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YMMV / The Lion King

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YMMV tropes for works titled The Lion King:

  • Accidental Innuendo: Zazu's line in "I Just Can't Wait to be King" song:
    Zazu: I've never seen a king of beasts with quite so little hair.
  • Accidental Nightmare Fuel: Both versions of the crocodiles in the aforementioned song. The original ones are just downright creepy, whereas the new ones are freakishly creepy in the manner of Jay Jay the Jet Plane.
  • 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. This is ironic since a deleted scene (which was re-added for the musical) shows Scar choosing a grown up Nala as his mate and seeming rather disturbingly excited about making "little Scars" with her. So maybe more of a Depraved Bisexual?
    • 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."
    • Due to the fact that Scar has a childish view of being king, like Simba, who's a cub, it could be argued that Scar is a Manchild. What doesn't help is that he does act very immature throughout the film. At first, he just acts like a moody teenager, acting rebellious towards Mufasa, Zazu, and Simba. However, as it becomes clear that he only wants to become king for the reason a child would, he acts like a toddler, throwing temper tantrums at anyone who makes him angry in the way a small child would. What doesn't help make him seem any more mature is that he is envious of Mufasa and Simba in a way a small child would be envious of someone, as he wants something just because someone else has it. It also doesn't help his case that he says things like "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? Or, alternately, a generally decent king and good father, but who's prejudiced against hyenas?
      • 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.
    • Zazu. Mufasa's loyal adviser and careful supervisor of Simba during his childhood... or just the comical sidekick of both?
    • Timon and Pumbaa. Lovable 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. Were they really banished for not respecting the Circle of Life? They think of themselves as being oppressed underdogs, and in real life they're very real competition with lions in the food chain. After all, as others have pointed out, Scar enlists their aid not by promising them power or conquest, but food. The hyenas seem most excited about the fact that they'll be able to eat. Their apparent poverty and Scar's manipulation of it is just another eerie parallel to the Third Reich and the duped German population. The documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly pointed this out.
    • Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed - friends, or family? It's almost a 50/50 split. Other combinations include Shenzi, the alpha female, with Banzai being her alpha male and Ed his brother who hangs around with him, and Banzai and Ed both courting Shenzi at once.
    • In regards to the Hamlet parallels, is Nala based on Horatio or Ophelia? Or both?
    • Also one review has interpreted that Rafiki was meant to be a living version of Yorick.
  • Anvilicious: Don't run away from your problems. Learn from your mistakes.
    Simba: I know what I have to do, but going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.
    *Rafiki hits Simba over the head with his stave*
    Simba: OW! Jeez, what was that for?!
    Rafiki: It doesn't matter! It's in the past!
    Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
    Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it.
  • Ass Pull: Don Hahn, the film's producer, revealed in an interview that Mufasa and Scar aren't blood relatives. Ignoring the fact that the film openly refers to Scar as Mufasa's brother and Simba's uncle or the large number of side materials that confirm their relationship, there are still many reasons why this doesn't make much sense. This statement was quickly dismissed by director Rob Minkoff for these reasons.
    • Hahn cites in the interview how in nature rogue lions from different prides often team up and take over other prides. While this is true, he ignores the fact the male siblings ejected from their pride often stick together. The Disneynature film, African Cats, even spotlighted this with a rogue group of four siblings.
    • It also ignores the fact that the film clearly is not grounded in realism. The Pride Lands are a monarchist system with Simba as the prince and Scar has to get rid of him to ascend the throne. If the lions were portrayed realistically, Scar would already be a king and it would have been Mufasa who chased Simba out of the Pride Lands once he reached adolescence.
  • Author's Saving Throw: After the fan backlash after Don Hahn remark's that Mufasa and Scar weren't related, the film's director appeared in an episode of Honest Trailers Reactions where he reconfirmed that they were indeed brothers.
