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Jigsaw (John Kramer)

Updated on September 28, 2015

I want to play a game...

Cool marionette, huh? officialsaw dot com where this screenshot was taken is no longer on the net.
Cool marionette, huh? officialsaw dot com where this screenshot was taken is no longer on the net. | Source

The Movies - General

The "Saw" movies have become somewhat of a phenomenon. Since the first Saw movie was released in 2004, there have been 5 more separate Saw movies in under a decade.

Consequently, the characters from the movies - Jigsaw (John or, alternately a protégé or accomplice in later films), Dr. Lawrence Gordon, Amanda (victim) and other personas - have nearly become archetypes or are at least known by most of the adult population in North America and Britain and anywhere these movies have been released.

THE SAW MOVIES ARE, WITHOUT A DOUBT - gruesome, violent and psychologically taxing! They are definitely not for everyone...

The movies involve indirect set ups (traps) masterminded by John Kramer or a protégé. Those individuals who end up in the traps have been selected and deemed by Kramer to be in need of his special brand of attitude adjustment... Managing to free oneself from a Jigsaw/Kramer trap is proof that one is willing to make considerable changes in life and, more importantly and in-the-moment, MAKE A GREAT SACRIFICE in order to appreciate life.

Sometimes the sacrifice ends up being loss of a limb (as in the original Saw, in the first movie) but it could be willingness to endure any amount of pain in order to free oneself from the deadly trap...more often, however, the sacrifice ends up being loss of life and many of Jigsaw's victims are ultimately unable to free themselves from the diabolically engineered death traps.

Jigsaw puts an immediate TWIST on the traps by always or almost always referring to them as "tests" or "games" in a rather abstract conceptual insistence that the tests and games are for the potential benefit of the person involved.

Trailer - Saw (2004)

"Billy" Marionette Available As a Toy?

"Billy" Toy Accessories - Tricycle and Gear Cogs

"Billy" Toy - Gears


Generic: these are devices or situations/scenarios that are applied to a victim or multiple "players" at the same time. These "situations" will cause gross bodily harm or death if certain tasks are not completed within a certain time frame. There are a few of these that are impossible to escape from (not because of Jigsaw's design but because of protégé interference in the design of the traps. This will be explained at the close of this "Traps" section).

Competition: these types of traps involve two or more participants who each are being "tested." Each participant has to act independently and maneover for survival. The problematic part here is that when one participant is performing successfully in a competition trap/game, this means the other participant(s) is failing. One person's success is at the expense of another person's progress in Jigsaw's competition traps. Ultimately, failure means death. The competition traps are designed so that only one person can survive the competition tests.

Tests: these are "games" whereby a person is verbally given a specific set of rules or a specific task to perform. There are multiple results possible according to whether the participant plays by the rules and wins or breaks the rules and loses. Winning and losing is actually by perspective here, so "tests" are psychologically tricky. Loss usually means death of a character but can mean some other kind of loss - "it all depends."

Trials: are a series of challenges or tests a participant must meet head on while the participant psychological progress is being measured. Now, these sound a lot like the Generic tests but they actually differ from the Generic type as with the former, there is one "test," and with the Trials, there is a series of tests...and some bad news

...if the participant successfully completes the trials, the "game" is not quite finished yet...the participant(s) must still face a "FINAL TEST."

Final Test: is the last test within a series of TRIALS...the way to successfully navigate a final test is to use culminated skills/psychological fortitude gained in the trials in order to make good choices and perform proper actions during the final test. Hard decisions have to be made here and not everyone who gets through the trials will make the right choices or perform the actions necessary to complete the final test.

Security Traps: these are basically booby traps to impede the progress of participants in the various other forms of traps/challenges.

* Note on Inescapable Traps: these occurred due to the hubris or psychological glitches in two other characters and not by Kramer, himself. The characters Amanda Young and Mark Hoffman both made some choice inescapable situations or traps. It is generally believed (within the general lore of the films, storyline, the character and motivations of John Kramer) that if Kramer were in control at all times, no trap would ever be without a solution or possible escape.

John Kramer's INTENT was always to provide a participant with a route to "appreciation of life" via traps, tests, trials, games, etc and NOT to ensure that participants perished.

John Kramer Bio

Name: John Kramer

Age: Fifty Two (52 age at death)

Status: Deceased, expired

Cause of Death: bled to death, Jeff Reinhart slit Kramer's throat. Kramer's death was premature in that he was murdered. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and expected to die from the cancer...whoops, looks like Jeff wanted to play a game, Mr. Kramer.

