John Kramer, better known by his alias, The Jigsaw Killer, Jigsaw in short, is a fictional character and the main villain in the Saw franchise. He is created by James Wan and Leigh Whannell and played by Tobin Bell.
John Kramer was a succesful civil enigneer, who was married to a woman named Jill Tuck. While he ventured much in property development, she helped drug addicts with her rehabilitation clinic. John wasn't in favor of the clinic, believing that the addicts used Jill to get a fix of methadon, and didn't really wanted to come clean. This feeling was strengthed by the fact that several of the addicts became regular patients... But being the devoted husband he was, he did let it slide and later, when Jill became pregnant, he start using his skills to build toys and a crib for the unborn child. He also repaired an old cuckoo clock and gave it as a gift to Jill. One day things went wrong however. One of Jill's patients, a man named Cecil, threatened her with a knife, trying to cut in line, claiming he has been waiting three hours for help. Luckily, John was there and in a fit of rage, threw Cecil out the clinic.
Becoming the Jigsaw KillerEdit
This in turn however was interpret by Cecil Adams and his then-girlfriend, Amanda Young, that Jill wouldn't help them anymore. So since she wasn't going to help them, get their next fix, they would have to take it. By robbing the clinic at closing time. At that moment, John was waiting in the car, for Jill, who was closing the clinic. While Amanda tried to distract John, Cecil would go to Jill. He forced her to give him the money of the clinic and became anxious when she didn't hurry. Meanwhile, Amanda's attempts at distracting John, only resulted in her annoying him, with the latter asked her to leave him alone.When Cecil had the money, he tried to get away as quickly as possible, afraid that he would be caught. In his haste, he slammed the door in Jill's belly, resulting in Jill crying in agony. Scared that he might get caught, he fled the scene, without providing any help for Jill. His get-away was however seen by John, who immediately realized what Cecil just had done. In panic, he jumped out his car and ran towards to the clinic, where he found Jill on the ground. But at that point, it was already too late. Jill had a miscarriage. Their unborn child was killed by one of the people, she so desperately had tried to help.
The tragic event made John bitter. Seeing how Cecil and Amanda didn't change, no matter how many times they got help from Jill, made John concluded that they couldn't be helped, since they didn't want to change. They had to change themselves. When he tried to explain this newfound wisdom to Jill, she denied it and instead kept helping the people that John believed were undeserving of help. This difference in philosphy caused them to become more detached from each other and John grew hateful towards the addicts, seeing them as the reason for his misfortune. In a fit of rage, he destroyed everything he had built for their son and the clock that gave her as a gift. Seeing how much he had changed over the past months, Jill decided that their life was over. He would never be able to let go of it, so she let go of him. With the help of Art Blank, she divorced him. But John's misery didn't end here. During a rountine medical check-up, his doctor Lawrence Gordon discovered that John had colon cancer and an operatable brain tumor. Realizing that he wouldn't have much more time, unless a cure was found, he went searching. Quickly he learned about a doctor in the Middle East, who was working on an experimental drug therapy that could help destroy tumors. The results that the therapy had were promising and this was his best and probably only chance to live. But the procedure was very expensive, so expensive that he couldn't afford it. Believing that this was just a temporary set-back, he went to his health insurance company, Umbrella Health Corporation. For years, he was a loyal client to the company for years, so it should be easy to get an insurance. To his horror, he got rejected however. According to the Umbrella Health Policy, his condition was too severe and the treatment was too risky to cover him. Even a conversation with William Easton, the Executive of the company didn't help. He did however learn that he wasn't alone. He learned that Easton had a group of six of his subordinates had the sole task of digging into the medical history of their clients, searching for a reason to refuse insurance when they needed. A comment of Harold Abbott, claiming that with his refusal, Easton had signed his death sentence, John realized that William Easton literally decided who lived and who died.
