Study Guide

The Lion King Quotes

  • Family

    MUFASA: That "hairball" is my son. And your future king.

    When Scar insults the newborn Simba by calling him a hairball, Mufasa is there to defend his young son and put Scar in his place.

    ZAZU: There's one in every family, sire.

    Zazu's assurance echoes a timeworn truism: every family has its black sheep. Or scarred lion. Or general pain in the butt.

    MUFASA: That's 'cause nobody messes with your dad.

    Mufasa takes his role as father very seriously and is always eager to remind Simba—who, in this instance, was almost just eaten by hyenas—that he's always going to be there for him.

    MUFASA: Simba, let me tell you something that my father told me.

    This quote echoes the Circle of Life motif we discussed earlier: families grow, roles change, but events will always repeat themselves. In this case, Mufasa once received some loving wisdom from his own father and now feels the need to pass it down to his son.

    MUFASA: Whenever you feel alone, remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And, so will I.

    Mufasa explains to Simba that the kings of past generations—i.e., Simba's great-great grandfathers—are chilling up in the stars, watching over him. Mufasa is giving his son a sense of family with a downright cosmic perspective, a perspective that Simba will make use of when he seeks guidance from his father's ghost after fleeing the Pride Lands.

    SCAR: Lucky Daddy was there to save you, eh?

    In his typical malevolent fashion, Scar is mocking the close bond Mufasa has with Simba. This marks Scar as a family member who is utterly disrespectful of all things familial.

    SIMBA: Well, somebody once told me the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.

    Simba says this to Timon and Pumbaa one night as the trio looks up at the sky. Although he doesn't want to reveal that that "somebody" was his father because the memory is far too painful, it's clear that what Mufasa said impacted his young son greatly.

    NALA: Wait till everybody finds out that you've been here all this time! And your mother—what will she think?

    Nala is shocked that Simba abandoned his family but eager to get him back home to them. Like Mufasa, Nala has a strong sense of loyalty to family.

    GHOST MUFASA: Simba, you've forgotten me. You've forgotten who you are … you are my son and the one true king.

    These are the words Mufasa speaks to Simba from beyond the grave. He's not so much urging Simba to return to the throne as he is asking him to remember how important his family is. Which, of course, results in Simba returning to the throne.

    SCAR: But, Simba, you wouldn't kill your own uncle.

    Very telling that the only time Scar really cares about family values is when his life is in danger.

  • Manipulation

    SCAR: But the king is dead. And if it weren't for you, he'd still be alive.

    Scar manipulates Simba into believing that his puny baby roar caused the wildebeest stampede that killed his father.

    SCAR: I will be king. Stick with me, and you'll never go hungry again!

    Here, Scar makes some insanely empty promises to a pack of hyenas in order to get them to kill his brother and nephew.

    SCAR: I know it sounds sordid / But you'll be rewarded / When you have given your due.

    Scar continues to make empty promises to the beleaguered hyenas, this time in song form.

    SCAR: Now, you wait here. Your father has a marvelous surprise for you.

    Scar has lured Simba into the gorge in an attempt to get him killed.

    SCAR: Mufasa, quick! Stampede! In the gorge! Simba's down there!

    Scar lures Mufasa into the gorge to save his son, ultimately sending the king to his death.

    SCAR: Mufasa's death was a terrible tragedy. But to lose Simba, who had barely begun to live …

    Here, Scar attempts to convince the pride that the deaths of Mufasa and Simba were accidental and not some elaborate evil plan he sang about in an elephant graveyard.

    SCAR: You know the law: never, ever mention THAT name in my presence. I … am … the KING!

    Scar is actually so insecure about his kinghood—probably because it was ill-gotten—that he's made a law that forbids anyone from mentioning Mufasa's name. That's some intense manipulation.

    SCAR: It's the lionesses' job to do the hunting.

    Scar has passed the buck to the lionesses, blaming them for the food shortage when really, he's the one to blame.

    SCAR: I'm 10 times the king Mufasa was.

    Nice try, Scar. There aren't many who would believe this lie.

    SCAR: Oh, must this all end in violence? I'd hate to be responsible for the death of a family member. Wouldn't you agree, Simba?

    Once again, Scar is playing mind games with Simba, trying to get him to believe he's committed patricide.

  • Principles

    MUFASA: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.

    Mufasa lectures Simba on the Circle of Life, one of the most important principles in the animal kingdom.

    MUFASA: I'm only brave when I have to be.

    Simba made the mistake of thinking that being king was all about showboating—and not about courage and meting out justice.

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

    Mufasa schools Simba on those kingly principles again.

    MUFASA: You deliberately disobeyed me!

    Respect for family members is as important to Mufasa as following the code of law. When Simba goes against his wishes, he's none too happy.

    PUMBAA: Look at him. He's so cute and all alone! Can we keep him?

    Although Pumbaa is something of a goofster, he's got principles, too: he cares about helping others.

    TIMON: When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.

    Timon's principle of self-care: when the going gets tough, take a break! A little R&R proves to be exactly what young Simba needs.

    NALA: It's your responsibility!

    Nala urges Simba to return to the Pride Lands, even if it means confronting painful and terrifying truths about his past. That's because being responsible is more important than being lazy or scared.

    GHOST MUFASA: Remember who you are.

    With these four words, Mufasa's ghost reminds Simba that he's got to live up to the kingly expectations that are his birthright.

    SIMBA: Going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.

    When Simba decides to return to the Pride Lands, he realizes he's been shirking his responsibilities for longer than he would have liked. It'll be painful to go back, but he needs to do the right thing.

    SIMBA: No, Scar. I'm not like you.

    That's right, Simba. It's because you've got principles. You know that it's wrong to murder family members.

