Since debuting on October 29, 2004, the Saw movies have become one of the most recognizable and successful franchises in modern-horror cinema, paving the way for the “torture-porn” horror genre.

While the initial film offered moviegoers one of the most original twists in movie history, the subsequent sequels have done little to mix-up the formula, instead relying on an increasingly violent set of gut-wrenching set-pieces that escalate the brutality and shock with each new installment.

The Saw movies, while still enjoyable as pre-Halloween horror entries, have become increasingly convoluted. As a result, the franchise peaked with Saw 2 (domestically) and Saw 3 (internationally) – and box office numbers have since been steadily decreasing. However, the franchise may have found new life amidst the buzz of 3D filmmaking by offering up Saw 3D to moviegoers on October 29, 2010 (exactly six years after the original). Just because Saw 3D (aka Saw 7) is reportedly the last film in the iconic franchise (though, don’t hold your breath for that), doesn’t mean that Jigsaw is going to go out with a whimper. Saw 3D could be the biggest Saw film to date.

In anticipation of Saw 3D, we’ve combed through the Saw franchise film stock, putting together a brief summary of each chapter – as well as our “Saw in 6:66″ feature video – in order to fill in the blanks for any fans who may have missed a movie or two (or all of them up to this point).

It goes without saying that this feature article will be FULL OF SPOILERS – detailing the over-arching story of each film, who the killers are, as well as who lives and who dies.

If you’ve already seen a few of the movies, feel free to skip ahead with the links below. Now that Saw 3D has been released (read our review), we’ve updated the guide with a full summary of the most recent film. However, in order to protect our un-spoiled readers, please refrain from Saw 3D spoilers in the comments of this guide. If you want to discuss Saw 3D, head over to our Saw 3D Spoilers (and Discussion) article:


Check out Screen Rant‘s “Saw movies in 6:66″ feature video (produced by Mike Eisenberg) which gives a quick overview of the series, then read on for the more detailed film-by-film summaries.

Warning! The video below contains graphic images as well as language and is definitely NSFW or younger audiences:

For the totally unindoctrinated, the Saw movie franchise revolves around the Jigsaw Killer (a.k.a. John Kramer), who tortures victims he believes are complacent or guilty, in order to make them appreciate their time on Earth. Jigsaw never murders anyone with his own hands, opting instead to force his victims to play “games” by placing them in brutal situations that can only be escaped after a tremendous amount of physical and/or psychological pain. The “inspiration” for Jigsaw’s killings came as a result of being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, the loss of an unborn child (Gideon), as well as a failed suicide attempt, which led Kramer to test other people’s will to live.

Saw 1 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66


Tagline: Every puzzle has its pieces
October 29, 2004

Summary: Adam Stanheight and Dr. Lawrence Gordon awaken inside a decaying washroom and discover a corpse with a gunshot wound to the head. The corpse is holding a cassette player in one hand, and each man quickly discovers a tape in his respective pocket. Adam has been tasked with escaping the bathroom and Lawrence has been instructed to kill Adam before 6pm. If Lawrence fails to kill Adam, Jigsaw will instruct Zep Hindle (who is also a victim of the game) to kill Lawrence’s wife (Alison) and daughter (Diana).

Thinking Lawrence might be Jigsaw, Ex-Detective David Tapp is monitoring the Gordon household after he became obsessed with Jigsaw following the death of his partner, as well as hearing the testimony of Amanda Young (Jigsaw’s only surviving victim). Tapp is able to rescue Alison and Diana before Zep can kill them, by shooting at Zep before chasing him underground. As the clock ticks closer to 6pm, Lawrence gets restless and, upon hearing Tapp’s gunshots on the other end of a cell phone call from Alison, grabs a hacksaw, cuts off his foot and shoots Adam.

Saw 1 Gordon Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Cary Elwes in a scene from the first 'Saw' movie

Zep enters the bathroom where Lawrence and Adam are being held and is beaten to death by Adam, who survived the gunshot. Shortly thereafter, Lawrence crawls out of the open door promising to help Adam. The “corpse” in the room rises (revealing Jigsaw was with them the entire time) and walks out of the room, leaving Adam behind to die.

