Top 19 Most Popular The Lion King Characters

top 19 most popular the lion king characters


Can we blame the circle of life for bringing us back to this classic animated film time and again? In fact, it would be fair to say that Disney’s attempts at creating soundtracks, fairytales, and characters that bring our imaginations to life were epitomized by the blockbuster release of the original Lion King in 1994.


While the movie has certainly aged beautifully, it has also gone on to spawn two sequels. They comprise heartwarming stories and quite a few memorable characters. Believe it or not, many critics the world over believe that it was the first Disney-animated full-length feature to have an original storyline.


That being said, there is no denying that its plot was heavily influenced by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The juicy storyline in The Lion King takes the route less taken and gives its viewers something refreshing and meatier to bite.


Those who have been through the franchise over the years believe it is not just a story about love but also about family, loyalty, and finding your purpose in life. It is not surprising then that it managed to connect to both youngsters and adults in a big way back in the day.


So, for the ardent fans of The Lion King movies, we have put together a story that ranks the best and the most popular characters in them.




1. Simba




Simba has to be at the top of our list! Since we get to see him through every phase of his life in The Lion King, we feel that we are growing up with him, and that is what makes his character the most relatable one in the franchise.


Simba has a rambunctious childhood, but he goes on to lose himself after his loving father is betrayed and slaughtered. However, he eventually learns what it means and what it takes to be king.


His character has been beautifully sketched and we witness him gaining a ton of confidence over time; so much so that he gets to the point where he can defeat Scar and take back his throne.


Since Simba is full of love, he finds more people to call family and deservingly finds love over time. His fresh-faced enthusiasm and responsible personality make him the perfect heir to the throne.


That being said, what is most special about this young prince is the fact that he hugely admires his father. While his murder may have shocked Simba, he does muster the courage and self-confidence to head back to his land to take back what belongs to him.




2. Scar




This black-maned lion, who is the main antagonist of The Lion King, is easily one of the best-sketched characters in the franchise. Since we are all aware of Scar and his actions, we know how terrifying, cunning, and ruthless he can be.


However, that does not negate the fact that he is also extremely charming and equally manipulative. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assert that Scar is the perfect reflection of what mankind has turned into. We say so because his constant thirst for power supersedes everything else in his life.


His obsession with sitting on the throne propels him to ultimately kill his own brother. Not only that but he is even willing to let other animals die for his comfort. Indeed, he is driven by his bloated ego and sense of entitlement and will never stop until he gets what he wants.




3. Mufasa




Let’s just start by addressing that Mufasa’s death remains one of the saddest and most traumatizing sequences in the history of cinema. Even though this beloved character is killed pretty early in the franchise, the impact that it has on the other characters is simply undeniable.


Mufasa, who was the epitome of strength, leadership, and bravery, was seen inspiring the young Simba at all times. Not only was he a just and responsible leader but he was also a gentle and firm father, who would go the extra mile to protect his loved ones when sufficiently provoked.


The sequence where he is seen teaching Simba what a king should be like is one of the memorable ones in the film. Also, he goes on to provide a lesson or two about protecting and maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem and mediating problems between its complex creatures.




4. Nala




There is no denying that Nala is one of the best characters in The Lion King. While she shares an endearing bond with Simba since they were children, their much-awaited reunion is a reminder to audiences that they are home to each other and are, in fact, at their best when in each other’s company.


She does her best to make him realize that he belongs to the kingdom and is the rightful king. Needless to say, the love that steadily evolves between them has been perfectly depicted.


Although she is a prominent character in The Lion King, Nala is only seen making minor appearances in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, The Lion King 1½, and The Lion Guard, respectively. She was betrothed to Simba soon after they were born.



5. Timon and Pumbaa


Timon and Pumbaa


Timon and Pumbaa are the perfect examples of how chosen families hold just as much importance as families people are born into. This meerkat and common warthog duo might be greedy, but they are also incredibly audacious.


