Character Garfield is a lazy, obese, selfish, rude, pathetic, anthropomorphic, orange tabby cat with distinctive dark brown stripes and an attitude, who enjoys eating (especially lasagna), sleeping, watching TV, reading, and tormenting his owner, Jon Arbuckle, and his dog, Odie. He also enjoys tormenting Jon's mailman, Herman Post. His arch-nemesis is Happy Chapman, who only appears in Garfield: The Movie. His favorite food is lasagna, and he loves to snack on canaries ("You can't eat just one canary!"); however, he hates raisins and spinach. Also, he has sickness problems, like sleep attacks. He refuses to eat mice ("Show me a good mouser, and I'll show you a cat with bad breath!"), and has befriended several. He does, however, hate spiders. He is on number 8 of his 9 lives. He considers himself to be more intelligent than humans and other animals. He hates Mondays (not applicable if it is also his birthday), and is often struck by bad luck in Monday comic strips. He is on a lasagna diet ("I see lasagna, I eat it!"). He enjoys performing at the convalescent home next to Jon's house in the middle of the night, although he is usually "boo"ed at and bombarded with various objects. He can't stand spiders, and although he doesn't chase mice (unless bribed to do so), he is often seen trying to eat birds. He frequently destroys Jon's house curtains and ferns, as well as the flowerbeds of Jon and their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Feeny. He is also rivals with Odie.
He detests being taken to the vet, and usually tries to hide from Jon when he is informed or if he has a "feeling". In one strip sequence in 1986, their home address is revealed that Garfield, Jon and Odie live in 711 Maple Street. However, in Garfield in Paradise, Garfield's fantasy dream had a cat named Mike say that he is from Wages, Nevada (this was a fantasy), and in the Garfield and Friends episode of the 2nd season, Jon is running from a Chicago airport. In the TV special, Garfield Gets a Life, Jon's car is revealed to have an Indiana vehicle registration plate at the end of the episode, indicating that they live in Indiana. In Garfield Goes Hollywood, while Jon, Mr. Bant, Odie and Garfield are on Pet Search, the announcer says that they are from Muncie, Indiana. This is possibly because Jim Davis is from Indiana, and Paws, Inc. is located in Muncie. Though he often treats Jon and Odie horribly, it is often indicated that he does indeed care for them.
As of 2006, it is syndicated in roughly 2,570 newspapers and journals and it currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's most widely syndicated Comic Strip. The popularity of the strip has led to a children's cartoon show, several television specials and a feature-length film, as well as a large amount of Garfield-related merchandise.
Garfield was born in the kitchen of Mama Leone's Italian Restaurant and immediately ate all the pasta and lasagna in sight, thus developing a taste for lasagna in June 19, 1978. However, he was given to a pet store, where he was bought by Jon. For awhile, Garfield had the house to himself, then Jon's roommate, Lyman, brought Odie to the house. Lyman eventually disappeared from the strip, but Odie stayed.
The strip pokes fun at pet owners and their relationship with their pets -- often portraying the pet as the true master of the home. Garfield also struggles with human problems, such as diets, loathing of Mondays, apathy, boredom, and so on. Gags in the strips commonly deal with Garfield's obesity (in one strip, Jon jokes, "I wouldn't say Garfield is fat, but the last time, he got on a Ferris wheel, the two guys on top starved to death!"), and his hatred of exercise (or any form of work, yet he is known for saying breathing is exercise). In addition to being portrayed as lazy and fat, Garfield is also pessimistic, cynical, sarcastic and sardonic. He enjoys destroying things, mauling Herman, and tormenting Odie; he also makes snide comments, usually about Jon's inability to get a date (in one strip, when Jon bemoans the fact that no one will go out with him on New Year's, Garfield replies, "Don't feel bad Jon. They wouldn't go out with you even if it weren't New Year's."). Though Garfield can be very cynical he does have a soft side for his teddy bear, Pooky, food and sleep, but one Christmas, he says, "They say I have to get up early, be nice to people, skip breakfast... I wish it would never end.".
Garfield is able to understand anything, that Jon or other humans say, but doesn't talk to humans (he communicates to the reader in thought balloons, and Jon reacts to Garfield's thoughts). However, Garfield is able to talk to Odie and the other animals. Odie understands what Garfield says to him, but in general, cannot communicate back to Garfield, except by barking. Most of the other animals (Arlene, Nermal, mice, and the other dogs) are capable of a two-way conversation with Garfield. Garfield apparently is able to type and a few times has written messages that Jon has read and understood (typically letters to Santa Claus), however this happens very rarely.
Over the course of the strip, Garfield's behavior and appearance evolved. Initially, he was drawn grossly obese with flabby jowls and small round eyes. Later, his appearance was slimmed down and his eyes enlarged. By 1983, his familiar appearance—featuring oval-shaped eyes—had taken shape. By this time, Garfield was walking on two feet, and the strip emphasized Situation comedy situations such as Garfield making fun of Jon's stupidity and Jon's inability to make social connections. A number of the strip's readers feel that the quality of the writing has lessened, even as the artwork retained a consistent level of quality. Like many comic strips, Garfield is not exclusively drawn and written by its creator. Jim Davis's company, Paws Inc., employs cartoonists and writers who do most of the work of scripting, drawing, and inking the strip, while Davis's work is usually confined to approving and signing the finished strip. Davis spends most of his time managing the business and merchandising aspects of Garfield.
Learning from the indifference met with his previous comic strip creation Gnorm Gnat, Jim Davis has made a conscious effort to include all readers in Garfield; keeping the jokes broad and the humour general and applicable to everyone. As a result the strip typically avoids the social or political commentary present in some of Garfield's contemporaries, such as Boondocks, Doonesbury, Dilbert, and Cathy. Although a couple of strips in 1978 addressed inflation and, arguably, organized labor, as well as Jon frequently smoking a pipe or subscribing to a "bachelor magazine", these elements were ultimately pruned from the product with the intent of maintaining a more universal appeal. Davis adamantly disavowed social commentary in an interview published at the beginning of one of the book compilations, joking that he once believed that OPEC was a denture adhesive.
The characters and situations in Garfield are often constant, with no change or development for the past several years. While this is not unique to Garfield, as Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes and the children of Peanuts never age, other strips such as For Better or For Worse, Cathy, and Doonesbury maintain a continuity with characters who develop, age, and may even die as the strip proceeds.
The comic strip was turned into a cartoon special for television in 1982 in television called Here Comes Garfield. Actor Lorenzo Music, previously known as the voice of Carlton the doorman on the show Rhoda, was hired to portray the voice of Garfield. Soul singer Lou Rawls provided musical accompaniment. Twelve television specials were made (through 1991) as well as a television series, Garfield and Friends, which ran from 1988 to 1995.
A live-action movie version of the comic strip, Garfield: The Movie had its debut in the United States on June 11, 2004. The film employed a computer-animated Garfield and live-action Odie. Lorenzo Music had passed away prior to the filming of the movie, and Bill Murray was cast as the voice of Garfield. Murray's laid-back, deadpan delivery has often been compared to Music's; indeed, Music provided the voice of Murray's Peter Venkman character in the cartoon version of Ghostbusters. Murray became the fourth actor to provide a voice for the Garfield: Tommy Smothers voiced the role in a cat food commercial, and an unnamed Music soundalike was used in another TV spot. Prior to Murray being cast, it was widely reported that actor John Goodman had been picked to provide Garfield's voice for the film.
For his work on the strip, creator Jim Davis received the National Cartoonist Society Humor Strip Award for 1981 and 1985, and their Reuben Award for 1989.
On June 7, 1999, newspapers began to be offered full-color Garfield weekday strips. He is voiced by Lorenzo Music.
Name Jim Davis named Garfield after his grandfather, James Garfield Davis, who was named after President James A. Garfield. According to an interview with Jim Davis in the second Garfield compilation book, Garfield Gains Weight, the name, "Garfield" makes him think of "...a fat cat... or a St. Bernard... or a neat line of thermal underwear.". He "speaks" through thought bubbles, and even though other animals can understand him, Jon generally cannot (although Jon is quite frequently shown having what looks like a conversation with Garfield's thoughts and has often guessed Garfield's thoughts verbatim, somewhat like the characters in Peanuts when talking to Snoopy; indeed, Garfield bears some similarities to the "The Stupid Cat Next Door"). Rarely, Jon's reaction imply that he is hearing Garfield's thoughts (or thinking), and he even declares that in one strip. Sometimes, after Jon states what he believes Garfield to be thinking (that he wants food), Garfield corrects him by stating that, for example, his car is on fire. stating that, for example, his car's on fire.
History Garfield was born June 19, 1978, in the kitchen of Mama Leone's Italian Restaurant and loved lasagna the day he was born. Ever since then, it has always been his favorite food. According to his grandfather, he was born five pounds, six ounces, surprisingly enough, he managed to fit in a tiny bed. Later in his life, Garfield runs across his mother, Sonja, again one Christmas Eve, accidentally, and meets his other grandfather for the first time. When Jon came to the store, he had to choose between Garfield, an iguana, and a pet rock. According to the comic strips, Garfield first stood on just two feet on May 17, 1981. However, this contradicts some of the earlier strips. For example, he is shown tap-dancing on Jon's head in the strip for May 6, 1979. Also, in the strip for September 16, 1979, Garfield sleepwalks away on two feet. In his cartoon appearances, Garfield usually causes mischief in every episode. In June 1983, comic strips introduced Amoeba Man, one of Garfield's alter-egos, yet he was only shown in 6 strips (6-20 through 6-25). Amoeba Man is only one of his few imaginary alter-egos though, his most common one being the Caped Avenger. And for a very short period of time, Garfield would fall prey to various dogs, e.g. Bungee Dog, Warm-Up Dog, etc., which would squish him in any direction. It is also given that Garfield uses the "sandbox" on occasion, such as in one 1978 strip, he says that he hates commercials, because they are too short for a trip to the sandbox. It was revealed on October 27, 1979 that he doesn’t like raisins. His birthday is 1978-06-19, the day the first Garfield strip was published. Interestingly, on Garfield's 25th anniversary in 2003, several strips were featured with him interacting with the version of him from 1978. Garfield frequently gets into many adventures, such as getting stuck in roll-up shades, sparring with mice, and getting locked up in animal shelters. In 2005, Garfield and Jon appeared in several comic strips of Blondie in honor of their 75th anniversary. Garfield got excited, because he didn't have to think. There was an earlier Blondie crossover on the Garfield strip published April 1, 1997.
Garfield was one of the cartoon characters, featured in Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, although he was the only character to be used without the permission of his creator.
Eating A long running gag is that Garfield is a ravenous and gluttonous eater. He is almost always shown eating a foodstuff high in fat. Among the spaghetti, pizza, cookies (particularly those from Jon's mother), hamburgers, whole chickens, popcorn, pie, pork chops, doughnuts, ice cream, Chinese food, steaks, and sweets, that he consumes, his favorite food has been stated consistently as lasagna and he may commonly be seen in his trademark, eating position with his head arched back, mouth wide open, shoveling food down his throat with a big smile on his face. He is very desperate to steal Jon's food, and will go to any extent to obtain it. In one strip, he snatched a cylindrical shape off a plate, that Jon was carrying, ate it, and remarked, "I hope that was food.". Although eating is a hobby for him, Garfield is very picky. He is known to detest cat food (only on occasion, as he can be seen eating cat food, frequently), raisins, snails, fruitcake, grapefruit and vegetables, especially during his occasional diets. These are followed by hallucinations of some of his favorite foods following him around, asking to be ingested.
Subsequently, another running gag revolves around Jon's attempts at putting Garfield on a diet. In retaliation, Garfield will often seek methods to either sneak away food behind Jon's back, or physically harm Jon. Another common gag is the talking scale. During each of his diets, Garfield would weigh himself, saying something to the scale first. Upon stepping off, the scale would respond by making a derogatory remark about his weight, such as, "I was made for people and pets, not cargo ships.".
Mischevious Habits Garfield has a knack for mischievous habits. Besides tormenting Jon with his sarcastic remarks or kicking Odie off a table, Garfield's favorite victim is the mailman, often ripping the mailman's pants to shreds, or at times dragging the mailman around. Jon often gets calls from neighbors about his cat eating their flowerbeds or trying to eat their pet birds.
His hatred towards spiders always results with them being whacked with a rolled newspaper or stomped by his foot. He occasionally does the same to other insects such as flies (in some strips, he is shown to hate flies more than spiders).
He likes to eat ferns and other types of flowers. Some strips feature common flowers talking to each other, only to be eaten by Garfield in the end.
When outside, Garfield enjoys teasing other dogs; they are usually chained up or smaller in size than Garfield. However, he occasionally faces the misfortune of the chain / rope not being securely tied (resulting in Garfield being chased and / or injured by the dog), or the dogs are not as small / weak as they seem.
Next to Odie, Jon is his favorite person to prank. When Jon is asleep, Garfield often goes to extreme measures to wake him up -- whether it be hopping on his stomach, waking him with a goblin's mask on his face, throwing his bed out of the window with him in it, frightening Jon, or even attempting to throttle him (as he does in some early strips), Garfield always seems to have the upper hand on Jon's sleeping habits.
On January 8,2009, he was elected into the bad habit hall of fame. Afterwards, he crumpled up the certificate and tossed it behind him.
Age Garfield's birthday is said to be June 19, the day, that the strip started. However, in real life, it would have been before this, because it is said that he was born in a Italian restaurant, not in Jon's house, where the first strip took place. However, he could have been born, taken from the restaurant to Jon's house, whereupon the first strip started. However, Garfield had already grown past the kitten stage when the strip began.
Family Over the course of the strip, Gafield has shared information on members of his family:
Uncle Arno: Uncle Arno is known for saying, "Life is like a festival; you have to get out there and enjoy it.". He was run over by a parade of rabid rhinos. Uncle Barney: Uncle Barney once went to the vet and came back as Garfield's Aunt Bernice. Uncle Berle: Uncle Berle is described as crazy, and thought that he was a dog. He always chased himself up trees and was constantly exhausted as a result. Uncle Bernie: Uncle Bernie is coined the phrases, "Never listen for a train by putting your ear on a train track.", and "Curiosity killed the cat.", in that order. Uncle Bob: Uncle Bob used to say, "Slow down, take it easy." before being hit by a bus. Great Uncle Buchanan: Great Uncle Buchanan appeared in the episode of Garfield and Friends, "Astrocat." He was the first animal to land on the moon. He looks and sounds exactly like Garfield. Uncle Ed: Described as crazy, Uncle Ed liked to sniff waffle irons, and his face was used for "Tic-Tac-Toe" games. He also always said, "Never belch out loud.",and blew out an eyeball one day. However, this may be a different Uncle Ed. Aunt Edna: Aunt Edna used to say, "Let a smile be your umbrella.", until her dentures were blown clean through the garage door by a bolt of lightning. She also married a hyena. Aunt Evelyn: Aunt Evelyn plucked all her hair from her body to stop shedding. She currently resides in L.A., with a family, that thinks that she is a chihuahua. Uncle Harry: Uncle Harry lived in a gas plant in Gas City, Indiana. He was a famous mouser, eventually chasing a mouse into Tank #2. He is now a paperweight in Bayonne, New Jersey. Uncle Hubert: Uncle Hubert once caught a 30-pound canary in Chicago, and was last spotted over Dallas, Texas. For this reason, Garfield does not chase birds. Uncle Leo: Uncle Leo always had a smile until an incident with denture weevils. Uncle Morty: Uncle Morty was killed by his gluttony, after trying to take a papaya from a silverback gorilla. Uncle Nick: Uncle Nick loved to destroy things and used to eat chickens whole. There are two conflicting statements to his current status, however. In one strip, it is said that he tried to swallow an ostrich after he mistook it for a chicken, with his last words being, "That's the biggest chicken I ever saw.". In another, it is stated that he is presently a postal employee in Chicago. Aunt Rockelvia: Aunt Rockelvia was known for saying, "A rolling stone gathers no moss.". She lived for thirty years before she was squashed by a meteor. Uncle Patrick: Uncle Patrick was famous for the quote, "I regret that I have but nine lives to give to my country.". Great Uncle Ralph: The only mention of Great Uncle Ralph claims that he was a warthog. Aunt Reba: Garfield reacts with her name when Jon revealed that his tennis racket was strung with catgut. Uncle Roy: Uncle Roy was said to be weird, he underwent a species change operation that transformed him into a dog; He later chased himself to death. There are also two unnamed uncles and one great uncle. One uncle went to the vet once and had his brain replaced with that of a chicken. The rest of his life was spent sitting on eggs in grocery stores. Another uncle used to play with yarn, and is now a pattern in an angora sweater. The great uncle was a lion who ate a sick monkey. Cousin Sly: Cousin Sly is a mouser. Appeared in Garfield on the Town. Raoul: Raoul is Garfield's half-brother, a mouser. Great Grandfather Oslo: Great Grandfather Oslo was a pioneer. He moved his family thousands of miles across uncharted territory and kept saying, "I hear a can-opener.". Jarfield a pile of garfield's shedding jon mistook for garfields brother for three weeks.