Because of this, he began to trust John and ultimately agreed to become his accomplice and assist in his future games. After his treatment, John allowed him to leave. (Saw 3D)

Adam Stanheight's Death

After the end of the game, John and Amanda returned to their new hideout. However, Amanda felt guilty for Adam's fate and was haunted by nightmares. Therefore, she decided to return to the bathroom and kill Adam out of pity. Assuming that John was sleeping, she left the hideout without noticing that he was, in fact, awake and observed her. Even though Amanda put her plan into action, this only worsened her feelings of remorse and caused her to counteract the emotional stress by harming herself. John, who noticed her mental instability, tried to comfort her. (Saw II, Saw III)

Visiting Jill Tuck

Nonetheless, he believed that Amanda had learned to cherish her life by overcoming her deadly ordeal months earlier. Therefore, she accompanied him to the Homeward Bound clinic when he visited his ex-wife, Jill, to talk about her work. As before, he tried to convince her that her work was all in vain because her patients only used her and her good nature to avoid prison sentences. He also thought that methadone therapy was pointless as it did not make a difference whether her patients were addicted to their drugs or the methadone from the clinic. As Jill tried to explain to him that recovery was a complicated process, John angrily yelled at her and told her that nobody valued their lives until they were confronted with their impending death. However, he managed to calm down and tried to convince her that he was doing the right thing by presenting her with the seemingly purified Amanda. He hugged Jill and reminded her of how she had given up on Amanda, calling her a "lost soul." Despite this, Amanda had overcome her drug addiction and claimed that this would not have been possible without John's help. (Saw VI)

S.U.R.V.I.V.E. - My Story of Overcoming Jigsaw

John visits Bobby Dagen's autograph session.

John continued his games and tested several other people throughout the following months, including Joan, an insecure woman who managed to survive her test. During an interview, Joan told her story of survival to the public, stating that she wished the same experience for everyone like her as it had made her stronger. Furthermore, she claimed to be grateful for her horrendous game, despite her grudge against Jigsaw. Eventually, her story inspired a man named Bobby Dagen to make up his own story of surviving one of Jigsaw's games. To become rich and famous, he wrote and published his book "S.U.R.V.I.V.E. - My story of overcoming Jigsaw," in which he explained how he once survived one of Jigsaw's games and how his life changed afterward. While his best friend, Cale, became his manager, he also hired Nina, a publicist, and Suzanne, a lawyer, who supported him despite their knowledge of Bobby's story being a lie. Furthermore, Bobby even lied to his wife, Joyce, who believed his story and gullibly supported him. However, his fraud also caught John's attention, who visited an autograph session organized by Nina. When talking to Bobby, John hinted at his knowledge of the truth behind his story but was interrupted by Cale when Bobby had signed John's copy of his book. John thanked him for the autograph but gave him the book cover of his copy, which showed a photo of Bobby, claiming that he would not need it anymore as they knew each other now. After that, he left the session. (Saw 3D)

Preparations for the Future

When John realized the great extent of Bobby's lies, he decided that many more people had to be tested. However, as his physical condition worsened, he already anticipated that he would not be able to test all of them on his own before his passing. Therefore, he prepared the games so his accomplices could continue his work after his death. In the focus of one of these games was a group of five people - Ashley Kazon, a fire inspector, Charles Salomon, a journalist, Luba Gibbs, a city planner, Brit Stevenson, a real estate developer, and Mallick Scott, a drug addict. All of them were connected to a fire, which had caused the deaths of eight people.

Another game centered around William Easton and his colleagues at Umbrella Health - Hank, the janitor, Allen, William's file clerk, Addy, his secretary, Debbie, the company's lawyer, as well as Aaron, Emily, Gena, Dave, Shelby, and Josh, William's closest associates. Furthermore, William's sister, a journalist named Pamela Jenkins, and Tara and Brent Abbott, two relatives of one of William's deceased clients, should participate in the game as well. Finally, the third game revolved around Bobby Dagen, his wife, and the core members of his crew. Additionally, he also planned a game to test his accomplice, Detective Mark Hoffman.

