Saw is a horror franchise distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment that consists of seven films and two video games, published by Konami.  The franchise began with the 2003 short film which was created by Australian director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell to pitch as a potential feature film. This was successfully done in 2004 with the release of the first feature film at the Sundance Film Festival. It was released theatrically the following October. The sequels were directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl and Kevin Greutert and were written by Wan, Whannell, Bousman, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, and have been released subsequently every October, on the Friday before Halloween. The creators wrote the script for Saw, Saw II and Saw III. Both of the creators remained with the franchise as executive producers. On July 22, 2010, Mark Burg confirmed that Saw 3D is the final installment of the series.[1] The films collectively grossed over $848 million at the box office worldwide.

The franchise revolves around the fictional character of John Kramer, also called the "Jigsaw Killer" or simply "Jigsaw." He was introduced briefly in Saw and developed in more detail in Saw II. Rather than killing his victims outright, Jigsaw traps them in situations that he calls "tests" or "games," to test their will to live through physical or psychological torture. Despite the fact that Kramer was murdered in Saw III, the films continue to focus on the posthumous effects of the Jigsaw Killer and his apprentices by exploring his character via flashbacks.

The film series as a whole has received mixed to negative reviews by critics, but has been a financial success at the box office. While the films are often compared to Hostel and classified as torture porn by the media,[who?] the creators of SAW disagree with the term "torture porn".[2] Writer Luke Y. Thompson of OC Weekly argued that unlike Hostel, the SAW films actually have less torture than most in the sense of sadism or masochism, as most "torture" is self-inflicted by the characters (and sometimes inevitable).[3]


  1. Saw (short film) (2003)
  2. Saw (2004)
  3. Saw II (2005)
  4. Saw III (2006)
  5. Saw IV (2007)
  6. Saw V (2008)
  7. Saw VI (2009)
  8. Saw 3D (2010)
  9. Jigsaw (2017)

Video games

  1. Saw: The Video Game (2009)
  2. Saw II: Flesh & Blood (2010)

Print publications

  1. Saw: Rebirth (2005)


Flashbacks from Saw IV reveal the roots of the series, presenting John Kramer as a successful civil engineer and devoted husband to his wife Jill Tuck, who opened a rehab clinic for drug addicts. Jill lost her unborn baby, Gideon, due to the unwitting actions of a drug addict named Cecil, who fled the scene. Saw VI later showed that another drug addict, Amanda Young, also had an unintentional role in the death of Gideon. John grieved over the loss of his child, and distanced himself from his friends and his wife.

In the comic book Saw: Rebirth, John and Jill eventually drifted apart and divorced. After this turn of events, John found himself trapped by his own complacency, until he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Extremely bitter over his squandered life, John began observing the lives of others and became even more depressed as he Saw those around him squandering the gift of life that he had just been denied. Flashbacks from Saw II show that, after surviving a suicide attempt where he drove his car off a cliff, John was "reborn", and nurtured the idea that the only way for someone to change is for them to change themselves. Then, in Saw IV flashbacks, he designed the first trap and test for Cecil and decided to use the rest of his existence to design more of these "tests" or "games" as a form of "instant rehabilitation" that would change the world, "one person at a time". Kramer was soon given the name "The Jigsaw Killer" (or "Jigsaw"), because he removed a puzzle-piece-shaped chunk of flesh from those who did not escape his traps. Kramer himself stated that this name was given to him by the media, and that the cut piece of flesh was meant to represent that these victims were each missing something - what he called the "survival instinct".

Few of Jigsaw's victims are able to survive his brutal mechanical traps, which are often ironically symbolic representations of the problems in the victim's life and require them to undergo severe physical or psychological torture to escape.

In Saw V, Lieutenant Mark Hoffman's ties with John are revealed in a series of flashbacks during the film. Hoffman's sister is murdered by her boyfriend, Seth Baxter. Seth is arrested; however, a technicality allowed him to be released, and Hoffman, feeling Seth had not served the full capacity of his sentence, kills him in an inescapable trap designed to look like one of Jigsaw's, laying the blame on him. Jigsaw then kidnaps Hoffman and blackmails him into becoming his apprentice in his "rehabilitation" methods, though eventually Hoffman would become a willing apprentice, helping set up Kramer's tests from almost the beginning, starting with Paul’s trap.

The first surviving victim, Amanda Young, views Jigsaw as a hero who ultimately changed her life for the better. Amanda, upon Jigsaw's request, agrees to become his protégée. After Amanda survives, John shows Jill her rehabilitation, and Jill then becomes knowledgeable of John's traps and becomes a willing accomplice.

