Zim is a member of the alien Irken race. Since his actions usually lead to disaster (having nearly destroyed the Irken homeworld during Operation Impending Doom I) his leaders, the Almighty Tallest, banished him to Foodcourtia. While there, however, Zim heard of Operation Impending Doom II, and - obviously not understanding the purpose of his previous exile - "quit being banished" and ventured to Conventia in the hope of getting an assignment. Chagrined, the Almighty Tallest sent him on a "secret mission" to Earth, in order to keep him away from Operation Impending Doom II.
After arriving on Earth, Zim enrolled in the nearest elementary skool to begin his infiltration and gather information about the indigenous race. There, he became quick rivals with Dib, an avid preteen paranormal investigator. Zim wants to conquer Earth, mostly to prove his superiority and impress his leaders. However, as mentioned by Gaz in "Bloaty's Pizza Hog," "he's so bad at it."Although he is the protagonist, Zim is morally and ethically a villain (also considered an anti-hero), being overall a fairly unsympathetic character, though he occasionally shows some kindness towards certain characters (such as GIR in Walk of Doom), and usually only causing chaos and destruction for either himself, his own race, or Earth.
Zim's appearance, like that of most of the Irken race, seems to be based off the typical "little green men from outer space" stereotype. Many Irkens are about the size of a elementary school child, but Zim is exceptionally short. In The Nightmare Begins, Zim was shown to be even shorter than the notoriously diminutive Skoodge.
Zim also has ruby-colored eyes; another common trait in Irkens. It was mentioned in "Walk of Doom" as well that Zim's eyes contain ocular implants. Since the eyes he was born with are not visibly different from subsequent appearances, it can be assumed that these implants are subcutaneous. He dresses like an Irken Invader would, since he assumes that he is one; he wears a red striped uniform with a pink collar and black boots and gloves.
He also possesses a pair of antennae; their exact function is unknown, but they seem to function like human eyebrows; rising and lowering to convey emotion. It is possible that they function like ears, as they picked up vibrations in Battle of the Planets. Template:Clear
Zim is, as previously noted, an Irken with megalomaniacal, sadistic, emotionally unstable, sociopathic, paranoid, and narcissistic personality traits. He usually ends up being a danger to himself and his own people, but he still considers himself a mighty Irken warrior. Zim had Mysophobia, which developed when he ordered a pair of goggles that let him see germs and bacteria, though he has since faced this fear and overcame it.
Despite his self-proclaimed greatness, Zim is held up as a complete laughingstock by his own species throughout most episodes of the show. Unaware of that fact, Zim is cluelessly loyal and obedient to the Tallest and the Irken Empire, and is willing to go to great lengths to please his leaders. His self-absorbed nature prevents him from acknowledging any of his failures, choosing only to speak about the better things that came from each incident.
However, it is clear that Zim is highly intelligent in some respects - being a keen manipulator of tools and devices - but has absolutely no apparent interest to think things through, wasting much of his time fussing or dealing with unimportant "threats."
Moreover, it is evident that he has the skill to destroy Earth, yet he hardly ever uses this capability properly, and has often been very close to taking over the planet, only to be thwarted by his own negligence. One of Zim's abilities is his somewhat inconsistent skills at piloting; while in a tense situation he flies masterfully, but crashes on most other occasions, and his skills pale in comparison to opponents adept at hand-eye coordination or overall agility (such as Gaz or Tak). Zim also has admirable engineering ability; in Walk of Doom, he single-handedly improved the SIR unit guidance system chip, and in Walk for Your Lives, he hand-built a variable time stasis field, capable of altering individual time-fields. He is immensely proud of anything he creates, yet is often frustrated when his devices fail to live up to his grandiose expectations.
Even though Zim often affirms that he wishes to enslave Earth, it has been hinted that he would not actually want to rule it. In Attack of the Saucer Morons, Zim gained a group of human worshippers who would be willing to do his bidding, yet his only thought was escaping them. In the Nickelodeon Magazine Special, in which Zim finally took over the world, he did not stay to rule for very long, instead leaving Earth forever to ride flying alien rabbits and drink soda.
Zim usually shows little to no affection, often claiming to "need no one", but he occasionally lets a softer side of him slip on accident. In Parent Teacher Night, when Zim thought back to when he was born, he remembered the first thing he ever said was he loved the "cold, unfeeling robot arm" that "hatched" him from his incubation capsule and activated his PAK.
Strangely, it would seem that Zim also relies on the presence of his mortal enemy, Dib, for motivation. He said in A Room with a Moose that his mission might not be as "exciting" without Dib around to "annoy him," but also seems to dwell on the big-headed human quite a bit, almost more so than his actual mission. This importance was particularly highlighted in Mopiness of Doom; when Dib briefly decided to give up his pursuit of Zim, the Irken lost all motivation to take over Earth, or do anything in general.
Disguises worn in public
- Main article: Zim's Disguises
In order to blend in with the inhabitants of Earth, Zim has made a series of creative disguises. Zim often wears disguises to try 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 oblivious to recognize that he is an extraterrestrial visitor anyway.
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; however, everything 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 in the ("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 in other episodes, which he used 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 added another disguise to his arsenal: a floppy, huge-headed human suit with a cape, a sewed-on handbag and stuffed puppy, and a name tag reading 'human'.