Throughout the following couple of months, John prepared the recordings for the games, designed the traps, and gathered all necessary information about his future victims. Furthermore, he gave a black box to his executor, Bernie Feldman, and told him to give it to Jill after his death. Besides the instructions for William Easton's game, the box also contained a video for Dr. Gordon, in which John asked him to watch over Jill, and a modernized version of the trap that he had used to test Amanda. This trap was supposed to be used for Mark Hoffman's test. (Saw V, Saw VI, Saw 3D)

The Nerve Gas House

Nonetheless, John was also determined to set up some more games on his own. Therefore, he eventually targeted Eric Matthews, a corrupt detective, who had faked the evidence in many of his cases and thereby wrongfully arrested several innocent people. Among these people were Jonas Singer, his manager, Gus Colyard, Addison Corday, the prostitute John met at the night of Gideon's death, Xavier Chavez, a drug dealer, a woman named Laura Hunter, a man named Obi Tate, and also Amanda Young. She had become addicted to heroin after Eric sent her to prison for a drug crime she did not commit. To test Eric, John and his accomplices first set up another game in an abandoned, run-down residential house connected to the underground tunnels leading to the bathroom by a trapdoor. Therefore, Detective Hoffman gave John the police files of the seven people framed by Eric, as they would participate in this first game taking place in October 2005.

John and Hoffman prepare the game.

To accelerate their preparations, John also convinced Obi Tate to assist him with abducting the other victims. After the abductions of Jonas Singer, Gus Colyard, Addison Corday, Xavier Chavez, Laura Hunter, and Eric Matthews' son, Daniel Matthews, were successful, they were taken to the house and trapped inside the room where the hidden trapdoor was located. Afterward, Hoffman abducted Obi Tate and took him there as well. While they all lay on the floor unconsciously, Amanda joined them as she was supposed to play the role of a victim on her own to observe the other prisoners' progress while also protecting Daniel. Then, John placed a tape recorder, which contained the instructions for his victims, in a hollow space behind a brick wall and helped Hoffman to secure the only exit door with another trap. After that, they left, closed the door behind them, and directed a deadly nerve gas into the room. (Saw II, Saw V) safe

Michael Marks' Test

Their next victim was Michael Marks, another one of Jill's patients and the informant of Eric Matthews. After his abduction, Lawrence Gordon performed surgery on the young man, during which he placed a key behind Michael's right eye. This key would later become the only way for Michael to save himself from one of Jigsaw's traps, a so-called death mask. Within 60 seconds, Michael had to cut out his eye to obtain the key. 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. At the crime scene, which was going to be found by Eric Matthews later on, John left two important clues for him. The first one was the message "Look closer, Detective Matthews," which John wrote on the ceiling. The second clue was one of the metal parts used to build the death mask, which had an engraving of the Wilson Steel Plant, the location of John's hideout at that time. (Saw II, Saw IV, Saw 3D)

Eric Matthews' Test

Later, John returned to the steel plant, where he waited for Amanda, who arrived shortly afterward with the unconscious Daniel Matthews. The two of them were the only survivors of the game in the house. John tied Daniel up and locked him up inside a safe with a sufficient supply of oxygen. Furthermore, John prepared a video broadcast. Therefore, he set up a broadcasting station in another house at 237 North Hyde Crescent. This building was almost identical to the house where the previous game had taken place. From there, John broadcasted the surveillance recordings of the game to several monitors at the steel plant. Upon returning to his hideout, he set up a booby trap in a staircase, as the police would find the location soon afterward.

John waits for the police to arrive.

The next day, Eric Matthews went to the plant, accompanied by Detective Allison Kerry and a SWAT team led by Sergeant Daniel Rigg. While the detectives stayed outside, Rigg entered the building with three of his men. As expected, they triggered the booby trap, 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 John sat at a table and waited for them.

