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YMMV: The Lion King

Movie
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There are more than a few people who view Scar as an Ambiguously Gay Depraved Homosexual, due to his lack of a mate and somewhat effeminate manner. The Broadway play seems to play this up to extreme levels. Scar goes from scary angry dude to Paul Lynde turned psychopath, which is still scary but filled with Unfortunate Implications.
    • Scar also has some parallels with Simba. Young Simba has a SONG dedicated to him proclaiming that when he's King he doesn't have to listen to anybody and "can do whatever I want". Later in the film Scar proclaims, "I'm the King! I can do whatever I want."
    • Also, was Scar's hatred towards Mufasa caused only by envy or was there a solid Freudian Excuse (like being always The Unfavorite, maybe also mistreated by his brother)?
      • According to the children's books accompanying the movie, Scar's original name was Taka, which translates to 'garbage'. Imagine your parents literally naming you Garbage. It's no wonder he wants to overthrow Mufasa so badly. He's been mistreated and viewed as inferior his whole life. It kind of makes the horrible condition of the Pride Lands when Simba and crew return slightly tragic. His father most likely spent all of his energy teaching Mufasa how to take care of the Pride Lands and never bothered to tell Scar what he was supposed to do.
    • Mufasa. Noble, courageous king and loving father... or pompous Jerkass who threw his weight around to bully his little brother, was letting a bunch of hyenas starve for no reason, and who was raising his son to be as big a douche as he was?
      • Mufasa and his dynasty can easily be seen as pompous, racist tyrants and Scar as a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to liberate oppressed people from Mufasa's regime. An alternative alternative take is that both Scar and Mufasa are jerks, Mufasa exiling the hyenas to the badlands, and Scar exploiting their desperation for his own gain.
      • In Real Life, Lions and Hyenas don't get along, stealing kills from each other all the time, and will not hesitate to harass or harm one another given the opportunity. In fact, male lions will sometimes venture into hyena territory with the specific goal of assassinating the clan's Alpha Female.
      • Also, once the Hyenas are giving power over the Pride Lands. The entire kingdom falls apart and all the prey animals flee. This could indicate that Mufasa originally banished them because they lacked self control and nearly hunted every other animal to near extinction.
    • Zazu. Mufasa's loyal adviser and careful supervisor of Simba during his childhood... or just the comical sidekick of both?
    • Timon and Pumbaa. Loveable slackers who save Simba's life and help him deal with his trauma, or two feckless wasters who encourage a vulnerable young boy to hide from his problems and responsibilities so he can stick around as their bodyguard?
    • The hyenas. Nazis, or the oppressed underdogs just looking for food? Their apparent poverty and Scar's manipulation of it is just another eerie parallel to the Third Reich and the duped German population. Also, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed - friends, or family?
    • Also, how did the lions receive their place as "royalty"? For all we know, the first "Lion King" was crazy and decided to fight and kill one of every animal and after killing the last one crowned himself king. The other animals fear the lions especially when you consider that the movie makes no effort in disguising the fact that the lions hunt other animals and they all fled after Scar became king (and the pride lands became a wasteland but that's beside the point).
  • Awesome Music: Hans Zimmer's whole score for the film. With some help from Lebo M with his choral arrangements, this score turned Zimmer from a relative movie musical nobody to the equal of John Williams in the public eyes.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: the "I Can't Wait to be King" scene (which also counts as a Disney Acid Sequence) and the scene where Timon does the hula. Justified in that they were both meant to be distractions. The first one does get a brief callback later during Simba and Nala's reunion.
    • The scenes with "I Can't Wait To Be King" were likely used to put emphasis on Simba's then lack of Character Development of how he's gotten the wrong ideal of being king. A callback may even've appeared of what was displayed when Scar had became king, a subtle illustration of what might've happen if Simba still had the same attitude before.
  • Complaining about People Not Liking the Show: Pretty common, and that is all the detail we're going into.
