Invader Zim

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Invader Zim
Invader Zim title card.png
Created by Jhonen Vasquez
Directed by
Voices of
Theme music composer Kevin Manthei
Composer(s) Kevin Manthei
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
  • Monique Beatty
  • Christine Griswold
  • Steve Ressel
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Original release March 30, 2001 (2001-03-30) – August 19, 2006 (2006-08-19)
Followed by Invader Zim (comics)
External links

Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon. The series centers on an extraterrestrial named Zim, from the planet Irk, and his mission to conquer Earth and enslave the human race along with his malfunctioning robot servant GIR. He is antagonized by Dib, a young paranormal investigator who is determined to stop Zim from succeeding.

Vasquez pitched Invader Zim to Nickelodeon, who desired a series for their older demographic. As the series went on, ratings declined, budgetary issues became more frequent, and the show's staff became weary of their work environment. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon cancelled the series, leaving several episodes unfinished. The show first ran on Nick from 2001 to 2002, with a handful of second-season episodes initially going unaired; these episodes were later seen on DVD in 2004 and Nicktoons Network in 2006.

Invader Zim was met with critical acclaim, winning an Annie Award, an Emmy Award and a World Animation Celebration Award, with nominations for six additional Annie Awards and a Golden Reel Award. Despite its early cancellation, due to increasing popularity it has been labeled a cult classic.[2][3][4]

An upcoming television film based on the series, entitled Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus!, is slated to premiere sometime in 2018 or 2019.[5][6]


From left to right. Top: Zim, Zim in his human disguise, GIR, GIR in his dog disguise, Dib, and Gaz.
Bottom: Professor Membrane, Ms. Bitters, Almighty Tallest Red, and Almighty Tallest Purple.

The series centers on Zim (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz),[7] 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 (Wally Wingert and Kevin McDonald), 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[8] during Operation Impending Doom I.[9]

When Zim learns of Operation Impending Doom II, he leaves Foodcourtia and arrives at the Great Assigning, where 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 send him on an arbitrary mission to a planet on the outskirts of their known universe which has never been explored. Zim is joined by GIR (Rosearik Rikki Simons), an ineffective and erratic Standard Issue Information Retrieval (SIR) unit.

As it turns out, this "mystery planet" is Earth and Zim forms his base of operations there. According to the DVD commentaries, Invader Zim takes place in an alternate universe of its own, with a present-day Earth somewhat more technologically advanced than the real Earth. The remainder of the show focuses on Zim's time "infiltrating" the human race at a school, or in his home planning attempts at world domination and the enslavement of humanity. Opposing Zim is his classmate Dib (Andy Berman), who is obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural and is determined to expose Zim as an alien.

Supporting characters include Dib's cynical sister Gaz (Melissa Fahn); Zim and Dib's teacher Ms. Bitters (Lucille Bliss); and Dib's father Professor Membrane (Rodger Bumpass). Later in the series, villains begin to appear, including Tak (Olivia d'Abo), a fellow Irken seeking revenge against Zim; Lard Nar (Fred Tatasciore), the leader of a resistance group called The Resisty who wants to overthrow the Irken Empire; and Sizz-Lorr (Jim Wise), Zim's former employer on Foodcourtia who attempts to recapture his employee.

Apart from eight double-length episodes (including the debut), each episode is a self-contained storyline. Some occurrences from previous episodes are mentioned, but there is little continuing storyline other than the main invasion plot. However, towards the end of the show, a larger universe of characters and organizations were introduced to build continuity: Tak appearing and seeking revenge against Zim; Dib's capture and repair of Tak's spaceship to travel through space; resistances to the Irken Empire such as the Meekrob and The Resisty; and other various devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
PilotDecember 24, 2011Nicktoons
120March 30, 2001September 28, 2002Nickelodeon
27December 10, 2002 (2002-12-10)August 19, 2006 (2006-08-19)Nickelodeon (2002)
Nicktoons (2006)
Television film2018/19[10]Nickelodeon



Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez

Prior to airing of Invader Zim, Nickelodeon desired a series to suit its "eleven to fifteen year-old" demographic.[11] The network hired alternative comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez to create the series.[12] Several ideas were considered by Vasquez, including a children-suited version of Mork & Mindy, but were dropped by him, who believed such ideas did not fit his style of writing.[12] 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.[13] A pilot was originally pitched to the channel in 1999,[12][14] which led to the series being greenlit. Vasquez cites that the biggest change for himself was from working alone to working with thousands of people at Nickelodeon, saying "it’s an absolute misery".[13]


All of the first season and part of the second season of the series 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.[15] In season two, the animation style became slightly more stylized and pronounced in motion than season one.[16] All of the completed season two episodes, except for "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever," were never aired on Nickelodeon. They all eventually aired on Nicktoons from June 10 to August 19, 2006.

