For seven straight years from 2004 to 2010, the Saw franchise kept churning out sequel after sequel, all of which were solid hits at the box office. To those who have never seen a single one, it's fair to assume they're simply gore-porn nonsense with little semblance of plot.
But my friend, you would be wrong. The Saw horror series is the most twisty, timey-wimey and downright confusing franchise ever. Even more so than the Fast & Furious series. Maybe even more than the MCU. Even if you binge all seven in a weekend, you'll still need to be checking Wikipedia to understand certain flashbacks and references.
For instance, Saw IV takes place during the events of Saw III (which you don't realise until the very end), Saw V starts a minute after Saw III ends, the end credits of Saw VI reveal an event that took place between Saw II and III, and so on. Minor characters return years later, and Jigsaw himself has actually been dead since Saw III, but that doesn't stop Tobin Bell coming back each time, with zero supernatural elements involved.
That timeline has now got even more complex with the arrival of Jigsaw, so here's a total rundown of everything that's happened now up to – and including – Jigsaw, in chronological order. Strap yourselves in, but not too tightly.
1. Before Saw
- Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) fakes evidence in some of his cases, resulting in the arrests of various people including Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith). (Saw II)
- Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) investigate a violent teacher who has been abusing his daughter, but the man gets off thanks to his lawyer Art Blank (Justin Louis). (Saw IV)
- Hoffman's sister is murdered by her boyfriend Seth, and he now suffers from depression. Seth is sentenced to life imprisonment. (Saw V)
- Officer Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) is attacked by a former mental patient, and Hoffman shoots the offender despite him dropping his weapon. Gibson reports Hoffman, but Hoffman is promoted. Gibson convicts three of Hoffman's colleagues, resulting in Hoffman swearing vengeance. (Saw VII)
- John Kramer (Tobin Bell) designs his first building, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. (Saw III)
- Kramer encourages his wife Jill (Betsy Russell) to open the Homeward Bound Clinic for drug addicts. Amanda becomes a patient at the clinic. (Saw IV)
- Umbrella Health insurance company manager William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) sponsors a party for the clinic, and gets to know Kramer, who asks him about his dubious commercial practices. (Saw VI)
- Jill is pregnant with her son Gideon, who is expected to be born during the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac. Kramer shows Jill his new workshop, and surprises her with a cot and a wooden puppet for their son.(Saw IV)
- Kramer, now leader of the Urban Renewal Company, and his lawyer Blank, work together on a project about the creation of new housing for families in need. (Saw IV)
- Amanda persuades fellow patient Cecil to do a robbery at the clinic, which results in him accidentally slamming a doorknob into Jill's stomach, causing a miscarriage. (Saw IV)
- After Gideon's death, Kramer suffers from severe depression, causing him to withdraw from both Jill and the project he was working on with Blank, causing a rift between the two. (Saw IV)
- Dr Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) diagnoses Kramer with an inoperable brain tumour. (Saw II)
- Kramer finds out about an experimental therapy and asks Easton to bear the treatment costs, which he denies, resulting in a rift between them. (Saw VI)
- Kramer attempts suicide but survives, and decides to spend the rest of his life on testing other people's will to survive. He separates from Jill. (Saw II)
- After his first test, which ends with the death of Cecil, he cuts a jigsaw piece out of his body, with the press labelling him the Jigsaw Killer. (Saw IV)
- Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) is the only survivor of one of Kramer's earliest tests featuring five people in a barn, saved because he was unconscious when the game began. Kramer then takes him on as an apprentice. (Jigsaw)
- Hoffman abducts Seth and puts him into his own trap, killing him. He cuts a jigsaw piece out of his skin, to make it look like it was one of Jigsaw's tests. Kramer deduces Hoffman's secret, abducts him, and forces him to help set up future games. (Saw V)
- Special Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Special Agent Lindsey Perez investigate an arson attack, but the FBI gives up on the investigation. (Saw V)
- Kramer places Gordon's penlight at the scene of his next crime. Gordon is arrested but has an alibi, as he was having an affair. (Saw)
- Amanda is abducted by Kramer, but she becomes the first person to survive on his tests. (Saw)
- Amanda is convinced by Kramer to becomes his next apprentice. (Saw III)
- Leading investigator Detective Tapp (Danny Glover) and Detective Sing discover Kramer's hideout, but Sing is killed by Kramer. Tapp survives, but suffers a breakdown and is released from the force. Convinced Gordon is behind the murders, he vows to keep a close eye on him. (Saw)
- Aware of Kramer's actions, Jill is visited by her ex, who shows a clean Amanda as proof that he is doing good work. (Saw VI)
- Tapp hires photographer Adam (Leigh Whannell) to spy on Gordon.
- Zep, a man being tested by Kramer, hides in Gordon's apartment and captures his wife and daughter. Adam takes a photo of him from afar.
- Gordon is abducted and brought to an underground bathroom. Adam is also kidnapped by Amanda and brought to the same place. Kramer poses as a dead body.
- Gordon hears on the phone his family in a shootout with Zep, while Tapp arrives to free them.