The duo stumbles upon a broken Simba after he is sent away by Scar and is completely isolated and hopeless. They decide to take him in and raise him like one of their own, and, in the process, end up playing a big role in how his personality develops over time.


Later, when Simba has grown up and has decided to head to the Pride Lands to battle Scar, Timon and Pumbaa help him in ending his tyrannical reign. Ultimately, they become Simba’s trustworthy royal advisors.



6. Kiara




The protagonist in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and a recurring character in The Lion Guard, Kiara is Simba’s first cub and, therefore, heir to the Pride Lands. Much like her father was as a cub, she is portrayed as a feisty, playful, and adventurous princess.


However, Simba’s troubled childhood does make him a bit overprotective of her. As a cub, Kiara befriends Kovu when they are playing at the Outlands. Together, they work to evade a group of crocodiles.


In The Lion Guard, Kiara can be glimpsed being coached by her parents to be the next ruler. Her subtle sibling rivalry with Kion has also been given a fair amount of time in the movie. Years later, she is engaged to Kovu.



7. Kovu




Kovu, whose name means “scar” in Swahili, is the youngest child of Zira and Scar’s adoptive son and chosen heir. He is seen befriending Kiara during their childhood. However, their friendship doesn’t last long as they are separated from their parents who don’t seem to be getting along at all.


However, it has to be mentioned that Kovu’s newfound friendship with Kiara does end up providing Zira with the opportunity to kill Simba. Soon after, he takes the onus on himself to train Kovu to assassinate Simba and, eventually, take his place as the king of Pride Rock.



8. Zazu




Zazu is a red-billed hornbill and majordomo to Mufasa and later Simba. Following the former’s demise, he is forced to become a prisoner of Scar before Pumbaa breaks the bone cage; thus, setting him free upon’s Simba returns to the Pride Lands.


Later in the story, he can be seen acting as a scout and advising Simba on royal protocol. When both Simba and Nala were young, Zazu played the occasional babysitter and ensured that they weren’t troubled or trapped.


It is imperative to mention that his loyalty, hard work, and dedication to Mufasa and Simba make him one of the most admirable and important characters in the entire franchise.



9. Rafiki




Rafiki’s name means “friend” in Swahili and he is a West African-accented mandrill with an unnaturally long tail. One of the most iconic moments from the franchise is when Rafiki is seen holding up baby Simba.


Therefore, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assert that he serves as a grandfather-like figure who seems to know anything and everything. While he may come off as a little unpredictable at times, his presence in the movie is fairly grounded.


Rafiki lives in a baobab tree in the Pride Lands and performs shamanistic services for the lions of Pride Rock. Add to that the fact that he’s shown to be a great martial artist who is closely involved with the affairs and politics of the pride.



10. Zira




Zira, the female lion, was the leader of the Outsiders and the mother of Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani. One of the most loyal supporters of Scar, her name means “hate” in Swahili.


Since her son, Kovu, was chosen to be the heir and protégé of Scar, she vows to avenge his death by forming the Outsiders. She tries her best to take advantage of Kovu’s friendship with Kiara as a part of her larger plan to assassinate Simba.


However, her plan fails miserably as her son’s love for Kiara triumphs. Needless to say, she has no option but to resort to an all-out war against Simba’s pride.



11. Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed


Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed


Those who have seen The Lion King would agree that the three spotted hyenas have to be read and acknowledged as a trio. They serve as Scar’s lead henchwoman and henchmen and reside in the Elephant Graveyard.


As soon as Scar is seen promising them and the rest of their fellow hyenas food, they get ready to help him in getting rid of his brother Mufasa. Needless to mention, the trio triggers the wildebeest stampede which ends up killing Mufasa.


Not only that but they also ensure to chase Simba out of the Pride Lands on Scar’s orders. As wicked as their intentions may be, the banter between the wonderful trio is delightful, to say the least.


Also, let’s not forget that there is something about Ed’s empty gaze that adds to the characters of the hyenas in the movie.



