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Web Animation / Invader Zim: A Very Tall Problem

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Time to show this planet what a REAL Tallest can do.note 

Gaz: Okay, so the question of the day: What are you doing here?
Tallest Purple: We-we don't know! We were one minute about to be executed by the Resisties, but then we suddenly blacked out and woke up on the outskirts of your town.

Invader Zim: A Very Tall Problem is a fan animated web series directed by Shavarna Gibson and produced by Shavs Media Productions. It is a direct Fan Sequel to the 2001 animated series Invader Zim set in a separate continuity from the 2015 comic continuation and Enter the Florpus.

The series follows Almighty Tallest Red and Purple, the two rulers of the Irken Empire, who find themselves on the run from the Resisty after a shocking attack on the Irken Armada leaves them both stranded on planet Earth. Left with no other choice, the desperate duo must recruit the help of Zim and the Membrane family to save themselves and the Armada from its new ruler. But with the Resisty still strong and The Empire collapsing, will they get back to power in time to fix things? Or will they be destroyed by the corrupted empire they created?

The first half of the pilot episode, "A Very Small Problem", officially premiered on YouTube on February 4, 2022. It can be watched here for free. An early access version launched on Patreon on February 2nd exclusively for top-tier patrons of AVTP. The first season is planned to consist of 20 episodes.

The series has an official YouTube channel, Patreon, Twitter account and Tumblr.