  • Badass Decay: Scar suffers from this big time when he becomes King. Gone is the charismatic manipulative schemer of the story's first half, replaced in the final half with a far less intelligent, spoiled brat of a tyrant instead.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Matthew Broderick as Simba. Some people thought he gave a decent or even great performance as Adult Simba while other people felt he was miscast and thought his voice didn't fit or he was wooden and unconvincing in the role.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The "I Just 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 "When I was a young warthog" bit. It comes out of nowhere and is instantly forgotten once Timon stops Pumbaa from making a Precision F-Strike. Timon was originally planned to have a verse going into his backstory as well, but it was cut for time.
  • Broken Base:
    • Kovu's backstory. Is he Scar's son like the original plan was? Is he some random lion Scar adopted as his heir? Was he just a cub Zira took in and brainwashed into thinking he was Scar's son for her own personal gain? Or is he Zira'a biological son with a lion that wasn't Scar? Is Kovu biologically related to Vitani and Nuka or not? No two fans will fully agree on the answer. Word of God has written out Kovu being Zira's son, and while that will certainly be debatable to the fans, it certainly makes option 3 the most likely if you take into account Kovu's age along with Zira's age.
    • 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?
  • Complete Monster: Scar is 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 the heir to the throne, 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, uncaring that this will condemn everyone to death. He proceeds to backhand Mufasa's widow Sarabi when she compares him unfavorably to her husband, 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. Later, in a desperate attempt to save his own skin, he tries to blame everything on his loyal hyena henchmen, attempting to kill Simba even after the latter agrees to spare his life.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Timon and Pumbaa could be seen as Lighter and Softer versions of Ren and Stimpy.
  • Creepy Awesome: Scar, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.
  • Designated Monkey: Zazu seems to be this, merely for following directions.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The song "Hakuna Matata", rather like "The Bare Necessities" in The Jungle Book, does a very good job of making a slacker life with no responsibilities seem like a fun and wonderful thing to adopt. Granted, that is kind of its point in-story (to offer Simba something so attractive it would make him get over his suicidal depression and forget the things that traumatized him), but the upshot is that the song's message and popularity make it pretty easy to forget that what it's endorsing is actually a bad thing (at least, if taken to the extremes Timon advises and Simba nearly loses himself in).
  • 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.
    • "Aaaaare you achin'?" "Yup yup yup." "Foooor some bacon? "Yup yup yup."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are among the most popular villain sidekicks within the Disney Animated Canon, which probably stems from their hilarious chemistry and the fact they end up the ones who axe off Scar. And Shenzi is very popular among Furries.
    • Sarafina; Nala's mother, could also count. She only has one line of dialogue yet there are fan comics and fanfictions about her and who her mate is and how she gave birth to Nala and/or Mheetu.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Scar, so very much. His voice is cool, his design is cool, his Villain Song is cool, he's one of the few Disney villains to commit murder on-screen and actually succeed in his plans, and he's also an awesome fighter. He's a fan-favorite among the Disney villains, and one of the few who can give Maleficent a run for her money in terms of popularity.
    • But he's nothing compared to Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed.
  • Fanon: Has its own page.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • With the "Circle of Life" monologue, Mufasa taught many of us the concept of homeostasis.
    • Not as much as the above (it's second grade science), but Mufasa's technically right about bodies becoming the grass when they die (albeit indirectly, through Decomposition).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Like Simba, Matthew Broderick was also involved in a killing. The difference, however, is that Matthew actually (by accident) killed two people in a car crash in Ireland when he was driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • 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 handsome throw rug". Three years later in Hercules, Scar makes a a throw rug.
    • During "Be Prepared", Banzai briefly wears a horned skull that resembles the Dovahkiin's characteristic helmet.
    • "What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula??" In Nathan Lane's next movie, he does one of those things.
    • "Gee, he looks blue..." "I'd say brownish-gold..."
    • Timon and Pumbaa performing Ben E. King's "Stand by Me". Fast forward to 2016 and we have Final Fantasy XV, whose story also revolves around a prince journeying to reclaim his throne (among other similarities). The game's theme song? A cover of "Stand by Me".
    • There was originally going to be a naked mole rat in the movie, but it was replaced with a gopher because they were afraid of it turning out too disgusting. Later, Disney would give us Kim Possible, where one of the main characters was a naked mole rat... That wasn't disgusting at all.
