0% Approval Rating: Scar does a pretty lousy job of running Pride Rock, rendering it a barren wasteland, but refuses to let the pride move somewhere more survivable. This earns him plenty of contempt from all of his underlings.
Alternate Ending: The original ending to the movie would've had Scar actually throw Simba off Pride Rock at the end of the fight (after Simba tries to save his life). Scar then dies laughing hysterically as the fires surrounding Pride Rock engulf it, burning him to death. Simba survived the fall (ironically meaning Scar throwing him off Pride Rock saved his life) and then meets up with Nala after the fires are put out. This was changed as the filmmakers felt this wouldn't have really brought Scar to justice for his actions.
Ambiguous Time Period: There is no indication of what time the story takes place. Which is part of why it is so appealing. It could be happening in 1607 or 100 years in the future.
The series shows it takes place in the present. While not all people consider it canon, anyone who does has a timeframe to go by.
Also, in the movie there's a few references to songs written well after 1607.
The reference to Out of Africa insinuated it takes place after 1985, when that movie was released.
Amusing Injuries: Zazu being tackled by Simba, Zazu being launched high into the air by a geyser, and Banzai falling into a thorn pit. All three are notable for the other characters finding them funny as well as the audience: "Cactus butt!"
And Rafiki hitting Simba on the head.
Animal Ladder: Zazu at the end of "I Just Can't Wait to be King".
A Nazi by Any Other Name: The song Be Prepared, in which Scar rallies the Hyenas into setting up a new age in Pride Rock, ruled by Scar and the Hyenas. The Nazi Symbolism is quite clear during a sequence when the Hyenas goose step (the most evilest march ever) by Scar. The scene is directly inspired by Triumph of the Will. This makes the song especially chilling if you watch it in either Hebrew or German.
Rafiki is a Mandrill with a tail of a Baboon and living in the savannah instead of in the forest; Pumbaa is a reddish brown warthog that looks more like a big-headed pig than a warthog; Timon is an always-bipedal meerkat with human-like teeth and that says "Ugh, Carnivores!" even though he belongs to the order Carnivora as well; the Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) that bear some resemblance with Striped Hyenas (Hyaena hyaena), with grey hair, large shaggy black manes, black ears and low-hanging head.
Averted. The movie was originally going to be called King of the Jungle and be about African lions living in the jungle. This idea was dropped when the production staff realized that lions don't actually live in the jungle.
Given that they are very close to the same age, realistically, Scar and Mufasa would have been kicked out of their natal pride by their father at or around the same time, and worked together to take over a pride. Which they would then lead and father cubs for together. But, that doesn't make for a very good Disneyfied version of Hamlet, now does it?
Zazu:(trapped) Let me out, let me out! Timon:(chased) Let me in, let me in!
Award Bait Song: "Can You Feel The Love Tonight". ("Circle of Life" also earned nominations, but that one is the only that fits the "Award Bait" formula.)
Awesome Moment of Crowning: There's no physical crown, but the scene in which Simba ascends Pride Rock and finally lets loose with a full-throated lion roar signifies that he has taken his place as King.
Backstab Backfire: Scar would've won his last fight if he hadn't chosen to tell Simba who was really responsible for Mufasa's death. And he still might have survived it if he hadn't tried to blame everything on the hyenas (who were practically his only supporters at that point, and three looked to be sneaking up behind Simba, backing off when they heard him) before he ended up needing their help.
Bad Ass: There is a reason Mufasa trusts Rafiki as the Hyena's find out. He's dangerous when he wants to be.
Rafiki: (smacking a hyena with his fist and stick): HYAAAH!
Badass Grandpa: Rafiki might be an old and wise baboon, but he has no trouble taking on an entire group of hyenas, knocking each of them out in one blow with his bare hands and feet while the lions are using claws and teeth.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work:The hyenas are none too happy about Scar trying to throw them under the bus earlier, and they're mighty hungry...
Batman Gambit: A particular talent of Scar's. He plays everyone like a fiddle because he knows them so well.
