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The Lion King is a multi-million dollar Walt Disney franchise. The success of the 1994 American animated feature The Lion King led to two direct-to-video sequel films, a spin-off television series, a musical, several video games, and other merchandise.





The Lion King is the original film of the franchise. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released to theaters on June 15, 1994 by Walt Disney Pictures.[1] The Lion King is the 32nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics and belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance.[2] The plot of the film is heavily influenced by the William Shakespeare play Hamlet.[3]

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride is a direct-to-video sequel to the first film. It was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on VHS in the United States on October 27, Template:Fy. It was first released on DVD as a limited issue on November 23, 1999, and placed into moratorium on January 19, 2000. It was not released again on DVD until August 31, 2004, when it was a two-disc special edition. It went into moratorium in January 2005. The plot of this film is heavily influenced by another Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.[4]

The Lion King 1½, also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata in some countries, is the second direct-to-video installment of the film series. It was released by Walt Disney Home Entertainment on February 10, Template:Fy. The DVD went to the Disney Vault in January 2005. The film is a chronologically concurrent sequel to the first film, focusing on Timon and Pumbaa. It was somewhat influenced by the Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, in which the titular characters are seen in every major event of Hamlet.[5][6][7][8]

Television series

The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa is a spin-off cartoon series that centers on Timon and Pumbaa. The show ran for three seasons on CBS in the United States, and BBS in Canada from September 1, 1995 to November 1, 1998. In 1998, a change in writers and a new director meant the show became aimed more towards children than the whole family. As a result of this, ratings declined and the show was cancelled. As of February 8, 2009 (after its final airing on the now-defunct Toon Disney), this show is no longer on the air.

The series had a direct-to-video film named Around the World with Timon and Pumbaa. The story tells of Pumbaa getting stuck by lightning, losing all his memory, and Timon helps refrain every moment they spent. After Pumbaa get his memory back, lightning strikes Timon losing his memory this time, making Pumbaa break the fourth wall by telling the viewers to rewind the tape to start at the beginning, being it was the only way to help Timon remember. Several episodes from the series are featured in this film. Aside from this film, two other DVDs, Dining Out With... and On Holiday... are an hour compilation of other episodes. No DVDs have been released in the US, but were released on VHS.

Broadway musical

A musical based on the first film debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre. Directed by Julie Taymor and produced by Disney Theatrical, the musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The musical is divided in two acts (with the first act ending when Simba transforms from cub into adult lion) and has music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M.[9] The musical incorporates several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the film, as well as adding more songs.

The musical became a success even before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running.[10] It is now Broadway's ninth longest-running show in history. The show debuted in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on October 19, 1999 and is still running. The cast of the West End production were invited to perform at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 at the London Palladium on December 11, in the presence of senior members of the British Royal Family.[11] Other productions within the U.S. include a Los Angeles production at the Pantages Theatre at Charlotte in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and a Las Vegas production at Mandalay Bay.[12] International productions include a British at the Lyceum Theatre in London, a Canadian at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, a Mexican in Mexico City,[13] and an African in Johannesburg, South Africa,[14] among others.


Two video games based on the first film have been released. The first, titled The Lion King, was published in 1994 by Virgin and was released for the NES (only in Europe), SNES, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear, PC, and Amiga.[15] The second game, called The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure, was published in 2000 by Activision and was released for the PlayStation and Game Boy Color.[16] It was based on the first film and its storyline continued into the sequel.

In 1996, Disney Interactive and 7th Level released Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games for the PC. It was later seen on the SNES. The Games include: one in which Pumbaa uses his gas to destroy fruits and bugs (and even a kitchen sink) that fall out of trees, a variation of pinball, a game where you use a peashooter to hit enemy creatures in the jungle, a game where Timon has to jump onto hippos in order to cross a river to deliver bugs to Pumbaa, and a variation of Puyo Puyo called Bug Drop.[17]

A game called The Lion King 1½ was published in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, based on the direct-to-video film and featuring Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters.[18] Some of the film's characters are playable in Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure, a spin off of the Tony Hawk games. In the Disney Interactive Studios and Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts, Simba appears as an ally that Sora can summon during battles.[19] He also appears again as a summon character in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. In Kingdom Hearts II, the Pride Lands are a playable world and a number of characters from the film appear.[20]

Other media

A 70 mm film entitled Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable is shown in the Harvest Theater in The Land Pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. It opened in January 21, 1995 replacing Symbiosis. Compared to the said film, Circle of Life is more an edutainment attraction and more kid-friendly. In the film, Timon and Pumbaa are chopping down trees and clogging up rivers to build the Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. Simba comes to them and explains how their actions are harmful to nature. This lesson is explained with live-action footage, some left over from Symbiosis.

A Broadway-caliber short-form stage musical named Festival of the Lion King is performed live in Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida and in Adventureland at Hong Kong Disneyland. It uses the concept of tribal celebration in combination with ideas from Disney's Electrical Parade. The show is in the form of a revue, and not a condensed version of either the film or Broadway show. However, it features the award-winning music from the first film, written by Elton John and Tim Rice. The show uses songs, dance, puppetry and visual effects to create an African savanna setting filled with lions, elephants, giraffes, birds, zebras and gazelles.

