The Lion King/YMMV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

These things about The Lion King are subjective - not everyone will agree with all of them.


  • Alternative Character Interpretation: There are more than a few people who view Scar as an Ambiguously Gay Depraved Homosexual, due to his lack of a mate and somewhat effeminate manner. The Broadway play seems to play this up to extreme levels. Scar goes from scary angry dude to Paul Lynde turned psychopath, which is still scary but filled with Unfortunate Implications.
    • Scar also has some notable parallels with Simba. Young Simba has a SONG dedicated to him proclaiming that when he's King he doesn't have to listen to anybody and "can do whatever I want". Later in the film Scar proclaims, "I'm the King! I can do whatever I want"
    • Mufasa. Noble, courageous king and loving father... or pompous Jerkass who threw his weight around to bully his little brother, was letting a bunch of hyenas starve for no reason, and who was raising his son to be as big a douche as he was?
    • The hyenas. Nazis, or the oppressed underdogs just looking for food? Their apparent poverty and Scar's manipulation of it is just another eerie parallel to the Third Reich and the duped German population. Also, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed - friends, or family?
    • Zazu. Mufasa's loyal advisor and careful supervisor of Simba during his childhood... or just the comical sidekick of both?
    • Timon and Pumbaa. Loveable slackers who save Simba's life and help him deal with his trauma, or two feckless wasters who encourage a vulnerable young boy to hide from his problems and responsibilities so he can stick around as their bodyguard?
      • Most of these aren't really alternate interpretations; the main cast of the film are just pretty well-rounded characters (for Disney). The heroes have some flaws, the villains some virtues. It is therefore unlikely that the writers didn't intend to say that Mufasa's a little arrogant, Scar's quite sympathetic at points, and Zazu has a little more to him than being a comedy Butt Monkey.
      • As for Timon and Pumbaa, they're just outcasts simply because they were a klutzy screwup and a guy with farting problems. Timon and Pumbaa go by the philosophy of "If your life used to suck, just move on and be merry". They probably thought Simba went through the same sort of thing. They had no idea he was a young prince with responsibilities. Simba, being mentally scarred by his father's death and having been manipulated by Scar took their philosophy, and abused it to the point of shirking his responsibilities. Plus, a little bit of what Timon and Pumbaa had to offer was probably good for Simba at the time, considering before they found him he was a little kid drowning in guilt to the point of nearly letting himself die.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: Lion King in 3D!
  • Non Sequitur Scene: the "I Can't Wait to be King" scene (which also counts as a Disney Acid Sequence) and the scene where Timon does the hula. Justified Trope in that they were both meant to be distractions. The first one does get a brief callback later during Simba and Nala's reunion.
  • Complete Monster: Scar is defined by his envy and hatred of his elder brother Mufasa. Hating that he isn't king, Scar hatches a scheme to remove Mufasa from the equation as well as Mufasa's young son Simba. When Scar's first attempt to murder Simba and his best friend Nala fails, Scar has his Hyena cohorts cause a stampede and personally throws Mufasa in to be trampled when he escapes it. He then convinces Simba the whole thing was his fault, convincing him to go into self imposed exile before ordering the hyenas to murder Simba anyways. Scar's incompetence as king leads to a famine, and when Simba returns, he sees Scar refuse to allow anyone to leave to go anywhere else, declaring "so be it" when Mufasa's widow Sarabi says he's condemning everyone to death. He proceeds to backhand her when she compares him unfavorably to Mufasa, and when he confronts Simba, Scar tries to break him by bringing up Mufasa's death. He only pauses in his attempt at a public execution to mock Simba with the knowledge that he was Mufasa's true murderer.
    • To make things worse, Scar wanted the Hyenas to kill Simba after he'd just manipulated him into self-guilt. Just so that the guilt would be one of the last things Simba was feeling before he died. Tricking him into thinking it was his fault that his father died was all for his own pleasure, as were all the sick double-meaning phrases like 'Simba it's to die for'. He could have lied flat out and told him it was the best thing ever, but he came out with a sick 'not quite a lie' to make himself feel smarter than a cub barely a year old.
      • Telling Simba, right before he believed he was going to kill him, could've fit in it too. The way he saw it, he'd make Simba's last sight be staring into the eyes of his father's murderer and being unable to do anything about it.
      • He also is a lousy king, letting everyone in the Pride Lands starve and not caring whatsoever. And he strikes Sarabi simply because she said he wasn't half as good as a ruler as Mufasa was.
      • Special mention goes to the fact that Scar was one of the few Disney villains who not only talked (or sung) about getting back at the Big Good, but actually succeeded in doing so.
      • Also, unlike Zira in the second movie, who had arguably a Freudian Excuse, Scar's only motivation was to statifying his lust of power even if it means killing his own brother and newborn nephew.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Scar. Especially with the Awesome Music that is "Be Prepared". Cue endless fanfics with him as the hero.
    • Shenzi and her pack. It sure doesn't hurt to have Whoopi Goldberg's talents.
  • Dude, Not Funny: An in-universe variation. Banzai is complaining about his injuries after the hyenas' scuffle with Mufasa, and Ed ticks Banzai off because he won't stop laughing.

