The Lion King
|Name:||The Lion King|
|Date(s):||June 15, 1994 (first film), 1995-1999 (cartoon), October 27, 1998 (sequel), 2004 (1½), 2015 (cartoon sequel to first film/prequel to the sequel)|
|Medium:||Animation - Films, TV, Comics, Books etc|
|Country of Origin:||United States|
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The Lion King is a 1994 American animated epic musical film produced by The Walt Disney Company, and is the 32nd film by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The film is highly well regarded, and is widely considered a classic, not just for Disney, but for animation as a whole.
The film has led to many derived works, such as a Broadway adaptation, a 2019 remake, two direct-to-video follow-ups - the sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) and the prequel/parallel The Lion King 1½ (a.k.a The Lion King 3) (2004) - and two television series, Timon & Pumbaa (1995 - 1999) and The Lion Guard (November 22, 2015 - July 2019). Each of the films in the original film trilogy are loosely based on a Shakespeare play or the derivative work of one.
The fandom is extensive, utilising these and a whole host of other sources. With the original animated film as its base, the likes of Simba's Pride, The Lion Guard, and many of the tie-in materials, have expanded upon the number of characters, ships, and lore, to various degrees of controversy. The Timon & Pumbaa focused media is much less utilised in fanon, with only details such as Timon's family really used, in large part because the third film is a parody, and their TV series plays out much more in line with a Saturday morning kids cartoon. Thus, these two media feel much more disconnected from the rest of the franchise, especially in the case of T&P.
What counts as canon is a little nebulous, as many of the texts contradict each other, and those that don't are either metafictional, semi-official loose tie-in comics/books, or incorporate controversial lore additions or character depictions. The original film, Simba's Pride and The Lion Guard seem to be canon as far as Disney are concerned, though this will vary much more between fans. The term semi-canon is used to distinguish many of the additions made elsewhere, mainly the tie-in material - the comics and books.
The remake was much less well received, and is generally considered its own thing. Most of the fandom is focused around the lore of the original film and its continuation, though the remake will very occasionally be involved.
The Lion King (1994)
- The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as king; however, after Simba's uncle Scar murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile in shame and despair. Upon maturation living with two wastrels, Simba is given some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny.
The original film is loosely based on Hamlet and acts as a base for the canon, introducing the audience to the initial world for the fandom to play in.
Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1998)
The spinoff show with Timon and Pumbaa is generally considered non-canon, or at the very least is generally ignored when it comes to incorporating canon elements into fan headcanons or fandom discussions. There are a few exceptions to this though, most notably Timon's surname 'Berkowitz' and the subsequent implication he's Jewish.
Broadway Musical (1997)
The broadway musical follows the story of the original film, with a few additions. Some are relatively small, such as implying Sarafina killed Banzai's father, whilst some are much more significant, such as the reintroduction of the original film's deleted scene and song The Madness of King Scar.
The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (1998)
This direct-to-video sequel is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet and is generally considered to be one of the better direct-to-video animated sequels Disney released through Disneytoons. The film introduced several elements to the lore that carried over into further installments of the franchise, and thus influenced fanworks going forward. These include characters such as Kiara, and the Outlanders, as well as design variations such as dots - and other patterns - under eyes, head tufts on lionesses, head markings, purple eyes etc.
The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata (2004)
The third film is a parody, and is loosely based on the tragic comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead in which two minor characters from Hamlet react to the events of said play. As a result, most of the events of the film have to be taken with a pinch of salt, though certain aspects, such as Timon's family (Ma and Uncle Max) and backstory, as well as scenes that don't interfere with the original film's logic, are sometimes incorporated into fanon.
The Lion Guard
Spinoff series centred on Simba and Nala's son Kion. The show introduces some fairly controversial aspects to the lore, including the Roar of the Elders and the Lion Guard itself. It also establishes that Scar's scar came from a cobra bite. See here for more.
