Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Invader Zim was a 2001 animated television series created by comic book writer/artist Jhonen Vasquez and aired on Nickelodeon. Its sophisticated, anime-influenced animation, quirky humour, and a dark, cynical style combined to give it a small but devoted cult following, particularly among relatively older viewers outside of the normal Nickelodeon viewer base. Disappointed that its relatively poor ratings did not justify high production costs, Nickelodeon initially cancelled the show. Production was reinstated after intense pressure from fans, and then cancelled, resumed and cancelled once more. In all, one and a half seasons of Invader Zim were made (the second being incomplete). It was first transmitted in March 2001. Invader Zim DVD compilations have been released by Media Blasters after much request by fans.
Zim is a member of the mighty Irken race, a species of aliens whose social hierarchy is based on height. The Irken head of state is The Almighty Tallest (during the course of the show leadership of the Irken state is shared by two beings, The Almighty Tallest, who are exactly the same height). Zim was banished to the planet Foodcourtia to fry things for the remainder of his life for destroying a sizeable portion of an Irken city with a giant robot. The robot was part of Operation Impending Doom I, a major galactic conquest venture by the Irkens. Zim was overeager and activated his robot before leaving his home planet.
Upon hearing of Operation Impending Doom II, Zim "quits" being banished and races to the Great Assigning where Irken Elite soldiers are chosen to become Invaders 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 out of their hair (used figuratively—Irkens have no visible hair), assign him to a Mystery Planet (or alternatively a random point in space), which turns out to be Earth.
The show features the exploits of Zim trying to conquer the Earth while his arch-nemesis Dib tries to stop him.
In a Nickelodeon Magazine Special, there was a short 4 page comic of "Invader Zim" that ended the series with Zim taking over the world while Dib wasn't looking, then inviting Dib to go into space with him and ride giant alien bunnies. But another possible ending would end up with Zim failing to take over the world in the episode "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", which was the last episode made of the series, where we see 2 million years into the future and the humans are not conquered or destroyed.
Characters and notable groups
A short, green alien from the planet Irk. He is trying to conquer the Earth, and is generally unsuccessful. He has a penchant for being over-dramatic, saying phrases like "I AM ZIM!" and "Silence!", and uses ridiculously excessive and elaborate plans to conquer the planet when he obviously has the resources to do so much more efficiently. ZIM's usual disguise consists of some contact lenses and a wig, leaving his green skin clearly visible. He's been known to wear other costumes as well, including an old man disguise and a bear suit. He also owns a high-tech back pack which contains his life support systems and brain. Should it be removed he would die in about 10 minutes. An episode was meant to be made showing this, and would have been the last episode aired, but Nickelodeon didn't allow this, just in case they wanted to bring the series back.
See Zim (Invader Zim character) for more!
Zim is voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz.
A psychotic, stupid robot slave belonging to Zim. He is easily influenced and impossible to fully control. He is a modified SIR (Standard Information Retrieval) unit, although not even he is aware of what the "G" in GIR stands for (several fans think GIR stands for Garbage Idiot Robot). Occasionally he reverts to behaviour expected of a normal SIR unit (during which time his eyes, torso, and wrist spheres change color to red), but this is normally short-lived. He is incapable of focusing his attention on important things for long periods of time and often speaks with no relevant coherent thought in mind. He is often the reason Zim fails in his attempts. His normal disguise is a very shoddy green dog suit. He is infatuated with Earth culture and is a very popular character.
GIR is essentially a hedonist, whose main interests in life are sleeping, dancing, watching TV (in particular, the Angry Monkey show) and eating. He cooks on occasion (goodies like mashed potatoes or waffles with soap), but usually only for himself as Zim finds human food to be disgusting and will probably not eat it. However, by the time "Zim Eats Waffles" was shown, it's now known that Zim has developed an immunity to human food, as he himself is eating the waffles GIR concocts throughout the episode. He appears to eat for the sheer pleasure of doing so as he is a robot and likely does not need food. GIR gets along well with others and his best friend is a pig who is seen on occasion visiting GIR at Zim's house.