- Gordon saws off his own foot to escape and shoots Adam. Tapp follows Zep to the bathroom, but is shot and killed. Adam kills Zep, while Gordon escapes and promises to find help for Adam.
- Kramer stands up, and leaves Adam alone to die.
3. Between Saw and Saw II
- Kramer finds Gordon and convinces him to become his third apprentice. (Saw VII)
- Amanda returns to the bathroom and mercy kills Adam. (Saw III)
- Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) releases a book, claiming he survived one of Jigsaw's games, which did not happen. (Saw VII)
- Kramer gives a black box to his executor, and orders him to give it to Jill in case of his death. The box includes a tape for Gordon, and a modern version of the Reverse Beartrap for Hoffman. (Saw V)
4. Saw II
- Hoffman and Kramer abduct various people who were convicted by Matthews and placed in a Nerve Gas House, along with Matthews' son Daniel, and an undercover Amanda.
- Everyone bar Amanda and Daniel die, and Kramer locks Daniel in a safe at the nearby steel plant.
- A video broadcast of the game's recordings is prepared at a fake Nerve Gas House, almost identical to the other.
- Matthews, Rigg and Detective Kerry discover the steel plant, and Matthews learns of his son's situation. They see footage of the other house, not knowing it's merely a recording.
- Matthews beats up Kramer, and the latter agrees to show him where Daniel is. Matthews enters, leaving Kramer behind.
- Rigg finds the fake Nerve Gas House, but discovers the game has already finished.
- Matthews reaches the bathroom, and is locked inside by Amanda.
- Kerry finds Daniel alive at the steel plant.
5. Between Saw II and Saw III/IV
- Matthews escapes the bathroom by breaking his foot, and he has a fight with Amanda, who is able to subdue him and leaves him to die. (Saw III)
- Hoffman discovers Matthews, nurses him back to health, and locks him away for six months. (Saw IV)
- Hoffman removes all the bodies in the Nerve Gas House, and completely renovates the building. He sets up another trap in a different room connected via an underground tunnel.
- Hoffman interrogates Jill, after police discover Jigsaw's true identity. She is represented by Blank, and police discover Jigsaw's items at her house. (Saw IV)
- Blank is abducted and survives a test, but remains under the control of Jigsaw. (Saw IV)
6. Saw III / IV
- Hoffman and Kerry investigate Jigsaw's latest crime scene. Amanda abducts Kerry with Hoffman's help, and Kerry dies. Amanda places Rigg's fingerprints on the corpse.
- Hoffman sends a key with a cryptic note to Strahm and Perez, as well as a message which claims that two officers are in danger.
- Jill asks Kramer to stop playing his games. He gives her the key to his black box.
- Amanda and Hoffman abduct several people and take them to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.
- Blank abducts several others at the same time.
- Hoffman tells Amanda that he knows about her role in Gideon's death.
- Kramer gives abductee Lynn the instructions for her test, while Amanda is putting a 'shotgun collar' on her which would kill her if Kramer dies. Amanda doesn't realize that his instructions are also meant for her.
- Hoffman places Matthews in another trap, and poses as a victim.
- Blank abducts Rigg and sets up his test.
- Amanda forces Lynn to perform surgery on an ailing Kramer. She succeeds, but Amanda has a breakdown.
- A SWAT team led by Strahm head to Rigg's apartment, locating planted photos of victims, as well as of Jill.
- Strahm interrogates Jill, finding out more about Kramer's past.
- Rigg arrives at a school and finds a photo of his wife, leading him to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.
- Strahm and Perez find that a crime scene was rented by Blank, as well as another building that he owns. They are led to the school, and find a tape that warns Perez that Strahm will soon kill an innocent man. She is seriously injured by a shrapnel bomb. She gives the key from Kerry to Strahm. He makes the connection between Kramer and Blank, and heads to the plant.
- Both Strahm and Rigg arrive at the plant.
- Blank reveals that he, Hoffman and Matthews will survive if Rigg doesn't enter their room. He does so, and Matthews is killed.
- Amanda argues with Kramer, and shoots Lynn. Lynn's husband Jeff, who has also been completing his own tests, arrives and shoots Amanda, killing her. He slashes Kramer's throat, which kills Lynn. He discovers a tape about the whereabouts of his daughter. Strahm arrives, and shoots Jeff in self defence.
- Rigg shoots Blank, before Hoffman reveals himself to be Jigsaw's accomplice. He locks Rigg behind, killing him.
- Hoffman locks Strahm inside the room in which Kramer, Jeff, Lynn and Amanda died.
7. Saw V
- Strahm discovers a secret door, but is subdued by Hoffman. He then manages to escape a trap that was meant to be inescapable.
- Hoffman takes Lynn and Jeff's daughter Corbett outside, where he is met by police. Strahm is taken to hospital. Hoffmanis declared a hero.
- Agent Erickson and Agent Perez fake the latter's death.
- A tape is discovered in Kramer's dead body. Hoffman hears the tape, telling him there will be more games including his own test.
- Jill receives Kramer's black box.
- Hoffman prepares a game for the people connected to the arson which Strahm and Perez were investigating years earlier.
