YMMV / Invader Zim

  • Accidental Innuendo: "The Dib! The Dib! I don't care how delicious he is, he's evil!"
    • "Gaz, taste me! I'm delicious!"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Zim, Dib, Gaz, Prof. Membrane and almost every Jhonen Vasquez character. They have too much psychological complexity.
    • Are the people of earth Too Dumb to Live or has Dib cried wolf so many times that they refuse to believe anything he says no matter how obvious it is?
    • When Dib writes his personality into an Irken ship, once it stops rampaging in confusion it kills itself, suggesting Dib might hate himself as much as everyone else does or even more.
    • GIR. Yes, even the simplest character on the show has an ACI, and what's more is that it's likely canon going by the events of "GIR Goes Crazy And Stuff"; Is GIR's "normal" self genuinely happy and unaware/unconcerned with its insanity? Or is there actually a tortured SIR unit's mind in there that recognizes it's malfunctioning at all times, but simply can't control itself?
  • Author's Saving Throw: Jhonen Vasquez apparently shares a section of the fanbase's opinion that Gaz was a Flat Character, and is attempting to rectify this in the comics by giving her a considerable rewrite to make a more rounded and dynamic Annoying Younger Sibling character than she was in the actual series.
  • Base Breaker: Gaz isn't universally despised, but the people who do dislike her tend to do so quite strongly. To her fans she's a funny, tough, scary but badass force of nature everyone on the show thinks twice about crossing. On the contrary, detractors see her as a selfish, cruel, vindictive hypocrite who lashes out violently over the smallest things without any sense of responsibility or remorse and always gets away with it.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • In "The Girl Who Cried Gnome" there was an incident where Zim let loose a "Robot Gopher" to get rid of a girl scout that had wandered up to his front door selling cookies. After burrowing underground and trapping the girl's foot in a hole the Gopher proceeds to dance with her and then launch itself into a swirling vortex leading to another dimension.
    Zim: "I don't remember programming that..."
    • In "Gaz, Taster of Pork," Dib goes to MacMeaties and talks with a hobo. But wait for it... he spontaneously kidnaps a poor guy eating there. We never see the hobo again.
    • And then there's that Ham Demon in the Tak episode. Shows up for one scene, fights Zim, never mentioned again.
      • Actually, Zim does mention it later, saying he got some important photos from it.
      • It turns out it was actually a joke on what characters could be doing during a commercial break.
    • The infamous dancing skeletons in top hats from the Halloween special.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Professor Membrane, so very much. He has a switch that restores power to the entire earth, flies and shoots energy blasts when excited, builds and refuses to use a perpetual energy device on a whim, etc.
    • Dib and Zim piloting Mercury and Mars, respectively, as ships in a space battle for the continued existence of mankind.
    • GIR is made of Crazy Awesome.
  • Creator's Favorite: Dib was said to be Jhonen Vasquez's favorite character, and he is generally very well liked by the fandom but isn't nearly as recognized as GIR.
    • However, this being Jhonen Vasquez, "favorite character" might also translate into "favorite character to torture".
    • Based on recent interviews, it now seems as though he has a (more positive) favoring towards Gaz, referring to her as the character he'd most prefer to spend time (partially since they both find Dib and Zim to be awful).
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The whole damn show crosses the line like it wasn't even there.
    GIR: Puppies!
  • Cult Classic: It's been cancelled 10 years and still gets decent money from merchandise. Not to mention the huge, still-alive fanbase.
    • Just to drive the point home: to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the show's debut, fans recently held the first "Invader Con", which is exactly what it sounds like - an entire convention dedicated to the show featuring several of the voice actors as guests.
    • The continuous demand for the series' return has finally been answered via revival comic series. Nuff' said.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Given how massively bleak the world is, and the constant failures of the protagonists, it's possible Jhonen invoked this on purpose (and for good reason).
  • Designated Villain: Sizz-lorr, who only does his job and retrieves Zim to give him the punishment he deserves for fleeing the Irken authorities. What the show tries to do to make him look like the Big Bad of the episode is his Evil Laugh and his super accuracy of keeping Zim from finding any escape routes.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Zim does get a lot of this. See Misaimed Fandom, below.
  • Ear Worm:
    • The Doom Song.
