Heartwarming / Invader Zim

"The major tenants of the show are sarcasm, cruelty and violence. Affection and warm, fuzzy things, anything that would inspire "Awwww!" ...it's not in the show!"
Jhonen Vasquez on why this page really shouldn't exist

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     The Show 
  • Walk of Doom. After Gir strands the two of them by replacing his guidance chip with a cupcake, Zim stars screaming at him... until he sees poor Gir in tears and, in a brief moment of humility, realizes that getting mad at him won't solve their problem and accepts his apology. Subverted, though, in that Gir was just sad that his cupcake was gone.
    • Pretty much any time Zim is ever nice to anybody.
    • A lot of Zim's CMOH seem to relate to Gir, for instance: "I already promised the moon to GIR."
      • Not to mention Zim telling Gir "please" that one time.
      • And then there's Gir's obvious affection for Zim, like in "Germs": "Aww, somebody needs a hug!"
    • Not to mention his line in the Halloween episode: "I only hope poor GIR is alright by himself...against those zombies!" The fact that he's a supposedly self-centered and unfeeling alien who actually really cares about his defective little robot, well...awww.
    • In an unfinished episode, Zim reacts to GIR appearing to have been turned... Well, you know, just listen to it. This short scene is also a bit of a Tear Jerker.
    • One of the earliest examples is in Battle Of The Planets, when Zim sends Gir to stop Dib. "Maybe that little robot isn't such a bad evil minion after all..."
  • The unfinished episode, Mopiness of Doom. In a nutshell, Dib and Zim realize how much they need their rivalry. It ends with them shouting insults and death threats at one another, both as happy as can be.
    • From the same episode, Gaz shows some serious concern for Dib when he quits paranormal studies in favor of "real" science (which makes him bored and miserable but keeps him from being a social outcast). She even tries to lure him back by bringing up th Vampire Doughnut special airing on TV that night, something which would normally interest him. To her, his new behavior "isn't right" and upsets the natural balance; the shift back to status quo at the end sees her saying contentedly, "All is right with the world again. ... stupid world." When you consider that she normally finds his "paranormal stupidity" profoundly irritating, it's quite interesting that for her, the rightful balance of things apparently involves Dib being true to himself and doing what he really loves.
    • Zim's startlingly emotional and human reaction to Dib's return, full stop. Directly from the script (greatly aided in the recording by a particularly teary delivery from Richard Horovitz):
    ZIM (IN A DAZE): (gasps) Dib, is that you? Is it really you? You're back to your old self?
    ZIM: You have no idea how happy that makes me, you revolting little worm!
  • When Dib actually finds competent help from Nasaplace's janitor in "Battle of the Planets"...
    Dib: Why would you help me? Nobody ever helps me!
    Darkbooty: Let's just say my eyes are swollen!
  • Being a fan of Big Brother Instinct, this troper found Dib's mercilessly one-sided compassion for his sister in "Gaz, Taster of Pork" almost unnaturally endearing, considering how the show usually is. Not only did he go to incredible lengths to help her remove the curse, but he was also literally begging Shadow Hog to take the "punishment" for "failing" the trial on himself instead of her and fighting tooth-and-nail to get inside the fortress to help her. I mean, sure, part of it was to save his own skin after she threatened him, but it's clear the safety and well-being of his sister was his first priority.
    "Let me through! That's my little sister in there! There's no way she can stand up to that giant pig thing!"
    • From that same episode, Dim and Gaz walking home hand-in-hand.
  • I always found Zim as a smeet saying "I love you cold unfeeling robot arm" strangely heartwarming.
  • Now, we know Zim as, basically, a total jerkass. But then somebody created this post on their blog and it makes you think that maybe he isn't as bad as we think.
  • "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy" was a particularly cold-blooded episode in which Zim's time travel machine keeps making Dib have debilitating accidents years before they'll even meet—by the time he's eight, he's got an oxygen tank, liverspots, a mechanical claw for a hand, lethargic, brain damage... and then Zim goes all the way and KILLS HIM... so Professor Membrane brings Dib back to life with a Humongous Mecha powersuit so that he can't be injured ever again! Given his normal treatment of his "insane" son, that's probably the nicest thing we've ever seen him do for the boy. Who cares if it's an alternate timeline? It's still sweet to see.
    • That same timeline also had a Gaz who, while not even close to the "sweet little sister" stereotype, was just a little less evil to Dib. Explained the accidents right away, sounded a bit concerned when he didn't automatically remember... for her, that's downright affectionate. Pummeled!Dib's life may have been filled with horrible accidents and rubber piggies, but at least his family cared for him a bit.
    • This together with the attention Membrane gave to curing Gaz in "Gaz, Taster of Pork" makes one realize: for all his flaws as a parent, you really have to give the Professor credit for one thing—the minute one of his kids has a medical need, he drops everything and devotes his time to helping them.
  • Gaz cares so much about spending time with her dad that she goes out of her way to save Dib from being experimented on by Zim. Not because she cares about Dib, mind you, but because she's afraid that if she brings home Dib as a horrible mutant their dad will cancel dinner.
  • It is kind of admirable that Zim still tries to prove himself as an Invader despite the Tallests' blatant hatred of him.
  • Despite all the crap Zim puts him through, Keef never gives up on his mission to be his friend or loses his cheerful demeanor.
  • Dib stargazing at the end of "Tak, The Hideous New Girl," saying how wonderful it'd be to just "fly up there and see it all." It's a small validation that Dib really isn't just an attention-hungry nut job, he really is fascinated with alien life.
  • Probably the only sincerely nice moment in the entire show is Dib's speech at the end of "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever," where he encouraged everyone to stop buying into the spectacle of Santa and just go home to be with their families. It even works... at least until ZIM, dressed as the Easter Platypus, buys the crowd off with shrimp in exchange for Dib's beating.
  • Any time ZIM and Dib put their differences aside and work together for some greater good. It usually goes about as well as anything anybody else they attempt, but it's good to know they have priorities.
  • In "Future Dib," after Gaz mentions to Prof Membrane that Dib's constant babbling about aliens and whatnot bugs her, he explains that some people like to talk and he'll probably settle down if she just listens to him. If you think about it, that's pretty nice for a guy who claims his son's insane, since instead of agreeing that the blame should be on Dib for annoying Gaz, he kind of stood up for him by saying Dib just has a few quirks and Gaz should try to be more understanding.
  • This exchange between Zim's robot dad and Billy's Amazingly Embarrassing Parents in "Parent Teacher Night."
    Robot Dad: Sports aren't everything, I'm sure your kid'll find something he's good at.
    Billy's Dad: (Warmly) That's true.
  • Though they're usually no nicer to Zim, the kids at skool are often quick to call Dib out for accusing him of being an alien just because he looks different. One of them even sounds genuinely offended.
    "Man, Dib, you think just cuz someone looks different, you can call 'em an alien??"
  • Dib's compassion for his fellow humans. Even though it would be hard to blame him if the only reason he was defending them was to get recognition, it's not the only reason. He really does care.
    • Two notable examples are when he sees Zim offering Nick waffles and thinks he's forcing them on him: "That poor kid!", and this from the Christmas episode:
    Zim: I need to play Santa until I beam humanity to the Tallest as slaves!
    Dib: (trying to be in disguise but lets his horror slip out) Slaves?! That's awful!

     The Comics 
  • For a truly insane yet extraordinary example, the last page of the Nickelodeon Magazine comic: Zim offers Dib to come with him to a planet consisting of giant space bunnies and soda after Zim becomes Earth's overlord and plans to destroy it via killer robots. Dib actually accepts, followed by the last picture being of the two boys doing just that and having the time of their lives. Negated some since it's Esoteric Happy Ending incarnate and was most likely meant as a joke, but the show considered, how this situation could have went, and how much the two have downer endings, Dib especially it still counts.
  • A Meta example. Among the credits for the first issue are the show's voice cast.
  • Gaz helping Dib get back into shape with an awesome guitar solo in the first issue. Though, she does it mostly to make him less of a smelly, unhygienic blob.
  • Professor Membrane, a man who was often very distant from his children in the show, playing video games with Gaz in the comic's first issue.
    • He also cooks dinner for his kids, and he grounds Dib for being gone all night (which, from a parent's respective, is pretty reasonable).
    • Indeed, Jhonen Vasquez himself found Dib's immediate family to be a little too cruel to be funny, and wanted to make them just a little bit nicer in the comics (albeit so that the cruelty would become even funnier).
  • At the end of the second issue, after a long spaceship chase taking them halfway across the universe, Zim asks Dib for a ride "home". Not "back to Earth", or "back to my base", he calls the Earth his home. Though the context ultimately subverts it.
  • At the end of Issue 5, Dib apologizes to Gaz for interrupting her game and he asks if she'd be willing to play video games with him and she accepts both. Unfortunately, this gets subverted since Gaz is a Sore Loser.
    • Given there's no question that Gaz went overboard in obtaining her "justice", just that fact that Dib harbors no ill will towards her after all she put him through and genuinely just wants to be a decent brother to her. That takes a high caliber of bravery/compassion to almost stupidity levels.
  • Issue 8 actually ends with Dib beating Zim's plan with nothing bad happening to him in return. Which doesn't sound like much, until one remembers the kind of crap Dib normally goes through.
    • We also get a brief glimpse of Groyna and her friend Sheather being reunited after they're freed from the space pants.
  • In Issue 9, after all of the ridiculous chores that Zim makes "Derb" do, he decides to reward "Derb" by bringing him to his special place: a miniature galaxy where Zim likes to spend personal time. Gets subverted in that Zim also goes there to destroy the planets and then tries to get "Derb" to do the same.
    • At the comic's end, Dib actually gets one positive comment out of the sea of hate. The commenter does admit they believe the video was fake, but they still said it was their favorite show and that Mothman was awesome.
  • Issue 10 has a cute little space cat that quickly took a liking to Dib, although it turns out to be the snarl beast that Zim was looking for.
    • Taking a look at how the snarl beast was fighting Zim or just being intimidating, one could possibly interpret it as it really trying to protect Dib like a guard dog, or at the very least it never made any real attempt to harm Dib.
  • In Issue 14, Gaz has to keep Dib from going into a depressive state for a certain amount of time in order to prevent him from exploding due to accidentally drinking a substance created by Membrane. It was her fault to begin with since she unknowingly slipped Dib the vile because he was hogging the TV and apparently it was Dib's turn to choose where the family went for dinner night (and of course Bloaty's was selling a pair of multi-pocket shorts that Gaz really wanted), but throughout the comic it's clear her major concern was making sure that Dib didn't explode and only brought up going to Bloaty's about once if any. She pretty much goes all out for this too by having her fellow gamers participate in an elaborate scheme posing as different cryptic creatures in order to make Dib feel like he is great paranormal investigator. And when it turns out that Dib's camera was on the wrong setting and he was afraid Batflaps would call him a fake again, Gaz goes straight to the guy's house and threatens him into giving Dib a good review. Needless to say that not only is Dib still alive by the end of the comic, he is also so grateful to Gaz that he lets her choose the restaurant.
    • While there can still be some debates on the topic of Gaz's overall character, this issue does hammer in an important note Jhonen had intended for her; she is certainly not the nicest person by a long shot (proven by the beginning and ending of the comic), but she will never go as far as to let Dib die despite how much she is annoyed by him.