Why I love Invader Zim
The universe’s filled with many great mysteries. People can spend their lives trying to find answers to big questions like “why are we here?” or “are we alone in the universe?” There’s one question, though, that’s bothered me since childhood: why did they cancel Invader Zim?
The Nightmare Begins
Premiering on Nickelodeon on March 30th, 2001, Invader Zim focused on the titular Zim. Part of a warlike race of aliens bent on universal conquest, Zim believes he’s been sent to Earth to conquer it for his people. In truth, though, his leaders sent him away because he’s a narcissistic moron, they wanted to get rid of for good. With his moronic robot sidekick, GIR, Zim attempts to come up with plans to conquer the planet in the name of his people. Fortunately, his ideas are either ruined by his incompetence, or by Dib, a paranormal investigator.
When I first saw Invader Zim all those years ago, it was indeed a cartoon like none I’d ever seen before. On a channel filled with generally light-hearted and comedic shows, Invader Zim stood out like a sore thumb. Everything from its tone to its music to its art style clashed with the other Nicktoons. It was the black sheep of the Nicktoons family. And I LOVED IT!
As I said, Zim was something that I’d never seen before. It loved to deal with the macabre and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on kids shows. From an episode where Zim harvested organs from human children to outright trying to kill Dib onscreen, this show could get pretty dark. Despite everything, though, Zim knew how to stop short of becoming a full-on horror movie and keep itself in the kid-friendly realm through humor.
Despite how dark it is, the show knew how to make kids laugh with its sense of humor; which mainly dealt with craziness. Almost everyone on the show was varying levels of crazy. Zim could go from talking regularly to shouting manic monologues the next made him hilarious. I loved Dib’s passion for the paranormal and how he saw himself as this big hero. The whole cast was like a madhouse in a hall of mirrors.
CGI Was Legit
Of course, the characters weren’t the only great thing about the show. What set it apart from everything else was how it regularly used CGI. It was the first time I’d ever see a cartoon use CGI techniques, and the results were jaw-dropping. From a nano-bot fight inside of Dib’s body to the clashing of planets, it made the process look like a work of art. Even after twenty years, I still think the blend of 2D and CGI holds up well.
Nickelodeon Screws Up
Despite being one of the coolest cartoons in their arsenal, though, Nickelodeon failed to realize what it had. They kept pushing its time slots around which killed its ratings, and the writers chafed at the censors they had to follow. They complied but made every effort to undermine Nick’s authority. Eventually, the costs for the show and the low ratings made it a loss for the network. So, Invader Zim got scrapped halfway through season two.
To this day, I consider Nickelodeon’s decision to cancel Invader Zim to be a mistake. They had something unique and amazing, but they couldn’t see it for what it was and tried to let it die. I consider never seeing how Invader Zim ends to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. Heck, if I had a portal gun or dimensional scissors, I’d go to a universe where the show never got canceled. If multiverse theory’s right, there has to be one out there!
Foolish Executive Monkeys
Ironically, by canceling it, Nickelodeon made Invader Zim more popular than ever. With the rise of online fandoms and streaming, people found places where they could gather and keep the love for the show alive. Critics now call it one of the best cartoons Nickelodeon ever made and praise it for being different. I adore it for being different and have supported the idea of finishing the show.
Now, it seems like our prayers are being answered. After years of speculation, Nickelodeon announced they would bring the series back with an hour-long special, Enter the Florpus. Then it seems they wussed out on it, so Netflix stepped in to take the reins. I don’t know how the special will go, but I only hope that it gives us the closure fans need. Will Dib ever expose Zim? Will Zim conquer Earth at long last? These questions… may not be answered in the upcoming special. For now, though, it’s just great to have Zim back.
Oh, if you guys didn’t know, Zim has his own comic book series now! Crazy right? You can read it right here on this website!
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