- Hoffman receives an anonymous letter, and he believes it is from Strahm. When he visits him, Strahm tells him that he believes Hoffman is Kramer's accomplice.
- Strahm steals files about Jigsaw's victims, and learns of Hoffman's sister's death, and her killer's subsequent murder.
- Hoffman tells Erickson of Strahm's accomplice theory, before Erickson discovers the files missing. Strahm returns to the room in which Kramer died.
- Jill visits Erickson and says she is wary of Strahm, while Hoffman rings Erickson using Strahm's phone and hangs up. Hoffman places Strahm's phone in the surveillance room of the current game.
- Strahm finds the Nerve Gas House and the underground tunnel network. Hoffman enters and they have a fight. Strahm locks him in a coffin. However, he accidentally activates a trap and dies.
- Erickson finds Strahm's phone and the surviving members of the game, and orders an APB on Strahm.
8. Saw VI
- Hoffman finds Strahm's dead body, and takes his severed hand.
- Pamela Jenkins (Easton's sister) finds out about Jill's black box and receives a copy of Hoffman's letter to Amanda.
- Hoffman plants Strahm's fingerprints on his latest trap.
- Erickson and Perez arrive at the crime scene, and are joined by Hoffman. Erickson tells him about Strahm's fingerprints, and why they faked Perez's death to keep her safe.
- Jenkins tells Hoffman about the black box and asks for an interview with Jill.
- A coroner discovers that the knife used to cut the jigsaw piece from the latest victim is different to all other victims, other than Seth (the man Hoffman killed before joining Kramer). Erickson and Perez seek to find if the tape at Seth's crime was recorded by someone other than Kramer.
- Hoffman visits Jill and demands envelopes from the box, in order to start Easton's game early. Jill secretly holds one envelope back.
- Easton is abducted and taken to a zoo, where several other people have been captured. He receives instructions from Kramer (before he died).
- Jenkins gives Jill her copy of Amanda's letter, but Jill doesn't want to talk. Jenkins is then abducted by Hoffman, and taken to the zoo, where she watches her brother's progress.
- Erickson discovers that Strahm must have been dead by the time of his latest 'crime', but he doesn't tell Hoffman.
- Jill leaves an envelope containing a tape from Kramer for Gordon. It asks him to watch over Jill.
- Jill heads to the zoo with the beartrap in the black box, and the sixth envelope.
- After discovering that the voice on Seth's tape from years ago is Hoffman, he kills Erickson and Perez, and plants Strahm's fingerprints all over the crime scene, before setting fire to the lab.
- Jill places the letter she received from Jenkins in Hoffman's surveillance room. Hoffman returns and finds it, before Jill electrocutes him. She then places the beartrap on him.
- Easton dies during his final task, which in turn activates Hoffman's trap. Jill leaves without giving him a chance to escape. However, he is able to escape by jamming the trap between the window bars and ripping his cheek open.
9. Saw VII (aka Saw 3D)
- Hoffman escapes and takes the beartrap with him.
- Jill asks for Gibson and tells him about Hoffman being Jigsaw's successor, and offers him all the evidence in exchange for immunity, which he agrees to.
- Hoffman continues his games, and sets one up for Dagen at an abandoned mental facility. After another game, he sets a bomb, and drapes his beartrap along with a message for Gibson.
- Speaking at a self-help group for Jigsaw survivors, Dagen receives a sarcastic applause from Gordon.
- Dagen, his wife and others who helped him fake the story are abducted by Hoffman.
- Hoffman locates Jill at a safehouse, and sends a CD to Gibson. He offers to end Dagen's game in exchange for Jill, but he denies him.
- Hoffman takes one of his latest victim's corpses out of its body bag, and hides inside. Four body bags including Hoffman's are taken to the morgue.
- Gibson works out where Dagen's game is being played out, and sends a SWAT team over, while he goes after Hoffman. After realising Hoffman has infiltrated the police station, Gibson is killed by an automatic machine gun. The SWAT members are also killed by a booby trap.
- Everyone apart from Dagen are killed during his game.
- Hoffman kills several people at the station, before he is stabbed by Jill. He beats her up and kills her using the beartrap. Police now go after Hoffman.
- Hoffman tries to flee, but is attacked by Gordon, who fulfils Kramer's final request by locking Hoffman inside the bathroom without any chance of escape.
- Ten years after the death of Kramer, Nelson sets up a replica of his original game, leaving the bodies over the city.
- Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) begins to investigate with his partner Detective Hunt (Clé Bennett), beginning to suspect Nelson's lab assistant Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson).
- Hunt follows Nelson and Bonneville to her studio where she is revealed to be an obsessive fangirl of Kramer with replicas of his previous traps, leading Halloran to order their arrest.
- Nelson manages to convince Hunt that Halloran is to blame for the murders, with Halloran pursuing Nelson and Bonneville to the barn where Nelson's game took place years ago.
- Halloran is drugged by Nelson and put in a test where he confesses that he has allowed murderers to walk free, including the man who killed Nelson's wife. Nelson frames Halloran as the new Jigsaw killer, leaving him to die in the trap.
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