The Lion King Celebration was a parade based on the film that ran at Disneyland from June 1, 1994 to June 1, 1997. It was designed as though the story of Simba was a tale passed down in Africa for generations.[21] The parade featured six floats designed around different aspects of Africa, dancers dressed in animal costumes and a Pride Rock float featuring Simba and Nala.

Many characters from The Lion King appear in the Disney Channel series Disney's House of Mouse.[22] Some of them also appear in the series' spin-off films Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse and Mickey's House of Villains. The characters also appear at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meet and greet characters.

Plot and themes

The story is set in a kingdom of anthropomorphic animals in Africa known as the Pride Lands, where a lion rules over the other animals as king.[3] The Lion King begins when Rafiki, a mandrill, anoints Simba, the newborn cub of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi, presenting him to a gathering of animals at the Pride Rock. Simba is next seen a as young lion, with Mufasa teaching him about the "Circle of Life". Simba's uncle and Mufasa's brother Scar plots to take the throne for himself and tells Simba about an elephant graveyard, a place where Mufasa has warned Simba not to go. When Simba and his best friend Nala go to the place, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, three hyenas aligned with Scar, attack and try to kill Simba and Nala, but they are stopped by Mufasa. Scar next plan is to lure Simba into a gorge while the hyenas create a wildebeest stampede. Alerted by Scar, Mufasa races to rescue Simba from the stampede. He saves his son but is left clinging to the edge of a cliff, which results in Scar flinging him into the stampede below and killing him. Scar next convinces Simba that the young lion is responsible of Mufasa's death and tells him to run away, only to later order the hyenas to kill Simba, but they fail. Scar informs the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and that he is assuming the throne as the next in line. Simba is later found unconscious by Timon and Pumbaa, who adopt and raise him. It is until Simba is a grown-up adult lion that he meets Nala again in Timon and Pumbaa's home, and the two lions fall in love. Along with Rafiki, Nala convinces Simba to return to the Pride Lands and claim the throne. Simba and his friends go to the Pride Rock, where Simba confronts and eventually defeats Scar, who is later killed and devoured by his own army of hyenas as a result of Scar's blaming of the hyenas for Mufasa's death. The film concludes with the Pride Lands turning green with life again and Rafiki presenting Simba and Nala's newborn cub.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride begins with the presentation of Simba and Nala's cub named Kiara. Simba is very protective of his daughter and assigns Timon and Pumbaa to be her guardians. One day, after and argument between Simba and Kiara, the young lioness sneaks into the Outlands, the place in which a group of lions loyal to Scar reside after Simba exiles them from the Pride Lands. In the Outlands, Kiara meets a young lion named Kovu, Scar's hand-chosen successor, and the two of them befriend each other until Simba and Kovu's mother, Zira arrive and a fight between Pride Landers and Outlanders almost takes place. Later in the film, Zira decides that she can use Kovu's new friendship with Kiara to get her revenge against Simba. Kiara is next seen as an adult lioness and is set to go for her first solo-hunt, but discovers that his father still sends Timon and Pumbaa to watch her. Furious, Kiara goes further from home until Zira's other children, Nuka and Vitani, set fire to the plains where Kiara is hunting, causing her to faint and giving Kovu the change to rescue her. Simba finds that Kovu has helped Kiara and reluctantly allows him into the Pride Lands. While Simba struggles with the idea of accepting Kovu, Kiara and Kovu eventually fall in love. One morning, Simba invites Kovu for a walk but they are ambushed by Zira and her pride. They attack Simba but, while chasing him, Nuka dies, resulting in Zira blaming and attacking Kovu for his death. A wounded Simba exiles Kovu as he thinks Kovu was behind the ambush, but Kiara reunites with Kovu away from the Pride Rock. Meanwhile, Zira leads her pride in a war against the Pride Lands and a fierce battle breaks out. Kovu and Kiara leap between them and Kiara reminds her father that, by his own words, "we are one". Zira ignores her, but Vitani and the other Outlanders agree. Now alone, Zira leaps for Simba, but Kiara pushes her away and they fall over a cliff. Kiara lands on a rock, but Zira slips and falls to her death. Simba allows the Outlanders, including Kovu, to return to the Pride Lands, and Kovu is allowed to stand with Kiara at the top of Pride Rock.

The Lion King 1½ is a retelling of the events of the first film from Timon and Pumbaa's perspective.

The plot of The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa centers on its title characters. The pair are normally seen having misadventures in the jungle, but sometimes find themselves across the globe in various settings. A pre-existing storyline of how Timon met Pumbaa appeared in this series. This episode's relation to The Lion King canon is questionable with the introduction of The Lion King 1½.


The main characters in the series. From left to right: Shenzi, Scar, Ed, Banzai, Rafiki, Mufasa, Simba, Sarabi, Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa. Bottom right: Nala and her mother.

