Detective David Tapp is a fictional character from the Saw film franchise, portrayed by Danny Glover. Introduced in Saw (2004), he is a police detective investigating a series of crime scenes linked to the same murderer, later revealed to be the Jigsaw Killer, and serves as one of the film's protagonists. Tapp has also made minor appearances and was mentioned in Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), and Saw V (2008). He appearead as a playable character in both Saw: The Video Game (2009), in which he was voiced by Earl Alexander, and Dead by Daylight (2016).
In Saw, David Tapp is a police detective who investigates a series of crime scenes linked to the same murderer. The victims have been placed in to traps that attempt to teach them to appreciate their life, a quality they decidedly lack. The victims who fail these "tests" have a jigsaw piece cut out of their bodies. This has earned the killer the alias "The Jigsaw Killer" by newspaper writer Oswald McGillicutty. Saw II later reveals these missing pieces have been intended to show the missing survival instinct of Jigsaw's victims.
At one of the crime scenes, Tapp and his partner, Steven Sing, discover a penlight with fingerprints on it. Forensics indicate that the fingerprints belong to Dr. Lawrence Gordon, who is taken to the police station for questioning. Saw V later revealed that Jigsaw accomplice Mark Hoffman had planted this penlight to arise suspicion on Gordon. While a few victims have already been discovered, one victim named Amanda Young manages to survive her test. Lawrence watches while Tapp interrogates Amanda for her testimony. After hearing her testimony, Tapp gives Lawrence a ride home and becomes more suspicious that Lawrence is Jigsaw.
Tapp recovers and studies the video tape left at Amanda's trap location and deciphers the location of Jigsaw's lair. Tapp and Sing find Jigsaw in his lair, but fail to arrest him due to Jigsaw non-fatally slashing Tapp's neck and Sing falling victim to one of Jigsaw's traps. Following Sing's death, Tapp becomes unstable and begins to obsess over catching Jigsaw, causing him to be discharged from the police force and to be divorced from his wife.
As Jigsaw was able to hide his identity when his lair was raided, Tapp still believes that Lawrence is Jigsaw, and spends much of his time to harass and pester him, unknowing that Lawrence had been abducted and is currently in a trap of his own. This causes him to stake out his home; he uses a video camera to watch it from another apartment. During this, Tapp sees Zep Hindle at the Gordons' house and then hears gunshots coming from the house. Tapp responds and discovers that Alison Gordon and her daughter Diana are being held hostage by Zep. A gunfight ensues, allowing Alison and Diana to escape. Tapp chases Zep to the site of another Jigsaw game, later revealed to be Lawrence's trap. Before discovering the trap site, Zep and Tapp engage in a brief struggle that ends with Zep shooting Tapp in the chest and leaving him to die.
In Saw III, David Tapp is seen during the montage of the first three films at the very end of the film. In Saw IV, the scene where Daniel Rigg is watching Jill Tuck's interrogation at The Metropolitan Police Department features a picture of David Tapp. He is briefly seen as Rigg looks through a folder containing pictures of several police officers he has lost.
In Saw V, a memorial service is held for the deceased officers from the Jigsaw murders. Tapp's police picture is among the pictures of the deceased officers. Tapp also appears in a flashback, inquiring Dr. Lawrence Gordon about the penlight Mark Hoffman planted. Danny Glover was originally set to make a cameo appearance as David Tapp in Saw V, but could not show up due to scheduling issues. The scene was originally for Tapp to attend Seth Baxter's murder scene, but was changed with Hoffman instead.
For Spiral: From the Book of Saw, it was briefly played around the possibility of having David Tapp be related to Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks, the main protagonist of the film, but according to co-writer Josh Stolberg, the idea didn't "pass the smell test".
In video games
Saw: The Video Game
In the video game adaptation of Saw (2009), set after the events of the first film, Tapp is revealed to have survived his gunshot wound and is healed back to health by Jigsaw. He is brought to the abandoned Whitehurst asylum where he is placed in the Reverse Bear Trap Amanda Young was in. He quickly escapes after Jigsaw scolds him for his lack of appreciation for his life and the lives of others. Upon escaping, Tapp ventures through the asylum where he faces others during their tests. Some of these tests involve Tapp in numerous ways. Tapp's first test is to save Amanda Young, the woman he interrogated during Saw, unbeknown to him that she had become Jigsaw's secret apprentice. Upon saving her, she stages her kidnapping by another Jigsaw apprentice called Pighead, and Tapp moves to his next test. The second test is for Jennings Foster, a fellow officer of Tapp's who had committed a hit-and-run which he framed an innocent person for. A conflicted Tapp saves Jennings who runs away and blames Tapp for being there.
Tapp's third test is for Melissa Sing, the widow of Tapp's former partner Steven Sing who has since become a neglectful mother to her son. Jigsaw informs her that Tapp had ignored calling for backup or getting a search warrant when searching Jigsaw's lair in the first Saw film, a careless step which was the reason Steven was killed. Believing Tapp could have prevented his partners death, Melissa began to blame him for her misfortunes. Upon Tapp finding and saving her, Melissa leaves Tapp to deal with his other tests.
Tapp proceeds to save Oswald McGillicutty, a newspaper writer who coined the alias "Jigsaw", and begins to accuse Tapp of being Jigsaw. After saving Oswald, Tapp rescues Obi Tate, an arsonist who wanted to be tested by Jigsaw. Tapp then proceeds to save his sixth victim, Jeff Ridenhour, who was in the Drill Trap when Tapp and Sing had raided Jigsaw's lair during the first film. After he survived his first test, Jeff becomes suicidal after Tapp harasses him to discover Jigsaw's identity. This causes Jeff to be placed in his second trap in which Tapp saves him.
After saving all of the victims in the asylum, Tapp kills Pighead and proceeds to Jigsaw. He labels Tapp as a murderer for killing Pighead and others in Whitehurst. Tapp finds and chases Jigsaw but finds two doors labeled "Truth" and "Freedom". If the player chooses the "Freedom" door, Tapp escapes and is labeled as a hero, but he kills himself soon afterdue to the stress of not being able to catch Jigsaw. If the player chooses the "Truth" door, Tapp chases Jigsaw and catches him, but he finds that it was Melissa Sing. A tape recorder informs Tapp that Melissa was assigned by Jigsaw to watch over Tapp's test and that her son would be killed if she did not. Melissa then breaks free from Tapp but is killed by a tripwire trap, similar to the one in which her husband Steven was killed. Burdened by Melissa's death, Tapp becomes insane and is left in a functional asylum where he still believes he is playing Jigsaw's games.
Saw II: Flesh and Blood
Tapp is not featured in the sequel, Saw II: Flesh and Blood, but he is mentioned several times. It is revealed that the "Freedom" ending of the first game is the canonical one, due to a newspaper mentioning Tapp's escape from Whitehurst and subsequent suicide. Throughout most of the game, players control Tapp's estranged son Michael, who tries to find the cause of his father's death, which leads to him also coming into conflict with Jigsaw. Michael comes across his father's files, detailing events from the Saw film and game. There are also audio tapes made by Tapp both before and after his Whitehurst Asylum tests that can be found throughout the game which detail his investigation of the Jigsaw Killer and his gradually building obsession, beginning with the discovery of Cecil Adams' body. It is also revealed that Tapp felt guilty for killing Pighead in the first game, not knowing if the person in the costume had a family or if he was forced to work for Jigsaw.
Dead by Daylight
David Tapp is the survivor featured in "The Saw Chapter" downloadable content for the video game Dead by Daylight.