Dib and Zim are usually portrayed as mortal enemies, sometimes as rivals, and occasionally reluctant allies. As the series progresses, they both develop a grudging respect for the other. It is important to note that Dib, like Zim, does not know that Zim's mission is just something to keep him out of the way, and that he is a disgrace to the Irken population. Because he thinks Zim is actually a respected Irken, he is known to question how intelligent the species as a whole may be (i.e. "If Irkens are so advanced, why is your robot such a loser?").
However, it is interesting to note that they both need each other. Zim needs Dib to be motivated to finish his mission. Specifically in the unfinished episode "Mopiness of Doom", after Dib had given up on pursuing ZIM, ZIM simply stopped coming up with evil plans because he found it pointless. Likewise, Dib also needs ZIM. Paranormal investigation is his passion, and ZIM is the proof he needs in order for the world to take him seriously, otherwise they just think that he is insane. In Issue 1 of the comic series, when Zim disappeared, Dib became a complete shut-in refusing to even leave his room. He spent all of his time watching video feeds of ZIM's house and places that ZIM frequented, obsessed that one day that ZIM would return. Both seem to be the only ones in the series who take the other seriously.
DibSelf-proclaimed 'Savior of the Earth', Dib has made it his sole mission to make sure that Zim doesn't take over Earth.
During the first few episodes, Dib views Zim as a real threat, and refers to his being on Earth as a "reign of terror". However, he relaxes somewhat after it becomes apparent that Zim is quite incompetent. He still attempts to stop Zim, but does it more for the sake of capturing Zim to prove that he's not insane. Throughout the series, Dib always attempts to try and prove himself right, but he almost never wins, with Zim fleeing the scene to leave Dib as the scapegoat. Even on a good day, when he actually does win, his plans never work out the way he plans them, and either way, receives the shorter end of the stick and ends up becoming more of a pariah than before.
Besides the fact that one is trying to destroy the other's homeworld, like Zim and Gaz they do have a surprising amount of things in common, such as their being both outcasts in their societies, as well as their height and intellect. But irrespective of those qualities, however, the series' finale would have have Zim banish Dib to the remote corners of Saturn for attempted genocide of the Irkens.
In "Return of Keef", Dib destroys a recording of Zim saying he's an alien because it also captured the two of them hugging, to their mutual horror.
Egotistical and self-centered, Zim will stop at nothing to take over the Earth, in the hopes of impressing his Tallest. Since he ruined the first Operation Impending Doom, Zim is twice as determined to earn the respect of the Almighty Tallest.
Throughout the series, Zim views Dib as nothing more than an annoyance, never regarding him as an actual threat to the mission, until late in the series. At times, he does acknowledge Dib's genius, however, this is usually followed by an insult, degrading him for constantly being caught.
Later in the series, Zim begins to associate taking over the Earth with Dib's defeat, with good reason; Dib is the only one defending the Earth. In vice versa, he sees getting rid of the child as a ticket to the quick conquering of Earth.
In the cancelled episode "Mopiness of Doom", it would have been revealed that without Dib to try and stop him, Zim would become bored and lethargic, losing all motivation for taking over the Earth. Zim seemed very excited that Dib had returned to his old self at the end of the episode.
However, despite seeming to need Dib in order to be motivated to take over the Earth, ZIM has no qualms if physical harm were to come to Dib. In fact, it seems to bring him great joy and entertainment. In Issue 13 of the comics, Dib had been abducted by aliens. They threatened to hurt Dib if ZIM did not give them his humongoserum. ZIM simply got out a bag of popcorn and watched Dib suffer. This is not really much of a surprise, however, as, although Zim is the main protagonist of the series, he is at the same time a villain, thus it would make sense that he finds plesasure as Dib's pain.
Facts of Doom
- Despite being rivals, many fans support Zim and Dib as a couple, nicknamed ZADR. It should be noted that Jhonen Vasquez, the show's creator, has stated that he strongly disapproves of ZADR.
- Though the two hate each other, they are often mistaken for friends because they spend so much time together. Professor Membrane often calls ZIM "Dib's foreign friend". The aliens in Issue 13 abducted Dib because they thought that he was ZIM's best friend.
- The two are mortal enemies who hate each other, but they are also capable of working together if it benefits them both. For example, in the episode "Bolognius Maximus" they work together in order to find an antidote for the bologna DNA serum since they are both infected. In the unfinished episode "The Return of Keef" they agree to pretend to be friends in order to make Keef explode from happiness.
- Almighty Tallest and Zim's Relationship
- Invader Skoodge and Zim's Relationship
- Zim and Keef's Relationship
- Gaz and Zim's Relationship
- Dib and Gaz's Relationship
- GIR and Zim's Relationship
- Dib and GIR's Relationship
- Zim and Tak's Relationship
- Dib and Tak's Relationship
- Ms. Bitters and Dib's Relationship
- Dib and Professor Membrane's Relationship