Jigsaw Puzzles in Pop Culture

Jigsaw puzzles have been a source of entertainment since the late 1700s. Initially created as a tool for education, they quickly became a popular pastime for relaxing and simultaneously exercising the brain

Jigsaws have grown and expanded over the years, transitioning from wood carvings to paperboard. The ability to mass-produce jigsaw puzzles allowed businesses to turn advertisements and propaganda posters into puzzles and distribute them to the masses, among other designs. 

As technology evolved and television, and later movies, became prominent, jigsaw puzzles were created to feature favorite TV shows and movie posters. Jigsaws were even featured in film and television, and continue to do so until this day.  

9 TV Shows and Movies About Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles are a relaxing activity that doesn’t require any screen time. When we do engage in watching shows and movies, though, we can often find references to this form of play on the screen and throughout pop culture. Here are nine examples. 

1. The Piece Maker (2022) - HBO TV Series

This series follows Eric Dowdle, a painter and puzzle maker, as he travels around the world looking for inspiration to make new puzzles. Each story he learns from locals and the experiences he has in new environments becomes a piece of each new puzzle he shapes. 

2. Puzzle (2018) - Film

A remake of an Argentinian film, the storyline of this puzzle-centric movie follows a suburban mother that spends the majority of her time taking care of the men in her family – and feels taken for granted by them. She develops a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles and is drawn into a new world – one in which her family is forced to grow and adjust as well.

3. Pieces (2016) - Film

This short horror flick centers around a young woman cleaning out her deceased grandmother's house, where she finds a journal containing a puzzle piece with the words “finish it” next to it. What unfolds is the unearthing of a supernatural presence and the need to complete the puzzle that started it all. 

4. The Accountant (2016) - Film

The storyline of The Accountant depicts Christian Wolff, a math savant who works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations. While the tale isn’t solely focused on jigsaw puzzles, a scene featuring the young protagonist working on a jigsaw puzzle is memorable, not only because he completes it in record time, but also because he does the entire puzzle upside down. 

5. In the Name of the Father (1993) - Film

After being charged with a crime he did not commit, protagonist Gerry Conlon is sentenced to prison and makes friends with some of the other inmates. They pass their jail time working on jigsaw puzzles coated in trippy substances. 

6. The Jigsaw Murders (1989) - Film

For mystery and crime lovers, we present The Jigsaw Murders. Utilizing a jigsaw puzzle, a detective and his young partner work to find the serial killer that is preying on models – and must do so before the detective’s estranged daughter becomes the killer's next victim. 

7. Pieces (1982) - Film 

If you’re a puzzle lover that is also a fan of slasher horror films, this one is for you. Pieces takes place on a Boston, Massachusetts campus, where a killer is targeting co-eds and creating a human jigsaw puzzle with the victim's body parts. 

8. Sleuth (1972) - Film

This mystery thriller follows the story of Andrew Wyke, a successful author of detective novels with a passion for all puzzle games. After his wife’s lover approaches him with the request that he divorces his wife, a game – with potentially deadly consequences – ensues.

We have to give a special shout-out to the all-white puzzle featured in one of the scenes. It's not a Blue Kazoo Impossible Puzzle, but we're positive Wyke would have loved them.   

9. Citizen Kane (1941) - Film

Citizen Kane centers around Charles Foster Kane, a millionaire publishing tycoon whose last utterance “Rosebud” is analyzed and investigated by reporters. The film features flashbacks of the tycoons' life, and one scene depicts his wife, who has grown increasingly bored with their lack of social life, turning to jigsaw puzzles to stave off boredom. 

Pop Culture and Jigsaw Puzzles: In Summary 

These are just a few of the many movies and tv shows that feature jigsaw puzzles. In pop culture, jigsaw puzzles are a beloved pastime that depicts imagery of everything from nature to space to vintage propaganda to modern art. Clothing and home decor are even designed to showcase jigsaw puzzle pieces. Whether it's for entertainment, relaxation, mental stimulation, or artwork, a jigsaw puzzle has many facets that will keep you coming back for more.