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Trivia / Invader Zim

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  • Author Existence Failure: Mrs. Bitters' actress, Lucille Bliss, died in 2012. In Enter The Florpus, she only makes a silent cameo in a fantasy sequence.
  • Big Name Fan:
    • According to the DVD Commentary, Harlan Ellison was a fan of the show and personally requested that Nickelodeon send him tapes of it.
    • Rebecca Sugar was a huge fan of the series as a teenager, writing various pieces of fan fiction for it. She would even come to loosely base the character of Peridot in Steven Universe on Zim, from their Small Name, Big Ego to the utter lack of respect they got from their very tall superiors.
  • Creative Differences:
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    • Surprisingly, the Nickelodeon executives actually were (knowingly) very hands-off with the creative process. Character deaths that were originally written were never allowed, though.
    • According to Rikki Simons, this was more a problem between Vasquez and series director Steve Ressel than it was with any of the suits. Ressel wanted to go all-out with camera angles and cinematography while Vasquez wanted the gags to speak for themselves.
  • Creator Killer: Series director Steve Ressel's career in animation didn't last much longer after this series, no doubt due to his afore-mentioned Creative Differences with the rest of the staff. He created one more animation project, Trubble Bub, before moving into graphic novels and music.
  • Creator's Pest: Downplayed, but Steve Ressel admits to finding the Almighty Tallest "a little boring" due to being not quite as visually dynamic as other characters like Zim or Gir.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices:
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    • In Mexico, Zim is voiced by a woman.
    • Outside of the Americas (Brazil, Mexico, USA); GIR is often voiced by a woman.
    • Zim, Dib and GIR are voiced by women in the Japanese dub
    • In "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom", Nightmare Bitters was voiced by Rodger Bumpass.
  • Executive Meddling: Apparently less than you'd expect for a Nickelodeon show created by the guy who did Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, but there are a few anecdotes that have been shared:
    • Two specific incidents that make little sense, however: In the first episode, the writing staff changed radioactive rubber ants to rubber pants simply due to Rule of Funny. In the words of Jhonen, "Suddenly we had a fight on our hands!" And in a later episode, they had to fight to keep a line in where a kid told his mom to have fun at work because Nickelodeon thought it was inappropriate to have that line. Why? Because it's about one in the morning, leading some to conclude that the kid's mom was a prostitute.
    • Due the show's proximity to 9/11, some elements (firefighters watching the slow explosion from their fire truck in Walk For Your Lives, vision of destroyed New York in Door to Door) were deemed too offensive to air. The explosion was turned green instead of orange, the firefighter gag was removed and a new "horrible future" vision (that was somehow more destructive than the original one) was produced for Door to Door. Jhonen Vasquez said he preferred the new vision to the old one, as it was more violent.
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    • A moment in "GIR goes Crazy And Stuff" is particularly famous for subverting this and what follows. An image of GIR dripping with blood was declined by the network and did not blatantly appear in the episode. The "Bloody GIR" became an Easter Egg in the series, hidden faintly into frames.
    • Nickelodeon objected to the original ending of "Walk of Doom," in which Zim and Gir were dropped off in a ghetto with a banner reading "Welcome To Mexico," feeling that it come off as racist. Jhonen Vasquez, himself Mexican-American, agreed and it was changed to a vaguely Mexican-looking (but still filthy) town.
    • For the comics, Nickelodeon has handed over the rights to all the series' characters except, for some reason, Skoodge, meaning he won't be showing up for a while, if at all.
    • When working on Enter the Florpus, Vasquez remarked during a San Diego Comic-Con panel that "You know that's too dark, Jhonen" became a constant refrain from executives during production.
  • Fan Nickname: Dib and Gaz did not not have an official last name in the original series. Many fans had taken to giving them the last name "Membrane," which would be made canon in the comic book series.
  • Follow the Leader: After Invader ZIM hit cult status and became immensely popular with the preteen demographic, many other animated TV shows started turning towards dark and random humor. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Adventure Time, and Making Fiends are a few examples.
  • God Never Said That: Unfortunately, the phrase "Jhonen said" has been falsely appended to so many baseless rumors that unless there is an actual verifiable citation included you're far more likely to be reading something someone heard Jhonen said from someone else who who heard it and so on... following the Gossip Evolution back to its source often leads only to the reveal of glorified fanon whose origin had been lost in the shuffle. According to (note the citation) Jhonen on his blog, even Wikipedia and IMDB have included errors as a result of this.
    • One of the most common assertions to fall under this clause is Zim being 16 in "Irken Years" and 150 or 159 in human years. Word of God on the age business is that Zim is older than any human alive, but fanon, perhaps not liking the extreme age gap between the show's main protagonist and his chief rival, invented the concept of "Irken Years" to put his "relative" age far closer to Dib's, and his real age closer to the lower bound of "older than any living human". Somewhere along the line this made the jump from fanon to false Word of God. You won't find any interviews or blog posts verifying this fact, although some user-edited information sites such as Wikipedia have listed it from time to time (entries inevitably being deleted due to the lack of citation).
    • The biggest example of a rumor gone wrong would have to be the once-common, entirely mistaken belief that Vasquez hated working on the show and would never return to it unless he was offered a huge amount of money. It's often attributed to the man himself, but it's more likely that it came from comments by series director Steve Ressel, who has indeed made it clear that he would never return, as he had his own issues with the way things were run. Vasquez often makes disparaging remarks about Zim, but in the same way he does about pretty much everythingwith his tongue superglued to the inside of his cheek. If his continued associations with the show's fan community failed to dispel the rumors, then his involvement with the comics and Enter the Florpus were what finally did.
    • After the show was cancelled, many rumors were circulated and accepted as fact by fans for many years, such as Nickelodeon cancelled it because it was too dark for their tastes or that Jhonen Vasquez ended the show because he wasn't allowed to be as dark as he wanted or that he hated how the show was over merchandised. Vasquez eventually explained that the only reason the show was cancelled was because Nickelodeon felt the show wasn't profitable.note 
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Tak, the Hideous New Girl is voiced by Olivia D'Abo, aka Karen Arnold from The Wonder Years, which also starred Andy Bearman (Dib) as Chuck Coleman.
  • Lying Creator: A sarcastic variant. Compounding the God Never Said That issue above, where fans mistakenly attribute words to Jhonen Vasquez that he never actually said, Jhonen himself has often gone on record with information that's intended to be sardonic. For example, it's said in this interview that Zim would eventually get a Heel–Face Turn... and become a lawyer:
    Ultimately, my idea was to take his sights off world domination, as ZIM begins to understand that there is a beauty in human life, an understanding that sets him on his path to becoming a public legal defender. I was very inspired by Ben Affleck's powerful courtroom scenes in Daredevil, and I wanted to move people to tears like those scenes moved me. But the show was canceled before any of that, thus leaving our audience of ten unfulfilled.note 
    • A shining example of this is the "INVADER ZIM Facts" series of posts on his blog, which typically include a small kernel of something that might be true, but quickly spiral into obviously false stories involving violence and death, leaving the reader wondering if even that small kernel was genuine.
  • The Merch: An insane amount of it available at Hot Topic. Note that a good 95% of it will be focused on GIR.
  • Name's the Same: This Gaz is not the same one from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
  • No Export for You: The DVDs have never been given a Region 2 release.
  • Orwellian Editor: The commentary tracks only ever acknowledge director Steve Ressel's Creator Cameos as "Joe the janitor", if at all, due to his feud with the writers and suits alike.
  • The Other Darrin:
  • Playing Against Type: Melissa Fahn, who plays Gaz, primarily works in anime dubs, with Zim being one of only two American shows she's worked on (the other being OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes). In addition, most of her roles involve characters with very sunny dispositions, while Melissa herself would describe the apathetic and sardonic Gaz as being a little girl version of Jack Nicholson.
  • Production Posse: Vazquez more or less hiring all his comic book author friends to do the show with him doesn't strictly qualify, but Rikki Simons (voice of GIR and color artist for the show) had previously done the color for I Feel Sick.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Foodio 3000, a character that debuted in the Oni Press comics, was supposed to debut in the series proper before it was cancelled.
  • Relationship Voice Actor: In the Japanese dub, Naomi Nagasawa and Ayumi Kida voiced together in the Japanese version of Yin Yang Yo! as Yang and Yuck, respectively, ironically enough with the protagonist and antagonist roles switched.
  • Role Reprisal:
    • The Latin American Spanish dub of Enter the Florpus brought back the entire cast from the TV series, even those who voiced minor roles.
    • The same goes in the Japanese dub. note 
  • Screwed by the Network: Maybe not as bad as had been rumored, but still a factor. The show was constantly jumbled all over the schedule so that nobody ever knew when it was on, and new episodes were premiered at timeslots like 9:15 pm. However, while the suits didn't always understand exactly what he was doing, they gave him an awful lot of leeway, and Vasquez himself would later admit that given complete creative control the only thing that might change was that extras would explode at random.
  • Talking to Himself: Dib and Dibship. Dib literally talking out loud to himself is also a Running Gag in the show.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The first episode contains the line "Invader's blood marches through my veins like giant, radioactive rubber pants!" The line was supposed to say "ants", but Horvitz flubbed the take and Vasquez liked it much better. Plus, it's the kind of show where "pants" actually fits better.
    • One scene in "Hamstergeddon" called for Ultra Peepi stomping down the street towards some tanks. It came back from animation with him walking with an odd sort of swagger, which Jhonen found so hysterical that he told Kevin Manthi to put a funk score under it, saying "I want to hear Barry White saying 'Ultra Peepi!'"
    • Another instance of one of Zim's fubbed lines being kept in the show: in 'Bad, Bad, Rubber Piggy' Zim says the phrase "temporal doom." It's technically supposed to be pronounced temp-er-al, but on every take Horvitz would only say temp-ohr-uhl. After a few takes they realized they wouldn't be able to get him to say it correctly, so they kept the line in.
    • Those coughing fits Gir has when he drinks something is Rikki Simons having a mild asthma attack from having to make slurping noises.
    • In the original script for the scene in "Mortos der Soulstealer", where Zim and Dib yell at each other across an intersection, the street between the two was supposed to be filled with vehicles driving by, which would contribute to why the two had to yell back and forth to be heard over the traffic. When the animation got back from the studio, the crew was chagrined to find that they'd forgotten to animate in the traffic....however, upon reviewing the footage with the dialogue, they found that the awkwardness of the two shouting over nonexistent traffic was hilarious, and kept it as it was.
    • In one scene from "Walk of Doom", a random police officer was drawn slightly too big and ended up becoming gigantic when they tried to have it redone. They decided to just roll with it and added some appropriate sound effects.
  • Trolling Creator: Vasquez has a habit of posting things on his Twitter like "Good news for Zim fans! I just ate a delicious burrito. Also, Zim is still cancelled forever." Reached its apex in late 2016, when he denied rumors that the series would be getting a movie a few days after C.H. Greenblatt claimed one was in production, pointing out that there are always rumors about Zim returning as a movie or TV series. A few months later, the first teaser for the movie was released.
  • Unfinished Episode: Of the 40 episodes that were ordered for the second season, 21 were left unfinished due to its sudden cancellation. Of these, seven were far enough along in production to have audio and storyboards included in the Zim's House Box Set DVD release (but not, ironically, in the so-called "Complete Invasion" Box Set).
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Even a show set 20 Minutes into the Future couldn't prevent this. The plot of "Nano Zim" in centered around Dib sending a physical disk with incriminating photos of Zim to a TV show to expose him. A decade later, he could have emailed them directly to the TV producers the second they were taken. Meanwhile, citizens are shown looking on at scenes of destruction with a notable lack of cell phones being held up to record them.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • According to the show's original pitch bible, the show was intended to be in a format similar to Animaniacs, The Ren & Stimpy Show, and Rocky and Bullwinkle, with short interludes appearing inbetween episodes.
    • Wally Wingert was originally cast as Almighty Tallest Purple but was recast as Red when Kevin McDonald became available.
