While the story starts out similar to the movie, the main character's heightened rationality causes him to make vastly different decisions, so that by the end of the first chapter the plot is already wildly different from canon. The story then follows Scar on his journey as he deals with the fallout of his actions while deconstructing the original movie and its sequels with a bit of social commentary and gratuitous Buddhism mixed in.
The first chapter was originally a standalone story and can still be read as such. Additional chapters were later added to fully explore its initial premise.
Scar's Samsara provides examples of the following tropes:
- Ascended Extra: Quite a few minor characters get a much bigger role than in canon, including the primary antagonist.
- The Atoner: Scar is primarily driven by guilt and, less charitably, fear of what might happen to him in the afterlife.
- Blood Knight: Just like in canon, Zira is incredibly bloodthirsty, to the point where it frightens even Scar.
- Butt-Monkey: Despite Nuka's increasingly desperate attempts to gain the approval of his mother and surrogate dad, they still treat him like crap. This is partly because both his looks and his character are quite horrible.
- The Chessmaster: Scar tries to be this. He does not always succeed. His confrontation with Rafiki is an amazing example of this; just as he is about to completely win his guilty conscience screws him over.
- Deadpan Snarker: The story is absolutely filled with snark, but Scar and Zazu surely take the crown.
- Fantastic Racism: Scar snarkily remarks that while he "does not deny their innate superiority", forcing all the Hyenas to live in a desolate graveyard because of their ancestors' actions seems "somewhat unfortunate".
- Somewhat subverted by the fact that herbivores really are revealed to be less intelligent than carnivores.
- Hero Antagonist: Technically, Rafiki is right to oppose Scar. That doesn't make him any more likable, however.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Scar causes most of his own problems through his clever schemes, fitting with the general theme of the story.
- Hypocrite: One of Scar's complaints to Mufasa is that it's mightily convenient to talk about the "Circle of Life" when you're at the very top of the food chain - even while admitting that he himself will happily eat zebras.
- Arguably, Scar is not a hypocrite; he merely eats zebras, he doesn't preach a cult-like religion to get zebras to serve themselves on a silver plate.
- Ice Queen: Following the death of Mufasa, Sarabi is described as cold, unreadable and with iron features. Later on she warms up to Scar, which is made somewhat awkward by the fact that he's the one who killed him.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Rafiki is arguably this even in canon. In the story, it's turned up to eleven.
- Morality Pet: Simba is pretty much the only character who inspires Scar to be genuinely good. Which screws him.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Rafiki uses obfuscating eccentricity to hide his real power.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Scar frequently rails against the Kings of the Past, often while gazing at the stars. One of his primary motivations is the fact that he was not offered a spot in the afterlife, which he alternately desires and fears.
- Tsundere: Zira rapidly switches between acting like she's deeply in love with Scar, and wanting to murder him. To be fair Zira is consistent. And the reasons for her swings are clear and logical.
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Zira constantly tells Scar to do this. Sometimes, it turns out he really should have.
- Worldbuilding: The story grafts together lore from The The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, The Lion Guard and even Buddhism to build an immersive world for the story to take place in.