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20px-Cquote1.png Stupid human propaganda. The very concept of a superior alien species being felled by something as pathetic as "germs" is sheer fantasy. Do they really believe that could happen?

Invader Zim Episode
Germs (Title Card).png
Previous: Walk of Doom
Next: Dark Harvest
Episode No: Episode 04a
Production No: 04a
Airdate: April 20, 2001
Writer(s): Jhonen Vasquez
Rob Hummel

"Germs" is the 1st segment in the 4th episode of the first season of Invader Zim. It first premiered on April 20, 2001, on Nickelodeon.

Plot Summary

SPOILER WARNING OF DOOM: This section or article may contain spoilers!

Zim and GIR laughing at the concept of a race prone to germs.

Zim and GIR watch the end of Intestines of War where the humans have discovered the aliens' weakness; germs, and is using this new found knowledge to restore peace on Earth.

As the film ends, Zim mockingly laughs along with GIR, both convinced that any race with a proneness to germs are inferior. Zim then goes down to his base, proceeding to try a demo pair of the Microgoggles which serve as germ vision goggles.

Though confident at first, Zim becomes a germaphobe seconds later. Now shaking in fear, he orders the full version from Callnowia.

Zim now in fear of germs.

Soon, Zim's package arrives at his doorstep. Clearly able to see the germs around him, he snivels over the amount of bacteria and gets his cleaning equipment while GIR returns to the base holding a muddy pig. The malfunctioning SIR goes elsewhere, and Zim begins to sanitize his home along with his computer.

A while later, Zim inhales the scent of his germ free base, admiring his work. However, he spots a small germ crawling in the cracks of his kitchen, which he exterminates moments later.

GIR trying to hug Zim.

Before Zim can proclaim his so-called victory over the small pests, GIR arrives at the base and lets loose another army or germs upon his arrival. To make matters worse, GIR begins to roll around the living room, making Zim tell his henchman to stop. Believing Zim was simply in a grouchy mood, GIR walks forward to him and tries to hug him.

Zim's first resort was to run outside, but has been proved useless as he saw a massive amount of germs outside and tries to get rid of them using disinfectant to the puzzlement of one of his neighbors, Zim ran back inside to escape the only to have GIR successively fully hug him.

To get GIR out of the way, Zim puts him back into his dog suit and ties him to a tree in his front yard. Suddenly, Zim remembers about his mission as an "Invader" Zim tries to clear his mind of his fear by calling the Tallest so he can report his current progress.

Red and Purple scared by Zim's behavior.

Inside the Massive, Red and Purple groan after hearing Zim's call and discuss they should have sent him somewhere much more dangerous like a mission on a sun, a planet of broken glass or one of those "exploding head planets" before reluctantly answering the transmission.

Zim tries to tell his leaders that all is going well, but is distracted by the ever growing number of germs getting into his base until he begins to yell out that he will destroy all of the germs in his sight, laughing evilly before the connection goes dead. As the screen buzzes, Purple asks Red if he was scared by that as well, to which he nods.

Low on disinfectant, Zim goes outside and unties GIR from the tree so they can go and get more cleaning products. He sprays his robot to clean him and then both leave. By the time they reach the store, it is night time. GIR is the first to spot the store and tries to run over to its, but is repeatedly stopped by Zim, who is spraying the area in front of him.

Zim is horrified by all the germs.

Annoyed, GIR grabs the can of disinfectant to get more out. Suddenly, he spots a MacMeaties restaurant and runs over to the building—along with the can. Zim follows his henchman into the fast food restaurant, and looks in horror at that filth-covered customers inside.

Upon finding GIR he demands the disinfectant only to be given a burger instead. In his attempt to get away from his fears, the Irken makes a surprising discovery; the burgers are completely free of germs.

How ya doin'?

Demanding answers, Zim is told why they serve germ-free meat by an employee he dubs the "Burger Lord", as well as what they are made of: Used napkins as the MacMeaties Corporation did not have access to that technology of "space meat".

Realizing an "ingenious" way he could use this as a way around his fear of germs and complete his mission without unwanted attention, unaware that some costumers are watching him, Zim demands to have the restaurant's entire meat supply.

