When does Saw X take place? Timeline explained

Cameron Frew
Tobin Bell as Jigsaw in Saw X and the ending of Saw

Saw X is the 10th movie in the long-running, stomach-churning horror franchise – here’s the full timeline explained.

Chronology-based confusion is par for the course in the Saw series. After all, Saw X follows Saw: The (so-called) Final Chapter, which came before Jigsaw seven years later… and then there’s Spiral: From the Book of Saw, a spinoff that takes place after all the movies – including Saw X.

The return of Tobin Bell’s John Kramer, the karmic killer at the heart of the franchise, is its own head-scratcher considering the character died in Saw III – of course, his influence stretched well beyond his death, and he even re-appeared in Jigsaw (albeit, it was a flashback).

As fans and nauseous moviegoers pile into screenings this weekend, they may want to piece together exactly when Saw X takes place before they play the latest game – and we have those answers.

When does Saw X take place in the timeline? The simple answer

Saw X takes place between Saw and Saw II.

Saw ends with Kramer’s devastating final reveal: he was the body in the middle of the bathroom all along, and he gets up and leaves Adam for dead. “Game over.”

However, earlier in the movie, we learn about his terminal brain cancer – which sets up the torturous premise of Saw X, following Kramer as he journeys to Mexico for a life-saving, experimental medical procedure that ends up being a total scam. So, he does what he does best: rounds up the fraudsters and teaches them a valuable, agonizing lesson.

In an interview with Saw producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules, they told Dexerto that it “takes place about three weeks after Saw,” with Saw II unfolding around a year after the first movie.

“So literally imagine he closes the door, game over from the first Saw. This is about three weeks later. He’s John Kramer, he has cancer, and he’s trying to figure out how much longer he has to live and he tries to extend his life. That’s how the movie takes off,” they said.

When does Saw X take place in the timeline? The long answer

Below, we have broken down the exact place of Saw X in the overall timeline, and we’ve even put it all in chronological order.

It’s a bit of a headache when you get into the later entries, but this is as comprehensive as you could ever want or need it.

Jigsaw… but just the beginning

A still from Jigsaw

While Jigsaw is the eighth chapter in the Saw franchise, it explores the origin of Tobin Bell’s murderous, justice-seeking John Kramer, better known as Jigsaw.

Like all Saw movies, Jigsaw features a test: five people wake up in a barn with buckets on their heads. They’re forced to sacrifice some blood for their sins before chains pull them into buzzsaws in the wall. Four of them manage to get out, but an unnamed, unconscious man is killed.

This is later revealed to be Kramer’s first-ever game. Oh, and remember that poor sod who died… or did he?


Cary Elwes in Saw

Two men, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam Stanheight, awake in a grimy bathroom, each with one leg chained to a pipe and only a saw to set them free. A man is lying on the floor between them, with his brains spilling out of his skull.

Meanwhile, Detective Tapp (Danny Glover) is hot on Jigsaw’s trail. Also, Saw takes place one day before the 9/11 attacks, so there’s that.

This may be the first movie in the series, but it’s far from the beginning. By this point, Kramer has become pretty nifty with his diabolical games, to the point he’s at the center of the film’s greatest twist: he’s the dead body, and leaves Adam to die after Gordon escapes – with a foot missing, of course.

Flashbacks: We learn that Tapp has been chasing Jigsaw for years, and is haunted by losing his partner to one of his traps.

He became convinced Gordon is the real killer, so he hired Adam to spy on him. Kramer then tasked his apprentice Amanda (whom we saw escape the reverse bear trap) to kidnap them both.

Saw X

Saw X takes place directly between Saw and Saw II.

Speaking to Dexerto out of Fantastic Fest, Oren Koules explained how the movie’s director helped them establish exactly when it’s set. “Kevin Greutert has seen every foot of footage since Saw 1. So he’s either edited or directed every single movie. So there’s no better expert in terms of trying to thread the needle,” he said.

“So the mistake we were making when we started the process of this film was we really thought it was between 2 and 3. Kevin sat us down and explained how Shawnee was starting to change during 3 and he really wanted the innocence of Shawnee – Amanda – after Saw 1. So in our minds, this movie takes place about three weeks after Tobin closes the door and says ‘Game over’ in Saw 1.”

The official synopsis for the film reads: “The most chilling installment of the Saw franchise yet explores the untold chapter of Jigsaw’s most personal game. Set between the events of Saw I and II, a sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer – only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, John returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through a series of ingenious and terrifying traps.”

Saw II

Amanda in the needle pit in Saw II

Saw II takes place one year after the events of the first film, with Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) managing to apprehend Kramer. However, another game is afoot: his son, Amanda, and several others are locked in an unknown building full of traps.

Matthews and other officers desperately try to track down their location – but the penny drops: the “live” feed they were watching was actually filmed days before Kramer’s arrest, and his son was kept alive with an oxygen mask inside a safe.

Shortly after, he’s abducted by a pig-masked figure and wakes up shackled in the same bathroom from the first film, with Amanda then revealing how she became Jigsaw’s apprentice after her experience, and sealing the door shut.

Flashbacks: Shaken by his wife Jill (Betsy Russell) leaving him and his cancer diagnosis – delivered by Gordon – Kramer tried to take his own life. His failure led to a newfound appreciation for life, wishing to teach others about “instant rehabilitation” and leading him to become Jigsaw.

Saw III and Saw IV… at the same time

A still from Saw III

The events of Saw III and IV take place around six months after Saw II… and they both unfold concurrently. So, if you want to give the franchise the true chronological treatment, you better set up two screens.

In Saw III, Jigsaw is dying, so Amanda kidnaps Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) and orders her to keep him alive, or her head will be blown to bits by shotgun shells.

The film immediately picks up where Saw II left off, with Matthews breaking his own foot with a toilet lid to escape the bathroom. We also see Detective Allison Kerry abducted and placed in the infamous Angel Trap, forced to dip her hand into a beaker of acid to retrieve a key, only to be ripped apart anyway.

While Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen) completes his game, Lynn performs surgery on John. When it’s successful, she asks to be released – but Amanda refuses. She shoots her, before Jeff comes in and shoots Amanda. At this point, Kramer reveals the whole ordeal was a test for Amanda, who he’d suspected of rigging the games so they were impossible to beat – directly contradicting his instructions and the whole point of his modus operandi.

Hoffman and Jigsaw in Saw IV

Saw IV – where the story started to fall apart a bit – follows Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), a detective who works with FBI Agents Strahm and Perez (Scott Patterson and Athena Karkanis) to hunt down Jigsaw’s second secret apprentice, all while Matthews and his partner Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) are being tested.

Dun dun dun: Hoffman was the apprentice all along, and he seals Strahm and Rigg in a warehouse. The film ends with Hoffman finding a cassette inside Jigsaw’s body during an autopsy – imminently after Saw III – with a recording from Kramer telling him the games will continue.

Flashbacks: While Kramer’s failed suicide attempt played a role in him becoming Jigsaw, we also learn about his first victim: Cecil Adams (Billy Otis), a drug addict who caused his wife to miscarry. He carved a piece of Cecil’s skin into the shape of a jigsaw piece, giving him his nickname.

Saw V

A still of Hoffman in Saw V

Saw V is a simpler continuation of the story, picking up after Kramer’s death and directly following the events of Saw III and IV. Mercifully, Hoffman saves Jeff’s daughter, who’d previously been doomed to die in a locked room.

Hoffman then carries out a new series of games with Strahm, who manages to escape the box trap, and a group of strangers with ropes around their necks.

Strahm eventually deduces that Hoffman is Jigsaw’s second apprentice. Ignoring his advice to go inside a box in a room, he instead shoves Hoffman in the box, at which point the hidden game is revealed: if Strahm went in the box, he would have been fine. Instead, the walls close in, and he’s framed as Jigsaw’s apprentice, with Hoffman’s reign of terror set to continue.

Jill also receives instructions from Kramer, which will play a major role in a later film.

Flashbacks: The film opens with a pendulum trap, believed to be the handiwork of the original Jigsaw. It was actually put together by Hoffman in his earlier years, inspired by stories of the Jigsaw killer and wishing to imitate him. Kramer later recruited him.

Saw VI

Hoffman in Saw VI

The sixth film picks up a few days after Saw V. With Strahm pulverized and Hoffman clear, he picks up where Jigsaw left off; more specifically, he goes after health insurance executive William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), who denied Kramer coverage which could have saved his life.

After William meets his grisly end with hydrofluoric acid, Hoffman is jumped by Jill, who puts a modified reverse bear trap on his head, as per Kramer’s instructions. He manages to escape, albeit his right cheek is mutilated in the process.

Flashbacks: As well as learning about how William denied Kramer life-saving coverage, we also find out that Amanda indirectly instigated the robbery which led to Jill’s miscarriage.

Saw 3D (also known as Saw: The Final Chapter)

Lawrence Gordon in Saw 3D

The final chapter, which isn’t actually the final chapter, focuses on a battle between Jill and Hoffman for Jigsaw’s legacy. Jill attempts to offer Hoffman up to the police in exchange for immunity, but Hoffman ends up killing her with the original reverse bear trap. There’s a lot of other riffraff between those two plot points, but they’re all that actually matters.

Hoffman goes on to destroy his workshop, but he’s kidnapped by three figures wearing pig masks – one of whom is Dr. Lawrence Gordon, from the very first film.

Flashbacks: It’s revealed that Gordon managed to survive sawing his own leg off by cauterizing his stump with a steam pipe. Kramer found him and decided to spare his life, in exchange for Gordon becoming one of his apprentices.

Kramer’s final request was Gordon’s responsibility: he had to protect Jill. So, he shackles Hoffman in the bathroom where it all started, throws away the hacksaw, and seals the door shut, leaving him to die. Game over, indeed.

Jigsaw… the rest of it

Logan in Jigsaw

So, now we’re back in Jigsaw – taking place a decade after Saw III and IV – with detectives trying to hunt down a new killer. Brad Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and pathologist Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) eventually find themselves in a laser neck trap, where they need to confess their sins to survive.

Brad forces Logan to go first, but dies anyway. There’s still room for one last twist: Logan gets up off the floor, resets his trap, and reveals himself to be the true killer. He kills Brad and seals the room shut.

Flashbacks: We learn that Logan was the unconscious man who seemingly died at the beginning of the film; remember, the people with buckets over their heads being pulled towards buzzsaws?

Logan had been chosen for the trap because his medical negligence meant Kramer’s diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor was delayed beyond the point where he could have been saved. However, because of Kramer’s own miscalculation leading to Logan remaining unconscious during the game, he saved his life – at which point Logan became his first-ever disciple, not Amanda.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Chris Rock in Spiral: From the Book of Saw

We’re finally into spinoff territory. Spiral takes place several years after the events of all the Saw movies, although the specific timeframe is unclear. Chronologically, all of its grisly deaths and twists are right at the end, so you can watch it yourself to find out.

Saw X is in cinemas now. Check out our other coverage below: