Garfield (Comic Strip)

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Garfield is a long-running (since June 19, 1978) newspaper comic, written by Jim Davis. It stars Garfield, a sarcastic cat famous for his laziness, gluttony, occasional spurts of evil and avoiding of karma; his owner, Jon Arbuckle, a cartoonist who dresses badly, cooks badly and was long a complete failure with females (until, 28 years later, the veterinarian Liz finally gave in); and Odie, a really dumb Dogs Are Dumb with a penchant for licking, and the only animal who doesn't have "thought speech".

The strip is the most (or second most) successful ever, generating much merchandise and multi-media projects including:

Jim Davis has stated that he created Garfield with the sole intention of making money. He decided to create a strip that would be popular with the masses, in order to be commercially successful. The fact that he succeeded says one of two things, depending on how cynical one is. On the other hand, at least he was willing to admit it.

Garfield's speech is completely internal, even in his animated version. Although it made animation much easier, fans wondered exactly how much Jon understood Garfield considering they couldn't actually hold a conversation. With that in mind, they started the trend of removing Garfield's dialogue-- or even Garfield altogether-- from the comics. What results is a surreal trip into the mind of a very disturbed and lonely man, which is often considered funnier than the original strip, even by Jim Davis himself.

Probably holds the distinction of being the comic strip that features the most tropes whilst not naming any.

Tropes used in Garfield (Comic Strip) include:
  • 3D Movie: 'The concept is lampooned in this strip.
  • Aborted Arc: Many storylines end like this, especially the ones where Garfield, Jon and Odie take a trip. They always go out of their way to make a strip or two preparing or heading to their destination, but by Sunday they're suddenly back home as if nothing happened. If the story spans more than one week, the Sunday strip will continue the storyline instead.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Odie was once able to climb a tree because he didn't know he couldn't.
  • Alliteration: A 1999 strip saw Garfield destroying daisies, maiming marigolds and mauling mums.
    • In a strip where Pooky goes missing:

Garfield: Aha! Could this be a telltale trail of teddy bear hair? Even if it isn't, that was a pretty nifty bit of alliteration.

  • Affectionate Parody: Jim Davis sometimes uses Jon's family to poke fun at his own Down on the Farm roots. Jon's father is depicted in one strip at being amazed by an indoor toilet, while in another he breaks Jon's sink after trying to pump the faucet.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Garfield has done this to steal food from people's pockets on at least two occasions.
  • Alien Animals: One strip suggests that cats are invaders attempting to subjugate humanity, and that they are responsible for certain seemingly-mindless actions of dogs and lower-class humans.
  • All Cloth Unravels: Garfield only pulls on a thread from Jon's pants, but the shirt somehow unravels, too, leaving Jon naked outside.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Garfield originally started out looking more like a real-life housecat, but per Art Evolution, he became extremely humanoid in 1984.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife / Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Arlene is about as piiiink as a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
  • And a Diet Coke: Occurs in this strip.
  • Animal Jingoism: The traditional cats vs. dogs rivalry is played straight on many occasions between Garfield and Odie and all the other dogs he interacts with, but it's also repeatedly subverted. Garfield and Odie can get along perfectly well when they feel like it. One particular strip involves what looks like a large, angry barking dog chasing a terrified Garfield, but in the last panel they stop to catch their breath as a despondent Garfield tells the dog that they'll never catch the ice cream truck.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: None of the animals are anatomically correct.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "What's new, Garfield?" "Well, King Kong is on the roof batting down airplanes. The entire planet is being ravaged by brain-eating aliens... but more important, my dish is empty."
    • "Birthdays bring you lots of things... Gray hair. Bad eyesight... Creaky joints. Ear hair, aches, pains, bad teeth... Sigh... And cake!"
    • Another one that occurs while Jon's watching a soap opera:

Jon: I have some bad news, Garfield. I ran out of your favorite cat food.
Garfield: I'll survive.
Jon: Odie chewed up your scratching post.
Garfield: Big deal.
Jon: And Frank left Marcia for Stephanie.
Garfield: (dramatic expression) HOW COULD HE?!

    • "Why do people expect us cats to eat mice? This mouse could be somebody's mother. This mouse could be a deacon in its little mouse church. And one of the fuzzy sucker's bones might get caught in my throat."
  • Art Evolution: A rather extreme example, as Garfield has gone from having a huge body and beady eyes, to having a huge head and a body that looks like a basketball with legs. Just look at his face alone.

2003 Garfield: So I was you, huh?
1978 Garfield: A long time ago.
2003 Garfield: How did I see out of those itty-bitty eyes?
1978 Garfield: First explain how you stand on those two spindly legs.

