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Lyman was one of the main characters in the Garfield comic strip. He was a friend and roommate of Jon Arbuckle and the previous owner of Odie. The comic strip had Lyman as one of four main characters, alongside Garfield, Jon and Odie. The main cast was reduced to three when Lyman was removed from the strip by Jim Davis in 1983.

He first appeared on August 7, 1978. He told Jon "I'm cold. I'm hungry. I'm weak. Take me in!", to which Jon, as his friend, complied. He was only actively present for a few months after his debut appearance. From the end of 1980, he was usually absent; for instance, he did not appear in any strips between December 25, 1981, and June 27, 1982. He had largely disappeared from the comic by April 24, 1983, his last regular appearance, and his disappearance was not fully elaborated upon at the time. Lyman has made three cameo appearances in the comic since then. First, in the strip on Garfield's 10th birthday, June 19, 1988, where he appears in the title panel seated between Jon's father and Liz Wilson; he also appears in a flashback panel within the strip. The next two were on April 2, 2013 and June 23, 2024, in a picture on the newspaper Jon was reading.

According to Davis, Lyman's original purpose was to be someone who Jon could actually talk to and express other ideas — a role gradually taken over by Garfield, himself. Once Lyman was no longer needed for that purpose, he was removed without explanation. Jim Davis has jokingly given explanations about Lyman's sudden disappearance and long absence from the strip; examples include "don't look in Jon's basement" and "he joined the Peace Corps and was never heard from again."

In the web game "Scary Scavenger Hunt," he is shown chained onto the wall in the basement of a haunted mansion. In "Scary Scavenger Hunt 2," his head is found inside the kitchen oven. Also, on the official Garfield website, between 2005[1] and 2013[2][3], he was shown working behind the counter in the "Book Nook" section.

After decades of absence, Lyman made his big comeback in the Garfield Show story arc, "Long Lost Lyman". In this continuity, it is revealed that he found work as a wildlife photographer. He had gone to Australia and searched for a mythological creature, but suddenly disappeared without a trace. When Jon, Garfield and Odie went searching for him, they had found him dressed as that creature. Lyman explained that he never contacted them, because there was no way he could. Lyman decided to stay in the jungle to protect the wildlife from poachers, but promises to visit when he can.

Physical appearance[]

Lyman is a tall and skinny adult man with light skin and curly, messy black hair. He has black dot eyes, a very small nose, two small ears and a huge brown moustache. For attire, in the comic strips he usually wears a green shirt with long sleeves, black pants and a pair of brown shoes.


The Garfield Show[]

Season 3[]

Season 4[]


  • Davis originally used the name Lyman for a character in Gnorm Gnat.
  • Lyman has appeared 69 times in comics, the 24th most.
  • Lyman’s last regular appearance was in 1983.
    • His most recent appearance overall was in 2024.
  • Lyman grew up with four cats, all named Cat.
  • In The Garfield Show, instead of having dotted eyes, he has regular eyes like Garfield and most other characters (likewise with Mrs. Arbuckle).
  • Lyman, in one strip, appears to not care about his appearance, as when asked by Jon Arbuckle for an opinion on something to wear, Lyman is wearing an assortment of mismatching clothing.
  • Numerous explanations outside of the comic strip have been given for Lyman's disappearance:
    • In the book 20 Years & Still Kicking!: Garfield's Twentieth Anniversary Collection, one of the sections is named Top Ten Explanations For Lyman's Disappearance and includes:
      • 10: "Left strip to pursue dream of Olympic figure-skating gold."
      • 9: "Joined CIA, working undercover in Russian comics.
      • 8: "Had lunch with Jimmy Hoffa, and then..."
      • 7: "Took role as Elaine on 'Taxi'."
      • 6: "Hit on Blondie and Cathy; editors complained; Davis fired him."
      • 5: "Disfigured in drawing accident."
      • 4: "Moved to San Francisco."
      • 3: "Opted for career in Hotel/Motel management."
      • 2: "Ballooned to 270 pounds; wouldn't fit in cartoon panels."
      • 1: "Don't look in Jon's basement!"
    • In a "Comics: Meet the Artist" discussion with Jim Davis on The Washington Post, two readers asked about Lyman's disappearance. Davis responded to each:
      • "...he joined the Peace Corps and was never heard from again." (During this response, Davis also claimed that he was only joking in regards to "the basement thing.")
      • "He went to an Amway convention and was never heard from again."[4]
    • Mark Evanier wrote "Long Lost Lyman" as his "own amateur story about what happened to Lyman".[5]
    • From "Meet Odie," displayed on the section Comics Corner around 1996:
      • "Odie was owned by Lyman, Jon Arbuckle's buddy, who dropped in unannounced and uninvited, stayed a few weeks and then left. Much to Garfield's horror, when Lyman left, he forgot to take Odie with him."[6]