  • Complete Monster: Scar, whose defined by his envy and hatred of his elder brother Mufasa. Hating that he isn't king, Scar hatches a scheme to remove Mufasa from the equation as well as Mufasa's young son Simba. When Scar's first attempt to murder Simba and his best friend Nala fails, Scar has his Hyena cohorts cause a stampede and personally throws Mufasa in to be trampled when he tries to escape it. He then convinces Simba the whole thing was his fault, convincing him to go into self imposed exile before ordering the hyenas to murder Simba anyways. Scar's incompetence as king leads to a famine, and when Simba returns, he sees Scar refuse to allow anyone to leave to go anywhere else, declaring, "so be it" when Mufasa's widow Sarabi says he's condemning everyone to death. He proceeds to backhand her when she compares him unfavorably to Mufasa, and when he confronts Simba, Scar tries to break him by bringing up Mufasa's death. He only pauses in his attempt at a public execution to mock Simba that Scar was Mufasa's true murderer.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Scar. Especially with the Awesome Music that is "Be Prepared". Cue endless fanfics with him as the hero.
    • Shenzi and her pack. It sure doesn't hurt to have Whoopi Goldberg's talents.
  • Ear Worm: "I Just Can't Wait to be King", "Hakuna Matata" and "Be Prepared". The chanting at the beginning of the movie may count.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Timon and Pumbaa, who are the stars of the Animated Series and the Midquel.
    • Mufasa and Scar both qualify. Scar is also this among the Disney Villains, right up there with Maleficent.
    • Rafiki.
    • Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. Especially Ed.
  • Evil Is Cool: Scar, so very much. His voice is cool, his design is cool, his Villain Song is cool, and he's one of the few Disney villains to commit murder on-screen and actually succeed in his plans.
  • Fanon: Simba and Nala's son from Six New Adventures, Kopa. You occasionally see other cubs like "Tanabi" (due to a random Disney employee saying their cub was a boy named that) or "Chaka" and "Shani" (from an early version of the sequels script; Chaka was dropped and Shani became Kiara).
    • Nala having a younger brother named Mheetu because he was a deleted character. It's usually interpreted he died sometime during Scar's reign.
    • Nala and Simba being cousins. It was canon in a very early build on the film (they were both Mufasa's cubs so it made them siblings too) but in the final product it's not confirmed who Nala's father is.
  • Fridge Horror: As a cub, Simba can't wait to be king as he can do whatever he wants and no-one will be able to stop him! Huh, why does that sound familiar? If Scar had never performed his coup, Simba could easily have turned into a similar tyrant.
    • Though Mufasa would have likely been there to set him straight and teach him the proper values in the first place, had Scar not pulled a coup. We even see him guiding Simba and teaching him about his future responsibilities as king early on.
  • Furry Fandom: This movie is popular in it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    Pumbaa: Timon?
    Timon: Yeah?
    Pumbaa: Ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
    Timon: Pumbaa, I don't wonder, I know.
    Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
    Timon: They're fireflies. Fireflies that got stuck up in that big bluish black thing.
    • This was probably intentional considering the number of Shout Outs in that film.
    • Early in the film, Zazu jokingly says that Scar will "make a great throw rug". Three years later in Hercules, Scar makes a cameo...as a throw rug.
    • During "Be Prepared", Banzai briefly wears a horned skull that resembles the Dovahkiin's characteristic helmet.
  • Internet Backdraft: Do not mention Kimba the White Lion to any Lion King fans (And vice versa) due to the ongoing "debate" (IE:Flame War) as to whether or not Lion King ripped off Kimba.
    • It's not a good idea to mention you don't like Scar.
      • Speaking of Scar, it's generally not a good idea to ask whether or not his real name is "Taka" (like the tie-in books say) or if his name really is just "Scar".
    • Nala. Especially on the subject of who her father is.
      • Kovu, for that matter. Is he Scar's son like the original plan was? Is he some random lion Scar adopted as his heir? Or was he just a cub Zira took in and brainwashed into thinking he was Scar's son for her own personal gain? No two fans will fully agree on the answer.
    • Timon & Pumbaa. Not just the characters, but the show itself. Funny comic relief characters or annoying jerks who nearly caused Simba to lose all sense of responsibility? A fun Saturday Morning Cartoon with its own charm or a poorly-made series created to cash in on a superior film?
    • The film itself. Especially if you mention that it's overhyped.
    • The sequels certainly fall under this. It's generally not a good idea to ask whether or not the sequels are any good. You might get a pass for liking Simba's Pride, but there will definitely be some backlash for mentioning The Lion King 1 1/2 at all.
