Invader Zim

Invader Zim
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 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
Producer(s) Monique Beatty
Christine Griswold
Steve Ressel
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Nickelodeon Animation Studio
Distributor Media Blasters
Paramount Television
Original network Nickelodeon (2001–02)
Nicktoons Network (2006)
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
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.

Vasquez pitched Invader Zim to Nickelodeon, who desired a series for their older demographic. As the series went on, ratings declined and budgetary issues became more frequent. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon cancelled the series, leaving several episodes and a planned TV movie series finale unfinished. The show first-ran on Nick from 2001 to 2002, with a handful of second season episodes going unaired; although these episodes were later seen on 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 Annie Awards and a Golden Reel Award; due to its cancellation and subsequent popularity, it is now considered a cult classic.


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), 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[1] during Operation Impending Doom I.[2]

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 centers 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 Membrane (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 various other devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.

Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez

Prior to airing of Invader Zim, Nickelodeon desired a series to suit its "eleven to fifteen year-old" demographic.[3] The network hired alternative comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez to create the series.[4] 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.[4] 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.[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]

A pilot was originally pitched to the channel in 1999,[4][6] which led to the series being greenlit.

Broadcast history

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.[7] In season two, the animation style became slightly more stylized and pronounced in motion than season one.[8] 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,[9] Zune Marketplace and PlayStation Store. In addition, the majority of the show's episodes are available for download on iTunes.[10] The entire series is also available for streaming on Hulu Plus.

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".[11] On December 24, 2011, the series pilot had its television premiere[12] followed by the result of Nicktoons' "Girreatest Zim Moments" online poll.[13] In 2011, Rosearik Rikki Simons was asked by Nickelodeon to do some spin-off shorts starring GIR. Rikki quit production on the shorts because they weren't going anywhere.

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 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, and was replaced with Kevin Manthei to compose the series' music.[14] 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.


Critical reception

Invader Zim was critically acclaimed, winning two awards and nominations for the first episode.[15] The DVD release has also received high scores and positive acclaim.[16][17][18][19] 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.[20]

Awards and nominations

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

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).[23] 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.[25]


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,[26] 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.[27][28]


Home video

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.[29] 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.[30]

Figurines and accessories

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.[31] 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,[32] produced in a limited edition as an exclusive for Hot Topic stores.

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 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.

Comic book series

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 the 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.[33][34]

Issue Release Date Story Art Colors Summary
#1 July 8, 2015[35] Jhonen Vasquez Pencils: Aaron Alexovich
Inks: Megan Lawton
Simon "Hutt" Troussellier Dib discovers Zim has a new evil plan and Zim escapes into space with GIR to complete the plan.
#2 August 19, 2015[36] Eric Trueheart
Jhonen Vasquez
Dib tracks Zim down in space to stop him from using the Gargantis Array before it is too late.
#3 September 16, 2015[37] Eric Trueheart Rikki Simons Zim summons the Star Donkey in an attempt to destroy Earth.
#4 October 21, 2015[38] Mildred Louis The Almighty Tallest send Zim a "secret weapon" and Zim has to charge it by completing a series of tasks.
#5 November 11, 2015[39] Jhonen Vasquez Cassie Kelly Gaz punishes Dib for interrupting her game by forcing him to become a NPC in an alternate universe.
#6 January 6, 2016[40] K.C. Green Savanna Ganucheau Zim goes to the bank to get loans, but things get chaotic after GIR runs off with their disguise's pants.
#7 February 10, 2016[41] Kyle Starks Layouts: Aaron Alexovich
Illustrations: Dave Crosland
Warren Wucinich Zim and GIR crash-land on a planet that evolves at a super fast pace. As giant ladybugs steal Zim's Voot Cruiser, he uses the help of tiny amoebas to get it back.
Invader Who? backup comic
K.C. Green
In this short follow-up comic, Zim tries to erase Dib's memories with one of his machines.
#8 March 23, 2016[42] Eric Trueheart Pencils: Aaron Alexovich
Inks: Megan Lawton
Warren Wucinich Zim teams up with a race of aliens (which bear a strong physical resemblance to pants) to brainwash every single person on Earth. Dib, one of the only two not to be possessed by the alien "pants", must save the day.
NOTE: This comic's premise was taken from the unproduced season 2 episode "When Pants Ruled!".
#9 May 4, 2016[43] Eric Trueheart
Jhonen Vasquez
Dave Crosland J. R. Goldberg Dib disguises himself as Zim's intern in order to catch him on video and prove to the Internet that Zim is an alien.
#10 June 8, 2016 Dennis Hopeless
Jessie Hopeless
Dave Crosland Warren Wucinich Zim seeks out a dangerous alien predator in order to dominate the Skool children.
#11 July 6, 2016[44] Sarah Andersen Katy Farina When GIR brings home a flea-ridden stray cat, Zim is furious, until he finds out what the cat does to Dib.
#12 August 10, 2016 Eric Trueheart Layouts: Aaron Alexovich
Illustrations: Warren Wucinich
Fred C. Stresing Zim and Dib are accidentally slingshotted into a future where Zim now rules the world.
"Invasion!" backup comic
Dave Crosland
In this short follow-up comic, Zim's invasion of Earth is reinterpreted as a horror movie.
#13 September 21, 2016 Eric Trueheart Warren Wucinich Fred C. Stresing Dib is abducted by aliens who think that he's Zim's best friend.
"The Sweat Spot" backup comic
Jarrett Williams
In this follow-up comic, Zim steals sweat from gym patrons to use as a fuel source.
#14 October 19, 2016 Eric Trueheart Warren Wucinich Fred C. Stresing Gaz helps Dib hunt paranormal creatures in order to keep him happy, so that a formula he drank doesn't make him explode.
"Ghost Aggressors" backup comic
Megan Lawton
In this brief follow-up comic, Dib investigates a haunted house.
Volume Date Collects ISBN Notes
1 January 27, 2016 Issues 1–5 ISBN 9781620102930 [45]
2 July 27, 2016 Issues 6–10 ISBN 9781620103364 [46]