The next day, Zim arrives at Skool covered in meat and greets his fellow students enthusiastically as they and Miss Bitters stare.

End of Spoilers: There are no further spoilers for this section or article. You can breathe now.

Facts of Doom

Cultural References

An alien allergic to germs.

  • When Zim watches the video in the beginning, the issue with germs being able to kill off and stop an alien invasion is a reference to H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, where the Martians are killed by simple bacteria. The alien ships in it also slightly resemble the Martian War Machines from the 1953 film version, and use the 1953 heat-ray sound effect for their lasers.
  • MacMeaties is a fairly obvious parody of both McDonald's and Burger King.
  • In the movie, when one of the scientists is discussing about evacuating people to a homebase and live on the stars, he could be referencing the Philip Wylie's & Edwin Balmer's novel When Worlds Collide, where humanity evacuates Earth and live somewhere else in space.
  • Zim wearing tissue boxes on his feet is a reference to the business tycoon Howard Hughes' extreme germophobia during his later life, in which he stayed reclusive in a darkened hotel room, naked and wearing tissue boxes on his feet to protect them from germs.
  • Callnowia has an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
  • Tallest Red's comment on the "exploding heads planets" is a nod to Jhonen Vasquez's Sixth issue of JTHM comic where Johnny starts a massive psychic battle when he discovers that the souls in Heaven have mental powers which includes the ability to explode people's heads.


Zim's germaphobe outfit.

  • Zim breaks the fourth wall by spraying the disinfectant spray at the screen to the viewer.
  • Zim's germaphobe outfit along with the Microgoggles has a similar appearance to the outfit he used when he worked at Shloogorgh's Flavor Monster, a possible foreshadowing to the events of "The Frycook What Came from All That Space".
  • In this episode, Zim is shown with four fingers. But, in most other episodes, he's shown with only three fingers.
  • The legless neighbor never makes another appearance in the show at Nickelodeon's request, though he is seen in the DVD animatics of the episode "Abducted."
  • This episode marks the first time that Zim has mentioned his Squeedly-Spooch, the super-organ that members of the Irken race have. However, it isn't explained what it is until "Dark Harvest" this is because the episode aired out of order.
  • A game on Nickelodeon's official website, titled In-Sanitation, was based on this episode. It has since been removed.
  • The scientist seen in the movie is seen throughout the series, most notably in "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom", in which he sentences Dib to a lifetime in the Crazy House For Boys.
  • This is also the second time Dib nor Gaz appear, the first time being "Walk of Doom".
  • This episode marks the second appearance of The Tallest, and the first appearance of their redesigns.
  • This episode is the fifth episode to use the squiggly Invader Zim font in the title instead of the official font.
  • On the February 14, 2016, airing on Nicktoons, this episode was paired with "Door to Door."[1]

Changes & Cuts

  • "NanoZIM" and "Germs" were originally supposed to air as a pair. However, "Dark Harvest" and "Bestest Friend" were deemed too twisted to be aired together, so the partners were switched.

Things You Might Have Missed

  • After the pig leaves Zim's house, a motorcycle sound can be heard, in the DVD commentary Jhonen Vasquez said he toyed around with the sounds in the editing room..
  • The famous Wilhelm Scream is heard in the opening movie, when one of the alien spaceships destroys a car.
    JV, STR & Z.png
  • Jhonen Vasquez and Steve Ressel are seen sitting inside MacMeaties. They also have the script for "The Nightmare Begins" on the table, meaning they're possibly discussing about it as they are seen talking, this also serves as a subtle moment when the fourth wall was broken.
  • There was a poster in the MacMeaties restaurant that read "JUST SAY YES".
  • GIR's eye twitches when Zim sprays him, though GIR's eyes are covered by his dog costume.

The five-second demo.

Inconsistencies and Animation Errors

  • Zim's Computer said that he would have a free five-second demo, though the demo actually lasted almost twenty seconds. It's possible that the Computer might have been using Irk seconds rather than Earth seconds.
  • After the scene when Zim closes the door to get away from GIR, his PAK's colors were reversed.


Main Article: The Kevin Manthei Invader Zim-phony Special

  • Cleaning Montage
  • GIR's Germs
  • Zim Loses It

See also