|Genre||Comic science fiction
|Created by||Jhonen Vasquez|
|Written by||Frank Conniff
|Directed by||Steve Ressel|
|Voices of||Richard Steven Horvitz
Rosearik Rikki Simons
|Theme music composer||Mark Tortorici|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||27 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jhonen Vasquez|
|Running time||approx. 22 minutes|
|Original channel||Nickelodeon (2001-2002)
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV|
|Original run||March 30, 2001
– December 10, 2002|
June 10, 2006 - August 19, 2006
Invader Zim is an American cartoon series created by Jhonen Vasquez. The show premiered on Nickelodeon on March 30, 2001. The series is about an extraterrestrial named Zim from the planet 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 paranormal investigator Dib, one of very few humans attentive enough to be aware of Zim's identity.
Invader Zim was targeted at children in their early teens, and met with critical acclaim, but after the first season, the show's ratings began to decline. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon canceled the series, leaving at least 23 episodes and a planned television movie series finale unfinished. The show has maintained a cult following since cancellation with a pilot episode, 46 canon episodes, and at least 17 episodes that were in production at the time of the series' cancellation. On August 19, 2006, all 46 canon episodes have aired on television and been released on DVD. 19 of the episodes are split into two individual stories, each lasting about 12 minutes. There are 8 double-length episodes. All 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 form of skill. 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 planet Foodcourtia for absentmindedly attacking his own planet and allies during Operation Impending Doom I. Upon hearing of Operation Impending Doom II, Zim leaves Foodcourtia and arrives at the Great Assigning. Here, elite Irken soldiers are chosen to become Invaders: special soldiers whose mission 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 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 mankind 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 ever 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 psychotic 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 enjoys a very limited number of things, a few of them being video games and pizza.
- The Almighty Tallest (Wally Wingert & Kevin McDonald): Red and Purple, collectively known as the Almighty Tallest, are the supreme Emperors of the Irken Empire. They are united in their love of destruction, tormenting of others, snacks, puppet shows and their hatred of Zim. It appears the only reason for their ruling status is their unusually tall height.
Supporting characters 
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 extra antagonists for Zim. Lard Nar and his resistance group, The Resisty, are the enemies of the Irken Empire.
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. 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); and various other devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.
Episode broadcast 
A full first season and half of a second season of Invader Zim were produced before Nickelodeon cancelled the show due to low ratings among the channel's target audience and the high cost of making the show. 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.
Since November 25, 2006, both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune Marketplace, and PlayStation Store. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes. Episodes are also available for streaming on Netflix. 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". On December 24, 2011 the series pilot had its television premiere followed by the result of Nicktoons' "Girreatest Zim Moments" online poll.
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 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.
Critical reception 
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.
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, 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.
Fan projects 
Fan animation team "Soapy Waffles" is animating an Invader Zim episode that only made it to the audio recording phase. Footage from this project was previewed at two InvaderCONs. "Operation Head Pigeons", a fan collective with an interest in reviving the show, began a letter-writing campaign for new episodes.
Criticism and controversy 
Negative criticism came when Invader Zim was cited in the murder trial of Scott Dyleski in 2006. 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", in which Zim collects human organs in an attempt to appear more human. Witnesses for the defense said that the comments were made in jest.
Home video 
In May 2004, Anime Works 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 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 of 2010, Invader Zim was re-released on DVD as two sets. 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.
Figurines and accessories 
Two series of Invader Zim figures were produced by toy company Palisades Toys, 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 as seen on the right . A third series was planned with Santa Zim, Elf GIR, Professor Membrane, Tak, and Nightmare Bitters, but Palisades Toys, the manufacturer, ceased operations in early 2006. A multitude of other toys were produced before the termination of Palisades, 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. Funko released a Pop! Vinyl figure of GIR in 2012, produced in a limited edition as an exclusive for Hot Topic stores.
Video games 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2009)|
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 rescuie 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.
- "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."
- "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."
- Shattuck, Kathryn (2001-03-25). "Fishbowl Fairies and an Alien in Exile". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Patrizio, Andy (2004-10-27). "Invader Zim: Horrible Holiday Cheer (Volume 3) review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
- "Invader ZIM to be on the XBOX Live marketplace" (Press release). Microsoft. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- "Invader ZIM comes to iTunes". 2006-06-20. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Vasquez, Jhonen (17 September 2010). "Don't cry for ZIM, he was already dead.". Mindspill. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- "Variations on a ZIM Theme. Mindspill April 28, 2009. Retrieved on June 18, 2009.
- Awards for Invader Zim at the Internet Movie Database
- "Science Fiction Movie and TV Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- "DVD REVIEW: 'Progressive Stupidity' Amusing for the In-Crowd - Latest Invader Zim DVDs a Must-Have for Fans - The Tech". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- Andy Patrizio. "IGN: Invader Zim Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer Review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- "OAFE - Invader Zim: DVD box set review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- ""Invader ZIM" (2001) - Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Feitwell, Jill (2001-08-13). "Emmy voices its winners". Variety. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "29th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners". ASIFA-Hollywood. 2001. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "Nickelodeon Awards". Nick.com. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "49th Golden Reel Awards Nominees Announced". Mixonline.com. 2002-02-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Lee, Henry K. (2006-08-21). "Two teens testify for Dyleski". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- Invader Zim on DVD
- "Operation Doom".
- "Changes at Palisades Toy". February 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- "INVADER ZIM POP! TELEVISION GIR VINYL FIGURE". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
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