A total of thirteen supervising animators from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Disney-MGM Studios were responsible for establishing the personalities and setting the tone for the first film's main characters. The animation team studied real-life animals for reference, as was done for the earlier film Bambi.[23] The animation of the characters counted with supervision by wildlife experts such as Jim Fowler, who visited the studio on several occasions with an assortment of lions and other jungle inhabitants to discuss behavior and help the animators give their drawings an authentic feel. He taught them how lions greet one another by gently butting heads, and show affection by placing one's head under the other's chin, mannerisms that can be appreciated in Simba and Nala's reencounter during the song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight". Fowler also talked about how they protect themselves by lying on their backs and using their claws to ward off attackers, and how they fight rivals by rising on their hind legs.[24] Screenwriter Irene Mecchi joined the directing team to help in the character development process as well as to define each character's personality. Story head Brenda Chapman, gave insight to the challenge of the characters and the story by stating "It was our job to make the main character likeable and sympathetic. It was also challenging to make the environment and characters interesting. In real life, lions basically sleep, eat and have no props."[24]


Simba is the title character of the franchise and main protagonist of the first two films, the musical and several video games.


Created by Andreas Deja
Voiced by

Jeremy Irons (The Lion King)

Jim Cummings (partial singing voice in The Lion King, full voice in The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride and The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure)
James Horan (Kingdom Hearts II)
James Avery (Animated Storybook: The Lion King)
John Vickery (first musical)
Patrick Page (current musical)

Scar is the primary antagonist of The Lion King. He is the younger brother of Mufasa and the uncle of Simba. Scar is jealous of Simba's position as the next king of the Pride Lands, so he plots to kill his brother and nephew, in order to seize the throne. To carry out his plans, Scar recruits three spotted hyenas; Shenzi, Banzai and Ed — who gladly do his bidding in exchange for food. Mufasa foils their first attempt to kill Simba, so Scar calls up an entire army of hyenas and promises that when he is king the hyenas will "never go hungry again". With the help of the hyenas, Scar triggers a wildebeest stampede meant to kill both Simba and Mufasa. Mufasa manages to save his son, but as he tries to escape by climbing up the gorge, Scar grabs his paws and throws Mufasa from the cliff into the stampede, where he is trampled to death. Scar then convinces Simba that he caused the stampede (he had let out a loud yowl, while practicing roaring, seconds before the stampede began, and had not seen Scar throw his father to his death) and in turn killed Mufasa. Simba runs away, overwhelmed by guilt and fear. Scar then orders Shenzi, Banzai and Ed to chase the cub and kill him. Unknown to Scar, however, the hyenas do not succeed. Scar then returns to Pride Rock and assumes the throne, letting the hyenas into the Pride Lands and leading the other lions to believe that both Mufasa and Simba died in the gorge. During Scar's reign, the kingdom rapidly declines as droughts hit and food becomes scarce. Years later, to Scar's surprise, Simba returns to challenge his uncle for the throne. After a verbal confrontation, Scar confesses that he is the one who actually killed Mufasa and a fierce battle ensues between Scar's hyenas and Simba's friends and family while Simba fights Scar himself. Simba finally defeats him by flipping Scar over a cliff where the hyenas are waiting just below. The hyenas, determined to get revenge on Scar for previously denouncing them as "the enemy", surround their fallen leader and begin to maul him alive shortly before they are all surrounded by the blazing flames.

In the sequel The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, it is revealed that Scar had a pride of lionesses that were loyal to him, whom Simba exiles to the Outlands after he became king. They are led by Zira who has a son named Kovu that was selected to be Scar's heir. Scar only appears twice, the first time in Simba's nightmare, and the second as Kovu looks into a stream, he sees Scar's reflection rather than his own. In The Lion King 1½, Scar makes a few brief, non-speaking appearances in the scenes for which he was present in the original film.

In the Broadway musical, Scar's role is expanded upon with the song "The Madness of King Scar". In it, Scar begins doubting his reign, fearing that he might be losing the respect of the lionesses and that he needs a queen. He attempts to seduce Nala, who rebukes him by scratching his face.

Besides appearing in various The Lion King video games, Scar also appears in Kingdom Hearts II as the primary villain of the Pride Lands world. Much like in the film, Scar murders Mufasa to become king, and under his reign the Pride Lands suffers a drought and food becomes scarce. Prior to Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy's arrival at the Pride Lands, Pete (in the form of a lion) offers Scar use of the Heartless to maintain his hold on the throne. Sora attempts to confront Scar in order to save the world, but Scar confronts the party and nearly attacks them, but is pinned down by Nala in order to allow Sora and friends some time to escape. Later, Sora locates Simba and brings him back to the Pride Lands so he can challenge his uncle for the throne. The confrontation between Scar and Simba that follows is almost identical to that in the original film, and Simba eventually defeats his uncle. Thinking Scar to be defeated, the protagonists are surprised when, as Pete explains, Scar returns to battle once again as a Heartless; however, Sora and his friends defeat Scar again. By the time Sora returns to the Pride Lands to see how Simba is faring, rumors of Scar's ghost haunting the Pride Lands have driven Simba into doubt. The "ghost" is revealed to be the interaction of Simba's lack of confidence and Scar's spirit. Multiple copies of Scar's "ghost" then combine to form a gigantic Heartless that is eventually defeated by Simba and Sora.

