- The 1984 Story Arc in which Garfield wanders away from home while Jon's at a convention and ends up stumbling upon the abandoned Italian restaurant where he was born. The strip has several tear-jerking moments, such as Odie trying to console Jon by abusing him like Garfield did; Garfield discovering that the restaurant is now abandoned; and finally coming home just in time for Christmas. It also subverts this trope on the December 23 strip, with Garfield collapsing dramatically in the front door; Jon asks if Garfield's okay and he replies, "Actually, yes, I just thought it would be more dramatic this way."
- After Lorenzo Music (Garfield's voice actor) died, Davis made a drawing of Garfield, and his thought bubble read, "I'm speechless."
- When Charles M. Schulz, creator of Peanuts, passed away, there was a strip with Garfield standing next to Snoopy's iconic red doghouse looking up at it, and then lying on top of it like Snoopy does and sighing sadly.
- One 1986 arc had Garfield and Odie get lost in town. While a good chunk of the arc was comedic, it did have its share of sad moments.
- At one point, Jon wonders why he's so upset about them being missing, saying "it's not like they're family anything." Then the TV plays a "do you know where your children are?" PSA. Jon immediately bursts into tears.
- The storyline comes to an end when Jon finds Garfield and Odie in a pet shop. But there's one last sad moment for the road: Jon says he never would've thought to look for them in a pet store. The implication being that Jon had given up on trying to find them and was considering replacing them. One can only imagine how horrible he must have felt.
- The 1989 Halloween arc where Garfield wakes up to find his home abandoned for years, and Odie and Jon are long gone. In one strip, when Garfield hears Jon saying, "Hello, Garfield. Have some food" and Garfield rushes in to find Jon and Odie in the kitchen, but they disappear in the next panel. It redeems itself by having a Heartwarming Moment where Garfield hugs Jon, saying, "Who needs [food]? I need you!"
- Garfield's Christmas Special, as Jon's Grandma reminisces about her late husband, and how on Christmas Eve she misses him the most.
- In one Sunday strip, Garfield muses about what his life would be like if he married Arlene, and envisioning that after their huge wedding, they'd have three kids together. The strip ends with him angrily declaring "Forget it! I'd make a lousy father," and walking out on his hypothetical family, who tearfully watch him leave.
- In one storyline in which Garfield temporarily lost his memory, Jon and Odie attempt to jog his memory by bringing him his teddy bear, Pooky. Garfield scoffs and walks away, and the strip ends with Jon, Odie, and even the teddy bear each shedding a tear.
- At the end of a storyline in which a chick thinks Garfield is his father, Garfield tells him for the last time that he's not his father and tells him to leave him be and orders him to find his mother. Once the heartbroken chick leaves Garfield, Garfield sheds a single tear.
- Garfield is given a single carrot for dinner as part of his diet. While looking absolutely miserable, he takes a single bite out of it, walks to the now padlocked fridge, throws down the carrot, starts to cry while looking even more miserable, and hugs the fridge while wailing loudly. It's not that funny. At all. Especially when you realize how badly the poor kitty wants off his diet.
- Garfield gets so infuriated by all the attention Odie's getting that he accidentally sets off a chain reaction in motion that results in a huge mess in Jon's house. When Jon sees his office completely trashed, he shuts Garfield outside.
Garfield: You just can't do this, Jon! He's trying to tear us apart! Don't you see that?! You know me! I'm too lazy to try to destroy your house! I was provoked, pushed, prodded, driven mad! You can't kick me outta my own house like I'm some kinda animal! (Jon slams the door in Garfield's face. Garfield scratches the door.) Oh, come on, Jon! Jon! You know I'm scared of the dark!
Used to have Jon to myself.Day or night, there was no one else.From dawn to dusk, my meal would come.I'd lounge about in my home.But now I'm out in the cold night.All alone, til the dawn's first light.I'm in a new-dog state of mind.Used to think I had a home.A special place to call my own.But now the dog's in and I'm out.I've got no Jon. I've got no clout!I'm in a new-dog state of mind.
- As Garfield is locked out of the house and watches Jon give Odie even more affection while he's outside in the cold singing a sad rendition of New York State of Mind.
- Odie comes out of the house to comfort Garfield... only for Garfield to lock him out. As the dejected Odie scratches the door, Nermal and Arlene watch from nearby.
Arlene: Poor Odie. That cat is such a pig!
Nermal: Garfield's a pig?
Arlene: You never put the dog out at night!
Nermal: Why not?
Arlene: Because dogs... run away.
(Right on cue, a motorcycle zooms past Odie, who chases it into the distance, as Nermal and Arlene helplessly watch)
CGI Animated series
- In Garfield Gets Real Garfield stares forlornly into a newspaper, which functions like a camera, after a long day of trying and failing to return home. He wonders if anyone is still even watching, before turning away. Arlene is, and what happens next turns this into a Heartwarming Moment.
- Quite a bit of Garfield's Fun Fest, but especially near the end when Garfield almost gives up the competition after seeing Arlene and Ramone during their act.