As his condition worsened, his disease soon became terminal. Realizing how he was going to die of cancer as there were no options left anymore, he decided that he wasn't going to sit idly by as the cancer slowly killed him. If he had to die, it would be on his terms and with this idea, he drove his car from a cliff, trying to commit suicide. To his surprise, he did survive the crash and as his instinct to survive kicked in, pulled a large iron bar from his stomach. It felt ironic how his instincts and his body tried to keep alive, while his days were numemered already. It was only now that he realized that he didn't want to die, he wanted to life. And only since he was diagnosed with cancer, he had started to realize the value of life. Only in the face of death, do people realize how much they like to life, what the value of life is. The realization changed him and he found a new purpose in life. The time that remained him, he would use to teach people the value of life. Those who threw away their lifes or those who ruined the life of others, would learn this value, the way he did: through sacrifice and with facing death. Those who were succesful, would have redeemed themselves. Those who failed, lacked the necessary instinct to survive and doesn't deserve to life. From those, he would cut out a puzzle piece from the skin, symbolizing that they lacked the survival instinct. This mark would result in him being called the Jigsaw Killer. Using his skills and expertise of mechanics, he started to create death traps.
The first test subjectsEdit
His first victim would be Cecil, the man who killed his unborn child and was the reason Jill divorced him. But he would help Cecil, help him to help himself. He followed Cecil to Chinatown as the civilians celebrated Chinese New Year and the start of the Year of the Pig. Seeing Cecil steal again, he got his confirmation that Cecil would be a good start and kidnapped him, wearing a plastic pig mask he took at a stand. This would the inspiration for the pig suit, he would later use. As a first trap, he chained Cecil to a chair, with razors cutting into the man's wrist. The more Cecil moved, the faster he bled. Next, he placed a strange contraption of kitchen knifes before Cecil, telling him that he has to puch his face them to push a handle before him. If he succeeded, he would be free but as ugly on the outside as he was on inside, if he failed he would bleed out. The trap, although painful to Cecil, wasn't flawless. Although Cecil couldn't push far enough into the blades, he was able to break the chair and free himself. Angry about what John had tried to do to him, Cecil threatened to kill him. John gave him his one shot, before moving out of the way as Cecil slipped over his own blood into a box with razor wire. In his anger and pain, Cecil tried to free himself, only to cut himself more and getting entangled in the wires. John watched as the man died before leaving. The trap would inspire him to create the razor wire trap later.
Copycats and apprenticesEdit
It is unknown how many people John would "test" but none of them survived and soon he would be dubbed by media as the Jigsaw Killer, much to his own displeasure. At some point in time, Seth Baxter, a convicted murder, was released from prison on early parole, much to the anger of the brother of his victim, Detective Mark Hoffman. Hoffman, heartbroken by the death of his sister Angela, felt like the justice system had failed him and Angela and decided to take matters into his own hands. Using the legendary legacy of the Jigsaw Killer, he kidnapped Seth and put him into a trap of his design. Subjecting Seth to the Pendelum Trap, he exacted his revenge as it not only crushed Seth's hands, it bissected him. Believing that he got away with murder, he soon was kidnapped by John, who was displeased by the fact that, not only did Mark framed John for the death of Seth (by incriminating the Jigsaw Killer), he also made an inescapable trap. When Mark woke up, they were in John's lair and Mark was strapped to chair, with a double-barreled shotgun placed between his legs, aimed at his throat. John stood up, immediately revealing that he was the Jigsaw Killer, before criticize Mark's work. As Mark started to struggle, John revealed, using a mirror, how unwise it would be to move too much. Although he symphatised with Mark, he revealed that, unlike Mark, he never killed. He offered people a chance to redeem themselves. Slowly, he started to indoctrinate Mark, claiming that even Seth deserved a chance to survive, something that Mark refuted. John reacted by stating that killing is distasteful to him, before revealing that he believed to have found a more efficient way to chance people. When Mark bursted out, demanding to know what John wanted for him, John simply replied with asking if Mark had what it takes to survive. John continues with pulling the trigger of the gun.
The gun didn't fire however and John offered Mark the option to redeem himself. He openly admitted to Mark that he was really Jigsaw and that Mark could bring him in. But seeing how much John knew, it would ruin his carreer if he did. At first Mark sees it as blackmail but something that John at first denied but when Mark threatened to kill him, as his captor freed him, he revealed that it was in fact blackmail. Mark could become his apprentice or end his carreer, to serve a corrupt legal system that places killers back on the street. After asking him how his sister would feel, he restated the choice before Mark. Mark eventually accepted the offer to become his apprentice...