Beauty Equals Goodness: While no one is necessarily "beautiful" or "ugly" by the standards of the human viewers, most of the good characters (Zazu and all the lions except for Scar) are quite normal looking, while the antagonists are rather creepy looking. Averted with Pumbaa, Timon, and espicially Rafiki.
"Hakuna Matata" is a touristy phrase — versus Hamna Shida — translating roughly as "there are no worries" in Swahili.
The first line of Rafiki's chant is "Asante sana squash banana." In context, it doesn't mean anything, but "asante sana" is Swahili for "thank you very much." In addition, the second line does mean "You're a baboon and I am not".
The Zulu chants provided by Lebo M. certainly count as well.
Most of the characters' names are Swahili words: Simba ("Lion" or "Courageous Warrior"), Mufasa ("King"; in Manazoto rather than Swahili), Pumbaa ("Simpleton"), Nala ("Gift"), Rafiki ("Friend"), Shenzi ("Savage") and Banzai ("Skulk").
Banzai counts for it twice as it's also a Japanese word which has different meanings depending on the context of the sentence, but which sometimes translates to "Forever", among other things, again depending on the context in which it's being used.
Biting-the-Hand Humor / Self-Deprecation: Zazu starts to sing "It's a Small World". Scar freaks out and demands him to sing anything else but that. Even funnier, in the Broadway show, Zazu may sing "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast or "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins (two other Disney movies that also became successful Broadway musicals; they have all been "rival" shows at one time or another).
In the Las Vegas production, he sings "Viva Las Vegas."
Banzai: What were we supposed to do? Kill Mufasa? Scar: Precisely.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Scar could have avoided all this trouble if he had just killed Simba himself rather than sending him running off and delegating the killing to the incompetent hyenas, although that would have included the danger of him being seen or found out. More obviously, Scar telling Simba that he killed Mufasa, which gave Simba both the determination and the support of the pride that he needed to win.
Book Ends: The film begins with Mufasa's cub Simba presented to the kingdom, and ends with Simba's cub similarly presented, both accompanied by the same song, "The Circle of Life".
Bowled Over: We first see Timon and Pumbaa playing "bowling for buzzards".
Pumbaa: And I got down-hearted... Timon: How did you feel? Pumbaa: Every time that I— Timon:[claps hands over Pumbaa's mouth] HEY, PUMBAA! [looks right at the fourth wall]Not in front of the kids! Pumbaa:[also looks] Oh! Sorry.
Simba gets in on the act a second later as he seems to give the fourth wall a puzzled Aside Glance in response to the above exchange.
Brick Joke: Arguable, and possibly unintended. Early on, Scar said that he would be a monkey's uncle when Simba becomes king. Later, when Nala is looking for Simba after he's left for Pride Rock to become king, we have this conversation.
Nala: Have you guys seen Simba? Timon: I thought he was with you. Nala: He was, but now I can't find him. Where is he? Rafiki: [chuckles] You won't find him here. The King has returned. Nala: I don't believe it. He's gone back. Timon: What? [looks up and sees Rafiki has disappeared] Timon: Hey, what's going on here? Who's the monkey? Nala: Simba's gone back to challenge Scar. Timon: Who? Nala: Scar. Pumbaa: Who's got a scar? Nala: No, no, no. It's his uncle. Timon: The monkey's his uncle? Nala: No! Simba's gone back to challenge his uncle to take his place as king. Timon and Pumbaa: (beat) Oh.
Broken Aesop: In-universe. Simba's new lesson of "Hakuna Matata, forget your worries" results in him running from his problems and thus shirking his duty as king.
Another in-universe, Rafiki teaches Simba that it's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them. Simba thus decides to quit running and forgive himself before confronting Scar. Despite Simba's efforts to put his guilt behind him, Scar takes advantage of the fact that Nala, Sarabi, and the other lions still don't know the true circumstances of Mufasa's death to turn them against Simba, which quickly leads to Simba falling prey to his guilt once again. No one rallies behind him until Scar admits he killed Mufasa.
Bros Before Hoes: Timon and Pumbaa are firm believers, which is why they're more than a little upset when Nala comes along to break up the trio.
