Clearly Mark Evanier wasn't a fan of cable television given how regularly the characters rip on the quality of the content.
Politicians and bureaucrats, if not just being the punchline of a joke, are depicted doing something comedically dastardly. This is actually something Jim Davis initially wanted to do in the comics.
Network executives, who readers of Mark Evanier's blogs and interviews will know were a regular group he and his colleagues often clashed with.
Adaptation Displacement: Not many people know that U.S. Acres was a comic strip too. The comic strip version of Bo was very unintelligent, the comic's Sheldon had a philosophical side, and two characters, Cody the Dog and Blue the Cat, were left out of the cartoon altogether, having disappeared from the strip by that point. Granted, it's probably due to the original strip having a very short life. Before the second season of Garfield and Friends even began, U.S. Acres newspaper run had already ended.
Roy in the Snow Wade two parter. Was he mindscrewing with both the other characters and the viewers or is he just an idiot....or both?
Another one in "Once Upon a Time Warp". Roy didn't give Wade back the five bucks for fourteen years because "he doesn't like the principle of giving back money he owes". Considering they knew each other for fourteen years or so and in "Banana Nose", Roy implied he had little to no friends before he moved to the farm, was that the only reason or was that also an excuse for Wade not to stay away from him?
Also was Roy jealous of Wade and Orson's friendship in the early episodes?
Does Orson secretly hate Wade but is too polite to admit it?
Is Aloysius actually nice, but is his angered personality because of work-related stress?
Any recurring human character who isnt Jon, Dr. Liz, Binky, or Herman (namely Al J. Swindler and Cactus Jake). Were they good foils for the main characters or bland side characters whose repeated appearances were unnecessary?
Booker and Sheldon. Adorable as they were and occasionally able to spout a good one-liner, of all the U.S. Acres characters they each had the least amount of development and personality, making their Day in the Limelight episodes all the more uninteresting.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Beddy Buy", Garfield and Jon are driving to the mall to buy Garfield a new bed. They suddenly start singing about spending money and buying stuff, even though it isn't even related to the episode until the very last line of the song. When it ends, they're in the store like nothing ever happened.
The series becoming Denser and Wackier. Was this a good thing or not? Some people prefer the more simple and realistic tone of season 1, especially when it adapts stories forms the comics, and dislike the constant Breaking the Fourth Wall in later seasons. The other side thinks it's creative and funny, and that the show needed to do something different to have its own identity from the source material.
Which theme song ranks supreme? Friends Are There or "We're Ready to Party"? The split lasts to this day. The only thing that most fans can mutually get behind is that the third theme song, the rap, wasn't that great (or at least will never gain the same popularity as the other two).
The U.S. Acres segments. Do they add more diversity to the show? Or do they just pale in comparison to Garfield? It doesnt help that the comic ended during season two and it's way less known than Garfield.
As always, Garfields whole character is about him pushing Jon, Odie and Nermal around. He has his share Pet the Dog moments, but those are far and in between while the show usually portrays those against him, particularly one-shot characters, as being in the wrong.
The Buddy Bears are actually a deliberate example. They are supposed to be role models for children and good educators, but they are very hypocritical and they are against freethinking and they treat Roy and Garfield as their enemies and abuse them when they say their own opinions. You can chalk that up to Mark Evanier, who hates conformity more than anything and uses them as a jab at it.
Roy can be this sometimes. An intentional example is in "Big Bad Buddy Bird" where he quits the farm when he doesn't get enough respect and gets a new job on The Buddy Bears' Show as their foil and he's supposed to act as the antagonist and disagree with the group and get safes dropped on him as punishment because "having your own opinion is forbidden" but he has had enough of their torment and tells the kids that they shouldn't do what other people do just because they do it and should think for themselves.
Nermal is often on the receiving end of Garfield's torment, for nothing more than bragging about how cute he is.
The ants reasonably popular, despite only appearing in three episodes. They even say that theyre back by popular demand in their last appearance. While they do declare that they'll be back in "a third ant episode" in "Another Ant Episode", such a thing never happens because it turned out to be the last season.
In some interviews, Jim Davis said that Binky the Clown was the most successful minor character on the show and he attracted more audiences than ever.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: After Kevin Meaney's death, the end of "Kiddie Korner" became this. The last thing Kevin Meaney tweeted was "Some last minute advice for Hilary: Light your hair on fire! Be crazy and tell him he's fired! Hit him in the face with a pie!". Aloysius' last line in U.S. Acres (if you don't count him complaining about being hit by pies and crying for help) was "Are those pies"?, and he winds up getting hit by pies.
In the same episode, one of Aloysius' lines is "More death, to say nothing of high cholesterol!". Kevin Meaney wound up dying of a heart attack, which can be caused by high cholesterol.
Genius Bonus: According to research from Yale University, people who have love-hate relationships is due to their poor self-esteem. Wade has poor self-esteem and he has a love-hate relationship with Roy! There are moments when Roy shows the esteem issue as well ("Banana Nose" for example), it's just not as upfront or often as Wade.
Growing the Beard: Not many people cared for the "U.S. Acres" portions of the show (and still dont to this very day), but many believe the segments hit their stride with the Season Four episode "Big Bad Buddy Bird. This is when the cartoons phased out the morals and musical numbers, as they were considered a nuisance.
Two examples in 'The Legal Eagle', when Orson was building a cage jail. Wade said, "You're going to put your friends in jail?" By the end of the episode, it was Orson's fault, everybody ended up in jail.
Another example, when Wade told Roy (who Orson made into a Deputy), "...Lock me up and throw away the key!" After Roy put everyone in jail, including himself, he literally threw away the key.
For a more general example, the whole episode "Ode To Odie" after bullying became a newsworthy issue and Garfields aversion to bullying became part of his character in later years, since it reminds him of some of the bad things he does.
The episode "Binky Gets Cancelled, Again!" is about Binkys show getting unfairly cancelled again because it wasn't educational. Years later, it would be one of the main reasons why Saturday morning cartoons have all but disappeared on network television. Two other episodes, "Learning Lessons" and "Kiddie Korner", used the "educational things forced by the network" plot as well, making them this trope too. This may also count as Hilarious in Hindsight, as Saturday morning cartoons have been slowly coming back since the late 2010s with no educational requirements whatsoever.
That episode was also Binkys last appearance on the show until the final season and the Buddy Bears started making more appearances after that. So in a way, the Buddy Bears did take his place on the show.
Films and Felines is this twice over in its final segment: first its comments on how theatres who try to soak their customers never stay open was dead accurate and now the industry is dying due to so many theaters employing Stratford not unlike that in the episode. Second it showed that the video rental business was booming... Which is now a business doing even WORSE than movie theaters due to the advent of online streaming.
Ho Yay: Roy and Wade have plenty of Tsundere moments with each other. Their biggest example would have to be the Snow Wade two parter, with not only Wade as Snow White, but Roy as the prince. When Roy realizes he has to kiss Wade in order to revive him from being poisoned, he refused to do so and leaves. Orson unwillingly becomes the new prince, but his attempts to kiss Wade awake fail. Eventually Roy comes back, andhiskiss wakes Wade up. Granted, Roy only came back so he could become rich via marrying Snow Wade, but when Wade is revived, he is happy to let Roy have his hand in marriage.
That's how most people, especially the Arlene fans feel about poor Penelope. Whats worth noting is that Arlene was supposed to appear in the show, but due to creative issues going on between Jim Davis and the writers, they scrapped her from appearing in the show.
Some Binky fans feel this way about the Buddy Bears.
Ron the Death Eater: There are some fans who despise Orson for the events of "Snow Wade and the 77 Dwarves" (where the U.S. Acres cast acted out their own version of Snow White), concluding that Wade's death was planned by Orson and that Orson's initial refusal to play the part of the prince to kiss Wade awake wasn't helping his cause. This disregards that Snow White being poisoned by the Evil Queen's apple was part of the original story, the story only being pretend, the inanity of assuming that what happens to an actor's character equates what the director wants to happen to the actual actor, Orson begrudgingly taking the part of the prince because Bo and Roy (the latter at least initially) refused to kiss Wade and Orson getting the idea to imagine a prince who'd be willing to kiss Wade when his attempts to kiss Wade awake fall flat .
The Scrappy: The Buddy Bears, in-universe. They are very hypocritical and they are against freethinking and they treat Roy and Garfield as their enemies and abuse them when they say their own opinions. You can chalk that up to Mark Evanier, who hates conformity more than anything and uses them as a jab at it.
Seasonal Rot: It happened after Season Five. The show became more bizarre, oversaturated with fourth wall breaks, and people felt that the last two seasons didnt have the charm of the first five seasons. Despite having decent ratings, the show slowly began to lose its audience. It doesnt help that the last two openings were badly received and the show was in danger of suffering budget cuts.