A few months before the events of Saw, John tested Mark Rodriguez Wilson, for lying about being ill, using it as an excuse. Mark failed his test however and burned himself alive, while John observed the progress. Mark helped John kidnapping Paul Leahy, who tried to get attention by attempting suicide. The abduction of Paul Leahy was Mark's first task and was ordered to observe how Paul did it. It was then that Mark warned John that the Detective Tapp was placed on the case and would not stop until he has found him. John, unimpressed by this development, told Mark to incriminate Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Later, John would kidnap Amanda Young and her dealer, forcing her to cut a key from his liver. If she would fail, the reverse bear trap, placed on her head would rip open her mouth completely.
Amanda did however survive her trap and was the first person to succeed. And in the beginning, she felt like he really had saved her, that he had changed her. Eventually she would find John and accepted to become one of his apprentices.
Testing Dr. Gordon Edit
John was able to incriminate Dr. Gordon, who became the prime suspect, by Detective Tapp. During the investigation, Tapp and his partner Detective Steven Sing discover a possible lair of Jigsaw. Afraid that he might tipped by someone in the police department, they went to it without warrent or back-up. Soon, they discovered that they are indeed in Jigsaw's lair. They found a man, Jeff Ridenhour, in a chair, with drills aimed at his head. When John returned however, they decided to hide, ready to ambush him. This backfires however with John activated the trap, putting them for the choice: arrest him and let the man die, or save the man and risk him escaping. While Sing goes to save Jeff, shooting the mechanics till they stop, Tapp tried to apprehend John. John fought him off however, using a concealed wrist blade to slit Tapp's throat. While Tapp desperately tried to stop the bleeding, John flees.
As Sing followed John, ignoring the latter's warning not to, Sing eventually got killed by one of the boobytraps. He activated the trap by touching a tripwire and the moment he moved forward, he was shot by four shotguns, hanging from the ceilling. This caused huge grief in Tapp, who survived his wound but not had to live with the idea that his plan got his partner and friend killed. His obsession with Dr. Gordon, who he believed to be Jigsaw, only became more severe. After he was discharged by the police force, for his actions, he hired private detective Adam Stanheight to investigate Dr. Gordon.
Lawrence Gordon was however the next victim of Jigsaw and together with Adam Stanheight. Both wake up in a bathroom, with their ankle chained to a pipe, each at one of the side of the bathroom. Between them, there is a corpse laying, in a pool of blood. While Lawrence was tested for being for cold towards his patients and cheating on his wife, Adam was tested for being a voyeur. Jigsaw gave Lawrence 8 hours to kill Adam. If he fails, both shall starve and Lawrence's family shall die. For a huge part of the film, they are led to believe that Zep Hindle, an orderly was the Jigsaw Killer who would kill the family of Lawrence if he failed. After Lawrence sawed of his own right foot, in an attempt to free himself, ,before shooting Adam. Adam survives however and they soon learn that the game has changed. With the escape of Lawrence's family, Zep goes to the bathroom, to finish the game himself. This backfired however, with Adam bashing in Hindle's skull with a toilet cover. It is only then they realize, he wasn't the real Jigsaw, but just another victim. After Lawrence escaped the bathroom, claiming to get help for Adam, Jigsaw revealed himself to Adam. In shock, Adam watched as the corpse crawled up, removed the latex make-up, that make it look like he shot himself through the head and walked away. John revealed there was a key in the tub, but Adam realized that it had flushed away when he awoke. As Adam screamed in horror, Jigsaw walked away and before slamming the door shut, said: "GAME OVER"
Dr. Gordon's recruitmentEdit
After Lawrence escaped the bathroom, he would soon die of blood loss. Being a doctor, Lawrence realized this danger rather quickly and after discovering that pipes are burning hot, from the steam going through them, he does a crude cauterization of his leg, before passing out. He was soon found by John, who sanitized the wound and when Lawrence regained consciousness, nursed him back to health and gave him a prostetic leg. Despite the fact that Lawrence now knew who the real Jigsaw Killer was, John allowed him to go. Lawrence had succeeded his test and shown himself to be a survivor.
Later, after his wife divorced him, Lawrence returned to John and willingly became John's secret apprentice, fact hidden from both Mark Hoffman and Amanda Young. He would help John for some of the more medical complex traps.