    • One of Timon and Pumbaa's traits that defines their friendship besides "Hakuna Matata" is their insatiable appetite for bugs and doing anything to get them. Another pair of Heterosexual Life-Partners from Super Noobs would feature alien warriors with similar sounding names who have a very similar appetite except its for candy rather than bugs.
    • Shenzi was originally written for Tommy Chong in an attempt to reunite him with Cheech Marin, but turned it down because the two were not on speaking terms at the time. Chong eventually wound up in the second installment to the Disney Animated Canon to outgross this film.
    • Disney's Jungle Book remake drew some attention due to casting many actors who had also appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe note . Jon Favreau appears to be continuing this tradition in The Lion King remake, by casting Donald Glover, who appears in Spider-Man: Homecomingnote , as Simba.
  • Ho Yay: Timon and Pumbaa become huge Ho Yay targets during the film and the future appearances they would make afterwards. First off, they are mostly seen together. They also live together and travel together wherever they go. They also decide to raise a child together with that child being the lion cub Simba. This also may not count due to it not making it through the final cut of the film, but a deleted scene was supposed to have Pumbaa snuggling up next to Timon with Timon feeling a bit uncomfortable about it. For what it's worth, their actors consider them a gay couple.
  • Hype Backlash: The film still holds a spot amongst the highest grossing films of all time and is well-regarded by most. Less people are likely to call it "the greatest animated Disney movie" though, with critics calling it predictable due to similarities with not just Kimba, but also Hamlet, and also narmish.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • Do not mention Kimba the White Lion to any Lion King fans (and vice versa) due to the ongoing "debate" (i.e., 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.
    • 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.
  • Iron Woobie: Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa, and the Hyenas.
  • It Was His Sled: Mufasa dies.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • The Hyenas are more of this variety. As much as they worked for Scar it was more out of desperation for food and being too stupid to realize that Scar was only using them.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: After murdering Mufasa, Scar sends the hyenas after Simba. The hyenas refuse to venture into the thornbushes as Simba escapes through them, so they decide to let him go, assuming he'll die in the desert, and kill him if he returns to the Pridelands.
  • Memetic Mutation: Almost every line of the movie. A few examples:
  • Misblamed:
    • Scar, at least to the extent that he didn't destroy the trees or dry up the water, as it's pretty apparent the region was suffering from a drought. The Pridelands were apparently getting along well enough before that, as they're still lush and green when we see Rafiki catching Simba's scent on the leaves. That being said, droughts hit the Horn of Africa ALL THE TIME, meaning that he should have been able to accept the idea of one happening - but he didn't seem to grasp that as king, he should try to find a way to manage the situation. He always tosses responsibility on to others.
    • Timon and Pumbaa. Their "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle has its merits and isn't hurting anyone. "Put your past behind you and don't worry about anything" might be shaky advice if you're a young prince whose kingdom is currently being run by a tyrant, but Timon and Pumbaa raised Simba without ever knowing this about him. Indeed, if Simba had been anyone else, he would have been perfectly justified in riding out the rest of his days in that jungle, utterly free from responsibility.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Scar when he kills Mufasa. He provides the image for the Animated Films page. The next notch up is when he tells Simba his father's death is because of him, further traumatizing a kid who has just lost his father.
  • Narm:
    • This Scar moment during the Be Prepared musical number where it looks like Scar is posing for some porno magazine.
    • When Mufasa is saving Simba from the stampede and a wildebeest 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.
    • Really, the movie is generally overblown most of the time, but it makes it what it is, in a way.
  • Nausea Fuel: Pumbaa farts. Enough said.
  • 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?
    • The part about a lion prince trying to do a proper roar (and failing to even scare vermin) is similar to a 1990 short called "Lion in a Roar".
    • "Simba"'s name just means "lion". It is probably not going to be used much anymore, but prior to the film's release it wasn't uncommon to see lions in fiction with this name. For example, the 80s cartoon Jem had one episode featuring a lion named "Simba" .