Scar makes very brief, non-speaking appearances in a couple of episodes of the animated TV series The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa. He is seen when Timon tries to revive Pumbaa's amnesia after being struck by lightning, and when Zazu cleans out his trashcan. He also appears as one of the Disney Villains the Evil Queen evokes to fight Mickey Mouse in the Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic! Nighttime Show Spectacular. Scar appeared as one of The Walt Disney Company's lawyers in a Saturday Night Live Saturday TV Funhouse sketch called "The Disney Vault". After the two children try to escape the vault, the lawyers stop them and Scar bribes them to stay by showing them The Lion King 5 & 2/3: Simba fills in on The View, (the actual wording was "Simba sits in for Meredith"). Scar is also seen in Hercules (1997 film). When Hercules is posing for a painting on a pot, he is wearing Scar's skin on his back, a reference to Zazu's line in the original film that "He'd make a very handsome throw rug."

Timon and Pumbaa

Timon and Pumbaa are supporting characters in the first two films, serving as sidekicks of Simba. However, the third film and the TV series focus primarily on the duo. The Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games and the The Lion King 1½ video games also center around them.


Created by Jonathan Roberts
Portrayed by James Earl Jones(films, Kingdom Hearts II (Archive Footage), The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure ,Animated Storybook: The Lion King)
Samuel E. Wright (first Musical)
Cornell John (London)
Nathaniel Stampley (present musicals)
Keith David (House of Mouse)

Mufasa is the lion who rules the Pride Lands and the father of the main character, Simba. In the opening of the first film, the animals of Mufasa's kingdom arrive at Pride Rock to greet and honor the birth of his newborn son and their next king, Simba. Mufasa's brother, Scar, is enraged that he has lost his place as Mufasa's immediate successor upon the birth of the prince. Mufasa teaches his son the delicate balance of affecting all living things and takes him to a trip through the Pride Lands, but warns him not to go outside the lands' limits, especially the elephant graveyard. Simba disobeys his father and, along with his best friend Nala, is nearly killed by Scar's three hyena henchmen, but they are saved by Mufasa in the last minute. Out of jealousy , Scar formulates a plan to kill his older brother and Simba, so that he could rule the Pride Lands. Scar's plan is partially fulfilled when he kills Mufasa after Mufasa saves Simba from a wildebeest stampede initiated by the hyenas under Scar's signal. Simba goes to exile while Scar assumes the throne, until an adult Simba encounters the wise mandrill Rafiki, who shows him that Mufasa is still alive inside Simba, and that it is not too late to change things. To convince him further, Rafiki summons Mufasa's spirit, who tells Simba that he is the true king. Upon seeing his father again, Simba regains the confidence to face Scar for the throne.

Mufasa's role in the sequel is generally minor, ranging from his appearance in one of Simba's nightmares to his spirit's appearance in the sky at the beginning of the film, witnessing the ceremony of his granddaughter Kiara, and later encouraging her union with Kovu. Mufasa appears at the end of the film, honoring the peace that has finally been restored after many years, and congratulating Simba for his wisdom in coming to this decision. In the 2004 direct-to-video interquel The Lion King 1½, Mufasa is seen in three scenes: at the presentation of Simba, in the elephant graveyard on the way to save his son and Nala from the hyenas, and when his ghost is forming from the clouds above the grasslands at night.

Mufasa's role is somewhat expanded in the musical based on the first film. He sings "They Live in You" ("He Lives in You" with the lyrics slightly changed to refer to all of the Great Kings of the Past rather than just discussing Mufasa) to young Simba in the scene when the two of them are looking up at the stars and discussing the Great Kings of the Past. There is also an added scene in which Mufasa tells Zazu of his concerns about Simba's daring behavior. Zazu then reminds Mufasa of his early years as a rambunctious cub.

In the video game Kingdom Hearts II, Mufasa appears in Simba's flashback sequences and as a god-like figure in the sky as in the film.

In The Simpsons episode "Round Springfield", Mufasa appears alongside in the clouds with Star Wars character Darth Vader and "Bleeding Gums" Murphy.


Created by Bob Bryan, Gilda Palinginis, Aaron Blaise (cub), Anthony de Rosa (adult)[25]
Voiced by Niketa Calame (cub in film)
Moira Kelly (adult in the films)
Vanessa Marshall (adult, Kingdom Hearts II and The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure)
Heather Headley (adult in musical)
Kajuana Shuford (cub in musical)

Nala is Simba's lioness childhood friend and eventually his mate. Nala is officially introduced when Simba arrives and tells her that he knows of a "really cool place", not knowing that Scar is tricking him into visiting the dangerous elephant graveyard. After lying and saying that they are going to the waterhole, the cubs gain permission and are allowed to go provided that Zazu goes with them. Simba and Nala lose Zazu and travel to the graveyard where they are attacked by the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, who were instructed by Scar to kill Simba. The cubs are eventually rescued by Mufasa. Nala is not seen again until after the stampede when Scar then tells the pride of Mufasa and Simba's deaths. A long time passes and an adult Nala, after hunting Pumbaa, meets up with Simba again. She is overjoyed to find him alive and explains that he needs to return to the Pride Lands and end Scar's tyrannical rule. The two fall in love, but Simba refuses to return, still guilty about supposedly killing his father. The two argue and go their separate ways. Later Rafiki informs Nala along with Timon and Pumbaa that Simba has returned to the Pride Lands; Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa then follow after him. The four meet again in the Pride Lands and head to Pride Rock to confront Scar. Nala, the other lionesses, Timon, and Pumbaa fight the hyenas while Simba fights Scar. At the end of the film, Nala has become Simba's queen and Rafiki lifts Simba and Nala's cub high above a crowd of animals below Pride Rock.