In Saw, Jigsaw has chained the man who diagnosed his cancer, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, in a dilapidated industrial washroom with Adam Stanheight, a photographer who has been tailing the doctor due to a former police detective's suspicions that Gordon is Jigsaw. Lawrence has instructions to kill Adam by 6 o'clock, or else his wife and daughter will be killed. Flashbacks show detectives David Tapp and Steven Sing, who suspect Lawrence of being Jigsaw, following a trail of clues from other Jigsaw traps. Sing's death from a shotgun trap after saving a victim named Jeff causes Tapp to obsess over catching Jigsaw. Later on, he chases Zep Hindle, who monitors Adam and Lawrence's tests, and gets shot in the chest. Eventually, Lawrence Saws his own foot off in order to escape, leaving Adam in the bathroom while Lawrence goes to try to save his family and get help for Adam. It's later seen in Saw 3D that Dr. Gordon found a steaming hot pipe and cauterized his wound, stopping the bleeding and ultimately surviving the trap. John catches up with Gordon and makes him his next apprentice, a fact which he hides from his other accomplices. Flashbacks from Saw III show that Amanda kidnapped Adam and later returned to suffocate him as an act of "mercy killing"; it would be the first time she deliberately intervened during a test and killed someone.

In Saw: The Video Game, Jigsaw nurses Detective Tapp back to health and places him in an asylum where he has to save six people. This includes Amanda, a CSI named Jennings Foster, Steven Sing's wife Melissa Sing, a reporter named Oswald McGillicutty, an arsonist named Obi Tate, and Jeff Ridenhour the victim who Tapp and Sing saved. Throughout the game, Tapp is followed by a masked figure known as Pighead, who is eventually killed by him. At the end of the game, Tapp and the other victims escape with their lives but Tapp becomes fixed upon finding Jigsaw, he then commits suicide due to depression.

Saw II begins with the police tracking a severely weakened Jigsaw to his latest lair. However, another test is in place, as he and Amanda have kidnapped the son of Detective Eric Matthews and trapped him and a group of seven convicts, previously framed by Matthews, in a house that is slowly being filled with sarin gas, with Amanda Young among them. He will trade Daniel Matthews' life for Detective Matthews' time, conversing with him until the game is concluded. Matthews loses his patience and assaults Jigsaw, forcing Jigsaw to take him to the house, only to discover that the video feed from inside the house had been pre-recorded, the events actually taking place much earlier; Matthews' son was locked in a safe in Jigsaw's warehouse, being kept alive with an oxygen tank. Matthews is knocked unconscious by a masked figure and wakes up imprisoned in the bathroom from Saw, which is part of the foundation of the house. Amanda reveals herself to Eric as Jigsaw's protégé before leaving him to die. In a flashback from Saw III, Matthews manages to escape the bathroom by breaking his foot. He confronts and beats Amanda, demanding to know where his son is. Amanda fights him off and leaves him for dead. A flashback from Saw IV shows Hoffman later dragging Eric to a prison cell, keeping him for a future game.

Saw II: Flesh & Blood revolves around Michael, Tapp's son, who is kidnapped by Pighead II and forced to play Jigsaw's game to find out anything he can about his father's death. Along the way, he discovers a drug cartel that Tapp accidentally stumbled upon. Michael finds and rescues most of the members of the cartel, but they are soon killed by Pighead II. At the beginning of the game, Campbell Iman, who is playing a game to try and find his son, is given a choice to sacrifice himself, a drug-addict who is slowly dying of cancer, and save a "stranger" who has a long life ahead of him, or let the "stranger" die, resulting in his freedom. It is revealed that the "stranger" is Michael. If Campbell chooses to save himself, Michael dies and Jigsaw appears, telling him that his son completed his own test prior to the game. Jigsaw says that all he has to do is walk out the exit. Campbell comes to the conclusion that his son can not live in a world with people like Jigsaw. Campbell attacks Jigsaw, only to be killed by a flying scythe. If Campbell chooses to sacrifice himself and save Michael, Campbell dies and Michael escapes in an elevator. Michael's fame however slowly dies away.

The events of Saw III and IV occur concurrently. Saw III begins with Jigsaw, weakened and near death, confined to a makeshift hospital bed. Amanda has taken over his work, designing traps of her own; however, these traps are inescapable, as Amanda is convinced that Jigsaw's traps have no effect and that people don't change. A kidnapped doctor is forced to keep Jigsaw alive while another test is performed on Jeff, a man obsessed with vengeance against the drunk driver who killed his son. Jigsaw, unwilling to allow "a murderer" to continue his legacy, designs a test for Amanda as well; she ultimately fails, and it results in the deaths of both Jigsaw and Amanda. Saw IV, meanwhile, revolves around tests meant for Officer Rigg, which are overseen by Hoffman. Rigg fails his test, resulting in the death of Eric Matthews. Rigg is left to bleed to death by Hoffman, who later discovers the bodies of Jigsaw and Amanda. When an autopsy is performed on Jigsaw, a cassette tape coated in wax is found in his stomach; the tape informs Hoffman that he is wrong to think that it is all over just because Jigsaw is dead, and he should not expect to go untested.

The events of Saw V show one of Hoffman's first solo tests, five people connected together by different roles in a disastrous fire that killed several others are put into four interconnected tests of teamwork, killing off one person in each trap. The two remaining test subjects realize at the final trap that each previous trap was meant to be completed by each of the five people doing a small part, rather than killing one person per trap. With this, the two work together and barely manage to escape from the series of traps. They are found by Special Agent Erikson and are alive.[4] Meanwhile, Hoffman has set up Peter Strahm to appear to be Jigsaw's accomplice, while Strahm pursues Hoffman and is eventually killed due to the inability to follow Hoffman's rules, leaving Hoffman free to continue Jigsaw's "work".

Saw VI begins with Hoffman setting up a game as per John's instructions left in a box for Jill during Saw V. This game centers around an insurance executive named William Easton who oversees a team responsible for rejecting two-thirds of all insurance claims. As William progresses through four tests, he saves as many people as he can and learns the error of his choice to reject so many policies, which inherently "kill" the rejected. His last test is revealed to be a test of forgiveness by the family of Harold Abbott who William rejected a policy to in the past, who ultimately choose to kill William using hydrofluoric acid. Meanwhile, Agent Erickson and the previously thought to be dead agent Perez search for Agent Strahm with the assistance of Hoffman. Upon finding irregularities in previous murder scenes, Perez and Erickson discover Hoffman's identity, but are killed by him before they have can go public with his involvement. Hoffman travels back to the site of William's tests in which Jill attacks him to obey John's final request. She leaves Hoffman in a new Reverse-Bear Trap left behind by John where he is able to manipulate the trap and escape wounded. Hoffman is left in the area, screaming, with his face mangled by Jill's trap.

Saw VII picks up with Jill and Hoffman battling for control of Jigsaw's legacy. As Jill enters protective custody and makes Hoffman's true identity public, Hoffman sets up a new game involving skinheads to find a way to Jill. Meanwhile, Bobby Dagen, a fraud who has written a book about escaping a Jigsaw trap he never had experienced, is captured and forced to confront people around him who knew he lied about being in a trap. Three of Dagen's friends die, and his trap concludes with him being forced to reenact the trap he claimed to have survived before. He fails, which results in the death of his wife. Meanwhile, Hoffman has posed as a corpse and killed several officers to infiltrate the police station. He finds and kills Jill using the reverse beartrap. Hoffman attempts to leave town but is captured by Lawrence Gordon and placed in the bathroom from the first film. Revealing Jigsaw aided Gordon after his trap and Gordon helped with subsequent traps in return, Hoffman is then left shackled in the bathroom to die.

Production elements

Billy the Puppet

Main article: Billy the Puppet

Billy is a puppet resembling a ventriloquist's dummy, sometimes seen riding a tricycle, that has appeared throughout the films and has become a type of mascot for the series. It is used by the Jigsaw Killer to communicate with his victims by delivering televised messages or occasionally in person to describe details of the sadistic traps and the means by which the victims could survive. Viewers have sometimes incorrectly identified the puppet itself as Jigsaw, because of its presence and connection to the killer.

Age and use of the puppet over the course of the films necessitated its reconstruction. According to Wan, the original puppet's face for Saw involved clay, papier-mâché, and black ping-pong balls with the irises painted in for the eyes, but in later films more sophisticated construction included waterjet-cut foam for the body and remote-controlled animatronics.

The endurance and popularity of the franchise has resulted in the production of Billy merchandise, as well as references in other media and its use in promotions for the films.

"Hello Zepp"

Main article: Hello Zepp

"Hello Zepp" is a piece of incidental music that was originally composed by Charlie Clouser for the first film in the series. In Saw, the implied primary antagonist, named Zep Hindle, is revealed to actually be a victim of the real antagonist, the Jigsaw Killer. (The character's name in the script is spelled 'Zep', whereas the music titles are spelled 'Zepp').[5][6] As the series continued, the piece was reused in every film as a leitmotif, often being renamed and remixed to accommodate the changing situations and characters. The music was used in every ‘’Saw’’ ending, except for Saw VI where a remixed, slightly modified version of the song was used.


An important component of each film is the variety of mechanical traps Jigsaw and his apprentices use on their captives to communicate his message. According to David Hackl, all of the traps are real objects, and not CGI. They were designed to look horrific but ultimately be safe for the actors in them. Writer Marcus Dunstan said, "It's built to function there on the day," and added, "It works. So if there's a scalping chair – there really was a chair with working gears to grind and pull your scalp back." The most potentially dangerous item was a "water box," used in Saw V, in which one of the actors (Scott Patterson, as Peter Strahm) had to keep his head submerged as long as possible. Another element of the traps is that Hackl desired a specific look of rust and menace, but he also wanted them to have a type of beauty about them.[7]



Film Director Writer(s) Producer(s)
Saw (2004) James Wan Story by James Wan & Leigh Whannell

Screenplay by Leigh Whannell

Mark Burg

Oren Koules

Gregg Hoffman

Saw II (2005) Darren Lynn Bousman Leigh Whannell & Darren Lynn Bousman
Saw III (2006) Story by James Wan & Leigh Whannell

Screenplay by Leigh Whannell

Saw IV (2007) Story by Thomas Fenton & Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan

Screenplay by Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan

Saw V (2008) David Hackl Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan Mark Burg

Oren Koules

Saw VI (2009) Kevin Greutert
Saw 3D (2010)


Main article: List of Saw charactersSee also: Saw Cast Members List indicator(s)

  • Italics indicate appearances in flashback or archive footage from previous films.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.

Character Film
Saw Saw II Saw III Saw IV Saw V Saw VI Saw 3D
John Kramer/Jigsaw Tobin Bell
Mark Hoffman Costas Mandylor
Jill Tuck Betsy Russell
Amanda Young Shawnee Smith Shawnee Smith Shawnee Smith Shawnee Smith
Allison Kerry Dina Meyer Dina Meyer
Eric Matthews Donnie Wahlberg Donnie Wahlberg
Daniel Rigg Lyriq Bent Lyriq Bent
Jeff Denlon Angus Macfadyen Angus Macfadyen
Lynn Denlon Bahar Soomekh Bahar Soomekh
Peter Strahm Scott Patterson Scott Patterson
Lindsey Perez Athena Karkanis Athena Karkanis Athena Karkanis
Dan Erickson Mark Rolston
Adam Stanheight Leigh Whannell



Leigh Whannell Leigh Whannell
Lawrence Gordon Cary Elwes Cary Elwes
Billy the Puppet Tobin Bell (voice)


Box office

Film Release date Revenue Budget References
United States Foreign Worldwide
Saw October 29, 2004 (2004-10-29) $55,185,045 $47,911,300 $103,096,345 $1,200,000 [8]
Saw II October 28, 2005 (2005-10-28) $87,039,965 $60,700,000 $147,739,965 $4,000,000 [9]
Saw III October 27, 2006 (2006-10-27) $80,238,724 $84,635,551 $164,874,275 $10,000,000 [10]
Saw IV October 26, 2007 (2007-10-26) $63,300,095 $76,052,538 $139,352,633 $10,000,000 [11]
Saw V October 24, 2008 (2008-10-24) $56,746,769 $57,117,290 $113,864,059 $10,800,000 [12]
Saw VI October 23, 2009 (2009-10-23) $27,693,292 $40,213,126 $67,906,418 $11,000,000 [13]
Saw 3D October 29, 2010 (2010-10-29) $45,710,178 $85,200,000 $130,910,178 $20,000,000 [14]
Total $415,914,068 $451,829,805 $867,743,873 $67,000,000 N/A

Critical reaction

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Overall Cream of the Crop
Saw 48% (162 reviews)[15] 31% (32 reviews)[16] 46 (32 reviews)[17]
Saw II 35% (116 reviews)[18] 22% (27 reviews)[19] 40 (28 reviews)[20]
Saw III 25% (83 reviews)[21] 6% (18 reviews)[22] 48 (16 reviews)[23]
Saw IV 17% (71 reviews)[24] 0% (15 reviews)[25] 36 (16 reviews)[26]
Saw V 13% (70 reviews)[27] 8% (13 reviews)[28] 19 (12 reviews)[29]
Saw VI 40% (62 reviews)[30] 20% (10 reviews)[31] 30 (12 reviews)[32]
Saw 3D 11% (64 reviews)[33] 15% (13 reviews)[34] 23 (17 reviews)[35]

Future Films

On July 22, 2010, Mark Burg confirmed that Saw 3D is the final installment of the series. However, recently Leigh Whannell has talked about him and James Wan coming back to the series, but said both are busy working on other films at the moment.