Preview: Official Trailer

Invader Zim: A Very Tall Problem contains examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The pilot episode opens with the Massive being attacked and boarded by the Resisty, who massacre the crew onboard while Red and Purple barley escape with their lives.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The Resisty in canon were laughably pathetic Revolutionaries Who Don't Do Anything that mostly limited themselves to petty acts of rebellion like stealing the Tallest's snacks. Here, they are presented as more of an actual threat to the Irkens. In the first episode alone, they come closer to overthrowing the Irken Empire than they ever did in the original show; they cripple the Massive and come within inches of assassinating the Almighty Tallest.
    • The same goes for the Resisty's spaceship. In the original show, the Resisty's ship was hopelessly outclassed by the Massive and the only reason it wasn't vaporized on the spot was because the Massive's weapons had been disabled at the time as a result of Zim remotely hijacking its power core. In AVTP, the Resisty's spaceship takes out the Massive in two shots. It's also worth noting that, unlike before, the ship did this all on its own without any outside interference.
  • Alien Blood:
    • The Irkens that were killed by the Resisty during their invasion of the Massive in the first episode are shown bleeding and lying in pools of magenta blood.
    • Averted by the Vortian assassins who bleed red blood from their wounds when they are killed during the battle on the Massive.
  • Alternate Continuity: A Very Tall Problem is described as being an "alternate event" of Enter the Florpus that takes place around the same time as the movie but replaces what happened.
  • Art Evolution:
    • A lot of the shorter characters have their designs shifted to appear less cartoony. Dib, Gaz, and Zim all have more realistic body proportions with their torsos and limbs being elongated while their heads are less oversized.
    • The Irkens have their insectoid eyes replaced with single-pupil eyes that give them a more human-like appearance.
    • Similar to how Enter the Florpus altered Red and Purple's designs from the television series, the character designs for Miyuki and Spork have been changed so that their two-fingered prosthetic hands are replaced with the three-fingered hands that regular Irkens possess.
  • Bandage Mummy: The trailer has Dib looking like a bandage mummy while confronting Purple inside his home. Both of his arms and legs are completely encased in bandages while his chest is haphazardly bandaged in a zigzag pattern. Dib also has a band-aid on the right side of his chin. Most amusingly, even his Anime Hair has two bandages wrapped around it.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the original cartoon may have been Darker and Edgier than your typical Nickelodeon show, it still kept the violence bloodless due to being targeted at children. That is not the case with AVTP, which is aimed at a mature audience and isn't afraid of showing gore. The first episode alone has characters getting shot in the head and stabbed through the chest with blood splattering out from their wounds, and two scenes that feature corpses lying in pools of their own blood.
  • Call-Back:
    • One of the lines in the official trailer is "wiggle your antennae in salute". This line was taken from the first episode of the original show and was spoken by the Announcer while introducing the Tallest to crowds of adoring Irkens.
    • Right before the Tallest evacuate the Massive's bridge in episode 1, Red tells Purple to secure the donuts. This references a moment from "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" where Red yells at a subordinate to save the donuts while the Massive is spinning out of control.
    • When confronted by Lard Nar and the Resisty in episode 1, Purple tries to surrender by telling them they can have his snacks. This is a call-back to how the Resisty previously attacked the Massive in "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" because they wanted to steal the snacks stored aboard.
    • During Red and Purple's argument in the first episode, Red implies that he thinks Purple is a moron by recalling how Zim once said it's possible for tall things to be stupid and scathingly remarking that he believes there may be some truth to that while glaring at Purple.
  • Cardboard Box Home: Purple is hiding from the rain in a cardboard box in an alleyway when he's found by Gaz in Part 2 of the first episode.
  • Content Warnings: The first episode opens with a disclaimer warning that this series is rated mature and is not meant to viewed by children.
    The following contains extreme gore, violence, strong language, minimoose, and is intended for mature audiences.
    Viewer discretion is advised.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The planet that the Tallest attempt to blow up at the start of the first episode is the homeworld of Kidulor's species. Kidulor was the Staring Kid from Sizz-Lorr's fast food restaurant on Foodcourtia. One of the Resisty's soldiers in episode 1 is also a Reused Character Design of him.
    • Another of the Resisty's new members seen in the first episode is a Screwhead, an alien race that debuted in "Megadoomer" where it was explained that the Irkens conquered their planet and turned it into a galactic shipping center.
    • Two of the Resisty's new recruits from the first episode were originally cadets on Zim's training squad during his training evaluation on Hobo 13.
  • Cue the Rain: At the end of Episode 1 Part 1, Red has just been abandoned by Purple, and is now stranded alone on Earth with a damaged PAK that could potentially kill him if it isn't fixed soon. Just as it seems as though Red's luck has finally turned around, it starts to rain. This is especially bad for Red since Earth's water is harmful to his skin, and he reacts to the sudden downpour by lampshading this trope.
    Red: [grunting in pain] CAN THINGS LITERALLY GET ANY WORSE?!
  • Deconstruction: Purple's characterization as The Ditz in contrast to the more mature and capable Red gets deconstructed in episode 1 where it's because of this that Red has always secretly looked down on him as a useless bumbler who can't do anything right. The whole argument that causes them to split up is started by Red assuming that Purple's inability to repair his PAK is due to him being naturally incompetent, and then lashing out at Purple by calling him dumb. It's also shown that while Purple might not be as smart as Red, he is far from stupid and is genuinely hurt when Red insults his intelligence and belittles his attempts to help him.
  • Diving Save: In Episode 1, Red pushes Purple out of the way when a Resisty assassin shoots at him with their pistol. Instead of hitting Purple, the shot grazes Red across the back and causes severe damage to his PAK.
  • Edible Bludgeon: In Part 2 of Episode 1, Gaz threatens Purple with a large ham while interrogating him on why he's on Earth.
  • Evil Laugh: The official trailer ends with Medea's personal emblem popping up on the screen followed by the sound of her laughing menacingly.
  • Facial Markings: Members of the Irken Elite are identified by the black triangular symbols on their foreheads. The Big Bad Medea has one which she keeps even after becoming the new Almighty Tallest. Interestingly, the trailer briefly shows a younger Purple also having the same marking on his forehead and the artwork for the demo song "Destructive and Defective" reveals that Zim, Red, Skoodge, and Spork all used to have the same forehead marking when they were younger as well.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Subverted. There's a moment in the trailer where the narrator dramatically reads "Watch your screens in TERROR!", only for the trailer to then cut to a very bored-looking Zim and Dib sitting together with GIR in Time Out. The narrator then coughs and repeats himself, upon which the trailer cuts to a scene of Purple being attacked by a tentacled monster.
  • Fan Sequel: To Invader Zim, being an unofficial continuation of the original show.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: At the start of the series, the city where Zim and Dib reside has imposed a 7:00 p.m. curfew in response to a sudden epidemic of missing person cases.
  • Fix Fic: It's mentioned on AVTP's Patreon account that the creators were displeased with Jhonen Vasquez stating that the Almighty Tallest were Killed Offscreen in Enter the Florpus and wanted to create an alternate Fan Sequel with Red and Purple still alive.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • At the 1:21 mark in the official trailer, right before the video scrolls over to show a missing people poster, there's another poster that says "Zim wuz here dib is a Lozer" alongside a small drawing of Dib's head with "stupid head" scribbled above it.
    • In Part 1 of Episode 1, when Red is standing next to an advertising column displaying a drawing of Zim, there is a missing people poster in the bottom-right corner of the screen announcing a 7PM curfew. At the bottom of the poster is a picture of Professor Membrane alongside the words "P. Membrane will save us".
  • Frying Pan of Doom: A trailer scene has Dib pointing a frying pan at Purple after finding him inside his house, only to be politely scolded by his father for threatening their houseguest.
  • Ghost City: The city where Zim and the Membranes live is strangely empty when the Tallest make their way there in Part 1 of Episode 1 after being teleported to Earth. The streets are devoid of any cars or people. A poster on an advertising column reveals that this is because a large number of people suddenly went missing and the city responded by enacting a curfew.
  • Godzilla Threshold: By midway through the first episode, Red has gone beyond this point. He's stranded on Earth with a damaged PAK that could possibly kill him if isn't repaired and has no means of contacting the rest of his empire. Whereas previously Red was desperate to get rid of Zim, these extreme circumstances force him to swallow his pride and head over to Zim's house to beg for help.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The scene from the trailer and Episode 1 where Lard Nar shoots an Irken through the head is edited so that only the silhouettes are shown with Alien Blood getting splattered on the floor after the Irken is killed.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: During their argument in Episode 1, Red bitterly tells Purple that he's always seen him as a nuisance even when they were together aboard the Massive. Purple, stunned and clearly hurt by Red's words, silently stares at him for a few seconds before muttering "So this is how you really feel, huh?"
  • I Got Bigger: This Tumblr art reveals that Red, Purple, and Medea — three of the tallest Irkens in their species — all used to be a lot shorter in their youth, standing at only about a head taller than Zim before presumably undergoing a growth spurt that made them twice Zim's height.
  • Karmic Butt-Monkey: Episode 1 is not kind to Red. He gets shot with a laser that damages his PAK, nearly executed by rebels, marooned on Earth, called out for being a jerk by his partner, abandoned by said partner, buffeted by rainwater (which is basically like acid to him), and when he finally gets to someplace where he might be able to get help (the base of Zim, whom he hates), he finds that the base's computer is locked to not respond to anyone but Zim, leaving Red definitely having to actually ask for his help. Of course, it's hard to feel sorry for him seeing as how he's a genocidal dictator who tried to destroy an inhabited planet for fun earlier in the same episode.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The first episode "A Very Small Problem" is split into two parts which were released separately from each other.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The trailer starts out by mentioning the Florpus and the countless alternate realities that exist within.
    • While interrogating Purple in Part 2 of Episode 1, Gaz is brandishing the same ham that she used to smack Zim with during the final battle in Enter the Florpus.
    • When Carlos informs the Tallest that the Massive is under attack in the first episode, Purple's response is "How did this happen? Make it not happen." This is a reference to a scene from Enter the Florpus where Purple spoke a similar line upon learning from Carlos that Earth had appeared in the Massive's flight path.
    • While trying to self-repair his PAK in Episode 1, Red becomes worried after losing track of how long he's had his PAK disconnected from his body and decides "not to risk it" before reattaching it to himself. This is a nod to the cancelled episode "Ten Minutes to Doom" where it would've been revealed that Irkens can't survive without their PAKs for more than ten minutes.
  • Officially Shortened Title: The show's creators and artists often abbreviate the series' title as AVTP.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Tallest have always viewed Zim as a Walking Disaster Area and spent their entire careers trying to keep him as far away from them as possible. To show just how downhill things have gotten, the trailer shows a serious Red telling Zim in person that he needs his help.
  • Patchwork Fic: Despite taking place in an Alternate Continuity from Enter the Florpus, the series still incorporates a lot of elements from that movie like the character designs, artwork, Minimoose's Teleportation powers, and the color of Earth's sky.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Happens between Red and Purple shortly after they get stranded on Earth in the very first episode. During a heated argument caused by Red lashing out at Purple due to the high stress from having a damaged PAK, Purple becomes fed up with Red insulting him and decides that they should split up and cool off. Red responds by doubling down on his insults and eventually claims that he always disliked Purple even back when they were together aboard the Massive. Hurt by Red's words, Purple decides to abandon him altogether and find his own way to contact the Massive.
  • Pride Before a Fall: At the start of the series, Red and Purple are arrogant, self-absorbed tyrants who care more about gorging themselves on snacks than governing their people. By the end of the first episode, the two have been deposed by the Resisty and stranded on Earth with nothing but the PAKs on their backs. The rest of the series follows the duo as they try to contact their empire and regain their thrones.
  • Pun-Based Title: This script reading of an upcoming episode reveals that the tenth episode will be titled "Dibnial". This is of course a combination of Dib's name and the word "denial".
  • Redshirt Army: Many of the Irkens serving aboard the Massive wear red uniforms. When the Resisty board the Massive in episode 1, the rebels easily massacre most of the ship's crew without taking a single casualty. This is downplayed by the Tallest's Praetorian Guard, who at least put up a fight and even succeed in killing three rebels in their final moments.
  • Secondary Character Title: Despite his name being in the series' full title, Zim isn't the main protagonist. Instead, the plot centers around the Almighty Tallest and explores what happens when they get stuck on Earth.
  • Shout-Out: Part 1 of "A Very Small Problem" contains a reference to Rick and Morty in a Freeze-Frame Bonus when Red first wanders into the city. He passes by a billboard advertising "Rick's Pickle Butter"; a nod to the "Pickle Rick" meme.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: A scene from the trailer shows a silhouette of Medea on a holographic screen sporting a Slasher Smile.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Since this series is set in an Alternate Continuity separate from Enter the Florpus, the Tallest and the Irken Armada are still alive and kicking instead of being Killed Offscreen after flying straight into a Florpus hole.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: While arguing with Purple in the first episode, Red doesn't even bother to hide his utter disdain for his deceased predecessor Spork, calling him "as intelligent as a brick" and comparing Purple to him as an insult.
  • Storming the Castle: The Resisty launch a full-scale invasion of the Massive at the beginning of the series in order to kill the Tallest. Because the attack was so sudden and came from a group that the Tallest had previously considered a joke, the Massive's crew are caught completely off guard and offer little resistance as the Irken flagship gets overrun. The Resisty is eventually routed but only after coming within a hair's breadth of assassinating Red and Purple, and only failing because Minimoose transported the two to Earth at the last second.
  • Swap Teleportation: When Minimoose teleported the Tallest to Earth, he took their place aboard the Massive in front of a confused Resisty firing squad.
  • Tagline: "It's time to show everyone on this pathetic little planet what a REAL Irken Tallest can do…"
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The trailer shows Dib in an unhappy alliance with Zim and the Tallest. He tells the Tallest that they have to "fix the mess [they] made", only for Zim to interrupt by trying to shift the blame onto Dib while Red and Purple petulantly refuse to listen to him.
  • Teleportation Rescue: Just as Red and Purple are about to be executed by the Resisty in episode 1, Minimoose saves their lives by teleporting them both to Earth.
  • Tentacled Terror: A scene from the trailer shows the POV of a creature with at least four spiked tentacles as it menacingly reaches towards a terrified Purple.
  • They Just Dont Get It: Part 2 of Episode 1 has Red try to boss around the Artificial Intelligence that runs Zim's base. The AI explains to Red that it can't obey him because Zim (in a rare moment where he held the Smart Ball) programmed it so that it is incapable of processing instructions given by anyone other than himself. Red responds with a Big "NO!" before yelling at Zim's computer to "fix this", the fact that the computer couldn't even if it wanted to still having not sunk in. The computer, in turn, becomes frustrated by this and reacts by throwing its own little fit.
    Red: Are you listening to me? I gave you an order!
    Computer: My master has installed a protective protocol against taking orders from anyone else.
    Red: WHAT? NO! This can't be happening! Fix this, NOW!
  • Time Out: A shot from trailer shows Zim, Dib, and GIR all having to sit together in a cardboard box labeled "Banishment Box" as a form of punishment.
  • The Twelve Spoofs of Christmas: "The 12 Irks of Christmas" is a song parody of "Twelve Days of Christmas" that was recorded by the main cast alongside several of the series' Original Characters for Christmas 2021.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: The trailer has Dib shocked to find Purple inside his house drinking tea with his father. Recognizing Purple as an Irken and assuming he's on Earth for malicious reasons, Dib brandishes a kitchen pan and warns Purple that he won't let him get away with this. Professor Membrane reacts by sighing in exasperation before chiding his son for threatening their "guest".
  • Villain Protagonist: Tallest Red and Purple are the main protagonists this time, both of whom are lazy, self-absorbed tyrants who've enslaved and destroyed hundreds of planets over the course of Operation Impending Doom II. The first episode opens with them about to use the Massive's superlaser to blow up a planet full of alien babies before they're stopped by the Resisty.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Both of the Tallest blacked out after Minimoose teleported them to Earth. When they came to, they found themselves in a desert on the outskirts of the city with no idea how they got there.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Resisty's spaceship appears to have been upgraded with one that fires an extremely powerful blue laser beam. In Episode 1, this weapon is used to heavily damage the Massive and knock out most of its systems.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • The Massive is the largest and most powerful warship of the feared Irken Armada. The first episode's Action Prologue shows it getting ambushed and easily taken down by the Resisty.
    • After the Massive is taken down, the ship's comms officer reports that the Resisty have already smashed through the Irken Elite, all of which was conveniently offscreen.
  • "You!" Exclamation: This is Dib's angry reaction when he first encounters Purple in the trailer.