In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride Simba and Nala now have a daughter named Kiara. Nala appears in the first scene to challenge Simba's parenting decisions and then appears in all scenes where the rest of the pride are present. During the fight towards the end of the film she confronts Vitani personally. In The Lion King 1½ Nala is seen during the Can You Feel The Love Tonight sequence and in an extension of the scene in the original film where she explains to Timon and Pumbaa about Simba's whereabouts.

In Kingdom Hearts II, adult Nala is the first lion that the game's main protagonists (Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy) encounter. She is first seen running from two Heartless, causing Sora to leap forward and defend her. After the battle she briefly explains the situation in the Pride Lands, asking Sora, Donald and Goofy to meet her at Pride Rock where Scar reigns as king. Scar intended to have the protagonists hunted and killed but Nala stops Scar in time and escapes with the party to the jungle. They later encounter Simba, Timon and Pumbaa. The seven characters return to Pride Rock together to defeat Scar, Pete and the hyenas. During the second visit to the Pride Lands, Nala asks for Sora, Donald and Goofy's help in bringing back Simba's confidence in the face of Scar's "ghost", and also reveals herself to be pregnant. In the end credits, their cub has been born, and is presented to the animals by Rafiki.

In the musical based on the film, Nala's role is considerably expanded, with the events leading up to Nala leaving the Pride Lands under Scar's tyranny depicted in detail. Nala first appears in the musical as she is hunting with the other lionesses. Later, during the song "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", she sings extra lines that do not appear in the film version. In the scene "The Madness of King Scar", the lonely, mentally ill Scar decides to take Nala as his mate, despite the fact that she is angrily opposed to the idea. This leads to the song scene "Shadowland" where Nala's character sings the lead about her need to leave the Pride Lands and find help.

Shenzi, Banzai and Ed

Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
Created by Jonathan Roberts
Voiced by Shenzi:
Whoopi Goldberg (films, Animated Storybook: The Lion King)
Tress MacNeille (Timon and Pumbaa, Kingdom Hearts II and The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure)
Cheech Marin (films, KH II, Animated Storybook: The Lion King)
Rob Paulsen (Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure)
Jim Cummings

Shenzi, Banzai and Ed are a trio of villainous spotted hyenas and the loyal followers and minions of Scar.

  • Shenzi (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) is the female of the trio. She is confident, collected and constantly schemeing. This makes her the de facto leader of the trio, and probably the entire pack, a trait consistent with true spotted hyenas; females are usually larger than the males and dominate them. She comes up with the idea of telling Scar that Simba is dead after he escapes, confident in the belief that he'll never learn otherwise, and is confident enough to tell him that there's no food or water left. Her distinguishing features are three prominent bangs hanging over her face and a mane that reaches all the way to her bangs. She also lacks the dark grey 'stubble' snout of the males, and the dark patches around her eyes are shaped to resemble heavily applied eye-shadow. Her full name, according to The Lion King 1½, is Shenzi Marie Predatorra Veldetta Jackalina Hyena. Shenzi was originally going to also be male and played by Tommy Chong, reuniting him with his old comedy partner Cheech Marin, who was playing Banzai.[26]
  • Banzai (voiced by Cheech Marin) is the most aggressive of the trio, usually speaking in a raised voice, with a shorter temper than Shenzi or Ed, and always ready to get into a fight. But since he usually thinks with his muscles, and isn't too bright, he still submits to Shenzi. He is also extremely greedy, talking about food frequently. His agressive nature gets him into trouble more often than his friends - he gets the worst injuries in the battle with Mufasa, is knocked into thorn bushes when chasing Simba, and complains out loud to the other two that "I thought things were bad under Mufasa" under Scar's reign, which nearly gets him into trouble with Scar. His distinguishing feature is his unusually heavy eyebrows, but apart from these he is the model for most generic hyenas.
  • Ed is one of the few characters not to have a Swahili name. Ed communicates entirely through crazed laughter and sports a permanent idiotic grin on his face. His eyes never seem to focus on anything properly, he has two round cuts on each ear and his tongue is almost always lolling out. In the Special Edition of The Lion King, character profiling reveals that Ed is not actually stupid; he "knows the score", but he cannot speak (it is never explained why he cannot speak). Jim Cummings recorded over four hours of different laughter clips for use with Ed's dialogue.

The hyenas first appear in the Elephant Graveyard where they, under Scar's orders, chase the young Simba and Nala in an attempt to kill and devour them, but are frightened off by Mufasa. Afterwards, they help Scar carry out his plan to murder Mufasa by triggering the wildebeest stampede. Immediately after Scar tells Simba to run away and never return, he commands the hyenas to kill Simba too, but Simba eludes the hyenas as they cannot follow him through the thorn-bushes he falls into. Years into Scar's reign, they complain about lack of food in the Pride Lands but Scar ignores them. When Simba returns to overthrow Scar, the hyenas join the fight, but most are defeated, and Shenzi and Banzai are ruthlessly beaten up by Pumbaa for calling him a "pig". When Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed overhear Scar trying to foist all blame for the events on them to Simba, claiming that it was all their idea, they alert the rest of the pack to his treachery. After he is defeated by Simba, he says he did not mean it, but the hyenas have had enough of his lies, derogatory treatment and broken promises, and viciously attack him before they are all burned alive by the grass fire.

