New 'Garfield' Series Set at Nickelodeon

The comic-strip cat is the latest franchise to make a home on the kid-focused network.
Courtesy Nickelodeon

Break out the lasagna: Nickelodeon is getting into the Garfield business.

The kid-focused cabler's parent company, Viacom, through a subsidiary is acquiring rights to Paws, Inc., the company that controls IP rights to the Garfield and U.S. Acres characters. Nickelodeon will develop a new TV series based on the comic-strip cat created by Jim Davis and will control rights to consumer products and "location-based experiences" involving the characters as well.

"This acquisition marks another step in our evolution toward being kids’ first stop for the best new content and characters, so we’re incredibly happy to have Garfield join our growing roster of globally loved franchises and to introduce this cool cat to a new generation of fans," Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins said Tuesday in a statement.

The Monday-hating, lasagna-loving cat was the subject of two previous TV series — Garfield and Friends in the 1980s and '90s on CBS and The Garfield Show on Cartoon Network from 2009-2012 — and a pair of feature films, with Bill Murray providing Garfield's voice in the movies.

Garfield joins a group of kids franchises at Nickelodeon that includes the brand-defining SpongeBob SquarePants (which recently spawned the spinoff Kamp Koral), Paw Patrol and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. An animated Star Trek series for kids is also in the works, and the company recently revived its sketch-comedy series All That as media conglomerates' quest to capitalize on well-known IP extends to consumers of all ages.

"Great content is core to the strength of our brands, and Garfield is a beloved character that continues to be part of the cultural zeitgeist with universal resonance across all ages," said Viacom Media Networks COO Sarah Levy. "The acquisition of Paws, Inc. provides another opportunity for Viacom to leverage our platforms to extend the global reach of iconic IP."

Along with the TV series at Nickelodeon, Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products will manage global merchandising, including existing licensees. Davis will continue drawing the comic strip that he created back in 1978; Garfield is the most widely syndicated strip in the world.

Said Davis, "I've always tried to make people laugh with humor that is classic and appealing to both kids and adults. I’m delighted that Garfield is going to be placed in the capable hands of the folks at Nick. They know how to entertain and will be great stewards for the franchise. I am also excited to continue to do the thing that gets me out of bed every morning — the comic strip."