The Lion King II: Simba's Pride is the first sequel to Disney's The Lion King, released in 1998.Following on from the previous film's epilogue, Simba has assumed kingship of the Pride Lands after Scar's defeat and gained a daughter with Nala, Kiara. As she grows older the princess becomes rebellious towards her father's rules, and falls in love with Kovu, a lion from a banished pride called the Outsiders. The other pride's members were ousted by Simba because they refused to submit to him and continued to follow Scar even in death. Scar's former mate Zira, Kovu's mother, sees her son as the reincarnation of Scar's legacy and plots revenge against Simba through her son's romance with Kiara.As the previous film was largely a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, this film is largely a retelling of Romeo and Juliet mixed with elements of Macbeth.
Alas, Poor Villain: 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 What Have I Done to Never My Fault under three seconds flat.
Even more so in the deleted extended version where Nuka actually asks with his last breath if Zira is finally proud of him.
Affirmative Action Girl: Fixes a lot of problems from the original film. The main character is Simba's daughter and the villain is female. Zira's daughter Vitani features prominently too, as does Nala. It drops Sarabi and Shenzi but it's quite a step up to have four featured female characters.
Artistic License - Biology: During "Upendi", Rafiki gives Kiara a passionfruit (and tries to give one to Kovu), which she swallows happily. Real lions are obligate carnivores, and cannot digest fruits.
Avenging the Villain: Scar's former mate Zira is trying to raise her son Kovu up to kill Simba for killing Scar and become the new king.
Ax-Crazy: Nuka, to a point where it becomes disturbing for a lion of his age. He also looks like a psychopath.
Badass: Timon and Pumbaa may be a little dumb... but when the situation calls for it, the two kick ass, joining Simba in the front of the fray and fighting.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Justified, since the Outlanders are only skinny and sunken-eyed from not getting enough to eat. After being accepted into Simba's pride, they're shown with the same build as the Pridelands' lionesses.
Big "NEVER!": In the original ending, this is uttered by Zira at the end of just right after refusing to accept Kiara's offer to rescue her and falls to her doom in the river below. This was cut for being too dark; the final cut only involves Zira struggling for Kiara's paw before screaming as she falls into the giant-log-filled river.
Bilingual Bonus: Like the original Lion King, there's quite a bit of Swahili. Kovu means "scar". Zira is the verb radical of hate. Vitani is similar to Shetani, meaning Devil. Kiara means "princess" in Swahili. Upendi means love (noun form).
Black and White Morality: This trope is played with. Whereas the original movie played the trope straight (Scar and the hyenas are evil; everyone else is good), the sequel sets itself up the same way (lions in the Pridelands are good; lions in the Outlands are bad) but then subverts the trope. The moral of the movie is that the characters' Black and White Morality they started out with is wrong and that they must learn to recognize the shades of gray.
Blowing a Raspberry: Young Kiara does this to the crocodiles as they try to reach her and Young Kovu after escaping them.
Call Back: During one of Kiara and Kovu's romantic moments, Kovu licks Kiara in a very similar manner to the way Nala did to Simba in the first movie. Before that, Nala pins down Simba in a way that recalls their childhood.
Also, earlier on, when Timon and Pumbaa offer some bugs to Kiara as a meal, her reaction is the exact same one as her father's:
Dark Chick: Most of the Outsider lionesses are Dark Chicks, but Vitani is the most prominent. She is also the one who pulls off a Heel-Face Turn, motivating the others to as well.
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.
Disney Villain Death: Zira at least gets washed away in a raging river, rather than presumably leaving a nasty splat mark somewhere in the canyon.
Double Meaning Title: Simba's Pride can refer to either the lions that follow him or the fact that he's initially too proud of his father's legacy as a good king to really understand what it took to build that legacy in the first place.
Embarrassing Rescue: Subverted with Kiara trying to save Zira and played straight with Kovu saving Kiara.
Now, the past I've tried forgetting And my foes I could forgive. Trouble is, I know it's petty, but I hate to let them live!
Face Palm: Rafiki has a real depressing one when he witnesses Kovu being driven into exile.
