159-161 (Earth Years), 15-16 (Irken Years)
Billy West (only in "Pilot"), Richard Horvitz (in the rest of the serie)
Zim is the title and main character from Jhonen Vasquez's show Invader Zim. Zim is voiced by Richard Horvitz. (However, he is voiced by Billy West in the Pilot episode) Zim is an alien-life form from the planet Irk (whose inhabitants are called Irken) and was sent by his Tallest on a fake mission to earth to be rid of him in Operation: Impending Doom II, so he doesn't mess it up like he did the first mission. The viewer knows that Zim is an alien, but in Zim's world, Dib and Gaz are the only ones to know Zim is an alien.
Jhonen Vasquez has stated that Zim is 16 Irk years and 126 (or 159, as others claim, since 1 Irk year is about 10 Earth years) Earth years old. In "Tak, the Hideous New Girl", Tak, another Irken, claims that Zim had ruined her chances at becoming an Invader fifty years ago. In "NanoZim", Zim mentions that he has been flying ships since before Dib was born.As a smeet (a baby Irken), Zim was created in an Irken incubation chamber and therefore has no siblings or parents (not including whichever previous Irkens whose DNA was used to create him).
(Note: it is hard to determine how much continuity the PAK has. In one episode, he is actually seen working on something without his PAK, though he may have removed it for a short amount of time with the intention of putting it back on later.) Zim, like all Irkens, was fused at birth with a mechanical device called a PAK. Zim's PAK provides him with life support, all the necessary nutrients for survival, and an array of different weapons and tools. These tools include a set of four spider-like mechanical legs, an organ harvester, scanner pads, hand-held communicators, memory drive, charging cell, atmospheric processor, high tech infrared/nightvision binoculars, holographic transmitters, and four rocket boosters, as well as a sort of biomechanical rebreather mask used in no air or bad air environments. It can be 'rebooted' after a sudden shock to the system (like the wave of raw stupidity in "Plague of Babies").
As documented in Eric Trueheart's scripted but uncompleted episode, "The Trial", an Irken PAK contains all of a single Irken's memories, personality, and high scores. An Irken assigned to a specific task has their PAK 'encoded' for that task by an Irken Control Brain--similar to formatting a hard drive.
Zim's PAK, due to his actions after Operation: Impending Doom I, has him encoded as a Food Service Drone; this was part of his banishment to the Irken snacking planet Foodcourtia, and is confirmed by Frylord Sizz-Lorr during the episode "The Frycook What Came From All That Space." Interestingly, the episode "Career Day" also shows that the job that is the most suitable for Zim is fast food services.
In "The Trial", Zim's true status was determined to be 'Defective'. Although a Defective is supposed to be an individual with a flawed PAK, it can be seen in the episode that the process of determining an Irken's 'defectiveness' is highly subjective.
In another scripted, but never completed episode by Rob Hummel, "Ten Minutes to Doom", Zim accidentally loses his PAK, which is then stolen by Dib. Zim himself begins to quickly deteriorate and it is revealed that Irkens can only survive ten minutes without their PAK. The PAK attaches itself to Dib and begins to assert Zim's personality in Dib. Although Zim is almost dead by the time he retrieves his PAK, once he has it back on he is very quickly rejuvenated. As Dib states in the episode, "This device... it IS ZIM. It's his brain and his life support. That means his body is just... something to carry his PAK around".
It should be noted, however, that only Irken biology is compatible with the PAK. When Dib wears the PAK the madness of Zim's personality is far more overstated than usual. Zim later states that the PAK would have destroyed Dib.
Weaknesses and immunitiesEdit
Zim is severely allergic to several Earth substances, including water, meat, barbecue sauce, beans, pizza and most school lunches. The last item may not be considered a weakness exclusively to Zim, as the food in the cafeteria has been shown to be harmful to humans as well. Exposure to excessive grease leads to the creation of an enormous transparent, semi-permeable, hypnotic pimple.
It's unclear whether these effects are due to Zim's alien biochemistry or because the Earth itself appears to be, in the timeframe of Invader Zim, excessively polluted. The episode "Bolognius Maximus" offers an additional suggestion that the Irken body may be physiologically and biochemically much more delicate than a human's. Zim's genetic structure breaks down and turns into bologna much faster than Dib's after exposure to an identical infusion of bologna-DNA.