In the episode "GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff", Zim tries to lock GIR in red-eyed "Duty Mode" to make him a more efficient (not to mention obedient) servant, but finds that extended lucid periods clue GIR into Zim's overall incompetence. Duty-Mode GIR subsequently goes about trying to eliminate Zim as a threat to the mission. In the end, Zim realizes that a super-intelligent robot that hates him is a larger burden than a stupid robot that loves him, so he reverts GIR back to his former, normal self.
It is important to note that GIR is a "custom" SIR only in that he was haphazardly put together out of trash by the Tallest, to prevent the waste of a good, working unit on Zim. To everyone's surprise, GIR actually boots, and is technically functional. Ironically, as seen in the episode discussed above, it is possible that a normal SIR unit would have become as rebellious as "Duty Mode GIR".
It is also worth noting that the GBA game "Nicktoons: Freeze Frame Frenzy" does refers to "GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff": Zim mentions that "using GIR's code was a really bad idea" when confronting his Helga robot (whom, just like all of his other robotic dopplegangers in the game, went rebellious ala Duty Mode GIR), probably implying that non-SIR robots could possibly go rebellious with GIR's programming.
GIR is voiced by Rosearik Rikki Simons .
A member of ZIM's class at the school Zim attends to maintain his cover. Dib has been obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural since an early age. An avid cryptozoologist, Dib is often criticized by his classmates for being "crazy" or mentally unstable due to his outlandish theories. He is the only person capable of seeing through Zim's disguise and makes it clear since his introduction that he will live to stop Zim at every turn. However, a number of episodes have seen Dib and Zim teaming up in order to fight some mutual threat.
If the series had continued, Dib would have been revealed as a horrible experiment of some sort by his father, Professor Membrane.
See Dib (Invader Zim character) for more!
Dib is voiced by Andy Berman.
Gaz is Dib's younger, creepy, antisocial sister. She has a penchant for video games, pizza, and striking terror into the hearts of her enemies. She seems to know that Zim is an alien, but doesn't care about his trying to take over the world because "...he's so bad at it." She had an episode dedicated to her called "Game Slave 2". In this episode she stalks a kid who bought the last videogame in the store. Zim doesn't appear in this episode.
See Gaz (Invader Zim character) for more!
Gaz is voiced by Melissa Fahn.
World's smartest man, inventor of Super-Toast, and father of Dib and Gaz. He does not believe in aliens or "parascience", and considers his son to be insane, but loves him anyway (in a cold, impersonal fashion). He also loves Gaz, and think she and her brother are "getting along" when Gaz is hurting her brother. He possesses incredible technology and has his own TV show, Probing the Membrane of Science. He hates Santa Claus, and apparently provides the whole planet with electricity, from his base.
See Professor Membrane (Invader Zim character) for more!
Professor Membrane is voiced by Rodger Bumpass.
Teacher of Dib and Zim's class. Devoid of any compassionate emotion, she is a tall, slender aged woman of unknown origin. She displays dark powers, such as the ability to materialize from the shadows. Also seen in Vasquez's earlier Squee! as Tod's teacher. She also seems to transform from a snake-like body, to a normal one, on many occasions. In some early episodes, she has a moustache. As well, she has, on at least one episode, shown a "boot-up" time, taking a few seconds to answer a question as a grinding sound played.
It has been confirmed that Ms. Bitters is not human, but not Irken because she did get lice at the end of the episode "Lice!". She was once a fairy princess until she was shocked with a bugzapper in a flashback in "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom". These may have been lies to horrify the children, as she seems to enjoy doing.
See Miss Bitters (Invader Zim character) for more!
Ms. Bitters is voiced by Lucille Bliss .
A minor character introduced in episode 1 and rarely seen again. He is a child with the head of a 60-something year old man. Voiced by series creator Jhonen Vasquez under the name "Mr. Scolex," as was Zim's computer. Old Kid was inspired by the friendly security guard of the studio where Invader Zim was made who always had something nice to say such as "How y'all doin'?" or "Tuesday today..."
Another minor character who is shown thoughout the series, mostly as the focus of the Angry Monkey TV show, but shown in person during a few episodes such as FBI Warning Of Doom where he is trapped in Slab Rankle's jail for unknown reasons. Nothing else is known about the Angry Monkey.
