Invader ZIM Wiki
Irken Crowd.png



Light green, lime, green, dark green, and olive


Ruby, pink, purple, red, green, blue, amber, and light brown

Notable Facts

Antennae, PAK, monochrome eyes, no nose, hair, or ears


The Irkens are an imperialistic race of green-skinned humanoids from the planet Irk. The basic goal of the Irken race is total universal conquest; they mostly attain this feat with the aid of their vast armada, which aids in planetary destruction via a sort of final attack called the Organic Sweep.

Appearance and Biology

Main article: Irken Biology

Irkens bear a similarity to the humans' archetypal concept of aliens as "little green men" - they have light green skin, sport a pair of angular antennae atop their hairless heads, and have solid-colored eyes (usually ruby).

They are generally somewhat short in comparison to humans, usually approximately three to five feet tall. A unique aspect of Irken biology is the cybernetic PAK device that is attached to every Irken's spine at birth, and serves not only as an ever-present Swiss Army knife, but also as a backup brain; if the PAK is removed for more than 10 minutes, the Irken dies.

Irken Society

Main article: Irken Society

Irken society is best described as a hierarchy based solely on height; tall individuals are respected and usually assigned to high-ranking jobs. Short individuals, such as Zim and Skoodge, on the other hand, are looked down upon both figuratively and literally, and are usually assigned to menial labor. The tallest living Irken (or Irkens, should there be two of the same height) is selected to rule the Irken Empire as the Almighty Tallest.

"Hobo 13" reveals that Irkens use the decimal system of numerical analysis. This is demonstrated when Bob is crunching the numbers on his calculator.

The rest of the universe that know of the Irkens consider them to be bloodthirsty, tyrannical and dictatorial. However, the Irken Control Brains determine what the Irken population thinks through PAK programming. Despite this, Irkens do have a brain capable of independent thought.

Irkens do not seem to need sleep (see footnote on Irken Biology), though it is not known why. However, they seem to be capable of it and are often seen resting.

Zim is an Irken Defective; due to "forty schmillion" errors in his PAK ("The Trial"), he is not programmed like the other Irkens. However, even then he is still extremely militaristic and feels a need to conquer.

Irkens are born in cloning facilities deep under Irk's surface, and have their PAK installed seconds after. Immediately after this, the baby Irken, or smeet, gets all existing knowledge in the Irken database downloaded into their brain, and then immediately reports for duty. Until they are of age, however, young Irkens aren't permitted on Irk's surface.

Methods of Conquering

The universal Irken insignia which serves as the Invader insignia as well as to show when a planet is under Irken rule.

The Irkens implement the Organic Sweep after one of their own, an Irken Invader, has successfully infiltrated and taken over a planet they intend to conquer and has learned of its main weaknesses.

When the intelligent inhabitants of the planet have succumbed to Irken persuasion, they are typically forced to work as slaves.

The planet is then given a single purpose: For example, Foodcourtia became an intergalactic food court, the planet Vort became Irk's top military research prison, the Screwheads' home world became the Conveyor Belt Planet and a shipping hub, and Blorch became a parking structure planet.

Facts of Doom

  • The Irkens share some similarities with the Daleks, from the British show Doctor Who. Both are alien races hell-bent and biologically engineered for simple universal conquering and destruction of all races they consider "inferior" to themselves, which is pretty much all of them. Both are single-minded in their goal and possess complete apathy and lack of mercy for others in their pursuit of conquest. Also, like the Empire in the Star Wars franchise, their organization and ideology mirrors the Nazis and other associated fascist states.
  • Irkens' teeth were originally drawn as being rectangular and shaped more like human teeth. Starting with "Career Day," their teeth are drawn rounded, resembling gums.
  • Irk means "to annoy" which is fitting in a sense as Zim can be quite irritating and Jhonen Vasquez stated that Irkens use all caps "because they're annoying."
  • In the Invader Zim show bible, Irkens were originally referred to as "Noyings" (a play on the word "annoying"), and "Irk" referred specifically to the planet they are from. According to The Art of Invader Zim, Jhonen changed this for simplicity's sake.
  • Irkens do not appear to have reproductive organs.
  • During Pride month, Jhonen Vasquez jokingly tweeted The only IRKEN gender is ASSHOLE. All caps. You can see the tweet here.
  • According to Derrick J. Wyatt, the Omnitrix from the Ben 10 franchise can accept Irken DNA, Jhonen Vasquez however hasn't confirmed nor denied this.

See Also