Note: While Detective Tapp survives the events of Saw, he later commits suicide in the “Freedom” ending of the official tie-in, Saw: The Video Game. The alternate “Truth” ending to the game asserts that Tapp is sent to an asylum, having gone insane as a result of his experiences.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • Jigsaw (Tobin Bell)
  • Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes)
  • Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell)
  • Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson)
  • Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover)
  • Alison Gordon (Monica Potter)
  • Diana Gordon (Makenzie Vega)
  • Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith)

Saw 2 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 2

Tagline: Oh yes… There Will Be Blood
October 28, 2005

Summary: Detectives Eric Matthews and Allison Kerry, as well as Sergeant Rigg, discover an extremely sick John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) at an abandoned mill. Kramer points-out video monitors revealing eight people including Amanda Young as well as Matthews’ son, Daniel, trapped inside a house. According to Kramer, the group has two hours to escape before the house fills with nerve gas – killing everyone inside. However, Kramer promises that if Matthews will sit and talk with him, the detective will get to see his son “safe.” In order to buy time for the police, who are attempting to trace the video feed, Matthews agrees.

Inside the house, one of the victims, Xavier, realizes that each of the victims has a number on the back of their neck and begins hunting the other occupants in order to discover their numbers, which Xavier assumes represent the combination to a safe that contains a key to his escape. The victims are killed off in a variety of ways – by accident, at Xavier’s hand, or in desperate attempts to reach freedom – until only Daniel, Amanda, and Xavier remain. When Xavier comes for Daniel and Amanda, Daniel kills him with a hacksaw.

Saw 2 Xavier Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

A scene from 'Saw 2'

Back at the mill, Matthews sees Xavier advancing toward Daniel and forces Kramer to take him to the house. The two escape by way of an elevator platform Kramer has been sitting on the whole time. Once at the house, Matthews is attacked by Amanda Young, who is revealed as Jigsaw’s protege. Amanda locks Mattehews in the same bathroom where Dr. Gordon and Adam Stanheight were held captive in the first film, and it’s revealed that the events on the video occurred hours before; at the same time, a safe at the mill opens – revealing Daniel Matthews alive and unharmed.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg)
  • Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer)
  • Sergeant Rigg (Lyriq Bent)
  • Daniel Matthews (Erik Knudsen)
  • Xavier(Franky G)
  • Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith)

Continue to Saw 3 and Saw 4

Saw 3 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 3

Tagline: Legends Never Die
October 27, 2006

After his capture (at the end of Saw 2), Detective Eric Matthews escapes from his captors.

Later, Lieutenant Rigg as well as Detectives Allison Kerry and Mark Hoffman, investigate a pair of Jigsaw murders that feature inescapable traps – a development that goes against Jigsaw’s normal routine.

Meanwhile, Jeff Denlon – a father whose son was killed by a drunk driver – is put through a series of tests, given the choice of either saving or allowing the deaths of a group of people involved in his son’s death and/or the subsequent DUI trial (a witness who refused to testify, a lenient judge, as well as the drunk driver responsible for the incident).

In addition to Jeff’s “game,” his wife, Lynn Denlon, a doctor suffering from depression, is tasked with keeping John Kramer alive (now in the late-stages of complications from his cancer) until Jeff’s game is complete. Amanda Young oversees both games. However, as time passes Amanda grows increasingly distressed as Kramer’s love for her comes into question and, despite the fact that Jeff’s trials are over, she refuses to let Lynn go, claiming that no one truly changes. Amanda reveals that she has designed her trials to be inescapable, punishing the victims. Amanda then tries to kill Lynn.

Saw 3 Lynn Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Jeff, now in the room with Jigsaw, sees Lynn in danger and shoots Amanda in the neck. As Amanda dies from her gunshot wound, Kramer reveals that he was not testing Lynn – he was testing Amanda all along. Jigsaw had unknowingly tasked her with helping someone stay alive – a test which she failed.

