Is Saw Based On A True Story – Shocking Inspiration Behind The Horror Franchise

Is Saw Based On A True Story

The Saw franchise is known for its shockingly wicked and repulsive death scenes. The Saw franchise brings out if not heavily implements a fear within all of us, that of body horror and sadistic torture. 

While the fear of torture is very real and since the torture and horrors of the Saw franchise are free of the supernatural elements and very realistically shown it does pose the question – ” Is Saw based on a true story? “

It is this question that this article will try to answer. Before we dive in to answer the question “Is Saw Based on a true story or not” We will talk about what Saw is. 

What is Saw? 

Saw is a film series created by the Australian Film Makers Leigh Whannell and James Wan. The Film Franchise had nine films along with other spin-off media. The first eight films revolve around the serial killer John Kramer also known as Jigsaw and the eighth film tells the story of the copycat killer while still maintaining the continuity of the previous Saw films. 

John Kramer

Kramer was introduced briefly in the first Saw film and was later developed in-depth in the sequels. Jigsaw traps his victims in situations to test their will to live through by letting them do “tests” that he sets up. 

The film series has grossed over 1 Billion Dollars at the box office. Even though the film received mixed to negative reviews the franchise still remains one of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time. 

Is Saw Based On A True Story

While the Saw franchise does show a realistic portrayal of various torture techniques that it creeps into our dreams one might not expect it to be based on a true story. “inspired by true events” Is not the phrase one would expect Saw to be described with but that is partially the truth. 

The basis of the first film is loosely based on two real-life events and the people behind them. 

Jigsaw’s Killer Game

Leigh Whannel who was the writer of the first three installments of the Saw Franchise got the idea for the character of John Kramer also known as Jigsaw based on real-life experiences. When the writer was 24 and was having occasional severe cases of migraine he feared that he might be having something as bad as a Brain Tumor. 

Leigh Whannel Interview
Leigh Whannel Interview

After fearing the worst, he went to the hospital for a series of tests including an MRI and it is then that the idea of Jigsaw initially came to Whannel’s mind. 

Whannel thought of a psychopath who came to know that they were going to die of a terminal illness and he in turn put others in a situation and said that they have 10 minutes to live and the things they’ll have to do in order to survive. 

Inspiration of Zep

Zep Hindle is a character from the Saw film. He was the secondary antagonist of the first film of the franchise. 

Zep was kidnapped by John Kramer, the serial killer known as Jigsaw. Zep was injected with a slow-acting poison and left an audiotape which gave instructions to Zep asking him to Kidnap Dr. Gordon’s Wife and Daughter and hold them captive. 

The character of Zep is inspired by a story James Wan read when he was 17. The strange case was about a serial offender who broke into different houses to tickle the feet of Children. Wan admitted that it was the creepiest thing he’s heard and made him sleep with a hammer next to him for a few days as the story made him very afraid.

Saw Movie
Saw Movie

The Police caught the serial tickler and it was the comment made by the character that influenced the creation of the character of Zep. The Serial tickler admitted that he didn’t do it on his own and was forced to do it. Later on, while researching for the movie, Whannel found out that the tickler was sent a piece of the jigsaw puzzle telling him to do the deed which influenced the creation of Jigsaw even more. 

During the promotion of the film, the duo of Saw said that the crew received a letter with the drawing of a Jigsaw that read as follows –

Is Saw Based On A True Story? “Dear friends, I liked the film haha. I like to see my work on-screen. The actor playing me was very good. I have dark hair though. Hope to see more on-screen, should ask for some money haha.”

While the letter is unsettling and creepy it does make the franchise a little bit more creepy. 

Is Saw Based On A Book

The Saw franchise is not based on a book but in fact based on a creepy story of a serial tickler the director of the movie, James Wan had heard when he was 17. The story was written by Wan and Leigh Whannell.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the true story behind Saw?

The idea of Jigsaw was inspired by a real-life incident involving a serial tickler according to the director of the movie James Wan. 

Is there a real jigsaw killer?

Stephen T Marshall, the murderer of Jeffrey Howe, a British Businessman scattered the dismembered body parts of the victim across Leicestershire and Hertfordshire leading to the press calling him the Jigsaw Killer. 

Are the traps in Saw real?

The terrifying Reverse Bear Trap seen in the Saw movie franchise was in fact inspired by real-life medieval torture devices. 

Is Jigsaw still alive?

Jigsaw, the serial killer whose real name was John Kramer dies at the end of Saw III which was confirmed at the beginning of Saw IV which begins with the autopsy of the body of the murderer. 


While the torture shown in the movie does seem possible realistically and a few characters may have been inspired by real-life events the Saw Film Franchise as a whole along with its serial killer antagonist Jigsaw does remain fiction. There have been loose inspirations here and there as admitted by the creators however none of them is definite. 

The creative uniqueness behind the saw franchise is what makes the viewers ask the question Is Saw based on a true story or not. The Saw franchise while receiving mixed reviews did bring a new perspective and freshness to an overly saturated genre that is horror and opened up new possibilities for filmmakers to experiment and find new ways to make the genre better and more enjoyable. 

This article has answered the question “Is Saw based on a true story? ” By showing the various inspirations that led to the creation of the film franchise as well as the character of Jigsaw. 

Other Interesting Reads

What Is Moana Race? – The Rich Culture Behind the 12th Disney Princess

Best Kamen Rider Series – Top 10 List

Is 123movies Safe Or A Risky Threat?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments