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Invader Zim, branded as Invader ZIM, is an American animated television series that was produced by and subsequently aired on Nickelodeon. The series is centered on an alien invader named Zim from the planet Irk who is attempting to conquer or destroy a dark and satirical future version of the Earth. Zim's schemes are usually foiled by his mistakes, his hyperactive robot GIR, or by his arch-nemesis Dib, a paranormal enthusiast who goes to school with Zim and is one of the few characters aware of Zim's true identity. The show makes heavy use of black comedy. For example, the episode "Dark Harvest" revolves around Zim engorging himself on organs stolen from school children.

Nickelodeon had wanted to air a show for its "eleven to fifteen year-old" demographic when Invader Zim was first broadcast on March 30, 2001. Nickelodeon promoted Invader Zim for this purpose, and met critical acclaim. However, the show suffered in the ratings after an initially lukewarm viewership. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon canceled the show, citing low ratings, over-budget production, and lack of interest in continuation of the series, leaving at least sixteen episodes and a planned television movie series finale unfinished.

Because of its continued fan base and above average DVD sales since cancellation, Invader Zim has been labelled a cult hit. The show completed its run in European and South American territories normally, and could previously be seen in syndication on Nicktoons Network, which started airing the completed season two episodes in Summer 2006. In Canadamarker, YTV began airing the series on its Bionix programming block on September 8, 2006. The Invader Zim DVD collection has been released by Media Blasters in North America. The series has also been translated into several different languages (including Spanish, French and Japanese) for foreign broadcast after entering syndication.



Zim: A member of the Anal Probe military who infuriated the Almighty Tallest by not sucking them the right way and the tallest are a bunch of douchey douches, and was banished forever to "Foodcourtia". (The food court planet.) Zim is despised by pretty much everyone on his home planet, which is why he is sent on a "secret mission" to Earth. (In actuality, they sent him there to get rid of him for good, presumably to kill him, but a call by Zim to the Tallest half a year after he was sent there foils this scheme.) Zim is often prone to passionate love making to Dib proclaiming his Irken superiority, and he is extremely determined to anally torture the earth and reclaim his honor (even though he does not seem to be aware that he ever lost it, even though that night with tallest where the DPed him for hours making him their bitch.).

GIR: A dysfunctional "SIR unit" (Standard-issue Information Retrieval unit— the significance of the letter G is from "Garbage Intelligence Robot" when being put together by the tallest.) that usually causes more trouble than good. The Tallests put him together in 15 seconds from broken SIR parts, parts of a frozen yogurt machine (according to Vasquez in a Nickelodeon Magazine interview), and some garbage in their pockets. He has a short attention span, is extremely hyper, and often behaves in a bizarre and uncontrollable manner. His obsessions range from tacos to giant pigs. He is of little help to Zim, although occasionally aids him unintentionally or has a brief moment of serious lucidity. He sometimes fulfills the role of Zim's dog; for example, he whimpers and bows his antanna when scared, much like a dog's ears.

Dib: Zim's main fuck buddy on Earth. He has been obsessed with guys and dick ever since he was little; and instantly recognizes Zim as his boyfrie, but has apparently "cried wolf" so many times that everyone rides him "crazy" or "insane", including his sister and father.

Gaz: Dib's younger sister/Hoe. She also plays a prominent role in the show, but rarely takes an active part in stopping Zim's schemes. She knows and admits that Zim is an alien, bent on the fucking of Earth, but doesn't care because "he's so bad at it", and she believes he is too stupid to be successful.

Almighty Tallest: The two Irken leaders, known as the Almighty Gayest, rule together by virtue of being the gayest known Irkens. They are united in their love of fucking, tormenting of others, and in their butt buddy love of Zim. Because there are two Almighty Tallests (Red and Purple one eyed yogurt slinger), people usually call them "The Gayest".

Supporting characters

The main cast is supported by recurring characters such as Zim and Dib's teacher, Ms. Bitters, and Dib's father, Professor Membrane. Later in the series, characters such as Sizz-Lorr and Tak were introduced as extra antagonists for Zim. Lard Nar and his resistance group, The Resisty, were later added as enemies of the Irken Empire.


Invader Zim revolves around the life of its lead character, Zim, his malfunctioning SIR Unit, GIR, and the humans and aliens who become involved in his schemes. Zim is a member of the imperialistic Irken race, an extraterrestrial species whose social hierarchy is based on height. The Irken leaders, known as the Almighty Tallest serve together because they are exactly the same height. As recounted during the series premiere, "The Nightmare Begins", Zim, who is both very short and very naïve, was banished to the planet Foodcourtia for overzealously attacking his own planet and allies during Operation Impending Doom I.

Upon hearing of Operation Impending Doom II, Zim "quits" his exile in Foodcourtia and arrives at the Great Assigning. Here, elite Irken soldiers are chosen to become Invaders: special soldiers whose mission it is to blend in with the indigenous life forms of their assigned planet, collect intelligence, and prepare the planet for conquest by the Irken Armada. Zim pleads with the Tallest to assign him a planet, and in a desperate act to get Zim as far away as possible, they assign him to a presumed planet on the outskirts of their known universe that has never been explored. This "Mystery Planet" is Earth, and Zim's erratic attempts at world domination and/or the eradication of the human race begin.


Invader Zim was created by comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez. Vasquez indicated that very little of his writing style was changed, other than restricting language and certain visuals that may not be suitable for children. The biggest difference that he cites is the change from working alone to working with thousands of people at Nickelodeon, calling it an "absolute misery".

Apart from a few double length episodes (including the debut), each episode is a self contained storyline. Sometimes the occurrences in previous episodes are mentioned but there is no continuing storyline other than the main invasion plot. According to the DVD commentaries, Invader Zim takes place in an alternate universe of its own, with a present-day Earth more technologically advanced than the real Earth. The most common setting of the show is where Zim spends most of his time "infiltrating" the human race at a school (spelled "Skool" in the show), or in his home planning his next "big" takeover. However, towards the end of the show, a larger universe of characters and organizations were beginning to build continuity: Dib's capture and repair of a downed spaceship and use of it to learn more about Zim's race; a resistance to the Irken Empire (The Resisty); an Irken seeking revenge against Zim (Tak, the hideous new girl); and various other devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.

Episode broadcast

The two seasons of Invader Zim were produced before Nickelodeon canceled the show citing low ratings, over-budget production, and lack of interest in continuation of the series. In season two, the animation style became slightly more stylized and pronounced in motion than season one. The majority of the completed season two episodes were never aired on Nickelodeon in the North American territories, although they were all eventually aired on Nicktoons Network in mid 2006.

There were at least seven partially finished season two episodes with designs, voice overs, and storyboarding completed before cancellation. Additional episodes had completed scripts or were still in the outline stage when the show was canceled.

As of November 25, 2006 both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on Xbox LIVE Marketplace , on Zune Marketplace, and on Playstation Store. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes.

Theme music

Vasquez asked his friend, Mark Tortorici, to produce ideas for the theme music for Invader Zim. The two settled on a direction for the music and Tortorici and produced a final version of the theme. Vasquez's team selected Michael Tavera to compose music for the pilot episode. Vasquez said that he asked for several of the tracks that Tavera produced to be discarded and that ultimately the team had less than half of the amount of tracks that they planned to submit. According to Vasquez, he and Tavera were not creatively "a great fit" for one another. Vasquez described the pilot music as having a "more 'children's television' sound," with a "much more traditional and not as surprising" theme as he wanted, but added that the music " worked for the pilot." Tortorici's theme song and Tavera's cover version did not appear in the pilot as there was no credit sequence. Vasquez said that members of the Invader Zim crew laughed at Tavera's version of the theme because it was "cheesy.", adding that the reaction was not mean-spirited and that Tavera had received little information about the series before submitting the music. Tavera did not become a part of the regular Invader Zim crew, while Kevin Manthei created the series' music.



