Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by comic book writer/artist Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon. First broadcast on March 30, 2001, the same day as The Fairly OddParents, Nickelodeon desired a show aimed at their older viewers. Unfortunately, the show never found a time slot that the creators of the program thought suitable and suffered in the ratings. The show crew requested that Invader Zim be moved to MTV in a similar way Ren and Stimpy had been, but this never happened. Before two seasons were completed, it was canceled by Nickelodeon. The series has since been translated into several different languages for foreign broadcast.
On April 4, 2017, Nickelodeon confirmed that a TV movie based on the series, entitled Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, was in production with series creator Jhonen Vasquez returning as executive producer. The movie was released on Netflix in summer of 2019.
Zim is a member of the mighty Irken race, a species of alien life forms whose social hierarchy is based on height. The Irken leaders are the Almighty Tallest (during the course of the show, leadership of the Irken Empire is shared by two Tallest, Purple and Red, who are exactly the same height). Zim was banished to the planet Foodcourtia for killing all the other Invaders during Operation Impending Doom I.
Upon hearing of Operation Impending Doom II, Zim "quits" being banished and arrives at the Great Assigning where 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 and collect intelligence. 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 "Mystery Planet" on the outskirts of their known universe, which turns out to be Earth.
Zim is a member of the alien Irken race, who believe that stature is determined by height. As Zim is one of the shortest Irkens alive, he is considered defective. Zim, on the other hand, believes that he is a mighty warrior and is superior to his own people. Since his actions usually lead to disaster (he nearly destroyed the Irken homeworld during Operation "Impending Doom I") his leaders, the Almighty Tallest sent him on a "secret mission" to Earth, in order to keep him away from "Operation Impending Doom II." Zim's PAK, due to his actions after Impending Doom One, has him encoded as a Food Service Drone; this was part of his banishment to the Irken snacking planet Foodcourtia, and is confirmed by Frylord Sizz-Lorr during the episode "The Frycook What Came From All That Space." Interestingly, the episode "Career Day" also shows that the job that is the most suitable for Zim is fast food services. Although he is the protagonist of a children's show, Zim is, morally and ethically, a villain (though occasionally considered an antihero), being overall a fairly unsympathetic character and usually only causing chaos and destruction for either himself or his own race. The Nicktoons know that is an alien but in Zim's world Dib and Gaz are only ones who knows Zim is an alien.
Zim is an Irken with megalomaniacal, sadistic, sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies. He usually ends up being a danger to himself and his own people. Zim is held up as a complete laughing-stock, a scapegoat, or a figure of contempt by his own species. Despite this, Zim is innocently loyal and obedient to the Tallest and Operation Impending Doom II, to the point that he is zealously willing to endure pain or hardship in order to gain their respect. In the episode "Planet Jackers", Zim even willingly undergoes a rather severe beating in the name of protecting his mission and Irken interests.
His self-absorbed nature prevents him from seeing his failures, past and present. He claims to be proud of all the past disasters he has caused, and rarely acknowledges his defeats in his present mission on Earth (often blaming them on other characters, or other factors, or completely changing the subject). When he is told by Tak that his "mission" was really an attempt to get rid of him, he simply rejects her statement as a lie, in "Tak: The Hideous New Girl". It is not clear whether Zim is aware of his failings in the eyes of his leaders and is desperately trying to compensate for them, or whether he really is just completely oblivious to the opinions of others - the series is not consistent on this point. It's clear that Zim is highly intelligent (in his own crafty sort of way) and is a keen manipulator of tools and devices, but has absolutely no apparent interest to think things through to their logical conclusion. Zim clearly is more than capable of destroying Earth, but he hardly ever uses this capability correctly. For instance, when he is accidentally sent a Megadoomer robot, he decides to use it to kill Dib, when the robot obviously has the destructive power to do better things. He has often come very close to taking over the planet, only to be thwarted by Dib or Gaz.
Zim shows no remorse for people that are harmed due to his actions and almost never takes responsibility for his mistakes, priding himself on causing destruction in the name of the Irken Empire, even when said destruction is aimed towards other Irkens (as Zim responded about his destruction of Irk, "... But I blew up more than all the other Invaders!" with Tallest Red responding "You BLEW UP all the other Invaders!" Zim replies with an lighthearted "Pffft!"). More or less he considers everyone else but himself (even members of his own race) expendable for his goals, often exploiting them to reach his own goals with apparent disregard for their safety or well-being. For example, in "Hobo 13", Zim sends the soldiers under his command to their dooms when other, safer methods could be taken (even using Throbulator, the last soldier in his unit, as a battering ram), causing Sergeant Hobo to fail him automatically despite the fact that Zim manages to survive the obstacle course. Another example is when Zim destroys a candy machine in "Tak: The Hideous New Girl", ending Tak's mission to become an Invader and he either doesn't realize that she's trapped or, more likely, he doesn't care. His behavior and unawareness of his actions are most likely the result of him being a defect, as revealed in the cancelled episode "The Trial".
Zim usually shows little to no affection, often claiming to "need no one", but he occasionally lets a softer side of him slip, probably by accident. In Parent Teacher Night, when Zim thinks back to when he was born, he remembers that the first thing he ever said was that he loved the "cold, unfeeling robot arm" which nurtured him. This memory triggered him to sub-consciously hug Ms. Bitters in the same way that he hugged the arm when he was a smeet. And while he frequently yells at Gir and orders him around, he seems to have taken a liking to the robot, even if he doesn't want to admit it. In the episode "Walk of Doom", after seemingly reducing GIR to tears with a harsh reprimand (although GIR was only crying over the fact he ate his cupcake), Zim appears remorseful and quickly forgives the robot, also acknowledging that his feelings would not help them, stating "I can see that you understand your mistake, GIR, and me being angry will get us no closer to home." Additionally, in the Halloween special, Zim expresses concern for him when he leaves him behind upon entering the Nightmare World, stating that he "only hope[s] poor GIR is all right by himself". He probably views Gir as a little brother.
GIR's creation takes place in the series' first episode, when Zim requests a SIR Unit (Standard issue Information Retrieval Unit) ("it is also a thermos") from his leaders, the Almighty Tallest. The Tallest, not wanting to give Zim a fully-functioning unit, offer him a new "advanced" model, which they claim they made just for him. They then assemble a robot with parts from a garbage can, and put whatever they happen to have in their pockets (Irken monies, a piece of bubblegum, a screw, and a paperclip from Almighty Tallest Purple's pocket) into its head instead of a brain. Upon activation—which surprises even the Tallest—the robot introduces itself as "GIR," appearing as functional and serious as the SIR units. When asked what the "G" stands for, GIR replies "I don't know," his eyes quickly fade from the standard SIR red to teal, and then starts hitting himself. The robot's eccentric personality is further demonstrated when he sings "The Doom Song" the entire 6-month voyage to Earth.
Other than the manifestation of personality in GIR, the only differences between GIR and regular SIR units are the unique coloration of the luminous parts of GIR's body (teal instead of red), a different configuration for the eyes, and his cross-hatched mouth.
Unlike Zim, GIR doesn't mind getting involved with typical Earth culture; in some episodes he admits to loving Earth. GIR has a strong love of Earth snacks, such as tacos, taquitos, candy, chocolate bubblegum, waffles, CUPCAKES, tuna, biscuits, chicken with mayo, pizza, Suck-Monkeys, mashed potatoes, muffins and corn. He can eat and enjoy them, even though he is a robot. He is also shown becoming fat in "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom" after stealing all of the Halloween candy from trick-or-treating kids. Despite his sub par disguises, GIR is actually quite good at blending in with the humans due to his behavior being similar with theirs.
GIR also likes to eat action figures, as revealed when he stole and ate action figures (or possibly rag plush figures) from kids in Megadoomer.
Dib Membrane is 11-13 Earth years old (during the series' timeline) and his father Professor Membrane is rich, according to Jhonen Vasquez. Although Professor Membrane is his father, Dib lacks a last name. Dib often appears to fulfill the role of either antagonist or protagonist depending on the perspective of an episode. Jhonen Vasquez states that none of the four main characters are actually evil.
Dib is often called "crazy" or "insane", and is constantly being mocked for his theories and big head (first mentioned in Door to Door). It became a recurring gag, even though his head size seems normal in comparison to everyone else's. Most of his classmates try to ignore him, but with Zim always causing strife, it is hard not to make a scene. Besides the host of Mysterious Mysteries, Dib is also known by NASAplace and the FBI for his paranormal-related antics. He's been on the front page of the newspaper twice, so it is possible that a good deal of the city is aware of the trouble he frequently ends up in. He believes Zim and GIR are the "bad guys" while he and Gaz are the "good guys" who are Earth's last hope against alien invaders. He makes every effort to stop the two at every possible turn. This often leads to increased social difficulties at school.
Agent Mothman is Dib's secret agent name for The Swollen Eyeball Network. It is unknown how long he has been a part of the network, but all the other operatives seem to know who he is and his reputation for being crazy; however, Dib seems to be on better terms with the leader of the Network, Agent Darkbootie. Darkbootie has helped Dib at least once in "Battle of the Planets", and gave him a chance to present the Network with all of his findings on Zim in "Battle-Dib". Dib is also less ridiculed by Agent Tunaghost, who helped him in "Gaz, Taster of Pork". The rest of the agents either find him annoying, crazy, or a disgrace to the Network.
Gazlene Membrane (first name always shortened to as just Gaz) is Dib's younger sister. She is assumed to be the daughter of Professor Membrane; however, had the series continued, her brother Dib (or maybe she as well) would have actually been revealed to be a creation of the professor and not his actual birth child.
Her foul temper and love for pizza and video games makes her an unpleasant person to be near - she is one of the reasons why Christian Parenting Today blasted the series in the first place due to the constant abuse she inflicts on her brother. When she isn't eating pizza or playing her Game Slave 2, Gaz is usually beating Dib up for just talking. She usually serves as a side character, but has participated as a main character in several episodes.
Her biggest appearances were in the episodes "Game Slave 2" in which Gaz attempts to buy the new Game Slave video game system and "Bloaty's Pizza Hog", in which she is willing to do anything to go to Bloaty's.
Gaz is the only human character, with the exception of Dib, who realizes Zim is really an alien. In the episode "Gaz, Taster of Pork" she acknowledges that Zim is an alien; unlike Dib, she does not believe Zim presents a serious threat. In "Bloaty's Pizza Hog", she replied to Dib's comment that Zim was trying to enslave all mankind with the phrase, "But he's so bad at it...". As the show goes on Gaz gets taller, and actually has some facial differences by the end of the show; though there are some animation errors where her size and height occasionally change in different episodes (possibly some errors on the part of the series' artists).
Gaz, like most modern children, loves to play video games on her Game Slave, and she enjoys sketching piggies and other monsters (including pig-monsters), and is obsessed with pizza, soda, and various other junk foods. She also seems to hate anyone who comes in between herself and one of those things. Examples are in the episode "Game Slave 2" in which a character called Iggins took the last Game Slave 2, causing Gaz to stalk him until he gave up the game to her. She seems to enjoy yelling at her brother, though it would seem that even that is a hassle for her.
Though her dress style is reminiscently Gothic in appearance, she is, oddly enough, never established to be an actual goth. This evidence was supported by Jhonen Vasquez himself.
Gaz's most unique characteristics are her hair and eyes. She has purple, angular hair that is fashioned into five spikes, which takes on the ominous appearance of a set of jaws. Her eyes are amber in color, but normally appear either closed or squinted (In the pilot, she has light blue eyes except for one scene where her eyes mistakenly appear amber). In season two, Gaz's head was remodeled to be more angular like Dib's head when facing the camera. Even though her head is proportionately large to her body, she and almost every other character ridicules Dib's large head.
Throughout the show it is demonstrated, but never actually said, that Gaz has amazing powers.
Throughout the show Gaz demonstrates amazing powers and abilities. She possesses incredible strength, the ability to fix and control anything electronic, the ability to get any place she needs, levitation powers, and ability to create fires at will. She is also shown to be capable of using Irken technology and her piloting skills seem to be on par, if not greater than Zim's, as she was able to pilot one of his ships with ease. It is possible that these powers, being completely unnatural, could actually be a result of her being a creation of Professor Membrane, just as it is rumored that her older brother, Dib is. She, despite her demonic power, has a sort of connection to the holy, as shown in "Game Slave 2", when upon getting her game back, the stormy night turns to a bright sunny day, and her hair returns to its natural shape. She comments on how "The rightful order has been restored". In "Mopiness of Doom", she comments "All is right with the world again." These are obvious references to horror movies like "The Ring" and "The Grudge", which also contain creepy girls, as well as the plot of "Game Slave 2", which somewhat parodies the aforementioned movies
The music for Invader Zim was composed by Kevin Manthei and is in a digital techno style. The title music was composed by Mark Tortoroci and arranged by Manthei. Manthei, however, did the music for the end credits and all the music for the actual episodes.
In September 2002, 7 months after the cancellation of the series, Anime Stuff-R, an internet radio website, broadcasted the Zim-phony, a 5-hour broadcast of all the music from the 26 episodes of Invader Zim composed by Kevin Manthei. This session, presented by DJ Richard Rae is the most popular that Anime Stuff-R has broadcast. Also included in this session was an interview with Kevin Manthei by Richard Rae in August 2002, where Kevin talked mostly about how the music of Invader Zim was composed and inserted in the show.
Because of the popularity of the broadcast, Anime Stuff-R made 100 MP3 CDs with the entire broadcast. They made only 100 because of copyright and financial reasons.
Kevin Manthei also released a Promo CD containing some music from Invader Zim. This Promo CD is still available but one needs to get in touch with composer Kevin Manthei to acquire it.
