The series consists of two regular segments, Garfield and U.S. Acres, a lesser-known comic strip also created by Davis. The latter was retitled Orson's Farm for foreign syndication, as that was the name of the comic strip outside of the United States.
A total of 121 episodes were made, each consisting of two Garfield segments and one U.S. Acres segment, totalling 242 Garfield segments and 121 U.S. Acres segments. All episodes have been released in the U.S. on five DVD sets by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The first season aired in a half-hour format. In the second season, it switched to an hour-length format, showing two episodes each week. However, in the show's last season, the second half-hour of the show featured either an episode from the previous season or one of Garfield's TV specials.
Garfield stars Garfield, a lazy feline whose only desires in life are lasanga, catnaps and kicking his hapless canine companion, Odie, off the table. The segment also starred Garfield's hopelessly-single owner, Jon Arbuckle and his other pet, a dog named Odie. Each Garfield segment features the titular character's adventures and run-ins with the cast of semi-regulars (including Neurmal, an irksome kitty; Binky the Clown and the mice which inhabited Jon's house); most were satires on American life and pop culture.
Set on a farm, U.S. Acres, features the adventures of Orson Pig, Wade Duck, Roy Rooster, Bo and Lanolin the sheep, Booker the chick and Sheldon, an unhatched egg.
Garfield - A fat, lazy orange tabby, who wants nothing more out of life than to eat and sleep. He has a penchant for consuming lasagna, enjoys tormenting Odie, and likes trying to mail Nermal to Abu Dhabi. He made a small handful of appearances on U.S. Acres (once wearing nothing but a black mask over his eyes as his "disguise"), but was more often seen in the form of various pieces of Garfield merchandise the characters appeared to own. Deep down, Garfield loves Jon and Odie. Garfield does not speak, but rather the audience hears his thoughts.
Jon Arbuckle - Garfield's owner, a bachelor cartoonist who has poor luck with women and a somewhat nerdy demeanor. He is often annoyed by some of Garfield's antics, and also has an unrequited love for Dr. Liz. Whenever Garfield gets in trouble, Jon will punish him by taking him to the vet. Jon also has a mission set before him: get Garfield to do the right thing. Jon occasionally forces Garfield to hunt and catch mice, which is always unsuccessful due to Garfield not wanting to eat mice and his friendship with Floyd.
Odie - A beagle who is Garfield's best friend. He used to belong to Jon's former roommate Lyman (who never appeared on the show, but was a character who appeared in the earliest comic strips). Is often kicked off the kitchen table by Garfield. Looks incredibly stupid and gullible, but is actually much more cunning and smart than he lets on. Odie is the only animal character who doesn't communicate with any form of dialogue, solely communicating with body language and his enthusiastic barking and other dog sound effects, although Garfield is able to understand what he says.
Nermal - A cute grey tabby kitten who's the self-proclaimed "World's Cutest Kitty Cat". Nermal seems kind and playful, but likes to annoy Garfield and brag about how much cuter he is. Garfield often attempts (usually unsuccessfully) to mail him to Abu Dhabi as a result. Though officially considered a male, Nermal's feminine preoccupation with being cute, and the fact that a woman provides a childlike voice of ambiguous gender for Nermal, allowed the character to be mistaken for a female cat, to the point that in the first two seasons of the show, the Spanish version featured Nermal as a female kitten named "Thelma".
Orson - A pig who although at times, needs improvement in his friendship skills, is still the defacto leader of the farm. His favorite pastime is reading books and imagining himself into many scenarios. Orson also has two missions set before him: get Roy to do the right thing and get Wade to be brave. A running gag is that Orson is a neat freak and constantly showers and keeps clean, one time making Wade comment, "Cleanest pig in the world." He's a good friend to Roy, Wade, Bo, and Lanolin and a father figure to Booker and Sheldon. Orson is afraid of his three older brothers. Orson also has a superhero identity named Power Pig.
Roy - A loud and sometimes self-centered rooster who prides himself on his practical jokes. He's constantly into a scheme which more often than not Orson or another character has to bail him out of. Despite his selfishness, he is a good person when he wants to be. Despite some of his and Wade's differences, they became closer friends as the series progressed. It was even implied that Roy and Wade knew each other for fourteen years or so.
Wade - A cowardly duck who wears a rubber flotation tube, and has a bunch of phobias. As a gag, the head on his flotation tube (which is identical to Wade's head) copies nearly every movement and appearance change Wade's real head does. When he gets scared (which is almost all the time), he'll blabber with no one understanding what he's saying. Though seemingly afraid of everything, Wade's greatest fear is the Weasel. Despite some of his and Wade's differences, they became closer friends as the series progressed. It was even implied that Roy and Wade knew each other for fourteen years or so.
Bo - An affable sheep with a positive, laid-back attitude, whose mannerisms and vernacular are like a California beach bum. He has an even-keeled demeanor and acts as a guide for Orson when dealing with his three older brothers.
