|Oh, wait. Zim! We hate him!
— Tallest Red regarding Zim after his absence, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus
The relationship between Zim and the Almighty Tallest can best be described as tumultuous, at least from the Tallests' point of view. Although they deeply detest him and will do anything to get him out of their way, Zim remains innocently loyal and reasonably obedient to his leaders.
Before Operation Impending Doom, Zim accidentally killed the previous two Tallests, Miyuki and Spork. When Tallest Red and Purple learn of this, they are enraged and attempt to have Zim executed, but Zim's PAK causes the Control Brains to be corrupted, sparing Zim from execution and declaring him "The Most Incredible Irken Ever". This would have occurred in the cancelled episode "The Trial".
When Zim ruins Operation Impending Doom and destroys part of Irk as well as killing the original Invaders (as well as most likely thousands of Irkens), the Tallest respond by banishing him to Foodcourtia and reencoding his PAK from Invader to food service. Their response to such a severe offense would imply that the Tallest are reluctant to actually execute their fellow Irkens.
Although they are harsh with Zim and often have little patience for him, they have yet to inflict any real harm on him. When Zim "quits being banished" and arrives for the Great Assigning on planet Conventia, the Tallest still fail to discipline him or reprimand him for leaving his exile. Instead, they merely send him to a mystery planet, hoping that he will get lost or die on the journey there.
The Tallest often underestimate Zim; even though he is lightyears away from Operation Impending Doom II, he still manages to mess things up for his people. In "Tak: The Hideous New Girl", Zim foils Tak's plan, one that the Tallest seem to have shown support of. In "Hobo 13", the Tallest send Zim to the military training planet of the same name in hopes that the rigorous testing will kill him. However, Zim survives the testing, which puts the Tallest out of a great deal of betting money. In "Battle of the Planets", Zim accidentally sends the planet Mars careening through space, and accidentally annihilating a significant portion of the Irken Armada hovering over planet Blorch.
The best example of Zim's getting in the way of the Tallests' affairs is in "Backseat Drivers From Beyond the Stars", in which he pilots Massive to Earth, assuming that they'll be appreciative of his efforts to please them. In the end when the ship's crew regains control of the Massive, the Tallest plan on "blowing up" Zim for his interference. However, they never get the chance to since they become nauseated when they see a brain parasite attacking Zim during a video call. It is worth noting that in this episode, Zim states that he "knows all kinds of things about the Tallest", and that both he and the Tallest agree that he is "creepy."
Zim repeatedly tries to win the praise of and please his leaders, and is often oblivious to their disdain for him. In "Walk for Your Lives", Zim tries to impress them with a variable time stasis field. Although they are reluctant to give him the time of day, Red ultimately lets him try to blow them away with his project. During the episode, the Tallest casually speculate on Zim being dead, seeing him explode at least twice and regarding the events with indifference.
The first and only time that the Tallest actually seem to be interested in what Zim has to say is in "Abducted", during which they have a discussion on how the humans are tall yet dumb. Stemming from their height-based hierarchy, Red and Purple are both fascinated by the fact that something tall could be dumb yet have a hard time understanding the concept; they also are seemingly genuinely concerned at the repercussions. As always, Zim seems happy to have the attention of his leaders.
The Tallests' hatred for the tiny would-be Invader would ultimately become their undoing. In "Megadoomer", they decide to send a pack of malfunctioning SIR Units to him, sending the Megadoomer to Invader Tenn on planet Meekrob. However, a revolutionary on the conveyor belt planet gets in the way and switches the addresses on the packages. Invader Tenn receives the insane SIRs, which proceed to destroy her base. This would have led to her being discovered and imprisoned by the Meekrob, which would then lead to an all-out revolution against the Irken Empire as the Invaders try to rescue Tenn. This would have been covered in the untitled season two finale.
In Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, the Tallest are shown to have forgotten about Zim due to how long it's been since he last called them, and when they do remember him they happily reminisce about sending him on a fake mission to get rid of him. They are thus very aggrieved when Zim calls them to gloat about his newest plan, with Purple even stating that he preferred it when they thought he was dead. They also make it clear, as Zim struggles to remember Phase 2, that they don't care about what he's up to, which Zim as always remains oblivious to.