- → Main article: List of Invader Zim episodes
Two seasons of Invader Zim aired. The animation styles are slightly different in the two seasons. With the exception of "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever," all season two episodes were aired in the U.S. after the DVD release. There are thirteen partially finished season two episodes, a few of which were still in the outline stage when the show was cancelled. Some of these episodes have been leaked to various fan websites. These unfinished episodes include a two-part finale in which Dib fights the Irken Armada by going to the aid of the planet Meekrob.
There were also plans for a TV movie special, "Invader Dib", which would have possibly carried on from the finale.
Attempts to put the show back in production
Creative differences with Nickelodeon drove Jhonen Vasquez from the show. Even if the series is ever picked up again, a key staff member, Steve Ressel, has already expressed that he won't return to the show.
"New" episodes of Invader Zim began to surface on the Nicktoons Network starting on June 10, 2006, although these so-called "new" episodes had already been released in Europe and Latin America years earlier and are on the last DVD. They were never previously aired on Nickelodeon's flagship station in the U.S. because the show was put out of production. There have been several petitions to bring the show back. Online and physical petitions alike, have failed.
Invader Zim made two minor comebacks before 2015, both on Nicktoons. The first time was for a month only starting March 1, 2010. By popular demand, Invader Zim showed reruns once again for a while. It was removed again from the schedule until October 29, 2016, when it was aired alongside Danny Phantom and Making Fiends for a special Halloween marathon. Invader Zim is available for streaming on Hulu.
Starting in July 2015, comic book publisher Oni Press released the first issue of a Invader Zim comic book continuation in collaboration with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon. The series as of September 2017 has 23 issues.
On April 4, 2017, Nickelodeon confirmed series creator Jhonen Vasquez would return to be executive producer of Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus (2019). The movie has been confirmed to be 71 minutes long and have the original main cast return. This will also be the third Nicktoon to be revived via a TV movie (or special), following Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie (2017) and Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling (2019).
On May 10, 2019, it was confirmed that both Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus and Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’s distribution rights were sold to Netflix by Viacom. Netflix announced three days later that both titles would arrive in summer of 2019 on their streaming service.
- → Main article: Invader Zim videography
In May 2004, Nickelodeon and Media Blasters released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection. Within weeks of its initial availability, it became one of the top 100 currently selling items on Amazon.com. By late 2004, two more volumes collecting the rest of the series (including six episodes that, at the time, had not aired in the US) had been released. A boxed set in the shape of Zim's house was also, released which includes an exclusive "Extra Features" disc with interviews and a sample soundtrack. The three DVD volumes were re-released in late 2006 as a low-priced box set. However, after the license expired, the series was reissued as two manufacture-on-demand season sets on Amazon.com, with none of the bonus content from the Media Blasters releases.
Outside of the volumed/season sets, the series premiere, "The Nightmare Begins", was featured on the Nickstravaganza! 2 VHS and DVD in 2003. Paramount also released a "best-of" compilation DVD, titled Operation Doom, on February 22, 2011.
As of November 25, 2006, both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on Xbox Live marketplace. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes.
- → Main article: Invader Zim (comic book)
In February 2015, Oni Press announced a comic book series based on the show, in collaboration with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon. Vasquez said, "I'm always confused when people say how much they miss Invader Zim because the show never stopped running in my head, and then I remember everyone else isn't in my head. I try to imagine the world for all those people who don't know what Zim's been up to since the show went off the air and it makes me shudder. How can people live that way? Hopefully this comic helps make the world a better place." The first issue was released on July 8, 2015, and ran for 50 monthly issues through March 2020, switching to quarterly publication the following month.
Two series of Invader Zim figures have been 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 such as the Voot Cruiser and a 12-inch "Mega GIR" with a removable dog disguise. Also, many non-licensed products exist such as iron on transfers, stickers, and keychains.
- ↑ Nickelodeon Cans INVADER ZIM (18 January 2002).
- ↑ Adam Tierney (1 September 2004). An Interview with Jhonen Vasquez and Rikki Simons (page 2).
- ↑ Zim: "I blew up more than any other Invader" Almighty Tallest Red "You blew up all the other Invaders!" ("The Frycook What Came from All That Space")
- ↑ Control Brain: (Sentencing Zim) "No longer an invader, you will be banished to the Irken snacking planet of Foodcourtia" ("The Frycook What Came from All That Space")
- ↑ Adam Tierney (September 1, 2004). An Interview with Jhonen Vasquez and Rikki Simons (page 3) (HTML). Retrieved on 2007-05-08.
- ↑ Invader Zim is Coming Back in a New Comic-Book Series. Kotaku (February 20, 2015). Retrieved on February 20, 2015.
- ↑ Changes at Palisades Toy (February 1, 2006).
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