Dec. 13 – Invader Zim: The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever


Original Air Date: December 10, 2002


An alien hellbent on taking over the world hatches an evil plan to pose as Santa Claus and lead the spirited masses of Earth to their ultimate DOOM!


Invader Zim was first broadcast on March 30, 2001 as part of Nickelodeon’s efforts to extend its reach beyond children and into the teenage demographic. Perhaps hiring the Jhonen Vasquez, the writer of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, got them a little more than they bargained for… since his show centered around a murderous alien who is only kept from destroying our planet by a boy named Dib, a nerd seemingly reviled by all.

zim-vasquezThe Nickelodeon cartoonist’s previous work

The series was far darker and more sadistic than anything that has ever aired on the network before or since, and lukewarm ratings made the satirical depictions of death and a moronic society all the harder to defend. The show was canceled at the very beginning of the second season even though it won numerous awards in the field of animation.

zim-back2 Zim was almost voiced by Billy West and Mark Hamill

Despite being the final episode in the production order, The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever was the only episode from Zim’s second season ever to premiere on Nickelodeon. The remaining finished episodes would eventually air on other networks starting in 2006, most notably on the Nicktoons Network, after the show proved to be a cult hit with the 18-25 set via the internet and DVD.

Invader Zim was one of those jobs almost well done. Nickelodeon attempted to branch out into harsher fare… only to buckle under scrutiny, cancel the show after a handful of episodes, and scare off the creator from ever returning to televised animation.

zim-new-introThis episode featured an alternate intro where Zim and GIR are crushed by Santa’s fat ass

Damn shame, that. Because even though my friends and I were well outside of Zim’s target demographic, we finally caught wind of it through *cough* various means of internet file sharing, and have been in love with it ever since.

zim-girGIR, doin’ what he does bet: Nothing

That said, The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever is pretty wonderful Christmas special, even though it bitter-sweetly marks the last episode ever produced for the series, and absolutely barbaric by Rankin/Bass comparison.

zim-arena3Sure to warm the hearts of next to no one

That’s only an apt comparison given that Horrible X-Mas is also presented to the viewer as a tale told by a snowman, just like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer… Only this snowman’s name is Sludgy, and he’s spinning the yarn from 2 million years in the future.

zim-sludgyThe winter of your nightmares

At the start, Zim is demanding money from the very humans he so hates, only to notice many a red-suited figure cutting in on his action.

zim-begYou know he’s one of us from the nametag that says “HUMAN”

Zim kidnaps one of Santa’s helpers in hopes that he may better weaken the will of the masses by posing as the holiday icon he believes earthlings worship as a leader.


Meanwhile, Dib is trying to get Zim’s ship working so he can bring down the would-be alien conqueror nobody else even believes to exist.

zim-dib1Dib must save a world populated by people who hate him

A news update kicks on with an urgent update! Santa Claus is back, bitches!

zim-tvPeople are sometimes too quick to believe in Santa

Dib may be the only person on Earth who can recognize Zim underneath his many costumes and contact lenses, but it is also revealed the his absentee father, Professor Membrane also holds a vendetta against Santa in general after he received an explosion of socks instead of unrefined uranium as a boy.

zim-sleighSickeningly cute

Zim’s plan seems to be in full swing, as he has quite capably gathered the drooling masses into a Christmas themed arena so that they may exahult him before their inevitable demise.

zim-arenaNow that’s a Christmas celebration!

Dib tries to warn his fellow civilians, reminding them that the gorilla from last year was also, not Santa, but his pleas fall on deaf ears and Zim takes him captive.

zim-arena2Bow before Santa

A flaw has begun to expose itself… The suit Zim has brought to life is built upon the brains of several Santa’s. Once people begin to shout warm tidings of X-Mas cheer, the suit begins to show signs of call and response sentience.

zim-bad-suitToo… Merry

Dib proves to be a problem for Zim, so he disposes of him on an ice float in the middle of nowhere, leaving Dib with no other option but to call out to his normally indifferent family for help.

zim-dib2Not cool

Sister Gaz, arrives in the ship to pick him up, but in what could a be a series first, his father actually reaches out to offer help too. Although, it is a personal score he is more than prepared to settle.

zim-fortressHating Santa, not Christmas

Cut to the North Pole, where Zim is finalizing his plans to eradicate the humans from the surface of the planet.

zim-moose1Are you ready to get Merry?!


