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Western Animation / Garfield Specials

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These are just the Holiday Specials.
A series of 12 animated TV specials based off the popular comic strip Garfield. All of them (except the first two, which were animated by Mendleson/Melendez Productions, famous for the Peanuts and Cathy specials) were animated by Film Roman, and all of them were broadcast on CBS between the years of 1982 and 1991.

The specials use the same voice actors and animation style, at least from Garfield in the Rough onwards, as the animated series Garfield and Friends, though there is no official word on whether the specials should be considered to be set in the same universe as the series.

The specials are as follows:

  • Here Comes Garfield: After a series of vignettes introducing our fat cool cat, Odie is locked in a dog pound, and Garfield must save him.
  • Garfield on the Town: Garfield falls out of the car on a visit to the vet, and ends up being reunited with his mother. Won an Emmy in 1984.
  • Garfield in the Rough: Garfield, Jon and Odie go camping. Unfortunately, a killer panther is there... Won an Emmy in 1985.
  • Garfield's Halloween Adventure/Garfield in Disguise: Garfield and Odie go trick-or-treating, and while doing so, wind up at a haunted house. Won an Emmy in 1986.
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  • Garfield in Paradise: Garfield, Jon and Odie go on vacation in the cheapskate's version of Hawaii.
  • Garfield Goes Hollywood: Garfield, Jon and Odie attempt to win a talent show contest for people and their pets.
  • A Garfield Christmas: Garfield and Odie go with Jon to spend Christmas on the farm where Jon's family lives.
  • Garfield: His 9 Lives: An epic hour-long special where we see past and future reincarnations of Garfield (or Garfield's "Lives") . Based off a graphic novel. Has its own page.
  • Garfield's Babes and Bullets: A Deliberately Monochrome special that dramatically parodies Film Noir. Based off one of the vignettes from His 9 Lives that didn't make it to the above special... and when it became by far the most popular vignette of the book version, the animation team decided to give it a dedicated special. Won an Emmy in 1989.
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  • Garfield's Thanksgiving: While Garfield is put on a diet much to his horror, Jon invites Liz over for Thanksgiving and attempts to cook the food. It doesn't end well.
  • Garfield's Feline Fantasies: Garfield has a imagination sequence Affectionately Parodying The Maltese Falcon.
  • Garfield Gets a Life: The final special—Jon attempts to add some excitement into his life, and in the process, meets a woman who he really hits it off with, but this gets Garfield worried.

The Garfield Specials provide examples of:

  • 555: Babes And Bullets uses the "KLondike 5" variation: Tanya's phone number is KLondike5-1234 (555-1234)
  • Adaptation Expansion: Some of the novelizations add scenes absent in the cartoons – notably, the Halloween book adds a subplot about Garfield stealing a ring, which explains why he's being chased by ghosts.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the comic version of Babes and Bullets all of the characters are cats. In the specials only Garfield is. This is never remarked on, even by his love interests.
  • Aloha, Hawaii!: The main premise of Garfield in Paradise.
  • Animated Adaptation: Apart from these being based off the strip itself, many of the specials featured gags and lines adapted from original Garfield comic strips. His 9 Lives is an adaptation of (some of) the original graphic novel, and Babes & Bullets is an adaptation of the originally-prose story from His 9 Lives
  • Appease the Volcano God: The volcano in Garfield in Paradise. However, it rejects the usual virgin sacrifice common to this trope when it throws Princess Owooda when she attempts a Heroic Sacrifice. What the volcano really wants is a vintage 1950s car that contains the spirit of the Cruiser, who appeased it the first time.
  • Art Evolution: When watching the specials in order, you can see how Garfield has evolved over the years. The first two specials have Garfield drawn in his early 80's style. He still is for the first few scenes of Garfield in the Rough, then the eyes slowly get larger during the rest of the special. And by Garfield Goes Hollywood, he has the look he has in Garfield and Friends.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A Heterosexual Life-Partners (then again, Odie's seen crossdressed twice in Garfield In Hollywood) version. Garfield recurrently treats Odie shabbily, but Odie himself clearly cares for Garfield deeply as a friend, and Garfield, though he would never care to admit it, is often nice to Odie back; curling up to sleep beside Odie for the latter's comfort when Odie is apparently doomed to be put down in Here Comes Garfield (and then going on to attack the dogcatcher to save him towards the film's end), giving Odie his fair share of the candy in Garfield's Halloween Adventure, and bartering with The Creator to give Odie nine lives back as well at the end of Garfield: His 9 Lives are all prominent examples.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The end of Garfield On The Town. Garfield finds his way back to Jon and Odie, but he's been more or less forbidden to ever come near his family, including his long-lost mother, again. Though it's implied that Garfield's mother is checking up on him to see how he's doing.