Since November 25, 2006, both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace,[17] Zune Marketplace and PlayStation Store. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes.[18] The entire series is also available for streaming on Hulu.

On December 24, 2011, the series pilot had its television premiere[19] followed by the result of Nicktoons' "Girreatest Zim Moments" online poll.[20]

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 "a great fit" for one another creatively. 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, and was replaced with Kevin Manthei to compose the series' music.[21] Manthei's music for the series is industrial and techno in nature. Much of said music was released on a limited edition soundtrack album called ZIMphony created by Richard Rae, Tom Mitchell (DJ Tomzer1), and Keven Manthei of the anime internet radio station "Anime Stuff R" as mini CD-ROM featuring the music from the show and the radio broadcast special.


Critical reception[edit]

The DVD release received positive response from[22][23][24][25] 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.[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2001 53rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation [27] Kyle Menke Won
29th Annie Awards [28] Outstanding Achievement in a Primetime or Late Night Animated Television Production Nickelodeon for Invader Zim Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production Steve Ressel for “The Nightmare Begins Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score in an Animated Television Production Kevin Manthei Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production Jhonen Vasquez Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production Steve Ressel for “Dark Harvest” Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production Richard Horvitz as “Zim” Nominated
World Animation Celebration Awards Best Title Sequence [29] Jhonen Vasquez, Steve Ressel, Mary Harrington Won
2002 30th Annie Awards Best Animated Television Production [30] Invader Zim Nominated
2002 49th Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television Animation [31] Invader Zim Nominated


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 Steven Horvitz, Melissa Fahn, Rosearik Rikki Simons, Andy Berman and writer Eric Truehart. An encore presentation of the convention, InvaderCON II: DOOMCON, took place on July 28–29, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, featuring the previous year's guests (Andy Berman) with the addition of Jhonen Vasquez,[32] 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.[33][34]


Home video[edit]

In May 2004, Anime Works released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection titled “Doom Doom Doom” in cooperation with Nickelodeon. In August 2004, volume two titled “Progessive Stupidity” was released and in November 2004, volume three titled “Horrible Holiday Cheer” was released, completing the series' initial DVD release. All three volumes contain animatics, Irken subtitles, digitally restored and remastered picture and sound, as well as a Spanish language track. They also include audio commentaries for every episode and interviews with the actors, writers, and the post production staff. A boxed set shaped like Zim's house, known as the “House Box Set” has also been released,[35][36] which includes all three volumes, plus an extras disc featuring the uncut version of "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", voice recordings 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 the roof compartment of the box set, but Anime Works silently stopped including it with the termination of Palisades Toys, the toy company that had been producing Invader Zim figurines. Another DVD box set for Invader Zim called the “Complete Invasion Box Set” was released in 2006, featuring all three of the DVD volumes boxed together, with the art of Volume one on the cover. This box set does not contain an extra disc for bonus features like The House Box Set included.[37][38][39]

On May 4, 2010, the complete Season 1 of Invader Zim was released on DVD in a Manufacture on demand format.[40] A Season 2 DVD was released in that same format on April 2, 2010.[41]

A Invader Zim DVD was released on February 22, 2011, called "Operation Doom". This DVD contains the eight highest-rated episodes that aired on the Nicktoons Network throughout 2010.[42]

Episodes of Invader Zim have been featured in several Nickelodeon compilation DVDs. This includes “Nickstavaganza! 2[43] which was released on September 2, 2003 and contains the episode, “The Nightmare Begins”. In 2015, the episode, “Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom” was included in the DVD, “Classic Nickelodeon Halloween Specials”.[44] That same year, the episode, “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” was featured in a DVD called, “A Very Nickelodeon Christmas”.[45]

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.[46] 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,[47] 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 three video games created with Zim included as the only playable character from the series: Nickelodeon Party Blast, Nicktoons: Freeze Frame Frenzy, and the arcade exclusive game, Nicktoons Nitro. 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 Nintendo DS version. Both Zim and Dib are playable in SpongeBob SquarePants featuring 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.