    • Kopa. Simba's son from the tie-in stories. Is he canon to the films or not? Fans will never fully agree.
      • The books themselves. Some say they're canon to the films. Others claim that they are not connected in any way except with the names of the characters.
  • Iron Woobie: Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa, and the Hyenas.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Scar all the way...except when it comes to being a king.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    "Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is ________."
    "Wow! But what about that shadowy place?"
    "That's ________. You must never go there, Simba!"
  • Mondegreen: The opening lines to "Circle of Life" ("Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba! Sithi uhm ingonyama") can be misheard as "Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom! Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom!"
    • Or See a vineyard, penguin in pajamas![1]
    • In "I Just Can't Wait to be King," Zazu's line, "I've never seen a king or beast with quite so little hair" is very, very often misheard as "I've never seen a king of beasts with quite so little hair". This grew so pervasive that for the musical version they just changed it.
    • Also, the sound book has a sound clip of Rafiki chanting that somehow got heard as Squished bananas, up your ass. This one actually caused quite an uproar that Mike Mozart created a video to defend the book.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Guess who provides the image for the Animated Film page.
  • Narm: When Mufasa is saving Simba from the stampede and a wildebeast bumps into them, knocking Simba out of Mufasa's mouth. The sound effect is just hilarious.
  • Narm Charm: Some viewers thought the images of Mufasa in the sky were just ridiculously cheesy and goofy, especially in the sequel; others got a bit choked up, considering what a Tear Jerker both his death in the first film and his benediction to Simba when he took the throne were.
    • In fact, the producers had thought about removing them for those reasons, before deciding to leave it in.
  • Nightmare Fuel: See here.
  • Not So Different: At the start of the film, both the young Simba and Scar are immature and selfish characters. The difference is that while Simba manages to correct those flaws in himself, Scar never does which ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • Older Than They Think: There are two lion brothers. One's the king, and his envious, childish brother, resentful of him, manages to get him out of the throne, so he can claim it himself. After he does, things go downhill, making everyone hate him. Sound familiar?
  • Signature Song: "Hakuna Matata" is without a doubt the most famous song from the movie, but "Circle of Life" and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" are well remembered as well.
  • So Cool It's Awesome: The film is widely considered to be not only one of Disney's best animated features, but one of the greatest animated films ever made.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Simba and Nala are arguably this. As cubs they don't really show any romantic interest in each other and are rather disgusted by their Arranged Marriage. When they see each other a year or two later they goof around for a little bit, Nala licks Simba, and they fall in love within a matter of a few minutes. It feels like they fell in love just because they're the only lions of the opposite sex they've seen in a long time.
    • Made Hilarious in Hindsight in The Lion King 1½ where Timon and Pumba accidentally become the embodiement of the red string as they are responsible for increasing the romantic tension while trying to do the opposite.
  • Tear Jerker: Mufasa's death.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks: There is much controversy (READ: Flame War) over whether this film is a ripoff of Kimba the White Lion or not.
    • There are several differences, although there are many similarities. Here are the key differences in the narrative:
      • The Lion King lacks any human presence. In Kimba, humans were often present as enemies like Hamegg, or simply as unwittingly doing harm.
      • In Kimba, Claw is a rogue lion who wants to be king with two hyena minions, but is continually beaten down by Kimba after he attempts to take over the jungle when Hamegg kills Caesar. In The Lion King, Scar is Mufasa's treacherous brother with three named hyena minions and hundreds more nameless ones, so he hatches a plan to become king by organizing the death of Mufasa and Simba. He succeeds at killing Mufasa and scaring Simba away, and is a far more effective villain than Claw was. In addition, the hyenas in The Lion King were originally planned as African Wild Dogs - they were presumably changed either because African wild dogs aren't as well known as hyenas, or simply because hyenas look more "evil".
      • In The Lion King, the circle of life is used to get around Carnivore Confusion. In Kimba, Kimba decrees that the animals should only eat insects and plants and live in peace with each other; however, this causes quite a few problems, and Kimba has to learn the hard way that Caesar was right about the animals.
      • The Lion King is about Simba accepting his responsibility as king in the archetypal Hero's Journey; Kimba deals with the titular character learning how to use his responsibility wisely after he's become a young king. Another key difference is that Simba is kind of a prick when he's a little kid, and Kimba is The Wise Prince.
