Garfield was born on June 19, 1978, in the kitchen of Mamma Leoni's Italian Restaurant to his mother and his unnamed father, weighing 5 lbs and 6 ounces at birth. He has loved lasagna since the day he was born, and it has always been his favorite food ever since, unlike the majority of his family, even his parents, who were rodent preying "mousers". The restaurant owner of Mamma Leoni's Italian Restaurant had to choose between keeping Garfield or closing down his restaurant due to a lack of pasta, so Garfield was sold to a pet shop. On the same day as his birth, Jon Arbuckle came to the pet store and had to choose between Garfield, an iguana, and a pet rock. On November 14, 1978, comic strip, Jon quoted, "I love cats. I wanted a cat... So what do I do? I go to the pet store and ask for a cat. What do they give me?... A lasagna with fur and fangs."
Garfield is an overweight, anthropomorphic orange tabby cat noted for his sheer laziness, sarcasm, arrogance, selfishness, and intense passion for food, particularly lasagna and most forms of foods made from flour. He dislikes raisins and (sometimes) anchovy pizza.
Throughout the course of the strip, Garfield's weight has been poked fun at as an object of ridicule, frequently by the electronic scale which he uses to weigh himself. Garfield usually does not handle insults or commands from the talking scale RX-2 (or anybody else) very well, and will normally respond to such remarks with either a saucy comeback or some sort of threat of violence, in spite of the fact that the character solely communicates through thought bubbles.
Garfield lives with his nerdy, socially awkward owner Jon Arbuckle and Jon's dimwitted pet dog Odie, and derives pleasure from satirically mocking the stupid actions performed by the two of them. Garfield seems to intensely abhor Odie (as obviously expected from the assumed common hatred shared by cats and dogs) and derives joy from causing him physical harm or insulting him such as kicking him off tables, seldom showing empathy for the beagle. Albeit Odie shows Garfield no belligerence of any kind and would never deliberately cause him harm (though Odie does occasionally prank Garfield and has made fun of his weight and more recently his age), Garfield despises him nonetheless and is apt to make rude and saucy comments based on the utter lack of intelligence displayed by Odie, though at times it is not entirely clear whether Odie actually is stupid or not. Odie is not the only target of Garfield's taunts; he frequently insults and pokes fun at Jon as well for his nerdy behavior and unpopularity with women, along with his unconventional and eccentric fashion sense.
Despite his sometimes selfishness and sheer laziness, Garfield loves both Odie and Jon nonetheless, as well as his beloved teddy bear Pooky, which is frequently seen in his Garfield's arms or close to him.
In The Garfield Live action Film duology, he notably acts the same as he does in the comics, but has more of a passion towards dancing and listening to music.
In The Garfield Show, while Garfield still retains his signature traits, he is considerably more compassionate towards his friends.
Over the years, Garfield's appearance has changed greatly. In the first couple of years of the strip, he looked more like a real Exotic Shorthair cat and was fatter. Over time, Garfield started to get smaller and less morbidly obese. He also started gaining more human tendencies such as walking on two feet (previously he walked on all fours) but has remained silent for the rest of the strip. He also has four toes on his feet. Despite the changes, Garfield has always remained an orange tabby over the years.
Throughout the franchise, Garfield is known for having internal monologues that are converted into text via thought bubbles. In the Lorenzo Music era, his mouth was always closed, since it is established that he and the other animals cannot talk. Despite this, he seems to communicate with Jon through some sort of telepathic connection.
It is never clear if humans can understand what Garfield is saying. Sometimes, it appears humans can hear his thoughts, and Garfield can order things on the phone without a worry, but Garfield always establishes his inability to talk.
Starting with the live-action films, Garfield's mouth now moves when he has dialogue, making it harder to tell whether or not he can talk.
In "The Garfield Show", Garfield is portrayed with a moving mouth. Despite this, Jon is usually unable to hear his dialogue.