    • Further lampshaded in that year's birthday strip where we see not only 1978/2003 Garfield, but also 1978/2003 Jon and Odie
  • Ascended Meme: Jim Davis not only approved of Garfield Minus Garfield, he also contributed a few to the book.
  • Aside Glance: Occurs in the final panel of nearly all the comics, often as a reaction to a particularly stupid line or action.
  • Ass Shove: Implied in one strip where Jon says, "Ellen, I have a cold. I thought you might like to feed me some soup… that's not what spoons are for, Ellen."
  • Attack Backfire: This strip had this happen to Garfield, with Jon Comically Missing the Point of what Garfield was actually trying to do.
  • Author Appeal: There is a definite point in the comic's long run when you will notice that most of the (human) females begin to be consistently drawn with huge breasts, butts, and lips. Some strips, such as this one, draw women in a Non-Standard Character Design.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: They may give each other a hard time, but Jon and Garfield really do care for one another. Jon even went so far as to throw out a potential girlfriend (literally) when she told him she was allergic to cats and forced him to choose between her or Garfield. Garfield and Odie also qualify.
  • Bacon Addiction:

Jon: Sometimes it's hard to express our inner feelings.
Garfield: Nonsense. (looks out to audience) I LOVE BACON! Your turn.

Garfield: Nice curse, Garfield.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Odie often tolerates when Garfield bullies him, sometimes he doesn't even appear to recognize his malicious intent. But occassionally he gets him back, sometimes even worse than Garfield's original transgression.
  • Big Ball of Violence: Showed up in early Garfield/Odie fights.
  • Bill, Bill, Junk, Bill: Garfield, when channel surfing:

Garfield: Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Garbage... Junk... Ah! Trash!

  • Black Comedy: The mass amount of pain inflicted on Jon and Odie often leans into this:

(Garfield kicks Odie off the table)
Garfield: Ooo... I bet that hurt.
(Garfield leaves and returns with a potted plant. He drops it onto Odie with a crash.)
Garfield: Get well soon!

  • Blind Idiot Translation:
    • Generally averted, since Jim Davis has said that he tries to avoid US-centric references or puns, so that the strip can be easily translated. He didn't always do this in the first few years, leading to dopey errors in the Spanish translation — among others, "I ate a Milk Dud and kissed a cat" becoming "I hate spoiled milk and kissing cats", or "I love it when the Good Humor man comes" with "Good Humor" translated literally, as if it were a friendly man.
    • Other translation errors in the Spanish version are just inexcusable. For instance, in this strip, Garfield's dialogue was translated to something like "Pero al menos no he roto una pata" ("But at least I haven't broken a limb/leg") even though he's clearly pointing to a branch — i.e., the "sturdy limb".
    • The current Spanish translators are quite skilled, to the point that they sometimes slip in their own puns (for instance, this strip [dead link] went with a pun on "sleeping bag" that works when translated back into English) and even make sure to localize[1]. But even then, they're not infallible: in the Spanish version of this strip, they forgot to invert the words for "beef stew", thus killing the joke. Considering how well the rest of the strips are translated, this one really stands out as a glaring error.
    • This one also got translated literally into Spanish, but to be fair, it was a very rare exception to Jim Davis' "no wordplay" rule.
    • These two strips ended up with each other's dialogue.
    • A couple of Hungarian bloopers: In this strip, the spider's line became "I can tell when I'm being fooled!". Which doesn't make the slightest of sense. In another strip, "my place" was translated litarally, as "én helyem" ("my spot"), when "nálam" ("at my place") would have been correct. Similarly, the expressions "Well, what do you know!" and "Okay, I'll bite" have also seen word-for-word translations ("Just what do you know!" and "Okay, I'll bite you"). Also, in one instance, the word "Egad" was left untranslated.
  • Bowdlerise: In one farm-based strip, Garfield says "wanna swap sheep jokes?" His editor, concerned over this being misconstrued for a bestiality reference, changed it to "dirt jokes".
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Garfield is looking in the mirror when he says: "Oh no, a wrinkle! Oh no, a gray hair! OH NO, A WRINKLED GRAY HAIR!!!"
  • Brick Joke: This dog reappeared almost a year after his original week of chaos, which itself counts as a Brick Joke considering it was not the dog's first appearance [dead link] . And of course Clive; see Not-So-Imaginary Friend below.
    • Garfield "kicking Odie into next week". Odie is absent from the comic for the next 6 days, and, sure enough, he comes crashing back down (Onto Garfield.) on the seventh day.
  • Briffits and Squeans: Briffits are the most common.
  • Bubble Pipe: Jon uses a bubble pipe once or twice. Garfield himself once blew soap bubbles with a real pipe:

Jon: My ivory-stemmed, mother-of-pearl inlaid meerschaum!
Garfield: My blow toy.