Gender: Male

Significant others: Jill Tuck (ex-wife, accomplice)

More: Amanda Young (apprentice), Mark Hoffman (accomplice then successor)

Other Relationships of Significance: Dr. Lawrence Gordon (doctor), William Easton (insurance agent), Art Blank (lawyer), Gideon (Jill and John's unborn son), Pighead (apprentice)

M.O.: Psychological Torture. Indirect Physical Torture. Construction of Symbolic Death Traps.

Reasons/Jigsaw Ethical Twist: Perpetuation of a New (albeit twisted) Ethical Standard for Wrongdoers and Criminals (according to Mr. Kramer). Providing a Special (albeit terrifying) New Lease On Life - a Chance to Change and Live Life as a Better Person (according to Mr. Kramer),

First Appearance: Saw

John Kramer persona portrayed by:  actor, Tobin Bell

Created by: James Wan and Leigh Whannell

Notable Quote: "I Want To Play A Game." John Kramer. This has become a trademark "Jigsaw" quote for the entire series of films.

John Kramer is a fictional character for/in the Saw movie and sequels.

More: John Kramer was a civil engineer. His life became unmanageable and his psychological state became depressed and anxious when he got colon cancer and also developed an inoperable brain tumor from the cancer. Desperate and traumatized, John attempted suicide but failed. For some reason, this experience was perceived as an enlightening event for John. He felt a new respect and outright reverence for life, so he set out to offer others certain experiences that could help them gain a new respect for life...

Johns "offerings" were "trials" and "tests" for people to endure self-sacrifice on their way to finding or creating, within themselves, the definite will to survive - live - and thus, know an ultimate respect and reverence for life.

John Kramer and Jill Tuck were married and expecting a child (Gideon, they'd already decided upon the name of the child) when Jill was, in her pregnant and vulnerable state, shoved aside by a drug addict trying to escape from a building Jill worked in. This caused Jill and Kramer to lose Gideon (something Jigsaw gained revenge for in subsequent series movies). John's inability to psychologically cope with the loss of the unborn son, Gideon, caused disharmony in the marriage and at some point, Jill and John split up.

* Note: To get a well rounded history on John Kramer, knowledge of the SAW movies - as an entire series - is needed. No one or singular movie in the series tells enough about the details or events in John Kramer's life for the viewer to know John Kramer very well at all.

Viewers cannot actually know or understand much about Kramer's motives or fictional life history from watching just the first movie. There simply aren't many personal details about Kramer in the movie, "Saw." Viewers understand basically that a man who became emotionally unstable exacts revenge upon people he perceives as having wronged him. Wronged man turns into serial killer. Very much eye for an eye, tooth for tooth...

After viewing the first and original movie of the Saw series, viewers will mainly come away believing that John Kramer and his twisted-ethic second persona of Jigsaw are a composite of a rather ordinary but intelligent man with his bad and emotionally uncontrolled side. Of course, the emotional, uncontrolled side of John Kramer seems to take over in ways very detrimental to his victims.

Viewing of subsequent films in the series show a character, in John Kramer, of intense emotion, steadfast ethics (albeit twisted), and great inner complexity. By series end (Saw to Saw VI), the persona of John Kramer has actually shown an incredible amount of "humanity," and a vulnerable side - even if his "acting out" is in a form that is deadly. In short, most viewers will identify with the emotional side of Kramer even if they understand that acting out by creating death traps, putting people into these traps, mentoring accomplices, and calling this a 'game' or offering all this as a "redemption experience" is inherently wrong.

From Saw (I). Scene Known As "Rise and Shine, Adam." (Audio)

Adam Responds To The Audio With "I don't get it." Ouch... figure it out, Adam!

Here are the words from the audiotape in the Saw film scene, "Rise and Shine, Adam."

"Rise and shine, Adam. You're probably wondering where you are. I'll tell you where you might be. You might be in the room that you die in. Up until now, you've simply sat in the shadows watching others live out their lives. But what do voyeurs see when they look into the mirror? Now I see you as a strange mix of someone angry, yet apathetic. But mostly just pathetic. So are you going to watch yourself die here today, Adam, or do something about it?"

Adam's immediate response when the audio is finished:

"I don't get it."