The Lion King (2019)
In 2019, a remake of the original film was released. Though initially marketed by Disney as one of the company's Live-Action Remakes, the film uses photo-realistic animation and utilises the Unity game engine. The film exists in it's own universe separate from the original and its subsequent works, and certain aspects contradict it as a result. For instance, Scar's scar is implied to have been done by Mufasa.
The Lion King: Six New Adventures (1994)
The Six New Adventures was a series of six spin-off books centred on Simba's son Kopa. The creators of Simba's Pride were unaware of the existence of these books, and the canonicity of the official sequel overthrew the semi-canonical nature of these books.
- A Tale of Two Brothers
- Nala's Dare
- Vulture Shock
- A Snake in the Grass
- Follow the Leader
- How True, Zazu?
Ones of note to fandom include The Orphaned Baby Birds (1998), An Unusual Choir (1998), A Gift From the Heavens (2000), Simba's New Brother (2004), and Snakes in Paradise (2005).
Ones of note to fandom include The Brightest Star (1994), and the two 6NA inspired audio books from 1995: Friends for Life and Fight For the Throne.
- Simba: protagonist of original film (1994), remake (2019), and musical.
- Nala: Simba's betrothed, and eventual mate and queen. Daughter of Sarafina. Appears in all the films, the Broadway musical, and The Lion Guard.
- Scar (Taka): the antagonist of the original film (1994), the remake (2019), the broadway musical, and season 2 of The Lion Guard. He also has a cameo in Hercules (1997). One of Disney's most iconic villains. Simba's uncle who tricks Simba into exile.
- Mufasa: King of the Pridelands, and Simba's father.
- Sarabi: Mate of Mufasa and Simba's mother.
- Sarafina: Nala's Mother.
- Timon & Pumbaa: arguably the two most iconic characters in the entire Lion King franchise. This comedic duo appear in all three movies, the musical, The Lion Guard, and are the protagonists of The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata, and the TV series Timon and Pumbaa.
- Zazu: Mufasa and Simba's majordomo. He appears in all three movies, the musical, and the Lion Guard TV series.
- Rafiki: Mandrill friend of the Royal Family
- Shenzi, Banzai & Ed: Three hyena antagonists.
- Kiara: the protagonist of Simba's Pride. Simba and Nala's daughter. She also often appears in The Lion Guard.
- Kovu: Deuteragonist. He also appears in The Lion Guard. He is Scar's hand-picked heir but has no blood-relation to him.
- Zira: Antagonist of SP, and the Lion Guard episode Lion's of the Outlands.
- Vitani: Secondary antagonist, and the daughter of Zira.
- Nuka: Secondary antagonist, and the son of Zira.
The Lion Guard
- Kion: The protagonist of The Lion Guard. Simba and Nala's son. He is the Lion Guard's fiercest member and their leader. His absence in Simba's Pride is explained in season 3 of The Lion Guard, which happens parallel to the second movie.
See more on The Lion Guard's page.
- Mheetu: A white lion, Nala's younger brother and part of her gang of friends. He was created so Nala would have someone to defend from Scar after his takeover, but was scrapped due to this being too depressing and too much like a concentration camp. Mheetu is a popular character in fanfiction.
- Bhati: A young bat-earred fox who is a childhood friend of Simba and Nala's who is a part of Nala's group of friends. She is described as wise-cracking. She appears occasionally in fandom.
- Iggy: A lizard who is a childhood friend of Simba and Nala. He was cut so early that a gender and personality were never assigned. Appears in fandom often as a male.
- Tesma: A female meerkat who is a childhood friend of Simba and Nala. She was destined to become Timon's mate. She appears occasionally in fandom.
- Naanda, Diku, and Dwala: characters scrapped from the final Lion King script. Sarabi's sisters.
Fandom Named Outlanders
- Dotty - Named after a series of dots under her eye. She is sometimes paired up with Nuka.