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 the surveillance monitors hidden under a white cloth. Upon looking at the monitors, they saw the recordings of John's previous game. When he recognized his son, Eric angrily attacked John, as he believed that the recording was a live broadcast. However, he was held back by Rigg. Finally, 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.

John talks to Eric

Eric went back to the surveillance area and immediately tried to call his son, hoping that John was bluffing. However, when Daniel did not 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 increasingly 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 would not 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. 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 his opponent 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 did not 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 he confronted him 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 to have incurable cancer. He also informed him about his attempted suicide by driving his car off a cliff, stating that his survival had ultimately caused him to start his mission. 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 did not have much time left and had to develop a new plan 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 remarked that Eric would not 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 police files of the prisoners in the house, learning that they had all been framed by Eric for crimes they did not commit. 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 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 the second location at 237 North Hyde Crescent, from where the recording was broadcasted. When John and Eric finally arrived, John gave him the key and waited in the car. Unknown to Eric, John had already planned these events and knew that Amanda waited for Eric in the bathroom underneath the house. Ultimately, their plan was successful, and Amanda chained Eric up in the bathroom, just like Adam and Dr. Gordon the year before. (Saw II)

Going into Hiding

Shortly afterward, Amanda left the house severely injured. John knew that something went wrong and ordered Hoffman to look after Eric without Amanda's knowledge. Meanwhile, he and Amanda were forced to hide as the police knew their identities now. Due to his physical condition, which continued to worsen dramatically, John became weak and bedridden and had to rely on Amanda's assistance, even though he knew about her mental instability. Aware of his impending demise, John began to plan his final tests. With the help of his accomplices, he chose his victims and prepared the games while he and Amanda stayed in their new hideout, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant, most of the time. (Saw III, Saw IV)

Trevor's and Art Blank's Test

Two weeks before the beginning of the final games, John arranged for the abduction of a man named Trevor and Art Blank, his former lawyer and business partner. After their abduction, Lawrence Gordon performed another surgery on both of them. He sutured Art's mouth and Trevor's eyes, so it would be impossible for them to communicate during their test. After finishing these preparations, both men were taken to a mausoleum, where their game took place. During that game, Art killed Trevor in self-defense and thereby escaped from a deadly trap. However, instead of regaining his freedom, he was forced to set up another game himself. The participants, whom John had chosen for this game, were Daniel Rigg and Eric Matthews, two special agents named Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez, and four other people named Brenda, Ivan Landsness, Rex, and Morgan, former clients of Art Blank. In the past, the latter had successfully defended all of them in court. (Saw IV, Saw 3D)

Final Preparations

Shortly before the last games began, John ordered Amanda to test two other people. The first one of them was Troy, one of Jill's patients and a repeated offender. The second test was planned for Detective Kerry. However, John learned that Amanda had manipulated both games and thereby robbed Troy and Kerry of their chance to survive. Even though he had initially selected Amanda as his successor, John realized that she became too dangerous and decided to test her again. (Saw III)

Additionally, John planned one more game, which revolved around a man named Jeff Denlon, who was obsessed with his thirst for revenge after his son, Dylan, was accidentally killed by a drunk driver named Timothy Young three years earlier. Furthermore, Lawrence Gordon suggested abducting John's former doctor and Jeff's wife, Dr. Lynn Denlon, and force her to participate in the game as well. It should be her task to keep the severely weakened John alive until her husband overcame a series of tests. Besides her connection with Jeff, Gordon specifically chose her because of her formidable surgical skills. (Saw III, Saw 3D)

John talks to Amanda.

