Invader Zim

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For the character, see List of Invader Zim characters#Zim.
Invader Zim
Invader Zim title card.png
Title card
Genre Action
Science fiction
Created by Jhonen Vasquez
Directed by Steve Ressel
Voices of Richard Steven Horvitz
Rosearik Rikki Simons
Andy Berman
Melissa Fahn
Wally Wingert
Kevin McDonald
Rodger Bumpass
Lucille Bliss
Theme music composer Mark Tortorici
Composer(s) Kevin Manthei
Kevin Riepl[1][2]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 27 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Jhonen Vasquez
Producer(s) Monique Beatty
Christine Griswold
Steve Ressel
Running time approx. 22 minutes
Production company(s) Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Distributor Media Blasters
Original channel Nickelodeon (2001-2002)
Nicktoons (2006; 2011)
Picture format 4:3 SDTV
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run March 30, 2001 (2001-03-30) – August 19, 2006 (2006-08-19)
Original Pilot:
December 24, 2011
External links

Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by Jhonen Vasquez. The show premiered on Nickelodeon on March 30, 2001. The series involves an extraterrestrial named Zim who originates from a planet called Irk, and his ongoing mission to conquer and destroy Earth. His various attempts to subjugate and destroy the human race are invariably undermined by some combination of his own ineptitude, his malfunctioning robot servant GIR, and a young paranormal investigator named Dib, one of the very few people attentive enough to be aware of Zim's identity.

Invader Zim was targeted at children in their early teens, and met with critical acclaim. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon cancelled the series, leaving at least twenty-three episodes and a planned television movie series finale unfinished. The show has maintained a cult following since the series' cancellation with a pilot, twenty-seven aired episodes, and about seventeen episodes that were in production around the time the series was cancelled. On August 19, 2006, all twenty-seven episodes have aired on television. Nineteen of the episodes are split into two individual stories, each lasting about twelve minutes. There are eight double-length episodes. All of the episodes were directed by Steve Ressel except for the pilot which was directed by Jordan Reichek.



Zim is a member of the imperialistic Irken race, an extraterrestrial species whose social hierarchy is based on height, rather than any type of skill. The Irken leaders, known as The Almighty Tallest, rule the Irken Empire 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 naive, was banished to the planet Foodcourtia for absentmindedly attacking his own planet and allies[3] during Operation Impending Doom I.[4] When Zim hears about Operation Impending Doom II, he leaves Foodcourtia and arrives at the Great Assigning. Here, Irken Elite soldiers are chosen to become Invaders- soldiers whose missions are 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 the enslavement of humanity begins when Zim lands on Earth for the first time.


  • Zim (Richard Steven Horvitz) - Overzealous, impulsive and convinced of his own greatness, Zim is incompetent as an Invader. He constantly schemes to enslave or destroy life on Earth and, despite his access to potent Irken technology, his plans, frequently based on misconceptions, are never successful.
  • GIR (Rosearik Rikki Simons) - Zim's only companion, GIR, is a Standard Issue Information Retrieval unit (SIR). He was made out of some scraps in a trash bin by The Almighty Tallest. The name "GIR" is a self-applied moniker that is never explained; even GIR himself states that he doesn't know why he refers to himself as GIR. He differs physically from other SIR units in that his head contains odds-and-ends rather than artificial intelligence hardware. Because of this, GIR displays a wildly erratic personality. He is almost completely ineffective and rarely obeys Zim's commands, variously due to distraction, disinterest and disobedience. GIR disguises himself by wearing a green dog suit which fools most humans, despite looking almost nothing like an Earth dog.
  • Dib (Andy Berman) - Zim's main opponent on Earth. He has been obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural since he was a baby and instantly recognizes Zim as an alien, but everyone derides him as "crazy" or "insane", including his father and sister.
  • Gaz (Melissa Fahn) - Gaz is Dib's cynical, humorlessly sarcastic and antisocial younger sister. She plays a prominent role in the show, but rarely takes an active part in attempting to hinder Zim's schemes. Though she knows and admits Zim is an alien, she believes Zim is too dumb to actually be a threat. She has very few interests, primarily video games and pizza.
  • Almighty Tallest Red (Wally Wingert) and Almighty Tallest Purple (Kevin McDonald) - collectively known as The Almighty Tallest, are the emperors of the Irken Empire. They are united in their love of destruction, tormenting of others, snacks, puppet shows and their hatred of Zim. The Almighty Tallest both rule the empire because they are the same size.