Zazu, who starts out as Mufasa's PR guy and constantly finds himself at the butt of Simba's antics. After Scar takes over, he is reduced to being nothing but a source of entertainment for Scar, and is almost eaten by the hyenas on several occasions.
Another example is Banzai, who gets claw-marks and thorns in his butt.
Carnivore Confusion: Solved by having Simba eating bugs, a Truth in Television since real lions are happy to eat them if necessary. Averted when Nala stalks and nearly kills Pumbaa, but then backs off when she has her reunion with Simba. With no recourse at all, the movie "solves" these troubling issues by Lampshading and then ignoring them.
When Simba asks Mufasa about this near the beginning of the movie, he justifies them eating herbivores with it being the part of the Circle of Life.
Mufasa: When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connnected in the great Circle of Life.
Cheated Angle: Pride Rock is always seen from the left to which the front is faced on the inside, except for three shots at the very beginning and five at the climax of the film.
Timon: Gee. He looks blue. Pumbaa: I'd say brownish-gold. Timon: No, no, no. I mean he's depressed. Pumbaa: Oh.
Timon and Pumbaa's worry-free lifestyle is based on the motto "Hakuna Matata". They may have missed the fine print that said the phrase only tells you not to worry in a given situation- you still need to face your problems.
During "Be Prepared", Scar says the hyenas need to be prepared for the death of the king (Mufasa). The hyenas ask if he's sick, then Scar says that they'll kill him and Simba. The hyenas then think that this means that there will be no king (until Scar reminds them that he'll be the king).
Conspicuous CG: The wildebeest from the stampede were cel-shaded to avert this. Compared to other mixed CGI-in-handrawn-animation examples, this one still holds up pretty well after all these years.
Continuity Snarl: Primarily from the obscure book series The Six New Adventures Of The Lion King, which came out after the first movie, but before Simba's Pride. The series added the character of Simba and Nala's son, a cub named Kopa, some other cub characters to Mufasa's original pride, the story of how Scar got his scar, as well as named Mufasa's parents and grandfather, and Scar before he got his scar. Since Kopa has since been Retconed into Kiara in Simba's Pride, the extent to which Six New Adventures is considered canon is hotly debated amongst some fans, and has resulted in much Wild Mass Guessing and cries of Fanon Discontinuity. Also, the animated series gave a different (and fairly moving) version of Timon and Pumbaa meeting than 1½.
Mufasa, when he is flung off the gorge cliff and plummets to the ground far below. It is unclear whether the fall killed him or if initially surviving with major injuries he was still (semi-)conscious when he is crushed repeatedly by the wildebeest stampede.
Scar, although justice is served, it can still be seen as rather "cruel" when he is mauled by his former hyena stooges and concurrently burned to death.
Cut Song: Several. A Dark Reprise of "Be Prepared", "Warthog Rhapsody" (an alternate Timon and Pumbaa song), "Thanks To Me" (the original version of "Be Prepared"), "The Lion in the Moon" (a lullaby sung by Sarabi), and "To Be King" (sung by Mufasa and cut because people thought James Earl Jones as a singing lion would be unintentionally funny). "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was supposed to be in the movie in its entirety, but Timon and Pumbaa end up singing only a couple of lines of it during the final version.
Desert Skull: As Simba returns to the Pridelands, he finds it riddled with wildebeest skeletons to show how Scar's rule has ruined the land. At the end, as Simba returns to power, there's a brief shot of a skull being washed away by the rain, to symbolize the end of the old regime.
Deranged Animation: A vast majority of "I Just Can't Wait To Be King"'s backgrounds employ this.
Mufasa: You deliberately disobeyed me, and what's worse, you put Nala in danger! Simba: I was just trying to be brave, like you. Mufasa: I'm only brave when I have to be. Simba...being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.
Disney Acid Sequence: "I Just Can't Wait to Be King". Justified this time, because the sequence is supposed to capture Simba's perspective during the song.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Simba finally becomes king of Pride Rock, is reunited with his mother, and gets to marry Nala and have a cub...but to get there he has to lose his father (right before his eyes), go into exile, face down his personal guilt and psychological demons, then stage a countercoup and take out his usurping uncle whose lies and manipulations were what put him through Mind Rape in the first place. In the process, not coincidentally, he is forced to mature a great deal and become a far wiser, humbler, more heroic character.
Eccentric Mentor: Rafiki looks like a crazy old monkey, but has great wisdom (and kung-fu skills).
Evil Is Petty: Scar can be considered absolute biggest scumbag of any Disney villain based solely on what he does and why: he murders his brother and guilt-trips his nephew so he can take over the pride land for really no other reason than to have the status of king. Likewise, once he is in power, he really doesn't do anything other than tell everyone else what to do, most of the time telling them to deal with their problems themselves, which, ironically, are all things the king is responsible for (i.e., food and safety). The only time Scar takes responsibility for anything he does is when he thinks he's about to kill Simba and confesses being Mufasa's murderer, assuming that he'll get away with it. When he doesn't, his first reaction is to blame the hyaenas.... until he's at their mercy, at which point they're his "friends." Indeed, there is no honor among criminals.
Evil Will Fail: Even if Simba hadn't shown up and pulled a Rightful King Returns, Scar's rule over the lion pride would have collapsed anyway since he'd driven the pridelands to the point of ecological ruin.
The fight between Simba and Scar ends with Scar being eaten alive (or at the very least being mauled to death) by his hyena henchmen (cast in shadow, but still!). The sequel makes it even worse by implying that he might have been burned to death as well.
Fisher King: When Mufasa is in charge, his wise leadership makes the land around Pride Rock a beautiful place of peace and plenty. When Scar is the king, the same land turns into a dark and dying graveyard, due to his poor leadership and the hyenas eating and taking almost everything there is, reflecting his own dark personality. Once Simba assumes the throne, everything goes pretty again.
Floating Head Syndrome: Mufasa in the cineplex posters. This is a unique case of it pertaining to the events of the story.
Follow the Leader: Many concepts, compositions and characters are notoriously similar to that of Osamu Tezuka's Kimba the White Lion. Whenever a member of The Lion King production team speaks on the matter, the claim is usually that they hadn't heard of Kimba. In the case of some individuals working on the film this may even be true, but to assert that no one one the film's huge production team had ever heard of Kimba is iffy at best. This is not helped by the fact that some early production reels depicted Simba as a white lion, and there are several claims of people on staff mistakenly calling the film a remake of Kimba, or calling Simba by that name.
Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Invoked when Scar has the hyenas cause a wildebeest stampede as a trap for both Simba and Mufasa.
Foreshadowing: At the climax of "I Just Can't Wait to be King" when the tower of animals collapses, it can be interpreted as either Played for Laughs or foreshadowing how Simba's whole self-image is about to come crashing down thanks to Scar's frame-up.
For The Cel Of It: The wildebeest from the stampede sequence are CGI, but cel-shaded to look like traditional animation.
Frameup and False Confession: After Scar kills Mufasa, he gets Simba to believe he's responsible, leading to Simba's running away. Simba believes this until the Just Between You and Me moment in the final act, even to the point of confessing himself to his mother and the rest of the pride.
Funny Background Event: Timon and Pumbaa swing on a vine in the background during young Simba's solo in "Hakuna Matata". Pumbaa does this at the beginning of the theme song in the TV series.
Also, during the last part of Be Prepared while Scar is going on about why he should be king the hyenas are actually singing about how much food they'll get under Scar's rule.
Scar: Meticulous planning Hyenas: We'll have food! Scar: Tenacity spanning Hyenas: Lots of food! Scar: Decade of denial Hyenas: We repeat. Scar: Is simply why I'll Hyenas: Endless meat
Generational Saga: Mufasa tells Simba that even when he's gone he'll always be there in the sky with the great kings to look down on his son. Once he is gone, Simba abandons the Pride Lands to his uncle Scar, but after talking to his father in the sky he realizes that he needs to come home and be king.
Good Animals, Evil Animals: Subverted with lions and hyenas. Scar and Zira are the glaring exceptions to the former. On the other hand, no truly good hyenas have, to date, appeared in the films, although the TV Series implies that Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed settle for neutrality following the movie.
A Handful for an Eye: Right before their fight, Scar blinds Simba by kicking hot coals into his face.
Held Gaze: Simba and Nala gaze deeply into each other's eyes at the end of their Falling in Love Montage of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" before nuzzling each other in a manner that resembles a kiss.
Heroic Second Wind: When Scar has Simba right where he wants him (desperately trying to keep his grip on the ledge of Pride Rock but about to fall off), and he admits that he killed Mufasa (in what he thinks will be a Just Between You and Me moment, before throwing Simba to his death) Simba (who relives watching his father being thrown to his death in what could well be his final moments) instead lunges up the rest of the cliff, pinning his evil uncle and forcing him to reveal the truth to the others.
"Well, the buzz from the bees is that leopards are in a bit of a spot. The baboons are going ape... I told the elephants to forget it, but they can't... Cheetahs never prosper".
Timon's line, "What's the motto with you?"
In "I Just Can't Wait to be King", Simba does say that "I'm gonna be the mane event".
Also, with the hyenas.
Banzai: We could have whatever's... lion around! Shenzi: Wait wait wait. I got one. Make mine a cub sandwich. (Ed tries to get their attention) WHAT, ED?! Banzai: Hey, did we order this dinner to go? Shenzi: No. Why? Banzai: 'Cause there it goes! (Points to Simba, Nala, and Zazu running like crazy).
Talks like a Simile: In the same scene, Zazu tells Scar that "You'll lose more than that when the king gets through with you! He's as mad as a hippo with a hernia."
The Hyena: A ton of them. Three main ones. Ed is the one that fits the trope the most.
Shenzi: Ohhhh, that's your son! This is your son, I didn't know he was your son. Did you, Banzai? Banzai: No, I had no idea, did you? Shenzi: No, of course not, no! Both: Ed? Ed:(grins and nods excitedly)
Keet: Simba occasionally shows a bit of this as a cub. Also possibly as an adult, thanks to living with Timon and Pumbaa.
Killed Off for Real: Mufasa really was killed by Scar. And at the end, Scar is eaten alive by his former hench-hyenas. Given Scar's occasional cameos in the questionably-canon Timon and Pumbaa series, some fans think that he survived and is in hiding.
Knight of Cerebus: Scar. The film begins quite cheerful, but when Scar kills his own brother and takes the power, the film definitely becomes quite dark. He may be this to the whole franchise as he's the first Disney villain to successfully kill a main character.
Late To The Realization: Zazu, even after being told by Mufasa to turn around, and obeying the order willingly, continues to ramble on before realizing that he's the target of Simba's pouncing lesson:
Zazu: Sire, what is going on? Mufasa: A pouncing lesson. Zazu: Ah, very good... pouncing. (Turns back, Beat)(Realizes what he just said)POUNCING?! Oh, no, sire - you can't be serious! Oh, this is so humiliating.
Left Hanging: Although 'Hakuna Matata' vaguely explains why Pumbaa became an outcast, Timon's story was cut from the song for time. Both the TV series and the midquel offer different interpretations of it. Now, it's Pumbaa suffers this.
Malaproper: Pumbaa, occasionally, for example saying "I gravel at your feet" instead of "grovel" and messing up Timon's saying "You've gotta put your past behind you" as "You gotta put your behind in your past". Timon corrects him both times.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is never made clear just what happens in the jungle when Rafiki takes Simba to meet his father's ghost. Is it truly Mufasa appearing to him, either on his own or summoned by Rafiki? Is it a shamanistic illusion or other spell? Or is it all in Simba's head (since nothing Mufasa says is anything Simba didn't already know), telling him what he needed to hear?
Likewise, did Rafiki discern that Simba was still alive via magic, or did he just perform a really keen analysis on that dust?
"Danger? Ha-ha! I walk on the wild side! I laugh in the face of danger!"
The hyenas echo themselves at the end, but with a much darker overtone:
"Ed?" (insane laughter)
Meaningful Name: Simba means lion in Swahili (and can also mean "courageous warrior"). Everybody else has a meaningful name too - it is even debated that 'Ed' is short for 'eddy', a word in English meaning 'whirlpool'.
Misplaced Wildlife: South American Giant Anteaters and Leaf Cutting Ants; all the other fauna is properly from central Africa. Also a reference to cacti, but considering that the term in question is "cactus butt" it probably just sounds funnier than "thorn butt."
Mood Whiplash: Constantly. Perhaps most notably when we go from Mufasa and Simba's funeral and Rafiki crossing out Simba's outline to... bowling for buzzards! (the comic relief was badly needed after the past few minutes).
More Than Mind Control: Timon and Pumbaa unwittingly sway the guilt-ridden Simba away from fulfilling his role in the Circle of Life by convincing him that nothing can be done about his trauma and indoctrinating him into their careless and slovenly "no worries" lifestyle to keep his mind off of the past and his duties. This has as much to do with his misplaced guilt as their influence.
Mordor: The elephant graveyard. The Pride Lands start to resemble it during Scar's reign, partly because he can't be bothered to run it.
Natural Spotlight: The king being held to the sky. There aren't even any clouds to justify the light slits.
Never Say "Die": Averted. Multiple times. For example, "When we die our bodies become the grass", "I killed Mufasa" and several more. There's even a villain song about murdering the king!
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Scar is being challenged by Simba's return, but he makes the pride turn against Simba by making him still believe he caused Mufasa's death. As he drives Simba towards the cliff, he decides to give a Just Between You and Me speech in which he tells him what really happened. This helps Simba shake off his guilt, and he gets his Heroic Second Wind against Scar.
Young Simba had a massive ego and believed that being King allows one to do anything they want. Unless Mufasa eventually curbed that trait, it's scary to imagine just how easily Simba could have become a tyrant. By destroying his life, Scar sets in motion the events that proceed to make Simba into a better person.
The hyenas for breaking off the chase after Simba manages to lose them in the briar patch. (Shenzi had a point that Simba probably wouldn't survive in the desert, although it was just an assumption.) Needless to say, Scar pays for their lack of responsibility years later when Simba returns fully grown.
Scar does it again in the finale when he hastily tries to save his own skin by shifting all the blame onto the hyenas... within their hearing. This makes the hyenas back off to make him fight Simba alone...and they maul him to death later.
"No. Just... No" Reaction: Scar wants Zazu to sing him something happy sounding instead of the downtrodden depressing songs he's been singing him.
Scar: Come now, Zazu, sing something happy, with a little...Bounce!
Zazu: <deadpan>Iiiit's a Small World Aaaafter Aaaaall
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Let's see, Scar KILLS MUFASA, and is perfectly able to go toe-to-toe with Simba in the climax. A bit out of place considering that he groans about getting the brains and none of the brawn in the beginning, but makes some sense when you consider that Simba has apparently lived only on insects and has been in a total of one fight (that he lost). This plot point makes even more sense when taking into account Scar's original character design as a much more bulky and brawny lion.
Not So Different: Simba as a kid has the mentality that when they become king, they could do anything they want and no-one would be able to stop them (although when young Simba says this, Mufasa immediately advises him against this). Scar later says the exact same thing.
Odd Name Out: On a grand scale. All members of the main cast have African names (except Scar). (Scar's real name is Taka, which means "trash"). The only one to have a more European sounding name is Ed. He also seems to be mentally challenged.
As mentioned in Bilingual Bonus, Banzai's name is also a Japanese word, though it's possible the writers either didn't know, didn't care, or just decided to Throw It In anyway because most people wouldn't care even if they noticed since the film was set in the African savannah and jungles.
Also, said mooks after realizing why calling Pumbaa a pig wasn't the smartest thing to do.
Scar, first when Simba returns to reclaim his rightful place on the throne, and later realizing he's about to be killed by his former mooks.
