3. Jigsaw – Saw Franchise

Though he’s not exactly an iconic horror movie villain, Saw‘s John Kramer (a.k.a. Jigsaw) has carved a specific niche in pop culture. His memorable catchphrase (“do you want to play a game?”) and the creepy puppet he uses to menace his victims have helped elevate Jigsaw to a similar level of relevance as characters like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Deep down, he also makes a very good point, and that’s part of what makes him so compelling.

Kramer’s story is pretty tragic, but it ultimately boils down to understanding the importance of valuing life. His entire gimmick is built around “helping” others to better value their lives, and as such, he targets only those who he believes are wasting their lives with unpleasant or unsavory habits. Every one of Jigsaw’s horrendously conceived traps is designed with one purpose: to force his victims to better understand the value of their continued existence.

Importantly, Jigsaw’s traps are always designed with a means of escape – albeit usually one that requires an element of sacrifice. This is done to test his victims’ will to live rather than to actively kill, and that sort of makes his machinations feel somewhat more justified. Of course, kidnapping people and severely maiming them is far less effective than even the most basic forms of therapy, but Kramer’s intentions are pure (albeit skewed). He’s not entirely wrong about his victims, either: most of them are awful people who clearly are in need of an attitude adjustment. It’s only really Jigsaw’s approach to forcing that realization that’s wrong, making him far more justified in his actions than he otherwise seems.