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Disney / Lambert the Sheepish Lion

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Before there was The Lion King...

A Disney animated short released in 1952. It was conceived by Bill Peet and is narrated by Sterling Holloway.

Lambert, a lion cub, is mistakenly delivered in a flock of sheep by a stork (the same stork that was seen in Dumbo). He is taken in by an ewe after none of the delivered lambs choose her to be their mother. Lambert lives his life thinking he is a sheep until he is forced to unlock his true nature to defend the flock from an attack by a hungry wolf.

On a trivia note, the original print of the film was given as a gift to Emperor Hirohito of Japan because it was reportedly his favorite Disney cartoon.


This short provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear: Quite a bit in one short:
    • Having your child taken away from you.
    • Having your child picked on due to being adopted.
    • Being viciously attacked in front of your child.
    • Having your parent attacked in front of you and everyone (including yourself) being too afraid to help.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The other sheep are not at all kind to Lambert once they find out he cannot baa, until his size and leonine aggression save the day. Imitating the Trope Namer was a common theme in writer Bill Peet's work.
  • Badass Unintentional: Lambert is unaware that he's a lion until the wolf forces him to unleash his inner lion.
  • Berserk Button: Lambert works up the nerve to scare off the wolf when it threatens his mother.
    Narrator: But when he saw the wolf approach
    And heard his mother cryin'
    Something snapped inside of him
    He was a raging lion!
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  • Beware the Nice Ones: Lambert is very gentle and "sheep"-like, but when he needs to defend his flock, he unleashes his inner lion.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lambert, initially. He is repeatedly mocked and humiliated by the sheep of the flock, even as an adult.
  • Cowardly Lion: Literally. Lambert is a scaredy cat and runs away at the first sign of danger. Until he realizes that he's a lion, that is.
  • Delivery Stork: A delivery mistake sent Lambert the Lion to a sheep farm alongside other baby lambs. note 
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted, surprisingly enough. Lambert apparently headbutts the wolf off a cliff and to his doom. The narrator reveals at the end that the Wolf's alive, stuck on a branch with berries for food. However...
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Wolf is a vicious predator now trapped with a tiny bit of fruit unable to move lest he die. The narrator also notes that the berries only grow there every spring.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The first-person perspective shots of the wolf coming to attack the sheep, which is Recycled Animation from Disney's version of Peter and the Wolf.
  • Gentle Giant: Despite being a gigantic lion, Lambert is one of the sweetest creatures around.
    Narrator: "Isn't he HUGE?!"
  • Interspecies Adoption: Lambert is a lion who was raised by a sheep.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Lambert is cowardly and sheepish, but once his mother is in danger, he realizes what it means to be a lion and fights the wolf.
  • Mighty Roar: Lambert lets one out once he realizes he's a lion.
  • Mama Bear: When The Stork tries to take Lambert back, his mother attacks the stork, causing him to back down and allow her to raise the lion as her own.
  • Momma's Boy: Lambert is very protective of his mother, and becomes the King of Beasts he is when he realizes that his mother is in danger.
  • Nurture over Nature: Zig-zagged. At first, there is absolutely nothing predatory about Lambert, because he was raised as a sheep. However, when roused by a call for help from his mother, the only one who ever treated him kindly, he becomes a rampaging predator. But even in the midst of his roaring charge, with fangs bared and claws unsheathed, he still ends up attacking sheep-style - by headbutting the wolf.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Lambert doesn't realize that he's not a sheep. Everyone else, however, does.
  • Offscreen Inertia: The Wolf is stuck on a branch on the cliff at the end. Lampshaded by the narrator.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Wolf once he realizes he's just ticked off a very angry Momma's Boy.
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Parents in Distress: It's his adoptive mother being in danger that unlocks Lambert's true nature.
  • Raised by Wolves: Or rather, sheep.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The narration and dialogue rhyme most of the time.
  • Savage Wolves: The villain is a wolf trying to eat all the sheep.
  • Shout-Out: The story is obviously inspired by an oft-paraphrased line from Isaiah 11:6note , which is often quoted as "the lion and the lamb shall lay down together…"
  • Stock Scream: The wolf bellows the Goofy Holler when Lambert headbutts him off the cliff.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lambert spends most of his time as a meek and harmless lion. During the climax, he unleashes his inner beast and fights off the Wolf.
  • Use Your Head: Lambert headbutts the wolf into a cliff in the film's climax.


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