For a cat, Garfield has high intelligence to the point of an average human. He is capable of reading and writing and can operate an array of basic electronics such as TVs, telephones, voice recorders, computers (with a mouse, not the touch-pad), etc. He can communicate with elephants, humans (understand, but not talk to), dogs, mice, and other animals. He can write with a goose feather or by dipping his claws into a bottle of ink. He can also operate basic machinery in case of an emergency.
He orders an average of 50 boxes of his favorite food lasagna a week and eats extra on his birthday. He likes an arrangement of food containing wheat and is known to like Chinese food on occasion. He likes eggplants in lasagnas and pepperoni on pizzas. He usually eats by tossing lasagnas into the air and catching them. He sometimes uses a fork, albeit more rarely. He often orders a large pizza and rolls it up like a taco. He eats with more manners in "Against All Tides".
Garfield and Jon
While Garfield loves his owner Jon, this does not stop him from pulling numerous practical jokes on him, as well as other mischievous acts.
Being the obsessive eater he is, Garfield frequently eats Jon's food when he is not looking. Even when Jon is on his guard, Garfield manages to take his food in other, more ingenious ways, such as cutting holes through the table. Other times, when Jon tries to work out a truce with Garfield to stop him from eating his food, Garfield often ignores Jon's offers and eats his food instead. Often times, Garfield even takes Jon's food and adds it to his own cat food.
Garfield frequently pranks Jon in several different ways as well. One way is by locking Jon out of the house while he is out to retrieve the mail. Garfield may do this to hog all the prepared breakfast food for himself. Other times, Garfield does it to amuse the neighbors by locking Jon out while he is on out in his bunny footy pajamas.
When Jon is asleep, Garfield often goes to extreme measures to wake him up. This has included hopping on his stomach, waking him with different monster masks on his face (or otherwise frightening him), throwing his bed out of the window with him in it, knocking him off the bed after playing the radio, talking like a drill sergeant with Odie playing the cymbals, or attempting to throttle him (as he does in some early strips).
In addition, Jon often pays the price for Garfield's acts of mischief on other people. When terrorizing the neighborhood in various ways (such as destroying flowerbeds, chasing girl scouts to ransack their cookies, or just plain harassing people), Jon gets flooded with calls from neighbors complaining about Garfield's actions. Garfield only views such large volumes of complaint calls as an award or achievement.
In Garfield and Friends and the specials and The Garfield Show, they are best friends. The only thing the neighbors complain about Garfield is eating their food. But Jon and Garfield care about each other and both of them are protective of each other.
Garfield and Odie
Garfield frequently harasses Odie, his house-mate. Garfield enjoys kicking Odie off the table when he is not looking. He also likes to trick Odie into performing a stupid act, like chasing non-existent objects or getting him to chase his tail around in circles with no end. Despite this, Garfield does care for Odie and his well being to the point where he would put his life on the line to ensure his safety.
In the Garfield Show, Garfield does not harass Odie as much as he does in the comics. Garfield's friendship with Odie is shown quite often when he is in danger. He also acts more generous with food towards him; after ordering pizzas whilst visiting Doc Boy's farm, Garfield openly shares a slice with Odie after being asked.
Garfield and Spiders
Garfield often comes into contact with spiders; this almost always results with them being whacked with a rolled newspaper or stomped by his foot. This is often the result of the spider insulting Garfield, whether it be over his weight, his old age (usually around Garfield's upcoming birthdays), his life in general, or anything else. Other times, it is merely an act resulting from Garfield's general hatred towards spiders.
Occasionally, when Garfield flattens a spider with a magazine, he will leave the magazine out for Jon to read. When Jon opens the magazine, he finds a large, flattened out spider, causing him to scream in terror. The spiders occasionally win against Garfield by avoiding getting swatted or finding a way to annoy or harm him, such as ruining his selfie.
Garfield and Nermal
Garfield is often jealous of the treatment Nermal gets from many people, especially Jon. While not having any problem with him when having his peace and quiet undisturbed, Garfield will get very angry and annoyed when Nermal intentionally ruins it and will not have any problem with bullying or mailing him to Abu Dhabi him in return. Garfield still dislikes Nermal and wishes he would leave him alone. They get along if they needed to be, or if Garfield is in a good mood.
In the Garfield Show and the CGI movies, Garfield openly displays irritation with Nermal when he is there to intentionally annoy him and others. He once wore a mask of himself smiling to pretend to tolerate Nermal.
Garfield and Arlene
Throughout the comic strips, Garfield and Arlene appear to be close. Garfield would attempt to make some moves on Arlene, such as kissing her or attempting to compliment her, which would end with Arlene injuring him vaguely. As the comic strips went on, it was hinted that they are a pair.
Garfield may have commitment issues with Arlene. In one comic strip, Garfield imagines a future of him and Arlene being married; he grows nervous when he imagines them having kittens and brushes the idea off. In another strip, Arlene asks him from out of nowhere if it were legal for cats to get married. Garfield's face (except for his mouth) responds with a surprised and scared expression. When being asked by Arlene if he is okay, Garfield tells her that his brain is in pain. Arlene also knows what to say to Garfield; when she randomly mentions tuna, Garfield smiles with her as he holds her paw, commenting on how much of a sweet talker she was. He also does not wish to be too critical with Arlene, as when being asked if the gap in her teeth looks silly, Garfield tells her that she could never look silly. Garfield also mentions that Arlene is cute when she is angry.
In the CGI movies, Garfield and Arlene act more romantically interested in one another. Arlene sometimes believes he could do better. She gets worried and frustrated when it seems like some other female cat is hitting on Garfield. Garfield is also shown to be afraid of losing Arlene to a better male cat. In Garfield's Fun Fest, he sees "Ramone" become Arlene's new dance partner, an offer that he had turned down, making Garfield grow jealous and worried. Following an unsuccessful journey for Freddy Frog's "funny water", he expects Arlene and his fans to forget about him. When he gets encouragement from Freddy himself, Garfield puts on the clothes and dances with Arlene while fighting with Ramone until exposing him as Nermal. Garfield then apologizes to Arlene, as this was more important than Fun Fest. They end up winning a perfect score and the two kiss.
Garfield and Plants
He likes to eat ferns and other types of flowers. Liz once said that the reason Garfield eats Jon's houseplants is due to the fact that he is so out of shape that plants are one of the few things that are easy for him to catch. Some strips feature common flowers talking to each other, only to be eaten by Garfield in the end.
Garfield and Dogs
Besides kicking Odie off the table, when outside, Garfield enjoys teasing other dogs. They are usually chained up or smaller in size than Garfield. He occasionally faces the misfortune of the chain or rope not being securely tied, (resulting in Garfield being chased and/or injured by the dog), or the dogs are not as small or weak as they seem. At one point, an obese blue dog in a superhero costume assumed various different guises (i.e, Bungee Dog, Slingshot Dog, etc.), resulting in Garfield getting harmed.
Garfield likes to torment mailman Herman Post, although Herman occasionally gets the last laugh.
Garfield's other favorite victim to prank is Mrs. Feeny. He loves to prank her, and abuse her little dog. This makes her hate Garfield, often sending threatening letters to him. She goes to great lengths to try and keep him out of her garden as well, often to no avail.
Garfield can also be a rude slob, with almost no manners. Among the rude things he likes to do is burp very loudly. On two occasions, Garfield goes out of his way to burp louder than Jon does; when Jon states that not everything is a contest, Garfield replies "Said the loser."
On January 8, 2009, he displays a certificate announcing his election into the Bad Habit Hall of Fame. Afterward, he crumples up the certificate and tosses it behind him.
Common Elements of a Garfield Comic
- Garfield sitting on the couch, watching TV.
- Garfield making fun of Jon and/or Odie.
