Odie is a major character of Garfield.
Odie was based on a car dealership commercial, written by Jim Davis, which featured Odie the Village Idiot. Davis liked the name Odie and decided to use it again. When Garfield was first submitted, Davis named the main dog character "Spot" before finding out that the name was already being used by another character (see Trivia section below). Odie first appeared in the strip on August 8, 1978; the date is considered his birthday. On that date, he was brought in by Lyman, a friend and roommate to Jon, who disappeared in 1983. Odie eventually became a pet to Jon Arbuckle and has remained so ever since. There are some strips which retcon Odie as being originally owned by Jon.
In the film series, where Lyman made no appearances, Odie's "origin" story was completely different: he was adopted by Jon at a veterinarian center.
Odie is the lovable, seemingly dopey, kind, underweight, yellow-furred, brown-eared beagle, who is Garfield's best friend (and usual victim). Garfield is jealous of Odie. Although Garfield says that he is dumb, Odie can be relatively smart on occasion. He is capable of communicating articulate sentences through barks. Garfield once described him as "honest, true blue, and decent." He is constantly panting with his very large tongue. He often drools huge puddles. The meanings of his barks are not actually discernible like one would assume, and are only made obvious by Garfield.
On the other hand, he does have a bit of a mean streak (possibly to get back at Garfield's constant tricks and pranks), like a lot of characters in the strip, as shown when he teases Garfield about his age when June 19, Garfield's birthday, is approaching, via either mimicking the facial expression of an elderly individual; putting a glass of water with dentures near his bed while he sleeps, laughing at his depression about getting older, and using a walking and snapping wind-up toy denture. He once tossed a bowling ball to Garfield to help him out of the tree, although his mischievous grin after Garfield fell down suggests that it was a prank. Another example was Odie locking Garfield and Jon out of a car, just before a downpour hit. His most cunning trick by far was when, after Garfield used the "Schlocko Laundro-Mutt" to torment him, he sneaked the collar around Garfield's neck before giving him a messy chili dog, thus setting the Laundro-Mutt on the cat; later on, both Garfield and Odie got their revenge by slipping the collar on Jon and throwing mud at him so the Laundro-Mutt would perform one last wash.
In the comic of August 26, 2007, Garfield describes Odie's species as "purebred clown" after trying to find out what kind of dog Odie is with the help of a book. Odie is often kicked or pushed off the table by Garfield or the victim of some practical joke. Odie usually has a long, stretchy tongue and slobbers in his appearances. Recently, as of 2000, he is seen walking on two feet, instead of all fours, just like Garfield, though this was demonstrated in earlier strips as well.
In the live-action films, Odie is played by dachshunds Tyler and Chloe.
Odie is the only animal character in the Garfield series without a recurring voice bubble, as he is portrayed as a "normal" house dog. Odie can say, "Yeah", "Huh?", "Mmm-hmm", and "Uh-Uh". He has occasionally been shown thinking. In The Garfield Show, he says some intelligible sentences, and short phrases. When he talks on Garfield and Friends, he speaks by moving his mouth, although other dogs do not do so. Odie speaks in a similar manner in Garfield Gets Real and its sequels, frequently saying complete sentences ranging from "I don't know", "My bone!" and "Right". In the Reading Ring game on the Professor Garfield site, if one manages to get the June 21, 2001 strip, while facing Dr. Stripp, having the third panel will let the player hear Odie say "Mmm hmm" angry at Jon for trying to eat Odie's squeaky hamburger toy mistaking it for a real hamburger. Also, in the January 13, 1979 comic strip, he is seen laughing at Garfield. And in the June 15, 1980 comic strip, he is seen poking Lyman saying "I'm hungry", he has been presumably been shown thinking when Garfield was using him as a ventriloquist's dummy in 1989.
Odie and Garfield
Odie is, to Garfield, a slobbering, smiling house-pet. Due to this view, Garfield sometimes underestimates Odie.
- One comic strip (Oct 14, 1990) has Odie throwing Garfield through a wall using a recliner Garfield happened to be lying on.
- Another strip (April 27, 1989) shows him enjoying classical music on TV with the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, after Jon and Garfield leave the house.
- Yet another strip (September 2, 1984) has him lock Jon and Garfield out of the car on a camping trip, where he enjoys the sandwiches, radio, and potato chips, while the other two get wet from the rain.
- In the December 18, 1988 strip, Odie successfully cooks bacon and scrambled eggs for Jon.