  • The Blind Leading the Blind: In Garfield in Paradise, Monkey, the dumbest of the Ding-Dongs, and Odie fix up Jon's rental car.
  • Bowdlerization: A strip of Garfield throttling Jon, like many others, was animated into a throwaway gag in Here Comes Garfield. However, due to the request of CBS, the throttling was changed to Garfield grabbing Jon's cheeks and shaking them violently.
    • Omission example: Some of the more "adult" vignettes in His 9 Lives are replaced.
    • In the original Babes and Bullets story the murder victim and the jealous co-worker who killed him were both priests, while the special changes them to university teachers to avoid any religious controversy.
    • Also from Babes and Bullets, in the 9 Lives version when Garfield gets hot coffee spilled on him, he exclaims, "Damn it! That's hot!" In the animated version it's changed to, "Gosh, that's hot!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the very end of Babes And Bullets, Jon interrupts the fantasy, asking "What are you doing in there?". Garfield responds "Getting ready to roll the end credits" and closes the door.
    • Garfield also has a Running Gag of saying "nice touch" when something thematically appropriate (Dramatic Thunder upon the closeup of a spooky mansion, for example) occurs.
  • Breather Episode: Garfield Goes Hollywood, Garfield's Thanksgiving, and Garfield Gets a Life, all of which are more laid back compared to the rest of the specials. There's no moments that are explicitly Played for Drama or see the characters in genuine danger.
  • Breath-Holding Brat: In Garfield's Thanksgiving, Jon holds his breath until Liz says she'll go out with him. She eventually agrees after Jon faints from holding his breath in.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of Garfield in Town, Garfield is ordered by his grandfather to leave and go back to his own home with Jon and Odie. Before he goes, Garfield's mother does conciliate him that his life with Jon is much easier and more comfortable than their lives in the abandoned Italian restaurant.
  • Call-Back: At one point in Garfield in The Rough, Jon turns on the radio set, and after a We Interrupt This Program report about the panther, So Long Old Friend from Here Comes Garfield starts playing.
  • Canada, Eh?: According to Lorenzo, the teacher in Garfield Gets a Life, speaking Canadian is easy: You talk like you normally would, but sometimes, you add an "Eh?".
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield as a pirate threatens to kill John, but won't on account of him being the only one who changes his kitty litter.
  • Captain Colorbeard: In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield is dressed as a pirate captain. He calls himself Orangebeard.
  • Cargo Cult: In Garfield in Paradise they come across a native tribe that worships a '57 Chevy and its driver, "The Cruiser", who drove into a nearby volcano as a sacrifice.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: In Garfield in Paradise, when the volcano begins erupting, Garfield looks and the camera and smiles while saying "Nice touch."
  • Chekhov's Volcano: The volcano in Garfield in Paradise.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the Thanksgiving special, Jon while prepping a Thanksgiving turkey reads the instruction "Rub skin with butter" as applying butter to his own skin rather than the turkey itself.
  • Cool Old Lady: Jon's Grandma, who appears in both the Christmas and Thanksgiving specials.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the original Garfield comic strip, as well as and Friends, are Gag Series with No Fourth Wall, the specials tend to be much more dramatic. Halloween Adventure in particular.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The entirety of Babes and Bullets, the Krazy Kat scene of His 9 Lives, and the first scene of In the Rough.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Babes and Bullets heavily implies that Garfield got laid. Twice. BY HUMAN WOMEN. It starts when in typical Film Noir style, the sexy female client invites Sam Spayed to "have a little milk with her", and he reacts much as if she'd invited him in for coffee. At the end, his secretary picks up a pair of glasses and a bottle of milk, sashaying into Sam's office while throwing a few Fanservice poses, inducing an "oh wow" reaction from Sam.
  • Dreadful Musician: Doc's attempt at playing "Oh Christmas Tree" on the piano in A Garfield Christmas.
  • Dressed to Plunder: The Halloween Special has him and Odie going out Trick-or-Treating dressed as pirates, Garfield wearing a pirate hat and sporting a peg leg, while Odie has a bandana, single earring, and striped shirt, and being who he is, starts off with a peg on every leg. The ghostly pirates they run into later show more of the usual fashion sense, just more dead and decayed.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Binky the Clown makes his first on-screen appearance in Garfield's Halloween Adventure, before his physical debut in the strip (he was first mentioned in March 1985, a little over seven months before the special aired, but wasn't seen until September of '86) or Garfield and Friends.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Here Comes Garfield has whole spades of this, as the character and franchise was still in its nascent period.
