Classic Cartoons

The History of Garfield and Friends

Garfield and Friends

Garfield, the lazy, fat, lasagna-loving cat, is the brainchild of American cartoonist Jim Davis. The fictional orange tabby first appeared in a comic strip in 1976. Now, he has been seen in several television series and primetime specials, movies, video games and even a play.

Speaking of television series, Garfield makes his appearance in one of them, titled Garfield and Friends

The animated series was based on Davis’ comic strips, Garfield and the lesser-known U.S. Acres. Apart from the segments featuring Garfield, the series also included segments that featured characters from U.S. Acres. The U.S. Acres segment was re-titled as Orson’s Farm on pre-2019 DVD releases and international versions. 

Garfield segment

Garfield is a fat, lazy orange cat whose passions include sleeping, eating lasagna, watching TV – and the routine goes all over again. He has a toy, a teddy bear named Pooky on whom he dotes. When Pooky goes missing for a time, Garfield resorts to his alter-ego named “The Caped Avenger” to launch his mission to look for his beloved teddy bear (and favorite sleeping companion).

Garfield lives with his human owner, Jon Arbuckle, and his dog Odie. Jon is a nerdy and socially awkward bachelor cartoonist who is constantly annoyed by Garfield’s antics. He would punish Garfield by taking away his lasagna, not allowing him to watch TV, and taking him to the vet. Odie is a yellow-furred, brown-eared non-talking beagle who constantly slobbers. Although he doesn’t seem like a very bright dog, Odie is actually more cunning than Garfield lets on.

Other recurring characters on the segment include:

  • Nermal – the cute, gray tabby kitty who tends to annoy Garfield a lot.
  • Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Wilson – the sarcastic veterinarian whom Jon has a crush on.
  • Binky the Clown – the loud and relentlessly annoying clown who even gets his own Quickie segment, Screaming with Binky
  • Floyd – Garfield’s mouse friend.
  • Herman Post – the mailman who gets constantly ensnared by Garfield’s booby traps.

U.S. Acres (or Orson’s Farm) segment

U.S. Acres is set on a farm. Unlike the animal characters in Garfield, all the animal characters in U.S. Acres have speaking abilities.

Originally, the segments focused on moral and social lessons, like a more arbitrary Aesop. The later segments were veering more towards comedy, slapstick, and “breaking the fourth wall.”

The main characters:

  • Orson – the pig who loves to read a lot and has the tendency to imagine himself in many scenarios every now and then. He is also a neat freak who constantly showers and keeps himself clean, prompting Wade the duck to comment, “the cleanest pig in the world.” Orson has three fearsome brothers, who show up in the series occasionally to make trouble by stealing crops (and whom Orson himself is afraid of).
  • Roy Rooster – the loud and practical jokes-loving rooster who has a high opinion of himself.
  • Wade – the cowardly and hypochondriac duck. Even though he’s a duck, he’s afraid of the water, the reason why he always wears a rubber flotation tube around his waist. He seems to be scared of everything, but his biggest fear is the Weasel.
  • Bo – the affable, calm and laid-back sheep. He is always dependable and a great cook.
  • Lanolin – Bo’s sister, a loud-mouthed and hotly argumentative ewe.
  • Booker – the small, cute but assertive chick who hunts down worms with obsession.
  • Sheldon – the egg with a pair of legs sticking out of the bottom so that he can walk. In one episode, Sheldon hatches, but still lives in his egg.

 

Veteran comic book and television writer Mark Evanier wrote most of the episodes and was responsible for most series’ edgier humor.

Although Garfield and Friends was basically aimed for the kids like most animated TV shows, the writing was surprisingly sharp and witty without getting completely over the top of its young viewers’ heads, or totally deviating itself into strange territory.

Garfield and Friends was broadcast on CBS every Saturday morning, from September 17, 1988, to December 10, 1994. It ran on seven seasons and had 121 episodes. Each of the episodes consisted of two Garfield segments and one U.S. Acres segment, totaling 242 Garfield segments and 121 U.S. Acres segments. By all means, the show was successful among viewers and critics.

In the mid-2000s, an official DVD of the series was released on its entirety in, although the sets have now gone out-of-print.

After the series ended its original run, Garfield and Friends subsequently appeared in reruns on several cable and pay television channels such as Cartoon Network (1993-2005), the now-defunct Toon Disney (2003-2005), Warner Channel (1998-2002) and Boomerang (2006-2007).

Garfield and Friends has also been broadcast in several countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and many others.

The series is also available on several streaming services, such as Amazon Video and Hulu, in its original SD version.

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