  • Good vs. Evil

    SCAR: We're gonna kill him. And Simba, too.

    Scar plots to kill his family members here. Do we need to explain why that's evil?

    SCAR: I'll be king, undisputed, respected, saluted, and seen for the wonder I am.

    Scar's power-hungry manipulations mark him as a truly evil and malevolent character.

    SCAR: My teeth and ambitions are bared.

    Here, we can see how closely ambition—i.e., the desire for power—is linked to violence for Scar.

    SCAR: Long live the king.

    Scar says these words to Mufasa as he's throwing his brother off the sheer face of a cliff. At this point in the film, it looks as though evil is triumphing over good.

    NALA: Everything's destroyed. There's no food. No water. Simba, if you don't do something soon, everyone will starve.

    With her deep sense of responsibility and desire to restore good to the Pride Lands, Nala is a perfect interlocutor for the world-weary and insecure Simba. Sadly, it will be a while before the young prince is fully convinced to return home.

    NALA: He's gone back … Simba's gone to challenge Scar.

    Nala is talking about the final battle between Scar and Simba—the one where the ongoing struggle between good and evil is finally settled.

    SCAR: I am the king—I can do whatever I want.

    Scar's power-hungry megalomania is beautifully described in this quote. He's in direct opposition to his brother, who only believed in doing what was right for his subjects.

    SIMBA: I'm not a murderer!

    Simba finally understands that it was Scar who killed Mufasa. This purges him of his guilt and makes it possible for him to defeat his evil uncle.

    SIMBA: You don't deserve to live.

    Simba says this to Scar after Scar confesses to Mufasa's murder. The young prince is clearly in support of the death penalty for murderers.

    SCAR: It's the hyenas who are the real enemy! It was their fault! It was their idea!

    A final showcasing of Scar's evil: he shifts the blame whenever he can, trying to save his own hide by blaming the hyenas for his machinations.

  • Coming of Age

    SIMBA: I just can't wait to be king!

    Simba is so little and so excited to grow up that it's kind of adorable.

    SIMBA: Free to run around all day / Free to do it all my way.

    Silly little baby Simba assumes that being king means you get to have all the fun in the world all day long while Zazu chases you around, warning you not to slide down the neck of an ostrich.

    SIMBA: I was just trying to be brave like you.

    After Simba is nearly devoured by hyenas, he learns an important lesson about growing up: you don't need to get yourself into danger in order to prove that you're brave.

    SIMBA: No, I'm not the king. Maybe I was gonna be, but that was a long time ago.

    As a teenager, Simba doubts himself, assuming he's the one responsible for his father's untimely death.

    NALA: Why won't he be the king he is / The king I see inside?

    Ever perceptive, Nala wonders why moody teenage Simba won't just grow up already.

    RAFIKI: I'm not the one who's confused. You don't even know who you are.

    Armchair psychologist Rafiki analyzes the melancholy prince and gets right to the root of his problems: he's got to figure out his life before it passes him by.

    GHOST MUFASA: You must take your place in the Circle of Life.

    Mufasa's ghost warns his son that it is time to step up to the plate and accept that he's got a life to live, no matter how difficult and fraught that life may be.

    RAFIKI: Change is good.

    When Rafiki is trying to get Simba to go back to the Pride Lands and become a real adult, he utters the words that every teenager will probably be relieved to hear. Change, though terrifying, is ultimately good—it may be scary and awkward in the moment, but it'll pay off in the long run.

    RAFIKI: Oh, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.

    If anyone's got a difficult past, it's Simba. Rafiki helps him see that in order to grow up, he's got to learn from it and move on.

    SCAR: Mufasa—no! You're dead!

    By the time Simba returns to the Pride Lands, he's grown up so much that Scar actually mistakes him for Mufasa. Circle of Life, bro.

  • Society and Class

    GOPHER: Sir, news from the underground.

    ZAZU: Sire! Hyenas! In the Pride Lands!

    When Mufasa and Simba are going for their morning stroll, Mufasa receives this panicked news from a small gopher who appears to be in his employ. Mufasa dashes off to chase the hyenas away as we learn that they are definitely not allowed in the kingdom.

    ZAZU: Wait till you're king … then you can chase those mangy, stupid pooches from dawn until dusk.

    Zazu has an extremely low opinion of the hyenas.

    ZAZU: An elephant graveyard is no place for a young prince.

    The elephant graveyard is a space typically occupied by the hyenas. Zazu deems Simba too well-bred and/or vulnerable to go there.

    SHENZI: Do you know what we do to kings who step out of their kingdom?

    Shenzi is wary of lions trespassing in the elephant graveyard, perhaps as a result of abuses done by lions to hyenas in the past.

    SHENZI: You're Mufasa's little stooge.

    And Shenzi doesn't have a super high opinion of Zazu, either. It's all just a matter of perspective.

    SHENZI: Look at you guys! No wonder we're dangling at the bottom of the food chain!

    Shenzi berates her hyena friends in what can only be described as an act of self-hatred.

    SHENZI: Mufasa … I just hear that name, and I shudder.

    It is widely known throughout the animal kingdom that Mufasa is the most powerful guy around. His social status ranks above all the rest.

    SCAR: It's clear from your vacant expressions that the lights are not all on upstairs.

    More hyena-bashing: Scar is telling his would-be collaborators that they're stupid.

    TIMON: Hyenas … I hate hyenas.

    Hatred of hyenas has even spread to Timon and Pumbaa, otherwise loving creatures who live in a remote part of the Pride Lands.

    TIMON: Pumbaa, are you nuts? You're talking about a lion! Lions eat guys like us!

    Timon acknowledges that he and Pumbaa are typically thought of as weaker and/or "lower" than the lions.