Lanolin - A loud-mouthed sheep who spends most of her time arguing with her twin brother Bo. The arguments are often triggered by her being disagreeable seemingly for no reason. Out of all the main characters in this segment, she seems to be the nicest to Orson.
Booker - A small, cute, but very assertive chick who is constantly in pursuit of unnamed worms. Got his name from Orson's love of books.
Sheldon - Booker's twin brother, who, despite having hatched, still lives in his egg with his feet popped out of the shell so he can walk. He seems to have "all kinds of things" in his shell, including a pinball machine and a stove.
- Lorenzo Music - Garfield
- Thom Huge - Jon Arbuckle, Binky The Clown
- Gregg Berger - Odie, Orson, Herman Post, Irving Burnside, Rudy, Moe the Cat Burglar, Madman Murray, The Weasel, The Wolf
- Desiree Goyette - Nermal
- Thom Huge - Roy, Gort
- Howard Morris - Wade, Wart, Worms, The Fox
- Frank Welker - Bo, Booker, Sheldon, Mort, Fred Duck, Edward R. Furrow, Plato
- Julie Payne - Lanolin, Dr. Liz Wilson
- Pat Buttram - Cactus Jake
- Carl Ballantine - Al G. Swindler
- Victoria Jackson - Penelope
- Don Messick - Ludlow
- Kevin Meaney - Aloysius
When the show was originally broadcast on CBS, the episodes usually had three Quickies (30- to 45-second gags which were based on original Garfield and U.S. Acres strips, rather than original made-for-TV stories), usually two "Garfield Quickies" (the first one being played before the intro theme) and one "U.S. Acres Quickie," the latter of which was never shown in syndication (except occasionally. Midway through the second season, "Screaming with Binky" quickie-style segments were added. These "Screaming with Binky" segments were typically used at the halfway point of hour long blocks of Garfield and Friends (as Garfield ended each one with "We'll be right back.") to let the viewers know that unlike most Saturday morning cartoons at the time, it was not over in the usual half-hour. The DVD sets and Boomerang reruns restore the original rotation. After the third season, only one "Garfield Quickie" is shown per episode.
During the first season, most U.S. Acres segments were made to teach a social lesson, which is ironically the type of thing the show was against in its later seasons.
The seventh season (1994–1995) was the last one because CBS wanted to cut the budget (and in fact, CBS's Saturday morning cartoon lineup would be mostly replaced by CBS News Saturday Morning two years later, which eventually evolved into the Saturday edition of The Early Show). The production company nixed this proposal, so they mutually agreed to cease production, even though Garfield and Friends had still been doing very well in the ratings.
Only 73 of the 121 episodes were syndicated by The Program Exchange between 1993 and 2007, and aired on local stations such as WCIU-TV in Chicago from 2001 to 2004. This is due to the producers selling syndication rights when the show was still on air and CBS wanting to keep the rights for certain episodes. Since the 73-episode syndication package performed well on other stations, additional episodes were deemed unnecessary.
In the United States, the series appeared in syndication from 1992 to 1995, on TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network from 1995 to 1997, and Nickelodeon from 1997 to 2000. In 2001, it appeared on Fox Family Channel. Toon Disney aired it from 2003 to 2006 and Boomerang carried it from 2006 to 2007.
In the UK, it appeared on CITV from 1989 through 2002, on Sky1 from 1998 to 2002, and on Boomerang from 2003 to 2006 with Season 1 and 2 only. It also appeared on The Children's Channel in reruns.
In Latin America, it aired on Cartoon Network from 1992 to 2005, on Boomerang from 2005 to the present, and on Warner Channel from 1998 to the present. Televisa's Canal 5 also played the show for many years, from the mid-1990s to early 2000s (decade).
In Australia, Garfield and Friends began syndication on Network Ten from 1989 to 1999. Most recently it played on FOX8 and ABC1 from 2004 to 2006.
The show was also syndicated in Chile from 1989 to 2003 on Canal 13 and from 1998 to present on Warner Channel. In Estonia, the show appeared on TV 3 from 2000 to 2002, and in Finland on YLE TV2 between the years 1992-1994 and 1998-1999.
The cartoon had also appeared in Hungary, oddly with two other sychronizations. Hungarian Television's channel M2 (what now repeats the whole series) broadcast the first season in 1994-'95, and then, RTL Klub shown a re-synchronized first season (Garfield's voice was the same, József Kerekes) and that continued through the 121 episodes.
Currently, Garfield and Friends is hosted on Netflix, allowing for the first four seasons to be streamed; and Amazon Prime, which is currently streaming all seasons.
Garfield and Friends aired in Canada on the cable TV channel YTV from 1989 to 1996. On September 5, 2011, Teletoon's 24-hour classic-animation network, Teletoon Retro (which launched in 2007) began rerunning all episodes of the series.