Billy To Amanda, "Hello Amanda"

"Hello Amanda" Scene

The Bear Trap is explained to Amanda Young via videotape. More properly described, the trap is a REVERSE BEAR TRAP... a trap designed to fling open with great force instead of close together as a normal bear trap would. This Reverse Bear Trap has become symbolic of all the traps in the collective Saw movies. The icon bears much significance because it stands as the first trap anyone ever escaped from as well as "proof" that Jigsaw's form of psychological and physical torture really can make someone appreciate life anew... ie: Amanda, who escaped, DID profess to have a new lease on life after her ordeals with Jigsaw.

Here's the quote from that awful scene where Amanda had just awakened with the Bear Trap firmly affixed to her head and face:

"Hello Amanda. You don't know me, but I know you. I want to play a game. Here's what happens if you lose. The device you are wearing is hooked into your upper and lower jaw. When the timer in the back goes off, your mouth will be permanently ripped open. Think of it like a reverse bear trap. Here, I'll show you. There is only one key to open the device. It's in the stomach of your dead cellmate. Look around Amanda. Know that I'm not lying. Better hurry up. Live or die, make your choice."

Nasty, huh?

Saw Movie Collectibles

More on TRAPS

I know the hub is supposed to be on John Kramer but mention of these traps leads to understanding of how twisted Mr. Kramer was for making such devices. Without descriptions, just the names that the makers of the Saw films gave these traps will be quite enough explanation concerning most of the devices...

Saw I Traps:

Razor Wire, Flammable Jelly, Jaw Trap (reverse bear trap), Drill Chair, Quadruple Shotgun in Hallway, Bathroom Trap, Zep's Test

Saw II Traps:

Venus Fly Trap, Electrified Staircase, Nerve Gas House, Antidote Safe, Magnum Eyehole, Furnace, Handtrap, Eric's Test, Needle Pit

Saw III Traps:

Shotgun Collar, Rack Trap, Pig Vat, Freezer Room, Classroom Trap, Angel Trap

Saw IV Traps:

See What I See, Save As I Save, Mausoleum, Knife Chair, Feel What I Feel, Perez's Test

Saw V Traps:

The Pendulum, The Cube, Keys of Life, Three Points of Safety, Close The Circuit, 10 Pints of Sacrifice, The Coffin

Saw VI Traps:

Pound Of Flesh, Oxygen Crusher, Hanging Trap, The Steam Maze, Carousel Trap, Mother/Son Trap

Saw VII Traps:

Lover's Triangle, Junkyard Trap, Nightmare Trap, Bobby's Wake Up Room, Fish Hook Trap, Seeing Trap, Hearing Trap


Ostension? The Murder of Jeffrey Howe and the Possibility of a REAL LIFE JIGSAW

Jeffrey Howe was murdered in March 2009 and became known as "Jigsaw Man" because his dismembered body parts were spread from Hertfordshire to Leicestershire in the U.K. His killer did not escape the law and became known as "Jigsaw Killer."

Jigsaw Killer turned out to be a Mr. Stephen Marshall. Mr. Marshall was apprehended, charged with several murders and is serving a lifetime sentence... (36 years possible incarceration, according to the U.K. justice system).

True Story To Follow - Below the "Comments" Section

Jigsaw Man Jeffrey Howe

From North London, Jeffrey Howe was a rather regular businessman - a salesman regarding kitchens and kitchen items. There are varied responses on his character with neighbors saying he was sometimes verbally aggressive about children playing and making noise, however no more serious complaint has surfaced (Heck, aren't noisy children sometimes a problem for many of us?). His brother has described Mr. Jeffrey Howe as a man with a heart of gold, a charming, nice man who was easy to get along with. Regardless, it doesn't seem as if Howe's character is what got him murdered... His association with the murderer, Stephen Marshall would prove Howe's undoing...

Marshall and Howe had once been workplace associates from the Southgate, London region. They developed a buddy-buddy relationship. At Howe's Pickard Close, Southgate, London flat, he allowed Marshall to room and board, starting around November in the year 2008 - along with Marshall's 21 year old girlfriend...

Basically Marshall and his girlfriend took advantage of Howe's nice nature, by not paying rent and by eating Howe's food and refusing to leave.

By Christmas time, Howe complained to a few friends about the living situation but didn't seem to be able to figure out a way to resolve the situation peaceably. Unfortunately, he was not going to ever be the one to resolve matters as within a few short months, in March 2009, Howe was murdered.

Why Jeffrey Howe is called "Jigsaw Man":

Howe's body parts were found in pieces, in different locations, on different days...

Body parts were found on March 22, March 29, March 31, April 7, and April 11... his hands were never found.