      • In Kimba, both of Kimba's parents are dead and he more immediately becomes king. In The Lion King, only his father is killed, and he blames himself for it, running away from his responsibility. His mother, Sarabi, lives to see his coronation.
      • Oh, and despite being Dueling Shows, both are quite good on their own merits. It's best to think of the situation as being more like how The Magnificent Seven borrowed from The Seven Samurai, even though The Magnificent Seven was more of a direct lift of The Seven Samurai than The Lion King was of Kimba.
      • The most famous iteration of Kimba in the West, the anime made in the 1960s with help from NBC, also contains a lot more, ah... fantastical elements, such as giant radioactive grasshoppers and unfrozen mammoths, and is far more comedic in tone than The Lion King, while still being Darker and Edgier than its Western contemporaries. The Lion King focuses more on heavier themes like guilt, the loss of a father/king, and accepting responsibility - it actually started a trend for Disney films to be Darker and Edgier, in that its follow-ups, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and Tarzan often dealt with much heavier themes such as racism and war to variable success. However, The Lion King is STILL Lighter and Softer than the Kimba manga and later remakes of the series, which often edged into Bittersweet or even Downer Endings.
      • For what it's worth, the film may have originally been planned as a Kimba remake - however, because the rights to Kimba are entangled with multiple companies, including NBC (as with many anime that have been dubbed - that's why Jump Ultimate Stars can't make it to US shores, due to the dubbing rights being split among Viz, Funimation and 4Kids, among others), it simply wasn't possible to get the rights. Regardless, production was far enough along that it was likely too late to change things aside from the names and Simba's fur color - in addition, the film's development had a lot of cut characters who didn't correspond to Kimba's cast. As a matter of fact, there are still two characters in The Lion King who bear no resemblance to anyone in Kimba - Timon and Pumbaa.
      • The smoking gun in favor of it being originally planned as a remake and having to be retooled? Osamu Tezuka himself wanted to see Disney remake Kimba.
      • Not sure how that's a smoking gun. That's just a wish that has never gotten fulfilled.
  • Too Cool to Live: Mufasa
  • Tough Act to Follow: This movie was the tough act the rest of the Disney Renaissance had to follow. This most notably affected Pocahontas, which is the only Disney Renaissance film to be graded Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, and Hercules, which got strong reviews but a relatively paltry take at the box office (and earned a lot of hatred in Greece).
    • The funny thing is, Lion King was originally conceived as filler to bridge the gap between Disney's last big movie (Aladdin) and their next one, (Pocahontas). Present day, Aladdin is fondly regarded, The Lion King is the big Disney Movie, and Pocahontas is generally overlooked.
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • In the original movie, Hyenas are an Always Chaotic Evil race (which has its usual Unfortunate Implications); but worse, Scar is portrayed as a villainous rabble-rouser who rallies the Hyenas behind him by promising them a strong social safety net and a part in society, and whose first act is to integrate lions and hyenas — which is portrayed as an evil thing. This movie was made by and for a generation that had seen massive debates about racial integration just a few decades earlier; Scar's portrayal is very similar to the attacks against the supporters of racial integration.
    • A major theme of the story is about everyone having their natural place in the world; upper-class lions are meant to rule, while lower-class Hyenas are meant to be driven out, and so on. Evil characters are ones who violate this natural order, while good characters have to learn to accept their proper place for the world to function.
    • Speaking of race, the evil Scar is given a black mane and is visibly darker than the good lions. And there are those who found the portrayals of the hyenas to be very similar to that of inner-city dwellers.
    • To say nothing about "I just can't wait to be king". It may be chalked up to Childhood naivete or a Be Careful What You Wish For, but many adults felt Simba was singing about how he was waiting for his father to die so he could take the throne.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Lots of viewers have mistaken Shenzi for a guy, which is rather hilarious when you consider how real female hyenas are near-identical to the males for very strange reasons.
  • Villain Decay: Scar in the first half was very much a Magnificent Bastard, getting everything he wanted through his cunning. However, in the second half, he's notably whinier and lazier than he was earlier, while the drought and lack of royal training could've resulted in his later actions. It's very off-putting to see how Scar went from being legitimately threatening to being a whiny Smug Snake
  • Weird Al Effect: Good luck to you trying to find anybody who knows the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" existed for over 30 years before this movie came out.
