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Saw Producer On Why They Were "Idiots" To Ever Kill Off Tobin Bell's Jigsaw

One of Saw's producers admits it was a tough decision to part with the franchise's lead character.

By Matthew Jackson

Horror villains never really die, they just change forms. Jason became a zombie, Ghostface just kept putting new people under the mask, and even Michael Myers found ways to survive everything from decapitations to explosions (most of the time, anyway). But for some very human killers, it takes some serious plot acrobatics to bring them back from the dead. It can happen, though, especially when producers realize their mistake at some point. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the Saw franchise (most of which is streaming now on Peacock), producer Oren Koules admitted to being responsible for the death of the franchise's lead villain relatively early on in the story, creating an interesting puzzle for a franchise that wanted to keep going even when its signature character was gone. 

"Listen, we're the idiots that killed off the lead after Saw III," Koules said. "[But] how long can we suspend disbelief when the guy has terminal cancer?"

John Kramer (Tobin Bell) looks menacing in yellow light in SAW X (2023)

RELATED: The 10 Worst Traps in the Saw Franchise

Emerging as the "Jigsaw Killer" at the end of Saw, Tobin Bell made an instant impression as John Kramer, an engineer turned serial killer whose violent streak came out after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. When his own suicide attempt went wrong and reawakened his lust for life, Kramer decided that pain was the way to give people a new appreciation for the life they had, and set out to build a series of demented "games" to test his victims. 

But of course, as Kroules said, giving your lead villain terminal cancer presents a bit of a puzzle, and eventually the franchise had to kill John off. Since he's very human, and Saw is not a supernatural franchise, he's stayed dead in the years since, with Bell appearing in flashbacks and through prerecorded messages to other characters, while Jigsaw's various acolytes carried on his mission of bloodshed. Saw X, which rewinds the clock to present a story that unfolds between the events of Saw and Saw II, temporarily changes that, giving Bell his biggest role in the story yet.

"I think Tobin has more screen time in this movie than the last five, six movies combined, easily," producer Mark Berg explained. "He opens the movie, he's through the whole movie, and he ends the movie."

Saw X is in theaters Friday, but you can relive Jigsaw's original reign of terror right now with the first seven Saw movies, now streaming on Peacock.