When the time to start the final games had come on April 28, 2006, Amanda took John to his quarter. On their way, they came across Mark Hoffman, who worked on a trap called "The Rack." As John saw that Hoffman switched the trap's gear ratio, he told him that he would have to change the gear grease to match the increased friction and told him to coordinate all future changes with him. When Hoffman asked him how many more games he had planned, John merely responded that their work would go on as long as necessary. Afterward, Hoffman recklessly dumped the unconscious body of Timothy Young out of a wheelbarrow to put him in the trap. John reminded him that Timothy was still a human being and asked him if he enjoyed the feeling of brutality. Hoffman responded that John wanted to see Timothy suffer just as much as he did. When he was about to continue his work, he engaged in a brief argument with Amanda, who asked him when he would be tested. Hoffman answered that this was unnecessary as he, unlike Amanda, had always valued his life and pointed to the self-inflicted scars on her wrists. Amanda mocked him and advised him to get used to her as he would not get rid of her. He, however, only asked her if she was sure about that. Eventually, John interrupted the two of them. After that, he and Amanda went on and allowed Hoffman to finish his work on the trap.

John and Jill's final encounter

On their way to their improvised sleeping quarters, they unexpectedly came across Jill. As he wanted to talk to her alone, John told Amanda that she had to leave to abduct Lynn Denlon and bring her to the meatpacking plant in time. Once they were alone, John asked Jill about the reason for her visit. She desperately begged her former husband to stop his deadly games. He promised that he had prepared a way out for her and handed her a key, which belonged to the black box he previously gave to his executor. However, when she asked him what it was for, he only told her that she would know it when the time had come. This conversation was their last encounter during his lifetime. When he was alone again, he went through the building and prepared the remaining requisites for Jeff Denlon's game before he finally returned to his quarters and went to bed. (Saw III, Saw VI)

Shortly afterward, Hoffman also visited him one last time. On this occasion, they talked about Amanda and her increasingly unstable state of mind because Hoffman already assumed that she would not pass her test and fail John. For him, John had prepared one more task. He gave him a folder, which contained the photos of Ashley Kazon, Charles Salomon, Luba Gibbs, Brit Stevenson, and Mallick Scott, whom he had chosen for another game. After John's death, Hoffman was supposed to set up this game. Moments later, they finally heard the desperate screams of Lynn Denlon next door. Once again, Hoffman warned him that Amanda would fail him and then left the room through a secret door. (Saw V)

The Final Tests

When Amanda and Lynn entered the room, John greeted his test subject and former doctor, who did not remember him and only recognized him from the television news about the Jigsaw murders. After introducing himself, he reminded Lynn of their last conversation at the hospital and presented her with his medical file before explaining the rules of her game. Amanda put a collar around Lynn's neck and secured it with a lock. It was connected to John's heart rate monitor and equipped with five explosive charges. If John flatlined or Lynn moved too far away from him, those charges would detonate and kill her in the process. John told her that it was her task in this game to keep him alive until another test subject managed to overcome a series of tests. However, he did not tell her that this other person was, in fact, her husband. Amanda, who was present the entire time, did not realize that John also tested her, as Lynn's instructions were meant for her as well.

Lynn and Amanda discuss John's condition.

Soon afterward, Lynn started her examination and found out that John's brain was herniating. When Amanda told them that Jeff's game had begun, Lynn tried to convince her to take John to a hospital to undergo surgery and relieve the pressure on his brain. This suggestion led to an argument between her and Amanda, who insulted and threatened her until John intervened. He reminded her that Lynn could not fulfill her task if she were threatened and that Amanda had to follow the rules just like everyone else involved. Only seconds later, he suddenly suffered a severe cerebral seizure, which he just barely survived due to Lynn's help. Thereby, she eventually convinced Amanda, who was still in shock, that John had to undergo surgery. However, Amanda told her to perform the surgery at the meatpacking plant and asked her what she needed. Realizing that every attempt to convince her to take John to the hospital was pointless, Lynn told her that she would need anesthetics and a drilling machine, among other instruments. After that, Amanda left to get the necessary supplies.