The fake survivorEdit
Meanwhile, Bobby Dagen brought out the book, claiming to have survived a Jigsaw trap. But in reality, Bobby was never tested and the story was fake. This did anger John who met up with Bobby, and had him sign the book. When Bobby did answer his request and gave him the book, John removed the cover, featuring Bobby's face before giving Bobby the engimatic warning, he didn't forget faces.
Testing Eric Matthews/Nerve House TrapEdit
With the help of Amanda Young and Mark Hoffman, Jigsaw started another game with the purpose to test police officer Eric Matthews. Having place Amanda in the Nerve Gas House with Daniel Matthews, Eric's son, together with several other victims, he assured himself that Daniel would survive. Once this was assured, they placed him in a vault, with an oxygen bottle to keep him alive. With the survival of the boy assured, Jigsaw could continue with his plan. After testing Eric's informant, Michael, he left a message behind for Eric on the crime scene. This led Eric to Jigsaw's lair. Together with a SWAT team, under the lead of Sergeant Rigg. In the lair, it became clear that John has boobytrapped the place, which electrocuted some of the SWAT members. When they found John, they kept him at gunpoint. It is only now that they discovered the man is a terminal cancer patient. For the monitor screens shown in his lair, it became clear quickly, they have just entered another of John's games. John explained to Eric that if he want to win his game, he has to do only one thing. Sit and listen. At the end of the story, John will reunite him with his son. While Detective Allison Kerry looked at the monitors, Eric sat down with John, trying to interrogate him. But it was clear from the beginning that John was the one who would be the interrogator. As the game progressed and John shared his philosophies with the police officer, Eric had a hard time keeping his cool. Allison would later suggest that John might be provoked into an answer, if Eric destroyed his work. This however didn't impress John in the slighest as he doesn't care much for the sketches in the lair and only result in Eric destroying evidence.
After Eric saw Xavier chase Daniel and Amanda on the monitor, with the clear intent to kill them, Eric lost control and assaulted John. He threw John around, breaking his bones but for most part, John mocked him before Eric put a gun to his head. Deciding that Eric has failed his test, he took Eric to the house. After Eric has entered the house, his colleagues at the lair, realized that it wasn't live footage and moments later, the safe opened, revealing that Daniel was safe and Eric would be reunited with his son, if he had stayed. Instead, Eric was attacked by a pig masked figure and chained in the bathroom. While John was fading in and out consciousness, Amanda revealed to be John's apprentice and the one who trapped Eric in the bathroom for the first film, before sealing the door, with the words: GAME OVER.
Between Saw II and Saw III, Eric escaped the bathroom, by breaking his own ankle. After he escaped the room, he was confronted Amanda, who fought him off and left her to die. His escape did however impress John, who decided to give Eric another chance and use him in another game. He had Mark to keep Eric alive, for 6 months before starting a final test. Mark was also given the plans and the pictures of the test subjects for the Fatal Five test, which would be played when Jigsaw would have passed away.
Jeff's Test - Jigsaw's deathEdit
John's condition worsened a lot during this period and had become bedridden and it was clear to him that he would die soon. But this didn't stopped him from starting two games, as well made plans for future games, that his apprentices will execute for him, letting his legacy continue beyond his own death. He started with testing Art Blank and Trevor. After Blank succeeded in the challenge, while killing Trevor, John used him as intrigued part of one of his two games.
The first game of these involved Jeff Denlon, a man who was so consumed by hate and thrist of revenge on the man who ran over his son, he refused to continue his life. This also led in him neglect his daughter. Through a trial of three tests, John intended to change him. He also kidnapped Lynn Denlon, (Jeff's wife) and tasked her to keep him alive at all costs, till Jeff gets to them. Helping him is Amanda Young.
Unbeknownst to everyone involved but John, the test he put forth for Lynn, is also to test Amanda. After discovering that her first traps were inescapable and therefore didn't gave her victims a chance to survive the traps, he decided that she had to proof that she understood what the tests were all about. The goal of the test was to see if she could keep a test subject alive, Lynn. Unbeknownst to Amanda, Lynn was Jeff's wife and would be his reward if he was successful. But during the set up of the traps for Jeff's trials, John came to the realization that neither Amanda or Mark Hoffman were good successors. Amanda has shown an unwillingness to keep the test subjects actually alive and Mark was completely apathic towards the victims. Especially his uncaring attitude towards Timothy Young, who was the driver that killed Jeff's son and one of the test subject in Jeff's test. Yet, John did trust him more with his legacy, especially with Dr. Gordon being his final back up.