- Spotty - Also named after a series of dots under her eye, though the Blu-ray release of 'Simba's Pride' shows that the 'dots' are actually connected as a wavy line intead.
- Digger - Named as such due to seeing her dig in her only appearance.
- Lazy-Eye - Named after her lazy eye
- Chippy - Named after what appears to be her chipped tooth. Named by Criswell.
- Scruffy - Named after a clump of fur on the back of her neck
- Beauty-Spot - Named after what appears to be a small spot on her chin
- Kopa: the protagonist of the Six New Adventures. Simba's first child. In fanon his absence in Simba's Pride is usually explained away as him being murdered by Zira. This also serves to explain Zira's banishment and Simba's over-protectiveness.
- Afua - A cub referenced in SNA. Friend of Kopa.
- Ahadi - Appears in A Tale of Two Brothers. Mufasa and Taka's father.
- Uru - Referenced in A Tale of Two Brothers. Mufasa and Taka's mother.
- The Friendly Five
- Chumvi - Appears in Nala's Dare. Friend of Nala. Often portrayed as either Kula's brother or lover.
- Kula - Appears in Nala's Dare. Friend of Nala. Often portrayed as either Chumvi's sister or lover.
- Tama - Appears in the German comic Trouble in Paradise. Friend of Nala. Often paired with other semi-canonical friends of Simba and Nala, such as Tojo, Malka or Chumvi.
- Tojo - Appears in the comic The Orphaned Birds. Friend of Simba. Often paired with other semi-canonical friends of Simba and Nala, such as Tama or Kula. Sometimes depicted with a flock of blue birds in fanworks, due to the source material.
- Malka - Appears in the German comic Simba's New Brother. Will often be paired up with several of the other semi-canonical characters such as Kula or Tama.
- Mtoto - Referenced in a 'TLK' Puzzle Game. Friend and cousin of Simba. Less known than other semi-canonical friends of Simba and Nala, likely due to the obscurity of the source material and the lack of material to work with.
- Mohatu - Appears in the book The Brightest Star. Simba's grandfather, and either Ahadi or Uru's father. The fandom differs on which one of the two is his offspring.
- Selfish Lion - Appears in the book The Brightest Star. Named by fans after his behaviour in said book. Due to his resemblance to Scar, he'll often be portrayed as either a relative of Mohatu or as the father of either Ahadi or Uru, whichever one isn't headcanoned as being the offspring of Mohatu.
The fandom comes alive in spurts. But saw a jump in activity when Disney Junior released The Lion Guard. Fan-fiction is now split into two archives: one for The Lion King and one for The Lion Guard. But both contain the same universe and the same characters with few definitive differences, if any. Fanfiction often centers around one of Simba's three children (although they do not all exist at the same time in the same universe for canon/fanon reasons): Kopa, Kiara, and Kion, or their successors. Side characters are frequently OCs, with canon/semi-canon expansion of cast members coming from sources such as the Six New Adventures book series, or The Lion Guard TV series.
It's a very visual fandom, with fanart being arguably much more common in the fandom than fic is, with large fan communities on DeviantArt. Art will often be accompanied on the site with short fics, and comics are fairly common.
Most of the fanworks centre around the lions, with their families and relationships being a big focus. In contrast, the likes of Timon and Pumbaa, the hyenas, Zazu and many of the other characters of other species are less common, though do occasionally occur, especially with the release of The Lion Guard. Redraws of screenshots are fairly common, especially for content such as Simba's Pride and The Lion Guard due to the differing designs and art styles respectively in order to redesign them more in line with the original film.
Canon vs. Semi-Canon
Some of the source texts, in particular the comics and books, are often seen as semi-canon rather than strictly canon like the original film. Much of the fandom often divert on which media they class as canon. In particular, some fans don't consider The Lion Guard to be canon, others exclude the comics.
General fanon tends to consistently keep Ahadi and Uru as Simba's paternal grandparents, and Mohatu as his great-grandfather.
