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

Adam Stanheight is a fictional character from the Saw franchise as well as one of the main protagonists of the first Saw film. He was portrayed by Leigh Whannell.

Biography

Observation of Lawrence Gordon

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Adam secretely observes Lawrence

Adam Stanheight was a photographer, who made a living by following, observing and photographing other people for money. One of his clients was David Tapp, a former homicide detective of the Metropolitan Police Department. Under the alias of "Bob", he paid Adam 200$ per night to observe the oncologist Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who he suspected to be the serial killer Jigsaw. Adam followed Gordon over the course of several days and took numerous photos of him. On one occasion, he followed him to the rundown Hotel Barfly, where Gordon met his student and mistress, Carla. Eventually, his work made him a target of the actual Jigsaw Killer, John Kramer. (Saw)

Abduction

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Adam searches his apartment for the invader

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

Test

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Amanda takes Adam to the bathroom

After his abduction, Amanda took him to a dilapidated underground bathroom, where one of John Kramer's deadly games was waiting for him. As she entered the room, John stood in front of a mirror and applied fake blood to his head, which made him look as if he had shot himself in the head. 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 shoed and shackled him with a metal brace. After that, 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. Once they had finished all of their preparations, Amanda took Adams shoes and belt as well as the things they had used to set up the game, and was about to leave. John, however, stayed in the room and lay down in the puddle of blood with a tape recorder in one hand and a revolver in the other, which fully gave him the appearance of a suicide victim. Then, Amanda turned off the light, left the room and closed the heavy sliding door behind her. (Saw, Saw III)

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Adam in the bathroom

Shortly afterwards, Adam woke up and gasped for breath after he had completely sunken into the water while he was unconscious. When he scrambled from the bathtub, he inadvertently pulled the plug and didn't notice how the key, which Amanda had left in the bathtub, went down the drain. He immediately started to panic 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 realized that it was Lawrence Gordon, who was chained to a metal pipe in the opposite corner of the room just like him. However, he pretended not to recognize his cellmate. Instead, he further panicked when he saw the body of John Kramer, which was covered in blood. Gordon, however, managed to calm him down. After introducing himself, he asked Adam whether he knew the dead man or remembered how he ended up in the bathroom, which he denied. Despite his fear and distrust, he finally told Gordon his name as well. Meanwhile, the latter pointed out that their abductor could have killed them already and concluded that he or she 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 thereby concluded that their abductor wanted them to know what time it was.

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

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Adam plays the tape

When he put the tape into the recorder and started the recording, a distorted voice gave him a gruesome ultimatum. His abductor mockingly confronted him with his voyeurism and his work, which basically consisted of 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 so he could listen to his own recording. Out of fear that he could destroy the recorder by throwing it across the room, Adam refused and demanded the tape from Gordon, which Gordon eventually threw to him after briefly protesting against it. His tape had been recorded by the same distorted voice, which confronted him with the fact that he gave people the news of their impending death on every day of his working life. Now it was his task to cause the death of another human himself. The voice demanded that he killed Adam by 6 o'clock. Otherwise, his daughter, Diana, and his wife, Alison, would be killed, while he himself would be left to die in the bathroom. Furthermore, the voice told him that there were numerous clues and useful tools hidden in the bathroom, which could help him to 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.

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Adam searches the toilet

Once the recording ended, Gordon once again demanded the recorder from Adam, which the latter now gave him without hesitation. Upon repeatedly winding the tape back and forwards, he discovered one final clue. At the end of the recording, he heard the voice whispering the words "Follow your heart." Seconds later, he noticed a heart drawn on the water tank of a toilet right next to Adam. Despite his disgust, Adam searched the dirty toilet, albeit unsuccessful. Just when he searched the tank, he found a black plastic back inside, which contained two hacksaws as well as his photos of Gordon. Adam immediately tried to saw through his chain, while he threw the other saw to the doctor. Unnoticed by his fellow prisoner, he threw the bag with the photos into the empty bathtub. As both of them tried to cut through their chains, Adams saw broke after a few seconds. He angrily threw it towards one the mirrors on the wall, causing a single shard to break out. When Gordon's attempts to free himself remained unsuccessful as well, the latter eventually came to the conclusion that the saws weren't meant to cut through their chains, but rather 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 when he had left Gordon's penlight at a crime scene five months earlier.

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Adam threatens Gordon with the glass shard

Even though he was shocked by the things Gordon told him about Jigsaw, Adam distrust grew further and for a moment even lead him to the conviction that Gordon himself had something to do with his abduction. In a fit of rage, he grabbed the shard from the mirror and threatened to kill Gordon if he didn't tell him what was going on around them. However, he stopped when he realized that the shard belonged to a one-way mirror. With pieces from broken tiles, he smashed the mirror, causing the glass to break entirely. In doing so, he discovered a camera, which was positioned behind the mirror. To his anger, it was protected by a second, shatterproof glass pane. Gordon tried to convince him to calm down and 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 Diana at the night of his abduction.