While Jeff was performing his tests, John ingested a cassete tape covered in wax, before having Lynn perform cranial surgery on him, releasing pressure on his brain. She did this with the help of Amanda and during a hallucination, John thought back at happier times, when he was still married to Jill Tuck. In his hallucinating state, he reached out for her, which Amanda mistook as sign of affection towards Lynn, resulting in her becoming jealous of Lynn.
But at the climax of Amanda's test, she does fail and decided to shoot Lynn out of jealousy. In turn, she get fatally shot by Jeff, who just entered the room. John uttered his disappointment about Amanda's failure, although it is later revealed the game was rigged by Mark Hoffman, who blackmailed Amanda with her role in the death of John's child, giving her another reason to kill Lynn. After Amanda died, John asked Jeff to take his revenge on him, to see if he had learn anything. Jeff showed he did learn nothing and was still as vengeful as before. As he grabbed a surgical saw, he slit John's throat before Lynn could stop her. What Jeff had failed to realize, that by doing this, Lynn's test would fail. In fact, not only did he kill John, he killed his wife, who got her head blown off by the shotgun collar she was forced to wear during the test and that was triggered by John flatlining.
A last tape of John, revealed that he had Jeff and Lynn's daughter Corbet and if Jeff had hold his temper, he would see her again. Instead, both would die. Jeff in the room with the corpses as the door slammed shut and his daughter in a seperate room inside the lair.
The second game John started was testing Lieutenant Daniel Rigg. He tested Daniel, to "help" him overcome his obsession to save people, while John believed that many of these people could have saved themselves. He wanted to teach Daniel to see the world as he does. In order to be successful, he has to ignore his desire to save Eric Matthews and Mark Hoffman. In the end, he did fail however and tried to save the two, ending up killing Eric instead. Failing the game, resulted in his own death later and the death of Art Blank who was forced to monitor the game and release Eric and Mark once Daniel succeeded in John's game. Mark survived the game, as he was the first apprentice and escaped.
After saving Corbet and trying to kill Peter Strahm, Mark was called to listen to the tape John had swallowed and was discovered during his autopsy. It warned him that the games wouldn't stop, just because he (John) was dead. Mark immediately realized that John wanted him to continue his work, something Mark would do.
John left behind a box and videotape behind for his ex-wife, Jill Tuck. In the videotape, he explained that the content of the box was very important. The key for the box was already given to her, a few years prior. In the box, she found six letters, five were meant for Mark Hoffman, as they contained the neccessary information for playing a game with William Easton. The six letter was meant for Dr. Gordon and was in fact, John insuring that if something happened to Jill, Dr. Gordon would make sure the one responsible pays. In the box, she also found the Reverse Bear Trap 2.0, which she had to use, to test Mark Hoffman.
For his game with Easton, John made special tapes, and instead of Billy the Puppet explaining the rules to the test subject, he adressed Easton in person. This to remind Easton of the man he killed and how Jigsaw's legacy was his as well.
John's Last WishEdit
Hoffman was eventually tested, as by John's last wishes and surprisingly, he found a way to survive this test. Despite John's betrayal, Hoffman decided to start John's final game, with Bobby Dagen, before starting to make arrangements to get back at Jill Tuck. He eventually manage to this and he killed Jill, using the original Reverse Bear Trap. This however led John's final contigency plan to be initiated by Dr. Gordon, who with the help of two survivors, Brad and Ryan, capture Mark and chain him up in the bathroom. Only this time, there would be no test and no escape.
John is a middle-aged man with white hair and the appearance of a friendly old man. Outside the games, he is dressed rather casually but when hunting for victims, he often wore a black-red robe and hood and a pig mask, this to hide his identity. In his lair, he would also wear this outfit, minus the mask and hid a wrist blade under the robe to defend himself. As the cancer spread, he started to lose hair and from Saw II onwards, he is always seen with an infusion.
