Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Garfield: His 9 Lives

Go To
The cover for the original Graphic Novel

Cuz I'm a blues cat
And I'm broke from paying my dues
Cuz when you got nine lives
You got nine ways to lose
Theme song of the Animated Adaptation

Garfield: His 9 Lives is a Graphic Novel (Graphic Short Story Anthology if you want to get picky) based on the Newspaper Comic Garfield, written and illustrated by Jim Davis and Paws, Inc. The central concept of the book is that, since cats have nine lives, Garfield must have a bunch of past lives that made him the lazy, sarcastic cat that we know and love (or not) today, and each of those lives gets its own story.

Goes in some very different directions from most Garfield media. While some of the stories wouldn't be out of place appearing the regular newspaper strip, others go in more surreal or dramatic directions; there's even a genuine Horror story. Some of the stories also go a bit more adult than what we usually get from Garfield; nothing that would stop it from getting a PG rating, but there are some mild swear words present, a couple references to alcohol, a few deaths, and some obvious hints that at least one of Garfield's past lives actually had sex.

The stories present in the book are:

  • "In the Beginning ...": A prologue about how God and his design team created cats.
  • "Cave Cat": Garfield's first life as the world's first sabre toothed cave cat, living in the age of cavemen and dinosaurs.
  • "The Vikings": The story of how Garfield the Orange and his band of Horny Vikings are unfrozen from an iceberg and attack St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • "Babes and Bullets": Garfield stars as Private Detective Sam Spayed in a Film Noir parody where everyone is a talking cat.
  • "The Exterminators": A Three Stooges homage featuring Garfield and two other cats as professional mouse catchers.
  • "Lab Animal": Garfield (a.k.a. Specimen 19-GB) tries to escape being dissected by scientists.
  • "The Garden": A girl named Cloey and a certain orange kitten live in what may or may not be the Garden of Eden and confront what may or may not be Pandora's Box. Diabetes flavoured. Garfield says this was his favorite life.
  • "Primal Self": A cat named Tigger lives as an ordinary housecat until a memory from the past triggers a frightful transformation.
  • "Garfield": The origin story for Garfield's present life as portrayed in the comic strip, starting from his birth and including his first encounters with Jon and Odie.
  • "Space Cat": Garfield struggles to survive when he's lost in space in the galaxy's crappiest spaceship.
Was also adapted into an Animated Television Special, which removed some of the stories and added a few new ones. "Babes and Bullets" was also made as a separate special. The lives shown in the Animated Anthology are:
  • "Cave Cat" (as above)
  • "King Cat": In Ancient Egypt, King Cat is the favorite pet of King Amenhotep III, enjoying his life with slave dogs, but must protect his owner from the schemes of the younger brother.
  • "The Garden" (as above)
  • "Court Musician": The king demands a concerto from George Frederick "Freddie" Handel and the jester delightedly informs him of the consequences of disappointing the king. Under the pressure of finishing it in a single night, "Freddie" delegates part of the work to his pet, a blue cat. The results are, well, surprising to say the least.
  • "Stunt Cat": A Deliberately Monochrome segment where Garfield is (VERY briefly) a stunt double for Krazy Kat.
  • "Diana's Piano": A young girl, Sara, receives a white cat, Diana, for her 8th birthday along with her first piano lessons. Melancholic in nature, it details Diana's life with Sara as the girl grows up, goes to college and settles down with a family, all with Diana as part of it. Told in a flashback from the view of a middle-aged or elderly Sara.note 
  • "Lab Animal" (as above)
  • "Garfield" (as above)
  • "Space Cat" (as above)
  • "The Final Judgement": A reworked version of "In The Beginning..." where God pronounces judgement on Garfield (and Odie) after all the lives are done. The only thing kept intact is the punchline, where we see God might have a bit of a bias for cats.