In February 2015, Oni Press announced that a comic book series based on the show, in collaboration with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon, was being released as a continuation of the series. Vasquez said about the show: "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". A pre-issue 0 was released on May 23, 2015 as a zine and foreshadow to the comic book series. The first issue was released on July 8, 2015, and since then most issues are released on a monthly basis.[48][49]

Television film[edit]

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 the series 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".[50]

On April 4, 2017, Nickelodeon announced that they had green-lit a 66-minute[51] television film based on the series with three teaser trailers being released in a span of the following four days.[52] Jhonen Vasquez will be returning as executive producer as well as cast members Richard Horvitz, Rikki Simons, Andy Berman, and Melissa Fahn. The movie will follow "a perpetually desperate and delusional Zim hatching a new plan to achieve his goal". In October 2017, Rikki Simons, voice actor of GIR, in a video interview at the Gulf Coast Fan Fest, stated that the movie would be released sometime in 2018.[53]

On June 26, 2018, it was announced the movie would be titled Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus! and that there was a panel for the film at SDCC 2018 on July 20th featuring behind-the-scenes promotional art and exclusive sneak preview footage.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "Invader Zim: The Ultimate Guide". Nickelodeon Creative. 2002. p. 38. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  2. ^ Holub, Christian (April 5, 2017). "Invader Zim still wants to conquer the world in new teaser". Entertainment Weekly.
  3. ^ Marnell, Blair (April 4, 2017). "Invader Zim Is Returning to Nickelodeon in the Best Way Possible". Nerdist.
  4. ^ Frank, Allegra (April 6, 2017). "Invader Zim's strange path from cult hit to all-time classic". Polygon.
  5. ^ a b N'Duka, Amanda (June 26, 2018). "Nickelodeon Sets 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles', 'Invader Zim' & More For Comic-Con 2018". Deadline.
  6. ^ a b Hemmert, Kylie (June 26, 2018). "Nickelodeon's TMNT, Invader ZIM & More Coming to SDCC 2018".
  7. ^ "An Interview with Richard Horvitz, the voice of Invader Zim -". The Good Men Project. 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  8. ^ "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!
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference 2018airdate was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ "Nickelodeon Cans INVADER ZIM". 18 January 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  12. ^ a b c Tierney, Adam (2004-09-01). "An Interview with Jhonen Vasquez and Rikki Simons (page 1)". Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  13. ^ a b Shattuck, Kathryn (2001-03-25). "Fishbowl Fairies and an Alien in Exile". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  14. ^ Vasquez, Jhonen (2004). Invader Zim volume 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Pilot" (DVD). Media Blasters.
  15. ^ "INVADER ZIM Fact #2".
  16. ^ Patrizio, Andy (2004-10-27). "Invader Zim: Horrible Holiday Cheer (Volume 3) review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  17. ^ "Invader ZIM to be on the XBOX Live marketplace" (Press release). Microsoft. 2006-11-06. Archived from the original on 2006-12-11. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  18. ^ "Invader ZIM comes to iTunes". 2006-06-20. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  19. ^ Nickelodeon's full holiday programming and previews for 2011 - Monsters and Critics Archived 2013-10-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Girreatest Zim Moments Ranking Game - Play Cartoon Games - Nicktoons Games".
  21. ^ "Variations on a ZIM Theme. Mindspill April 28, 2009. Retrieved on June 18, 2009.
  22. ^ "Science Fiction Movie and TV Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  23. ^ "DVD REVIEW: 'Progressive Stupidity' Amusing for the In-Crowd - Latest Invader Zim DVDs a Must-Have for Fans - The Tech". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  24. ^ Andy Patrizio. "IGN: Invader Zim Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer Review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  25. ^ "OAFE - Invader Zim: DVD box set review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  26. ^ (24 May 2014). "Top 10 Best Cartoons That Got Cancelled" – via YouTube.
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  32. ^ InvaderCON II: DOOMCON to Bring Invader ZIM Creator Jhonen Vasquez to Torrance in July, 2012 Archived 2011-11-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ "F.A.Q. - InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM - July 26-27, 2014 in Austin, Texas".
  34. ^ "Aaron Alexovich added as a Guest to InvaderCON II: DOOMCON! - InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM - July 26-27, 2014 in Austin, Texas".
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  42. ^ "Operation Doom". Archived from the original on 2010-12-24.
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  46. ^ "Changes at Palisades Toy". February 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  47. ^ "INVADER ZIM POP! TELEVISION GIR VINYL FIGURE". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  48. ^ "Invader Zim is Coming Back in a New Comic-Book Series". Kotaku. February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  49. ^ Elfring, Mat. "Oni Press Partners with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon for New Invader Zim Comic". ComicVine. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  50. ^ "Don't cry for ZIM, he was already dead".
  51. ^ "BACKGROUND DESIGNER / 2D LAYOUT ARTIST - INVADER ZIM (ANIMATED TV MOVIE)". Nickelodeon Animation Studio - Jobs. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  52. ^ Terry Flores (4 April 2017). "'Invader Zim' Aims to Conquer Earth Again in Nickelodeon Animated TV Movie". Variety. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  53. ^ "Rikki Simons, GIR, talks Invader Zim Movie at GCFF". YouTube. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.

External links[edit]