Oddly this was just after provoking one onto them, giving them a Death Glare when he realized they hadn't finished Simba off.
Prior to this, after smacking Sarabi to the ground for mentioning Mufasa in his presence, he notices a very angry looking Simba watching above. Punctuated since he actually thought it was Mufasa himself at first.
Mufasa, when he realizes his son is in the middle of a wildebeest stampede, as well as, in his last moments of life, realizing how insane, dangerous, and power-hungry his brother really is.
Perma Stubble: All male hyenas have dark patches around their muzzles that look remarkably like stubble. It's one of the few things that distinguish them from the females. In The Lion King 1½, there is another female hyena — you can tell because she has no stubble and a thick tuft of fringe.
Redemption in the Rain: It's raining when Simba climbs Pride Rock at the end. A clear case of the rain being "purifying" and symbolizing new life, as the sequence includes a gazelle's skull being dislodged and washed away.
Rule of Cool: The ground rising up beneath Scar in the last part of "Be Prepared" doesn't really make any sense, but looks awesome.
Rule of Symbolism: There are quite a number of Christian parallels, which is unsurprising considering lions being associated with God and Jesus for centuries. There's Simba's apparent resurrection—Nala says to him "It's like you're back from the dead" and is informed "The King has returned" in a manner rather reminiscent of Mary Magdalene in the garden with the open tomb, and both Scar and Sarabi think he is his father come back from the dead. There's the Fisher King analogy, with Simba's fight with Scar being easily related to Jesus combating Satan after his Second Coming. There's Simba's anointment by Rafiki, his reluctance to do his father's will, and Mufasa's divine image declaring Simba his son and the true king.
An example without the religious undertones, but still fraught with portent: the image of Simba's little paw stepping into his father's huge pawprint, the one he must one day fill as king. And in the end, he does.
To be precise, Nala is simply much better at wrestling and flipping than he is (she needs to be; that's how lionesses deal with most of the prey they can't knock silly). On the other hand, if Simba used the Truth in Television method of smashing opponents in the face with heavy, clubbing blows, like he did with Scar, he could easily knock her silly (as seen when Scar hits Sarabi). But for Simba to whack around a girl who's his best friend is just wrong, not to mention that neither has ever fought each other with the desire to kill.
Scared of What's Behind You: When the hyenas corner Simba, they encourage him to try to roar. He does, and it's a fearsome lion's roar. It's actually Mufasa.
During the song "Be Prepared," two hyenas wave skeletons of creatures, creating shadow images of them "dancing" that imitate the dancing skeletons from "Night on Bald Mountain," right down to the curving, "noodly" movements.
Shown Their Work: Yes, lion cubs can and do eat bugs, and live off them if necessary. (Though it's much more of a stretch to imagine an adult lion living off them). Also, the fight between Simba and Scar (rearing up and furiously cuffing each other) is based off of how male lions actually fight, as their manes provide some protection to the neck.
Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: Animals are anthropomorphised to varying extents. This even varies with animals of the same species — compare Timon with the meerkats that appear in the opening of "Circle of Life".
The Smurfette Principle: Nala and Sarabi are the only female protagonists. Nala is there as the Token Romance while Sarabi is Simba's mother. Somewhat balanced out by having Shenzi as a prominent villainess.
Something Only They Would Say: A non-verbal example occurs when Simba first encounters Nala as an adult. When she uses her trademark flip-and-pin move on him, he realizes her identity.
Stars Are Souls: Simba says he was taught that the stars are the spirits of the old kings, which gets a confirmation when he later recieves a starry vision of his father. Timon, on the other hand, claims that stars are fireflies that got stuck in the sky. That also got confirmed...by The Princess and the Frog.
Nala: Have you guys seen Simba? Timon: I thought he was with you. Nala: He was but now I can't find him. Where is he? Rafiki: [chuckles] You won't find him here. The King has returned. Nala: I don't believe it. He's gone back. Timon: What? [looks up and sees Rafiki has disappeared] Timon: Hey, what's going on here? Who's the monkey? Nala: Simba's gone back to challenge Scar. Timon: Who? Nala: Scar. Pumbaa: Who's got a scar? Nala: No, no, no. It's his uncle. Timon: The monkey's his uncle? Nala: No! Simba's gone back to challenge his uncle to take his place as king. Timon and Pumbaa: (beat) Oh.
