The Saw Franchise Timeline Just Got More Complicated

The upcoming Saw X will rewrite the history of the Saw movie timeline

This week Lionsgate offered a first look at the upcoming Saw X, confirming details that tangle up the Saw movie timeline even more. According the studio, the upcoming tenth Saw movie (featuring the return of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw) will be dialing things back and be set in-between two different movies in the long-running horror franchise. As the studio's plot synopsis reveals, Saw X will actually be set in-between the events of the original Saw and its first sequel, Saw II. Fans of the franchise will likely know why, but newcomers may be lost why the series is forced to go in this direction. In short, it's complicated but also...easy to understand.

The Saw movie franchise, like so many other horror film series, has made bold decisions that forced it to get creative. One of the biggest narrative choices they made was by killing the franchise's main antagonist, The Jigsaw Killer, in just the third movie. Despite that happening, six more movies in the franchise were produced, five of them featuring Tobin Bell reprising his role as Jigsaw. As a result, the timeline of Saw IV onward makes the entire franchise feel like you're looking at pieces of an incomplete...jigsaw puzzle. Saw X will now make the Saw movie timeline even more complicated.

Saw movie timeline explained:

  • Saw (2004) – The first movie is the first chapter in the series, explaining the Jigsaw killer's motives and his first victims. That is until other movies would find themselves taking place before the events of the first movie.
  • Saw II – The first sequel seems to take at least some time later as the Jigsaw killer's health has deteriorated drastically compared to the firstm ovie.
  • Saw III – The film where the Jigsaw killer finally perishes is where things start to get interesting, with scenes set after Saw but before Saw II. 
  • Saw IV – Jigsaw now dead the film employed a unique twist to bring back Tobin Bell as the character, it's set simultaneously with Saw III, meaning the two movies take place at the same time.
  • Saw V - Jigsaw is still dead but Tobin Bell continues to appear thanks to flashbacks, and his work continues with his proteges. 
  • Saw VI – The same thing can be said about Saw 6, and in fact elements of it storyline could intersect with Saw X.
  • Saw 3D – A bold decision to call a movie the last one considering the future, but once again flashbacks are revealed and the story continues in the present timeline.
  • Jigsaw - We're starting to sound like a broken record, but like the three past movies, Jigsaw is partially set in the past and in the present. However in this movie it's used as a twist, with the main "game" followed throughout the movie set before most of the events of the first movie, which isn't revealed until the end of the film.
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw – Though set an undetermined time after the Saw movies, Spiral largely doesn't have much to do with the others despite a passing mention to Jigsaw and a new "game" focused serial killer. 

Saw franchise in chronological order

  • Jigsaw – Elements of the sequel take place this early in the timeline.
  • Saw (2004) 
  • Saw X
  • Saw II
  • Saw III/Saw IV - Both movies happen at the same time
  • Saw V
  • Saw VI
  • Saw 3D
  • Jigsaw (the rest of the movie, with the reveal of new Jigsaw protégé Logan Nelson)
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw

As a result of moving Saw X, the tenth movie, into a very early place in the Saw timeline, the franchise has found itself in a unique spot. The movie can now ignore the events of the last two sequels and the two serial killers roaming about that haven't had an opportunity to appear again. This gives the series what fans really want, more traps with the original Jigsaw, while also continuing its trend of galaxy-brain ideas to keep making sequels. 

In addition to Bell reprising his role for Saw X, another franchise staple is potentially back in the mix with Shawnee Smith previously teased to return as Amanda Young. Confirmed cast members that will appear in the movie include Synnøve Macody Lund (Ragnarok), Steven Brand (The Sandman), Michael Beach (S.W.A.T.), Renata Vaca, Paulette Hernande, Joshua Okamoto, and Octavio Hinojosa. Director Kevin Greutert is also returning to the franchise to direct the movie, having previously directed Saw VI and Saw: The Final Chapter in addition to editing six other movies in the frnachise.

"What a thrill to be reuniting with Tobin," producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules previously said in a statement about Bell's return. "His performance as John Kramer is part of the magic that made this franchise a phenomenon and his character is an active part of this film."

The upcoming Saw X is scheduled for release on September 29, 2023.