Chart on Howe

Chart of Howe's dismemberment and locations where body parts were found.
Chart of Howe's dismemberment and locations where body parts were found. | Source

Real Life "Jigsaw Killer," Stephen Marshall

Incredibly, hindsight shows us very clearly that Stephen Marshall was a detriment and danger to society. He claims to have had ties to the Adams Crime family in the London area and there is at least some evidence that what Marshall claims is true...

After incarceration for Howe's murder and while the trial proceeded for Howe's murder, officials found out that Marshall had killed - multiple times - well before murdering Jeffrey Howe.

With previous murders, Marshall also decapitated and/or dismembered some of the victims.

Marshall confessed these other crimes to his lawyer, Peter Doyle, and the previous murders allegedly total FOUR persons, between the years 1995 and 1998. Mr. Doyle made statements in court on on Marshall's behalf but as part of these statements, Epping Forest was given as the area where the murdered persons/body parts were deposited. Marshall did not offer other details about the murders.

The VERDICT on the question of OSTENSION:

Was the muder of Jeffrey Howe an effect of OSTENTION (playing out in real life, something which has been told/portrayed in movies, stories, urban legends, books)?

Did Stephen Marshall "copycat" his actions, based on the fictional Jigsaw character and the SAW movies?



I haven't really heard or seen this exact question asked before but...

Look at the dates here:

The original SAW movie was released in 2004.

Jeffrey Howe was murdered by Stephen Marshall with accomplice Sarah Bush (Marshall's young girlfriend) in March 2009!

SIX SAW MOVIES of SEVEN were already released.

What do you think?

(* hint... Marshall killed at least four people between 1994 and 1998, PRIOR to murdering Howe).

Actually...with some critical thinking, I will actually say "NO, I don't think Marshall was performing the effect of ostension or copy-catting the fictional John Kramer's acts." I think Marshall is just an incredibly twisted mind and person.

I say this because

  • Marshall seems to have used the acts of dismemberment in order to hide bodies
  • Marshall seems to have used dismemberment and depositing body parts in different locations as a way to throw off police investigations
  • Marshall seems to have made the choices of dismemberment AFTER the death of Howe (not much information exists about the other murders by Marshall)

The Fictional Jigsaw:

  • used torture in his games, expecting victims to make choices about what they would or would not do to their own or other peoples' bodies
  • victims were still living when dismemberment might occur
  • Jigsaw used the pain that would be involved with dismemberment or body mutilation as an intense "motivator" for "helping" victims make decisions or take action against staying trapped in traps

No doubt, movies like Saw and those which follow in the series MIGHT gain "copycat" followers. Certainly every serial killer on record (Marshall falls into this category of serial killer) has been at least as twisted in beliefs as the fictional Jigsaw...

What do you think?

Another REAL Jigsaw, in U.S.A.


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    • maja dali profile image

      Maja Dali 

      5 years ago from Slovenia

      I?ve seen 3 of Saw movies and I have to say they are really scarry. I haven't heard about Jeffrey Howe and Stephen Marshall before.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for rating up! I am glad you enjoyed the hub. I think a lot of people who don't normally watch blood and gore movies actually find the SAW movies interesting. They certainly contain some of the most complicated storylines one has ever seen thus far in the film world.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      Amy DeMarco 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      I'm a huge fan of the Saw movies. Which is weird because I don't care for blood and gore but I always found the premise intriguing. Jigsaw is an interesting character. I really enjoyed reading this. Rated up.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      seowriterforlaw - I understand your concerns and have some of the same, myself (ie: will people copycat the activities shown in the SAW movies?). I am not entirely convinced, however, that people NEED to view a movie in order to think up awful, horror-filled actions against one another. There have been tools, methods and chambers of torture throughout history in every corner of the globe - well before our modern media started making horror movies.

    • seowriterforlaw profile image


      7 years ago from Arlington, USA

      I'm afraid that some people who can watch the movie might do the same to others. I don't know if the movie makers are open to this possibilities. I mean, we do not have the ability to know what's in the mind of a person. What if he's watching and learning to do it to his enemies. Like what Stephen Marshall do to Mr. Howe.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      seowriterforlaw, thanks for coming back and adding some tidbits that you've been pondering over. I think many people wonder about the same things as you when presented with the SAW franchise movies... Did you read below the comment box? About Stephen Marshall, Jeffrey Howe, "Jigsaw Man"? I'm not sure if the SAW movie creators take liberty with events they hear about, then make atrocious movies or if people pattern behaviors after seeing violence and plotting in movies, but any way you look at things... individual human creatures can be twisted, violent and perform terrible acts against fellow human beings...

