Within the internet cartoon canon, the top-shelf characters are regarded with a distinct, clear irony. Shrek, Sonic the Hedgehog, the bee from Bee Movie — their dubious quality is regarded with a nostalgic fondness, even as they are ridiculed.
But there is one character for whom many feel no love at all, and that character is Garfield, the fat lasagna cat. People hate Garfield. Performative hatred of Garfield is a pervasive subculture online, and has been for many years.
As Something Awful tells it, the site’s users (“goons,” colloquially) “have a long history with Garfield, from getting in on the ground floor of the thought-bubble-removing craze back in 2006 to tossing all kinds of crap into the fat cat’s animated/non-animated mouth in 2007.”
One of the first popular Tumblr accounts was Garfield Minus Garfield, which edited the awful feline out of his own comic strip, leaving Jon Arbuckle alone in a pit of existential despair.
The Garfield hate train eventually moved to Twitter, where users still occasionally tweet insults at the cat.
Now we’ve made it to the next phase of Garfield Antagonism. Atlas Obscura directs us to I Hate Jon Arbuckle, which concerns … well, you know what it’s about. Not content with letting Garfield be the Nermal of the real world, Jon has become the focus of relentless attacks and criticism. The extensive FAQ touches on everything from why Jon stinks to why his girlfriend, Liz, continues to stay in the picture to why the live-action film versions of Jon are also odious (or “Odie-ous”).
As for Garfield author Jim Davis, our blogger writes, “I think of him creating Jon Arbuckle the same way I think of other people creating evil characters. Just because the characters are evil doesn’t make the authors evil too. I do think it’s really nasty that he based such an awful character on himself though.”