    • Before pitching the Zim idea, Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon toyed with adapting his comic Squee!, but quickly decided that, while it starred a child, it was definitely not child-friendly. Jhonen was also reluctant to adapt his previous work, fearing it might ruin the comic's integrity if it turned out badly. Some aspects of the comic still appeared in the show, such as the aliens in "Abducted," Miss Bitters and the school being called "skool" (the gag of the children climbing out the windows once classes let out was also from the comic).
    • The show's aesthetic was originally more of a 1950s B-movie spoof. It barely got to development before Jhonen realized that he hated doing something that predictable.
    • Danielle Koenig's original script for "Vindicated" had Dwicky genuinely believing Dib. She refers to the change as Jhonen having "mangled" it, but she didn't sound as annoyed about it as her word choice might lead one to believe.
    • It's claimed in the commentary that the original ending of "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy" was Dib dying and being replaced by a character named "Louie" as Zim's new rival. This may have just been a joke, however.
    • Another commentary tidbit is that Iggins was originally slated to die at the end of "Game Slave 2," but Executive Meddling prevented that.
    • In a blog post Jhonen noted the original script for "Gaz: Taster of Pork" simply ended with Dib defeating the Porklord and then sharing pizza with Gaz. Eric Truehart came up with the ending we got instead.
    • Mark Hamill was originally considered for the role of Zim, but was dismissed by Nickelodeon for sounding too old.
      • Billy West was also considered, and his voice is Zim's in the original pilot, available on Youtube. However, with Futurama already on the air, Jhonen didn't want West's voice in two sci-fi shows at the same time, citing it to be too recognizable across both shows.
    • Skoodge's SIR unit would have appeared in a cancelled episode. Its name was CHIPZ.
    • Tommy Pickles was going to be one of the Nhar-Gh'ok. Naturally Nickelodeon did not approve.
    • Being huge fans of Monty Python, the creators wanted to get Terry Jones and Eric Idle to voice the two aliens in "Abducted," but scheduling conflicts prevented it.
    • Pipi the hamster from "Hamstergedon" was originally named Mr. Boodles, but Jhonen thought "Pipi" was funnier for obvious reasons.
    • When GIR self-destructs in "Dib's Wonderful Life Of Doom," his exclamation of "FINALLY!" was originally supposed to be "SWEET RELEASE!" Nickelodeon asked that it be changed to something less suicidal-sounding.
    • In 2010, Nicktoons spent a month heavily rerunning the show, even giving it a 24-hour marathon at one point. According to Jhonen Vazquez, this was Nickelodeon testing the waters to see if it was feasible to bring back the show for another season. Despite the reruns doing extremely well in ratings, it was ultimately decided that a revival would be too expensive. The network would continue to float the idea of a new season/series around for several years however, and regularly inquire about Vasquez's interest in returning. In addition, prior to deciding on doing a television movie, Jhonen proposed a six-episode miniseries before realizing that such a project would make him miserable.
    • Issue 5 of the comic was originally going to be about Zim trapping Dib in a video game simulation, but Jhonen felt that it was too similar to "Dib's Wonderful Life of Doom".
    • Mini-Moose is introduced as Zim's other sidekick, who'd been present all along. Subsequent episodes would have flashbacks with Mini-Moose crudely photoshopped into existing episodes as a gag, but the show's cancellation came before this could be realized.
    • Tak: The Hideous New Girl was originally planned to be an hour-long episode, but Nickelodeon asked the crew to keep it down to being a half-hour.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here ya go!
  • Word of God:
    • According to Jhonen Vasquez, Dib and his family aren't Caucasians, but very pale Mexicans like himself. This would later be reflected Enter the Florpus, where Dib is given a slightly darkened skin tone to better match his own.
    • During development, Dib's name was originally short for Dibble, before becoming his actual name. YMMV on whether Jhonen's statement on the name predating both of those being Feebly is also true, or just one of his usual jokes. Meanwhile, Gaz has always been short for Gazleen, though it wouldn't be stated within any official Zim material until Enter the Florpus.
  • Word of St. Paul: Rikki Simons has basically made a secondary career of talking about his experiences with the show on the convention circuit, so much of the behind the scenes information comes from him.

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