Furthermore, BOOM! Studios has made a four issue remake of the series and has taken their own interpretations. While "Cave Cat," "King Cat," "Sam Spayed," "Lab Cat," and "Space Cat" (now named Ace Nova) remain as part of Garfield's lives, we are introduced to some new ones:

  • "Pirate Cat":
  • "Cowboy Cat":
  • "Supercat": is that an orange blimp in the sky? No, it’s “Super-Cat,” Garfield’s fourth incarnation from the golden age of superheroes.

May be distantly related to The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat. Between this, Garfield's Judgement Day and the licensed parody Garfield Minus Garfield, it seems, Jim Davis is a pretty cool guy.

The book provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the normal Garfield comic strips, Jon Arbuckle's other pet Odie was actually that of his friend Lyman, who appeared for a certain number of strips as Jon's live-in partner and then vanished altogether without explanation. In one of the stories from this book (the story that retells Garfield's origin), Jon saw that Garfield was lonely and so he bought Odie from the pet store — the same pet store that Garfield was in — and brought him home to keep Garfield company.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "(The world's first and last Cave Cat) bought the farm when he failed to field the fetched frap tree."
  • The Alleged Spaceship: Well, it was built by the lowest bidder.
  • Anachronism Stew: In "Cave Cat" cavemen exist at the same time as dinosaurs, real-estate salesmen, and (in the book, but not the special) George Burns in 10 million BC.
  • Art Shift: Occurs often, as it was written and drawn by various artists.
  • Book Ends: "The Vikings" begins and ends with two (almost) identical scenes, just set 1000 years apart.
  • Cats Are Mean: "Primal Self" portrays Garfield's life as a housecat named Tigger who is strongly implied to maul his owner after regressing to a violent feral state.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Though in this case, they're more like reincarnations. The book justifies it by having God with feline features.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: "In The Beginning ..." portrays heaven as having an entire design department for creating new species.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Helga the Viking wears a very revealing bikini-like armor.
  • Dame with a Case: In the story "Babes and Bullets" (and the television special based on it), the plot is kickstarted when a woman named Tanya O'Tabby hires Sam Spayed to investigate her husband's murder. She's so beautiful that his Private Eye Monologue is initially distracted with flowery descriptions, and when on the case, he posits that she's probably the Femme Fatale type who murdered her husband.
  • Darker and Edgier: Some of the stories go to much darker places than standard Garfield fare, the most notable example being how "Primal Self" ends with Tigger about to maul his elderly owner.
  • Denial of Animality: In Garfield's introduction to "Space Cat", he states that he likes to think he'll live forever, "but hey, I'm only human."
  • Distant Finale:
    • "Space Cat" has Garfield's ninth life take place in a distant future, on a spaceship traveling the galaxy. Well, not really. He's playing a really advanced coin-op arcade game.
    • "The Vikings" and "Garfield" have self-contained ones. The former ends in the year 2984, and the latter ends with Garfield and Odie's old age, telling stories to a new generation of kittens.
  • Escaped from the Lab: In "Lab Animal", 19GB escapes from the government facility it was being held in when it learns it's slated to be dissected. It manages to evade being recaptured due to the experiment performed on it turning it into a dog.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Incredibly Huge Galactic War Fleet plans to "atomize" Garfield's craft in five minutes. However, they seem to have these when Garfield pleads for them to spare his life, and "have a heart".
    I'm sorry. We of the I.H.G.W.F. have no hearts. We do, however, appreciate a tidy ship. We will give you seven minutes instead of five.
  • Expositron 9000: The beginning of "Space Cat" has Garfield brought up to speed by a computer:
    Computer: Welcome to space, Mr. Cat. I suppose you were wondering why you are here.
    Garfield: A keen grasp of the obvious.
    Computer: Well, it is really quite simple. You see, all we require is that you survive, Mr. Cat. We are monitoring the survival instincts of a cat in his last life.
    Garfield: [shocked] In his la... la-last life?
    Computer: As you are well aware, a cat has nine lives.
    Garfield: And, uh, don't tell me... I'm living life number nine?
    Computer: I tell it like it is, baby cakes.
  • Film Noir: The noir mystery genre is parodied in "Babes And Bullets".
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "The Garden"note , Cloey's Uncle Todd tell her and her cat not to open a crystal box he left in the garden. They inspect the box's easy-to-open latch... and then avert this trope when they decide to respect Todd's wishes and never think of the box again.
    Cloey: They loved Uncle Todd very much, and were thankful for the garden!
  • Freudian Excuse: In the book, most lives explain traits of Garfield.
    • Cave Cat = fear/hatred of dogs.
    • Vikings = mean behavior.
    • Babes and Bullets = "The most significant thing I learned from this life was that I swore off work."
    • Exterminators = not eating any mice.
    • Lab Animal = fearing the evil veterinarian.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Space Cat" has the Operations Data Index Element.
  • Genre Roulette: Comedy is the main gist, but the stories also include noir, sci-fi, and horror.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Big Bob cum!"
  • Hollywood Prehistory: In "Cave Cat", Garfield lives his first life as a sabretooth cat in a world of barren soil, dinosaurs and volcanic peaks. The animated special takes one step further with a parody of creatures emerging fully formed from the sea.
  • Horny Vikings: The Vikings in "The Vikings" have horned helmets.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: Cave Cat runs into the Caveman's ankle at high speed:
    Caveman: CAT! (hops around, clutching his foot)
    Narrator: "Cat" was caveman-talk for "Darn it!"
  • Leg Cling: Parodied. In "The Vikings", Helga strikes a classic pose as one of her subordinates clings onto her leg.
  • Medium Awareness: In "The Vikings," Helga threatens to kick an employee "halfway into the next frame" — and does.
  • Mood Whiplash: The extremely dark story "Primal Self" comes between the childishly sweet and innocent "The Garden" and the almost purely comedic "Garfield".
  • No Ending: In the graphic novel, the story ends with Garfield deciding to try to beat the arcade machine one more time, and getting change.
  • Out of Continues: By the time Garfield enters the future, regardless of which adaptation, all 8 of his lives expired and he only has one left.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Sam Spayed does this throughout "Babes And Bullets", even lampshading it when he wonders "why am I talking to myself?"
  • Proscenium Reveal: The book version of "Space Cat" ends with Space Cat peering out of a VR booth called Survival and telling the kids in line that he thinks he's got it figured out now...
  • Retcon: The origin story of the strip version of Garfield (his eighth life) shows Jon picking Odie up for the first time, contradicting the strip itself which established that Odie was brought into the house as the pet of Jon's former roommate, Lyman.