  • Popular with Furries: The franchise is one of Disney's biggest fandoms and has a huge following amongst furries, despite almost none of the characters being anthro. It's gotten to the point where it's often assumed that every lion OC is a Lion King fan-character.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Rewatch Bonus: When Zazu informs Simba and Nala of their engagement, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" is playing in the background.
  • Signature Song: "Hakuna Matata" is currently the most famous song from the movie, but "Circle of Life" and "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" are well remembered as well. All three were nominated for the 1994 Academy Award for Best Original Song, with "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" winning it. As for the movie's score, Mufasa's haunting, majestic theme "This Land" serves as the main instrumental theme of the film.
  • Superlative Dubbing:
    • Timon and Pumbaa seem to have less of a Base-Breaking Character status in certain other countries (some examples being the French, Norwegian and Polish dub) as people have noted their voices to be "more enjoyable" than the English.
    • The German dub is superbly cast (Thomas Fritsch as Scar, Joachim Kaps as Rafiki, Eberhard Pruumlter as Zazu and Ilja Richter as Timon are notable standouts), and the songs are very well translated.
    • Timon and Pumbaa are absolutely adored in the Swedish dub, courtesy of being voiced by two guys part of a famous national comedy group named "Galenskaparna & After Shave" note  In fact, when Timon's VA died in 1997, most of the Swedish-speaking fandom would never accept The Other Darrin as the true Timon. Frank Ådahl is also considered a far superior VA for Adult!Simba to the original. Lest Scar should be mentioned, being voiced by the late Rikard Wolff; many Swedes agree that he couldn't be more perfectly cast even if you tried.
    • In general: for people who don't care for Matthew Broderick's voice, many will find a lot of Adult!Simba's dub voices to be superior to the original.
    • The Norwegian dub is also highly beloved for using an All-Star Cast with incredibly fitting voices, the crowner going to young Simba voiced by Eirik Espolin Johnson, adult Simba being voiced by seasoned voice actor Håvard Bakke, and Timon by famous comedian Åsleik Engmark.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Cub Simba and Nala can come across as this to some.
  • 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".
    • Claw is a lot closer to Scar in the manga, managing to become the de facto leader of the jungle in Kimba's absence and dying after his and Kimba's first battle instead of hanging around to suffer Villain Decay. He does not however have his hyenas in the manga. Scar also shares many characteristics with Hamegg, being smug, flamboyant, having Nazi associations (in the manga Hamegg is eventually revealed to have been a SS officer) and being the person who killed Kimba's father and sent him into exile. In the manga he is also speared by Kimba when he is defeated by him just to be killed by Claw instead, like Simba spares Scar before he is killed by the hyenas. Hamegg however has Hidden Depths and a sympathetic side that Scar do not share.
    • 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 title 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 fact, Simba much more closely resembles Kimba's Bratty Half-Pint son Rune, who goes trough similar character development, than he does Kimba himself. Likewise Mufasa is closer to adult Kimba than he is to Caesar who is much more of an Well-Intentioned Extremist (which, amusingly, somewhat becomes Simba's forte in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride).
    • 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.
    • Timon and Pumbaa could be seen as highly mutated versions of Kenichi and his uncle who (at-least in the manga) takes care of Kimba until he returns to the jungle and also have something of a Fat and Skinny character dynamic. Only Kenichi sticks around however and his personality is completely different from Timon's.
    • Irony: 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.
    • Matthew Broderick claimed once that when he signed on to do the film, he was point blank told that this was supposed to be an adaptation of Kimba.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Some fans feel Shenzi, Banzai and Ed could have been given more depth and portrayed in a more sympathetic light. The fact that they barely appear in the sequels and (from the sounds of it) won't appear in The Lion Guard doesn't help.
    • Sarabi is also relatively underutilized despite being The High Queen of Pride Rock. Her character is basically just a voiceless cameo in the sequels, but to be fair regarding the latter, that was primarily because her original voice-actress had died in real-life by that point.
    • Some feel Nala is underused. It doesn't help that she barely appears in the sequel.
    • Zazu, who is constantly treated like the Butt-Monkey and Extreme Doormat throughout the entire movie, and barely appears in the second half.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Simba's years growing up in the Jungle with Timon and Pumbaa is entirely glossed over, although one of the sequels does touch upon this by showing him being raised by Timon and Pumbaa.