The Swollen Eyeball Network
A group of conspiracy theorists who have an astonishingly high burden of proof, at least as far as grade-school alien invaders are concerned. Dib is, of course, a member (albeit a junior one, with the alias "Agent Mothman"). Dib spends a fair amount of his time trying to convince the membership of the threat posed by Zim. Dib, for the majority of the series, communicates with them via video-conferencing, where their identities are hidden by poor lighting. Instead, they appear as solid-black figures with somewhat-thick white outlines and solid-red oval discs for eyes, disguised behind nicknames like Agent Nessie or Agent Disembodied-Head. No masking is done for their voices, and their mouths are never seen. Motion is limited to simple actions like shrugs. (Possible anonymity protocols?)
However, Dib makes direct contact with Agent Darkbooty (who turns out to be a janitor for NASA) in the episiode Battle of the Planets. Darkbooty assists Dib, meaning that most likely he saw Zim on the Mars cameras.
The Almighty Tallest
The Irken Empire has a hierarchal class structure, where shorter individuals are both figuratively and literally looked down upon. The tallest Irken born in a specific generation takes command of the Empire as "the Tallest", but since Red and Purple, the two current Tallest, are the exact same height, they share equal (and nigh-supreme) power.
The Tallest are little more than "figureheads" introduced to give the Irken populace something to identify with (and idolize) in the imperium. Presently, they travel around to observe and supervise Operation Impending Doom II in "The Massive", the largest and most powerful ship in the Irken Armada. Its armor is so well-developed that it has survived plunging through the outer layer of a sun, repeated meteor impacts and multiple laser strikes without compromising its critical systems. The Tallest stand in a central dais located in the bow of the ship, surrounded by crew operating at computer terminals (though their systems also have a solid voice interface), with a large panoramic glass screen spanning a good portion of the wall in front of the dais. The only armament ever displayed was a wide laser pulse that fired out of the bow. The side pods contain food and snacks, with the power core located in the central pod. It is capable of teleporting objects, and there is no visible propulsion system of any sort. The Massive was designed by the conquered aliens called the Vortians.
The voice of Almighty Tallest Purple was done by Kevin MacDonald of "Kids in the Hall". The voice of Almighty Tallest Red was done by Wally Wingert , who on Power Rangers in Space provided the voice of Psycho Blue.
The only other military-caste Irken to have visited Earth. Tak's examination on the planet Devastis that would grant her the coveted rank and title of Invader was postponed. Zim, by using the energy cannon of a Maim Bot (a giant assault mech) on a stubborn snack-dispenser, overloaded the power grid for half of the planet, trapping Tak behind an automated door that refused to open.
As her examination venue was one of the areas still receiving power, the tests continued unabated. The Control Brain that handled testing could only find an open slot for Tak for 70 years later, owing to the massive backlog the blackout caused. She was later transferred to a janitorial squad on the planet Dirt. She possesses a customized Irken personal cruiser, a customized SIR unit named "Mimi" disguised as a cat, and a mad plan to accelerate her acquisition of the Invader title involving Earth by pumping out the Earth's core of magma and filling it with snacks, as a gift for the Tallest.
She has purple eyes and a cape of sorts. Her human disguise is a holographic projection upon herself. In this state she has purple hair, earings and a beauty spot. Note that even in her disguise she still has only two fingers and a thumb. Mimi has a holographic projection of a cat whose ears resemble horns, and can flit about in a shadowlike form.
Tak is voiced by Olivia D'Abo.
The Irken Empire
A large interstellar empire of bipedal insectoids that spends its time subjugating lesser races and utilizing their planets for their own needs. Height determines rank in their social hierarchy; the tallest being(s) act(s) as their leader(s). The empire is run from their home planet of Irk, and they have a policy of centralizing all major departments on conquered (or possibly uninhabited) planets. For example, planet Devastis is marked as the prime venue for elite training. Conquered planets are converted into utility locations for use by the empire, such as Foodcourtia or "Parking Structure Planet".
The leaders are leaders in name mostly. The emotionless Control Brains (sentient supercomputers that are the combined intellect, wisdom and consciousness of all Irken ancestors), are the actual movers and shakers of their nation. It is also interesting to note that it is revealed that most Irken technology (or at least the Massive) was adapted from conquered species like the Vortians, and not created by the Irkens themselves.