The hyenas do not appear but are mentioned in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, and reappear in The Lion King 1½, they have a fairly major role despite being minor characters in the original film. In their first appearance, they attack a meerkat colony when Timon, who is the sentry on duty of the colony, is daydreaming. They fail to catch any meerkats, but this incident drives Timon to leave the colony to find where he truly belongs. The hyenas make an appearance again during the film's climax at Pride Rock. Eventually, Timon and Pumbaa are cornered by the hyenas. Timon proposes to Shenzi as a desperate move to buy time for his mother and Uncle Max as they dig a tunnel, which she turns down abruptly. The hyenas then fall into the tunnel, which transports them to the ground just in time for them to kill Scar.

The three hyenas made occasional appearances in the TV series The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa, continuously bully Timon and Pumbaa. It should also be pointed out that significant plot points involving the three hyenas and Timon and Pumbaa in this series (particularly, the episode, "Once Upon A Timon"), have since been reconnected by the events that took place in The Lion King 1½.

In Kingdom Hearts II, the hyenas appeared in the Pride Lands world, and were also Scar's followers.


Created by Jonathan Roberts
Voiced by Robert Guillaume (films)
Tsidii Le Loka (musical)

Rafiki is a mandrill-baboon hybrid who lives in a baobab tree and is old and wise. He performs activities which are often shamanistic, but also sometimes quite silly. He tends to speak in third person when speaking of himself. Rafiki's character often serves as the visual narrator of the story of The Lion King. Robert Guillaume voices Rafiki in the three films.

He is shown to be a dear friend to Mufasa. He presents Simba to all the animals gathered at Pride Rock, and draws a stylized lion cub on the walls of his treehouse home to represent Simba's birth. When Simba runs away and his family believes him dead, Rafiki draws his paw across the Simba drawing, obscuring it in grief. Later, after picking up Simba's scent in the dust and pollen in the air, Rafiki determines that Simba is still alive and restores the drawing, adding the full mane of an adult lion as a sign to seek out this young deliverer from Scar's tyranny. Journeying to the area where Simba lives with Timon and Pumbaa, Rafiki observes Simba and recognizes, at least in principle, that he is suffering from a ponderous emotional burden. To treat it, he approaches the young lion and teaches him a few playful (and sometimes painful) lessons about learning from the past, not living in it. He also points out that the spirit and values of Simba's dead father, Mufasa, continue to live in Simba himself. When Simba decides to return to Pride Rock and fight Scar for the kingship, Rafiki accompanies him, demonstrating his kung fu skills in battle against the hyenas. At the end of the film, Rafiki raises Simba and Nala's new-born cub atop Pride Rock for everyone to see, echoing the beginning of the film.

In the sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Rafiki appears in the beginning again as the presenter of Simba and Nala's new-born cub Kiara. Later on in the film, despite protesting that Simba and Zira would forbid it, he is persuaded by Mufasa's spirit to get Zira's son Kovu and Kiara to fall in love. He tries to make them fall in love with each other by taking them to a fantasy paradise called "Upendi". Later, when Simba exiles Kovu, he is seen sighing sadly of Kovu leaving. In the end, he acts as the host of Kiara and Kovu's wedding. Rafiki appears briefly in the midquel The Lion King 1½, and is referred to by Timon as "The Omniscient Monkey". It is revealed that it was Rafiki who taught Timon the philosophy of "Hakuna Matata". Besides appearing in the scenes he appeared in the original film, Rafiki also appears in a scene where he chats with Timon's mother and in a scene where he makes Timon go back to join his friends against Scar, albeit saying nothing but "My work here is done" after Timon goes to find Pumbaa on his own.

In the musical, the character of Rafiki was modified. Because director Julie Taymor felt that the story lacked the presence of a strong female, Rafiki was changed into a female mandrill. Rafiki's role is expanded in the musical. She sings the song "Circle of Life" and her painting scene is extended. She also sings a song called "Rafiki Mourns", in which she mourns Mufasa's death. She also has a brief role in Nala's song "Shadowland", blessing Nala for her journey to find help. Instead of finding Simba's scent on dust, Rafiki hears Simba's song "Endless Night" on the wind. Rafiki meets Simba and shows him that his father lives on inside him through the song "He Lives in You". She is present during the battle, fighting a hyena using hand-to-hand combat. She then appears adorning Simba with the king's mantle and then presents his newborn cub at the end of the play.

Rafiki appears in a few episodes of the Timon and Pumbaa TV series and also has his own series of skits called "Rafiki Fables" in the same show. He appears as a minor non-playable character in the Pride Lands world of Kingdom Hearts II. Rafiki returned in the kids "Disney Cookbook", as him as the creator of "Rafiki's Coconut drink".

"Rafiki" is Swahili for "friend", and is used as a term of address in Swahili-speaking countries.