Other costumes worn include a fat lady outfit (used to hide the time field explosion in "Walk for Your Lives"); a bear suit (use unknown, possibly an I Feel Sick reference) in "Battle of the Planets"), a "Baby Inspector" disguise for interrogating "Noogums" ("Plague of Babies") and the Santa Claus suit and Easter Platypus disguises used to manipulate the public in "The Most Horrible X-mas Ever;" the former was by far one of Zim's most ambitious and advanced disguises, being made from a Vortian liquid substance.
The Pilot also featured an over-sized robotic battle-suit shaped like Zim's school disguise for use in the food-fight that occurred.
Brief on-screen appearances of other Invaders in "Walk for Your Lives" and "Planet Jackers," showed that almost all other Invaders use even shoddier disguises, so Zim's ineptitude in this regard is not unique. Template:Clear
Zim has had several voice actors.
In Jhonen Vasquez's original pilot episode, Zim's voice was provided first by Mark Hamill and then by Billy West. Vasquez 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 West's voiceover track is available as an extra feature on the second disk of the Zim DVD set.
Richard Steven 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. If the Angry Beavers had not ended by the time Invader Zim aired, Andy Berman, the voice of Dib, would have voiced Zim. This final version of the pilot was unavailable to the public until Christmas Eve, 2011, when the pilot aired on Nicktoons.
Horvitz's style of voicing Zim was influenced heavily by Vasquez's own inflections, and those of Vincent Price. Interestingly, Horvitz played a similar character (Orthopox) in the video game Destroy All Humans!. On behind the voice actors, it was shown that Melissa Fahn had voiced Zim as a smeet in "Parent Teacher Night;" her only line as Zim was: "I love you, cold unfeeling robot arm."
In the Japanese dub, Zim is voiced by Nao Nagasawa and by Bjorn Schalla in the German dub.
Facts of Doom
- Zim could've been considered the first Nicktoon villain to have ever killed anyone onscreen had the show not been cancelled since the unfinished episode "The Trial" confirms that he doomed two previous Irken leaders by accident; and, during a flashback in "The Frycook What Came from All That Space," it was shown that he blew up all the other Invaders at the beginning of Operation Impending Doom I.
- Zim may have appeared in Jhonen Vasquez's comic book Squee! before the start of the series. A poster with featuring an alien that looks Irken and is possibly Zim due to the fact it was wearing a wig like Zim's bouffant wig appears above Todd's bed. The image looks less like Zim, though, since the head is rounded and has mere stick figure hands.
- Zim has been seen in a commercial on Nickelodeon holding a sandwich, to which he has bad allergic reactions. In it, he was knocked off a wire on which he was sitting on and thrown into a light, making it explode. This commercial was a crossover of other series on Nickelodeon. After the cancellation of Invader Zim, Zim was replaced with Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot, which was also cancelled. Jenny wasn't knocked into the light.
- Zim is known to smell things and scents even though he does not have a nose, or his nostrils are so small that they're not visible, as evidenced in "Germs," when he is seen sniffing the scent saying it was the "stink of clean."
- In Jhonen Vasquez's "Meanwhile..." comic "Jhonen Vasquez V.S The Devil", There are aliens flying a ship similar to Zim's Voot Cruiser, though the aliens inside the ship look nothing like Irkens.
In one episode of FanBoy and Chum Chum called "Dollar Day," Invader Zim can be seen on a comic cover in the background. His skin is faintly green and he's wearing his disguise, so one must be careful when looking for him.
- At some point in the series, Zim had learned to read human writing, as he is seen reading the newspaper, and understanding what it says, in "Zim Eats Waffles."
- Zim is able to whistle, as seen in "The Girl Who Cried Gnome," "The Nightmare Begins" and "The Wettening."
- Zim's weaknesses have little consistency within the show. For example, in "The Wettening," it is made obvious that he gets burned by water, but in many other episodes he comes into contact with water and is just fine.
- One of the dubious plot ideas for the series finale Invader Dib would have had Zim defeating Dib and Tak and becoming Almighty Tallest soon thereafter, deposing Tallest Red and Purple from the throne; knowing that he must have a queen to rule he would have chosen Gaz, with whom he had teamed up with after she (cloaked in a hood) encouraged him to fight on to save his people from certain death; he would thus regain their admiration and finally be accepted. Additionally, he would begin to lose his desire to conquer Earth and, as Jhonen claims, see the beauty in Earth life and thus completely lose his desire to destroy the planet.
- Zim is a playable character in Nicktoons: MLB, alongside Gaz; however, the two don't seem to interact. Best used as a first base-Irken, his bat is one of the strongest in the entire game if Turbo Hit is activated and he maintains his concentration. His clothes and overall body rendering are the same as in the show, only he wears a pinkish baseball cap that transforms into a first baseman's helmet when he is in first base. He also has a collectible card that mentions that he was almost cut from the roster when it was discovered that he was pulling a prank on fellow team players (tying their shoelaces together).
- Zim's name is spelled in capital letters in the official voice scripts.
- Complete Filmography
- Almighty Tallest and Zim's Relationship
- Zim and GIR's Relationship
- Zim and Tak's Relationship
- Zim and Dib's Relationship
- Zim and Gaz's Relationship
- Zim and Keef's Relationship
- Zim's House
- Zim's Space Station
- Zim's Orbital Water Balloon