- Invader Zim was reportedly canceled after two seasons due to poor ratings from its target audience of kids aged 2 to 11.
- Despite its cancelation, Invader Zim has become a cult classic, receiving critical acclaim and ranking on various “best animation” lists.
- Fans of Invader Zim continue to show their support through conventions, reboots, and the purchase of official merchandise, solidifying the show’s legacy.
Invader Zim may have forged an enduring legacy, but the series still ended after just two seasons. Created by cartoonist Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon, the animated dark comedy unapologetically pushed the boundaries of children’s television with morbid, counterculture humor and the grisly nature of its overarching storyline. Invader Zim followed the titular alien as he attempted to conquer Earth and enslave the human race under the order of the Irken Empire — a mission he repeatedly failed at to hilarious effect.
Whether it was because of the Irken species’ aim for universal conquest, their prejudice against other species, or any number of Invader Zim’s wonderfully weird WTF moments, the series was flagged as incredibly dark next to the other cartoons airing on Nickelodeon at the time. Among Nickelodeon’s original programming, which included relatively mild TV shows like The Fairly OddParents, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, and Rugrats, Invader Zim stood out. For that reason, many assumed the show was canceled in 2002 for being too dark. Although that was the consensus for a long time after Invader Zim’s endng, Nickelodeon reported that the ephemeral series was canceled for a different reason.
Invader Zim Was Canceled Because Of Its Ratings
According to The Northerner at the time of Invader Zim’s cancelation, Nickelodeon stated the series’ dissolution was “poor rating from their core demographic (kids age 2 to 11).” However, in hindsight, Nickelodeon’s announcement seemed to contradict the initial expectations of the series. Invader Zim appeared to be designed for the channel’s older demographic, even if the network tried to appeal to a wider audience. Moreover, since Invader Zim’s cancelation, comments from series creator Vasquez felt at odds with the network’s official reasoning.
After Invader Zim was canceled, Vasquez wrote a lengthy blog post on Question Sleep, during which he admitted that many of the assumptions about why Invader Zim was canceled were uninformed. However, he proposed “the most likely culprits [were] ratings and the sheer expense of the show.” In other responses from the Invader Zim creator, he hinted that Invader Zim didn’t fit in with Nickelodeon’s overall image, which led him to ask the network to ship his series over to MTV, much like they did with The Ren & Stimpy Show. In an interview with IGN, Vasquez said:
“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.”
Invader Zim Has Become A Classic Despite Its Cancelation
Regardless of the reasons behind Invader Zim’s cancelation, the animated show went on to become something of a cult classic. The characters remain recognizable today, and merchandise for the show can still be found despite it being off the air for more than two decades. Invader Zim continues to rank on “best animation” lists from outlets like IGN and The Guardian. And on Rotten Tomatoes, Invader Zim boasts a fresh critic score of 100% and an average audience score of 89%.
What’s more, Invader Zim fans never miss an opportunity to show just how much the series meant to them. In 2011, an Invader Zim fan convention dubbed InvaderCON rose from the ashes of the canceled series. In 2019, a reboot movie dubbed Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus debuted on Netflix. Such developments prove the show maintains a dedicated fan base, even if it never continued beyond Invader Zim season 2.