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Jigsaw

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I want to play a game.
~ Jigsaw
SawJigsaw
Jigsaw
Background information
Feature films Saw franchise
Television programs
Video games
Park attractions
Portrayed by Tobin Bell
Portrayed by
Animators
Voice
Performance model
Designer
Inspiration
Honors and awards
Character information
Full name John Kramer
Other names The Jigsaw Killer
Personality
Appearance
Birthday
Occupation Civil Engineer (Former), Serial Killer
Affiliations
Goal Teach his victims to appreciate their lives
Home
Relatives Gideon Kramer (Son, Deceased) and Jill Tuck (Ex-Wife/Accomplice, Deceased)
Pets
Allies
Minions Amanda Young (Deceased), Mark Hoffman (Deceased), Ryan, Brad, Pighead (Deceased), Pighead II and Lawrence Gordon
Enemies
Likes
Dislikes
Powers and abilities
Weapons Symbolic Death Traps
Fate Throat slashed with a buzzsaw by Jeff Denlon
Quote

John Kramer (also known as The Jigsaw Killer, commonly referred to as simply Jigsaw) is a fictional character and the central character of the Saw franchise. Jigsaw made his debut as the primary antagonist in the first film of the series, Saw, and he's later portrayed as an antihero in Saw II, III, IV, V, VI and 3D. He is portrayed by American actor Tobin Bell.

In the series' narrative, Kramer is a former civil engineer dying from an inoperable frontal lobe tumor that had developed from colon cancer. After a failed suicide attempt, Kramer experienced a new respect for his own life and set out to force others through deadly trials to help them appreciate their own lives by testing their will to live through self-sacrifice. The tests were typically symbolic of what Jigsaw perceived as a flaw in each person's moral character or life. The Jigsaw name was given by the media for his practice of cutting puzzle pieces out of the flesh of those who failed their ordeals and perished, symbolic of their missing survival instincts.

Description

Saw

The Jigsaw Killer character was introduced in the 2004 film Saw through the character Dr. Lawrence Gordon's recounting of his first killings. Jigsaw is described as a mysterious person who kidnaps people he sees as wasting their lives and attempts to "save" them. This is accomplished by administering various inhumane tests consisting of mechanical devices rigged to maim or kill the subjects or other victims if not completed within a certain time period. As opposed to other killers, Jigsaw does not actually intend to kill his subjects; the purpose of his traps is to see if the subject has the will to survive, and thus inflict enough psychological trauma for the subjects to appreciate their life and save themselves from their own demons. As his victims increase, the media dubs him The Jigsaw Killer, or simply Jigsaw, because of the jigsaw puzzle-shaped piece of flesh that he cuts from unsuccessful subjects, a practice explained in Saw II as reflecting each subject "was missing a vital piece of the human puzzle; the survival instinct". Throughout the first film, his identity remains uncertain; the unstable ex-cop David Tapp suspects that he may be Dr. Gordon (one of the film's two main protagonists) and near the end of the film Dr. Gordon and fellow main protagonist Adam are led to believe it is the hospital orderly Zep Hindle. Only at the end of the film is it revealed that the Jigsaw Killer was in fact a terminal cancer patient of Dr. Gordon's, John Kramer, who spent the entire time posing as a corpse on the floor of the bathroom Adam and Dr. Lawrence Gordon were trapped in.

Saw II

Much of the character's backstory was revealed in Saw II, revealing that he had become sick and had gone in for a medical examination, where he learned from Dr. Lawrence Gordon that he was dying of colon cancer, with an inoperable brain tumor. At this point, he stated that he began to see how many people took their lives for granted. He drove himself off of a cliff but survived the suicide attempt, and subsequently began his "work" to save people from themselves. Though he never encouraged the name, Kramer's work eventually earned him the nickname The Jigsaw Killer, in spite of the circumstances and intentions he had while conducting his work; he did not consider himself to be a "killer" or "murderer". This is because rather than killing his victims outright, he trapped them in situations which he called "tests" or "games", in order to test their instinctual will to live versus physical or psychological torture.