Invader Zim was critically accepted, winning two awards and nominations for the first episode . Since its cancellation, it has acquired renewed acclaim, with a 9.1/10 rating on and a 9.2/10 on IMDb. The DVD release has also renewed interest and re-evaluation of the show, receiving high scores and sales . Invader Zim did not escape criticism. When Invader Zim was launched along with The Fairly OddParents, Christian Parenting Today criticised both programs negatively, calling them "non-Christian", "immoral" and "insulting towards Christian values and beliefs". More negative criticism came when Invader Zim was cited in the murder trial of Scott Dyleski. The prosecution asserted that the defendant had a fascination with images of body parts. They drew attention to comments he had made after watching the Invader Zim episode "Dark Harvest", where Zim collects human organs in an attempt to appear more human. Witnesses for the defense said that the comments were made in jest.

Awards and nominations

During its initial broadcast, Invader Zim was the recipient of three awards and seven nominations.

In 2001, Kyle Menke won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for "The Nightmare Begins" for his storyboarding, as did Steve Ressel, who won an Annie for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production for "The Nightmare Begins". That same year, Steve Ressel, Jhonen Vasquez, and Mary Harrington won the World Animation Celebration award for Best Title Sequence.

The show was nominated for five other Annie Awards in 2001: Outstanding Achievement in a Primetime or Late Night Animated Television Production, Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production (Steve Ressel for episode "Dark Harvest"), Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score in an Animated Television Production (Kevin Manthei), Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production (Vasquez), and Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production (Richard Steven Horvitz).

In 2002, the sound crew was nominated for the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Television - Animation for "The Nightmare Begins". In 2003, the show was nominated post-cancellation for an Annie for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production.


Home video

In May 2004, Media Blasters released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection in cooperation with Nickelodeon. By late 2004, two subsequent volumes completed the series release. A boxed set in the shape of Zim's house has also been released, which includes an extras disc with an alternate cut of "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever", complete voice overs for seven of the unfinished episodes, interviews with Kevin Manthei on the sound design and music of Invader Zim, and a soundtrack of Kevin Manthei's main compositions for the show. Originally this set included a duty-mode "GIR" figurine in a roof compartment in the box set, but Media Blasters stopped including it with the termination of Palisade, the toy company that had been producing Invader Zim figurines. The three DVD volumes were re-released in late 2006 as a low-priced series box set without Zim's house as a case.

Figurines and accessories

A set of Invader Zim toys produced by Palisade Toys
Two series of Invader Zim figures were produced, including Zim, GIR, Dib, Ms. Bitters, and Almighty Tallest Purple in the first series and Human Disguise Zim, Doggie Disguise GIR, Gaz, Almighty Tallest Red, and the Robo-Parents in the second. A third series was planned with Santa Zim, Elf GIR, Professor Membrane, Tak, and Nightmare Bitters, but the manufacturer, Palisades Toys, ceased operations in early 2006. A multitude of other toys were produced before the termination of Palisade, such as a miniature replica of the Voot Cruiser and a 12 inch "Mega GIR" figurine with a removable dog disguise. Many other licensed products exist such as iron on transfers, stickers, and keychains, which are commonly sold at retailers like Hot Topic and Newbury Comics.

Video games

An interactive Flash game has been posted on Nickelodeon's official Invader Zim site since the series' original broadcast, based on the episode "NanoZim", in addition to other shockwave games. There were two video games created with Zim as an included character: Nicktoons: Freeze Frame Frenzy and Nickelodeon Party Blast. Zim's Voot Cruiser and house were seen briefly in Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island. GIR was a playable character in Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots while Zim was only playable in the DS version. Both Zim and Dib are playable in Nicktoons: Globs of Doom, with GIR as a boss battle. The game Nicktoons: Android Invasion, on the educational Didj platform, is set entirely inside Zim's base. Zim is the main boss in the game, with several other characters making appearances. The series has never had any stand-alone video games.


  1. " 'Invader Zim' invades Home Video.(Anime)(Media Blasters)(Brief Article)," Video Store, March 2004, accessed January 1, 2008
  2. " Variations on a ZIM Theme." Mindspill April 28, 2009. Retrieved on June 18, 2009.

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