Terrible Trio: We have Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed, minions to Scar. Shenzi, the female, is the leader and the smart one, Banzai appears to think entirely with his muscles, and Ed is either insane, retarded or faking it.
Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Shenzi — her eye patches are shaped like heavily applied eyeshadow, her mane extends to having bangs and a fringe, and she lacks the Perma Stubble that both Banzai and Ed sport. Well, you have to be able to tell her from the guys somehow...
Nala: What's happened to you? You're not the Simba I remember. Simba: You're right, I'm not! Are you satisfied?
That Reminds Me of a Song: We all know someone who feels "Morning Report" was an unneeded addition to the film, since the movie didn't have it originally. It isn't a terrible song, nor completely irrelevant (it's in the stage versions of the movie, too). It didn't exactly advance the plot or provide much (if any) character development, but it was intended to be in the original production (and is in the Special Edition).
That's subverted; we know Scar's right about that. Earlier in the film, he shoved his brother to his death. He just said that because he mistook Simba for Mufasa until he revealed who he really was to his mother.
This Is Gonna Suck: After Simba gets busted by his dad at the elephant graveyard, Mufasa says that he needs to teach his son a lesson, and Simba cowers. Simba hesitates coming to his father's side, earning himself a First Name Ultimatum for his troubles.
This Is Unforgivable: Simba says "You don't deserve to live" to Scar as soon as he corners him after hitting him with a "Murderer" to which Scar had responded with "Simba, Simba, please. Please have mercy. I beg you."
Too Dumb to Live: Timon, Pumbaa, Zazu and the hyenas all show this at one point or another. Later in the film Scar really shouldn't have lied to Simba about Mufasa's death by blaming it on the hyenas. He pays for it dearly.
Two Act Structure: The first half of the movie is about Simba's childhood and Scar's plot to become King. The second half is adult Simba coming to terms with his guilt and grief and deciding to reclaim his throne from Scar. The musical similarly follows this thread by ending Act 1 with Hakuna Matata and the reveal of Adult Simba.
The Unintelligible: Ed the Hyena, although this trope uses laughter instead of the usual mumbling.
Walk Into Camera Obstruction: During the song "I Just Can't Wait to be King" where the giraffes are throwing Simba and Nala, Simba's stomach fills up the screen
"Well Done, Son" Guy: In an interesting variation, Simba becomes this for the second half of the movie. Although anything but an emotionally distant father, Mufasa is often preoccupied with the duties of the throne, and little Simba certainly sees him as a hero, worshiping the ground his paws tread upon◊. But there is no indication Simba ever doubts he has his father's love or respect...until Scar convinces him he is to blame for his father's death. Then, overcome with remorse and believing no one could ever forgive him, he voluntarily goes into exile. It is Mufasa's ghost, reminding him of his place in the Circle and telling him "You are my son and the one true king," that sets him back on the right path again. And with a simple, single word, "Remember..." he lets his son know he is very proud of him indeed.
A World Half Full: An excellent example given how dark some of the film can be. Simba loses his father and is convinced by his uncle that it was his fault. He goes into exile for many years but eventually overcomes his guilt and goes back to depose his uncle and take his place. He ends up triumphing and everything his uncle ruined begins to come back together.
Scar: His ruthlessness shows by putting the cub Simba in extreme danger twice. He tricks him into the gorge below Pride Rock, before sending with the hyenas' help a stampede of wildebeests through. Mufasa is able to rescue Simba. Later, as a mourning Simba is exiled from the Pride Lands following his father's death Scar had convinced his nephew that the death was his fault Scar sends the hyenas after the cub; Simba's death here is averted as he makes his getaway.
Also, the hyenas, aware of who Simba is, corner the young cub and Nala after the two young lions wander onto the elephant graveyards. Mufasa shows up to run off the hyenas.