In recent years, jigsaw puzzles have made a comeback, and for good reason. Not only are puzzles a fun dopamine boosting activity, they are a great way to give your brain a workout, improve problem-solving skills and provide a refreshing break from the constant screen time in our daily lives.
Speaking of screens, jigsaw puzzles have also been featured in film, TV, pop culture and other various forms of media, playing a crucial role in a plot or adding a touch of nostalgia as a prop. Let’s take a closer look at the fascinating history and cultural significance of jigsaw puzzles and why they continue to be a beloved activity.
And… action! 🎬
1. The Big Bang Theory ‘The Scavenger Vortex’ (Season 7, Episode 3)
Jigsaw puzzles have also found their way into TV shows, like The Big Bang Theory. In one episode, the cast are participating in a scavenger hunt that involves solving different puzzles to find a gold coin.
The first task was to solve a jigsaw puzzle. Sheldon wasn't impressed by Penny's haphazard approach. He made her start the puzzle all over again, insisting that she focus on fitting the edge pieces together first. Meanwhile, Amy was good at solving her jigsaw puzzle, reminiscing her mother having told her jigsaw puzzles are like having "a thousand friends." 🥰
The puzzle tells them to go to the comic book store, but Sheldon refuses to go until they put every last piece of the puzzle together, thinking it could be a trick and they should go to the train store. And he puts in every last piece...and it was the comic book store. 😂
2. Better Call Saul ‘Waterworks’ (Season 6, Episode 12)
The penultimate episode of Better Call Saul held plenty of surprises and suspense. The most delightful surprise being, Kim Wexler is a puzzler. In the episode Waterworks, Kim is putting together a jigsaw puzzle at the dining table while Glenn watches The Amazing Race and asks her if she thinks they would succeed as a couple on that show. Kim responds with a noncommittal "maybe", so Glenn turns back to the TV and she focuses on her puzzle.
This isn't the first time jigsaw puzzles has featured on Better Call Saul.
3. Better Call Saul ‘Wexler v. Goodman’ (Season 5, Episode 6)
The episode features a heartwarming moment when Nacho shows a compassionate side towards his girlfriend's friend. The friend who was disassembling a Rubik's cube and dismantling a remote control with scissors, was clearly high and suffering from acute OCD. Instead of getting frustrated, Nacho goes and gets a jigsaw puzzle for her to keep her hands busy.
It's a small, yet powerful moment that showcases Nacho's empathy and patience towards others. It makes him seem like a thoughtful and considerate person, and further solidifies his status as one of the best characters on the show.
4. New Girl 'All In' (Season 3, Episode 1)
After spending the entire day working on a jigsaw puzzle, Winston makes no progress and Schmidt becomes increasingly frustrated. Unbeknownst to Schmidt, Winston's lack of progress is due to his colour-blindness, a fact that he is currently oblivious to.
Winston: Never, ever, touch my puzzle!
5. The Walking Dead 'The Grove' (Season 4, Episode 14)
Without the help of GPS it’s taking one hell of a long time for Tyreese, Carol, and the girls to find the mysterious sanctuary called Terminus, but luckily for them they find a house with a pecan grove, a kettle for a spot of tea, and a jigsaw puzzle for the girls to work on, what could possibly go wrong?
Tyreese: 👀...we're in a house.
Lizzie: Yes, so relax. 🧩
Trivia: The puzzle that the girls were working on was a picture of Carol's daughter Sophia.
6. Downton Abbey Series 5, Episode 5
What an adorable couple of bickering friends The Dowager and Isobel make whilst solving a jigsaw puzzle. At Violet's, the Old Ladies Club does a puzzle while quipping about old age, boys, Russians and servants. Violet, heartless as usual, is a bit too gleeful about the discovery that her Prince’s wife is doing menial nursing work in Hong Kong. Taking pleasure in the pain of others: is that written somewhere on the Grantham Family Crest?