Invader Skoodge was shown in the first episode as being the shortest, fattest Invader, and in a culture that idolizes height, was at an instant disadvantage. In scorn of his stature, the Tallest sent him to invade Planet Blorch "home of the Slaughtering Rat People". Expecting his demise, the Tallest were greatly surpised by Skoodge being not only able to successfully take the planet, but to be the first Invader to do so in the entire operation. To present a more suitable figurehead of the Irken fleet, Skoodge is fired from a cannon into the planet he conquered. A taller, random Irken civilian was dubbed Invader Skoodge, and paraded in front of the cameras. Skoodge apparently was to be a very big influence on seasons two and three (if it wasn't cancelled). He was to be hiding from the Tallest in Zim's basement and was later to be in many future episodes such as "Day of Da Spookies".
Dog (of Madness/with Meat)
A small, chihuahua-like dog with stitches and a strange right eyeball, somehow appears in almost every episode created (The original idea was to include the Madness Dog in every episode, but they never got around to it). Everybody, especially Zim, seems to greatly fear this dog and shriek in horror when it is spotted.
This character does not formally have a name, but can be called the dog of madness because Zim usually screams "madness!" at the sight of the dog. However, in the episode Walk For Your Lives, he yelled "Dog with Meat, DOG WITH MEAT!".
The Dog would seem to be a indirect reference to Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, as Johnny remarks that he encountered a Chihuahua and had a similar reaction to it as Zim.
A tiny, rounded moose figure, present as Zim's second helper (apart from Gir) in one episode only. In "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", Zim explains that Mini Moose is his sidekick, and that he's always been there, which caused confusion. However, unfinished scripts show he was supposed to debut in the unproduced third season episode, "Nubs of Doom". Mini Moose is freakishly adorable, and the fact that it's a moose may be the randomness value, and the episode A Room With A Moose.
References and "inside jokes"
Fans of Vasquez's pre-Zim comic books will instantly identify Zim as "his" work; the show is suffused with the same highly-developed visual style and unique sense of humor that are showcased in series like Squee! and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Furthermore, some characters—such as schoolteacher Miss Bitters—are direct adaptations of similar characters seen in those two series, and even some of Vasquez's lesser known characters and symbols (like Filler Bunny, the "Z?" logo, Devi's doll, or the moron aliens from Squee #1) have cameo appearances. Also appearing in cameos are Vasquez himself and many members of the show's cast/crew (e.g. director/producer Steve Ressel).
Recurring gags include frequent references to meat (of various types), pigs, squirrels, moose, and doom. The show also makes occasional references to classic works of horror or science fiction, ranging from Dawn of the Dead to Fantastic Voyage.
Due to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, several episodes were edited to remove material which, at the time, might have been considered in poor taste. Those episodes include "Walk For Your Lives" (the explosion was changed from red to green), "Door to Door" (the VMU helmet sequence is completely different), "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars", "The Girl Who Cried Gnome" and the majority of season 2.
However, in the case of "Door to Door" when the episode first aired, Nickelodeon accidentally showed the uncut VMU helmet sequence. This version showed a flaming city with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
- Pilot (Food Fight)
- The Nightmare Begins
- Parent Teacher Night / Walk of Doom
- Bestest Friend / NanoZim
- Germs / Dark Harvest
- Attack of the Saucer Morons / The Wettening
- Career Day / Battle-Dib
- A Room With a Moose / Hamstergeddon
- Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain / Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy
- Planet Jackers / Rise of the Zitboy
- Plague of Babies / Bloaty's Pizza Hog
- Bolognius Maximus / Game Slave 2
- Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom
- Mysterious Mysteries / Future Dib
- Door to Door / FBI Warning of Doom
- Battle of the Planets
- Abducted / The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot
- Megadoomer / Lice
- Tak: The Hideous New Girl
- Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom / GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff
- Hobo 13 / Walk for Your Lives
Note: "Mysterious Mysteries / Future Dib" to "HOBO 13 / Walk For Your Lives" were produced as part of season 1, therefore, they are listed as part of season 1, not 2. In Season 2, the animation style is slightly different than season 1.