Kramer offers Jeff one last task: if he forgives Kramer for the pain he has caused Jeff’s family, Kramer will save his family; or, Jeff can kill Kramer – though his family will suffer for it. Jeff chooses to slash Kramer’s throat, and before dying, Kramer reveals that he was the only person who knew the location of Jeff’s daughter, Corbett, and that Jeff will have to participate in another game to find her. When Kramer finally dies, the device attached to his wife Lynn detonates – killing her in front of Jeff.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen)
  • Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh)
  • Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith)
  • Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)
  • Corbett Denlon (Niamh Wilson)
  • Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg)
  • Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer)
  • Sergeant Rigg (Lyriq Bent)

Saw 4 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 4

Tagline: It’s a Trap
October 26, 2007

Detective Mark Hoffman and Lieutenant Rigg discover Detective Allison Kerry’s body, in what appears to be another inescapable Jigsaw trap. Hoffman and Rigg then meet FBI agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez, who are now investigating the Jigsaw murders. Strahm speculates that, given the height of the device Kerry is found in, there has to be another accomplice (besides Amanda Young) in the Jigsaw murders.

Rigg later awakens at home and discovers that he is caught up in a Jigsaw game – one that holds his life, as well as that of his old partner, Eric Matthews, at stake. Rigg is forced through a series of games to see the world as John Kramer did – face to face with criminals who have escaped justice: Brenda (a female pimp), Ivan (a serial rapist), and Rex (an abusive husband), as well as his wife, Morgan. Rigg manages to save only Morgan before stumbling toward his final destination.

In the final room of Rigg’s game, Eric Matthews hangs over a block of ice, which is slowly being melted with heating pads. Matthews is positioned on a weighted platform with the recently kidnapped Detective Hoffman (who will be electrocuted if Matthews falls). Art Blank, a corrupt defense attorney, is overseeing Rigg’s game (though he is merly a pawn of Jigsaw).

Saw 4 Rigg Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Strahm and Perez interrogate John Kramer’s ex-wife, Jill Tuck, who reveals that Kramer became Jigsaw when Jill lost the couple’s baby following an attack by an addict attempting to steal prescription drugs from Jill’s clinic. Strahm and Perez also investigate each subsequent crime scene related to Rigg’s game  – until an exploding Jigsaw doll incapacitates Perez. Strahm eventually finds the factory where Rigg’s game concludes, and there he runs into Jeff Denlon (from Saw 3) surrounded by the corpses of John Kramer, Amanda Young, and Denlon’s wife Lynn – thereby revealing that the events of Saw 3 and 4 are happening simultaneously. Strahm kills Jeff in self-defense.

Rigg charges into the final room of his game, setting off a tripwire that kills Detective Eric Matthews and electrocutes Detective Hoffman (Rigg’s test was to let go of his obsessions). Thinking Art Blank is a Jigsaw accomplice, Rigg shoots him. Moments later, Detective Hoffman stands up, unharmed, and locks Rigg in the room to die – revealing that he is the other Jigsaw apprentice.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)
  • Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson)
  • Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis)
  • Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell)
  • Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg)
  • Sergeant Rigg (Lyriq Bent)
  • Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer)
  • Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen)

Continue to Saw 5 and Saw 6

Saw 5 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 5

Tagline: You Won’t Believe How It Ends.
October 24, 2008

Convicted killer Seth Baxter awakens in a Jigsaw-style game. Despite following the rules and mutilating his hands, the device still kills Seth.

Moments after killing Jeff Denlon (in Saw 4), Agent Strahm awakens in an inescapable Jigsaw game with a bowl around his head filling with water. Strahm manages to escape the trap by stabbing a pen through his windpipe. As he is freed, he sees Detective Hoffman, who has “rescued” Corbett Denlon (Jeff’s missing daughter) as he leaves the warehouse after the events of Saw 4, claiming that he is a survivor.

Agent Strahm becomes obsessed with Detective Hoffman, believing him to be a Jigsaw apprentice. He re-canvases several of the sites where previous Jigsaw victims were killed, ascertaining Hoffman’s various contributions to the kills.

Meanwhile, five new victims (who, together, are responsible for the deaths of eight people in a fire) find themselves in a Jigsaw game and are instructed to “go against their nature” in order to survive. The group is put through four challenges;  the pack sacrifices a member to each task until only two people, Brit and Mallick, remain. The pair discover that, had the group worked together instead of giving into their “natures,” they could have shared the burden and all escaped together, with only a mild amount of suffering. Though Brit and Mallick emerge from the game alive, they’ve endured a horrific, and life-threatening trauma to their arms as result of the final task.