- Garfield swatting (a) spider(s).
- Jon complaining about Garfield's refusal to chase mice.
- Garfield harassing the neighbors, and Jon getting calls about it.
- Garfield eating Lasagna.
- Garfield eating ferns, either Jon's or Mrs. Feeny's.
- Garfield performing on the fence.
- Jon asking a girl out on a date, and Garfield making a witty comment.
- Garfield insulting or making snarky, witty, sarcastic and sometimes downright mean comments about Jon's flaws.
- Garfield hating Mondays.
- Garfield kicking or pushing Odie off the table.
- Garfield dating Arlene.
- Nermal being a nuisance to Garfield and being mailed to Abu Dhabi.
- Garfield pulling pranks on Herman Post.
- Garfield Sleeping.
- Garfield and Odie doing "Ask a Dog".
- Odie's barking disturbing Garfield's eating and sleeping.
- Birthday and age-related nightmares on the days before Garfield's birthday.
- Garfield being sent to the nurse for being over-weight.
- Garfield trying to cheat on his diets.
- Garfield trying to fool RX-2 the talking scale.
- Exaggerated signs that Garfield needs to go on a diet, such as the house sinking in or the floors becoming wavy or bouncy in one comic.
- Garfield throwing Nermal through the door.
- Garfield and his coffee addiction.
- Garfield shedding.
- Garfield complaining about Mondays.
- Bad things happening to Garfield on Mondays.
- Jon or Garfield being on the news.
- Garfield taunting the neighborhood dogs.
- Garfield and/or Jon ordering pizza.
- Garfield eating birds (or at least trying to).
- Garfield getting stuck in the blinds.
- Garfield clawing furniture (or curtains).
Repeatedly Used Words
While Garfield does not have any catchphrases, he has some certain words or phrases he says on several occasions:
- Nice touch: a phrase often said by Garfield on television.
- I hate Mondays: famously, Mondays seem to hate Garfield even more than he hates them!
- Rats: a word said when something goes wrong.
- Big fat hairy deal: not said as much as the others, but has a video game by the same name.
- Whoever [phrase] should be dragged out into the street and shot: said whenever he is angry at someone—most notably in certain Garfield and Friends episodes and animated specials. In an episode of The Garfield Show, "shot" was replaced with "beaten".
- I'm standing on him: whenever Garfield appears taller than usual
- We're bachelors, baby: A phrase Garfield started saying when Jon would be lazy about things like cleaning. First used after Liz became Jon's girlfriend.
- Feed me: said when he wants to be fed. (This is actually the second thing he said on his very first comic strip.)
- Rat Fink daisies
- This does not bode well (also said by Jon in the first comic strip of 2000.)
- No anchovies!
- Eat your heart out, [person]
- I'm not overweight. I'm undertall.
- Hey, you're not exactly Ms. (phrase) yourself lady!: Not said as much as others but it is commonly said when he feels like he's being insulted
- I hate ______. : used when something "disobeys" what Garfield wants it to do
- The plot thickens: said when something funny happens with Jon (such as showing a scar to a police officer when he thought he was showing it to a nurse) or Odie (such as being yelled at by Jon for supposedly trying to eat the last green jelly bean)
- Define "_______" : usually said when Garfield does not want to properly answer a question.
- Yo no comprehendo, señor. : Used when Garfield tries to avoid a problem by speaking the Spanish translation for "I do not understand, sir".