    • seowriterforlaw profile image


      7 years ago from Arlington, USA

      Okay. Thanks for giving answers to my question. I've read some news in the net before that there were killings happened in some parts of the world that were patterned to the movie. I want to know the reason behind why the movie was created.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      seowriterforlaw, within the storyline, media/newspapers offered up the name "Jigsaw." Here's a quote from the SAWfilms wiki site:

      "As his victims increased, authorities coined the nickname "The Jigsaw Killer" - or simply, "Jigsaw" - because of the Jigsaw Piece of Flesh that he would cut from an unsuccessful victim. As John would later explain to Detective Eric Matthews, the piece was not intended to be used as a signature but simply to represent the 'piece' that the victims were missing; the survival instinct."

    • seowriterforlaw profile image


      7 years ago from Arlington, USA

      Gosh! I've watched all the episodes. It was the goriest movie I've ever seen. I wonder who formulated the name "Jigsaw" and the concept of the story. It's a matter of life and death story.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Annoying Orange? Yes I have seen that, wolfboy.

    • wolfboy profile image


      7 years ago from lumsden,canada,sk

      you shoud wach annoying orage saw on youtube

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Did you read about Jigsaw Man below, schoolgirlforreal? (nobody has been commenting on it - perhaps I need to move the text above the comments?)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      7 years ago

      I didn't think you did either. :)


    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi schoolgirlforreal - glad you liked the hub! Truthfully, I had to take a li'l break from the movies and this hub shortly after building the hub lol I do not enjoy the gore in the films.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey mythbuster,

      I love these movies not for the gore but for the incredible thrill or anticipation of whether or not the people would pass the tests and what would happen.

      The last one SawVI I belive, it was 3D, which wasn't as great as expected, has so much failure in survival that it turned me off. Overall though it's thrilling- for lack of better word and intriquing.

      Glad you wrote about it! And I love that doll on tricycle! LOLOL!!

    • DarkDisOrder profile image


      7 years ago from B.A.D. (Beyond All Dimensions)

      Now dare i witness a great definition of jigsaw, truly a hub of psychotic beauty porportion, waiting for the update, as if this brilliant creation needed it...

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Wow Kimberly... all THAT - just 'cos I watch and write about scary movies? lol j/k. Thanks so much. Speechless. *mwah*

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      You just are a rock and are nothing short of genius when it comes to supporting and inspiring so many of us.

      Hope you had an Amazing Christmas, you are amazing again, helping people outside of our community, which will be discussed about many aspects of your dedication, Myth, there are few souls in this world that live givingUNCONDITIONALLY. Bless you for being one


      xo kisses too

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      LOL just not a Jigsaw game...

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      Absolutely MB.



    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello Blake, I suppose you don't want to play a game? lol

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      One of my favorites, MB you have done it again. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello JY3502, glad you liked the hub. The content isn't for everyone, but I tried to make the language and explanations reasonable here. The movies really are disturbing. Or - if they aren't disturbing, this might be an indication of desensitization to violence hmmm.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      You sure did your homework on this one. I liked it.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      BTW, Mentalist acer... the hub will be updated within days... there is actually a REAL "Jigsaw" killer - probably an effect of OSTENSION (copy-catting, legend-tripping, putting a legend into effect). I had to publish in pieces because (see above) - I had to do a cleansing before proceeding with the "real Jigsaw" info.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello, Mentalist acer - I'm glad that you put some psyche terminology in play here (assessment of Kramer in psyche terms - deviant, via rejection, segregation, etc) because my aim was to describe or tell my observations and I didn't think I quite hit "psychoanalysis" mode... However, Kramer is an interesting study and I'm glad you liked the way this hub is put together!

      Most striking, " with real life personalities[...]" Mr. Kramer seems like a frighteningly REAL person to the audience.

      Truthfully, I have to pull back on occasion - from admiring Kramer. As well, I have had to do a smudging and use other cleansing techniques after exposing myself to the Saw movies and the John Kramer persona (something I wish a few choice friends would do, as well - their talk frightens me immediately following the viewing of any SAW movie).

      And there ya have it... review of a violent movie series, violent persona...ending with confessions.

      How do ya like me now? lol

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      It's interesting,the events that led to Kramer's deviant behavior,and the way he adjusted to those with real life personalities who act out violently to something like rejection and segregation,thanks for sharing this detailed and informative psychoanalysis,Mythbuster.;)


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