The whole business with the Megadoomer usually flies over people's heads on the first viewing. Why, that thing couldn't be any stupider if the engineers who designed it had been deliberately trying to undermine it or something! Then those same engineers provide Zim with the Santa technology that runs amok in the Christmas episode, and intentionally give Zim the schematics for the Massive knowing it'll piss off the armada... are we seeing a pattern here? It's always, specifically, Vortian technology — and the Vortians, we learn, used to be Irken allies who were conquered and had their whole planet turned into one gigantic prison. Maybe the Irkens ought to be a bit more wary of technology provided by a race of people who have every reason to hate their guts.
This comes to an in-universe head in "Backseat Drivers From Beyond the Stars," when Zim secretly contacts an imprisoned Vort scientist for help on hacking into the Massive's computer...
Prisoner 777: (Sarcastically hammy tone) "That would be wrong! It'd infuriate the armada! (Suddenly helpful) I helped design that ship, you know. *beat* Here you go!"
In "Attack of the Saucer Morons", Zim criticized the police car for its "defense capabilities" being "minimal". Seconds later, a mere bee collides with the Voot Cruiser and causes it to crash. Zim believed it was an extraordinary bee, but it could just be that his vehicle has poor defenses.
Zim implies that he's older than any human alive, but upon arriving on Earth, he goes to elementary Skool, where he fits in perfectly. I always thought this was explained by him being an insane alien. However, consider his timeline. In the first episode, he shows up uninvited at the Assigning. The Tallests remark that he was banished to Foodcourtia, but Zim tells them that when he heard about the assigning he quit and came right over. Fast forward to "The Frycook What Came From All That Space." Because he is still registered as a fry cook, he is kidnapped and taken to Foodcourtia. Why? The Foodening is about to begin. It lasts 20 years and no one is able to leave Foodcourtia during that time. Zim escaped from Foodcourtia just before the last Foodening. Which means it started right about the time Zim shows up at the Assigning. It took Zim 6 months to reach Earth, and by this episode, he's still in the same class at Skool, so he's likely been on Earth less than a school year. That means over 20 Irken years are equal to just one or two Earth years. By that count, Zim could well think he's older than any human alive, but actually be around Dib's age.
Pretty sure that's been Jossed, with Jhonen Vasquez saying in the DVD commentary that Zim is older than any human alive.
Of course, it could also be that Zim fits in with nine-to-twelve-year-olds... because he IS a nine-to-twelve-year-old biologically. Irkens likely mature at a much slower rate than humans but have longer life-spans. Zim's also from a military (and rather insane and self-destructing) society; military societies tend to put more responsibility in the hands of people we would consider 'children' (in fact, most societies other than late-20th-to-21st-century Western culture do this... possibly indicating that our society is superior... or else a defective product).
In the DVD commentary, Eric Trueheart states that a possible future plot for Dib would have been eventually revealed him as an artificial human created by Membrane, which would make Gaz's attitude towards her brother make perfect sense. She disregards him entirely just as she would any of her father's other insane science projects, because that's exactly what Dib is.
GIR is shown eating something almost every episode. Where exactly does all that food go? He could be one of those biomass-eating robots.
In episode "A Room with a Moose" there is a scene where a possible destination for Dib is a universe of pure itchiness. Sure, that doesn't sound that scary... but read this. Gulp.
In "Career Day" Zim is assigned a future in Food Preparation after taking the assessment. At first it seems like a jab at the idea that instead of being lord of all humans, he's given one of the lowest, most demeaning jobs possible. However, we later learn in "Frycook" that Zim's PAK is still encoded for him to be a frycook. More than a coincidence?
Zim has a surprising amount of Weaksauce Weaknesses to Earthen stuff; water, meat, beans, barbeque sauce, soda and juice all scorch his flesh like acid. It's been stated by Jhonen Vasquez that this is because of how polluted Earth is, but there's another reason that reveals itself over the series. In Parent Teacher Night, it's revealed that Irkens reproduce by mass-cloning irken "smeets" in Uterine Simulators. And the tendency for repeat cloning resulting in genetic degredation is common enough to be its own trope. In Bolognius Maximus, Zim notes his genetic structure is being overwritten by the bologna DNA much faster than Dib's human genes. In other words? Being a member of an all-clone species means Zim's genetically much weaker than a human, who has evolved amidst the increasingly polluted Earth.
Which brings up a brilliant idea as to why Earth's population seems to be so hideously deformed and stupid; negative mutations as a result of evolving to survive in their increasingly toxic environment.
Thus bringing forth the Membrane family.
This troper thought there was no such thing as a negative mutation, in that all creatures evolve positively to fit their surroundings, but some don't evolve enough or fast enough... unless the Creationists are right in their belief that everything (including DNA) is and has always been slowly decaying rather than evolving... in which case this is what humanity is going to look like in another few centuries.
"Ten Minutes to Doom" gives us a revelation that only gets more horrific the more you think about it. The Irkens are nothing more than walking meat shellsfor the real technological brain that's contained in their paks, and their biological processes are so utterly dependent on it that they die if separated from the pak for as much as ten minutes. That couldn't have happened in nature. It would have to be something another sentient race did to them... or they did to themselves. Talk about Body Horror.
What's more, Irken smeets go through gestation and birth before being paired with a PAK. Dib's mind was being taken over when Zim's PAK attached to him. What is an Irken's body before it is given a PAK? Is it a mindless husk, or a creature with its own mind that the PAK overrides and destroys to replace with the PAK's mind?
Can't be. In the episode about parent-teacher conferences, Zim has a flashback about who his parents are. There are no parents, but it shows the pack being fused to his back. And he was perfectly healthy and happy without it. (I think that's the episode.)
Actually, no—Baby!Zim is pulled out of a tube (yeah, apparently all Irkens are cloned) and he falls lifeless on a table, only moving and actually living when the Pak is attached to him and he receives an electric shock. Yikes...
This would mean Zim and all other Irkens are nothing more than robotic personalities stored in the PA Ks that have been given a semi-organic body to control.
Even more horrifying when you consider the true masters of the Irken Empire: the Control Brains. As shown in "The Frycook What Came All The Way From Space" and "Tak: The Hideous New Girl", they make leadership decisions like reprogramming, judging, etc. And what do they look like? Giant PA Ks.
The Tallest even submit to them, making them more like figureheads, not real leaders.
But, then how does the "pig in the head" thing in the time-travel episode (where Zim is replacing Dib's organs with pigs) even affect him? Isn't his brain in his PAK?
Perhaps the instructions from the PAK go directly to the brain and then to the rest of the body. Without the brain, the subject is "disconnected" until the object is removed (letīs say: by the base computer) and the organic brain regenerated (Irkens are shown to be able to regenerate multiple times during the show). If anything it could explain how Zim got out of that one.
"Bestest Friend" has a scene where Zim conducts some weird experiments on three kids to find out which one of them is worthy of being his friend. Considering he tested how well they conducted electricity by shocking them, just what was Zim doing to the kids using that beaver and toy taxi cab?
Word of God said Jhonen originally wanted blood to splatter on the wall during that scene.
In the episode "Plague of Babies", it is shown that the aliens - who look just like human babies - had called their ship for help, asking to be teleported back. But wait, the ship has the wrong coordinates and pulls a room full of human babies to outer-space instead. WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE BABIES?!
In the unfinished episode "Return of Keef" Zim throws some sort of goo on Dib that makes anyone who is happy explode; why would Zim specifically make something that would cause happy people to explode? It's just silly; then, you remember that Zim had a human test subject, Nick, that is always happy because of a happy probe in his brain. Zim probably killed Nick.
Speaking of Nick, in "Zim Eats Waffles", Zim refers to Nick as "Neural Experiment #231". So uh, what happened to the 230 other neural experiments? If they were living things...then...yuck.
"GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff"
When the human with a squid brain (or squid with a human body) returns to the sea, the audience directly realizes 'Oh god, he can't breathe underwater'. Quite a fridge horror on its own, but then GIR happily comments: 'He's gonna get eaten by a shark'.
Watch that scene again. Gir states "He's getting eaten by a shark." As in, with Gir's X-ray vision, he is watching the poor man getting eaten. Alive.
What about the library scene partway through the episode? The guy who gets his RETINAS REMOVED because he had two overdue discs. Does he get them back for returning the discs? How does a library get sanctioned for taking the eyes of patrons with late discs? Who else met such a fate?
Better yet, how can he get them back
The episode "Dark Harvest" was full of Nightmare Fuel already...then you remember what Zim replaces the hall monitor's organ with: a hall-pass. A hall-pass in the form of a metal collar that will explode if you leave school grounds. As soon as that kid starts for home or is sent to a hospital for his horrible stomach pains...ka-boom.
But he shows up unhurt in "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom", so he must have survived somehow.
In "Bloaty's Pizza Hog", Gaz mentions that this is the only time all year she can spend time with her dad, due to him being extremely busy. A Tear Jerker in itself, but could years of Parental Neglect have turned her into what she is?
Considering how stupid everybody is, the only reason the Irkens haven't conquered the Universe yet is that they're also stupid, at least strategically. Can you imagine the Irken Empire with Tak in charge?
Nickelodeon decided that a man who writes extremely graphic and disturbing comic books about a homicidal maniac would be a good choice to create a cartoon for kids. Nickelodeon's channels are watched by millions of children, none of whom are supervised in any form while watching. Think about it...