7. Dexter 'A Little Reflection' (Season 8, Episode 6)
Dexter monitors Harrison to see if he meets the criteria of a young psychopath. He does this by watching Harrison solve a jigsaw puzzle. 😅
Dexter: I feel like a jigsaw puzzle missing a piece. And I don't even know what the picture should be.
8. Homeland 'The Vest' (Season 1, Episode 11)
In the gripping Season 1, Episode 11 of Homeland, the aftermath of an explosion leaves Saul struggling to make sense of the chaos, but he soon discovers that Carrie's manic theories may have some truth to them. As she recuperates in the hospital, Carrie makes the decision to move back to her father's home. Despite her father's concerns and attempts to keep her occupied with a puzzle, Carrie is unable to relax and finds herself reaching out to Brody in a moment of unrest.
Frank: You're supposed to help me with this? 🧩
Carrie: Why? 😑
9. Puzzle (2018)
Puzzle is a 2018 American film directed by Marc Turtletaub, which tells the story of Agnes, a suburban housewife and mother of two, who has long felt unfulfilled in her life. She discovers a passion for solving jigsaw puzzles, which leads her to a new-found independence and self-discovery.
The film stars Kelly Macdonald as Agnes and Irrfan Khan as Robert, a mysterious and wealthy inventor whom Agnes meets through a puzzle-making competition and becomes her puzzle-solving partner. Through this partnership, Agnes discovers a new purpose and meaning to her life.
Agnes: Why are we wasting all this time doing puzzles?
Robert: What else is there to do?
I love this scene in particular as Robert is solving a Vincent Van Gogh 'The Starry Night' jigsaw puzzle, which is available to buy from Rest In Pieces.
10. Citizen Kane (1941)
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American film directed, co-written, produced, and starring Orson Welles. The movie is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made and was awarded an Academy award for Best Original Screenplay.
The film tells the story of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper publisher whose life is seen through the eyes of a reporter investigating his last words, "Rosebud."
In Citizen Kane, there is a scene where the character Susan Alexander Kane, who is Kane's second wife, is shown putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle is a representation of Kane's efforts to create a utopian city called Xanadu, where he dreams to retire in seclusion. The jigsaw puzzle serves as a metaphor for Kane's life, as it's unfinished and incomplete.
11. Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer '01, Jigsaw Top
As praised by Vogue, Alexander McQueen was at the top of his game when he presented the collection filled with gothic and theatrical designs, including a dress featuring a miniature castle and a rat as a shoulder pad, a top made from a jigsaw puzzle, and a large feathered creation complete with stuffed eagles suspended over the model's head, reminiscent of a scene from a Hitchcock film.
The collection by McQueen is thought to have been influenced by his personal struggles with mental illness as well as historical representations of madness and imprisonment. The inclusion of a half-completed jigsaw puzzle in the collection may serve as a symbol for the therapeutic activities offered to in-patients and the idea that life is incomplete and not perfectly put together.
A perfect fit for puzzle lovers, this artful jigsaw top is the handiwork of British designer Alexander McQueen, who dreamed it up as part of his Spring/Summer 2001 ready-to-wear collection, Voss.
12. Saw (horror franchise)
The SAW franchise follows a serial killer named John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, who captures his victims and forces them to play life-or-death games in order to teach them the value of life. The first film, simply titled "SAW," was released in 2004 and directed by James Wan. It tells the story of two men, Adam and Lawrence, who wake up in a room as Jigsaw's captives and must play a deadly game in order to escape.
Jigsaw: The jigsaw piece I cut from my subjects was only ever meant to be a symbol that that subject was missing something, a vital piece of the human puzzle: the survival instinct.
13. The Simpsons Season 14, Episode 17
The Simpsons begin working on a puzzle, but when they finish, they realize that there's one piece missing. Homer thinks the piece might be in Marge's memory chest. However, while searching for the piece, he becomes sidetracked by a letter Marge wrote on the day Moe's Tavern opened. The letter reveals that Marge had intended to break up with Homer due to his drunken behaviour.