    • It was animated by a different studio than the later specials (Mendelson/Melendez instead of Film Roman), and as such Garfield is drawn in his early-80's style – he rarely walks upright and doesn't have big feet when he does.
    • It's the only traditionally-animated Garfield cartoon where Jon isn't voiced by Thom Huge, instead being provided by longtime television actor Sandy Kenyon.
    • The soundtrack is also significantly different - later specials and Garfield & Friends would use combination of synth-classical and synthpop. Here Comes has a swing jazz soundtrack largely provided by Lou Rawls, who would later do some of the other openings (most notably Garfield: His 9 Lives), but here he provides most of the soundtrack, including several vocal pieces in the middle of the show.
    • A number of the other specials, and G&F, featured unique storylines that didn't overlap with the comic itself, which went on to become its own beast. Here Comes is largely sourced from a number of strips during the early 80s era of Garfield, stitched together to make one story.
    • Additionally, the third act is a lot more melancholy than many other Garfield works, and focuses around the idea that Odie is going to be put down by the City Pound for want of an identified owner (as Jon has no idea how much trouble they're in) and features Garfield reflecting on how they met and comforting Odie while he's cold. The scene feels a bit ridiculous today - obviously Odie isn't getting put under - but in 1982 Odie's Plot Armor wasn't guaranteed and so the sequence worked better.
    • Garfield himself is not nearly as much of a pun-master as he'd become in later shows, instead being much more of a Straight Man to the goofiness happening around him; there's also more of an emphasis placed, especially by the soundtrack, on him being a "cool cat".
  • Empty Swimming Pool Dive: Occurs in Garfield in Paradise.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: In Garfield in the Rough, an escaped panther stalks the woods where Jon, Garfield and Odie are camping.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield is showing Odie that the other trick-or-treaters are just kids by pulling a monster mask off one kid. But the next three turn out to be real monsters, with the third person Garfield unmasks (a long-nosed person with sharp teeth) revealing their mask is identical to their real face, and the fourth person, a Bedsheet Ghost, turns out to be an actual, invisible ghost underneath. Subverted with the second person unmasked - it's a hairy monster, but they're also in a Bedsheet Ghost outfit.
  • Groin Attack: In one scene, from Babes and Bullets, Sam Spayed says on the phone that Tanya's husband might have been tangled up with another woman, and a shocked Kitty responds by dumping a tray's worth of coffee into Sam's lap. After getting up, Sam remarks "That hot coffee in the lap was enough to give a literal meaning to my last name."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In "Garfield in Paradise," Owooda attempts this, but the volcano won't let her, sending her tumbling back down the mountain. Monkey and Odie appear to pull one when they drive the car over the volcano's edge to appease it, but they manage to climb out.
  • Human Sacrifice: In "Garfield in Paradise," the island princess (and her cat) are sent to jump into an erupting volcano. Her rather cynical father comments that it doesn't so much appease the spirit of the volcano as it "plugs up the hole." Turns out the volcano is more interested in the convertible Jon rented.
  • If I Do Not Return: In A Garfield Christmas: "If I'm not back in an hour, send a banana cream pie after me."
  • Ignored Epiphany: Flagrant in Garfield's Halloween Adventure:
    Garfield: Wait a minute. Am I being too greedy? Should I share my candy with those less fortunate than me? Am I missing the true spirit of Halloween?... Naaaaah! Mine! All mine! Mine, I tell you!
  • Instant Sedation: Somewhat averted in Garfield In The Rough; the park rangers are able to shoot the panther with a tranquilizer dart (just as it's about to pounce on Garfield), but while the sedative does its thing pretty quickly, there is a tense moment when the panther is still able to crawl towards Garfield and come close to clawing him.
  • Is There a Doctor in the House?: In Garfield Goes Hollywood, at the "Pet Search" talent show, there is an old woman who is trying to make her pet bird, which is most likely dead, perform tricks to the audience. After realizing what's going on, the old woman asks this question.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: In Babes and Bullets, Sam Spayed says that Lieutenant Washington's blue boy shot a client in the back for jaywalking.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Garfield. Under that lazy, cynical, self-absorbed exterior, there's quite a golden heart. He deeply cares for Odie and Jon, in his own way — to the point that, in the camping special (Garfield in the Rough), he attacks a killer panther to try and protect them. He's also a really good dancer.
    • In Halloween Adventure, Garfield learns too late, after jumping into water, that he is unable to swim, so Odie saves him. Once back on dry land and once they rediscover their bags of trick-or-treating candies, they head home, where, in repayment, Garfield does something he considers "totally out of character for [him]" and "a great sacrifice on [his] part": he gives Odie his half of the candy.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In "Garfield in the Rough," after most of an episode cowering in fear of the escaped panther, Garfield goes into near-Papa Wolf mode to distract it when it menaces Jon and Odie.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield orders Odie to "Put out the oars". Odie throws the oars off the boat.
    • In Garfield's Thanksgiving, the turkey recipe says "Rub skin with butter". Jon then says "I don't know what good that will do, but okay," and rubs his own skin with it.
  • Manchild: There's a few hints that part of Jon's nerdy nature is because of this. Most blatant in the Christmas Special; he and his brother Doc Boy love a children's book about Binky the Clown saving Christmas so much that they make their father read it to them each year, despite being grown men, and at one point they try to wake their dad up directly after midnight so they can celebrate Christmas Morning as soon as possible.
  • Market-Based Title: The Halloween special isn't sure what to call itself, even in the USA. The cartoon debuted as Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but the novelization was called Garfield In Disguise, suggesting that that was the original title. Depending on the re-release, one or the other (or both) will change. Some prints of the book note on the first page that the title was altered.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: Garfield tries to do this in Garfield's Halloween Adventure, but finds it doesn't work very well:
    Garfield: Halloween is my middle name! Gar-Halloween-Field... Oh, well.
  • Monochrome to Color: Garfield in the Rough uses this in its intro, as the title character bemoans how boring life at home is (with a Do Not Adjust Your Set warning).
  • Mundane Solution: Brought up in Garfield in Paradise after Odie and Monkey's (seeming) Heroic Sacrifice:
    Aw Monkey, what did you have to go and do that for? You could have just shoved the car in.
  • Never Send an X to Do a Y's Job: In A Garfield Christmas, Garfield says, "Never send a man to do a cat's job", when Jon has him put the star on the top of the Christmas tree.
  • Noir Episode: Babes and Bullets. Wasn't included in the animated version of Garfield: His 9 Lives but was adapted into a stand-alone TV special the following year.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Many of the specials featured a character (usually the villain) drawn in a more realistic style compared to the other characters. Examples include the dogcatcher from Here Comes Garfield, the panther from Garfield in the Rough, and the old man and the pirates from Garfield's Halloween Adventure.
  • Not This One, That One: Inverted in Garfield in Paradise. Stranded in a tribal village, the chief calls for his daughter and her cat to meet his guests [Jon and Garfield]. The first girl and cat they see are rather homely, but then the real daughter and cat emerge, both of them significantly more attractive.
  • Novelization: All the specials (except Garfield: His 9 Lives, which already was one, and Garfield's Feline Fantasies was adapted into a storybook) were adapted into small graphic novels. The art in them tended to look hurried, even though in many cases the stories became more fleshed out.
  • Oven Logic: Shows up in the Thanksgiving special. Jon turns up the oven higher to cook the turkey faster, but ends up ruining it.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: This from A Garfield Christmas:
    Jon: Doc Boy! My favorite brother.
    Doc: Don't call me Doc Boy. You've probably forgotten I'm your only brother.
    Jon: Oh. ...You're right.
  • Parental Bonus: In Garfield's Christmas Special, there's a scene near the end where Garfield presents John's Grandma with a bundle of letters written by her (now deceased) husband when they were courting. Grandma reads the first letter aloud:
    Grandma: "My darling, if the sea were of ink and the sky of parchment, I could not begin to write my love for you." (laughs softly) "When next we meet-" (pauses, reading silently) Oh... (puts a hand over her mouth, chuckling) Oh, my.
    John's Mom: Well, what does he say, Grandma?
    Grandma: (quickly folds up letter, crossing her arms) It is inappropriate for a lady to talk about her romances, my dear.
  • Plane Awful Flight: Garfield in Paradise opens with Jon, Garfield (and Odie stashed in a suitcase) taking a plane to a tropical island. It's not a pleasant flight, with everything from rude stewardesses (upon finding out Jon is flying third class: "your seat is in the rear with the rest of the slime!") to broken down seats, non functioning safety belts, and turbulence that sends them bouncing into the ceiling. Garfield's thoughts on the matter:
    "Whoever said getting there is half the fun should be dragged out into the street and shot.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Sadly, Here Comes Garfield has Garfield and Odie trapped and alone in such a pound.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In Garfield in Town, Garfield's family succeeds in driving away the Claws but at the cost of their home (an abandoned Italian restaurant) being vandalized and broken into and some of the family members having been injured in the battle. None of the cats but Garfield is happy with the results of the battle.