Supporting characters[edit]

The main cast is supported by recurring characters Ms. Bitters (Zim and Dib's teacher) and Professor Membrane (Dib's father). Later in the series, Sizz-Lorr and Tak are added as villains who both try and hinder Zim's plan on destroying the Earth. Lard Nar and his resistance group, The Resisty, are the enemies of the Irken Empire.


Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez

Invader Zim was created by comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez who indicated that very little of his writing style was changed, other than restricting language and certain visuals that may not be suitable for children.[5] 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".[5] 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); and various other devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.

Episode broadcast[edit]

A full first season and a part of the second season of Invader Zim were produced before Nickelodeon cancelled the show since it had low ratings among the channel's target audience and the high cost of making the show.[6] In season two, the animation style became slightly more stylized and pronounced in motion than season one.[7] All of the completed season two episodes, except for "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever" were never aired on Nickelodeon in North America. They all eventually aired on Nicktoons in from June 10, 2006 through August 19, 2006.

Since November 25, 2006, both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace,[8] Zune Marketplace, and PlayStation Store. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes.[9] In March 2010, episodes of Invader Zim were aired on Nicktoons. The reruns were the second highest-rated show on the network, and according to Vasquez, were part of a plan by the network to see if a revival of Invader Zim was feasible. Vasquez also asserts that, despite widespread rumor, he would have returned to the show again had Nickelodeon not deemed the revival "too expensive".[10] On December 24, 2011 the series pilot had its television premiere[11] followed by the result of Nicktoons' "Girreatest Zim Moments" online poll.[12]

Theme music[edit]

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 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 number 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.[13]


Critical reception[edit]

Invader Zim was critically acclaimed, winning two awards and nominations for the first episode.[14] The DVD release has also received high scores and positive acclaim.[15][16][17][18] In 2014, ranked Invader Zim as the ninth best cartoon to have gotten cancelled, and later ranked Zim as the ninth top alien in movies and TV.[19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

During its initial broadcast, Invader Zim was the recipient of three awards and seven nominations.[20] In 2001, Kyle Menke won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for "The Nightmare Begins" for his storyboarding,[21] as did Steve Ressel, who won an Annie for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production for "The Nightmare Begins".[22] That same year, Steve Ressel, Jhonen Vasquez, and Mary Harrington won the World Animation Celebration award for Best Title Sequence.[23] 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).[22] 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.[24]


The series had its own fan convention run by Wasabi Anime. The initial event was created to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Invader Zim and took place in Atlanta, Georgia in March 2011. Special guests included cast members Richard Horvitz, Melissa Fahn, Rikki Simons, Andy Berman, and writer Eric Truehart. An encore presentation of the convention, InvaderCON II: DOOMCON took place on July 28 and 29 2012 in Los Angeles, California, featuring the previous year's guests (sans Andy Berman) with the addition of Jhonen Vasquez,[25] character designer Aaron Alexovich, voice of Professor Membrane Rodger Bumpass, post-production supervisor Jason Stiff, storyboard artist Ian Graham and a surprise appearance from voice of Tallest Red Wally Wingert.[26][27]


Home video[edit]

In May 2004, Anime Works released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection in cooperation with Nickelodeon. By August 2004 and November 2004, two subsequent volumes completed the series' DVD 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", 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 Anime Works silently 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. On April 2, 2010, Invader Zim was re-released on DVD in two different sets.[28] A new DVD was released on February 22, 2011 called "Operation Doom". This set contains the highest rated episodes to air on Nicktoons Network throughout 2010.[29]

Figurines and accessories[edit]

