How is John Kramer Still Alive in Jigsaw?

‘Jigsaw,’ the 2017 addition to the beloved horror film series ‘Saw,’ keeps the tradition of maddening plot twists alive within the franchise—not only through its exciting conclusion but also through its base premise. John Kramer, the serial killer— notorious for setting up deathly traps for his victims as a game to deliver unlawful justice— has long held the title of antagonist in multiple movies across the series. However, Kramer has been dead for almost a decade by the time the eighth film rolls around. For the same reason, Detective Halloran finds himself trapped in an impossible situation when new bodies show up across town with plentiful evidence pointing toward the Jigsaw Killer’s involvement. Therefore, the events leave Halloran and his colleagues, pathologists Logan and Eleanor, equally as perplexed as the audience, who are pushed to contemplate Kramer’s inconceivable return. SPOILERS AHEAD!

John Kramer: The Killer’s Unlikely Resurrection

In the spirit of delivering a compelling twist ending, ‘Jigsaw’ prefers only to introduce information that is crucial to the current plot unfolding on the screen. Therefore, while the story imparts the significance of John Kramer within the universe as well as his well-documented death in 2006, it purposefully withholds other information about the killer. Consequently, the characters are afforded the grounds to be exasperated by the suggestion of his potential return while simultaneously finding it hard to write off its possibility. Still, Halloran and his partner, Keith Hunt, consider the probability of a copycat killer repeating history as they hide behind Kramer’s well-established mask.

Nonetheless, acquired evidence continues to point elsewhere. For instance, forensics identify Kramer as the voice behind the audio recordings the police receive and confirm that the blood found on the victims’ butchered bodies belongs to the notorious killer. Yet, at the same time, the reality of Kramer’s incredibly thorough autopsy persists, withholding Hollaran from truly believing that the same killer could have returned. However, interestingly enough, in the midst of the police’s investigation into the perpetrator’s identity, the narrative avoids any mention of previous individuals who have carried over Kramer’s legacy through copycat killings.

Since Kramer’s death at the end of ‘Saw III,’ and his autopsy in Saw ‘IV,’ numerous others have orchestrated Jigsaw Killer-style death games to continue his legacy. From his proteges, Amanda Young and Mark Hoffman, to Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who was part of a cult, the Brotherhood of Saw, numerous people have imitated Kramer before. Nonetheless, Halloran provides no mention of these instances, subtly allowing the recent round of copycat killings to have a sense of novelty. Even so, this specific trap, targeting Anna, Mitch, Ray, and Carly— the film’s second subplot— really holds a distinguishing factor. John Kramer visibly appears on screen to deliver the last two participants to their deaths, confirming he’s alive during these killings.

Jigsaw’s Dual Timeline and Kramer’s New Protege

Two plots unfold on screen throughout the film. The first is where the Jigsaw Killer’s victims— Anna and the others— are trapped inside a barn, steadily progressing through a twisted game of puzzles meant to draw out their sins and punish them for it. Meanwhile, in the outside world, Detective Halloran and Hunt attempt to find the killer and their location as each new dead body pops up across town. Since the dead bodies are their primary leads, the detectives work closely with coroners Logan and Eleanor. Eventually, the latter two end up becoming Halloran’s primary suspects due to Eleanor’s fascination with the Jigsaw Killer, which extends to a secret room of collected memorabilia.

Alternatively, Logan and Eleanor believe Halloran to be the killer. As a result, the trio arrives at the barn where Anna and the others are trapped near the film’s end. However, by then, the victims seem to have disappeared from the premises, leaving rotten dead bodies in their wake. Thus, the revelation arrives: Anna and the others were trapped inside Jigsaw’s game over ten years ago during the time when the killer was still alive. Although he carried out the games, the public never learned about it. Likewise, the victims’ dead bodies were never found, marking it as an unknown touchstone in Kramer’s criminal career.

All this time, the viewers have been unwittingly witnessing two separate stories unfolding in two different timelines: pre and post-Kramer’s death. In actuality, the real Jigsaw Killer has been dead for the entirety of the film’s central timeline. Logan Nelson— his undetected successor— emulates Kramer’s game with Anna and the others and drops bodies across the town that mirror the same deaths. Furthermore, he plants seeds in the police investigation that allude to Kramer’s return by implanting blood on the new victims’ bodies and editing the audio files. For the same reason, the viewers are compelled to believe they are watching the two stories unfold simultaneously.

However, all this time, Logan had been imitating Kramer’s undiscovered game and using his position as a coroner to plant evidence that points toward the killer’s return. As it turns out, Logan was one of the participants in the original game, which took place a decade ago but failed in the first stage. Kramer had wanted to punish him for mixing up his test results, which delayed his brain cancer diagnosis and isolated him from helpful medication. However, after Logan gets injured in the first stage, Kramer realizes he doesn’t want to punish the man for an honest mistake. As a result, he patched the former up, and Logan ended up training beside the serial killer and learning his ways. Thus, he was able to replicate Kramer’s killing style and fake his return from the dead.

Read More: Is John Kramer Based on a Real Serial Killer?