  • Raiders of the Lost Parody: Garfield's Feline Fantasties had a scene almost exactly like the famous tile puzzle scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Most of Garfield's family appeared only in one week of strips and Garfield On The Town without ever being mentioned again (except for his mom, who showed up in one other strip).
  • Running Gag: Every single special has a moment where Garfield turns to the camera and says "Nice touch." These moments occur after some impressive effect that generally helps emphasize the tone of the scene: for example, in Garfield's Halloween Adventure, he does this after seeing the Dramatic Thunder behind the haunted house.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: In Garfield's Thanksgiving, Garfield's talking scale mockingly mistakes him for Orson Welles, and claims to have seen Citizen Kane eight times.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Garfield and Odie both scream in a very high pitch in Garfield's Halloween Adventure during the song "Scaredy Cat", whenever they come across a trick-or-treater who is not what it appears to be. This also doubles as Hypocritical Humor, because just before making the discovery, Garfield continuously sings that he may be a lot of things, "but the one thing I'm not is a scaredy cat."
  • Sequential Symptom Syndrome: Invoked by Garfield in Garfield's Thanksgiving, when he fakes the symptoms of vitamin deficiency as Liz lists them off to get her to take him off his diet.
  • Skewed Priorities: In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield is more concerned that he lost his candy and it's past his bedtime than that pirate ghosts are coming to get them. (He also laments losing the boat, but that was a valid worry giving that it was their only mean of escape)
  • Shout-Out: Plenty. These are Garfield cartoons, after all.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: Garfield Goes Hollywood, naturally.
  • Sneeze of Doom / "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Odie does this in Garfield's Halloween Adventure while he and Garfield are hiding in a cabinet from some pirate ghosts. The sneeze is not only loud enough to attract the ghosts' attention, but it's powerful enough to blow the cabinet doors right open. With sheepish grins, Garfield and Odie close the doors again, and Garfield says, "Maybe they didn't see us..." Cue the Scare Chord as the pirate ghosts come through the cabinet!
  • Spiritual Successor: Garfield and Friends tended to avoid holiday episodes (the specials speak for themselves), but in the season 2 segment "Heatwave Holiday", Garfield started a "Christmas in July" trend on a very hot day when he was trying to "think cold". Much later, The Garfield Show's second episode's opening segment was also Halloween themed, though in each case, this was the only segment with an overt holiday theme.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In Paradise has Princess Owooda resembling Liz and her cat resembling Arlene.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Parodied in Here Comes Garfield, as Garfield plays with the food on the table:
    Garfield: Take me to your leader, earthling, or I will atomize your face!
  • Title Drop: In Here Comes Garfield, Garfield does this when he decides to rescue Odie from the pound:
    Garfield: Look out, pound, here comes Garfield!
  • Took a Level in Badass: Garfield between On the Town and In the Rough. A gang of cats he accidentally pissed off attacks his family? He hides. A panther attacks Jon and Odie? It's go time.
  • Unfortunate Names: In Garfield in the Rough there is a character named Dicky Beaver.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Being voiced by Thom Huge, Jon has a surprisingly good singing voice. It makes his supposed dorkiness particularly during his Wizard of Love act in Garfield Goes Hollywood hard to believe even with the ridiculous Elvis clothes. Then again, his tepid reception was likely because the contest was for his pets (Jon tells his pets that they were great, to which Garfield retorts that Jon was awful), and he does manage to woo over women in the specials.
  • Went to the Great X in the Sky: In Garfield Goes Hollywood, after breaking Jon's guitar, Garfield says it "went to the big tuning fork in the sky".
  • Who's on First?: In Babes and Bullets, Garfield's alter-ego was named Sam Spayed, leading to this:
    Femme Fatale: Are you Spayed?
    Private Eye Monologue: I never know how to answer that question.
  • Why Are We Whispering?: Garfield does this in A Garfield Christmas, a monologue variation. "...Why can't they come here where my nice warm bed is? And I whispering?"
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: In Here Comes Garfield, Garfield and Odie are taken to the pound. Odie is thrown into the back of an animal control truck where the bars are more than wide enough for him to slip through. Later, when Garfield and Odie are in the pound, all the cage bars are wide enough for even Garfield to walk out, but nobody seems to notice.
  • You Look Familiar: In-universe: in Garfield in Paradise, when Jon and his pets go to rent a car, the car dealer, who looks like Frank Nelson, looks a lot like the motel manager, also looking a lot like Nelson, prompting Jon to say this very phrase to him.
    Car dealer: I have a brother in the motel business.
    Garfield: Racket is more like it.


Example of: