4 Times Garfield Went Off The Rails
Garfield was specifically created to be the most universally appealing and marketable comic strip ever; something both your MAGA uncle and Antifa cousin can read and ... well, maybe not laugh at, but definitely recognize as something intended to be somewhat humorous. So how did such an inoffensive character end up mixed up in so many weird-ass real-life situations? Situations like ...
The Official Garfield Eurodance Album
According to official canon, Garfield was born in 1978, so we can't really fault him for going through a regrettable rap phase when he was a teenager in the early '90s. This included the time he launched into a 6-minute "Garfield Rap" (in a 7-minute episode) and the infamous "Rap Intro" used on Garfield and Friends' final season, which creator Jim Davis apparently tried to exterminate from all reruns and home video releases. The only reason we can watch it today is thanks to a thorough restoration job by filmmaker/masochist Garrett Gilchrist.
Luckily, Davis soon realized that Garfield and rap music didn't mix well. No, clearly, Garfield should be into Eurodance music. Hence 1995's Keep Cool, Cat!, the officially licensed Garfield Eurodance album (although we like the un-licensed Russian bootleg cover art much better).
So what does a Garfield-related electronic record sound like? After listening to the whole thing, we ... still don't know, because other than the word "cat" being used in a couple of songs, it has absolutely no relation to the Garfield lore. As far as we can tell, Davis and company's only contribution to the album was the video for the song "Cool Cat," which was recycled from "Garfield Rap" footage:
And some random-ass animations that were thrown into the video for "Party of Love," which has nothing to do with hating Mondays or being dangerously addicted to lasagna:
Other songs include "Are U Ready For Love," which is about having sex, and "Getting High," which is about getting high ... and then having sex. With human beings. We think. So, yeah, they just slapped Garfield on top of the most bland and generic Eurodance album ever and called it an official product with as little effort as possible. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty Garfield thing to do.
The Cursed Garfield Plushies
If the above entry is making you consider buying unofficial Garfield merchandise, please be aware that daring to deny Jim Davis his hard-earned royalties is not without its perils. Every time you pay for a knockoff Garfield product, you run the risk of the comic strip gods punishing you like so:
You can smell him too, right? Wh ... why can we smell him?
Although the vacuum-sealed Garfield Entity is not official merch, we should note that some legit products can be almost as terrifying. Have you ever wondered how they shot the live-action Garfield movies where he was entirely made out of CGI? No, they didn't have Bill Murray running around the set on all fours with tennis balls on his face, sadly. Instead, they used a stand-in puppet, and we're honestly surprised they managed to get anything done with the entire cast and crew continually screaming in horror at the sight of this:
When the puppet was auctioned off in 2016 (no doubt in an attempt to break some sort of curse), the description claimed that it has "all the hallmarks people have come to love about the character including his smiley, lazy face and pear shaped body" and of course his classic giant, dead eyes and illegal taxidermy experiment look. The puppet was sold for $4,800 and its new owner's soul.
And then there's the saga of the giant Garfield plush. In 2020, Garfield historian Quinton Reviews attempted to buy one of the 4'4" Garfield plushes owned by our old friends at Canada's Garfield-themed restaurant, and three weeks later, he got ... sand. Just 25 pounds of sand. He did eventually receive his giant plush, which UPS had accidentally delivered to some no doubt very confused sand enthusiasts in Texas.
And if you were wondering, we're relieved to report that when Quinton received the plush, it didn't have freakishly long human-like legs (which is a serious concern when you buy these things).
The Garfield Gender Controversy
But he weirdest one has to be the Garfield Gender Wars of '17. See, in 2014, Jim Davis gave an interview to Mental Floss where he said, and we quote: "Garfield is very universal. By virtue of being a cat, really, he's not really male or female or any particular race or nationality, young or old." Three years later, someone updated Garfield's Wikipedia page to reflect that information by listing his (its?) gender as "None," and that's when the #$%& hit the lasagna pan.
Wikipedia's enterprising editors picked sides and went back and forth reverting and restoring the offending edit, forcing the administrators to step in and put the Garfield page on lockdown, lest all the bandwidth being used by Garfield's gender being changed twice a second bankrupted the site (they're still begging for money to cover those electricity bills). Meanwhile, the debate raged on behind the scenes: Can Garfield be considered male just because dozens of comic strips seem to say so, even though Word of God plainly states otherwise?
The furore only died down once The Washington Post asked Davis about the matter, and he said: "Garfield is male. He has a girlfriend, Arlene." Not that the gender of Garfield's paramour means anything conclusive, but we think Davis (and Arlene) should read up on the official Garfield video game that implies the protagonist is actually in love with someone else: Odie.
Granted, that only happened because that game (Garfield Labyrinth for the Game Boy) originally starred Mickey and Minnie Mouse and whoever did the graphics conversion didn't bother making a new ending for Garfield and Odie -- but still, canon is canon. Of course, it's always possible that someone of Garfield's sex appeal would have more than one partner. It can love whoever it wants.
Garfield Fan Games Get Weird
Garfield has had a contentious relationship with video games since his very first game, which was made for the Atari 2600 in the mid-'80s and released ... never. It was canceled after Atari's finances crashed along with the video game industry, making the character too expensive to license. The game was posted to the internet with Jim Davis' blessing in the 2000s, eventually allowing for the historic moment in 2021 when someone set the current world record for this or, apparently, any game: 1,931,197,184,175,112,254,514,941,150,875,450.
The '90s had the mysterious Garfield: The Lost Levels, which at some point was broadcast to the Sega Genesis' primitive downloadable games service, the Sega Channel, and then never seen again. There aren't even any videos of this one. The games downloaded to Sega Channel cartridges deleted themselves like self-destructing Mission: Impossible messages as soon as you turned off the console, so unless some '90s kid has kept his childhood Genesis on for 30 years, it's unlikely that we'll ever see this game again.
Cut to today, when Garfield games are more notable for their sarcastic reviews than for the actual gameplay, and it isn't surprising that fans have decided to take matters into their own hands. The fascinating results include games like Dr. Garfield, a Dr. Mario clone playable on actual NES, Game Boy, and Game Boy Advance consoles if you're enough of a dork to know how to make that happen:
Speaking of Game Boy, remember the time the internet became obsessed with that "I'm Sorry Jon" meme reimagining Garfield as some sort of eldritch god? It resulted in a lot of cringe, but also a few enduring pieces of art like Garfield Gameboy'd, which seems to imagine what would happened if your ancient handheld console was possessed by the souls of a million murdered lasagnas:
Now, Garfield Gameboy'd is just an animation and not an actual game -- it can't hurt you. Garfield Desolation, on the other other hand, does work on a Nintendo 64 and will hurt you.
If you're into somewhat more contemporary survival horror games, there's also I WAS SO HUNGRY for PC, which we're not embedding here because, frankly, we're too spooked. Let's calm down by playing some Stray ... using the mod that makes your cat look like Garfield, naturally.
Nice. Needs more Lorenzo Music, though.
Top image: Paws Inc, My Super Star