Jon: This morning I had a bowl of cereal with strawberries. When I turned my back, a mouse ate them. What do you say to that, Garfield?!
Garfield: We have strawberries?

Jon's Dad: What am I going to do with you two?
Garfield: Why don't you plug them in?

Suzy: Hi, this is Suzy. I'm not at home, but please leave a message at the tone... Unless you're Jon Arbuckle, in which case the machine will automatically hung up. ...Beep!
Jon: This is, uh, Ed Smith. (machine hangs up)
Garfield: Just amazing.

    • A 2008 strip had Liz listening to Jon's answering machine message, commenting on it being 'funny'. Jon was being pounded by Garfield while he recorded the message.
  • Funny Background Event: Happens in this strip [dead link] and this one
  • Furry Ear Dissonance: Garfield has very round ears for a cat.
  • Garden Hose Squirt Surprise: Happens to Odie in this strip.
  • The Ghost: Ellen, until she finally appeared onscreen. And had amnesia.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Parodied here. (So he's literally breaking the fourth wall?)
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Until he ate them. Also, here.
  • A Good Old-Fashioned Paint-Watching: Occasionally used to show how boring a life Jon's family has on the countryside, since the most mundane things excite them (watching the washing machine instead of the TV ("Here comes the red sock again!"), counting every brick in the wall of the house, taking a trip to see the new water tower, going to the airport to watch the planes take off etc.)
    • There's an actual in-universe TV show called Watching Paint Dry.
  • Greasy Spoon: Irma's Diner. You have two kinds of coffee (regular and decaf), pickle brine as a choice of beverage, and a five-pound "he-man" burger. Jon has found dry-cleaning slips and false eyelashes in his food. Irma thinks that letting cheese age means keeping it in the back of her truck, and her idea of a "special treat" is a scoop of mashed potatoes in an ice cream cone. Garfield once found a hoof in a burger there.
  • Groundhog Day Loop: In a Story Arc in July 1986, Garfield gets stuck in a week of Mondays.
  • Guest Strip: Davis' father wrote this joke.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In-universe, everything Garfield catches on TV.
  • Hash House Lingo: Jon asks for a hamburger with extra onions. Irma then turns to the kitchen and yells "BURN A COW AND MAKE HER CRY!" which causes Jon and Garfield to lose their appetites.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Binky the Clown:

Binky (on TV): Heeeey, kids! Wanna see Binky do a magic trick? Well, forget it! I'm not spending another minute in this stupid clown suit! I am an actor! But, noooo... Too short, they said!
Garfield: Third time this week. He's lost it.

Jon: Honest Ed seems nice enough, Garfield, but there's something about him I don't trust.
Garfield: Maybe it's the fact his office is in a pickup truck with the engine running.

Garfield: How about a nice little game of “Stomp The Spider”?
Spider: I'm warning you... You'd better not pick on me, cat!
Garfield: And what happens if I do?
Spider: I'll tell my big brother!
Garfield: Fine! Bring him on!
Spider: Hey, Rusty! C'mere!
Rusty: Yeah?
Spider: This big, stupid cat says he's gonna stomp me.
(Beat Panel)
Rusty: Can I have your CDs?

Garfield: (holding a rolled-up newspaper) Come a little closer.
Spider: Make me.
Garfield: Make me make you.
Spider: Make me make you make me.
Garfield: Make me make you make me make you.
Spider: Make me make you make me make you make me.
Garfield: Make me make you make me make you make me make you.
Spider: Make me make you make me make... um... ummm... Wait a minute. I forgot what we were talking about.
Garfield: Come a little closer, and I'll tell you.
Spider: Make me.

Arlene: Garfield, I just don't know what I see in you. You're rude, obnoxious, fat, selfish, egotistical, and totally devoid of any charm.
Garfield: I am not egotistical.

    • Another time too, but Garfield takes it positively.

Old Lady: You are the ugliest little boy I've ever seen.
(Garfield looks surprised and glances at the audience)
Garfield: You think I'm little?

Garfield: Today's the day I do nothing. Unless I'm mistaken. Though being mistaken would be something, not nothing. So if today's the day I do nothing, I can't be mistaken. Unless I'm mistaken.