But even the best laid plans go array. It seems Zim was prepared for everything… except an impossibly cute girl demanding a hug from Santa Claus.


The suit has become… aware


And Zim is enveloped into his own creation of Horrible Christmas Cheer!

zim-insideShould’ve impersonated Hanukkah Harry

Luckily, Dib burst onto the scene in a full on mech-suit built for the sole purpose of destroying Santa Claus…


Just in time for the Santa suit to go all out Akira:


An apocalyptic  war is waged with the organic Kringle-bot…

zim-monster3Stand closer, ya morons!

And Dib proves himself to be more than capable. He strikes a blow so powerful, Santa is knocked down and bleeds Zim from his insides.

zim-monster2Yeah, pretty gross

Outside of the confines of the suit, Zim shrinks the ruiner of Christmas and Dib fire the remains into space. Huzzah! Christmas is saved!

zim-dib4You’re welcome, Sheeple

As the savior of Christmas, and the entire human race, Dib looks like he may finally get the respect he has so long deserved… were it not for Zim’s Plan B: The Easter Platypus!

zim-easterSo cute, you almost want to hand him the world

And the whole special whips back into the future, as Sludgy the snowman explains that’s why children two million years later must barricade themselves indoors every Christmas: To avoid the wrath of Zim’s Christmas gift to the stars!

zim-endI know I feel merrier

jesus template

Nil. Already skating on thin ice with his Nickelodeon overlords, that was one sacred cow Jhonen Vasquez wasn’t going after.


There’s about a billion utterly amazing Santa designs featured through The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever, but I dare not award it all five gingerbreads since they’re often horrific to the point of traumatizing:



I love this special, but it’s admittedly difficult to recommend to fans of traditional Christmas specials… At times, it’s hard to tell whether the writers are having fun with the legend of Christmas/Santa Claus or simply want to destroy it. For fans of Invader Zim, however, it’s a great episode. Not only is it filled with some of the most twisted Holiday imagery known to man, it seems they knew full well that this was it for the series and many a joke is made and the expense of the story, characters and overall premise.


It’s not a question of “whether” you need to own Invader Zim, it’s “how much?” and “when.” This series is amazing and worth the time of anyone with the slightest interest in modern animation… although it looks as if Nick has stopped producing the DVDs. I had no idea since I bought the boxed set from Amazon less than a year ago for like $20… But it appears buying used is your only option so here goes: The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever is available on the Invader Zim Vol. 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer double disc set and within the basic box set or Invader Zim House Boxed Set that features an extra disc. Amazon sellers appear to be asking a lot, so shop around, and make sure to snatch one up if you see it in the wild… it appears like it may be worth more than you think.

12Toytinkers1Yesterday’s Christmas Special:

6 thoughts on “Dec. 13 – Invader Zim: The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever

  1. I LOVE this episode, as well as the whole series, bought a sort of, unofficial box-set which includes all that the House Box Complete Set includes, only… cheaper, and on a less cool box.
    Still, it’s an awesome series, specially if you’re already familiar with Vasquez’s previous works, now that I read JTHM it’s kinda adolescent, but, still, it’s funny as hell.
    Too bad Zim will probably never EVER come back 🙁

  2. It’s my understanding that, yeah, the creator refuses to return to Zim nor any other form of televised animation after his experience with Nickelodeon.

    I hope those comments were made BEFORE it really struck a chord with so many people. I mean, would a short movie wrapping the whole thing up be too much to ask?!

  3. Word is that they are still looking into bringing it back. It did so well on Nicktoons they have it in regular rotation, and it’s been that way for MONTHS. The DVD sales have done pretty well.

    My idea is to test run it on Adult Swim. Take off King of the Hill and see what it can do in that time slot. My gut tells me it DESTROYS and just like Family Guy and Futurama, they will no other option but to bring it back.

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