  • 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).
  • Ugly Cute: Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. Shenzi is actually quite popular among furries.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Crossing into What Do You Mean, It's Not Political? below - a number of critics, professional and otherwise, note that the movie's (attempted) aversion of Predators Are Mean creates a system literally built on killing and otherwise exploiting equally sentient creatures (the prey animals) even when a "good" king is in charge. The writers tried to head this off with Mufasa's whole Circle of Life speech, but it's not hard to see that as cold comfort to the gazelle or wildebeest who winds up on the lions' menu for no other reason than circumstance of birth. And of course, some critics take it a step further and use the whole movie as proof (or scorn it as denial) that capitalism/monarchy/[insert other exploitative system here] is inherently shit no matter who's in charge.
  • 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 suffers this, badly. He starts out as a Magnificent Bastard that manipulates everybody and actually achieves his goal by usurping the throne. And after that he degrades into a whiny oaf, a terrible leader, and a Manchild, as he acts like an overgrown toddler. The Nostalgia Critic said it best:
    "When (other villains) do get their power, they're still interesting characters. When Scar gets his power, he stops being interesting and instead turns into a whiny little prima donna."
  • "Weird Al" Effect: Not a lot of people are aware that "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" existed for over 30 years before this movie came out.
  • What an Idiot!: Scar ordering Simba to run away rather than just killing the boy himself.
    • And then, at the end, telling Simba that he killed Mufasa when he had no reason to do so and was on the verge of total victory.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Several German critics did not take kindly to the film's references to Triumph of the Will. Some simply thought Nazi references were in bad taste for a kid's movie, while others actually accused Disney of endorsing fascist aesthetics. This review from Die Zeit offers one of the more extreme reactions.
  • Win the Crowd:
    • If there was any doubt on how this film would do, the teaser using the "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 would subsequently re-release Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc. over the next two years.
  • The Woobie:
    • Simba's father was murdered by his uncle, who made him think it was his fault.
    • Mufasa was betrayed and murdered by his own brother, whom he trusted implicitly.
    • Nala's best friend ran away from home after his father died and she grew up under Scar's despotic rule.
    • Sarabi. Her husband was murdered and she was forced to serve the guy who did it. And, for some time, thought her son was dead too.
    • Zazu is constantly abused throughout the film, and no one seems to like him. Even by the end of the film he doesn't gain any respect. In-Universe Woobie, anyone?
  • Woolseyism:
    • The DVD Commentary talks about a Japanese Woolseyism they didn't even realize they had made at first. Specifically, the commentators mention that they got no reaction at all from the first Japanese audience they showed the film to, up until just before Mufasa's evening talk with Simba where Zazu says "Simba... Good luck," which brought the house down. Upon asking about it afterward, they learned that "Good luck" is something Japanese people often say to each other when they're about to go get reprimanded, which they unwittingly paralleled with the scene.
    • In the Spanish release of the film. In the scene where Banzai is kicked in the ribcage by Shenzi before he mentions 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 phonetically 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?")
    • In the Mexican Spanish dub, during the final duel between Simba and Scar, Simba's voice became more deeper and creepier, compared how his voice sounds in the original English version, when he speaks louder than usual, and how he normally sounds before that battle in that dub, probably to emphatize he's going to kill Scar for good this time.
      • In the Japanese dub of the same scene, Simba uses kisama on Scar for the same effect, while his voice tone goes between the English version (louder) and the Mexican one (deeper). Oddly enough, Scar doesn't use kisama on Simba, despite being the main villain and the one who wants to see Simba dead more than anyone else.
    • Also, in the Japanese dub, Scar speaks with a thick French accent in his voice, not to mention he uses sometimes adieu rather than sayonara, possibly to simulate Scar's British accent.