Banzai: It's not funny, Ed.
(Ed tries briefly to stop before bursting out again)
Banzai: Hey, shut up!

    • Related to that, when Banzai falls into the thorns, the other two laugh at him. When Banzai starts pulling them out, he spits a few into Ed's face. He doesn't dare spit any at Shenzi - she's his boss.
  • Ear Worm: "I Just Can't Wait to be King" (and how), "Hakuna Matata" and "Be Prepared". The chanting at the beginning of the movie may count.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Timon and Pumbaa, who are the stars of the Animated Series and the Midquel, and the hyena trio as well.
    • Mufasa and Scar both qualify.
    • Rafiki.
  • Fanon: Simba and Nala's son from Six New Adventures, Kopa.
  • Furry Fandom: This movie is popular in it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:

Pumbaa: Timon?
Timon: Yeah?
Pumbaa: Ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
Timon: Pumbaa, I don't wonder, I know.
Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
Timon: They're fireflies. Fireflies that got stuck up in that big bluish black thing. This was probably intentional considering the number of Shout Outs in that film.

    • Early in the film, Zazu joking says that Scar will "make a great throw rug". Three years later in Hercules, Scar makes a a throw rug.
  • Internet Backdraft: Do not mention Kimba the White Lion to any Lion King fans (And vice versa) due to the ongoing "debate" (IE:Flame War) as to whether or not Lion King ripped off Kimba.
    • It's not a good idea to mention you don't like Scar.
      • Speaking of Scar, it's generally not a good idea to ask whether or not his real name is "Taka" (like the tie-in books say) or if his name really is just "Scar".
    • Nala, just Nala. Especially on the subject of who her father is.
      • Kovu, for that matter. Is he Scar's son like the original plan was? Is he some random lion Scar adopted as his heir? Or was he just a cub Zira took in and brainwashed into thinking he was Scar's son for her own personal gain? No two fans will fully agree on the answer.
    • Timon and Pumbaa. Not just the characters, but the show itself. Funny comic relief characters or annoying jerks who nearly caused Simba to lose all sense of responsibility? A fun Saturday Morning Cartoon with its own charm or a poorly-made series created to cash in on a superior film?
    • The film itself. Especially if you mention that it's overhyped.
    • The sequels certainly fall under this. It's generally not a good idea to ask whether or not the sequels are any good. You might get a pass for liking Simba's Pride, but there will definitely be some backlash for mentioning The Lion King 1 1/2 at all.
    • Kopa. Simba's son from the tie-in stories. Is he canon to the films or not? Fans will never fully agree.
      • The books themselves. Some say they're canon to the films. Others claim that they are not connected in any way except with the names of the characters.
  • It Was His Sled: Who doesn't know about Mufasa's death?
  • Magnificent Bastard: Scar, at least in the first half of the movie. He's shown to be a brilliant strategist and master manipulator, he's just not a good king.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Mu-fasa!" "Oooooh! Do it again."
    • "Hakuna Matata" became a HUGE hit, with children singing it at school all over the world.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Guess who provides the image for the Animated Films page. Or just read the Complete Monster section.
  • Narm Charm: Some viewers thought the images of Mufasa in the sky were just ridiculously cheesy and goofy, especially in the sequel; others got a bit choked up, considering what a Tear Jerker both his death in the first film and his benediction to Simba when he took the throne were.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Of course.
  • Older Than They Think: There are two lion brothers. One's the king, and his brother, resentful of him, manages to get him out of the throne, so he can claim it himself. After he does, things go downhill, making everyone hate him. Sound familiar?
  • So Cool Its Awesome: The film is widely considered to be not only one of Disney's best animated features, but one of the greatest animated films ever made.
  • Tear Jerker: Mufasa's death.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: There is much controversy (READ: Flame War) over whether this film is a ripoff of Kimba the White Lion or not.
    • There are several differences, although there are many similarities. Here are the key differences in the narrative:
      • The Lion King lacks any human presence. In Kimba, humans were often present as enemies like Hamegg, or simply as unwittingly doing harm.
      • In Kimba, Claw is a rogue lion who wants to be king with two hyena minions, but is continually beaten down by Kimba after he attempts to take over the jungle when Hamegg kills Caesar. In The Lion King, Scar is Mufasa's treacherous brother with three named hyena minions and hundreds more nameless ones, so he hatches a plan to become king by organizing the death of Mufasa and Simba. He succeeds at killing Mufasa and scaring Simba away, and is a far more effective villain than Claw was. In addition, the hyenas in The Lion King were originally planned as African Wild Dogs - they were presumably changed either because African wild dogs aren't as well known as hyenas, or simply because hyenas look more "evil".