- Six New Adventures such as Kopa, Ahadi, Kula, Chumvi etc
- Comics such as Malka, Tojo
- Other Books such as Mohatu
- Magazines such as Mtoto
- Characters deleted or omitted from the final films, such as Sarabi's three sisters, or Mheetu
Popular Fanon Pairings:
- Scar/Nala (one-sided canon in the broadway musical)
- Scar/Sarabi (one-sided canon as of the 2019 film)
Many of the canon ships are fairly common in fandom (Simba/Nala, Mufasa/Sarabi etc), and ship wars appear to be relatively uncommon. For instance, even in the fics which contain the concept of polyamory amongst lions, Nala is often written as Simba's one true love (who is willing to share).
The exception to the relative lack of ship wars involves Kopa/Vitani.
Regarding the semi-canonical cubs of Simba and Nala's age, there is a 10 year difference between the introductions of Chumvi and Kula, and that of Malka, and an 11 year difference with that of Tama and Tojo, likely contributing to the relative support for Chumvi/Kula, Malka/Tama, and Tama/Tojo, over the likes of Chumvi/Tama or Tojo/Kula.
Crossover pairings are common, given that The Lion King plays such a large role in the animash fandom. Species does not matter. Kiara has been paired with Spirit (horse), Balto (wolfdog) and many others.
Original Characters are very common in the fandom. They can come in the form of characters that are integrated into the world of the films, characters who are much more disconnected from the the universe, and fursonas.
Fans will utilise a variety of features for their original characters; the colours of the main fur, underbelly fur, tail tuft, paws, mane, eyes, nose; the shape of the body, and head; the presence or lack of a head tuft, ear rims, scars, patterns; whether they have an outlander or pridelander nose, whether their belly fur extends to the neck. Whatsmore, male lions have whiskers, female lions do not. Each of these will be changed around, sometimes even subverted, to create a fan's OC.
Features such as these are present and introduced in several of the source texts, and have been noticed and noted by fans, often for help in OC creation, with every subsequent new text in the franchise.
Fans will often take characters from other fandoms and turn them into lions in the style of The Lion King, usually in the form of art, though it has been done in fic too.
Human AUs, in which the characters in TLK are designed as humans, are also often created. These AUs are often the subject of controversy when the characters are drawn as white, given that the films are set in Africa, and most of the main actors in the stage musical are Black.
There are also instances in which characters will be drawn as other animals, especially wolves.
As The Lion King is largely focused on a monarchy, the use of [Name(s) of Character(s)]'s Reign can determine the general time period in which it takes place in, based on the Pridelands ruler at the time. These are as follows:
- Mohatu's Reign
- Ahadi/Uru's Reign
- Mufasa/Sarabi's Reign
- Scar's Reign
- Simba/Nala's Reign
- Kovu/Kiara's Reign
Other 'Reigns' may include Kopa's Reign, as opposed to, or in addition to, Kiara's, and OC's Reigns, usually in the form of previous monarchs prior to Mohatu, or future monarchs past Kiara. 'Reigns' centred around characters outside of the Pridelands also occur, such as Malka's Reign for his own pride.
For a long time, transformative works in the fandom have been seemingly overwhelmingly cisheternormative in most spaces, with a lot of emphasis on family trees and lineages. In recent years however, there appears to have been a visible increase in the number of fanworks created involving queer headcanons and interpretations. Some of these are typical of most fandoms, such as slash, whereas some are more unique to The Lion King and its setting, such as featuring maneless lions and maned lionesses.
Ships such as Vitani/Kiara have gained fans in these recent years.
- Polyamory: In the wild lions are usually polyamorous, with one male and several females. Several fics make use of this idea. In the movies the lions of Pride Rock usually don't have more than two full grown males around at a time (Mufasa/Scar, Simba/Kovu). This is canonically explained in the Lion Guard; Scar used the Roar of the Elders to kill four males (among them Nala's father) when they refused to help him overthrow Mufasa.
