Tobin Bell’s John “Jigsaw” Kramer died in “Saw III,” but is present in later films through prequels, flashbacks, and dramatized events as described by other characters. In fact, Bell has appeared in some capacity in every “Saw” film. The lone exception is “Spiral: From the Book of Saw,” but Bell will be returning to the role for “Saw X.” This has allowed Jigsaw to have a constant, haunting presence throughout the franchise without turning him into a slasher villain like Michael Myers. Hell, he spends almost the entire first film playing dead on the floor.
Considering John Kramer is a mortal being and not an undead killing machine like Jason Voorhees, a dream demon like Freddy Krueger, or a possessed doll like Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray, having an elderly man dying of cancer be the sole antagonist for a massive horror franchise would be a little absurd. There’s already a lot of suspension of disbelief required to accept that regular people could set up these ridiculously intricate death contraptions with the correct engineering to work effectively, but thinking this dying old man could do it all on his own would have been a step too far.
Not only does this help with the realism of an already pretty unrealistic story, but it positions John Kramer as an almost god-like figure. Even if we don’t see him, we can sense his presence and influence in every scene. William Afton serves a similar role throughout the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” games, and his role in the films should reflect that.