Created by Jonathan Roberts
Voiced by Rowan Atkinson (original film and Animated Storybook: The Lion King)
Edward Hibbert (sequels)
Michael Gough (Timon & Pumbaa)
Jeff Bennett (singing voice in The Morning Report)
Jim Piddock (The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure And Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games)
Aliases Banana Beak

Zazu is a Red-billed Hornbill who acts as majordomo to Mufasa. Zazu's role in the films is primarily comic relief. He is first seen in the film during the opening sequence in which Simba is presented. He later confronts Scar and is almost eaten by him. When Simba has grown into a cub, Zazu is often ridiculed by him, being the target in Simba's pouncing lessons. He is ordered to watch over the cubs by Sarabi when Simba claims he wants to go to the waterhole with Nala. In fact, Simba had been lured by Scar to go to the elephant graveyard, and after the song "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", Simba and Nala successfully lose Zazu and go to the graveyard. Zazu later catches up with them, but they encounter Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, and the hornbill is put into the hyenas' "birdie boiler" geyser which rockets him up to the sky. Zazu flies quickly to get Mufasa and they race to the graveyard, just in time to save the cubs from the hyenas. During the wildebeest stampede engineered by Scar to kill Mufasa and Simba, it is Zazu who leads Mufasa to Simba. He later intends to go back for help, but is struck by Scar into a wall and rendered unconscious.

After Simba runs away, Zazu is hardly seen again. He briefly appears in a scene during Scar's kingship of the Pride Lands. Scar has imprisoned him and never listens to his advice, using him only for entertainment purposes, and even tells the hyenas that they are welcome to eat him. Later on, when Simba and his friends battle Scar and the hyenas, Zazu pleads Timon to let him out of the ribcage he is imprisoned in, but Timon goes inside the ribcage instead as he is pursued by the hyenas. Pumbaa comes to the rescue and chases away the hyenas after Banzai accidentally insults him. Zazu is freed along with Timon, and he joins the battle. Later, Zazu is seen at Simba's ascension to the throne and during the presentation of Simba and Nala's newborn cub. Zazu has brief appearances in the direct-to-video sequels.

In the Broadway musical, Zazu is a puppet controlled by an actor dressed in blue striped clothes and a bowler hat much like a stereotypical butler. Zazu's blue feathers have been replaced with white and the puppet is partially constructed from parachute silk with a slinky contained in the neck for ease in movement. Zazu, like in the Platinum Edition of the film, sings the song Morning Report before being pounced on by Simba. The musical version of the song is longer than its film counterpart. In certain English productions of the show, Zazu breaks the fourth wall at different points.

Along with Iago, the parrot from Aladdin, he appears as one of the hosts of The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) at Walt Disney World in Florida.


Sarabi is Simba's mother, Mufasa's mate, and the highest ranking lioness of the pride. Her first appearance is at the beginning of the film, cradling her newborn son. After Mufasa's death, she mourns with Nala and the other lionesses. Under Scar's leadership, food begins to run low. Scar questions her as to the failure of the lionesses and she turns to blame on Scar's poor leadership and mentions that he wasn't even half the king Mufasa was. Scar strikes her out of anger just as Simba returns. At first she mistakes her son for the late Mufasa, but once her confusion clears she is happy to be reunited with her son. After Scar admits that he is the one who killed Mufasa, she joins the others in battling Scar and the hyenas. Sarabi is voiced by Madge Sinclair.

Other characters

The Lion King II introduces new characters to the franchise. The film centers on the struggle of Simba and Nala's daughter Kiara, voiced by Michelle Horn as a cub and Neve Campbell as an adult, with her father's protection. The main antagonist of the film is Zira, voiced by Suzanne Pleshette, who is the leader of a group of lionesses loyal to Scar that were exiled by Simba prior to the events of the film. Zira has three offspring: Nuka (voiced by Andy Dick), an incompetent male lion; Vitani (voiced by Lacey Chabert), a fierce lioness cub; and Kovu, (voiced by Ryan O'Donohue as a cub and by Jason Marsden as an adult), Scar's hand-chosen successor. Kiara meets and befriends Kovu since both of them are cubs, and they develop a romance as adults.

Timon's family is introduced in The Lion King 1½. His mother Ma, voiced by Julie Kavner, and his Uncle Max, voiced by Jerry Stiller, play an important supporting role in most of the events of the film, which take place at the same time of that of the first film.



Early production of The Lion King began in late 1988, with the film originally being titled King of the Kalahari and later King of the Jungle.[27] The treatment, inspired by Hamlet, was written by Thomas M. Disch (author of The Brave Little Toaster) as work-for-hire, Disch received no credit or royalties. Production took place at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Glendale, California. Also, nearly 20 minutes of the film were animated at the Disney-MGM Studios.[24] Ultimately, more than 600 artists, animators and technicians contributed to the The Lion King over its lengthy production schedule. More than one million drawings were created for the film, including 1,197 hand-painted backgrounds and 119,058 individually colored frames of film.[24]