      • In The Lion King, the circle of life is used to get around Carnivore Confusion. In Kimba, Kimba decrees that the animals should only eat insects and plants and live in peace with each other; however, this causes quite a few problems, and Kimba has to learn the hard way that Caesar was right about the animals.
      • The Lion King is about Simba accepting his responsibility as king in the archetypal Hero's Journey; Kimba deals with the titular character learning how to use his responsibility wisely after he's become a young king. Another key difference is that Simba is kind of a prick when he's a little kid, and Kimba is The Wise Prince.
      • In Kimba, both of Kimba's parents are dead and he more immediately becomes king. In The Lion King, only his father is killed, and he blames himself for it, running away from his responsibility. His mother, Sarabi, lives to see his coronation.
      • Oh, and despite being Dueling Shows, both are quite good on their own merits. It's best to think of the situation as being more like how The Magnificent Seven borrowed from The Seven Samurai, even though The Magnificent Seven was more of a direct lift of The Seven Samurai than The Lion King was of Kimba.
      • The most famous iteration of Kimba in the West, the anime made in the 1960s with help from NBC, also contains a lot more, ah... fantastical elements, such as giant radioactive grasshoppers and unfrozen mammoths, and is far more comedic in tone than The Lion King, while still being Darker and Edgier than its Western contemporaries. The Lion King focuses more on heavier themes like guilt, the loss of a father/king, and accepting responsibility - it actually started a trend for Disney films to be Darker and Edgier, in that its follow-ups, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Tarzan often dealt with much heavier themes such as racism and war to variable success. However, The Lion King is STILL Lighter and Softer than the Kimba manga and later remakes of the series, which often edged into Bittersweet or even Downer Endings.
      • For what it's worth, the film may have originally been planned as a Kimba remake - however, because the rights to Kimba are entangled with multiple companies, including NBC (as with many anime that have been dubbed - that's why Jump Ultimate Stars can't make it to US shores, due to the dubbing rights being split among Viz, FUNimation and 4Kids, among others), it simply wasn't possible to get the rights. Regardless, production was far enough along that it was likely too late to change things aside from the names and Simba's fur color - in addition, the film's development had a lot of cut characters who didn't correspond to Kimba's cast. As a matter of fact, there are still two characters in The Lion King who bare no resemblance to anyone in Kimba - Timon and Pumbaa.
  • Unfortunate Implications: "I Just Can't Wait to be King" is a song about how much Simba wants to be king. How does one become king? By ascending the throne when the previous king dies. Simba is essentially singing about how he can't wait for his father to die so he can take his place. Which turns into Harsher in Hindsight when Mufasa does die.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Zazu, definitely.
    • Being a kid, he probably thinks that his father would just give the throne to him when he's old enough.
  • Weird Al Effect: Good luck to you trying to find anybody who knows the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" existed for over 30 years before this movie came out.
  • Win the Crowd: If there was any doubt on how this film would do, the teaser using the entire "Circle of Life" sequence and the rapturous audience reaction to it settled them all.
  • The Woobie: Most of the cast, obviously including main character Simba, are this at some point, but one nobody seems to realize is this is Zazu. Out of all the characters, he, from the start, seems to constantly have it pretty rough. He doesn't appear to have any true friends and the closest thing he has to one appears to treat him questionably; said friend ends up getting murdered. He’s constantly abused, which is almost always Played for Laughs, and his situation just gets bleaker as the film continues. And finally, after all is said and done and all the rest of the surviving characters get the obvious happy ending they deserve, it’s still not clear if Zazu is respected or treated any better than he was at the start of the film.
  • Woolseyism: In the Spanish release of the film. In the scene where Banzai is kicked in the ribcage by Shenzie before he prounces the name of Mufasa again. In the original English dub he says "¿Qué pasa?", a Spanish line that means "What's up?". In the Spanish dub the line was dubbed as "¿Cón mostaza?" which means "With mustard?". This was likely done because of phonetic similarities.
    • Likewise in the German dub he says "Mit Wasser?"[1] which sounds pretty similar to "Qué pasa".