Upon her return, Amanda sat down at John's sickbed. She told him about Jeff's progress, who had just finished his first test in one of the freezer rooms inside the building. During that test, he had unsuccessfully tried to save a woman named Danica Scott, who was the only witness of the accident that killed his son but refused to testify against the drunk driver. Furthermore, Amanda explained that Lynn was almost ready to perform the surgery to relieve his pain. Due to this emotionally stressful situation, John encouraged Amanda to stay strong and told her that something was left for her to do. Therefore, he told her about a letter with her name in the drawer of her desk.

Lynn prepares John for the surgery.

When Amanda left the room again to observe the game, Lynn prepared everything in John's room for the operation. Just as she shaved the back of his head, Amanda returned and informed him that Jeff had passed his second test and thereby saved a judge named Halden, who sentenced the murderer of Jeff's son to a light sentence of merely six months in prison. Upon hearing this, John was surprised by Jeff's fast progress. Afterward, Lynn explained the operation to him, during which she would remove a piece of his skullcap to relieve the pressure on his brain and enhance his motor faculties. Then, she injected him with a local anesthetic, as the surgery's complexity required John to stay awake. Following the injection, Lynn cut off a large part of his scalp to expose the skull. After cleaning the wound with alcohol, she used a power drill to bore four holes in his head in rectangular order. She then cut out this rectangle with an electric circular saw and removed the bone fragment with a small retractor. After his vital functions stabilized, Lynn told him to raise his hand and flex his fingers. However, upon doing so, he suffered a breakdown, causing Amanda to burst into tears. While his heart rate declined dramatically, he hallucinated his ex-wife. Lynn just barely managed to stabilize and save him once more. However, as he was still in a delirious state, he mistook her for Jill and told her that he loved her. Therefore, Amanda, who misunderstood the situation, left the room because she was jealous of his attachment to Lynn.

Amanda hugs John.

Weakened by his breakdown, John soon fell asleep. While Lynn washed off the blood and looked at the various pictures and drawings on the walls, Amanda reentered and tightly hugged John. However, when Lynn told her that he could not hear her and was not even know of her presence, she became angry and grabbed her by the throat. Just as she was about to pull her gun, John woke up and harshly ordered her to put the gun away and leave, which she eventually did after some hesitation. Once they were alone, John apologized for Amanda's behavior, stating that her strong emotions were also her greatest weakness.

John pours wax on the tape.

As time went by, he talked to Lynn about her family and advised her to appreciate them. Furthermore, he spoke about her depression after Dylan's death, her marital problems, the neglect of her daughter, Corbett, and her affair with a man named Chris. While doing so, he poured molten wax on an audio cassette and swallowed it. Lynn, angered by his accusations, told him that her marriage had survived more suffering than a murderer like him could ever grasp. He, however, merely responded that she did not know the feeling of suffering yet. Lynn once again begged him to let her go when Amanda returned. When the latter refused to leave, despite John's request to do so, he asked Lynn to leave them alone for a moment. After a brief discussion with Amanda, he ordered his accomplice to bring Lynn back. Upon her return, the doctor begged him once more to release her as she had saved his life. John, however, told her that, in the end, it might not have been his life that she saved and claimed that if she survived her game, Lynn would be grateful someday. Then, he asked her to tell him about her daughter and her son and wanted to know why she neglected her family while grieving for Dylan.

A few moments later, Amanda came back and told John that Jeff had finished his third test. John congratulated Lynn and told her that she could go. However, Amanda refused to remove Lynn's collar as Jeff had not finished his game yet. After John repeatedly told her to follow the rules and free Lynn from her collar, Amanda pulled her gun and aimed it at the doctor, stating that she did not deserve to go free. Therefore, Lynn burst into tears. When John told Amanda once more to put down the gun and explained to her that her life was in Lynn's hands, she angrily yelled at him for giving Lynn control over her. During their argument, John asked her if she felt that hatred for all of her test subjects, especially Eric Matthews, and thereby revealed that he knew that Amanda had manipulated her games and deliberately killed her victims. To convince her to let Lynn go, he told Amanda that he had forgiven her and that Lynn's death would entail severe consequences for all of them. However, Amanda still refused to let her go and accused John of being a murderer, just like her.