    • Not to mention, "Bow down, bow down, before the power of Santa, or be crushed, be crushed, BYYYYYYYYYYY his jolly boots of doom..."
    • And the theme song! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo...
    • The credits theme can get stuck into your head as well.
    • "BLOATY'S PIZZA HOG, BLOATY'S PIZZA HOG..."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Tak's only in one episode (and an unrecovered script), but in fanfic she often gets billing as a main character. She is the only significant female Irken. Counselor Dwicky from "Vindicated" is similarly popular.
    • GIR is popular to an absolutely absurd degree. To go by merchandising, not only is he the most popular character in the show, his popularity might actually exceed the show's, as people have been known to buy GIR memorabilia despite having never seen Invader Zim. As the creators themselves put it, "America loves GIR!"
    • Keef and Gretchen also have become rather popular. Albeit not the level of Tak and Dwicky.
    • The show itself could be thought of as one on a larger scale. It got canned ten years ago and only lasted for a season and a half, but it's one of the most popular Nickelodeon shows of all time.
    • Despite her fairly minor role, Invader Tenn has a bit of fanart.
    • Tallest Miyuki is another fanart favorite, and her debut episode never even got made.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Zim, Tak, and most of the Irken species. In Fan-Art at least...
  • Fandom Berserk Button: The issue of "Vort" v "Vortians". Technically, only the former is in the actual show. "Vortian" did show up in an unproduced script, but it's possible that was just a mistake that was overlooked. It's also possible that both are considered fine. But there are some purists on the issue of "Vort" being the only acceptable term.
    • The first issue of the new comic has Zim call prisoner 777 "Vortian." It seems both versions are canon.
  • Fanon: Fan depictions of Professor Membrane's wife (if he has one) usually depict her as looking like Gaz to explain why Dib resembles their father but Gaz does not.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: "Gaz: Taster of Pork" gets this treatment quite a bit, due to the Idiot Plot and both Dib and Gaz acting out of character.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: ZADR is an interesting case as it is both the most popular/common pairing in the fandom (stories and fan art tending to outnumber most of the other pairings combined) yet it's also the most despised pairing. A more classic example might be ZAGR, which even though close but not as common tends to cause a bit less ire.
    • ZAGR is also believed to have had a real chance at becoming canon. Refer to Shipping below.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Mostly fanon ZADR, with Zim and Dib's unhealthy (and borderline-sadomasochistic) obsession with each other being one of the main fuel sources.
      • "Mopiness of Doom", though never animated, was full of this. Complete with them showing signs of severe co-dependence on one another (especially Zim...though Dib reacts nearly the same in Comic Issue 1).
      • Taken Up to Eleven For the Lulz when the voice actors performed "Mopiness of Doom" with puppets during Invader Con I, in which Richard and Andy had Puppet!Zim and Puppet!Dib make out after they reunited. The two even complied to love confession requests ("Dib" fully confessing while "Zim" chickened out/wasn't going to lie (though "Zim" initiated the aforementioned make out).
      • Some fans also like to point out how Zim and Dib never miss an opportunity to try and prove themselves the better of the two, along with the idea that they're pretty much the only people in each others' lives who care about the other at all (at least compared to everyone else). Them being kind of Not So Different also doesn't help.
      • Then there's also Dib's decision to try using handcuffs on Zim in the very first episode...handcuffs that supposedly render aliens unconscious. There was also a little piece of dialogue from the pilot that came of as a tad flirty.
    • Sort of gets a look in the series with Dib and Tak, as he was stated to like her (though he may have meant platonically) and offered her some of the valentines given to him by Gretchen. She, of course, is a ruthless and competent female Irken who shares his hatred for Zim (if not exceeds it) but is planning to conquer/destroy Earth herself as part of her plan to discredit Zim. However, she only showed up in one episode and Dib seemed to lose any attraction to her after discovering she is also an alien invader.
    • Also, according to some, the Tallests. Although nobody knows what exactly their relationship entails...
  • Fountain of Memes: The whole show, but just about every word that comes out of GIR's mouth is memetic.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Currently seems to be the case with Steven Universe, especially with the fact that Rebecca Sugar is a big fan of IZ (not to mention having wrote fan fics for it) and a lot of similarities have been drawn between Zim and Peridot. However, the IZ fandom has gotten annoyed at times with the sheer amount of Peridot pictures being uploaded in the tags.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Unsurprisingly
    • "Dark Harvest" gives us the sound of a pigeon cooing - warning you that Zim is nearby and is going to try and steal your organs, replacing them with something else...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In one episode, Zim catches Dib sneaking around his house in a squirrel disguise. After Dib runs off, Zim yells a parting insult to him, calling him "Squirrel boy!" Several years later, Zim's voice actor would go on to voice the titular character in the series Squirrel Boy.
    • This, when you consider the internet meme involving trollface an "u jelly?"
      Dib: You're just jealous...
      Zim: This has nothing to do with jelly!
    • Pretty much everything, if you've played Psychonauts. A short, goggle-wearing character voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz, dealing with a paranoid security guard, wearing goggles, enjoys setting things on fire, and screaming about meat? There's also Zim trying to justify his green skin with "a skin condition" and Psychonauts' cast featuring several green, blue, and purple-skinned characters.
    • Almighty Tallest Purple was voiced by Kevin McDonald. A year later, he would be voicing another wacky alien in a science fiction story.
    • Zim's species' skin seems to burn by water. One year later Signs comes out.
  • Hype Backlash: As it is with everything popular, there's always a couple of people who think the show is overrated.
    • The most common accusation is that fans of Zim are all hyperactive "I'm so random" 12-year olds who only like the show for Gir. This certainly isn't true - there are many other older, more mature fans out there who appreciate the show for its Black Comedy, social satire and manic absurdist style. And Gir.
  • Internet Backdraft: And how. Operation Head Pigeons was first started on Facebook, and still remains a group as Operation Head Pigeons 2.0. Nickelodeon says that they've never seen a fanbase as hardworking as them. They've most likely triggered a DVD release, and through whatever miracle, possibly could revive the show. (Though this idea seems to be on the backburner now.)
  • Iron Woobie: With all of the crap thrown at him yet willing to persevere, Dib certainly qualifies.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Zim can be seen as this, in a way - he is, after all, mentally ill and very unstable, and he genuinely wants to please his superiors. His manic egotism and megalomania can almost seem like a defense mechanism. This doesn't excuse him for his actions, but it is easy to understand the implications behind his behavior.
    • Dib for some more, though he'd be easier to argue as a regular Woobie.
    • Gaz can count as this depending on your interpretation. See Alternative Character Interpretation.
    • Tak. Because that moron Zim ruined her chances of any respect from the Tallest, she gets treated horribly as a result.
    • Sizz-Lorr. He merely does his job as the Frylord and was left with all the dirty job because Zim decided to flee to get to the Mission Impending Doom II ceremony.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Tak and occasionally, Zim.
    • Gaz.
  • Memetic Mutation: Oh, where to even START?
    • "I have a MIGHTY NEED!"
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Some of Zim's fans have the tendency to play him up as The Woobie while entirely glossing over the whole "Kill All Humans" thing. Rather than an unstable loose cannon who often fails due to a tendency to shoot himself in the foot, he's depicted as intentionally harmless. On occasion Mary Sue has been known to help Zim on his mission to conquer the Earth.
    • The larger Irken Empire often gets this treatment too, perhaps on the basis that Evil Is Cool.
    • Jhonen pretty much said at Invader Con II that anyone who sees the show as more than "sarcasm, cruelty, and violence" is pretty much "watching the show wrong."
  • Moe: Of all the characters, Gir is probably the one who manages this the most.
    • Also, the imprisoned alien in "Abducted!"
    • Heck, even Zim and Dib can manage to be this on occasion, especially of the Adorkable kind.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Zim's attempted murder of Dib in "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy" does it for some. It's not really the worst behavior he's ever demonstrated, but the rapt, gleefully anticipatory look on his face as he watches the life go out of Dib's eyes — with accompanying flatline beep — is creepy on a personal level that he doesn't often reach.
      • Others can say when in Hobo 13, Zim sacrificed everyone on his team to advance himself to the fortress of pain.
    • Arguably, Gaz in "Dibship Rising", when she used a device to try wiping out all mankind.
      • In "Ten Minutes to Doom", with the help of Zim, she went after Dib, not because Zim was dying, but because she believed that Dib stole her video game (even though it was really Zim).
      • Her actions in "Gaz: Taster of Pork", notably the threats she made and the ending, most likely solidified a lot of the detractor's hate towards her.
  • Narm Charm: Since approximately 99% of the series is played for ridiculous, surreal laughs, when things do get serious it can get away with saying things that would seem totally ridiculous in any other show:
    Dib: Wait, Zim! Promise me you're on our side this time.
    Zim: I know not of sides, Earth Stink, but just this once I agree with you. The hamster must be stopped.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • "Career Day", "Rise of the Zit-Boy", "Dark Harvest", the turkey dude's lucky neck meats in "The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot"... speaking of which, the scene where a guy's eating soggy french fries out of a tub full of dirty dishwater grosses out Jhonen himself.
    • "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom." Just... that. *shudder* In fact, Squick is what resolves the entire episode.
  • Neutral Selfish: Gaz.
  • Never Live It Down: Though the series-wide references to Dib as insane probably don't help it, nor the Parental Neglect, the bulk of Professor Membrane's reputation as an abusive parent probably comes from the Halloween episode, where he blithely lets Dib be sent to an insane asylum when Dib is not crazy, just suffering side-effects from using Professor Membrane's prototype trans-dimensional viewing device, something that Membrane himself admits exists.
  • Nightmare Fuel: An absurd amount of it.
  • Paranoia Fuel: "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy". You could get hit with the effects of debilitating accidents and have no idea why.
  • Periphery Demographic: Teenagers and young adults love Zim, which was targeted at 8-to-11-year-olds (not that you could really tell from the content).
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Dib gets this treatment in fanfic a lot — having his nastier impulses cranked up to the point of being an outright Torture Technician, and being portrayed as a bully that "picks" on Zim (when the balance of power goes the other way entirely). It's a common assertion that he is xenophobic to the extreme and only hates Zim because he's an alien, and must be assumed to have no actual sympathy or compassion for his fellow human because he does hope for personal self-gain in opposing Zim, when most episodes make it clear he'd like to better humankind and himself.
    • Professor Membrane is also a frequent target. In canon he is a very neglectful and sometimes insensitive parent (what with the tendency to call his son "insane" to his face), and has at least a few jerky acts under his belt, but he does genuinely love his kids, which is most notably shown in Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy, where Dib's near-death experience causes Membrane to bring him back to life and encase him in a Giant Mecha "exoskeleton" to keep him safe. In fanon, he can be depicted as outright malicious and abusive to his children, particularly Dib.
    • To round out the family, Gaz is also a frequent target. In the improbable but common "Bad Future"-style fics where Zim (somehow) has the backing of the Irken army and has taken over Earth, she's very likely to have sided with the invaders out of selfishness or misanthropy. She also on occasion has her abusive tendencies towards her older brother exaggerated beyond recognition.
    • Torque Smacky is a weird case. In the few scenes he appeared in, he never really did anything mean to Dib, but in fanfiction he is almost always derailed into a Jerk Jock who delights in kicking around Dib and/or Zim like a football.
    • Mr. Dwicky from "Vindicated" gets quite a bit of flak for supposedly lying to Dib and abandoning him. While this is partially true, for the most part Dwicky was shown to be a nice guy who only "lied" to the boy so he could get to know what his real problem was. He also only went with the aliens at the end of the episode, because he, like Dib, was obsessed with Aliens as a child and couldn't resist the opportunity to travel the stars with them.
  • Seasonal Rot: Some consider the later episodes ("Mortos Der Soul Stealer", "Zim Eats Waffles", "Gaz, Taster of Pork" which is considered to be the weakest episode of the show.) to have suffered a significant drop in quality.
  • Selfish Evil: Zim on occasion.
  • Selfish Good: Dib in the earlier episodes. All he seemed to care about was to capture Zim and prove that aliens are real, before caring about the world more.
  • Sending Stuff to Save the Show: The fan group Operation Head Pigeon spammed the Nickelodeon executives using phone calls and message boards. The group has prompted a Zim marathon, putting it back on Nicktoons, and a best-of DVD entitled "Operation Doom". If the DVD sells well, they hope more seasons will be greenlighted. Jhonen Vasquez has said that while he doesn't think the show will be brought back, he appreciates the group for giving hell to Nickelodeon.
  • Shipping:
    • Cargo Ship: Sort of an inversion. GIR seems to have sort of a little-kid crush on Gaz. It's rather subtle though. Evidence for this can be found in the episodes "Bloaty's Pizza Hog" and "Tak, the Hideous New Girl".