John Kramer was once a kind and caring husband to Jill Tuck. He was also very protective and had no problems with making his hands dirty as that meant protecting the ones he loved. An example of this, was when he threw Cecil out the Jill's clinic after the latter ran amok. When he learned that Jill was pregnant, he was overjoyed and started to make toys and a crib for the unborn child, he also repaired an old clock as a gift for Jill. He did however had doubts about Jill's work, believing that she was doing work for nothing as the people she tried to help, didn't want help but methadon. His doubts turn to hate however, when Cecil kill John and Jill's unborn child, during a robbery on the clinic. This let him to become more aggressive and in one such outburst, he destroyed the crib and the clock. His inability to cope with what happened, let Jill to divorce him. When he was diagnosed with cancer and he ran out of options, he decided to take matters into his own hands and tried to commit suicide. After he survived his suicide attempt, he gained a new view on life. He grew hateful and envious towards those who he deemed ungrateful of their life. His envy resulted in him, decided to test these people to see if they could be refomred.
As Jigsaw, he has shown to be very sadistic towards his victims. Almost every test would either result in severe physical or mental harm when the test subject succeeded or in a violent death, either through poisoning, explosion or mechanical mutilation. He also showed to find pleasure in testing people as seen during his test with Eric. Despite this, he claimed to be no fan of the name the media gave him. He also claimed to find murder distasteful and although people has died because of his tests, he stated that he never killed someone as he always gave people a choice. This appeared to be lie since Donnie Greco was part of Amanda's test, with no choice to defend himself. It is however possible that his state in Amanda's test was the result of a previous test he failed. It is also rather ironic that several of tests pitted two or test subjects against each other, where at least one of the test subjects will die, often due to action of the other subject. His distaste for murder was also the reason why he hated it to be creditted for Seth's death as not only wasn't it his work, the test was inescapable. It also led him to test Amanda again when her tests showed to be inescapable as well. He did however make one direct exception to this not-kill rule, when he ordered Dr. Gordon to act on his behalf, when anything should happen to Jill Tuck. Seeing what Dr. Gordon eventually did with Mark Hoffman when he killed Jill, it is likely that John didn't want to give Hoffman another chance...
Despite the overal results, he believed that he really was helping people. Does who failed his tests, lacked the willpower to live and this inspired him to cut out a puzzle piece out the skin of each victim that failed. He also had the principle that he couldn't make the tests personal. When things would be too personal, he didn't trust himself or his apprentices to not rig the game when the subject was going to be successful. He probably came to this conclusion after testing Cecil as the man technically survived his test, yet through his own stupidity got trapped in razor wire and was left to die by John. He made one exception however, for William Easton. But to keep things fair, he didn't start the test before his death.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
John has shown to be a very intelligent man. He has a degree in civil engineering and is very skilled with mechanics. Using his skills, he was able to build eloborate traps, often from very basic materials. He is also very convincing and manipulative, able to convince three different people to help him in his work, two of them who he formerly tested. His greatest asset was Dr. Gordon, who helped him with the medical aspect of some of the traps. He was also able to make long and complicated plans, with back plans for every one, even if these plans aren't going to come to fruition for years.
Jigsaw usually builds various eloborate death traps which often hold a symbolic representation of what Jigsaw believes as a flaw in the person's life. Jigsaw believes each of his victim deserves a chance of survival, so he calls these "games" and tells the victim the "rules" usually by microcassette or videotape. These games often involved quick thinking, ethically difficult decisions, self mutilation or in some cases putting the victim through psychological trauma that Jigsaw would be present to view. Jigsaw intends through these traps to force his victims to prove to him that they are "worthy" and "deserving" to continue with their lives, and also for them to learn to abandon what he believes to be their vices. Jigsaw himself often expressed a desire for his victims to pass, but stressed that their fate was always in their own hands.
Standard traps are devices or scenarios to a victim or victims, usually with the effect with causing serious physical harm or death if not removed by completing a given task before the time limit expires. Competition traps involves two or more victims who can survive these traps but only at the expense of their opponent's failure. Tests is where the victim are given rules, the outcome depends if the victim follows the rules and wins, or break the rules and loses. Losing often results in some sort of loss such as the death of a loved one. Trials are a series of tests that the victim must face while suffering psychological torture from the beginning up to the final test. The final test culminates in a final decision which will prove what the victim has learned from their trials. Security devices are designed to halt the progress of the victims and prevent them from proceeding, or to be used to protect Jigsaw and his apprentices from the police or other attackers.