Furthermore, she revealed that she did not believe in John's moral philosophy, according to which people could change. When she asked him why Lynn was so important to him, John answered that she was not important to him but to Amanda, which she denied. During his final attempt to calm her down, Jeff suddenly appeared outside the room. Upon seeing him, Lynn immediately went to him but was shot in the back by Amanda. Disappointed by her failure, John finally revealed to her that Lynn was Jeff's wife. Therefore, Jeff entered the room and shot Amanda in the throat with a gun he had found earlier. While she lay on the floor bleeding, John admitted that he had tested her the whole time to see if she could save the life of another human being. Knowing that she had become just another one of her mentor's test subjects, she eventually succumbed to her wound and died. John then ended her test with the words "Game Over." (Saw III)


Jeff decides to kill John.

Following Amanda's death, Jeff aimed his gun at John, who scolded him for having learned nothing from his test and still being obsessed with his urge for vengeance, which would only harm his loved ones, including his daughter, who needed him to be there for her. Furthermore, he told him that he could not kill him. Nonetheless, Jeff pulled the trigger, albeit his magazine was empty. When John reminded him that his wife was about to die, Jeff briefly got his senses back, comforted her, and promised her to bring her home. However, John warned him that she would die if he tried to move her and offered to call an ambulance. Jeff agreed and accepted John's conditions, who demanded one final test to see if Jeff could overcome his thirst for revenge. He could either kill John with one of the various tools around him or forgive him and prove that he learned his lesson. Even though Lynn begged him to stay with her, Jeff got up and grabbed a circular saw from a table nearby. Then, he approached John, put his hand on his chest, and told him that he forgave him. However, only a few seconds later, Jeff activated the saw and, albeit Lynn desperately begged him to stop, slashed John's throat. Once more, he mockingly said that he forgave John. Moments later, Lynn's collar was activated. With the last of his strength, John took out a tape recorder that contained a recorded message for Jeff, which told him that he failed his final test. Furthermore, he learned why he could not kill John, as the latter had also abducted his and Lynn's daughter, Corbett, and was the only person who knew where she was. The tape told Jeff that his daughter only had a limited air supply, and if he wanted to find her, he had to play another game. When the recording was over, John succumbed to his injuries, resulting in the detonation of Lynn's collar and her subsequent death. (Saw III)


Strahm leaves John's corpse behind.

Suddenly, Special Agent Peter Strahm entered the room after being guided to the meatpacking plant through his own game. When he aimed his gun at Jeff and told him to show him his hands, Jeff raised his weapon and demanded to know where his daughter was. Therefore, Strahm shot him in self-defense. Shortly afterward, he was trapped by Mark Hoffman, who closed the door behind him and turned off the light. Upon further examining the room, Strahm eventually found the secret door, which Hoffman had used to leave the room before the games began. Behind it, Strahm found another recorder with a message from John, who warned him to stay where he was and wait for the police to arrive. Strahm, however, refused to do so and instead entered the hallway behind the door. Later that night, the police eventually found the corpses and took them to the morgue. (Saw IV, Saw V)

Dr. Heffner performs the autopsy on John.