- Unrelated AU is common in Animash pairings like Nala x Kiara or Simba x Kiara. On the other hand, sometimes canonically unrelated characters are made to be related. Scar being Nala's father is a common fan-theory.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Hyenas. They are consistently written as villains up until Jasiri's appearance in The Lion Guard. Her song Sisi ni Sawa (translation: We Are the Same) is an excellent anti-racism song which excels at subverting this trope's application to hyenas.
- Abusive Parents: Generally appears in fics where Nuka, Vitani, or Kovu is the main character. The abusive parent being Zira, possibly an OC, and sometimes Scar (although Scar is generally only abusive towards Nuka). However, both Zira and Scar are often headcanoned as being victims of abuse as well.
- Anti-Villain: prevalent in fics where Kovu or Vitani are the main character.
- Childhood Friends/Friends to Lovers: an extremely common trope in both canon and fandom. Simba grows up with Nala, who he later marries. Kiara and Kovu share a short childhood friendship and later fall in love. Kopa and Vitani are childhood friends who later fall in love.
- The Exile: Canonically applies to Simba, Nala, and Kovu. Fanonically applied to several male OCs.
- Mark Of Shame: in most fics featuring scarred characters as a protagonist or deuteragonist a scar over the eye is used as a designation of evil or shame. In some fics it is implied that scars are given to identify criminals, with the number of scars indicating the severity of the crime. One scar equalling betrayal, which ties in with Scar and Kovu's storylines. Three scars indicate murder.
- Meaningful Name: Most names in canon and fanon have a meaning in Swahili, such as 'Simba' translating as 'Lion', though there are exceptions, such as Timon translating to Respect in Greek.
Popular Crossover Fandoms
Alongside the more typical forms of fanworks, family trees are a common thing to find in the fandom. These can require as few or as many artistic skills as the fan possesses, and are relatively accessible as a result when compared to other fanart. Some fans will include art of the characters, usually a small headshot, others will simply use their names. These family trees act as a quick way of showcasing each fan's headcanons regarding relationships, and any OCs they've created.
- Chronicles of the Pride Lands
- The Legend Continues series by Asante
- Scar's Return by snheetah
- The Heirs of Hope by Night-Wisdow
- The Madness of King Scar by Eduardo Quintana
- Simba is Stupid in School (Parody) by lsugirl123
- The Ultimate ''The Lion King'' Recap Cartoon (July 2019) by Cas van de Pol
- 30 Royal Cats (Dec 2009) by Red-Cayenne, featuring a collection of characters.
- Mega Request (Jan 2013) by seryva - Featuring the character of Mega, a minor semi-canonical character from the 6NA books. See more here.
- Tama Bookmark (July 2013) by emilyjayowens - A piece of art of Tama designed to be printed off as a bookmark.
Meta & Analysis
- The Lion King ½: Judaism, White Pride, and Paranoia by The Sin Squad - Analysis of Judaism and White Supremacy in the films with an exploration of the concepts of Paranoid Reading and the hermeneutic circle.
- Be Prepared (To Write a Blanket Permission Statement) (Filk) - Filk song set to Be Prepared
Archives & Fannish Links
- Lion King & crossover works at FFN
- The Lion King works at AO3
- Lion King Fanfic at AnimationSource.org
- The Lion King WWW Archive
- Lion King Source at AnimationSource.org
- Fanfic Recs at TV Tropes.org
- The Lion King Fanfic, deviantart group
- My Lion King Forum
- Snow Lands
- The Lion King Library (Fanfiction Archive in Russian)
- The Lion King
- Circle of Life
- The Pridelands
- The Lion King Stillness Icon Contest
- Lion King Icontest
- Lion King Awards, another icontest
- The Lion King Fanfiction Archive
- The Lion King wallpapers
- The Lion King Fanfiction Review
- The Lion King Collectors
- The Lion King Stamping Community
- The Lion King: The Musical!