If Not For One Big Screw-Up, Invader Zim Could’ve Been Saved


  • Nickelodeon reportedly canceled Invader Zim due to low ratings, but the exact reason for its premature conclusion has been debated.
  • The creator of Invader Zim, Jhonen Vasquez, wanted the show to move to MTV, but Nickelodeon did not support the idea.
  • Invader Zim could have found success on a different network with an older demographic, such as MTV or Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.



Had Nickelodeon made one rectifying decision rather than wasting the opportunity, the cult classic Invader Zim show may have had a much longer run on television. Instead, the two season-long animation staple was canceled by the children’s network on the grounds that Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim simply fostered very low ratings. According to The Northerner in 2002, Nickelodeon went on record to confirm that the fate of the TV show was due to poor ratings from the channel’s core demographic, kids ages 2 to 11, but rumors through the decades settled on Invader Zim getting the ax for being too dark.

The debate on why the series was abandoned has been known to be quite indeterminate, especially because the series’ creator has suggested different reasons on various platforms. Vasquez has oscillated between Invader Zim cancelation reasons including that the series admittedly had low ratings, that the series was too expensive to maintain (via a personal blog post), and that the shadowy sci-fi animation didn’t fit Nickelodeon’s image. Overall, however, the reason isn’t entirely clear. Whatever the case may be, Vasquez pushed for the series to continue past the Invader Zim episodes that are available to watch, but Nickelodeon unfortunately ruined the opportunity.

Experience more of Invader Zim with Jhonen Vasquez’s Invader Zim comic series, as it serves as a continuation of the TV show.

Invader Zim Creator Jhonen Vasquez Wanted The Series To Move To MTV

Dib pointing in Invader Zim

Invader Zim followed the conquering exploits of the extraterrestrial Irken alien Zim after he sets his sights on Earth for world domination. The animation wasn’t necessarily scary, but its overall narrative and dark stylization didn’t seem to adhere to the tamer TV shows in Nickelodeon’s early 2000s rotation, such as The Fairly OddParents, SpongeBob SquarePants, and The Amanda Show. When it became apparent that Invader Zim wasn’t cutting it for the children’s channel, Vasquez decided to take matters into his own hands by asking for a change in network, namely to MTV.

When asked why Nick didn’t consider shipping Invader Zim over to sister network MTV like they did with the divisive Ren and Stimpy show, Vasquez explained to IGN:

“We asked them to [move Invader Zim to MTV], when it became apparent that Nick was the ‘place for kids’ but not ‘kids who want their eyes ripped out.’ As far as I know, Nick was all about burying the show with ever-changing time slots. Any move to a channel where it might get decent attention was not an attractive one to them…Getting lucky with a network that backs you is a dream. We didn’t have that, so we spent a lot of time in a crying huddle.”

From what it seems, Vasquez not only thought that Invader Zim wasn’t getting the support it needed to flourish, but that it had the potential to flourish tenfold somewhere else. Why Nickelodeon seemingly wanted to “bury the show” remains up for debate, but not allowing for a network change hindered Invader Zim from proving itself elsewhere.

Invader Zim Could Have Prospered On A Channel With An Older Demographic

Zim flushing himself in Invader Zim

Invader Zim, with just two short seasons and one rebooted movie to its name, has become somewhat of a cult sensation in the years since its early cancelation. It’s hard to disagree with Vasquez when predicting how well Invader Zim would’ve done on a different network, as the fan flame for the series, even now, burns strong. But, just like most series that were gone way too soon, how well Invader Zim would have performed is a measure that’s difficult to predict.

If Invader Zim was shipped over to MTV, there’s a good chance that the channel’s older demographic would have rated the series higher than 2 to 11-year-olds. MTV already housed animated classics that rung true with young and older adults, such as the beloved Daria series, Beevis and Butthead, and Clone High. If not MTV, Invader Zim could’ve prospered playing on Cartoon Network alongside 2000s hit animated shows like Adult Swim’s The Boondocks and Robot Chicken. Unfortunately, however, Nickelodeon had reservations on sharing Invader Zim anywhere – even with its own sister network – which decisively brought the series to its pitiful TV demise.

Sources: The Northerner, Question Sleep, IGN

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    Invader Zim

    Release Date:

    Andy Berman




    Streaming Sevice:
    Paramount+, Prime Video

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