All The Garfield Movies And Specials: A Look Back At Each Of The Adaptations

the Garfield Movie 2024
(Image credit: Sony)

The 2024 movie schedule marks the cinematic return of everyone’s favorite fat orange cat, through the release of The Garfield Movie. However, if you somehow thought that Chris Pratt was the end-all-be-all of bringing Jim Davis’ comic character to life, that would be false. History is the evidence to that fact, as you’ll see in our rundown of all the Garfield movies, specials, and TV shows that have paved the way.

Garfield Prime Time TV Specials (1982 - 1991)

Garfield dancing in front of the Here Comes Garfield title card.

(Image credit: Mendelson/Melendez Productions)

Starting as a series of TV specials, Garfield would hit television pretty regularly through 13 prime time specials. The performance of actor Lorenzo Music would be the first embodiment of the character, and is still considered by some as the gold standard. This initial age of Garfield would run throughout the following specials, which all aired on the CBS network:

  • Here Comes Garfield (1982)
  • Garfield on the Town (1983)
  • Garfield in the Rough (1984)
  • Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985)
  • Garfield in Paradise (1986)
  • Garfield Goes Hollywood (1987)
  • A Garfield Christmas (1987)
  • Garfield: His 9 Lives (1988)
  • Happy Birthday, Garfield (1988)
  • Garfield's Babes and Bullets (1989)
  • Garfield's Thanksgiving (1989)
  • Garfield's Feline Fantasies (1990)
  • Garfield Gets a Life (1991)

Everyone has their favorite Garfield specials, but some seem to stick out more than others. One of particular note is 1983's Garfield on the Town, which seems to be part of the story The Garfield Movie is basing itself off of; only instead of Garfield's mother Sonja (Sandi Huge) being the parental figure in question, it's his father Vic (Samuel L. Jackson). 

Another interesting thing to note about this era is that all of those specials, except 1988’s Happy Birthday, Garfield, were animated. Each of the animated specials were either nominated for, or actually won, an Emmy in their respective years of competition, which was a pretty huge get. But, starting in 1988, the Garfield franchise would branch out into a more permanent fixture, conquering a new market: Saturday morning cartoons. 

Garfield TV Series (1988 - TBD)

Garfield in his bed on Garfield and Friends

(Image credit: CBS)

Eight specials into CBS’s massive run of Garfield programming, the big orange tabby got an upgrade through his first TV series. While the successor efforts would be a bit more spread out, the popularity of Jim Davis' lasagna-loving house cat would continue to grow, and in some cases resurge, through projects like the series listed below:

  • Garfield And Friends (1988 - 1994)
  • The Garfield Show (2009 - 2016)
  • Garfield Originals (2019 - 2020)
  • Untitled Garfield Series (TBD)

Most notable in this category of projects is, of course, the hit CBS series Garfield and Friends. One of those Saturday morning cartoons that still hold up, Lorenzo Music would follow his famed feline persona into this incarnation with all seven seasons of the series. It would also mark the final time Music would play the character, until his death in 2001. 

After the cancellation of Garfield and Friends, Garfield wouldn’t return to TV until 2009, but we’ll get into part of the reason why later. For now, it’s time to skip ahead into 2009, as that was when The Garfield Show saw legendary voice actor Frank Welker step into the role of Garfield. Legacy cast member Gregg Berger also joined up, reprising the role of Odie, which he’d held since 1982’s Here Comes Garfield

Garfield and Liz look at the scale with alarm in Garfield Originals.

(Image credit: Dargaud Media)

The Garfield Show ran in the U.S. on Cartoon Network and Boomerang across five seasons, coming to an end in 2016. The most recent TV projects to keep Garfield in the pin are Garfield Originals and the upcoming series that’s set to tie into The Garfield Movie itself, which has no title at the moment. 

Both shows call Nickelodeon home, and in the case of Garfield Originals, the 24 episode run (imported from home network France 3) was actually made up of 120 smaller shorts, packaged into episodes. Originals ended in 2020, with the untitled new series still leaving fans waiting for further details on when it’ll debut.

Garfield Movies (2004 - 2009, 2024)

Bill Murray in Garfield

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

As popular as Garfield was on TV, it’s kind of a surprise that it took him a little over a quarter of a century to land his first major motion picture. And, when that endeavor began, the casting of the first cinematic incarnation of the character couldn’t have chosen someone more appropriate than Bill Murray. As of 2024, here’s the history of Garfield movies that have come to pass: 

  • Garfield: The Movie (2004)
  • Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties (2006)
  • Garfield Gets Real (2007)
  • Garfield Fun Fest (2008)
  • Garfield’s Pet Force (2009)  
  • The Garfield Movie (2024)

The appropriate nature of Bill Murray’s casting comes from the fact that it kind of closed the loop between him and the late Lorenzo Music. When Ghostbusters went to Saturday mornings as The Real Ghostbusters, Music became the cartoon voice for Murray's Peter Venkman.

So, it seemed like serendipity that Murray’s mistaken assumption that a Coen brother wrote 2004’s Garfield: The Movie would make him the actor to take Garfield to the movies. No matter the circumstances, that first movie turned into two, with 2006’s Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties concluding the Bill Murray era. You can kind of see how people became protective once Chris Pratt’s casting in The Garfield Movie broke; as by this point there was a bit of an expectation for the character.

The Garfield Movie Trailer

Garfield lies in bed startled by the sun in Garfield Gets Real.

(Image credit: The Animation Picture Company)

Now I know what you’re thinking, "That’s at least three more Garfield movies than I remember existing." Well, that’s because Garfield Gets Real through Garfield’s Pet Force were actually released as direct-to-DVD movies. Those entries were voiced by Frank Welker, who would go on to reprise the role in the animated series The Garfield Show, which would succeed those films between 2009 and 2016. 

Which brings us to today. While the brief blip of Garfield Originals kept the flame alive, Chris Pratt leads The Garfield Movie’s cast into the next cinematic era of lazy snark and Italian food consumption. Which you can see a trailer for below, bringing everything full circle: 

The Garfield legacy has endured over decades, through medium changes, cast shake ups, and the tastes of audiences varying. And yet, his simple attitude of laziness being next to godliness has persisted, and a lot of those efforts can be found on streaming through a Peacock subscription as proof.

Meanwhile, the new age begins with The Garfield Movie, which premieres in theaters on May 24th. So if you're feeling nostalgic, grab some lasagna (or your Italian food of choice), find your coziest blanket, and dig into the big, fat, hairy deal that is the Garfield pantheon. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.