In Saw II, Jigsaw leaves a hint in one of his traps that leads police to apprehend him. There, he puts police Detective Eric Matthews through a test by showing him Matthews' son Daniel trapped in a house filled with nerve gas, along with people whom, though far from innocent, Matthews had framed for crimes they did not commit. Jigsaw offers to let the younger Matthews survive if the Detective sits and talks to him, which ends with Eric brutally beating Jigsaw and forcing him to lead him to the house. Upon their arrival, Jigsaw is rescued by Amanda Young, one of his victims (introduced previously in Saw) who, having survived her trap and seeing her captor as a savior, has become his apprentice.

Saw III

By Saw III, a dying Jigsaw is hospitalized and extremely concerned over Amanda Young's failure to allow her subjects a fair chance to survive her tests. In his desperation, Jigsaw administers a final test to Young, in order to see if she was truly capable of successfully carrying on his work. Being kept alive by Dr. Lynn Denlon, a test subject who is forced to perform brain surgery on Jigsaw at the risk of dying by her own trap, Jigsaw attempts to keep Young from failing her test. However, after she breaks down, Young shoots Dr. Denlon. Witnessing this, Jeff Denlon, Dr. Denlon's vengeful husband who is also being tested, kills Young with a gunshot to her neck. After explaining the rules of a final game to Jeff, Jigsaw is mortally wounded when Jeff slices his throat with a power saw. As he dies, Jigsaw pulls out a tape player and plays a recording explaining that he is responsible for the abduction of Corbett, Jeff's daughter, and that if he wants her back he'll have to participate in another game.

Saw IV

While Jigsaw appears as a corpse in the present at the beginning and end of Saw IV, a tape found in his stomach during his autopsy assures Lieutenant Mark Hoffman that his games have just begun. During the autopsy, it was revealed that Kramer was 52 at the time of his death.

Saw IV also explored Jigsaw's history, more so than previously done in Saw II, rendering some of the content in Saw: Rebirth (a one-shot comic published in 2005) non-canon, instead showing a new back story. From the story given in Saw IV, Kramer was a successful civil engineer who got into property development, and was a devoted husband to his wife Jill; she ran a recovery clinic for drug users, to which he gave his belief, "Cherish Your Life". However, after a robbery and the reckless actions of a clinic patient named Cecil Adams resulted in the loss of the Kramers' unborn child, John became detached and angry, which eventually caused their divorce. After being diagnosed with cancer as first seen in Saw II, and trying to kill himself, Kramer began his work as Jigsaw, hunting down Cecil as his first test subject.

Saw V

Jigsaw reappears in Saw V, in flashback meetings with Hoffman, attacking and kidnapping Paul Leahy, then setting up and later watching his razor wire trap from Saw, as well as setting up the house of Saw II. He is shown on his deathbed talking to Hoffman about setting up a test, which leads Hoffman to exit the room as Young enters with Dr. Denlon, which occurs near the beginning of Saw III. Jigsaw also appears in a video will to his ex-wife Jill Tuck, leaving her a mysterious box. His deceased body is shown several times during the start of the movie, which was also the end of Saw IV, an opening scene in which Peter Strahm receives his first cassette tape, and a flashback which occurs to Strahm later in the film.