It turns out that the missing puzzle piece was actually stuck under Maggie's eyelid.
14. Doom Patrol 'Nostalgia Patrol' (Season 4, Episode 3)
"Crazy Jane", a member of the DC Comic's team Doom Patrol, has multiple personalities, each with their own unique superpower. Each of Jane's personalities has their own name, appearance, and power, and they all share one body.
After watching an interview made by one of her identities named Kay, Jane tries to drown out her thoughts with some rock music and then attempts to solve the unsolvable jigsaw puzzle she’s been given. In her frustration, Jane comes across a puzzle piece containing an eye. Suddenly, a mist rises from the puzzle pieces and Jane is smothered in an orgasmic fog. Yes, you read that right.
Crazy Jane: I 🤬 hate puzzles.
The HBO Max show has been running for multiple seasons and has gained a cult following.
15. HBO The Staircase 'Red in Tooth and Claw' (Episode 6)
The series tells the story of Michael Peterson, an American novelist who was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in 2001. The series explores the trial and appeals of Peterson's case, and delves into the investigation that followed after Kathleen was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her home in Durham, North Carolina.
In the episode, Sophie (played by Juliette Binoche) is sitting at her dining room table with a half-completed jigsaw puzzle in front of her. Sophie becomes emotional on the phone as she tells Caitlin that Kathleen's body needs to be exhumed in order to confirm the "Owl Theory" and possibly prove Michael's innocence. Caitlin is furious at Sophie's request, shouting that she doesn't want to disturb her mother's grave. Sophie is visibly upset as she hangs up the phone and takes her frustration out on the jigsaw puzzle in front of her, tearing it apart.
16. Rick & Morty 'Bethic Twinstinct' (Season 6, Episode 3)
Wubba lubba dub-dub! “Bethic Twinstinct,” a play on Basic Instinct, brings Rick and Morty home for a hot minute. We seldom get slower, more character-driven outings amid all the space shenanigans, so this episode is a nice palate cleanser. Well, in that respect. Beth having sex with herself might be incestuous? Or does it count if one of them is a clone and not technically related? Regardless, it’s one giant metaphor for self-love in its Rick and Morty way, so that’s cool.
Jerry is all of us when he brings out a horse-themed jigsaw puzzle to assemble by himself, which is sad - but cute.
17. Only Murders in the Building 'Sparring Partners' (Season 2, Episode 9)
Only Murders in the Building is a TV show about three strangers who bond over their love of true crime podcasts and record their own to accompany their investigations of murders in their building on the Upper West Side of New York.
In the penultimate episode, a jigsaw puzzle gift/peace offering causes Mabel (Selena Gomez) to shift her focus from her investigation. Alice (Cara Delevingne) has made Mabel a personalised jigsaw puzzle to say sorry. Mabel listens to "All is Not OK in Oklahoma" podcast whilst solving a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle which features artwork Alice painted of Mabel. How romantic.
Could the jigsaw puzzle be more than a gift - but a clue?
Alice: I just wanted to give you that. 🎁
Mabel: A puzzle?
Alice: It's a peace offering. 🧩 I know how much you like puzzles so I made one for you.
In a previous episode, Mabel and Alice come upon a portrait of Frida Kahlo. Mabel mentions that her father gave her a 1000-piece Frida Kahlo jigsaw puzzle when she was four, and she finished it the day before she turned five.
18. Family Guy 'Jungle Love' (Season 4, Episode 13)
In Family Guy, cutaway gags are commonly used in most episodes. They are used after a sentence or conversation, usually starting with "This is even worse/better than the time..." and are the main comedy part of Family Guy.
In this gag, Peter fails to complete a 10-piece jigsaw puzzle of a jar of preserves, while three bears were able to complete their own puzzle successfully.
Peter Griffin: Wow that sounds even better when I got paid to take part in that study.
Research: Hmm, the only one who couldn't finish the puzzle was the fat one.
19. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 'Kimmy Does a Puzzle!' (Season 3, Episode 8)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a television comedy series created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. The show follows the character of Kimmy Schmidt, who is rescued from a cult and starts a new life in New York City. The series explores the comedic consequences of Kimmy's transition from living in an underground bunker to adjusting to life in the modern world.
In this episode, while a hurricane hits New York, Kimmy tries to make her bunker fun with board games and a 1000-piece macaroni and cheese jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger.
Kimmy Schmidt: Jackpot! This puzzle is still in its shrink wrap so it can’t have any pieces missing. Just macaroni and cheese. That is a classic shape and colour challenge. Ravensburger, you’ve outdone yourselves.
20. Community 'Grifting 101' (Season 6, Episode 9)
In the episode, the gang, minus Jeff, takes the new Greendale course Grifting 101. Which is itself a grift. So the gang convinces Jeff to grift the grifter.
"I warned you," Jeff's reaction to finding out the rest of the group was grifted. He drags out their admission that he was right as condescendingly as he can by solving a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle.
Trivia: Both Jeff and the Grifting 101 teacher say the phrase "Because the Internet" in the bar scene, which is a reference to Childish Gambino's (AKA Donald Glover who used to play Troy) second solo album.
21. SpongeBob SquarePants 'Pineapple Fever' (Season 6, Episode 25)
In this episode, Squidward is stuck indoors with SpongeBob and Patrick during a storm. The threesome try to pass the time by playing tic-tac-toe. After they finish, Squidward tries to take a nap, but is annoyed when he hears SpongeBob trying to help Patrick complete a jigsaw puzzle. Eventually, Squidward grows so fed up that he goes upstairs, draws a "boundary line" with chalk outside the bedroom door, and goes inside.
Patrick: Can I complete jigsaw puzzle? Difficulty level: too advanced. Rate of brain activity increasing. Ageing process by 30 years per second.
SpongeBob: Come on grandpa you can do it!
22. Stargirl 'The Betrayal' (Season 3, Episode 6)
Throughout the episode, the show cuts back to a faceless person watching unauthorised CCTV footage of Stargirl from a dark room. The hidden figure is assembling a jigsaw puzzle that is a little on the nose or lack thereof: it’s a skull, telling us that the person assembling it is (most likely) Mister Bones, an infamous villain in the DC Comics universe.
23. BoJack Horseman 'Thoughts and Prayers' (Season 4, Episode 5)
In this episode, BoJack takes Hollyhock to visit his estranged mother, Beatrice, at a nursing home. Beatrice is solving a jigsaw puzzle.
This isn't the only time a jigsaw puzzle has featured on BoJack Horseman. Diane Nguyen uses the analogy life is a jigsaw puzzle to help make sense of her life and identity in Season 6, Episode 14 titled 'Angela'.
Diane Nguyen: You can live your whole life like it’s a puzzle, put together from the pieces of different sets. Your whole life is full of these pieces that don’t quite fit. But at some point, you start to think it’s you. You’re the piece that doesn’t quite fit. And you spend so long with that feeling that the feeling becomes your home. And it can be jarring when you discover one day that you suddenly don’t feel that way anymore. At first you don’t trust it. But then, gradually... you do.
24. The Blacklister 'The Forecaster' (Season 4, Episode 10)
A highly articulate, erudite and intelligent businessman and mastermind, "Red" Reddington, has allegedly been on the "10 Most Wanted List" for over 20 years. The legend is that Red is as elusive as he is clever, controlling a labyrinth of creative enterprises, coupled with uncanny ability to gather and finesse information at the drop of a hat. It is no surprise Red is an avid puzzler.
In this episode, Red enjoys solving a 1000-piece all-white jigsaw puzzle.