In April 1992, when Rob Minkoff joined the directing team, a session was held to revamp the story. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, directors of Beauty and the Beast, also joined the directing team. For two days, producer Don Hahn presided over the discussion that finally produced a character makeover for Simba and a radically revised second half of the film.[24] Irene Mecchi joined the team that summer to help further develop the characters and define their personalities. Several months later, she was joined by Jonathan Roberts in the rewriting process. Working together in the animation department and in conjunction with the directors and story team, they tackled the unresolved emotional issues in the script and also added many comic situations.[24] Some of the lead production crew made a trip to Africa to better understand the environment for the film. The trip gave production designer Chris Sanders a new appreciation for the natural environments and inspired him to find ways to incorporate these elements into the design of the film.[24] The filmmakers also made us of computers to better present their vision in new ways. The most notable use of computer animation is in the "wildebeest stampede" sequence. Several distinct wildebeest characters were created in a 3D computer program, multiplied into hundreds, cel shaded to look like drawn animation, and given randomized paths down a mountainside to simulate the real, unpredictable movement of a herd. Similar multiplication occurs in the "Be Prepared" musical number with identical marching hyenas.[28] Five specially trained animators and technicians spent more than two years creating the 2½ minute stampede sequence.[24]

At one time, the Disney Feature Animation staff felt The Lion King was less important than Pocahontas.[3] Both projects were in production at the same time, and most of the staff preferred to work on Pocahontas, believing it would be the more prestigious and successful of the two.[3] As it turned out, while both films were commercial successes, The Lion King received more positive feedback and larger grosses than Pocahontas.[29][30][31]

The sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was directed by Darrell Rooney and produced by Jeannine Roussel, with Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus writing the screenplay. Disney believed that Simba's Pride would be so popular that it shipped 15 million copies to stores for the October 27 release date.[32]


The original motion picture soundtrack for the first film was released on July 13, 1994, two days before the film's release. It contains songs by songewriters Elton John and Tim Rice, who wrote five original songs, with Elton John performing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" during the end credits. Additionally, "The Morning Report", a song which was not present in the original theatrical film, was later added to the IMAX theater and to the DVD Platinum Edition release. The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer and supplemented with traditional African music and choir elements arranged by Lebo M.[33] Elton John thought his career had hit a new low when he was writing the music to the song "Hakuna Matata".[34] However, the strongly enthusiastic audience reception to an early film trailer which consisted solely of the opening sequence with the song "Circle of Life", suggested that the film would be very successful. Out of the five original songs, "Hakuna Matata" was listed at number 99 in the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs list in 2004,[35] and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" won the Oscar for Best Original Song during the 67th Academy Awards. The soundtrack itself was the fourth best-selling album of 1994 on the Billboard 200 and the top-selling soundtrack.[36]

Disney Records released Rhythm of the Pride Lands on February 28, 1995 as a sequel to the soundtrack of the first film. Rhythm of the Pride Lands was initially printed in a very limited quantity. However, it was re-released in 2003, included in some international versions of The Lion King's special edition soundtrack with an additional track, "Circle of Life".

A audio CD entitled Return to Pride Rock: Songs Inspired by Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was released on September 8, 1998. Although not promoted as a soundtrack to The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, it contained all the songs from the film and some additional songs inspired by it by Lebo M. Tina Turner recorded a version of "He Lives in You" for the film. On August 31, 2004, Disney released an "enhanced soundtrack" to coincide with the release of the film's 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. However, the CD only contains the songs featured in the film, without any of the inspired songs by the first film. Siskel & Ebert noted that it was best the film was direct-to-video, since the music was lacking and not remotely equal to the original's soundtrack.[37]

The soundtrack for the third film, The Lion King 1½: Songs From Timon and Pumbaa's Hilarious Adventure, was released to CD by Disney Records on February 10, 2004. It includes two songs from the original film, "That's All I Need" and "Hakuna Matata", re-performed by Nathan Lane who took over the role of voicing the character Timon. The rest of the soundtrack includes various R&B tracks, including remakes of the Kool and the Gang classic "Jungle Boogie" by artist French, and two instrumental pieces from film composer Don Harper. Ennio Morricone was the original composer of "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly".[38]


During its release in 1994, The Lion King grossed more than $783 million worldwide, becoming the most successful film released that year, and it is currently the twenty-eighth highest-grossing feature film of all time. The film was the highest grossing animated film of all time until the release of Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo, a computer-animated film. The Lion King is still the highest grossing traditionally animated film of all time in the United States.[39][40] The film received many award nominations. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Score,[41] the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy,[42] and the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.[43] The song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" alone won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, the BMI Film Music Award, and the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance Male.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride sold 3.5 million copies in three days. Thirteen million copies were sold while it was still in print in the late 90s.[44] Both sequels won the Annie Award for Best Animated Home Entertainment Production. The Lion King 1½ also won five DVD Exclusive Awards. The musical won six Tony Awards including Best Musical.[45][46]

Box office performance

Film Release date Box Office
United States Outside US Worldwide
The Lion King June 15, 1994[1] $328,541,776[47] $455,300,000[47] $783,841,776[47]
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride October 27, 1998 Direct-to-Video Direct-to-Video Direct-to-Video
The Lion King 1½ February 10, 2004 Direct-to-Video Direct-to-Video Direct-to-Video

Critical reaction

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Yahoo! Movies
Overall Cream of the Crop
The Lion King 92% (61 reviews)[48] 100% (13 reviews)[49] 84% (13 reviews)[50] A (6 reviews)[51]
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride 43% (7 reviews)[52]      
The Lion King 1½ 77% (13 reviews)[53]      


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  46. ^ "The Lion King Study Guide". Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
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