However, for each weakness Zim has found a compensatory mechanism - he discovered that bathing in white school glue repelled water, and that germs could be repelled by covering his body in "space meat" and using conventional Earth disinfectant sprays (despite the meat then fusing to his flesh). He also discovered his pimples have hypnotic properties over humans. In the episode "Zim Eats Waffles", he thinks that eating enough Earth food will allow him to build up an immunity to it. Whether it has or not wasn't seen.
In addition, after Zim found out about bathing in the school glue from "The Wettening", it appears that he developed a layer of glue that permanently fused to his outer epidermal layer, and it protects him against water. It is first seen in "Door to Door" that Zim can withstand a large amount of water (when the character who Zim asked sprays him with a hose). This was seen in "The Frycook What Came From All That Space", where Zim crashes and has a small splash of water from a hose. In the DVD, Jhonen commentates that "Zim is resistant to water, but he's exposed to polluted water only."
Zim also has an intense fear of germs and anything "filthy." In the episode "Germs", Zim orders a pair of "micro-goggles" that allow him to see germs, portrayed in the usual cartoonish fashion of large, pulsating green blobs. Zim panics when he realizes that germs are almost everywhere and begins to spray them with disinfectant. In "Rise of the Zitboy", Zim obsessively rubs his face with soap after being hugged by a grease-soaked GIR . He also has similar reactions to "filth" in other episodes, and it is a running theme in all three seasons.
An unknown substance secreted by his skin kills lice almost instantly.
Disguises worn in publicEdit
In order to blend in with the inhabitants of Earth, Zim has made a series of creative disguises. Zim often wears disguises to attempt to conceal his identity from the "earth-monkeys" that he plans to eventually conquer; they are often unconvincing and hastily constructed, but he knows that the humans are too stupid to recognize that he is an extraterrestrial visitor anyway.Zim, in his human disguise. Zim's school disguise consists of some contact lenses and a bouffant wig. The contacts give his eyes a human appearance, and the wig covers his antennae; all else about him, including his uniform and green skin, is left unchanged. He explains away his skin color and lack of ears as a skin condition, ("The Nightmare Begins"), and has passed off being caught without his contact lenses as a bad case of pinkeye. It was discovered in the first episode that the sleeve of his right glove can become a self destruct device, most likely to get rid of an Irken soldier if they believe their mission has been compromised.
He occasionally wears an old man disguise in "Walk of Doom" and other episodes, which he uses throughout the first season. This disguise consists of a flowered hat and a white fake beard. It makes him resemble a short, crazy old man, and in Walk of Doom, he was mistaken for a hobo. In the second season of the show Zim upgrades his disguise arsenal with a floppy, huge-headed human suit with a cape, a sewed-on handbag and stuffed puppy, and a nametag reading 'human'.Other costumes worn include a fat lady outfit, used to hide the timefield explosion ("Walk for Your Lives"), bear suit (use unknown, possibly an I Feel Sick reference) ("Battle of the Planets"), 'Baby Inspector' disguise for interrogating 'Noogums' ("Plague of Babies") and the Santa suit and Easter Platypus disguises used to manipulate the public in "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever." The "Pilot" also has an oversize robotic battle-suit shaped like Zim's school disguise for use in the food-fight that occurs.
Brief on-screen appearances of other Invaders in "Walk For Your Lives" and "Planet Jackers," show that almost all the Invaders (a notable exception being Tak, who uses a clever hologram) are using even shoddier disguises, so Zim's ineptness in this regard is not unique.
"The Trial" (canceled episode)Edit
In Eric Trueheart's unaired episode The Trial, much of Zim's history would have been revealed.
Zim is essentially the cause of most of the planet Irk's disasters: a few minutes after his birth he jammed up a chute with another baby Irken that created a blackout (Horrible Painful Overload Day) plunging Irk into darkness for five years. Later, an accident with a security robot caused another blackout (Horrible Painful Overload Day Part II), this one lasting for four years.
Trying to channel Zim's destructive tendencies, the then-Tallest reassigned Zim to the military station on the Planet Vort, where he dismissed the design of the Massive as unworkable and then created an energy-absorbing monster that ingested an infinite energy source which proceeded to eat then-Tallest Miyuki. Years later, it returned to get its collar and devoured Miyuki's successor, Tallest Spork.
Zim plunged half of the military planet Devastis into darkness when he used a maim bot on a malfunctioning snack machine, as seen in "Tak, the Hideous New Girl." During Operation: Impending Doom I, Zim was placed in a small circle and told to watch it, but he stole a Frontline Battlemech and, out of overzealous excitement, proceeded to destroy half of Irk without realizing that he was still on his own planet - as seen in brief in "The Nightmare Begins." Sometime after this, he scratches his butt, causing the planet he's on to explode.
Incredibly, Zim is proud of all these 'achievements', and mistakes his Existence Evaluation for a party thrown in his honor, though soon realizes his mistake. When he is finally declared defective, the Control Brains attempting to delete his PAK's data are themselves corrupted by Zim, and go insane themselves. Zim is rewarded with ten free minutes of piloting the Massive and declared 'the greatest Irken ever' by the insane Control Brains.
Zim has had several voice actors.
In Jhonen's original pilot episode, Zim's voice was provided first by Mark Hamill and then by Futurama voice actor Billy West. Jhonen Vasquez has stated in the DVD commentaries that he felt casting West as Zim would have created a situation where there would be two comedy science fiction-based cartoons on the air at the same time with the same lead voice. The pilot episode with Billy West's voiceover track is available as an extra feature on the 2nd disk of the Zim DVD set.
Angry Beavers voice actor Richard Horvitz revoiced Zim as a tester on the third pass of the pilot and was finally chosen to be the character's permanent voice for the remainder of the American series. This final version of the pilot is not currently available to the public in any form.
Horvitz's style of voicing Zim is influenced heavily by Vasquez's own inflections, and of the actor Vincent Price. Interestingly, Horvitz plays a similar character (Orthopox) in the video game Destroy All Humans!.
Zim is viewed as a villain in some cases, but is also considered as an anti-hero.
Zim is held up as a complete laughing-stock, a scapegoat, or a figure of contempt by his own species. Despite this, Zim is innocently loyal and obedient to the Tallest and Operation: Impending Doom II, to the point that he is zealously willing to endure pain or hardship in order to gain their respect. In the episode "Planet Jackers", Zim even willingly undergoes a rather severe beating in the name of protecting his mission and Irken interests.Zim, in his Robotic Battlesuit, his self-absorbed nature prevents him from seeing his failures, past and present. He claims to be proud of all the past disasters he has caused, and rarely acknowledges his defeats in his present mission on Earth (often blaming them on other characters, or other factors, or completely changing the subject). When he is told by Tak that his "mission" was really an attempt to get rid of him, he simply rejects her statement as a lie, in "Tak: The Hideous New Girl". It is not clear whether Zim is aware of his failings in the eyes of his leaders and is desperately trying to compensate for them, or whether he really is just completely oblivious to the opinions of others - the series is not consistent on this point. By turns this would-be Invader can be petulant, critical, paranoid, humorous, sarcastic, pretentious, pedantic, depressive, melodramatic, and even occasionally whimsical.
He is often curiously attached to random objects, such as his robot bee ("Tak: The Hideous New Girl"). He is immensely proud of anything he creates, yet is often frustrated when his devices fail to live up to his grandiose expectations.
It's clear that Zim is highly intelligent (in his own crafty sort of way) and is a keen manipulator of tools and devices, but has absolutely no apparent interest to think things through to their logical conclusion. The fact that creating and unleashing a giant water balloon on the city from orbit in "The Wettening" will also destroy his house doesn't seem to enter his mind; when he hijacks the Massive in "Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars" he only considers (incorrectly) that the Tallest will be appreciative of his efforts. Nor does he really consider the consequence of restoring the natural time-flow of a city-leveling explosion in "Walk For Your Lives", despite being warned several times, by GIR, no less, until his base was coming down around him. An alternative explanation is that he is aware of the consequences of his actions, but believes that they are worth reaching his goals and is willing to amend them after he does so.
Zim clearly is more than capable of destroying Earth, but he hardly ever uses this capability correctly. For instance, when he is accidentally sent a Megadoomer robot, he decides to use it to kill Dib, when the robot obviously has the destructive power to do better things. He has often come very close to taking over the planet, only to be thwarted by Dib or Gaz.Zim's apparent skills are his somewhat inconsistent skills at piloting; many episodes feature a dogfight or tense aerial situation, although just as many show Zim horrifically failing at piloting skills as well (Ex: He often crashes into the roof of his house before landing perfectly on the airpad). And, although superior in magnitude to the skills of enemies like Dib, Zim's piloting skills pale in comparison to enemies adept at hand eye coordination or overall agility (such as Gaz or Tak). He also seems to have incredible engineering ability. In "Walk of Doom" he improves upon the SIR unit guidance system chip (although how GIR got that in the first place is unknown), and in "Walk for your Lives" he single-handedly creates a variable time stasis field, capable of altering individual time-fields.
Although Zim often states he wishes to enslave Earth, it seems unlikely that he would actually want to rule it. In "Attack of the Saucer Morons", Zim gains a troupe of humans who would be willing to do his bidding. Zim, however, panics and tries to escape from them, believing that they are trying to capture him for dissection and study. In the Nickelodeon Magazine Special, in which Zim finally takes over the world, he doesn't stay to rule for very long, instead leaving Earth forever (along with Dib, GIR and Minimoose) to ride alien bunny rabbits and drink soda. In an interview with Animation World Magazine, Jhonen Vasquez has confessed that the Irkens would really have no desire to enslave the humans, and would much more likely exterminate all Earthly life in order to use the space to build another parking structure planet.Zim shows no remorse for people that are harmed due to his actions and almost never takes responsibility for his mistakes, priding himself on causing destruction in the name of the Irken Empire, even when said destruction is aimed towards other Irkens (as Zim responded about his destruction of Irk, "...I put the fires out!" with Tallest Red responding "You made them worse!" Zim replies with, "Worse, or better?"). More or less he considers everyone else but himself (even members of his own race) expendable for his goals, often exploiting them to reach his own goals with apparent disregard for their safety or well-being. For example, in "Hobo 13", Zim sends the soldiers under his command to their dooms when other, safer methods could be taken (even using Throbulator, the last soldier in his unit, as a battering ram), causing Sergeant Hobo to fail him automatically despite the fact that Zim manages to survive the obstacle course. Another example is when Zim destroys a candy machine in Tak: The Hideous New Girl, ending Tak's mission to become an Invader and he either doesn't realize that she's trapped or, more likely, he doesn't care. His behavior and unawareness of his actions are most likely the result of him being a defect, as revealed in the cancelled episode The Trial.
Zim usually shows little to no affection, often claiming to "need no one", but he occasionally lets a softer side of him slip, probably by accident. In Parent Teacher Night, when Zim thinks back to when he was born, he remembers that the first thing he ever said was that he loved the "cold, unfeeling robot arm" which nurtured him. This memory triggered him to sub-consciously hug Ms. Bitters in the same way that he hugged the arm when he was a smeet. And while he frequently yells at Gir and orders him around, he seems to have taken a liking to the robot, even if he doesn't want to admit it. In the episode "Walk of Doom", after seemingly reducing GIR to tears with a harsh reprimand (although GIR was only crying over the fact he ate his cupcake), Zim appears remorseful and quickly forgives the robot, also acknowledging that his feelings would not help them, stating "I can see that you understand your mistake, GIR, and me being angry will get us no closer to home." Additionally, in the Halloween special, Zim expresses concern for him when he leaves him behind upon entering the Nightmare World, stating that he "only hope[s] poor GIR is all right by himself". He probably views GIR as a little brother.
- Zim is a playable character in Nicktoons: MLB. His bat is one of the strongest in the entire game. He wears a purple baseball helmet with an Irken symbol on it.
- Zim is a playable character in Nicktoons: Globs of Doom
- Zim is featured in two of Snafu's webcomics: PowerPuff Girls Doujinshi (as a background character) and Invader Zim: Manifest Doom, as the protagonist.