"Binky Gets Canceled...Again!" As the title implies, Binky's popular kids' show is canceled after parents complain that the program isn't educational. Binky points out that he does teach educational stuff: "I make children laugh! I entertain!" The station manager then declares that entertaining simply isn't enough for children's shows anymore — they need to have "social content" to get airtime. This seems to be a reaction against Anvilicious programs that treat kids like idiots while hammering home countless Aesops. It makes the legitimate claim that it's OK for children to simply have fun and enjoy themselves while watching television, rather than constantly having to learn something from it. This is more obvious in a later episode, Learning Lessons, where the Buddy Bears constantly ruin Garfields fun by explaining the jokes and giving boring unnecessary lectures on everything he does (including his name).
The Buddy Bears episodes drop the anvil against groupthink, conformity, and The Complainer Is Always Wrong, teaching that blindly following the group and being unable to form your own opinions is both unfair and not the way to be.
The above Anvil reaches (falls on?) its apex in "Big Bad Buddy Bird," a U.S. Acres segment. Roy quits the farm because he's sick of getting hit with pies, and his agent books him on the Buddy Bears, who promise that they only do things that are "educational and uplifting." Roy is cast as the title character, who disagrees with the group and ends up getting pummeled with sixteen-ton safes as punishment, which is even worse than before. Towards the end of the episode, he presses himself against the camera and makes a panicked speech about resisting groupthink.
Roy: Kids, don't listen to any of this, these bears are dangerous. You should have opinions of your own! You should think and decide and not listen to what everyone else says! Use your own mind—don't do everything your friends do just because they do it. HAVE A BRAIN OF YOUR OWN! LET GO OF ME! THE GROUP ISN'T ALWAYS RIGHT!
Quite a few episodes warn us about various businesses who try to con their customers, but "Supermarket Mania" in particular went the extra mile and showed that the customers getting soaked was their own fault due to falling for the flowery promotions and (obviously fake) sales the supermarket constantly provided.
"Keeping Cool" has the calm and level-headed Bo informing Orson and Wade how to remain cool in complicated or dangerous situations. While the whole "keeping cool" lesson is preached repeatedly to us throughout the episode (including via a very catchy song), he's still completely right, even pointing out that neither of the types of problems in the worldnote the ones you can't solve and the ones you can aren't worth stressing about since they're either out of your hands or easily fixable. Also noticeable is how the usually nervous Wade manages to calm down Orson by observing how wise he is and how they should listen to him.
Instead of scanning the original film for an HD master, the intro was instead re-animated in Flash by 9 Story themselves. Not surprisingly, fans of the show quickly noticed that the animations of the characters looked cheap and stiff, missing reactions of the animated characters and some special effects completely ruined. A comparison with the two intros can be found here.
Meanwhile, the title cards are cropped to 4:3 with a random-colored border filling the rest of the screen, while the episodes themselves are cropped and zoomed in to fit a 16:9 picture. Some of them even had their colors changed around, with the most notable example being "Banana Nose".
Values Dissonance: The bucktoothed, bespectacled Chinese restaurant staff in "China Cat" are very uncomfortable to look at now, in addition to a lite version of Asian Speekee Engrish when they speak. The Chinese Dragon has a much thicker accent than the humans as well. The voice actors for the restaurant workers aren't given explicit assignment in the voice credits for the episode, but as all the credited actors for the episode are white, it's reasonable to assume the thick Asian accents were being performed by non-Chinese actors. At least the only people shown wearing coolies are actually clearly rural farm workers.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Most fans thought Nermal was a girl because of his feminine voice and there is absolutely nothing boyish about him...and he has eye-lashes. Most of the people who knew he was a guy only knew because he was frequently referred to as a guy in the comics, though even the dialog on this show still uses male pronouns to refer to him.
Woolseyism: In the Spanish dub, this happens. Here are a few examples:
Any logobox quip mentioning something Spanish viewers couldn't get (such as "Hey, Heathcliff! Eat your heart out!" and "Don't bother checking what's on NBC, they've stopped airing cartoons!") would be cut out.
The US Acres segment "Kiddie Korner" had this happen to the nursery rhymes. One example was "La pequeña Lou, se sentó en su poo" replacing "Little Miss Muffet".
Roy's "It's Saturday morning. Do you know where your children are?" line in "Temp Trouble" was replaced with a different one.
In the US Acres quickie after "Attack Of The Mutant Guppies", the guppies want to go on Sabado Gigante, a Spanish variety show, instead of Muppet Babies (1984).
Aloysius will sometimes make a terrified screaming noise in scenes where he didn't say anything in the original (for example, the scene in "The Discount of Monte Cristo" where Orson yells at him for making the scene black and white and refusing to bring soldiers for a scene.)