Saw VI

Jigsaw appears in flashbacks in the film. One flashback set prior to the events of the first film showed that it was Amanda Young who sent Cecil to Jill (Tuck) Kramer's clinic to steal drugs for her. This resulted in Jill's miscarriage, and thus Young was revealed to be an indirect cause of John Kramer's transformation into Jigsaw. Further flashbacks set prior to the events of the first film reveal that Jigsaw targeted William Easton for one of his games because he had insensitively denied Kramer health coverage after he had developed cancer. In the present time of Saw VI, Kramer shows himself on video twice to Easton instead of the Billy Puppet (the method Kramer usually used to speak to his subjects), so Easton could look in the eyes of someone he let die. In another flashback, this time set between the events of the first and second film, Jigsaw explains to his ex-wife that his "rehabilitation" works, showing Amanda Young as supposed evidence of this. A flashback set just before the events of the third and fourth films explores the group dynamic between Jigsaw, Amanda Young and Hoffman. Jigsaw criticises Hoffman for not seeing the test subjects as human beings and also critiques his approach to setting up Timothy Young's trap. It was also shown that Jigsaw seemed to have had a closer emotional attachment to Amanda Young than Hoffman. Shortly afterward, Jigsaw gave his ex-wife the key which she later used to open the box he gave her in his will in Saw V. In the present time of Saw VI, it is revealed that the box contained six envelopes (marked 1 through 6), a thicker envelope, and an updated version of the "Reverse Bear Trap". She gave Mark Hoffman envelopes 1 through 5, but hid everything else from him and later delivered the thick envelope to an unknown person. Envelope 6 was meant only for Tuck-Kramer, instructing her to trap Hoffman and put the "Reverse Bear Trap" on him so he could be "tested". This fulfilled the promise made, via the audio tape discovered in the stomach of Jigsaw's corpse, that Hoffman would not go untested.

Saw 3D

Bell reprised his role as John Kramer/Jigsaw in Saw 3D, though his role was extremely minimal compared to previous films. He is seen in a flashback meeting Bobby Dagen at his book signing, subtly calling him a liar. He then mocks him while getting his own copy signed, which is then used in the path of Bobby's game to remind him of their encounter. He appears at the end of the film, where it was revealed that after Dr. Gordon escaped the bathroom, Jigsaw dragged him away and gave him a prosthetic foot, and congratulated him for surviving. He then made Gordon his final accomplice, considering him to be his greatest asset. Gordon assisted Jigsaw in traps which required surgical knowledge. The contents of the package Jill left at a hospital in Saw VI was shown to be a video tape for Gordon, in which Jigsaw told him that should anything happen to Jill, he would have to "act on [Jigsaw's] behalf". It is implied that John knew Hoffman would go rogue and start straying from his ideals and wanted him to be punished. After Jill is killed by Hoffman, Gordon fulfills this request by assaulting Hoffman and sealing him in the bathroom from the first film.

In other media

Saw: Rebirth

The character of John Kramer is also featured in the comic book, Saw: Rebirth, which is set prior to the events of the first movie. It filled in some of his history, showing him as a toy designer at Standard Engineering Ltd. who was too lazy to do much with his life, ultimately ending his relationship with Jill. Saw: Rebirth also reveals Kramer's discovery that he had terminal cancer and outlined how his subsequent failed suicide attempt impacted his train of thought. His relationships with Dr. Lawrence Gordon, Zep Hindle, Paul Leahy, Amanda Young, and Mark Wilson were explored, along with his transformation into Jigsaw. Rebirth's continuity was ultimately contradicted by the backstory presented in Saw IV.

"SAW - The Ride"

Jigsaw's dead body can be seen on the floor on Thorpe Park's SAW - The Ride. Upon exiting, his head can be seen hanging from a high ceiling.

Saw: The Video Game

Tobin Bell reprises his role as the voice of Jigsaw in the Saw video game. He is shown on television screens dressed in his signature robes setting up traps for people and preaching his lesson of life appreciation to them. He frequently advises and taunts Detective Tapp as he traverses through an abandoned insane asylum, usually by way of the Billy puppet.

Saw II: Flesh & Blood

Tobin Bell reprised his role as the voice of the Jigsaw Killer in the Saw: The Video Game sequel Saw II: Flesh & Blood. Tobin Bell also sold his likeness for the Jigsaw Killer, who actually appears in the game.

Jigsaw tests Detective Tapp's estranged son Michael, who is wanting to get to the bottom of his father's death. Jigsaw personally taunts Michael throughout the game, always being out of reach. Via case files, we also learn that he built nearly half of the city (explaining his numerous hideouts in the series). He appears to seek the destruction of the drug cartel run by corrupt cops. In the ending, he faces either Michael (tempting him onto becoming another apprentice) or Campbell (giving him freedom but getting attacked in retaliation).

Characterisation

The producers of the Saw films have fought to differentiate the Jigsaw Killer from other horror film killers. Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of Saw II, III and IV, has stated on the character's role "He's not Jason or Freddy. He's not even Hannibal Lecter. He's a person with extreme beliefs and he really thinks he's making a difference. He's a vigilante if anything. He thinks he's making a difference." Tobin Bell, the actor who plays Jigsaw, describes his character's role as being more of a scientist or engineer and "he thinks very specifically and very pragmatically". About Jigsaw's games being detail oriented, Bell said: "My sense is that Jigsaw is so detail oriented that I think he thinks in terms of worst case scenario. I think he’s a very good judge of character, so his sense that, for example, that Detective Matthews was going to play right into his trap, which he did, was right on. Now, it seems to me that he's always got a second plan in place. And there's probably been a number of second plans. I mean, we've only seen three movies. Maybe there are six more somewhere where he failed, where something didn't play out".

Bousman mentioned that Saw III was intended to contain a scene in which Jigsaw showed remorse for his actions after seeing the results:

For the first time, we actually see him break down and cry. Imagine your entire life's work. You're on your deathbed. You know there's nothing else you can do and here's how you'll be remembered: as a killer, as a murderer. Not as someone who helped people. Not as someone who changed lives. Someone who took away lives. The one thing he didn't want to be and, as he's on his deathbed, he's realizing this.

As a result of his cancer and a failed suicide attempt, John decided to dedicate the rest of his life to teaching people to appreciate their own lives. The producers of Saw III and director Darren Lynn Bousman see Jigsaw, not as a serial killer, but a "scientist" who is determined to initiate the survival instinct in his "subjects", believing that humanity no longer uses its instinct of survival.

While the character's discovery that he has cancer is acknowledged to be the "final straw" that drove him to his actions, Bell has stated in an interview that "His terminal cancer is one of the elements of his life but he's as angry over the fact the world is going to hell in handbasket because it's no longer the survival of the fittest; it's the survival of the mediocre. That drives him as much as anything else. He doesn't just talk about his frustrations, he does something about them, and he puts himself on the line. His cancer was about one element in about 130 elements that caused him to create the world that he's created."

Jigsaw is depicted in the Saw films as being extremely intelligent in the areas relevant to his actions. In Saw: Rebirth he is depicted doing extensive study in multiple fields to gain knowledge for designing his tests, and recurring director Bousman himself has described Jigsaw as being "extremely educated" in an interview.

Symbolic representations

Traps

In the series, Jigsaw usually builds deadly traps for his subjects, which are often a symbolic representation of what Jigsaw perceives as a flaw in the person's life. Jigsaw calls these tests "games", and tells the person the "rules" of the game usually by audio or video tape. The rules are tasks that the person must perform in order to pass the test and survive; however, the tasks often involve extreme self mutilation (although there have been occasions where it is possible for the subject not to harm themselves if they are clever enough, such as the Hand Trap). On occasion, Jigsaw has used psychological torture for the subject's test.

Many of the games involve clocks, counting down timers or other measured time constraints provided to the victims. Jigsaw elaborated in Saw II his appreciation of "time", outlining the importance of savoring every moment. He also stated his belief that telling someone the time in which they may die would awaken an alertness for every moment of existence.

Jake Huntley wrote of the complexity of Jigsaw's character in the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies. Huntley described the intention behind Jigsaw's actions, and evaluated the extent to which they can be analyzed to fit into the philosophies associated with Deleuze, Darwin and Nietzsche:

The subject of one of Jigsaw's games is therefore always presented with an opportunity, the aim of which is to reinvigorate the potential of the subject, jump-start the survival instinct and instill a celebration or "savouring" of life. In Deleuzian terms, it is the potential of life that is at stake... It is this that gives Jigsaw's games their Deleuzian tone, the urgent revitalisation of life occasioning new experiences to be learnt and assimilated: such as the perverse, singular and aberrant situation of waking to find a man-trap secured around your neck. There is then the instruction to live or die, to make your choice, to survive the encounter with affect, or the affection-image... There is no thrill, sadistic or otherwise, in setting these games; they are throws of the die by the subjects, aleatoric opportunities... As Jigsaw makes clear to Detective Matthews during their conversation in Saw II, where Jigsaw's motivation and philosophy are most comprehensively explored, "I've never murdered anyone in my life. The decisions are up to them." Whilst it probably wouldn't stand up in court, he is at least correct in his usual, carefully literal sense. The decisions, the choices, the selection of a potential, are in the hands of the subjects of his games and he only intervenes in order to keep the game within its rules so a decision can be reached. The subjects are faced with a shocking choice that forces them to acknowledge what Deleuze identifies as the virtual – that is, the unacknowledged aspects of our experience with reality. This, in effect, is the particular game that Jigsaw himself plays; one where the organism might be failing but the flow of desire succeeds and endures. Jigsaw might resort to discussing Darwin's "little trip to the Galapagos Islands" to provide a theoretical underpinning for his project and echo Nietzsche in talking of the will to survive, but this merely misdirects investigators and witnesses in the same way that the gruesome traps and freely flowing gore earn him his unsettling serial killer soubriquet. Jigsaw's games are designed to crack open the world of their respective players: the challenges are nearly always relevant to the subject's lifestyle in a symbolic or literal way, bringing them to painful self awareness, prompting a reappraisal of their squandered potential.

Jigsaw intends through these traps to force his victims to prove to him that they are "worthy" and "deserving" to continue living, and also for them to learn to abandon what he perceives to be their vices. Jigsaw often expressed a desire for his victims to succeed, but stressed that their fate was always in their own hands. The video and audio tape instructions for his games often echo this idea: "Live or die. Make your choice."

Billy

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Billy, a puppet, is an icon of the Jigsaw character. Jigsaw often used it for the purpose of delivering messages to his victims via a television screen, but at times it has also been physically present with the victims during their tests. He provided the (disguised) voice for Billy when it delivered its messages. It is shown in Saw IV that the original puppet was created by Kramer as an intended toy for his unborn child. Jigsaw is shown constructing the more menacing Billy puppet in Saw III for the purpose of its inclusion in his 'games'.

Microcassettes

Another of Jigsaw's trademarks is his use of microcassettes to deliver instructions to his victims, disguising his voice as on the Billy videotapes. A flashback in Saw IV reveals that he accomplished this by speaking into a reel-to-reel tape recorder, then slowing down the playback. Often, a victim would find a microcassette recorder left for him/her with a tape already loaded in, while at other times the tape would be found separately in an envelope marked with the victim's name or the tape on its own reading "Play Me". One tape was found in Jigsaw's stomach during his autopsy at the beginning of Saw IV. Both of his apprentices, Amanda Young and Mark Hoffman, eventually began making their own microcassettes, but without altering their voices as he did. An exception is the tape for Seth Baxter's trap, for which Hoffman did disguise his voice in order to avoid detection.

Huntley remarked that Jigsaw's voice recordings operated for a specific purpose as part of Jigsaw's M.O. Huntley stated that it allowed Jigsaw to be present there not as "a participant or even a spectator but instead as a referee, observing the rules pertinent to that particular subject rather than salaciously enjoying the ‘victim’s agony’."

Pig mask

The pig mask (or "Pig Head") is a thematic prop worn by Jigsaw and his accomplices throughout the Saw film series to conceal their identities while abducting their "test subjects". As the series continues, the purpose of the pig mask is explored in detail; it is explained to be a tribute to the "Year of the Pig", the year in which Jigsaw started his work.

The origin of the pig mask was shown in Saw IV, revealing the first known pig masks to have been latex strap-on masks used at a Year of the Pig Chinese New Year festival. Jigsaw had snatched them and donned one, while using the other one to hold his chloroform-soaked rag. The second mask was then used to knock out his first test subject, Cecil, by placing the mask over his head with the chloroform rag still inside.

When working on the original Saw film, writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan wanted their antagonist to have some sort of mask. After some discussion, the idea of Jigsaw wearing a rotting pig's head was chosen to symbolize his pessimistic view of the world and the disease that he was "rotting" from.

Nevertheless, the mask given to them from production (a rubber Halloween mask) was considered by them to be less than satisfactory. A number of things were added to make it look more gruesome, including long black hair and pus running from its eyes and nostrils. Whannell has still admitted to being disappointed with its final appearance compared to his intended one, but has admitted that the mask has since become one of the "staples" of the Saw franchise.

Along with Billy and perhaps Jigsaw himself, the mask has since become one of the more iconic symbols of the franchise. It has appeared on both the posters for the first film and the fourth. The mask has also been featured on many forms of merchandise. Officially-licensed pig mask accessories have been sold for Halloween. In addition, the mask has been featured on numerous Jigsaw action figures. NECA has released two Jigsaw figurines with the pig mask; the original was Jigsaw wearing the mask in his black cloak, and a Saw III variant of Jigsaw wearing it in a red cloak. In addition, the Be@rBrick line has released a "bear" version of Jigsaw wearing the pig mask. Medicom has also released a figurine of Jigsaw wearing his infamous pig mask in the "Real Action Hero" line.

On the commentary track of Saw IV, several discussions occur about Jigsaw's decision to use references to pigs. In the series, the producers explained that Jigsaw was a spiritual person; however, it has never been revealed what religion he follows. In Saw IV, Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill explains Jigsaw's organized and planned lifestyle, stating that she had conceived their miscarried son Gideon, with Jigsaw planning for him to be born in the Year of the Pig. On the commentary track, the producers explain that in the Chinese Zodiac, the pig stands for fertility and rebirth. Jigsaw is seen several times throughout the series with figurines of clay soldiers and buddhas, further symbolizing his reverence to various Asian cultures.

Jigsaw puzzle pieces

Cut outs were made, in the shape of jigsaw puzzle pieces, from the flesh of Jigsaw's deceased victims who failed to pass their test. John Kramer received the nickname "Jigsaw" from the police and the press stemming from his tendency to perform such a ritual; however, he never encouraged that name.

Huntley argued that the jigsaw pieces that John cut out of the flesh of his failed test subjects was not intended as a mere stylized signature, but rather that it had a much deeper philosophical reflection. He stated that:

Far from being a stamp of final approval, a post-(mortem)-script to the game, the jigsaw piece represents the admission of the subject's missing survival instinct, the corporeal body's non-relational or 'snagged' desire. Those marked with jigsaw pieces are the ones that got away, left inert, reduced to the zero intensity of death. It would seem strange that Jigsaw – surely the last figure ever to be deemed sentimental – should choose to extract this symbolic jigsaw piece from these subjects, except that Jigsaw is linguistically consistent in explaining how he 'takes' or 'cuts' the piece of skin. The jigsaw shape marking those who 'fail' is the adding of a subtraction – in effect, the removal of their inability, their unfulfilled potential or their lack – the excision that leaves the whole of the body that is not the closed, inert corporeal body but is, instead, the 'body-without-organs', that is, the nexus point where energy pools amid the flow and fold of forces and durations, existence beyond the living organism.

A hand-drawn jigsaw puzzle piece was also present on the back of a photograph in Saw as part of a clue for one of his games.

Apprentices

Throughout the Saw series, Jigsaw developed a tendency to recruit "apprentices" to carry on his perceived mission. Amanda Young, Lieutenant Mark Hoffman, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, and two masked men named Pighead (Saw: The Video Game) and Pighead II (Saw II: Flesh & Blood) are the only known Jigsaw apprentices.

Huntley analyzed Jigsaw's intentions in taking in protégés as stemming from the terminally ill character's desire to overcome death itself, and argues that this is further evidence of his thought process being characterized by Deleuzian philosophy. Huntley argued:

Jigsaw decides that the answer is to achieve immortality through a legacy, having a successor to continue with his work. The impulse is Deleuzian. Jigsaw remains calm, neutral and impassive throughout the Saw films (not least because of his terminal condition) yet his only expressed wish, concern or desire, is that his legacy is maintained – the work of testing the fabric of humanity should go on. "Jigsaw" – as the intensive site of being, a locus of desire, the body-without-organs – can survive the death of the organism John Kramer... What seems to be consistent thematically through the Saw films is that "Jigsaw" is a part for various players, an identity composed of pieces...