  1. "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!
  2. "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.
  3. "Nickelodeon Cans INVADER ZIM". 18 January 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  4. 1 2 3 Tierney, Adam (2004-09-01). "An Interview with Jhonen Vasquez and Rikki Simons (page 1)". Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  5. 1 2 Shattuck, Kathryn (2001-03-25). "Fishbowl Fairies and an Alien in Exile". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  6. Vasquez, Jhonen (2004). Invader Zim volume 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Pilot" (DVD). Media Blasters.
  8. Patrizio, Andy (2004-10-27). "Invader Zim: Horrible Holiday Cheer (Volume 3) review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  9. "Invader ZIM to be on the XBOX Live marketplace" (Press release). Microsoft. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  10. "Invader ZIM comes to iTunes". 2006-06-20. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  11. Vasquez, Jhonen (17 September 2010). "Don't cry for ZIM, he was already dead.". Mindspill. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  12. Nickelodeon's full holiday programming and previews for 2011 - Monsters and Critics
  13. Girreatest Zim Moments Ranking Game | Play Cartoon Games | Nicktoons Games
  14. "Variations on a ZIM Theme. Mindspill April 28, 2009. Retrieved on June 18, 2009.
  15. Awards for Invader Zim at the Internet Movie Database
  16. "Science Fiction Movie and TV Reviews". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  17. "DVD REVIEW: 'Progressive Stupidity' Amusing for the In-Crowd - Latest Invader Zim DVDs a Must-Have for Fans - The Tech". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  18. Andy Patrizio. "IGN: Invader Zim Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer Review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  19. "OAFE - Invader Zim: DVD box set review". Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  20. Top 10 Best Cartoons That Got Cancelled - YouTube
  21. ""Invader ZIM" (2001) - Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
  22. Feitwell, Jill (2001-08-13). "Emmy voices its winners". Variety. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  23. 1 2 "29th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners". ASIFA-Hollywood. 2001. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  24. "Nickelodeon Awards". Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  25. "49th Golden Reel Awards Nominees Announced". 2002-02-28. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  26. InvaderCON II: DOOMCON to Bring Invader ZIM Creator Jhonen Vasquez to Torrance in July, 2012
  27. F.A.Q. | InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM | Summer of 2014 in Austin, Texas
  28. Aaron Alexovich added as a Guest to InvaderCON II: DOOMCON! | InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM | Summer of 2014 in Austin, Texas
  29. Invader Zim on DVD
  30. "Operation Doom".
  31. "Changes at Palisades Toy". February 1, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  32. "INVADER ZIM POP! TELEVISION GIR VINYL FIGURE". Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  33. "Invader Zim is Coming Back in a New Comic-Book Series". Kotaku. February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  34. Elfring, Mat. "Oni Press Partners with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon for New Invader Zim Comic". ComicVine. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  35. "Invader Zim #1". Comixology.
  36. "Invader Zim #2". Comixology.
  37. "Invader Zim #3". Comixology.
  38. "Invader Zim #4". Comixology.
  39. "Invader Zim #5". Comixology.
  40. "Invader Zim #6". Comixology.

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