The Lion King was released twenty years ago this month. If you’re anything like me, your reaction was “NOPE,” followed by a long contemplation of your own mortality. In Disney terms, Lion King is roughly as old now as The Aristocats and Robin Hood were when we were kids. But, as Rafiki would remind us, it’s all just a part of the circle of life — so let’s see where life has circled our favorite savannah-dwellers to in the two decades since Nala, Simba, and the gang hit theaters (and I wore a steady stream of Lion King t-shirts, camped in a Lion King sleeping bag, and regarded my stuffed Pumba as a prized possession):
We watched Simba grow from lovable scamp, to outcast, to grown man, to redeemer of Pride Rock.
Simba is almost certainly dead. Lions in the wild live for 10-14 years, though lions in captivity may live to 20-25. So, Simba is either deceased or elderly and languishing in the zoo.
And how’s this for a bummer? Male lions are typically ousted from the pride once they are 2-3 years old if their father gets the boot, unless they take it over. So, Simba’s exile was basically just a cold, scientific reality. Isn’t nature grand? And once he was too old to be useful, he was probably kicked out again. It’s basically the lion version of abandoning an elderly relative at the home.
Nala was the ultimate BFF-turned-love interest, like a leonine Joey Potter.
Nala had a bunch of cubs. Lion cubs born in the same litter can actually have different fathers – science! – which lead Nala to appear on Timon’s short-lived talk show, sort of an animal version of Maury Povich.
Simba was not the father.
Nala is now dead.
Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed
Scar’s hyena henchmen were last seen mauling their former leader to death.
Hyenas can live up to 25 years in the wild, so it is possible that these fellows are alive and really, really old. Hyenas look decrepit even when they’re babies, so I can only imagine.
Wise Rafiki was supposed to be some sort of shaman/jester hybrid, maybe?
Babboons can live up to 30 years in the wild, but face it, Rafiki was already pretty old 20 years ago. But if you look up to the night sky, you can see the word “sex” spelled out in the stars and know that he is with you always.
Funny guy Timon taught Simba how to live and love, and taught us that damn Hakuna Matata song that’s still stuck in our heads two decades later.
Before dying (sorry! you knew it was coming!), Timon took advantage of the weird meerkat reality show trend, and became a star of sorts on Animal Planet.
Pumba issued the first fart ever heard on a Disney film (this is a true thing).
Well, that’s the circle of life, kids. And the circle stops at death. Also two decades closer to the grave: all of us. Man, I feel old right now.