25. Harley Quinn 'Bachelorette' (Season 2, Episode 9)
In this episode, Poison Ivy is getting married to Kite Man despite her conscience telling her she needs to hesitate. Harley, committed to making her best friend happy, is throwing her the ultimate bachelorette party. Kite Man is having a bachelor party of his own, with the crew hanging out on a boat and doing jigsaw a puzzle, because Kite Man is a kite-based thief, not a party animal.
26. Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium Puzzle
The Millennium Puzzle is a powerful ancient Egyptian artifact in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. It is a golden puzzle that, when solved, grants the solver immense magical powers. The main character, Yugi, solves the puzzle and gains the ability to summon powerful monsters and duel against other players. The Millennium Puzzle is a recurring item throughout the series, and is often connected to the series' overarching story and mythology.
Trivia: The Millennium Puzzle was originally the Millennium Pendant. After Atem sealed his soul and Zorc's, the pendant was broken and became known as the Puzzle.
27. The Sims Growing Together Expansion Pack
Get ready to bring your virtual families to the next level with the exciting new expansion pack for The Sims 4 - "Growing Together"! This pack is all about families and it's arriving just in time for the big infant update in March. Not only will you get to explore new neighbourhoods, but you'll also experience a whole bunch of fresh interactions and wholesome moments with your Sim families, including the always classic pastime of putting together a jigsaw puzzle!
I love how the trailer is filmed like a home video.
28. Four Good Days (2020)
Four Good Days tells the story of a mother (played by Glenn Close) and her daughter (played by Mila Kunis) who are struggling with addiction and trying to overcome it. The film focuses on the relationship between the mother and daughter and the challenges they face as they try to help the daughter through four crucial days of recovery from substance abuse.
The jigsaw puzzle in Four Good Days is important because it symbolises the struggle to piece together a broken life. The daughter, who is in the process of trying to get clean, is seen working on the puzzle and it represents her trying to put her life back together, one piece at a time.
29. HBO The Outsider 'Foxhead' (Episode 8)
The Outsider is a television series produced by HBO and adapted from the novel of the same name by Stephen King. The show follows the investigation of a brutal murder of a young boy in a small Georgia town. The investigation is led by Detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn), who is convinced that the town's beloved Little League coach, Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman), is responsible for the crime. However, as the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that there may be something more sinister at play.
Claude Bolton (Paddy Considine): Still doing your jigsaws huh?Seale Bolton (Max Beesley): Every boy needs a hobby.Claude: What is it?Seale: Who knows.Claude: Well what’s the picture on the puzzle box?Seal: I pride myself on not looking.Claude: Well how the hell do you know where the iddy biddy pieces are going?Seal: And therein lies a challenge.
The jigsaw puzzle in The Outsider is used as a comedic device. Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), a recurring character in Stephen King's novels, is portrayed as a private investigator with a unique set of abilities that make her well-suited to solving the mystery at the heart of the story. One of Holly's most notable abilities is her exceptional memory and attention to detail. She is able to recall minute details and patterns that others might overlook, which allows her to pick up on clues and piece together information that others might miss.
Seale: You don’t like puzzles.Holly Gibney: I don’t like elephants.Seale: 🤔
30. The Visit (2015)
The Visit is a 2015 horror-comedy film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie follows the story of two siblings, 15-year-old Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and 13-year-old Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), who go to visit their estranged grandparents in rural Pennsylvania for the first time.
As the days progress, Becca and Tyler start to realize that their grandparents are not who they appear to be and that something sinister is going on. They must try to uncover the truth behind their grandparents' behaviour and find a way to escape before it's too late.
In one scene, the grandparents can be seen solving a jigsaw puzzle. Because only old people do jigsaw puzzles it seems. 😅
31. HBO Watchmen 'If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own' (Episode 4)
HBO's Watchmen is a television series based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The show is set in an alternate version of the present day, where superheroes are real and the United States won the Vietnam War. The story follows a group of characters, including Angela Abar (played by Regina King), who is also known as Sister Night, a masked detective who is investigating a white supremacist group called the Seventh Kavalry. As the story progresses, the characters become entangled in a larger conspiracy involving government cover-ups, genetic experimentation, and a powerful being known as Doctor Manhattan.