A set of Invader Zim toys produced by Palisades Toys

Two series of Invader Zim figures were produced by the toy company Palisades Toys, including Zim, GIR, Dib, Ms. Bitters, and Almighty Tallest Purple in the first series. The second set had Zim in his disguise, GIR in his dog suit, Gaz, Almighty Tallest Red, and the Robo-Parents. A third series was planned with Zim in a Santa suit, GIR as an elf, Professor Membrane, Tak, and Nightmare Bitters, but Palisades Toys, the manufacturer, ceased operations in early 2006.[30] A multitude of other toys were produced before the termination of Palisades, such as a miniature replica of the Voot Cruiser and a "Mega GIR" figurine that was twelve inches which included a removable dog disguise. Many other licensed products exist such as iron on transfers, stickers, and keychains, all commonly sold at retailers like Hot Topic and Newbury Comics. Funko released a Pop! Vinyl figure of GIR in 2012,[31] produced in a limited edition as an exclusive for Hot Topic stores.

Video games[edit]

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 and rescue after the 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. Zim and Gaz are playable characters in Nicktoons MLB, GIR appears in the game as well as one of the announcers, and there is a ballpark for the show called "Irken Field". Other characters appear in the game as cameos when the game is loading and on the character cards making it the game with the most Invader Zim characters to date. The series has yet to have a stand-alone video game set.


  1. ^ Aihoshi, Richard (13 November 2007). "Huxley music Interview". IGN. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  2. ^ "Kevin Riepl Official Website". Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Frycook What Came from All That Space". Invader Zim. Season 2. Episode 10. 2006-08-19. Nicktoons. "Zim: I blew up more than any other Invader! / Almighty Tallest Red: You blew up all the other Invaders!"
  4. ^ "The Frycook What Came from All That Space". Invader Zim. Season 2. Episode 10. 2006-08-19. Nickelodeon. "Control Brain: (sentencing Zim) No longer an invader, you will be banished to the Irken snacking planet of Foodcourtia."
  5. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn (2001-03-25). "Fishbowl Fairies and an Alien in Exile". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  7. ^ Patrizio, Andy (2004-10-27). "Invader Zim: Horrible Holiday Cheer (Volume 3) review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-04. 
  8. ^ "Invader ZIM to be on the XBOX Live marketplace" (Press release). Microsoft. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  9. ^ "Invader ZIM comes to iTunes". 2006-06-20. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  10. ^ Vasquez, Jhonen (17 September 2010). "Don't cry for ZIM, he was already dead.". Mindspill. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Nickelodeon's full holiday programming and previews for 2011 - Monsters and Critics
  12. ^ Girreatest Zim Moments Ranking Game | Play Cartoon Games | Nicktoons Games
  13. ^ "Variations on a ZIM Theme. Mindspill April 28, 2009. Retrieved on June 18, 2009.
  14. ^ Awards for Invader Zim at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ "Science Fiction Movie and TV Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  16. ^ "DVD REVIEW: 'Progressive Stupidity' Amusing for the In-Crowd - Latest Invader Zim DVDs a Must-Have for Fans - The Tech". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  17. ^ Andy Patrizio. "IGN: Invader Zim Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer Review". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  18. ^ "OAFE - Invader Zim: DVD box set review". Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  19. ^ Top 10 Best Cartoons That Got Cancelled - YouTube
  20. ^ ""Invader ZIM" (2001) - Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  21. ^ Feitwell, Jill (2001-08-13). "Emmy voices its winners". Variety. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  22. ^ a b "29th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners". ASIFA-Hollywood. 2001. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  23. ^ "Nickelodeon Awards". Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  24. ^ "49th Golden Reel Awards Nominees Announced". 2002-02-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  25. ^ InvaderCON II: DOOMCON to Bring Invader ZIM Creator Jhonen Vasquez to Torrance in July, 2012
  26. ^ F.A.Q. | InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM | Summer of 2014 in Austin, Texas
  27. ^ Aaron Alexovich added as a Guest to InvaderCON II: DOOMCON! | InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM | Summer of 2014 in Austin, Texas
  28. ^ Invader Zim on DVD
  29. ^ "Operation Doom". 
  30. ^ "Changes at Palisades Toy". February 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  31. ^ "INVADER ZIM POP! TELEVISION GIR VINYL FIGURE". Retrieved 28 August 2012. 

External links[edit]