Saw 5 Hoffman Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Outside of the game, Detective Hoffman plants incriminating evidence suggesting that Agent Strahm is the actual Jigsaw apprentice – which Agent Erickson, Strahm’s superior, follows. While Erickson discovers Brit and Mallick (and suspects Strahm of the crime), Agent Strahm finds Detective Hoffman standing outside of what appears to be a Jigsaw game – a box filled with glass. Kramer’s voice on a tape recorder tells Agent Strahm that if he wants to live, he must trust Kramer and get in the box. Instead, Strahm attacks Hoffman – pushing him into the box. It’s revealed that Strahm has failed his game, as the box locks and descends into a crevice in the floor (protecting Hoffman) as the walls in the room compact – crushing Strahm.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)
  • Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson)
  • Agent Erickson (Mark Rolston)
  • Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell)
  • Brit (Julie Benz)
  • Mallick (Greg Bryk)
  • Seth Baxter (Joris Jarsky)
  • Corbett Denlon (Niamh Wilson)

Saw 6 Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 6

Tagline: He Helped Me
October 23, 2009

Simone and Eddie, who were profiting from foreclosures, are forced to compete in a game: whichever victim cuts the most flesh from their body will survive. In the end, Simone cuts-off her entire forearm, thereby saving her life.

Meanwhile, Jill Tuck opens a box, left to her by the now-deceased John “Jigsaw” Kramer, containing the files for six new Jigsaw victims – before handing the envelopes to Detective Hoffman, Jigsaw’s apprentice.

William Easton, a callous insurance lender, awakens in a Jigsaw game where he has to compete against, choose between, and assist a number of his co-workers in a variety of different tasks  – culminating in a twisted merry-go-round trap where Easton can only choose to save two out of six staffers in front of him. Despite each staff member’s pleadings, Easton ultimately saves Emily (who has children) and Shelby (who takes care of her parents).

Outside of the game, Agents Erickson and Perez (who has recovered form her prior injury in Saw 4), begin to believe that  Agent Strahm is innocent, finally suspecting Detective Hoffman, the real culprit (they don’t yet know that Strahm is dead). Hoffman manages to kill the pair of agents before they can reveal his role in the Jigsaw killings – though Perez claims that “everybody” knows. Hoffman then plants further evidence at the crime-scene implicating Strahm.

Saw 6 Peter Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

A mother and son – Tara and Brent – who have awoken in a locked cage together, debate what to do with a handle marked with “Live” or “Die” positions. Reporter Pamela Jenkins wakes up in an adjacent cage. William Easton stumbles along the path of his game into a cage that traps him between Tara, Brent and Pamela; he recognizes Pamela, who is revealed to be his sister. Meanwhile, Tara recognizes Easton as the man who denied her husband (Brent’s father) insurance coverage, thereby condemning him to death. While Tara is unable to kill Easton, Brent pulls the lever in front of them to “Die” position and Hydrofluoric acid is pumped into Easton, killing him.

As Hoffman oversees the conclusion of Easton’s game, Jill Tuck ambushes him – strapping him into a chair and placing a Jigsaw trap on his head. She reveals that she had withheld one of Jigsaw’s envelopes – a file Kramer intended for Jill to use in order to test Hoffman. Hoffman manages to escape the device, despite the trap being nearly inescapable.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)
  • William Easton (Peter Outerbridge)
  • Agent Erickson (Mark Rolston)
  • Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis)
  • Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell)
  • Simone (Tanedra Howard)
  • Emily (Larissa Gomes)
  • Tara (Shauna MacDonald)
  • Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole)

saw 3d sequel Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 3D (Preview)

With two potential killers – Jill Tuck and Detective Hoffman – poised to take over Jigsaw’s legacy, not to mention a number of familiar survivors returning (see our lists above), Saw 3D could be the most intense and brutal Saw film yet. Will the filmmakers keep their word and make Saw 3D the last film in the franchise – tying up all the loose ends? Or will the film merely serve as a jumping off point for a new killer who “wants to play a game”?

In case you’ve missed our prior Saw 3D coverage, here’s the official synopsis:

“As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.”

Check out our official review of Saw 3D or continue on to our final, spoiler-filled summary of Saw 3D – who lives, who kills, and who dies.