- Odie (best friend)
- Jon Arbuckle (best friend)
- Nermal (friends in Garfield Movie)
- Harry (occasionally)
- Doc Boy Arbuckle
- Vito Cappelletti
- Mrs. Arbuckle
- Mr. Arbuckle
- Grandma Arbuckle
- Orson Pig
- Wade Duck
- Roy Rooster
- Bo Sheep
- Penelope Pussycat
- Cactus Jake
- Liz Wilson
- Herman Post (acquantice in Garfield and Friends and The Garfield Show)
- Nermal (also victim)
- Harry (sometimes)
- Spiders (also victims)
- Flies (also victims)
- Mrs. Feeny
- Aunt Ivy
- Herman Post (also victim and enemy in comics)
- Drusilla and Minerva (attacker)
- Dogs (sometimes)
- Birds (only specifics)
- Theodore Block (before finding Foo Foo's lookalike)
- Binky the Clown (depending on the episode)
- TI-D 7000
- Abusing Odie
- Mailing Nermal to Abu Dhabi
- Tormenting Jon
- Scratching curtains and furniture
- Diving in flowers
- Eating Jon and Mrs. Feeny's flowers and plants
- Harassing Herman
- Eating Jon's goldfish (or any other fish he brings home) and birds
- Befriending mice
- Stalking and hunting birds out in the backyard, especially in the comics (formerly in The Garfield Show)
- Squashing spiders and insects and other arthropods
- Burping loudly
- Insulting dogs
- Tormenting his neighbors, particularly Mrs. Feeny
- Tormenting Mrs. Feeny's chihuahua
- Performing in front of the audience
- Stealing food from his neighbors, which was common in Garfield and Friends, particularly with Mr. Burnside
- Causing Jon and his neighbor's misery
- Watching television
- Making the Laundromutt wash Odie
- Emptying all of Vito's stock
- Binky the Clown (sometimes)
- Mondays (Especially on the 13ths)
- Raisins in any form, especially in cookies, muffins, and cupcakes
- Spinach (occasionally)
- Irma's cooking
- Dogs (except Odie)
- Mice (as food)
- Nermal (only when he annoys him)
- Getting vaccination shots from the vet
- Garden sprinklers and accidentally encountering sprinkler heads
- Birthdays ("It's really the aging that curdles my cheese" or without any lasagna)
- Birthday and age-related nightmares
- Alarm clocks (they wake him up from his nap)
- Splut Pies
- Baths (This was only shown happening for the first couple of years)
- Birthday Nightmares
- Some vegetables
- People who know that he hates Mondays and people who like Mondays, especially Jon
- February (sporadically in the '80s)
- March's weather
- Healthy foods
- RX-2, the talking scale taunting or insulting him
- Jon's fashion sense and Christmas gift choices
- Anybody calling him overweight, or taunting/insulting him for related reasons
- Folding Chairs
- Leg Cramps
- Jon threatening never to feed him again
- Drusilla and Minerva
- Aunt Ivy
- Buddy Bears
- Binky the Clown (Sometimes)
- Agent X
- Mama Meanie's Pizza Palace
- Dr. Whipple
- Garfield is one of two characters who appear in all episodes.
- Garfield is the only character to appear in all episodes.
- According to Jim Davis in a Denver Comic-Con interview, Jack Nicholson was considered as the voice of Garfield in the 2004 live-action film. He was the only one besides Bill Murray considered for the role; he was never contacted as Murray was immediately accepted.
- In one comic strip, Garfield claims to dream in pizza toppings.
- The comic strip for May 17, 1999 references that Garfield may have killed something.
- In the April 25, 1983 strip, it is revealed that Garfield's favorite movie is "Old Yeller."
- Garfield is said to weigh 5 lbs and 6 ounces at birth, which was the actual birth weight of Jim Davis's son, James. Garfield's birth weight was supposedly from his ego, as said in Garfield's Guide to Everything.
- The foods Garfield will not eat are
- Raisins (including anything that contains such)
- Anchovies on pizza (occasionally)
- Most healthy foods
- Yogurt (including anything that resembles it)
- Jon's meatloaf (although he is sometimes seen eating it in The Garfield Show)
- Chicken salad sandwiches (especially ones with peanut butter)
- Garfield's 1978 design can be seen in The Garfield Show on a picture frame in the living room.
- Garfield was named after Jim Davis' grandfather, James Garfield Davis.