Invader Zim was a short run show. It is a shame that it did not last longer than it did, but I have come to peace with its short run. Also coming to terms with the fact that it will not ever again be on television or have a continuation—which I think is good since any reboot would not, I believe, capture the original spirit of the show, its dark and quirky nature—I nevertheless have an idea for how I would have liked to see the series conclude.
To put it quickly, I would have liked to see a happy ending.
Most children’s shows have happy endings, so it is natural that Invader Zim would have one… on the surface. Actuality, however, a happy ending for Zim would have to be considered as unusual since the show is renowned for its odd and macabre conclusions. A happy ending in Zim would be quite unusual. Though many fans might balk at this idea, perhaps wanting an ending where Zim is either defeated and driven into exile or where Earth is actually conquered, I think a more nuanced ending should be considered.
Simply put, my ‘happy’ ending would be as followed: after realizing he is an incompetent invader through a sort of epiphany, and that the Tallest would never divert the armada to conquer Earth even if Zim did take over the planet—because it is a backwater world with no value—Zim has a breakdown. He stops going to school and harassing Dib. Eventually, Gaz, through some means, realizes what happened and, in her usual kind of emo-gothic manner, berates her brother into consoling Zim, arguing that whether Dib realizes, and likes, it or not, he and Zim are best friends, even if Dib will not admit it; after all, Gaz could argue, Zim is an incompetent invader and never really had a chance at conquering Earth. So, Dib travels to Zim’s place and, after much dramatic back and forth, cheers Zim up, eventually convincing him to live on earth, peacefully; the series would end with a montage of Dib and Zim playing and just, in general, growing up before a short finale scene between Zim and Dib which suggests either a romantic, non-sexual bond or a strong, indelible friendship. Perhaps before the credits show, there would be some quirky inversion of ‘invader’ to mean something non-literal. Then, THE END!
Why this ending? I know, it is clichéd. Hugely so, especially with its typically eye-rolling fan-fiction between Dib and Zim. But, and hear me out, it makes sense for the narrative—what is more macabre and odd conclusion, especially for a Kid’s show, then to display such an inversion of typical social bonds than to depict a human and alien (a “Other”) growing up, and possibly even living together? The homosocial connotations would be groundbreaking for a children’s program and would fill in nicely to the unexpected expected ending; while people rightly despise the ‘unexpected, expected’ ending for its weaseling out of a series’s primary thematic overtures, in Zim’s case I feel that it makes more sense since, as I said previously, it is the odd, and unusual ending which you would never expect, one which came out of nowhere and completely turned around, or legitimated, the dynamic between the show’s two central protagonists. While it may not be a cosmic horror anti-conclusion in the typical sense of the term, one where more questions are left unanswered while a great chilling void comes down inexorably on the protagonists, it is one displays a certain kind of connectedness to the important aspects of an otherwise trivial existence. And, at the end, is that not what cosmic horror is about? In celebrating the good times while your irrelevant day-to-day life comes and goes without even ruffling a speck on a single feather that is the universe. I think so.