      • GIR x Piggy, now it gets weird.
      • Same thing could be said for Zim/Gir as well. Yes, it exists.
    • Foe Yay Shipping: The most common (and infamous) pairing you will find in the IZ fandom is Zim/Dib (ZADR). For many and Jhonen himself it's pure squick, but it's still managed to be undeniably popular. Much less common are Dib/Tak (DATR) and Zim/Tak (ZATR), though they aren't too unpopular either.
    • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Takes the form "_A_R" (for "X and Y romance"), with the blanks filled in by the first letters of the characters' names (e.g. ZADR for "Zim and Dib romance", or ZAGR for "Zim and Gaz Romance"). Made somewhat problematic by the fact that several characters' names start with the same letter (Zim and Zita, Gaz and Gir and Gretchen, Dib and Dwicky, etc.).
      • Other forms also have the "R" replaced with an "F" for friendship or an "E" for enmity. However, these are more or less used exclusively with Zim and Dib as alternatives to ZADR.
    • No Yay: Those who don't care for ZADR tend to slot it here. Let's leave it at that.
      • Same goes for all ships in the case of those who would rather maintain the No Hugging, No Kissing aspect of the show.
    • Robo Ship: GIR/Mimi, Tak's SIR unit. Mini Moose too, though this is even rarer.
    • Ship Mates: Most of the time fan fiction in which the main couple is ZAGR will tend to include some DATR as well. TAGR (Tak/Gaz) might include ZADR from time to time, though it's rarer vice versa.
    • Ships That Pass in the Night: ZAGR. Zim and Gaz have very brief interactions in only a few episodes, but it's the second most popular pairing in the fandom overall and the most popular hetero ship. Their sadistic natures and hatred for humans (especially Dib) seem to be big contributors to the ship.
      • Supposedly, according to Word of God if Jhonen HAD wanted to put romance into the show he would have actually paired Zim and Gaz together, which has undoubtedly fueled support for the ship. Along with this, common descriptions of the would-have-been finale "Invader Dib" feature Zim and Gaz teaming up and eventually ruling together. However, whether or not these are true or just Jhonen being a troll and pure fan rumors is pretty much anyone's guess.
    • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Mostly ZADR vs ZAGR, though ZATR will sometimes join in.
    • Toy Ship: Dib/Gretchen — based on her evident crush on him in "Tak, the Hideous New Girl." There's not a lot of fic for it, but there is some.
  • Squick: Up to Eleven. Spurting pus, dripping grease, and squishy organs. And one of these things is almost guaranteed to explode once in a while.
    • Dib had to clean up the spurted pus in Rise Of The Zitboy, which basically flooded the whole classroom. He had to do it with a tiny sponge. Don't forget, this was spurted alien pus.
  • Tear Jerker: See here.
  • Ugly Cute: GIR
    • Creepy Cute: GIR, but in an unnerving way, like a Creepy Child in a horror movie. Just those dead green-blue eyes...
      • Zim may qualify for some, particularly when his antennae droop and he looks sad.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Dib is VERY unpopular in the show, but he has a huge fanbase. Crew member Eric Trueheart said this on his blog about Invadercon:
    "Speaking of Dib, Iím shocked at just how many girls like dressing up as Dib. Seriously, I saw a dozen female Dibs this weekend, and barely one male one. It seems like Dib has almost become some kind of butch-girl icon. I think thatís pretty cool."
    • Zim as well, he is essentially hated by his entire race and sent to Earth solely because the Irkens didn't even realize there was a inhabited planet that far out.
  • Villain Decay: Whether you consider Zim or Dib the villain, they both got considerably worse at their tasks as the series advanced; early episodes would usually have one best the other, while later many ended with them both of them enduring some terrible trauma.
    • In some later episodes, it's implied that Dib has flat-out given up on trying to expose ZIM and sees him as less of a threat and more of a pest.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: One of the best examples.
  • The Woobie:
    • Dib could be seen as such, or a Jerkass Woobie.
    • The unnamed blob alien in Abducted. Its description of its suffering is ''almost'' a Tear Jerker.
    • Gir has had his moments.
    • Keef, if you think about it. Nobody likes him, but he's one of the only nice kids in Skool.
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