Garfield is an orange, fuzzy, tabby cat who was born in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant where his love of lasagna began. He was named after his creator's grandfather, James A. Garfield Davis, who Jim Davis described as "a large cantankerous man."

The comic strip deals with Garfield's obesity, his hatred of exercise or any form of work. He is portrayed as lazy and fat, pessimistic, sadistic, cynical, sarcastic, sardonic and a bit obnoxious. He enjoys destroying things, mauling the mailman, tormenting his owner's dog, Odie. He also makes snide comments, usually about his owner, Jon's inability to get a date. Though Garfield can be very cynical, he does have a soft side for his teddy bear, Pooky, food and sleep.

In the words of one of his biggest fans, 9-year-old Anthony Hemmitt, "He's too funny!"