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The following are running gags of Garfield Arbuckle.

Diets

Main article: Diets

Garfield, due to his extremely large weight, often has to go on diets. This is a source of major distress for him, and he tries to cheat on his diet whenever possible. He frequently overreacts to every diet, often appearing weaker and more exhausted than he actually is. His food withdrawal even causes him to hallucinate at times. His dietary habits change, even eating inedible items like his own food dish or bed.

Garfield's weight may be an analogy to the real-life issue that pet cats in the United States have an overweight / obesity problem.

During the diet, Jon only tends to feed Garfield carrots or a salad (even though cats should not be fed vegetable matter). He also locked up the refrigerator with heavy maximum security such as chains and locks.

Diet gags have lasted from minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 2 weeks.

On rare occasions, Garfield has managed to cheat on his diet anyway. He stole a French bread for a salad (to substitute for a crouton) and off-screen, Jon found mustard on Garfield's paw and smelled donuts on his breath. In a 1997 diet gag on a Sunday, Jon forced Garfield to be around him but since Jon also wanted to read the newspaper, Garfield ate chocolate cake behind Jon's back and drank milk when Jon watched (because milk is the preferred drink that can complement cake). However, Jon found out he was cheating anyways when looking at Garfield's chocolate covered teeth.

Trees

Typical of a cat, Garfield frequently gets stuck in a tree after climbing up one. He attributes this habit as "cat curiosity." He appears to have acrophobia, as he often panics on how he will get down even if the branch he is trapped on is very close to the ground.

He often meets other new characters, mainly animals, such as bats, birds, squirrels and other cats who got stuck in a tree just like he did.

Garfield getting stuck in a tree is a reference to the well-known stereotype that cats climb trees and are unable to get down without human assistance.

Mailman

Garfield, unlike typical cats, torments the mailman every chance he gets. This usually involves stealing all the mail, as well as physically harming the mailman in some form. The mailman, in return, is scared and hates Garfield, and would do anything to avoid being harmed by him.

Grapefruit

The "grapefruit" running gag is notable, but it has appeared far less frequently than running gags about Garfield's diets, laziness and tree climbings.

In an early strip, it was shown Garfield has an extreme disliking for grapefruit. He even said the only thing he hated more than grapefruit was hating grapefruit. It causes a mistake in the comics because this would mean his least favorite food is grapefruit, but he has also said his least favorite food was raisins. However, later in the strips he was shown to not really mind grapefruit, as in one 1992 strip, he mentions grapefruit but has a happy look on his face. This may just because he didn't mind it as he got older. The Grapefruit gag was once combined with the diet one when Jon put Garfield on a grapefruit diet.

Intelligence

Garfield's rather cynical and tends to have a very high opinion of myself, such as thinking that he's much smarter that Jon, Odie and pretty much any other character in the franchise. However, while Garfield's obviously smarter than the average domesticated cat, there have been lots of times where it's shown that Garfield is not as smart as he thinks he is. For example:

  • It's been shown that Odie is actually pretty smart--or at least smarter than he lets on--as he's outsmarted Garfield many times and has played pranks on him (at least 68 times).
  • In Jon's case, while he's not exactly the smartest character in the series (for a human at least), he has wised up to a lot of Garfield's tricks and has also managed to outsmart him (at least 125 times).
  • Garfield himself has frequently done stupid things--sometimes stupider than what Jon or Odie would do. Also, Garfield has the tendency of underestimating the people and animals around him, which often leads to embarrassing losses for him.
    • Three examples of stupid things that Garfield has done:
      • In a comic strip from the late eighties, Garfield made instant chocolate pudding in the washing machine.
      • In another strip from the mid to late nineties, Garfield ate a cake but then tried pinning the blame on Odie, even though Jon had just seen Garfield eat the cake.
      • Garfield tried blaming Odie for digging up the flowers in Jon's garden, but forgot that he was holding the shovel he had used to do it himself before getting rid of it and then still trying to blame it on Odie.

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