Garfield: His 9 Lives is a book released in 1984 featuring illustrated stories of Garfield in various incarnations, which are portrayed as his "past lives" (based on the popular myth that cats have nine lives). It was adapted for television as an animated special produced in 1988, and later as a four-part comic series produced by BOOM! Comics in 2014. Each version shares several stories, but also has their own exclusive stories.
In each version of the story, Garfield discusses how each of his past lives has shaped his modern-day personality, from his dislike of dogs to his fear of the veterinarian to his destructive tendencies.
- In the Beginning - The cat is created in what appears to be a corporation by demand of an unseen man, who specifically describes how such a creature appears, acts, and speaks. When asked by his staff why a cat is to have nine lives as opposed to the standard one, the man simply says that he likes cats and his feline features are shown
- Cave Cat - In the Stone Age, the first cat crawls out of the sea and is domesticated. Cave Cat also deals with a giant reptilian dog named Big Bob (who resembles Odie), but ends up going extinct when the giant tree that Big Bob "fetches" flattens him. Garfield explains that this is how he developed his deep dislike of dogs.
- The Vikings - A group of Vikings from the year 984 frozen in an iceberg for a thousand years thaw out and wake up in 1984. They attempt to 'pillage' St. Paul, Minnesota, but quickly find that Vikings have no place in modern days and are forced to adapt into society by getting jobs and homes. However, they learn that old habits die hard when Garfield finds their patron god. This story explains why the otherwise lazy Garfield enjoys occasionally engaging in rampaging and destructive behavior.
- Babes and Bullets - In this film-noir story echoing detective fiction, Garfield is Detective Sam Spayed as he investigates the mysterious death of a priest. To Garfield, the most important thing he learned here was to swear off work.
- The Exterminators - Garfield's dislike for chasing and eating mice is explained in this life, in which he is part of a Three Stooges-styled trio of cats who are hired to catch a mouse, with disastrous consequences.
- Lab Animal - At a secret lab, Garfield is a lab specimen cat named 19-GB who gets an unusual injection. Though he escapes, 19-GB discovers that the test has turned him into a dog, which works to his advantage when other dogs arrive to find him. Garfield dislikes going to the vet for these reasons and still throws up at the sight of lab equipment.
- The Garden - Chloe and her orange kitten play in a garden built by her Uncle Todd, who leaves them in charge of it on the condition that they never open a chest in the middle of the garden. Chloe and her kitten are heavily tempted to open it, but resist and go back to their eternal play. Garfield explains that this was his favorite life, as his body grew old but he never grew up.
- Primal Self - An orange housecat named Tigger meets an ancient, primal, dangerous, possibly evil force, causing him to revert to an entirely feral state. It is unclear what this force does to Tigger exactly, but the story ends with him preparing to attack his elderly owner. Garfield is shown to be terrified of these events, remarking that this life taught him that there are elements in a cat that are not to be toyed with.
- Garfield - Everything Garfield learned up to now culminates in what his currently his eighth life (though he admits that it falls short of his expectations). The story is a retelling of Garfield's origins as he is born, gets his first taste of lasagna, is adopted by his owner Jon, and meets Odie for the first time.
- Space Cat - A "sneak preview" of his ninth life, Garfield is Space Cat, commander of a spaceship in the far future. He is currently being confronted by enemy ships from the Incredibly Huge Galactic War Fleet (IHGWF) and is trying to figure out how to escape this encounter. When it all fails and he is blown up, however, Space Cat reveals that he's just playing a video game as he begs some nearby kids for another quarter.
In the television version, "The Vikings", "Babes and Bullets", the "Exterminators" and "Primal Self" are removed and replaced with new stories, while others are rewritten to various levels. "Babes and Bullets" was adapted into a television special of its own the following year, Garfield's Babes and Bullets, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program of 1989.
- In the Beginning - By God's command, the cat is created.
- Cave Cat - The first cat crawls out of the sea and is domesticated, then faces extinction when the first dog Big Bob arrives.
- King Cat - The first of the new stories in the television special. In ancient Egypt, cats are literally worshiped as gods, echoing Garfield's modern love for being pampered. When he learns what will happen to him when the Pharaoh dies (he gets mummified and buried with him), King Cat does all in his power to protect the Pharaoh from his evil brother.
- In the Garden - Chloe and her kitten are placed in charge of a magical garden where everything is pleasant and fun... so long as they do not open a mysterious chest.
- Court Musician - Garfield is the pet cat of a court musician named "Freddie" (implied to be real-life composer George Frideric Handel), whom the the king demands a concerto from... or else! Under the pressure of a deadline and a jester who wants the musician to fail, Freddie delegates part of the work to Garfield, who in this life is a blue cat, and ultimately invents jazz music. This was the life where Garfield learned to think on his feet, though he prefers not thinking if at all possible.
- Stunt Cat - "Life number five was short" is all Garfield has to say about this life when he is brought in as a stunt double for Krazy Kat and gets flattened by a giant boulder.
- Diana's Piano - A young girl, Sara, tells the tale of her beloved cat Diana who went with her everywhere, especially to piano lessons. As time went on, Sara and Diana grew older and life changed drastically for them, but their love lasted until the day Diana passed on. Garfield considers this life his luckiest as his love for music continues to this day. As opposed to the other cartoon stories, this story is notably more realistic and has a unique art style reminiscent of watercolor paintings
- Lab Animal - Test subject 19-GB is given an experimental drug that drastically changes his life.
- Garfield - Modern-day Garfield tells the tale of his eighth and current life.
- Space Cat - In the sneak peek of his ninth life, Space Cat Garfield and his friend Odie (recreated via a cloning machine) face insurmountable odds against the IHGWF.
- Epilogue - After being killed at the end of Space Cat, Garfield and Odie meet God in the afterlife. Because of the "unfair position" they were in (and because God's computers were "on the blink" and weren't able to keep track of the number of lives spent) Garfield is given all nine of his lives back and Odie manages to convince God to be restored to life as well. As they vanish, God says "We have to stick together, you know," as his cat-like eyes flash in the light.
Boom! Comics adaptation
In 2014, the concept of Garfield's nine lives returned again in a four-part comic story created by Boom! Studios as part of their monthly ongoing title (issues #33 to #36, two per issue). "Cave Cat", "King Cat", "Babes and Bullets", "19-GB" and "Space Cat" have been completely rewritten, and three all-new stories are added. As opposed to the previous versions, there are only eight stories ("Garfield" has been omitted).
- Cave Cat - The first cat crawls out of the sea and is domesticated. In addition to his conflicts with Big Bob the first dog, he discovers the invention of Italian food, invents the postal service by mailing the first cute kitten to Abu Dhabi, and deals with something even worse than dogs... the invention of Mondays.
- King Cat - Worshiped as a god in ancient Egypt, Gar-Ho-Tep becomes the new ruler when his master the Pharaoh dies. However, the Pharaoh's royal vizier seeks to steal the throne (as royal viziers are notorious for doing), and Gar-Ho-Tep must defend himself from his schemes.
- Pirate Cat - Orangebeard the Pirate has traveled the high seas to find the Island of Lost Riches, but almost everybody in his crew abandons him and he must trudge through the dangerous journey with only a few remaining friends (Jon, Odie, and Nermal).
- Cowboy Cat - Evil Roy Gato has taken over the town of Galloping Gulch and is forcing the citizens to print T-shirts all day with no pay. Only one hero of the Old West can save them... Garfield the Kid.
- Super Cat - By day, he is Kip Klutzford, mild-mannered copy-boy at the Daily Comet. When danger threatens the world, he turns into Super Cat and saves the day. In this throwback to 1930s superhero comic books, Super Cat must stop his arch enemy Rex Ruthless from destroying the moon.
- Babes and Bullets - In the 1940s, Detective Sam Spayed is enjoying a nice meal of lasagna when he receives a mysterious phone call saying that his meal had been poisoned. With his life on the line, Spayed rounds up his usual suspects, but can he crack the case in time?
- Lab Cat - Garfield is test-subject 19-GB, who is forced to endure inhumane scientific experiments that transform him into a terrifying monster.
- Space Cat - In a galaxy far, far away, Garfield is space pirate Ace Nova. He has been hired to locate a powerful object before it falls into the hands of an evil galactic emperor.