Following these events, the forensic pathologist in charge, Dr. Adam Heffner, performed the autopsy on John's corpse. Upon further examination of his stomach, he found the wax-coated tape, which John had swallowed after his surgery, and called Detective Hoffman. When the latter arrived at the morgue and played the recording, it turned out to be a warning. John announced that the games would continue after his death and that Hoffman himself would not get away untested. These threats soon came true when Hoffman continued the work of his mentor shortly afterward. Despite the new games and the continuously increasing casualty figures, John Kramer remained the central figure of the Jigsaw Story published by the media. (Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI)

After his autopsy, John's body was buried in a local cemetery, and the murders finally ended in the first half of 2007. Ten years after John's death and Hoffman's disappearance, Dr. Logan Nelson eventually decided to continue John's work as a sort of vigilante. To confuse the police and the public and make them doubt John's death, he dug up his grave and replaced his corpse with the dead body of a murderer named Edgar Munsen. Afterward, he buried the coffin again and took John's body with him. (Jigsaw)


John Kramer was a diligent and hard-working man who was just as devoted to his wife and his unborn son as he was to his work, which was dedicated to helping those who were disadvantaged by society. He had strong moral convictions and a strong sense of justice. Even before his transformation to Jigsaw, John believed that only the knowledge of impending death could show if someone were willing to fight for their survival. Furthermore, he had a genius-level intellect and an excellent understanding of facts in diverse fields of science. Still, he was also somehow spiritual and was interested in esoteric subjects such as Chinese astrology.

However, when his son died, and John was diagnosed with incurable cancer, the latter suffered from severe depression and turned away from his wife and his work until he eventually tried to commit suicide but unexpectedly survived. Because of this, John realized that he wanted to live and decided to spend the remaining time of his life testing other people's will to live in order to convince them to value their lives and the lives of those around them.

Therefore, John became the Jigsaw Killer and started to test other people's will to survive by putting them in gruesome, potentially deadly situations. Despite these games' immense brutality, John took no pleasure in his victims' suffering and death but instead saw it as a necessary evil for them to learn to appreciate their lives. Nonetheless, he occasionally tended to confront his victims with their sins in a mocking way. He always tried to keep an emotional distance between himself and his test subjects during his games, so his personal feelings would not affect his work.

Despite his general ruthlessness, John genuinely cared about his surviving victims and the people close to him. For example, he tried to do everything in his power to prevent Amanda from failing her test and was saddened by her failure and subsequent death. In the case of Lawrence Gordon, John took care of his injuries and nursed him back to health. He also saved Logan Nelson from his death, thinking he should not die due to an error as it would go against his understanding of justice. He removed Logan's bucket and freed him from his shackle. Upon seeing the deep cuts on his back, John felt pity for him. Thus, he treated Logan's wounds and convinced him to join his mission as his first accomplice.

Over the years, John rallied several disciples around him, who followed his will and continued his games, even after his death. While doing so, he manipulated his accomplices through his charismatic personality and by using their mental instability.


  • Tobin Bell is the only actor from the films who voiced his character in the video game adaptions Saw: The Video Game and Saw II: Flesh & Blood.
  • John's car is a 1977 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Luxury.
  • The main antagonist of the video game Heavy Rain, the Origami Killer, has a similar modus operandi. He forces his victims to participate in gruesome trials, during which they have to risk their own lives and, in one instance, mutilate themselves to save the lives of their loved ones. Furthermore, the characters Gordi and Charles Kramer share their last name with John.
  • In an interview with IGN about Saw III, director Darren Lynn Bousman described an early concept of the story where John questioned his actions during the last stages of his life, thereby realizing that he would not be remembered as a savior but a murderer.
  • It was initially considered to adapt The Midnight Man, ultimately titled The Collector, a horror film written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, into the fourth Saw film and make it a prequel to Saw, detailing a traumatic event in John's early life. However, although the idea was scrapped, John's backstory was further explored in Saw IV.
  • John did not physically appear in Spiral, making it the first film in the series in which John does not make an appearance. Nonetheless, Darren Lynn Bousman widely discussed bringing Tobin Bell back with the crew until the last day of filming. One of the ideas was having Bell sing an iconic Johnny Cash cover during the ending sequence. However, this idea was dropped for being too gimmicky.
  • In the Tome 10 reveal trailer for Dead by Daylight, the Entity uses Billy the Puppet and mimics Kramer's voice to speak to the Observer.

Appearances and References