  • Win the Crowd: If there was any doubt on how this film would do, the teaser using the entire "Circle of Life" sequence and the rapturous audience reaction to it settled them all.
    • Disney briefly flirted with the idea of Re-Releasing Beauty and the Beast in 2010 as a 3D movie, but scrapped it. 2011, Lion King ended up getting the re-release to theaters and made well over $150 million. Disney is now planning to do the same type of re-releases with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and Monster's Inc.
  • The Woobie: Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Sarabi, Zazu, and the Hyenas are all Woobies for various reasons.
  • Woolseyism:
    • In the Spanish release of the film. In the scene where Banzai is kicked in the ribcage by Shenzie before he prounces the name of Mufasa again. In the original English dub he says "¿Qué pasa?", a Spanish line that means "What's up?". In the Spanish dub the line was dubbed as "¿Con mostaza?" which means "With mustard?". This was likely done because of phonetic similarities, but since this comes right after Scar jokes about the hyenas eating Zazu, it fits the scene perfectly. Likewise in the German dub he says "Mit Wasser?"note  which sounds pretty similar to "Qué pasa". In the Polish version, Banzai says "Kiełbasa" note , which is pronounced "Kieubasa" and sound fonetically similar to the original.
    • In the original English version, when Rafiki first starts bothering Simba, Simba simply calls him a "creepy little monkey." In the German dub, his line is Was soll denn das Affentheater? Idiomatically this translates as "What's with the crazy antics?", but Affentheater, which means "farce" or "craziness," translates as "monkey theater." In essence, not only is he saying Rafiki's crazy, but it's a clever pun on his species. (A similar English pun could've been, "Will you quit with the monkey business?")

Video Games
  • Guide Dang It: Raise your hands if you knew immediately that you're supposed to wear Scar out and then throw him off Pride Rock in the final battle. Or knew that you're supposed to jump on a fruit, then bounce off and hit the gorilla in Hakuna Matata. Or even the monkey puzzle in Can't Wait To Be King.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Averted with the console games; while they are tough, they're still solid games. Played straight with the NES and Game Boy ports of the games, which feel like lesser derivatives of the Genesis/Super Nintendo games; the former wasn't even finished!
  • Porting Disaster: As above, the Europe-exclusive NES port was a port of the Game Boy version. Despite limited colour, it had sluggish and delayed controls. Physics and jumping precision were also non existent in this version. To make things worse, the box cover says ten levels. The game itself only has six, meaning the Adult Simba levels were either glitchy or they didn't bother to program it in.
  • That One Level: The console game features a waterfall in the 'Hakuna Matata' level that is a real pain in the butt to climb. There's also the very annoying puzzles with the monkeys in level 2 and the tricky ostrich rides between them.

Stage Musical
  • Awesome Music: Songs not from the movie like "Endless Night", "Shadowland", and the musical's take on "They Live In You"/"He Lives In You" stand out, as do its takes on "Can You Feel the Love Tonight", "Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata" and "I Just Can't Wait to be King". "Be Prepared" is also quite good, but it naturally falls short of the sheer badass Jeremy Irons and Jim Cummings brought to the song.
  • Complete Monster: Scar commits the same crimes that his movie counterpart did and even goes beyond that. During the musical, Scar became more and more paranoid as time went by and he also felt that he was being tormented by his older brother even in death. Unwilling to admit that he was terrible at governing the Pride Lands, he instead condemns all his subjects to death so that he wouldn't have to accept that maybe he wasn't as good at being a king that he thought he would be. He also attempted to force himself onto Nala (a scene cut from the film), which becomes even more disturbing in hindsight considering that he tried to have her killed along with his nephew when they were children. The musical version of Scar is nothing more than an egotistical, treacherous, and murderous feline.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Endless Night becomes even more heartbreaking after you learn that the actor who originated Adult!Simba on Broadway committed suicide due to a poor relationship with his father.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: "The Madness of King Scar", in light of the plot of the animated sequel that was released a year after the musical premiered.
    "Without a queen, what am I? A dead end, no line, no descendants, no future. With a queen, I'll have... cubs!"


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