- "I was at the slaughterhouse. My brother worked there, my grandfather too. My family's always been in meat .. I was the killer!"
- ― Nubbins Sawyer[src]
Nubbins Sawyer, also known as The Hitchhiker, appears in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and in the first sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. He is portrayed as a mentally unstable and murderous cannibal and grave robber. He lives with his equally depraved family, the Sawyers, in the back roads of Texas, capturing, torturing and feasting on unwary travelers.
Sadistic and violent, he is generally one of the most threatening characters in the movie, unintelligent and behaving erratically. The character also has a bizarre speech impediment and a large birth mark on the left side of his face. His speech impediment came from the actor who portrayed him, Edwin Neal, who played the hitchhiker as someone with schizophrenia.
The Hitchhiker first appears in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre walking along the road, where he is picked up by a group of friends traveling through the area, who feel sorry for him having to walk in the heat.
The group asks him what he was doing out there and he tells them that he was "over at the slaughterhouse" where he and his brother and his grandfather used to work. He shows them pictures of him and his family killing the cattle while telling them a story about how head cheese comes from the cows when their heads are melted, all while attempting to get them to drop him off at his home and even inviting them to dinner. He soon begins acting erratically after the disgusted travelers return the photographs. The Hitchhiker suddenly pulls Franklin Hardesty's (Paul A. Partain) pocket knife out of his grasp after he sees the teen picking his fingernails with it. The group is shocked and appalled when the hitchhiker uses Franklin's knife to cut open the palm of his own hand. Shortly after, the hitchhiker shows off the straight razor he keeps in his boot and then takes a picture of Franklin using a camera he pulls out of his satchel. Nubbins takes a picture of Franklin, and tells him it's a good picture. He offers to let him keep it for $2. After Franklin refuses to buy the picture, the Hitchhiker sets the photo on fire and slashes Franklin's arm with the straight razor before being kicked out of the van. The Hitchhiker briefly chases after the van, kicking and yelling as he smears a bloody handprint onto the side of the vehicle, but soon relinquishes his attack on it. The smeared blood on the van is a symbol to help assess which vehicle Drayton should go after as a target for murder.
The film later identifies the Hitchhiker as the brother of the two other main villains of the film, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow), as well as the middle son of a mentally unstable family of murderous cannibals. It's also revealed that he was the one responsible for the grave robberies, which are mentioned at the beginning of the film. He was taking photographs of decomposed corpses and making horrific art and statues out of them at the cemetery. Together, they torment Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), Franklin's sister, whom Drayton had captured. Eventually deciding to kill Sally, the Hitchhiker, Drayton and Leatherface are at first content to allow their highly-regarded Grandpa (John Dugan) to do so, but when Grandpa proves unable to kill Sally with a hammer, the Hitchhiker and his brothers become impatient and over-eager with trying to help him. The Hitchhiker forgets to keep a hold on Sally when he tries to take the hammer from Grandpa, allowing her break free of their grasp and jump out a nearby window. As Sally flees, the Hitchhiker and Leatherface chase her, with the Hitchhiker catching up to her on a road. While slashing Sally with a knife, the Hitchhiker meets his demise when he is run over by an 18-wheeler.
In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, the Hitchhiker appears only as a macabre puppet-like corpse: his family has reassembled him after the events of the first film, and his twin brother, Chop Top (Bill Moseley) carries him around and treats him as if he were still alive. At one point, Drayton refers to him as Nubbins, indicating that that is his real name. The Hitchhiker's corpse is presumably destroyed when a hand grenade, accidentally set off by Drayton and the film's secondary protagonist, Lieutenant "Lefty" Enright (Dennis Hopper), blows up the family's hideout with the Hitchhiker's body in it.
In Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, another Sawyer brother, Alfredo, appears to be very similar to his brother Nubbins. Like the hitchhiker, Alfredo has a speech impediment and he also uses an old polaroid camera to shock people. Also, in this movie, Nubbins has another brother, Tex/Eddie, who also hitchhikes. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, another Sawyer brother named Vilmer practices self-mutilation like the Hitchhiker. In the original script for The Next Generation, Vilmer's character was originally the Hitchhiker, but when Edwin Neal turned down the role, his character was altered into what he is now today.
In the non-canon Jason vs. Leatherface Topps Comics' miniseries, Nubbins the Hitchhiker (bearing only a minor resemblance to his film counterpart and without his name mentioned) appears as a main character. Encountering Jason Voorhees (the main villain of the Friday the 13th franchise) in the woods near the Sawyer house, the Hitchhiker, after seeing Jason non-lethally disarm Leatherface after a brief skirmish and decapitate a man he and Leatherface were chasing, befriends him and takes him home, where Jason is inducted as an unofficial member of the family by Drayton. After a fight between Jason and the family, the Hitchhiker "kills" Jason by bashing him in the head with a hammer.
The miniseries expands upon the Hitchhiker's character, revealing that he owns a pet dog named Sparky (whom he killed by shooting it in the head and treats as if it were still alive) and that he creates furniture and sculptures out of corpses. The miniseries also showed the extent of the Hitchhiker's abuse of Leatherface, whom the Hitchhiker constantly bullies for little or no reason (although he apparently respects Leatherface's prowess at frightening and killing people, as he laments to Jason). The comics also hint that the Hitchhiker, as well as Leatherface, were born of incest, with Drayton's younger sister Velma being implicated as being their sister and mother. The Hitchhiker is also seen driving a tow truck and working at the family gas station, where he sabotages motorists' automobiles. He then informs his family and they attack they newly stranded people. The Hitchhiker's bizarre birth mark also changes shape several times throughout the comics. at one point, it takes the form of a swastika and a lightning bolt. After "killing" Jason, the Hitchhiker's brother, Drayton, (called Cook Slaughter in the comics) implicates that the Hitchhiker killed his own cousin named Emery with a two-by-four after a losing a game of checkers, to which the Hitchhiker replies, "He shouldn't have laughed at me".
- Nubbins' real name is never identified in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre; he is only identified as The Hitchhiker. His name is not mentioned until the second movie when Drayton says "Come here, Nubbins!" before dragging Nubbins' corpse under the table to where he is to get the grenade from the Hitchhiker's jacket.
- Nubbins appears in the 2015 Mobile version of the Fighting game Mortal Kombat X (Mobile game called Mortal Kombat Mobile) as a Support Kard for all Leatherface characters. he is seen along with Drayton Sawyer and Grandpa Sawyer.
- In the script for the first film, he was described as having a bony face, short carrot-colored curly hair, jeans tucked into old combat boots, a pouch and a large discolored mark on his face, his face and arms were also covered with scabs and sores. He was also said to be around 25 years old.
- His death in the original script was much more gorier than the film. His jaw was nearly ripped off from his head and his eyes were wide open. This was never seen in the film however.
- He was supposed to have returned in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation in the form of Vilmer. Edwin Neal turned down the deal and Vilmer was morphed into the character that he is today.