Nubbins Sawyer (called "the Hitchhiker" in the credits) appears in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and in the first sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Edwin Neal portrays him 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 travellers.Though sadistic and violent, he is generally one of the least threatening characters in the movie, being not very intelligent, and behaving erratically. The character also has a bizarre speech impediment and a large birth mark on the side of his face. His speech impediment came from the actor who portrayed him, Edwin Neal, who played the hitchhiker as someone who suffered from schizophrenia.
The Hitchhiker first appears in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre walking along a 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 ask 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 and shows them pictures of him and his family killing the cattle while telling them a story about how headcheese comes from the cows there when their heads are melted, all the while attempting to get them to drop him off at his home and even inviting them to dinner. The Hitchhiker soon begins acting erratically after being given back the photographs by the disgusted travelers, slashing his own hand with a pocket knife; after Franklin Hardesty (Paul A. Partain) refuses to buy a picture he took of him, the Hitchhiker sets the photo on fire and slashes Franklin's arm with a straight razor before being kicked out of the van. The Hitchhiker briefly chases after the van, kicking, yelling and smearing a bloody hand print on it, but soon relinquishes his attack on it.
The film later identifies Nubbins as one of the brothers of the main villain of the film, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) and of Drayton Sawyer (Jim Siedow), as well as one of the family members of an mentally unstable and murderous family of cannibals. It's also revealed that he was the one responsible for the grave robbings mentioned at the beginning of the film. Together, they torment Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns), Franklin's sister whom Drayton had captured. Eventually deciding to kill Sally, Nubbins, 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 in trying to help him, the Hitchhiker forgets to keep a hold on Sally, allowing her break free of their grasp and jump out a nearby window; as Sally flees, the Hitchhiker and Leatherface give chase to 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.