Dib: Deep down, I'm bologna?
Dib: That's just... dumb.
Zim: Dumb like a moose, Dib! Dumb like a moose!
Invader Zim is a Science Fiction black comedy Animated Series created by Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon. This Nicktoon premiered alongside The Fairly OddParents on March 30, 2001 and is considered one of the bigger oddballs within the channel's cartoon lineup. But considering that Jhonen's previous work before this was an underground comic called Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, that should come as no surprise.
Set 20 Minutes into the Future, this dark, Cyberpunkish show starred the titular Zim, an alien being who is part of a race called the Irken, which wholly dedicates itself to invading and conquering other planets for reasons both grand and mundane. On assignment day, he's given the most special and important mission of all by the Almighty Tallest: to take over the planet Earth. And by special and important mission, we mean he was shipped off here because he screwed up on his last invasion attempt. They just want to get rid of him, but Zim doesn't know this, nor is he likely to ever realize this. In fact, the Irkens aren't even sure there's a planet here; they just want Zim gone that badly, given that he destroys all that he touches. He is ineptly aided in this "mission" by a defective robot assistant named GIR, poorly disguised as a dog.
Upon reaching Earth to begin his "alien invasion", Zim immediately attracts the attention of elementary school student Dib, a self-styled paranormal investigator who has just been itching to expose something strange and weird, and finally prove to everyone around him that he isn't insane. And Zim seems just the alien to expose...
Early episodes followed a basic format — Zim would attempt to get rid of Dib and conquer the world, while Dib would attempt to expose Zim, only for both to discover that Failure Is the Only Option. Later episodes would start employing Snapback to tackle a myriad of bizarre plots, such as the characters turning into bologna, in addition to developing a bit of a Story Arc over time as well. Ultimately, the efforts of Vasquez and head writer Frank Conniff (of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame) developed into an idiosyncratic, hammy, and satirical style that highlighted the crapsack-nature of the show's world even more.
The show's distinctive dark humor attracted a large number of people outside the targeted age range: namely high school and college students. The show was also host to a very unique art style, adapting Vasquez's usual look for animation and utilizing a vast color palette: colorist Rikki Simons joked that all the different shades and tones had them going into "fourth-ary" colors, which, mixed with the regular use of CGI animation that was incorporated in ways that other shows like Futurama were jealous of, led to the series constantly struggling against its budget for almost every episode.
Unfortunately, the show was left as quickly as it came. While the show was quite popular, it was mainly popular outside of Nickelodeon's core demographic of kids 6-to-11, meaning its ratings did not have far to slip before Nickelodeon deemed the show's budgetary issues no longer worth the hassle: despite popular belief, while Nick did have their issues regarding the show's content, these were absolutely minor in comparison to the actual logistics of the production. Naturally, petitions immediately rose up in attempts to save the show from cancellation, and with this time period having Channel Hop be quite common, many of these urged for Nickelodeon to sell the show to another network. This never happened, much to the dismay of fans, but outcry about the sudden cancellation did accomplish one thing — Nickelodeon would give Media Blasters the rights to sell DVDs of the show, full of special features such as cast and crew commentary, as well as several unreleased episodes that wouldn't see television airings until 2006. One limited edition boxset even included the series' soundtrack and voice recordings for seven unfinished episodes.note These Media Blasters DVDs have since gone out of print, with Amazon.com now having their own "manufactured-on-demand" Vanilla Edition collections of the show. Nickelodeon has also released a "best of" disc called Operation Doom. All of these home media releases were North America only.
As an interesting aside, the sudden and unexpected unemployment caused by the show's cancellation convinced the show's art director to try pitching his own cartoon to Nickelodeon executives, teaming up with an old college friend who was over at Fox working on Family Guy. And from the ashes of Invader Zim would emerge the critically-acclaimed Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise.
In February 2015, Oni Press announced an Invader Zim comic book revival in collaboration with Nickelodeon, with the first issue of the ongoing monthly series being released on July 8, 2015. The comic is overseen by Jhonen Vasquez himself, with him also writing a handful of issues. Many other issues have been done by Eric Trueheart, a veteran writer of the series. Other series veterans, such as artist Aaron Alexovich and colorist Rikki Simons, would lend their talents to the comic during its early run as well. The monthly series ended with its 50th issue in March 2020, followed by the start of a new quarterly series (simply called Invader Zim Quarterly) later that year, which ended after one cycle in March 2021, which the comic series formally concluding with a special one-shot issue in August.
In April 2017, Nickelodeon announced that Zim would return to animation as a 71-minute television movie entitled Enter the Florpus. Vasquez returned as executive producer and director, with composer Kevin Manthei and most of the voice cast also reprising their roles. The film completed production in January 2019 and was released on Netflix on August 16, 2019.
Invader Zim provides examples of:General examplesTropes with their own pages
- Imma sing the Doom Song now! DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM, DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM! ♪