Merchandise and attractions

  • Saw, released on October 29, 2004.
  • Saw II, released on October 28, 2005.
  • Saw III, released on October 27, 2006.
  • Saw IV, released on October 26, 2007.
  • Saw V, released on October 24, 2008.
  • Saw VI, released on October 23, 2009.
  • Saw 3D, released on October 29, 2010.


  • "Saw: The Ride", a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster themed around the franchise, opened on March 13, 2009 at Thorpe Park in the United Kingdom. The ride features an enclosed dark ride section with special effects, before cars travel outside and are pulled up a 100ft vertical lift hill into a steep 100 degree drop.
  • Thorpe Park opened a temporary Saw attraction, Saw - Movie Bites for their 2009 Fright Nights event.
  • It was announced in October 2009 that Thorpe Park would also be adding a new permanent, year-round live action horror maze themed around the Saw movies. It opened at the start of the 2010 season, and features six scenes representing one iconic trap from each movie to date.[37]
  • "Saw: Game Over", a 2009 maze made by Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights, based on characters, traps, and scenes from the films.[38] At the Universal Studios Hollywood rendition of Horror Nights it was titled Saw: Game Over, while at the Universal Studios Orlando rendition, it was simply titled Saw.
  • "Saw", during the month of October at Fright Dome, Circus Circus Las Vegas. A Saw themed haunted house, complete with interactive, handcrafted replicas of the "games" set by Jigsaw. Introduced in 2009 and partnered with Lions Gate Films and Twisted Pictures.
  • In 2010, "Halloween Fright Nights" at Warner Bros. Movie World featured a maze created by Sudden Impact Entertainment, based on the characters, traps and scenes from the films. The maze was simply titled "Saw Maze".[39]
  • "Saw Haunted Attraction" was a Saw maze at the Brea Plaza Shopping Center in 2008 created by Sinster Pointe Haunted Attractions.
  • "SAWMANIA" was a fan event a BLVD in New York. Eventgoers were able to meet actors and directors, and view props used in the films.

Video games

Japanese video game company Konami currently owns the rights to the Saw interactive video game property. Konami stated in mid-2009 that they wanted to make Saw a series of video games to supplement the films. They also wish to make Saw their next big survival horror franchise next to their other property, Silent Hill. They stated that because Saw focuses on visual intensity and Silent Hill focuses on psychological terror, both could exist in the video game industry without directly competing against each other.[40]

Saw: The Video Game, a video game set between first and second film in the series, was initially released on October 6, 2009.[41][42][43]

Saw II: Flesh & Blood, a sequel to Saw, was released on October 19, 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, ten days before the release of the seventh film, Saw 3D.[44]

Other media

  • Saw: Rebirth, a comic book prequel to the original film released to promote Saw II. Its canonicity was later contradicted by events in Saw IV.
  • Saw: Das Spiel, a 2007 browser-based, fan-made online game. It is a point-and-click adventure set outside the immediate film plotlines.


In a interview with IGN on April 12, 2011 series creator James Wan and Leigh Whannell were asked if Saw 3D was truly the final Saw film. Wan commented by saying, "It is finished for now, but since it's such a huge, well-known franchise, it's gonna come back at some point." They were asked what it would take for them to return to the films. Wan stated, "I would come back if we were allowed to do something different and really cool." Whannell expanded that by saying, "We would want to do something that was a bit of a different take."[52]

In August 2012, it was reported that Lionsgate was "tinkering" with the idea of pursuing an eighth installment in the franchise, or rebooting it.[53]


  • Following the release of Saw V the franchise became the most successful horror franchise based on US domestic box office, grossing more than the Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and Friday the 13th franchises in unadjusted dollars.[45] Following the release of the reboot of Friday the 13th, and before Saw VI's release it was pushed back to second place.[46]
  • Both II and III broke records when they were released in the holiday period of Halloween. Both movies managed to top the "Halloween Weekend Openers" Saw II premiered with $31.7 million in 2005, and Saw III, which bowed to a slightly higher $33.6 mil in 2006. Saw IV premiered at $32.1 million, making it number one at the box office on Halloween weekend 2007.[47][48]
  • The first five movies in the Saw series grossed over $340 million, putting them in the top 10 all-time highest total gross for Lions Gate.[49]
  • On IGN's list of the top twenty-five movie franchises of all time, the Saw series ranks as number twenty-five.[50]
  • The franchise was placed in the Guinness World Records as the "Most Successful Horror Movie Series" at San Diego's Comic-Con 2010.[51]


In the whole Saw Franchise, 76 people have died


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