Odie was based on a car dealership commercial, written by Jim Davis, which featured Odie the Village Idiot. Davis liked the name "Odie" and decided to use it again. When Garfield was first submitted, Davis named the main dog character "Spot" before finding out that the name was already being used by another character. Odie first appeared in the strip on August 8, 1978; the date is considered his birthday. While he was actually brought in by Lyman, Odie eventually became a pet to Jon. There are some strips, however, which state that Odie was originally owned by Jon. In the motion picture, Odie was adopted by Jon at a veterinarian center.
Odie is the loveable, seemingly dopey, kind, underweight, yellow-furred, brown-eared beagle pup, who is Garfield's best friend (and usual victim). He is constantly panting with his very large tongue. The meanings of his barks are not actually discernible like one would assume, and are only made obvious by Garfield.
However he does have a bit of a mean streak, like a lot of characters in the strip, as shown when he teases Garfield about his age when June 19, Garfield's birthday, is approaching, via either mimicking the facial expression of an elderly individual, putting a glass of water with dentures near his bed while he sleeps, laughing at his depression about getting older, or using a walking and snapping wind-up toy denture, or locking Garfield and Jon out of a car.
In the live-action films, based on the Garfield franchise, he is played by a dachshund. In the comic of August 26, 2007, Garfield describes Odie's species as "purebred clown" after trying to find out what kind of dog Odie is with the help of a book. Odie is often kicked off the table by Garfield or the victim of some practical joke. Odie usually has a large tongue and slobbers in his appearances. Recently, as of 2000, he is seen walking on two feet, instead of all fours, just like Garfield, though this was demonstrated in earlier strips.
Odie's original owner was Lyman, a friend and roommate to Jon. He first appeared on August 8, 1978. However, Lyman disappeared in 1983 and Odie became a pet to Jon. Odie is, to Garfield, a complete slobbering idiot (though it is not the actual case, since Odie manages to save the day lots of times). Recently, Odie seems to be walking on two feet more often.
Odie's first appearance
Odie is the only animal character in the Garfield series without a recurring voice bubble, as he is portrayed as a "normal" house dog. However, he was shown thinking. In the cartoon, he says some intelligible sentances, and short phrases. When he talks on the show, he speaks by actually moving his mouth, although other dogs have also been shown to not do so. Odie speaks in a similar manner in Garfield Gets Real and its sequels, frequently saying complete sentences. In the Reading Ring game on the Professor Garfield site, if one manages to get the June 21, 2001 strip, while facing Dr. Stripp, having the third panel will let the player hear Odie say words after Garfield's dialogue. Also, in the January 13, 1979 comic strip, he is seen laughing at Garfield. And in June 15, 1980 comic strip, he seen poking Lyman saying "I'm hungry".
Odie and Garfield
Odie is, to Garfield, a complete slobbering idiot, but there may be more under the idiotic surface. One comic strip (Oct 14, 1990) has Odie throwing Garfield through a wall using a recliner Garfield happened to be laying on. Another strip (April 27, 1989) shows him enjoying classical music on TV with the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, after Jon and Garfield leave the house. Yet another strip (July 30, 1989) has him lock Jon and Garfield out of the car on a camping trip, where he enjoys the sandwiches, radio, and potato chips, while the other two just get wet. Unofficially, the "revenge strip" is considered the one where Garfield locks him outside in the winter. Also, one recent strip shows him solving a Sudoku puzzle that Jon had a hard time completing.
In others, he has been seen setting decoys, writing poetry, and finding a complete superhero outfit, making Garfield look like a loser for few seconds. It may be that Odie is actually smarter than he appears, and merely uses the idiotic front as a means to gain an advantage over Garfield. In two strips, Garfield went to see what was at the end of Odie's tongue, and it turned out to be a second Odie. Odie has managed to take revenge on Garfield, although the amount of revenges by Odie has seemed to increase of the years, and Garfield sometimes cannot avoid noticing it.
Garfield acknowledges this by saying short, catchy phrases that sometimes anger Odie. However, Garfield on numerous occasions actually does care a great deal for Odie, most notably in Here Comes Garfield, in which Odie is briefly captured by the Dogcatcher and Garfield tearfully realizes through flashbacks of him and Odie playing together and how sad his life would be without him. Also, Garfield was visibly angry when a con artist alley cat in the Garfield and Friends conned Odie out of the grocery money, leaving Jon to be upset with Odie. So Garfield went to great lengths to clear Odie's name and get the money back. In one strip, Garfield states that Odie is made of rubber (this is supported by properties of his tongue and the fact he once squeezed Odie into a ball). Other times, Garfield tries to put the blame on Odie for some of the mishaps he has done. Odie once tricked Jon into giving Garfield an enema.
Odie does manage to get occasional revenge on Garfield. Once, Jon accuses Garfield of clearing out his closet except for the T-shirt saying, "I Love Cats." While Garfield professes his innocence, he is hurled out of the house. Comically, Odie steps out to grin at Garfield, wearing a plaid shirt, indicating that he framed Garfield. Odie would also commonly do things to Garfield, but he gets his revenge. In one storyline, Garfield gets beat up by a bulldog after smacking him and has to wear a cast for nearly a week. The cast covers Garfield's entire body but his face. Odie torments Garfield throughout the duration of this time. In the final strip of the storyline, though, Garfield tells Jon that he would like to keep his cast after being asked what he would like to do with it, and strikes Odie with it. In one series, when Garfield got stuck in a tree, Odie tries to help Garfield, but at the last moment, Odie flung him into the air.
- In his earliest appearances, Odie had black ears. They were recolored to brown in September 1979, supposedly to avoid people confusing him with Snoopy of the comic strip Peanuts.
- In animated media, Odie's appearance is usually announced by the sound of the cavalry's bugling.