The following are running gags of Garfield.
Main article: Diets
Garfield, due to his extremely large weight, often has to go on diets. This is a source of major distress for him, as he tries to cheat on the diet whenever possible. He frequently overreacts to every diet, often appearing weaker and more exhausted than he actually is. His food withdrawal even causes him to hallucinate at times. His dietary habits change, even eating inedible items such as his own food dish, bed or even the hallucinations.
During his diet, Jon tends to feed Garfield carrots, salads, celery, etc. Jon also locks up the refrigerator with heavy maximum security such as chains and locks.
Diet gags tend to last around a week with a maximum of two.
On rare occasions, Garfield has managed to cheat on his diet anyway. He stole a French bread for a salad (to substitute for a crouton) while other times Jon found mustard on Garfield's paw and smelled donuts on his breath. In a 1997 diet gag, Jon forced Garfield to be around him; since Jon also wanted to read the newspaper, Garfield managed to eat a chocolate cake behind Jon's back and drank milk when Jon watched. Jon eventually found out he was cheating when looking at Garfield's chocolate covered teeth.
Typical of a cat, Garfield frequently gets stuck in trees after climbing them. He claims to have no control over himself in resisting the urge to climb trees, while at other times, trees manipulate Garfield into climbing them. A few times he climbed trees to catch and eat birds. He appears to have acrophobia, as he often panics on how he will get down, even if the branch he is trapped on is close to the ground. Many strips end with Garfield falling right out of the tree (i.e. tickled by a bird, trying to fly, simply letting go out of frustration, branch breaks, texting) and landing into a painful collision. He rarely gets firemen, or even Jon, to come rescue him.
He often meets other characters, mainly animals, such as bats, birds, squirrels and other cats who got stuck in the tree as he did.
Aside from eating chicken or turkey, Garfield will try to catch small wild birds, as birds are some of the few things that make Garfield interested in leaving the house. Garfield has been mostly successful in catching and eating birds. He attributes this to the statistic that on average, 2 out of 3 birds are not very observant. The birds often fall prey to Garfield on account of being too slow or too stupid. At one point, Garfield even caused his home city to go through a canary shortage. Jon and Odie sometimes get in the way of Garfield hunting birds. One time, Odie scared away a bird before Garfield could get it. Jon himself owned a few pet birds over the years and has often tried to stop Garfield from eating them. One of them was Sweety Pie, and another was a yellow canary that Garfield fattened up by feeding excessive amounts of food.
Garfield's favorite type of bird to eat appears to be canary; on the August 16th, 2005 strip, Garfield mentioned that it is his favorite snack food. Garfield even brings dead canaries into the house and eats them by turning them into a soup that he calls Cream of Canary (chunky style), drinking canary flavored coffee or saving leftover canary carcasses in the refrigerator.
There are occasions where Garfield's plans with birds are thwarted. In one instance, Garfield tried to eat a bird by tossing it in the air to catch it in his mouth, inadvertently releasing it, as he forgets most birds could fly.
Garfield, unlike typical cats, torments the mailman every chance he gets. This usually involves stealing all the mail, as well as physically harming the mailman in some form. The mailman, in return, is scared and hates Garfield, and would do anything to avoid being harmed by him. In certain scenarios, he has managed to outsmart Garfield by bringing a snake, a dog, and even a large, strong man named Waldo with a strong dislike for cats.
The "grapefruit" gag is notable, despite appearing far less than running gags about diets, laziness and tree climbing.
In an early strip, it was shown Garfield has an extreme disliking for grapefruit. He once even said the only thing he hated more than grapefruit was hating grapefruit. It causes a continuity error in the comics because this would mean his least favorite food is grapefruit, rather than raisins. Later in the strips, he has been shown to not really mind grapefruit, as in one 1992 strip, he mentions grapefruit has a happy look on its face. It is most likely that as he got older, he became fine with it. The grapefruit gag was once combined with a diet when Jon put Garfield on a grapefruit diet.