  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Jon once scolded Garfield for burying Odie in sand at the beach. Garfield defended himself by pointing out that "I only buried him up to his knees." Which would be fine....if he hadn't been buried upside-down.
    • "Ah, it says here carrots are on my diet. And his is a carrot cake. A loophole!"
    • Jon tried to teach Garfield self-control. He left a box of kitty treats in the room Garfield was in, telling him not to take the kitty treats. He left the room, then reentered a short while later. Garfield took everything except the box.
    • Even more audacious when Garfield was on another diet and Jon told him "You may have a salad." Garfield promptly helped himself to some pork chops, and when Jon called him out he claimed that no one had ever told him that pork chops were not a salad!
    • And once again: "This salad needs something. I think I'll garnish it. With a ham!" *wham*
  • Lost in Character: Parodied.

General on TV: Holy bovines, Corporal! There's a giant monster invading the city!
Soldier on TV: That's not a monster, sir.
General: What are you talking about? Call out the artillery!
Soldier: It's just a bad actor in a rubber suit.
General: Oh, it is not! It's a monster!
Soldier: Come on... I can see the zipper.
General: Egad! A zipper monster! That's the worst kind!
Soldier: And that's not a real city.
General: Insolence! I'll have you court-martialed!!
Soldier: These are just tiny little model buildings.
Garfield: General Cordwood seems to have buried himself in the part.
Soldier: See?

  • Major Misdemeanor: In one strip, it was implied that the police were after Jon for trying to redeem expired coupons at the supermarket.
  • Masochist's Meal: Occurs in a strip where Jon and Liz are at a restaurant:

Jon: Is your chili spicy?
Waiter: Not really.
Waiter: Unless you're a weenie...
Jon: Bring it on!

Garfield: I wonder if it's time for my midnight snack? (looks at clock) Hmmm... Eight P.M. Close enough.

  • Mind Screw:
    • The aforementioned Halloween 1989 arc, of course.
    • This strip had nothing but Garfield sleeping for all three panels, no doubt leaving many readers outright baffled when it first appeared in papers. It makes much more sense when read in the books, where the next day's strip completes the gag.
  • Milestone Celebration: Every June 19 (the date the strip debuted) celebrates Garfield's 'birthday'. It's the only comic to celebrate its anniversary every year.
  • Motionless Makeover: In the February 27, 1996 strip [dead link], Jon's back gives out and Garfield puts a cloth and potted plant on Jon.
  • Mouse Hole: Mice in this comic have these.
  • Mushroom Samba: One censored comic which only appears as a rough sketch in the 25th anniversary book, features a half asleep Garfield as he watches a periscope emerge from his water dish, followed by a tentacle. Garfield then smiles and says, "Man, that was some gooooooood catnip!"
  • Must Have Caffeine: Garfield sure likes coffee. (and he likes it strong)
  • Negative Continuity: To some extent.
  • Never My Fault: Garfield's typical form of "self-chastisement". Quite amusing some of the time.
  • No Fourth Wall: The fourth wall came crashing down on the first day and never went back up:

Jon: Our only thought is to entertain you.
Garfield: Feed me.

    • One time (in the 1980s) Jon decided Garfield should go on a diet because his weight was causing the comic strip box to dip where he walked.
    • The fourth wall is sometimes AWOL in-universe as well:

Woman on TV: Come closer... closer...
(Jon moves closer to the TV)
Woman on TV: Uh... that's close enough, dork boy.
Garfield: Et tu, TV?

(the gate slams)
Garfield: How did I get into this fix? One minute I'm free as a bird, then I'm in the city pound. Where did I go wrong? I'm just a number here, I've almost forgotten what it's like on the outside. It's not right to cage a wild animal! These four walls are closing in on me! I can't take it anymore!
Cat: You've only been here two minutes.
Garfield: I know, but this is my first shot at a prison scene.

Jon: Garfield, I know you're in my fern. I can see your tail. What do you have to say for yourself?

    • Also, a number of 1980s strips [dead link] had Jon saying some variation of "I wouldn't say you're fat Garfield, but...", followed by an extremely insulting joke about Garfield's fatness. Garfield usually attacked Jon in some way after that.
      • In the final strip that had the gag, it was Subverted Trope. Jon says the line, but Garfield stuffs his food bowl in Jon's mouth before Jon can finish the insult and Garfield says "Then don't."
    • Garfield's uncles [dead link] and aunts [dead link].
  • Rule of Three: After finding the Italian restaurant where he was born: "It's all gone! Where's the pasta? The people? The pasta? The excitement? The pasta?"
    • Also: "Decorations, presents, caroling, presents, mistletoe and presents. Six things I love about Christmas."
  • Sadist Show: Almost all of the humor in the strip comes from inflicted pain on the characters (usually Jon):

Garfield: Life is funny.
(Garfield laughs at Jon, who has fallen down the stairs and is lying in a heap.)
Garfield: For some of us.