12. Ma




Voiced efficiently by Julie Kavner, Ma happens to be Timon’s mother. She is an encouraging and hopeful individual who believes in the abilities of her son. Therefore, it is not surprising that she can be seen persuading Uncle Max to give him a job as a sentry or lookout.


Even after Timon fails in his duty, she remains positive that he can still find a place in the colony. However, she does not withdraw her support even when he insists that he has to go.


Later in the story, Ma can be seen getting worried about Timon after having spoken to Rafiki and starts looking for him. The two finally reunite at Pride Rock. Also, it is worth mentioning that she does her best to help in the battle against the hyenas by digging a long tunnel to trap them.



13. Sarabi




There is no denying that The Lion King features some really strong and powerful female characters. Sarabi, whose name means “mirage” in Swahili, happens to be one of them. Even though Simba’s beloved mother is not featured prominently throughout the film, her character commands respect for she serves as the Queen of Pride Rock.


Not only does she remain a pillar of hope and strength for those around her after Mufasa’s death but she can even be seen standing up to Scar in one of the most breathtaking sequences in the entire franchise.



14. Uncle Max


Uncle Max


Uncle Max has been voiced ably by Jerry Stiller and is a prominent member of the meerkat colony and a relative of Timon and Ma. Recognized by his grey head fur and large nose, he is a pessimist by nature and very paranoid; so much so that he believes that a meerkat’s fate is to be “food for other animals! Feared by nothing and eaten by all!” Upon Timon’s mother’s request, Max reluctantly agrees to let him be a sentry for the colony and tries to train him well for the job.


However, he is nearly eaten by the hyenas when they attack with full force. Even though he is glad to see Timon go, he ends up going with Ma to find him.


We catch Max making an appearance once again towards the finale of the film, where he and Ma encounter Timon and Pumbaa at Pride Rock.



15. Sarafina




Nala’s mother and Simba’s mother-in-law, Sarafina can first be seen sleeping inside Pride Rock with her daughter and the rest of the pride. She can later be seen cleaning Nala before she is supposed to go to the Elephant Graveyard with Simba.


In her final appearance, Sarafina is mourning the loss of Mufasa and Simba. However, she is clearly unaware of the fact that the latter is still alive.



16. Outsiders




The Outsiders are a pride of offshoot lions that have been brutally loyal to Scar in the story. However, they were exiled to the Outlands by Simba after a failed takeover following Scar’s death.


In The Lion Guard, the Outsiders were trying to invade the territory that Jasiri’s clan lives in. Later, they can be seen reconciling with the Pride Landers. Not long after that, they disband and reintegrate with Simba’s pride.


It has to be mentioned that the first Outsider seen in the franchise is a young cub named Kovu.



17. Nuka




Nuka, whose name means “stink” in Swahili, is jealous of Zira’s apparent favoritism for Kovu. So, we catch him attempting to gain his mother’s approval by hook or by crook.


During the Outsiders’ ambush, Nuka plans to kill Simba to prove his worth to his mother. Unfortunately for him, he is crushed to death by the falling logs; something that finally allows him to gain his mother’s attention albeit a bit late.


Zira mourns her son’s death and expectedly blames Kovu for the unfortunate incident.



18. Vitani




The middle child and only daughter of Zira and Kiara’s sister-in-law, Vitani’s name roughly means “I Am War” or “Demon of War” in Swahili. While she can be seen making a prominent appearance in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, her role in The Lion Guard has been trimmed to a cameo.


As a young adult, Vitani mostly acts on her mother’s violent plans and is her strongest lieutenant; therefore, aiming to back her in all her pursuits. However, she and the Outsiders are aided by Kovu and Kiara in turning on Zira and joining the Pridelanders to settle the feud between the two feelings of pride peacefully.


Needless to say, Vitani and the other Outsiders are pardoned by Simba and allowed to rejoin their pride following Zira’s passing.



19. Mole




Voiced by Jim Cummings, Mole stands true to his name and works as a mole for Zazu as an informant. In the film, he is seen warning Zazu to be prepared when the hyenas invade the Pride Lands.



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