- The January 28, 2010 strip shows him solving a Sudoku puzzle that Jon had a hard time completing.
- One comic strip shows Odie appearing to be tricked by Garfield trying to fake him out while throwing a stick. Garfield then says, "How gullible can you get? Poor, dumb, Odie." In reality, Odie is eating Garfield's food.
In others, he has been seen setting decoys, writing poetry, and finding a complete superhero outfit, making Garfield briefly look bad. In yet another one, Odie tossed Garfield a bowling ball to "help" Garfield out of a tree he was stuck in. In two strips, Garfield went to see what was at the end of Odie's unusually long tongue, which turned out to be a second Odie.
Garfield acknowledges this by saying short, catchy phrases that sometimes anger Odie. On numerous occasions, Garfield actually does care a great deal for Odie, most notably in Here Comes Garfield, in which Odie is briefly captured by the dogcatcher and Garfield tearfully realizes through flashbacks of him and Odie playing together how sad his life would be without him. Also, Garfield was visibly angry when a con artist alley cat in "Pros and Cons" conned Odie out of the grocery money, leaving Jon to be upset with Odie. So Garfield went to great lengths to clear Odie's name and get the money back. In another name-clearing instance, when Odie was televised as being part of a purse-snatching dog gang, Garfield refused to believe it because, in his words, "Odie is honest, true blue, and decent. And he's not even smart enough to steal." In one strip, Garfield states that Odie is made of rubber (this is supported by properties of his tongue and the fact he once squeezed Odie into a ball). Other times, Garfield tries to put the blame on Odie for some of the mishaps he has done. Garfield also enjoys kicking Odie off of the table.
Odie does manage to get occasional revenge on Garfield. Once, Jon accuses Garfield of clearing out his closet except for the T-shirt saying, "I Love Cats." While Garfield professes his innocence, he is hurled out of the house. Comically, Odie steps out to grin at Garfield, wearing a plaid shirt, indicating that he framed Garfield. Odie would also commonly do things to Garfield, but he gets his revenge. In one storyline, Garfield gets beat up by a bulldog after smacking him and has to wear a cast for nearly a week. The cast covers Garfield's entire body but his face. Odie torments Garfield throughout the duration of this time. In the final strip of the storyline, though, Garfield tells Jon that he would like to keep his cast after being asked what he would like to do with it, and strikes Odie with it. In one series, when Garfield got stuck in a tree, Odie tries to help Garfield, but at the last moment, Odie flung him into the air (although this was an accident). Just about every time Garfield's birthday is coming up, Odie will mock Garfield for his "gerascophobia" (fear of getting old) and for getting older. Odie once tricked Jon into giving Garfield an enema.
Odie and Nermal
Odie and Nermal rarely interact, as the latter usually deals with Garfield. In Garfield and Friends, Odie likes Nermal. He will often stick up for Nermal when Garfield harasses him and mails him to Abu Dhabi. In The Garfield Show, Odie doesn't like Nermal. Garfield and Odie will often get annoyed with Nermal. One instance being when Nermal somehow got Garfield to think he had no place left in the house from his amnesia and made him leave, taking his place as the cat of the house. This made Odie very sad and grow angry with him. When Garfield came back after recovering his memories, Odie was overjoyed.
- Odie was going to be named Spot until Jim Davis found out this name was being used for another character. This was shown in the original Jon comics and referenced in the August 15th 1978 strip, when Lyman swats Odie for what he "did on the floor". Garfield looks on in amusement and says "They should have named him Spot".
- In his earliest appearances, Odie had black ears. They were recolored to brown on September 27, 1979, supposedly to avoid confusion with Snoopy from Peanuts ("Hint: The pooch works for 'peanuts', but doesn't work cheap").
- In animated media, Odie's appearance is usually announced by the sound of the cavalry's bugling.
- Despite being established as a primary character, Odie has been absent for as long as months in the comic strip. Jim Davis admitted in 30 Years of Laughs and Lasagna that Odie is very hard to write for because he has no dialogue and has less personality compared to Garfield or Jon.
- He once had dialogue on June 15, 1980.
- Odie is the only character to have had the same voice actor in animated form since 1982.
- Odie has 1705 appearances in the comics as of the 31st of December 2016, the 3rd most.
- From 1978 to late 1981, Odie had three toes on each paw, which was soon revised to two toes. Some strips show him with four toes.