John was also assisted by Obi Tate in the kidnapping of the victims of the nerve gas house, shortly before the events of Saw II, and Zep Hindle throughout the first film.

Kevin Greutert, the editor of Saw's I-V and the director of Saw VI and Saw 3D, stated that Amanda, in particular, is "such a peculiar aspect of the Jigsaw character", citing the fact that Kramer had developed genuine "tender feelings" for her.

The term "apprentice" was used in the official plot synopses for Saw III and Saw IV.

Theatrical robe

Jigsaw is usually seen wearing a black theatrical robe with a large hood and red lining when running traps or abducting victims. On the commentary track for the first Saw film, it was explained that the producers originally wanted Jigsaw to have the red robe with black interior. Thinking that the red robe was too vibrant for the film, they reversed the robe to make it black with red interior. Amanda wore a similar robe in Saw III in an attempt to symbolically emulate her mentor. Although Hoffman, while wearing the pig mask, always wore the dark blue rain parka he'd worn since the murder of Seth Baxter, further illustrating the gap between him and Jigsaw. Also, both Pighead and Pighead II wear similar robes to Jigsaw, the only difference being that the Pighead robe is red.

Tobin Bell

Speaking about his character, actor Tobin Bell says:

My wife mentioned to me that she read an interview with Jeffrey Dahmer's mother about his childhood. And she said he was a perfectly normal child. He had friends like everyone else, he participated in the same kind of activities. In terms of your question about icons, if you begin to think of people like that, it's a deadly thing to do. You have to think of someone like Jigsaw from a very specific point of view. He doesn't view himself as some kind of diabolical psychotic. You know there's a little bit of evil in everyone. It just gets carried further. Most of us have some sort of moral fiber that restricts that. Some framework. And then others because of their lives and what happens to them, the thing develops in some other way. You know, I've played a lot of different kind of guys. Jigsaw's a fascinating person. And it's up to the filmmakers to do what ever they want to do with where he's coming from and to shape it and make it something meaningful that fits into the picture.

Reaction

Critical reception

A review of Saw II in the San Francisco Chronicle praised Tobin Bell and Jigsaw as being "more terrifying than the movie villains in Hollywood's last five horror films put together; even though he's in a wheelchair and hooked up to multiple IVs."

Don Summer, a writer for Best-Horror-Movies.com, stated that "the villain, in Jigsaw, is brilliant and formidable" and that actor Tobin Bell has done a "fantastic job" in his recurring role.

Neil Smith, a film reviewer for the BBC, described Bell's Jigsaw as "creepy", describing the character as adding "a palpably sinister charge" to the scenes he appeared in.

Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, a reviewer for the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, remarked that Tobin Bell's Jigsaw had become such an entrenched staple of the Saw franchise, that the character's reduced appearance in Saw V was drastically felt. Ní Fhlainn also commented that Jigsaw's unique character was not successfully compensated for by his apparent successor in Saw V, Mark Hoffman. Ní Fhlainn went to the extent to remark that the character of Jigsaw is so central to the Saw franchise, that it should have ended as a trilogy considering Jigsaw's death at the end of Saw III.

Similarly, several critics who reviewed Saw 3D lamented Bell's minimal screentime in the film, with Eric Goldman of IGN writing that he found it "impossible not to be bothered by how little time was spent" with the character.

Tobin Bell was nominated for a Spike TV Scream Award three times in the category of "Most Vile Villain" for his portrayal of Jigsaw in 2006 for Saw II, in 2007 (alongside Shawnee Smith's portrayal of Amanda) for Saw III, and in 2008 for Saw IV.


Saw
Saw movie logo
Films: SawIIIIIIVVVI3D

Characters: BillyJigsawMark HoffmanPigheadPighead IIAmanda YoungJill TuckEric MatthewsDavid TappLawrence Gordon

Objects: Billy's TricycleReverse BeartrapPig mask

Video games: SawFlesh & Blood

Related articles: "Saw" (short) • "Hello Zepp" • RideTrapsScream Queens (episodes)

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