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Every King Throughout "Lion King" History

Jeremy explores nostalgic topics when not working as a chemist or building manager at his undergrad university.

The Lion King movie poster

The Lion King movie poster

The Lion King

Most of us are familiar with Disney's hit film The Lion King. First aired in 1993 and later remade into a live-action adapation, the movie takes us through the life of young cub, Simba, destined to one day rule his home, Pride Rock.

Of course, Simba encounters other lions, including his father Mufasa and his nefarious uncle Scar. As far as the movie goes, those are the only kings we see. However, due to Lion King's popularity, various books and sequels have expanded upon the franchise's lore—today we'll examine the many sovereigns of Pride Rock!

Mohatu

Mohatu

Mohatu

Mate: Unknown

Mohatu is oldest king we can trace. Simba's great-grandfather, debuted in The Brightest Star, a short book where Mufasa recounts a tale of his ancestor. Mohatu appears very similar to Mufasa, with a large build, brownish fur, and a crimson mane. Additionally, their names sound alike and both kings are depicted as wise, compassionate rulers.

In the book, Mohatu successfully unites the animals of Pride Rock, leading them as they help each other survive a drought.

Quotable: As we travel, no one may harm any other animal. That is the only way we'll survive this difficult drought.

Ahadi

Ahadi

Ahadi

Mate: Uru

Next comes Ahadi, Simba's grandfather. Mufasa indirectly mentions him in the movie, stating "Simba, let me tell you something my father told me..", but we learned much more about him in the short story A Tale of Two Brothers.

Here, a young Mufasa and Scar (whose birth name is Taka) are growing cubs under the rule of King Ahadi. However, Taka grows resentful of his brother, who he believes is favored by their father, and convinces a buffalo to attack young Mufasa. Things ultimately backfire, and Taka ends attacked by the beast, giving him his trademark scar. Burdened by guilt, Taka asks his family to forever be known as Scar, and they agree.

Ahadi's appearance often shifts between stories, but my favorite depiction of him bears Mufasa's lighter fur but Scar's black mane and green eyes. He's shown to be a kind and strong king, but is oblivious to Taka's growing jealousy over Mufasa's right to the throne.

Quotable: It would be so much easier if I could learn of the little problems before they become the big ones. How sadly ironic.

Mufasa

Mufasa

Mufasa

Mate: Sarabi

Ah, the lion voiced by Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) who gave us one of the most heart-wrenching scenes we ever endured.

Mufasa was a strong and wise ruler; under his leadership, Pride Rock flourished. While aware of his brother's flaws, Mufasa never realized just how far Scar's envy of his position grew, and in the end, it cost him his life.

Quotable: Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.

Scar

Scar

Scar (Taka)

Mate: Zira (the lioness villain from Lion King 2)

Simba's nefarious uncle murdered his own brother and claimed the throne for himself. Originally born as Taka to King Adahi, Scar inherited his father's black mane and green eyes. However, Ahadi deemed Mufasa as first-in-line to the throne, a proclamation Scar always resented. Upon Simba's birth, Scar even loses his second-in-line spot, a situation that pushes him from jealous brother to murdering psychopath.

Despite the union of lion and hyena (which really isn't such a bad idea), Pride Rock becomes a wasteland under Scar's rule. Ultimately, he's defeated by a returned Simba, and after trying to pin the blame on his hyena minions, Scar pays the ultimate price.

Quotable: Long live the king.

Adult Simba

Adult Simba

Simba

Mate: Nala

After tragic events leave Simba separated from his home, he's raised by fellow outcasts Timon and Pumbaa. Since his diet largely consists of insects, Simba doesn't reach Mufasa's size (though he bulks up for the sequel), but he share his father's golden-brown fur and red mane.

With some help from his deceased father, Simba learns his place in the circle of life, takes his rightful throne, and marries his childhood friend Nala. As king, Simba is wise and kind, if a bit overprotective of his daughter Kiara.

Quotable: Sometimes, what's left behind can grow better than the generation before, if given the chance.

Kovu

Kovu

Kovu

Mate: Kiara

Kiara's love interest in Lion King 2, Kovu was raised as a weapon to overthrow Simba. However, matters complicate when he develops a genuine romance with Simba's daughter, Kiara. Eventually, Kovu chooses love over hate and allies against his family with the lions of Pride Rock.

We never get to see Kovu as king, seeing as Simba still lives, but presumably he'll take over upon Simba's demise.

Quotable: Judge me now, for who I am.. or am I to be blamed for a crime I didn't commit?

What About Kopa?

There we have it: the royal leaders of Pride Rock. Hope to see you at our next—
what about Kopa, you ask? Alright, let's open that confusing can of worms.

So, Simba and Nala maybe have a son, Kopa, shown in a book series written by Alex Simmons. Reminiscent of the young Simba, Kopa is only ever seen as a cub. Remember the film's end where Rafiki holds up Simba and Nala's newborn child? That cub's gender wasn't revealed within the movie—so was it daughter Kiara or son Kopa? And if Kopa does indeed exist, why isn't he in Lion King 2?

Good questions, but ones that lack clear answers. Kopa's canon status is uncertain at best, while Kiara seems much more widely accepted, so I tend to view the baby cub as Kiara. It's up to your interpretation. But regardless of your perspective, let me know which king is your favorite and I'll see you at our next Disney adventure!

© 2016 Jeremy Gill