Later, after Zim realizes that the Armada is not coming anywhere near Earth, he falls into a deep depression and is even willing to give up and let Dib capture him. However, after learning about the Membracelets, he snaps out of it and concocts a plan to seize control of Membrane Labs and use the bracelets to transport Earth into the Armada's path so that the Tallest have to come to him; their reaction to this is to become so enraged that they care more about blowing up Earth to finally get rid of Zim than the fact that they're on a collision course with the Florpus Hole created by Earth being moved. And when Professor Membrane manages to send Earth back to its proper place before it can be destroyed, the Tallest are so relieved Zim is gone that they barely react to flying into the Florpus. Zim, meanwhile, continues to remain oblivious to how the Tallest feel about him.
Invader Zim (comic series)
The trend of the Tallest holding Zim in disdain, and him being oblivious to it, continues into the comic series.
At the start of Issue 2, Zim contacts the Tallest to inform them of his latest plan. Possibly due to how long Zim stayed in hiding to trick Dib as part of this plan, the Tallest actually seem to have forgotten about Zim's existence, initially expressing confusion at his name. However, once his message comes through, they remember, and react with dismay and horror at him still being alive.
Issue 4 contains the longest interaction between Zim and Tallest in the comic series to date. Being too lazy to throw out their uneaten leftover snacks, the Tallest use Engineer Skrang's experimental and untested wormhole machine to dump the food in Zim's Base. Zim, not realizing that the thing literally dumped on him is garbage, contacts the Tallest to thank them for their "gift"; deciding to have some fun at his expense, the Tallest prank Zim by telling him the garbage is an experimental super weapon called the "Munchitronic Deathskrang" that he needs to protect and charge, sending him on various humiliating and painful missions to do so, taking joy in Zim's pain and hoping he'll die.
But they get bored first, and pretend that the Massive is being attacked by enemies after the Deathskrang, and use this as an excuse to cut off communication with him. This ends up backfiring, however, as Zim grows increasingly paranoid that nonexistent enemies are after the Deathskrang, and he finally sends it back the way it came to the Massive, causing the unstable wormhole to explode, destroying the entire half of the universe that the Tallest are in.
Issue 12 has future versions of the Tallest briefly appear to communicate with Emperor Zim. Unlike with present day Zim, they actually seem to respect Emperor Zim, being impressed with his plan to fly the Earth to them so that they can split it open and use it as a snack bowl. Ironically, Zim is disgusted with his future self's sucking up to the Tallest, despite it being exactly like how he himself is around them.
In Issue 18, when Zim calls the Tallest to interrupt the ceremony wherein they're presenting Invader Larb a Zhook Cruiser, their response is to not only cut off his transmission, but to block all calls from the entire half of the galaxy that he's in, as a desperate move to ensure he can't call them again.
In Issue 28, after being informed by Commander Theen that their experimental Time Accelerator has been stolen by some Scavenger Worms, the Tallest briefly consider not sending anyone to retrieve it due to the situation being too dangerous. However, Zim calls at that exact moment, so they decide to send him. After he successfully gets the Time Accelerator back, the Tallest only take a key component from it (which Purple uses as a bendy straw) and let Zim keep the rest of it. It's not clear if they knew it would subsequently blow up and age Zim into an elderly state, but given their indifference to the whole situation, it's likely they didn't.
In Issue 49, Zim Number 2 (a more highly-skilled warrior Zim from an alternate universe) forces his way onto the Massive and fights his way to the Tallest, knocking out all their guards in the process and leaving them confused on whether to be impressed or shocked. However, Number 2 has actually been brainwashed by Zib, the insane alternate universe Dib who rules the Zimvoid, and he proceeds to hack control of the ship and all the Irkens onboard, including the Tallest, and forcing them to obey Zib. But shortly after, Zim uses the portals in the Zimvoid to interfere with the timelines to eliminate all his alternate counterparts, erasing Number 2 from existence and undoing his actions on the Massive. The Tallest are left confused by the concept of a competent and dangerous Zim, so they choose to pretend the whole thing never happened and tell everyone to forget about it.
- Almighty Tallest
- Almighty Tallest Red
- Almighty Tallest Purple
- Almighty Tallest Red and Almighty Tallest Purple's Relationship
- Dib and Zim's Relationship
- Gaz and Zim's Relationship
- GIR and Zim's Relationship
- Sizz-Lorr and Zim's Relationship
- Zim and Keef's Relationship
- Zim and Tak's Relationship
- Invader Skoodge and Zim's Relationship