Lady Trieu (portrayed by Hong Chau) is a brilliant and enigmatic trillionaire who is one of the key players in the show's overarching plot and can be seen solving a jigsaw puzzle in episode 4. The jigsaw puzzle serves as a reminder that every detail matters in a complex and interconnected story like Watchmen.
32. The Stand (2020 miniseries)
The Stand is a television miniseries that premiered on CBS All Access in December 2020. It is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world after a deadly virus has wiped out most of the population. The survivors are forced to choose between following the benevolent Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) to Boulder, Colorado, or the malevolent Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård) to Las Vegas, Nevada. The two factions prepare for a final showdown that will determine the fate of humanity.
In episode 4 titled 'The House of the Dead', Nick Andros (Henry Zaga), a deaf and mute man and Tom Cullen (Brad William) travel to Hemingford Homes. Mother Abigail is there, with only the corpses of her fellow community members and a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle for company.
Mother Abigail: My name is Abagail Freemantle. You come see me at Hemingford Home, Colorado.
33. Corner Gas 'Mosquito Time' (Season 2, Episode 10)
Corner Gas is the ultimate Canadian sitcom that ran from 2004 to 2009, and it's an absolute gem. Written by the popular comedian Brent Butt who returns to small town Saskatchewan to portray the life he would have led had he gotten a real job - pumping gas at Corner Gas.
During mosquito season, the Leroys are stuck indoors and try making an old jigsaw puzzle from The Windmill Series to kill time. Problem is, the picture has very little windmills and "a bunch of damn sky."
34. Barry 'ronny/lily' (Season 2, Episode 5)
The TV show "Barry" is a dark comedy-drama series that premiered in 2018. It follows the life of the titular character, Barry Berkman, portrayed by Bill Hader, who is a former Marine turned hitman. Barry's life takes a turn when he travels to Los Angeles for a hit job and stumbles into an acting class taught by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler).
In Barry's top rated episode (9.8/10 on IMDB), Barry finds himself cornered by the police, specifically Detective Loach, who has apprehended him. But here's the twist: Detective Loach doesn't want to bring Barry to justice; instead, he wants to exploit him by blackmailing Barry into carrying out a hit on the man who is involved with Loach's ex-wife. This man, named Ronny, becomes the target of Barry's mission, but all Barry wants is to scare him away temporarily. However, there's a surprising twist waiting for Barry when he discovers Ronny's impressive collection of taekwondo trophies and jigsaw puzzles.
35. Yellowjackets 'Old Wounds' (Season 2, Episode 4)
"Yellowjackets" is a television drama series that premiered in 2021, focusing on a women's high school soccer team called "The Yellowjackets" who survive a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness during the 1990s. The show explores the aftermath of the crash through a dual timeline narrative, following the girls' struggles for survival in the wilderness and their adult lives 25 years later. With a blend of mystery, suspense, and psychological drama, "Yellowjackets" delves into the complex dynamics between the survivors, their hidden secrets, and the lasting impact of the traumatic experience.
In the second season of "Yellowjackets," Misty encounters Walter, a fellow online sleuth with a love for musical theatre. Their dynamic brings a double dose of fun to the show, but there's an ominous undertone as Walter refers to himself as the Moriarty to Misty's Sherlock. The question arises: What does Walter truly want from Misty? Is he about to betray her? While some theories suggest darker motives, it's possible that Walter is simply a peculiar and wealthy individual who enjoys indulging in musicals and solving jigsaw puzzles.
Are you the missing piece? 🧩
Have you spotted any jigsaw puzzles in film, TV, music, art, and fashion? Share your favourite jigsaw puzzle features in the comments below! I will try and include as many as possible in the main article!
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Reduce your screen time and get a piece of the action with one of these HD jigsaw puzzles that will help ease your mind for a bit.
So beautiful you'll want to frame them.