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Adam finds the photo

Thereby, he managed to put oil on troubled waters and told Adam about his family. 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 so he could take a look at some photos of Diana. However, when Adam searched the wallet for a picture of Gordon's wife, he made an unnerving discovery. Instead of the photo he was looking for, he found another picture, which was signed with the word "Regards" and a drawn jigsaw piece. The photo showed Gordon's family, who were gagged and tied up in the bedroom of apartment. As he didn't want to worry him, Adam didn't tell him about the picture and instead gave him the wallet back, claiming that the photo of his wife wasn't there. While the confused doctor searched the wallet, Adam unobtrusively took another look at the picture. On the back side of it, 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 finally asked him to turn off the light, which Gordon did, despite being sceptical. Upon doing so, they spotted glowing "X" on the wall, which hadn't been visible in the light, leading Adam to the conclusion that it had been drawn with a special fluorescent paint. By using his saw, Gordon smashed the marked part of the wall and thereby discovered a hollow space with a small box hidden inside. Gordon managed to open it with the key he had found in his envelope at the beginning of his game. It contained a mobile, a lighter, two cigarettes as well as a written message, which told Gordon that the cigarettes were harmless, that he didn't need a gun to kill Adam and that "smoking was only poisonous when it ended in bloodshed." When Adam, who didn't notice any of this, asked him for a cigarette, Gordon denied his wish and instead tried to call the police. To his disappointment, the mobile couldn't be used to make calls, but only to receive them. However, this caused him to remember the night of his abduction, where something similar had happened to him in a parking garage, before he was attacked and subdued by a person with a pig mask, just like Adam.

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Adam smokes the cigarette

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

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Adam shows the photos to Gordon

After he told Gordon about his abduction from his apartment, the phone rang. When Gordon answered the call, his frightened daughter begged him to save her and her mother. Afterwards, he also spoke with Alison, who warned him not to trust Adam as he had known him long before their game began. When Gordon confronted him with that warning, Adam finally admitted that he had observed and photographed him throughout the previous days and showed him the photos, which he had found in the bag with the hacksaws. This resulted in an argument, during which Adam revealed that he had followed Gordon to the rendezvous with his mistress at the Hotel Barfly. Angered by this, Gordon asked him who hired him, as he was 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 Tapp, who was convinced that Gordon was the Jigsaw Killer and blamed him for the death of his partner, Detective Steven Sing, five months earlier.

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

Adam immediately tried to wake him up and was afraid that Gordon was dead, when the latter regained his consciousness. However, due to the events, Gordon suffered a breakdown, which became even worse when the phone rang again but was beyond his reach, as he had inadvertently thrown it away when he was electrocuted. In a last desperate attempt to save his family, he used his shirt to stanch his leg and, despite Adam's attempts to calm him down, began to cut off his foot. After he had managed to free himself from his chain, he crawled to the middle of the room and took the revolver from John Kramer's hand. Then, he used the bullet from his envelope and shot the frightened Adam, who collapsed immediately.

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Adam begs Gordon not to leave him

Moments later, the door was opened and Zep Hindle entered the bathroom. Gordon frantically tried to shoot him, even though he had no more bullets. Unimpressed by this, Zep aimed his gun at him and wanted to kill him as he didn't finish his task in time. However, before he could do it, he was attacked by Adam as the bullet had only injured his shoulder. As the two of them lay on the floor and fought with each other, Adam managed to disarm his enemy and smashed his head with the lid of the toilet tank. When Gordon finally convinced him to stop, Adam started to cry due to his pain. Gordon told him that he'd bleed to death if he stayed with him and promised to get help. Despite Adam's desperate attempts to hold him back, the severely injured doctor crawled out of the room.

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Adam is left to die in the bathroom

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

Death

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Amanda suffocates Adam with a plastic bag

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

Post-Mortem

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Adam's corpse

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

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

In other Media

The Full Disclosure Report

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

The Scott Tibbs Documentary

After Adam's disappearance, his best friend, Scott Tibbs, decided to film a documentary about the Jigsaw Killer along with his fellow band members. This way, he wanted to find out about the killer's motives. At the beginning of this documentary, Scott presented a photo of Adam to introduce him to his viewers.

Saw II: Flesh & Blood

Adam was also mentioned in the video game Saw II: Flesh & Blood, in which Detective Tapp's son, Michael Tapp, had to play one of Jigsaw's games. Over the course of that game, Michael found numerous documents and audio recordings from his father. According to those, David had learned about Adam from one of his former colleagues, Bernie. Bernie had hired the young photographer in the past to bring him evidence for his wife's marital infidelity.

Personality

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

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

However, in some situations, Adam was capable of empathy and compassion for others. For example, he was genuinely worried about the well-being of Gordon's family and tried his best to calm him down when he suffered an emotional breakdown during their game. Occasionally, Adam even acted rather selflessly, as seen when he risked his own life to save Gordon from Zep Hindle, even though Gordon had tried to kill him moments earlier.

Trivia

  • According to the producers of Saw, Adam's last name is Faulkner, but the FBI document in Saw V gives Adam's last name as Stanheight. It is also said that in the original script for Saw, Adam's last name was Radford.
  • In Saw and Saw III, Adam was chained by his left ankle, but in Saw II and Saw 3D, his corpse was chained by his right ankle.
  • In Saw II, Adam's head was tilted downward, while in Saw 3D, his skull wass upward and tilted.
  • When Adam and Zep's corpses appeared in Saw II, Saw III and Saw 3D, Zep's corpse still had his hair, whereas Adam's corpse was completely bald, even though both corpses were at approximately the same level of decomposition.
  • In Saw and Adam's death scene in Saw III, his gunshot wound was on his shoulder. However, in Saw II and the opening scene of Saw III, it was just above his chest, while in Saw 3D, it appeared to be on his stomach.
  • Those errors led to several theories of fans, according to which Adam was saved and his corpse was replaced with that of Detective Tapp.
  • Adam's flannel shirt was in the bathroom from the beginning until the end in the first film, but in the later movies, it wasn't seen again.
  • In a deleted scene of Saw III, Adam ran into Amanda on the way from his apartment, asking to take a picture of her.
  • Adam became one of the most popular characters of the whole series, which Leigh Whannell credits to giving his own character the best lines.

Appearances and References