    • In the Mexican Spanish dub, Pumbaa's famous THEY CALL ME MR. PIG! was changed with ¡YO SOY UN CERDO DECENTE, NO SOY UN PUERCO! (literally as I'm a decent PIG, not some HOG'' or more idiomatically, replace "hog" with "stinky pig". As a matter of fact, "puerco" is also a very old Spanish slang for a Jew converted to Christianism. It also means that Pumbaa got offended with him being compared with his more smelly, domestic cousins, being Pumbaa a wild warthog.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Skinny, nerdy sounding actor Matthew Broderick as a lion can seem like an odd fit.

Video Games

  • Ear Worm: Both of the console games do a decent job recreating the movie's soundtrack in chip tune.
  • Goddamned Boss: Scar gets very annoying. His attacks are not hard to dodge, but getting the right moment to throw him off Pride Rock can be frustrating. If he is not panting and you try to toss him, you lose. Likely, you will have to drop him unsuccessfully many times.
  • 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. It's quite telling that when pirate companies made their own NES version that, while still an Obvious Beta, was nonetheless far superior to the official NES release.
    • Also, Disney's Animated Storybook: The Lion King on Windows had an engine that made use of an API that was untested with certain graphics drivers, which made it crash in certain PCs. This directly lead to the creation of DirectX, as well as the Doom 95 port to promote it.
  • 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 (a mistake in the ostriches section can be fatal).
    • While many think the Adult Simba levels are somewhat easier than the cub levels, everyone agrees that "Be Prepared" is an exercise in frustration. The level is full of Goddamned Bats…including hyenas, cheetahs and literal bats. On top of that, there are lava geysers shooting from the floor, lava dripping from the ceiling and at one point, a river of lava that you have to traverse on a tiny floating rock. Good luck not getting knocked off. Oh, and not to forget that it's the only level in the game that is obviously not based on any scene from the finished movie. (Hakuna Matata is also based on a scene that ended up cut, but without Word of God you'd never realize.)

Stage Musical

  • Complete Monster: Scar commits the same crimes that his movie counterpart did and goes beyond that. During the musical, Scar 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!"
  • Hype Backlash: 15+ years on, this show still regularly sells out in New York City, on tour, and in foreign sit-down productions (it's the only Disney show to truly become a blockbuster in London's West End). But with regards to the hardcore musical theatre fan community... it has a lot of haters on the message boards who think it's only worthwhile for the beautifully-staged "Circle of Life" number — which is, of course, the first scene — and nothing else. They chalk up its continued popularity to its Long-Runners status giving the illusion of quality, package tour groups, families who won't expand their horizons to "real", non-corporate theatre, and foreign tourists who easily understand it. Because its popular, critical, and awards success (in particular beating Ragtime for Best Musical at the 1998 Tony Awards, even though that show won the Book and Score awards) only encouraged more and more Screen To Stage Adaptations, particularly of animated/family-friendly features as opposed to more sophisticated, adult fare, it's one of a handful of shows accused of turning musical theatre as a medium into a shell of its former self (other shows with similarly bitter reputations include the Andrew Lloyd Webber canon, Mamma Mia! and Wicked, and to a lesser extent The Producers). Oddly, the stage version of Beauty and the Beast proceeded this show by four years and received a much chillier critical reception at the time, but musical theatre fans are rather more forgiving of its long-running success even though it's arguably just as guilty of Lion King's perceived sins.
  • Newer Than They Think: The addition of "The Morning Report" to the movie's 2003 Platinum Edition DVD and VHS seemed to some viewers like a case of Disney restoring a Cut Song originally intended for the film, a la Beauty and the Beast hitting IMAX theaters and home video the previous year with "Human Again" inserted. However, the insert and sheet music for the Original Broadway Cast recording list a 1997 copyright date for "Morning Report", indicating that Sirs Elton John and Tim Rice wrote it especially for the play (the Beauty and the Beast Broadway soundtrack and sheet music list a 1991 copyright date for "Human Again", as opposed to the 1994 premiere of the play). On releases of the movie that relegate "The Morning Report" to the bonus features, instead of inserting it into the feature, the song has an introduction explaining that John and Rice wrote it especially for the Broadway musical.
  • Older Than They Think: The bulk of the new songs, with some changed lyrics, originate from the album Rhythm of the Pride Lands, which was released in 1995. Others were cut from the move, or made it to the sequel.