  • Alas, Poor Villain: Doubles as a Tear Jerker, you can't help it when Nuka goes after Simba on the dam, whilst proclaiming "I'll do it for YOU MOTHER! -- I'll do it for you.. And I'll do it for me!", and he inadvertedly gets dislodged, falls and manages to ask Zira "I'm sorry mother... I... tried..." causing Zira to go from My God, What Have I Done? to Never My Fault under three seconds flat.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Arguably the entire movie. Zira could be anything from a Jerkass Woobie to a Complete Monster, depending on how you interpret her Freudian Excuse.
  • Awesome Music: In 1 1/2, prarticularly at this moment, the music which plays when Simba takes the throne is still pretty damn cool. It even retains the African chanting!
  • Broken Base: To some, The Lion King II is a great extension of the series. To others, it's clunky and plothole-ridden.
  • Canon Sue: Apparently, several years of more-or-less constant mental conditioning doesn't count for much when Kiara does her schpeil...
  • Darker and Edgier: Even in comparison to the first movie, the sequel is arguably much more intense. The villain of this one is motivated primarily by spitefulness, whereas at least Scar had the semi-pragmatic motive of greed. Zira's Villain Song is almost entirely about how much she Loves the Sound of Screaming, and said song is considerably more vicious than Scar's Villain Song. In general, the very style of this movie is arguably much darker than the first movie, like during the fire scene, wherein we see Kiara surrounded by flames, coughing from the smoke, and collapsing from exhaustion, or during Zira's first attack, when Simba is being mercilessly mauled by several other lions, and then there is "He Is Not One Of Us" where the pridelanders are all announcing their intense hatred for Kovu, who is not even guilty of what they are all accusing him of in the first place.
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Vitani.
    • A lot of people really liked adolescent Simba, especially in the Furry Fandom. (Not the way you're thinking. Most of them.)
  • Fanon: Many speculate that Sarafina is the lioness who tells Kiara, "My, how you've grown!" at one point in the movie. This is otherwise unconfirmed, however.
    • There's an extremely common fan theory that Zira's banishment was due to murdering Simba and Nala's first born cub, Kopa, who appeared in the Six New Adventures books (whose canon is disputed rather heavily). While this has never been confirmed, it would explain Simba being so (over)protective of Kiara...
  • Fridge Logic: Practically the entire premise of Simba’s Pride.
    • Where was Zira during the first movie? Or all the other lionesses that would become Outlanders?
    • For that matter would any lioness (let alone roughly half of them) approve of Scar, who forced them to hunt for his hyena buddies, rendered the Pride Lands barren, and had doomed them to all die of starvation?
    • Why doesn’t anyone bring up the fact that it was Scar who killed Mufasa and started the whole mess? Or the fact that it was actually the hyenas who killed Scar after he tried to sell them out?
    • If Zira loved Scar so much, why did she have her first two children with him but mated with another lion that resulted in Kovu?
      • Why would Scar approve of Kovu, an unrelated cub, to be his successor? If Nuka wasn't good enough, why not try having another male cub of his own?
    • Kovu is the same age as Kiara, who was born awhile after Simba became king. Yet Zira talks about how Scar had specifically selected Kovu to be his successor.
    • With how much Zira wanted Kovu to be like Scar, one would think she would approve of Kovu committing fratricide.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Simba's Pride and Mulan came out the same year (1998) and in each there's a moment where Kiara and Mulan are not being listened to:

Kiara: Will someone just listen to me?
Timon: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. Did you say something, princess?