Aside from the tropes carried over from the book, the special provides examples of:

  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Garfield's 4th life, "the Court Musician" is set in the 1700s, yet his 3rd life "In the Garden", appears to be set in the 20th century at the earliest. In the original book, "The Garden" takes place during Garfield's 6th life with "The Court Musician" not being in the book.
  • Afterlife of Service: Garfield's fear in "King Cat". If the Pharaoh dies, Garfield is also expected to follow him to the afterlife, which results in him Buried Alive in the tomb.
  • Arc Number: The numbers "6-19" (Garfield's birthday, June 19th) appear often, such as the serial number of the Lab Cat and outside the Space Cat's ship.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The "King Cat" Pharaoh is first tricked by his brother into walking through a modern-looking door. Then he is killed by a dynamite stick (which Garfield tosses aside, saying that "whatever it is, it probably hasn't been invented yet" Once it blows, he states "Then again, what do I know?"). In the same story, Amenhotep III was murdered and his throne usurped by his brother. In real life, he probably died of natural causes and was succeeded by his son.
    • "Court Musician" also has anachronistic elements, namely the slideshow that the Jester uses to taunt Freddie and the ending with the accidental invention of jazz music (with Freddie and his quartet donning shades to go along with it, his cat also donning a fedora and shades).
  • Art Shift: The segments change art styles often, as just like the book, the special was directed by many people.
  • Ascended Extra: Odie has a much bigger role in the TV version of "Space Cat" than he did in the original book's story.
  • Bad Boss: Garfield supervised the pyramid-building slaves in "King Cat". He is shown to be merciless, prone to whipping the slaves into getting back to work.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted in "King Cat." Odie saves Garfield from the tomb at the end, but only to serve as his slave.
  • Big Sleep: After hearing her last piano concert from married mother Sara, Diana jumps down onto the piano keyboard, yawns, and drifts off into a deep sleep from which she never wakes up. So heartbreaking, for dying on the instrument she loved so much was Diana's testament for her love of her owner's music.
  • Body Horror: 19-GB's horrifying Transformation Sequence due to the injection he received. On the upside, becoming a dog allowed him to escape being recaptured.
  • Book Ends:
    • It opens and ends with God (in the opening segment, creating cats; in the ending, talking to Odie and an out-of-lives Garfield).
    • Crossing with Ironic Echo: "King Cat" opens and closes with the Pharaoh sending his pet to supervise the construction of the pyramids. First, Garfield carried by dogs and whipping Odie. Later, Odie — the pharaoh's brother pet — carried by cats and whipping Garfield.
  • Bowdlerization: Omission example: Some of the more "adult" vignettes in His 9 Lives have been replaced with these four new segments.
  • Cain and Abel/Evil Chancellor: The Pharaoh's brother wants to take over his place as ruler of Egypt. Eventually he does, albeit accidentally on Garfield's part.
  • The Cameo: Krazy, Ignatz, and Officer Pup appear in "Stunt Cat." Pup apparantly directed all the trio's silent films!
  • Cats Are Superior: It's implied in "The Final Judgment" that God made cats in His image, since He's shown to have feline-looking eyes.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: God lampshades this ("Well, let's just say it'll make for a great plot of a story, okay?")... though the special ends with a reveal of blinking cat-like eyes.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Takes it one step further, by having God's computers 'on the blink' and not being able to keep track of the number of lives.
  • Death by Adaptation: ...sorta. In the book, "Space Cat" is a simulation. In the TV special, Garfield, along with Odie, really dies and has to meet God as he ran out of lives. Fortunately, Garfield gets to live again and even gets the full nine lives back.
  • Embarrassing Slide: The "decapitation slideshow" in "Court Musician" is briefly interrupted by a slide of the jester in a pool party.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: God's face is obscured partially by shadow. And apparently he was modeled after Garfield's voice actor Lorenzo Music.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The opening theme song at the beginning of the film says that "When you've got nine lives, you've got nine ways to lose." Guess what happens at the end of "Space Cat"...
    • Before "Space Cat", Garfield comments that "I'd like to think I'll live forever". After unfairly losing his ninth life, he gets another nine lives, allowing him to live even longer.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • King Cat: The fact that cats were venerated and worshipped in Ancient Egypt relates to Garfield's preference of being pamperd and waited on.
    • Court Musician wasn't exempt. "I learned to think on my feet in my fourth life. Thinking was okay, I guess. Now I avoid it whenever possible.". That said, similar to "Babes and Bullets" from the book, Garfield swore off something. In this case, writing the newly invented (by accident) jazz music.
    • Averted for Stunt Cat, because of how short it is.
    • Diana's Piano has a somewhat positive one. Garfield developed a love for music taking into account Sara playing her piano just for Diana. He considers this life his luckiest for that reason.
  • Gender Bender: Apparently Garfield was female in one of his past lives ("Diana's Piano")