Garfield: Uh...don't you have somewhere you gotta be?
Arlene: And miss seeing how long you can hold that pose?

    • Played straight in another strip where Jon and Garfield begin poking each other with sticks and ordering each other to do things. The sticks keep getting bigger until Garfield finally uproots an entire tree and brings it into the kitchen to try and poke Jon with, until he finally tires out and the tree squishes him.
  • Strip Archive: Every single strip ever is available to read for free on their website. In addition, a website also allows people to search through Garfield strips before 2008, where the images for the strips are hosted at
  • Stuffed Into a Trashcan: Nermal, at least once.
  • Suddenly Shouting: In an early strip:

Jon: Be careful there, Garfield. Hanging on the drapes can be very painful. 'CAUSE I'M GONNA BREAK YOUR LEGS IF YOU DON'T GET OFF THEM THIS INSTANT!

Jon: Some dirty, rotten, low-down, slimy, filthy, disgusting, gluttonous, hog STOLE MY SUPPER!

Garfield: Woah, that's even too much for me...

  • Temporal Paradox: To celebrate the strip's 25th anniversary, they ran an arc where 1978!Garfield meets 2003!Garfield. 1978!Jon and 1978!Odie also show up alongside their 2003 counterparts at the end.
  • That Cloud Looks Like...:

Jon: I think that cloud looks just like a cloud.
(Beat Panel)
Garfield: Which one?

Jon: Diet time.

  • Uncatty Resemblance: Jon and Garfield commented on this trope, with pets who look increasingly (and more absurdly) like their owners. This culminated with some guy who looked like a man in a bird suit and his pet canary. Another strip had Jon sitting down to eat dinner with Garfield, which they both began gobbling up in perfect sync. The strip ends with Jon realizing he has to get away from Garfield when they eat.
  • Unnamed Parent: Jon's parents. Also, Garfield's mother, who appeared in a series of strips in 1984.
  • Unsound Effect: For a rather unconventional example, whenever a hammer is being used, the sound effect is usually "hammer" instead of "bang." Others include "unscrew" for the top of a saltshaker being unscrewed, and "plug" for Christmas lights being plugged in.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Garfield is all over this trope.
  • Vaudeville Hook: Garfield has been hooked off the fence a few times. Once, during a Christmas week, an oversized candy cane was used as one.
  • Verb This: Jon had to free-float this [dead link] and forget that [dead link].
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Garfield's reaction to finding out that he had eaten octopus was to spit it all back out (on Jon, no less) and then remark that it wasn't half bad.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Garfield on the pursuit of mice: "It's not the having, it's the getting."
  • Went to the Great X In the Sky: A spider wants to take revenge for his grandfather whom, as he says, Garfield sent to "that big web in the sky".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: This [dead link] strip has a blind date of Jon's named Gwen, who dresses as absurdly as he does on dates and finds him cute. Garfield even says "God made two of them!" Although she would have been a good recurring character, perhaps as a Distaff Counterpart of Jon, she was never mentioned again.
  • What's a Henway?:

Jon: Garfield, do you know there's a mouse in the garbage?
Garfield: I think so... (singing) Oh, there's a mouse in the garbage, and I don't care...

Garfield: What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?
Arlene: But this is a nice place.
Garfield: Like I said... What's a girl like YOU doing in a place like THIS?

  • William Telling: The protagonist being the glutton that he is misses intentionally so that he can eat the apple afterwards.
  • Wire Dilemma: Parodied:

Woman on TV: Bob, we've only got 3 seconds before the bomb explodes! Cut the red wire, not the green one!
Man on TV: Bernice, there's something I've always wanted to tell you…
Woman on TV: Yes?
Man on TV: I'm color-blind.

Scale: Let me put it this way... Have you ever considered a career as a river barge?
Garfield: Your mother was a blender!
Scale: That hurt.

    • In another strip, when he does his act on the fence, he tells his audience: "All your mothers wear army boots!"
    • Yet another strip, Jon tries to train Garfield to be an "attack cat", and makes a dummy from him to practice. When he orders "Attack!", Garfield tells the dummy: "Your mother wears combat boots!"
    • In another strip, when Garfield is a bad mood, he shouts to a bunch of dogs: "All your mothers wear flea collars!" which gets him beaten up.
    • A spider says this to Garfield in this strip.
  • You Talk Too Much: Said by an old lady here, even though no one else spoke while she was babbling. Garfield also said this to Jon once.
  1. (in most Spanish cultures, cats are said to have seven lives instead of nine)