Family-Unfriendly Death: The film had Nuka die by being trampled by logs because he wanted to show off to his mom, since he wanted her appreciation. Zira fell to her death after refusing help. In a deleted scene, she committed suicide. The fan-base is divided on whether it was best to change it.
Fartillery: Timon threatens Zira's Amazon Brigade by giving Puumba's tail a shotgun-pump and offering them a faceful of it. They run away screaming.
I've been exiled, persecuted, left alone with no defense. When I think of what that brute did, I get a little tense. (Assume "that brute" refers to Simba).
Generation Xerox: The main theme of the movie is to defy this idea. Simba does everything he can to emulate Mufasa and refuses to see Kovu as anything other than Scar 2.0. After a mighty What the Hell, Hero? from Kiara he gets better though.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Kovu wants Kiara to run away with him instead of going back to the Pride Lands, he suggests they start a pride "all our own". Not only is his tone when he says this very suggestive, he actually wiggles his hind end!
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Kovu ends up getting a scar identical to Scar's, but that happens after he's decided to become the mask. The song "Not One of Us" has the animals believing it's an evil scar.
Heel Face Mole: Kovu claims to be this after rescuing Kiara, in order to gain entrance into Simba's pride.
Heel-Face Turn: Kovu, and later on Vitani, who is the first lioness in Zira's pride to realise Kiara is right.
Heroic Fire Rescue: Zira's plan to "prove" Kovu's loyalty and trustworthiness so as to get him into the pride and close to Simba is the classic subversion of this trope via Engineered Heroics.
The Hero Sucks Song: "One Of Us" which has Kovu "booed" off of Pride Rock because Simba believes that he attempted to ambush him while the two had a friendly chat on a trek through the jungle.
The High Queen: Nala is now one. Kiara's speech at the end does suggest she's well on her way to it too.
Hypocrite: Simba gives Kovu a speech about how fire (Scar) is a killer, but what's left behind (Kovu) could grow better if given the chance. He seems to forget about that last part when he exiles him as guilty of betrayal before being proven innocent. Even before this, his song "We Are One" is strange to listen to when in the previous scene we saw him reject Kovu simply for being Zira's son!
Idiot Ball: Simba's overprotectiveness of Kiara even into adulthood does nothing to help their already tense relationship.
I Have This Friend: After Kovu's banishment, Timon and Puumba attempt to 'hypothetically' explain to Simba that Kiara ran off alone ... but Simba sees right through it.
Timon: There's this guy... Pumbaa: But he's not a lion... Timon: No. No, he's not a lion. Yeesh, definitely not a lion... and uh... uh, his daughter, um, say... vanished?
Immediate Sequel: Though the scene is slightly different, this movie picks right where the second one left off, with the presentation of cub Kiara to the animal kingdom.
Timon and Pumbaa really do not belong in this movie, as their only purpose is to ruin genuinely dramatic moments with non sequitur jokes. On a more positive note, there's another dimension of Mood Whiplash, between Lighter and Softer moments and Darker and Edgier moments. Disney movies in general tend to have this, but this movie takes it even further than most, like when a cutesy song about all creatures being a big family is quickly followed by a Villain Song about revenge. That's a very deliberate tonal shift, intentionally juxtaposing the differences between the two families.
There's also Zira's ear, which is partially torn, but it remains unknown as to how she got it.
Poor Communication Kills: Most apparent in "We Are One." During it, Kiara tells Simba straight up that she's afraid her destiny as queen will come at the cost of her own identity. Simba ignores this, delivers about six irrelevant life lessons in lyrical form, and ends by telling her that she'll "understand someday", addressing none of her concerns. It would have helped to smooth out a few problems later on.
Subverted with the protagonist Kovu (who has more or less the same color scheme as Scar and even acquires a scar over his eye about halfway through the movie).
Played straight with the other outsiders, most notably Zira (who has a vertical stripe on her head and an Ear Notch). Before the end battle, the outsider lionesses all walk through mud, just so we (and maybe they themselves) can tell them apart from their prideland counterparts in the heat of the battle. By the time they realize there's really not all that much of a difference between the two groups, and reunite, they're all clean again, though their distinguishing drawing style remains.