- The Most Horrible X-mas Ever
- Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars
- Mortos Der Soulstealer / Zim Eats Waffles
- The Girl Who Cried Gnome / Dibship Rising
- Vindicated! / The Voting of the Doomed
- Gaz, Taster of Pork
- The Frycook What Came from All That Space
- Roboparents Gone Wild
- Simon Sez Doom
- Invader Poonchy
- Nubs of Doom
- Top of the Line
- Return of Keef
- GIR's Big Day
- Mopiness of Doom
- The Trial
- Day of Da Spookies
- Ten Minutes to Doom
- It Feeds on Noodles
- Squishy: Hugger of Worlds
- [ untitled (1) ]
- [ untitled (2) ]
Four more episode outlines exist, but in such an unadvanced state that the titles were never decided on by the time the series was cancelled. These include a two-part finale in which Dib was to fight the Irken Armada by going to the aid of the planet Meekrob (assigned to Invader Tenn).
There were also plans for a TV movie special, Invader Dib, which would carry on from the finale.
In May 2004 Nickelodeon and Media Blasters finally released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection. Titled "Volume 1: Doom Doom Doom", the two disc set includes nine half-hour episodes (most of which are comprised of 2 quarter-hour sub-episodes):
- 1. The Nightmare Begins
- 2A. Bestest Friend; 2B. NanoZim
- 3A. Parent Teacher Night; 3B. Walk of Doom
- 4A. Germs; 4B. Dark Harvest
- 5A. Attack of the Saucer Morons; 5B. The Wettening
- 6A. Career Day; 6B. Battle-Dib
- 7A. Planet Jackers; 7B. Rise of the Zitboy
- 8A. Invasion of the Idiot Dog Brain; 8B. Bad, bad Rubber Piggy
- 9A. A Room with a Moose; 9B. Hamstergeddon
Note on episode numbers/order: the information above was obtained from the DVD itself and does not necessarily reflect the original order of airing. If you can reconcile or positively identify discrepencies, consider merging the DVD episode list with the full episode listing above.
The DVD collection includes numerous "extras" such as the Zim pilot episode and alternate audio tracks with commentary by series creator Vasquez and various cast/crew.
Within weeks of its initial availability, Invader Zim Volume 1 became one of the top 100 currently selling items on popular online retailer Amazon.com, giving fans hope that Volume 2 would be released with minimal delay.
The second volume is titled "Volume 2: Progressive Stupidity", and like Volume 1 contains two discs (titled discs 3 and 4). The episodes included are:
- 10A. Plague of Babies; 10B. Bloaty's Pizza Hog
- 11A. Door to Door; 11B. FBI Warning of Doom
- 12A. Bolognius Maximus; 12B. Game Slave 2
- 13. Battle of the Planets
- 14. Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom
- 15A. Mysterious Mysteries; 15B. Future Dib
- 16A. Hobo 13; 16B. Walk For Your Lives
- 17A. Megadoomer; 17B. Lice
- 18A. Abducted; 18B. The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot
The third volume is titled "Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer", contains discs 5 and 6 of the set, and includes the following episodes:
- 19A. GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff; 19B. Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom
- 20. TAK: the Hideous New Girl
- 21. Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars
- 22A. Mortos Der Soulstealer;
- ZIM Eats Waffles
- The Girl Who Cried Gnome
- Dibship Rising
- The Voting of the Doomed
- Gaz, Taster of Pork
- The Frycook What Came from All That Space
- The Most Horrible X-mas Ever
The DVD sets have animatics, apparently accurate Irken subtitles, and digitally restored and remastered picture and sound. They also include commentary with the actors, writers, and the production staff.
The episode "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever" was falsely advertised as being the uncut version on the DVD box, but instead showed the same version that was shown on Nickelodeon. However, when the cast and crew did the commentary for the episode, they were watching the uncut version. Apparently we have learned this was a mistake, and a minidisk is in the works that contains the unedited version.
A boxed set has recently been released. The box is in the shape of Zim's house. The door opens to reveal the DVDs, while the top opens to reveal a GIR Combat Mode Miniature. An extra disk is also included with extra content. You will be able to order the box with and without the other disks, so that if you already own all of the DVDs you don't have to pay for the entire series all over again.
Attempts to put Zim back in production
If the DVDs sell well enough, Zim very well could be put back into production. However, key staff members such as Steve Ressel and Jhonen Vasquez have stated that they no longer wish to work on the show.
An attempt to recreate Zim is being done by fans at the IZFAS , or the Invader ZIM Fan Animated Series .
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