Mulan: (to Mushu) No one will listen.
Mushu: I'm sorry, did you say something?
Mulan: Mushu!

    • Liquid Snake is the one singing about how family is awesome in "We Are One".
  • Ho Yay: The aforementioned Timon and Pumbaa, perhaps even more so with the knowledge that "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was originally supposed to be a duet between them. They particularly stand out because, despite being very popular characters that have shown up in a variety of situations, they've been uniquely spared of any last-minute Distaff Counterpart hook-up in traditional Disney fashion to dispute these claims.
  • Iron Woobie: Both Timon and Pumbaa. In Pumbaa's case, we already know he wasn't well-liked by the other animals because of his "problems" but he still looks on the world in an optimistic way and is usually cheerful and kind-hearted, up until someone calls him a "pig", which will make him cut loose. In Timon's case, we didn't really see him as a woobie until , there it shows he wasn't really popular either in his former colony. Still, his desire to find a place where he's accepted for who he is makes him the Determinator.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Timon. If there was any doubt about his Jerk with a Heart of Gold status in the first film, his heartwarming-yet-grumpy efforts at parenting in this sequel cement it. And although Timon causes all of his own problems via his complete lack of meerkat instincts coupled with his ego, his desperation to find a dream home where he can be himself and be liked for it slides him into Woobieville.
    • In the same vein as Demona, Zira COULD be this, if you believe her Freudian Excuse and pity her enough for it.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Zira, in Simba's Pride.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Zira crosses this (in-universe, even) when she threatens to kill her own daughter for refusing to take part in the attack on the pridelanders. Well, if she didn't cross it before then.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Lion King 1 1/2 is noticeably told more from Timon's perspective than Pumbaa's (Possibly because Pumbaa's "origins" had already been touched upon in the original movie.)
  • Tear Jerker: Many fans got misty eyed when Nuka died and during "Not One of Us".
    • From the growing-up montage in 1 1/2, once you realize it must have been referring to the stampede sequence and Mufasa's death:

Simba: I...I had a bad dream.

  • The Woobie: Kovu, particularly after his Heel Face Turn, when both the Pridelanders and Outlanders distrust and exile him. Kiara and Kovu both arguably qualify as this, what with their respective parents' resentment towards their respective lovers, but Kovu especially. At least Kiara was a bit more respected within her own family, even if it didn't show.
    • Also, Nuka, in particular for his last line;

Nuka: Mother...I tried...

Video Games

  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Averted with the console games; while they are tough, they're still solid games. Played straight with the NES and Game Boy ports of the games, which feel like lesser derivatives of the Genesis/Super Nintendo games; the former wasn't even finished!
  • That One Level: The console game features a waterfall in the 'Hakuna Matata' level that is a real pain in the butt to climb. There's also the very annoying puzzles with the monkeys in level 2 and the tricky ostrich rides between them.

Lion Guard

  • Periphery Demographic: It isn’t wrong to like the show if you’re not a toddler, considering how true it is to the source material. And Scar is every bit as evil as before (more or less) despite the horror being toned down to an extent from the films overall.

Stage Musical

  • Awesome Music: Songs not from the movie like "Endless Night", "Shadowland", and the musical's take on "They Live In You"/"He Lives In You" stand out, as do its takes on "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", "The Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata" and "I Just Can't Wait to be King". "Be Prepared" is also quite good, but it naturally falls short of the sheer badass Jeremy Irons and Jim Cummings brought to the song.
  • Complete Monster: Scar commits the same crimes that his movie counterpart did and goes beyond that. During the musical, Scar became more and more paranoid as time went by and he also felt that he was being tormented by his older brother even in death. Unwilling to admit that he was terrible at governing the Pride Lands, he instead condemns all his subjects to death so that he wouldn't have to accept that maybe he wasn't as good at being a king that he thought he would be. He also attempted to force himself onto Nala (a scene cut from the film), which becomes even more disturbing in hindsight considering that he tried to have her killed along with his nephew when they were children. Scar is ultimately no more than an egotistical, treacherous, and murderous feline.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: "The Madness of King Scar", in light of the plot of the animated sequel that was released a year after the musical premiered.

"Without a queen, what am I? A dead end, no line, no descendants, no future. With a queen, I'll have... cubs!"

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  1. "With water?"