Continue to Saw 3D

Saw 3D Movies Complete Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Saw 3D

Tagline: The Final Chapter
October 29, 2010

Summary: Dr. Lawrence Gordon is shown in a flashback crawling out of the dilapidated bathroom from the original Saw, cauterizing his leg wound against a steam pipe in the hall.

In the present, Hoffman escapes from Jill’s trap, and hunts Jill through the halls of the Zoo from Saw 6. Jill manages to escape and seeks out Internal Affairs Detective Gibson, promising to give him information on Hoffman – in exchange for protection.

A group of victims Ryan, Brad, and Dina, who are involved in a love triangle, take part in a Jigsaw game before a crowd of onlookers. Ryan and Brad can either compete to save Dina by attempting to kill each other, or the two can set aside their rivalry – and consent to Dina being lowered onto a spinning saw blade. After Dina waffles about who she truly loves, the pair allows her to be killed.

Detective Gibson investigates a multiple homicide, the result of a failed attempt by Evan, a white supremacist, to escape a Jigsaw trap. Hoffman leaves clues for Gibson – implicating Jill’s involvement in the Jigsaw killings.

Saw 3D Dagen Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Bobby Dagen, who has achieved great fortune and fame by sharing his Jigsaw game survival story meets with a group of Jigsaw survivors including Mallick (from Saw 5), Simone and Emily (from Saw 6) as well as Dr. Gordon – in order to promote his tell-all book. Shortly after, Dagen awakens in a Jigsaw game – and it’s revealed that he lied about being a Jigsaw victim. He is tasked with accomplishing a series of challenges in 60 minutes in order to save his wife. Throughout the game, Dagen fails to rescue his publicist, his lawyer, and his best friend, before having to pull out a pair of his teeth that hold the combination to the room his wife is locked in.

Meanwhile, Hoffman sends Gibson a series of video messages, promising to stop killing in exchange for Jill – as well as offering clues to the potential whereabouts of Dagen’s game. Gibson arrives at Hoffman’s hideout and discovers one of the victims of Evan’s game – revealing that Hoffman climbed inside the victim’s body bag in order to gain access to the Police Department morgue – in the same building Jill is being held. Gibson is then shot to death by a machine gun trap set by Hoffman.

Hoffman successfully infiltrates the police department – killing his way to Jill who he eventually puts inside the reverse bear trap once worn by Amanda Young. With no key to escape, Jill is killed.

When Dagen reaches his wife, he is forced to admit that he was never a Jigsaw victim – before having to participate in the very trap he lied about previously overcoming – suspending his body weight by piercing his chest with meat hooks and climbing a chain. At the top of the chain, he must connect an extension chord that will save his wife. As Dagen grabs for the extension chord, the hooks rip through his skin and he is forced to watch his wife incinerated before his eyes.

Saw 3D Gordon Movies Guide Saw Movies: The Complete Guide in 6:66

Before Hoffman can disappear, he is ambushed by three people wearing pig masks, one of which is Dr. Gordon – who is revealed to have been Kramer’s contingency plan, should anything ever happen to Jill. Through flashbacks, it’s revealed that Gordon was nursed back to health by John Kramer and helped prepare a number of Jigsaw games – placing the key inside Michael Marks’s eye (in Saw 2) and sewing Art Blank’s eyelids shut (in Saw 4), as well as selecting Dr. Lynn Denlon as a victim (in Saw 3).

Gordon takes Hoffman to the infamous Saw bathroom. Sealing Hoffman in – with no hope of escape.

Primary Characters (Deceased = Strikethrough):

  • John Kramer (Tobin Bell)
  • Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor)
  • Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes)
  • Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery)
  • Joyce Dagen (Gina Holden)
  • Detective Gibson (Chad Donella)
  • Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell)

Hopefully, our summary helped provide some closure for the Saw franchise. If you still have questions about the series leave a question in the comments. Out of respect for readers that haven’t yet seen Saw 3D, please head over to our Saw 3D Spoilers (and Discussion) post for any Saw 3D spoiler comments and discussion.

Let us know your favorite Saw moments in the comments below and be sure to post any yet-unanswered questions – we’ll do our best to answer them for you.

Saw 3D is now playing in 3D and 2D (as Saw: The Final Chapter).

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick, @eisentower30, and @screenrant.