Remember the New Guy: So, where exactly was Scar's pride during The Lion King, and why did he never spare a single thought for them? It isn't covered by Scar just being a Jerkass; he makes it pretty clear that he'd rather be living with anyone other than his brother and company. According to Zira, Kovu was "hand-chosen by [Scar] to follow in his pawprints and become King." When, exactly? And if so, shouldn't they have been with him in the Pridelands? And just how did Zira react to Scar choosing Nala as his mate, as shown in the musical?
Retcon: A tie-in book cast Simba's and Nala's cub as a male named Kopa.
Some Fanon theories try to correct this by having Kopa have died somehow, some of which cast this as the reason Zira was exiled...
Save the Villain: After attempting to attack Simba, Zira is tackled by Kiara and the two are sent tumbling off the cliff. In a very familiar TLK fashion, Zira is left clinging for her life and risks falling into the raging river below to her death. Kiara attempts to save her ("Zira... give me your paw!"), but she meets her watery fate regardless.
Suicide Is Painless: What Zira's death might have been before the directors decided to cut part of her death from the final version. The cut scene features Kiara reaching out to save Zira...only to have Zira look back at Kiara with the most frightening smile of the movie and whisper "No... nev-er." just before intentionally letting go of the ledge. The directors evidently thought this was just a bit too dark for a movie who's plot is driven mostly by Zira's obsession with revenge.
Sturgeon's Law: Inverted. Out of all the Disney direct-to-video sequels, this one is easily one of the most well-received by fans of the original, and is frequently cited as one of the very few good Disney sequels made. The majority of LK fanfic writers accept it as canon and make extensive use of its original characters, especially when it comes to Kiara and Kovu. Not unreasonable at all to put this within the worthwhile 10% of the Disney sequels.
They Really Do Love Each Other: Timon and Pumbaa may be frustrated with each other and with Simba on occasions, but they'll drag Simba back to Pride Rock when he's injured and both valiantly join the fight against the outsiders. They actually kick butt... again.
Zira, surprisingly, gets one: she may not show it all the time, but she does love Nuka. She's actually utterly heartbroken and furiously angry at Kovu when Nuka is flattened.
This Is Unforgivable: The song "One of Us" includes "...But do not forget what we cannot forgive" as some of the lyrics to it.
The Unchosen One: Nuka is a perfect example of this, being more elligible for the role of his father's (and mother's) protege and getting shafted in favor of Kovu.
Those Two Guys: Timon and Pumbaa take to this role again like in the first movie.
Villain Song: "My Lullaby" (written by Joss Whedon) is probably the most twisted and messed-up song in Disney's catalogue since Frollo's number from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is almost exclusively about Zira outlining her very gruesome, blood-soaked dreams of revenge against Simba against a pounding orchestra.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Nuka. Rare variation in that it's his mother's approval, not his father's, that he longs for.
Simba too, albeit with less subtlety than the first time around. Forgetting the moving testimonial he'd received from his father's ghost, and unable to get over his past, Simba refuses to trust Kovu or see him as anything but a reincarnation of Scar, all in the mistaken belief that this is what his father would do (and therefore, would make Mufasa proud of him). Luckily Nala, as usual, is the voice of reason while Kiara, with typical bluntness, makes it quite clear to her father that he is not and never will be Mufasa. And just to hammer the point home that Simba does not have to emulate his father's reign (or his perception of it) in order to receive his love and pride, Mufasa's ghost actually says the words, "Well done, my son" after the prides are united and peace is declared.
What the Hell, Hero?: Towards the end, Simba sharply scolds Kiara for "blindly" trusting Kovu, which nearly got him killed. Kiara responds with her ownWhat the Hell, Hero? in five simple words: "You will never be Mufasa!"
Women Are Wiser: Played straight with the now queen Nala, something that exasperated most fans of her previous portrayal, and even her teenage daughter Kiara in regards to Simba. On the other hand, Simba not being particularly wise by any standard is a big part of the plot.
You Can't Fight Fate: Some of the lyrics in "Not One of Us" suggests that the singers believe Kovu couldn't not be a follower of Zira even if he wanted though.