Garfield hates Mondays as he is often subjected to bad luck on that day of the week. One time, Garfield saw that Monday would be happening twice back-to-back.
Garfield often sheds his fur, which annoys Jon due to the loose cat hair around the house. Garfield's shedding problem has gotten severe enough to the point of it inundating the entire house.
Garfield is rather cynical and tends to have a very high opinion of myself, such as thinking that he is much smarter than Jon, Odie and others. While Garfield tends to be smarter than the average domesticated cat, there have been lots of times where it is shown that Garfield is not as smart as he thinks he is. For example:
- It has been shown that Odie is actually smart to an extent, as he has outsmarted Garfield many times and has played pranks on him. In more recent years, the comics now portray Odie as more intelligent than when he first came around.
- In Jon's case, while not the smartest character in the series, he has wised up to many of Garfield's tricks; he has also managed to outsmart him occasionally.
- Garfield himself has frequently had moments of stupidity–sometimes further than what Jon or Odie would do. He also has the tendency of underestimating people and animals around him, specifically thinking they are not as smart as him, which often lead to embarrassing losses for him.
- On June 7th of 1989, Garfield made instant chocolate pudding in the washing machine.
- On October 11th of 1993, Garfield and Jon are sitting by a cake, with Garfield remarking that "it would be wrong to eat that cake...without a proper alibi". Garfield's "alibi" was to simply eat the cake in front of Jon and subsequently blame Odie.
- On February 8th of 2001, Garfield tried blaming Odie for digging up the flowers in Jon's garden. Having forgotten that he was holding the shovel he had used to do it himself, he got rid of it and still tried to blame Odie.
- On December 4th of 1990, Garfield claims that the key to a successful "hotfoot" is the element of surprise; Garfield's idea of "the element of surprise" is to simply walk straight up to a barefoot Jon with a flaming torch. After Jon runs away, Garfield realizes that he "wasn't subtle enough."
- On August 5th 1990, Garfield was watching television, unaware of Jon sneaking by with a saw and a pillow. When Garfield headed for bed, he found it occupied. Thinking Odie was inside, he poked the blanket and challenged him to come out and "face the music". Jon peeked out, claiming that he was trying to sleep, causing Garfield to faint. Jon remarked that it was a score for him.
- Garfield tried to cover another goldfish death by leaving a fake goodbye note. Jon nevertheless found out, as Garfield left his condiments behind at the fishbowl.
- Garfield attempted to eat a pie despite Jon's death threats by eating the filling and leave the crust. Jon nevertheless found out, as the pie was blueberry, which left the cat's muzzle and paws stained blue.
On the Fence
Garfield has a tendency to do performances on his backyard fence. Among his routines are telling "100-year-old jokes", dance, and caterwauling. Often or not, these performances cause the audience to pelt him with rotten fruit, old shoes, or even spluts. Sometimes, he is accompanied in these performances by Odie, who usually gets a better reception than he does.
Weight and Fat
Garfield is often ridiculed for his extreme obesity by Jon, spiders, mice, Liz, and Odie, as well as occasional household appliances and inanimate objects, particularly the weight scale. He rarely responds well to such remarks.
Jon's Wakeup Call
A common subject in the comics is Garfield trying to wake Jon up to make breakfast. When this happens, it is usually when Jon is still asleep. Garfield often resorts to unorthodox methods to achieve this, such as holding Jon's eyes open, tossing his bed out the window, doing the flamenco on top of him, or scaring him through the ceiling.
- Garfield tried to set up a complex plan to wake him up, which he would have had fun doing; to his disappointment, Jon woke up before he could start.
- On November 8th, 1981, Jon sensed it was close to Garfield arriving in his bedroom, nervously predicting what he will do. When he saw Garfield arrive, he yelled and made Garfield's breakfast in the kitchen. Garfield was confused, having not done anything except make an appearance.
- Garfield once tried to get Jon up, only to get no reaction, as Jon did not want Garfield to get the satisfaction.