  • Hope Spot: "Space Cat" has Garfield attempting a desperation attack saying "I'm the hero, and heroes never die. We always win our space battles. This oughta do it." It doesn't work, and he literally meets God afterwards.
  • Karma Houdini: In "King Cat", evil Pharaoh Black Bart kills his good brother and gets away with ruling Egypt. He now has the slave dog (Odie) in charge in place of King Cat at the end! Could also count as Laser-Guided Karma as Garfield wasn't the kindest of royalty around.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Garfield", Garfield comments to the audience that he seems to know Odie from a previous life:
    Garfield: It's as though I know Odie from a former life — a bad one.
  • Leitmotif: In the epilogue. Garfield and Odie happily return to life to music from "The Garden" — then God says "We have to stick together, you know" to a musical sting from "Lab Animal", while sporting glowing cat eyes also seen in that segment. Then the song from "Court Musician" plays over the credits.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Twice in the Space Cat portion — once when the vending machine malfunctions, and again when Garfield's secret weapon is "declawed".
  • Life Isn't Fair: After losing his last life, Garfield encounters God, who he tells that it wasn't fair for him (and Odie) to be put in the situation he was in (i.e being stuck in the middle of nowhere by scientists to monitor his last life and the odds were stacked against him with the I.H.G.W.F). Fortunately, God agrees and gives him another chance at life... nine chances to be exact.
  • Lighter and Softer: Though the special is still a bit darker and more dramatic than the average Garfield special, a lot of the book's much darker elements were notably removed.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: "Babes and Bullets" was made to a separate TV special. But there, Sam Spayed's a detective cat (who looks identical to Garfield, rather than a real-life cat as in the book) in a human world.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: "King Cat" has Odie find and free Garfield from the pyramid he's sealed in by accident when he pushes against a loose block.
  • Medium Blending: "In the Beginning" is live action, and the return of God in the ending too.
  • Mood Whiplash: Two comedic segments, "In the Garden", two comedic segments, the sad "Diana's Piano", the scary "Lab Animal", and more comedic segments (though the ending of the last is kinda dark).
  • The Mourning After: After Diana passes away, Sara isn't quite as enamored of her piano.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: All of Space Cat's attempts to fight back against the I.H.G.W.F end up failing resulting in him losing his last life.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "King Cat" had Garfield trying to protect his moronic Pharaoh/Owner from his scheming brother (after learning that if the Pharaoh kicks the can, Garfield will be stuck in his tomb along with him). It ends with Garfield tossing a lit stick of dynamite in the tenple restroom without knowing the Pharaoh was inside, not knowing what it was until it was too late.
  • Off with His Head!: Discussed one too many times by the Villainous Harlequin Jester, not only before George Fredrick ("Freddie") Handel's concert, but also during said concert in which said jester uses his teeth in an imatation of a guillotine to slice an apple, rips off the head of a picture of Handel, pulls off the head of a Handel doll, and even showing a slideshow of cutting off each other's heads, which is both scary and funny!
  • Passed in Their Sleep: Diana dies in her sleep at the end of "Diana's Piano".
  • Pet the Dog: Although reluctant (and giving an Aside Glance when Odie encourages him), Garfield convinces God that Odie is a cat too so he can gain 9 lives with him. Considering Garfield's relationship with Odie, this is quite a big step for him.
  • Potty Emergency: The aliens skip one minute of the "countdown to destruction". To justify, "I had to go to the little boys' room!"
  • Rummage Fail: As Garfield ducks under the console to work on getting his guns online during his final minute, he tosses away a dog bone, a banana peel, a boot, and fuzzy dice.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The last moments of the painful and scary Transformation Sequence of "Lab Animal" happen entirely in shadow.
  • Shout-Out: The story and animation of "Lab Animal" is a Shout Out to The Plague Dogs.
  • Threatening Shark: The alien fleet that Garfield faces in "Space Cat" has shark-like ships.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: The Villainous Harlequin does this on addressing "Frrreddie" Handel and on the introduction of the concerto to the audience.
  • Tuckerization: The alien captain is called "Commander Mendelson".
  • Unexplained Accent: One of the Egyptian slaves speaks with a Cockney Accent despite the fact that this was Ancient Egypt in the first place.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Garfield attempts to use a vending machine aboard his spaceship to order lunch, in the form of a cup of coffee and some pie, during his ninth and final life. The machine drops the pie, squashes it with a plate, pours coffee on it, and then crushes it with the coffee mug.
    "Rats! Oh well, everything tasted like lettuce anyway."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Garfield His 9 Lives


"You Both Have All Nine Lives"

After losing his final life, Garfield (alongside Odie) meets his creator, and tells him that he feels he was unfairly cheated out of his life. God agrees, saying he can have his life back, and thanks to a computer issue, Garfield is able to finagle nine more lives for himself and Odie.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / BargainWithHeaven

Media sources: