The Lion King is one of the most beloved films in the Disney library. To many critics, the 1994 hit is considered the greatest animated film of all time. New fans are now being introduced to its characters through the new Disney Junior show, The Lion Guard.
The Lion Guard is a sequel that focuses on Simba’s youngest son, Kion. It is not the first sequel or spin-off to The Lion King, however. Here’s a look back at how The Lion King legacy has expanded over the years:
Timon & Pumbaa
Just one year after The Lion King hit theaters, the film’s two comic relief characters were given their own series. The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa was the show’s full name, but most people refer to it simply as Timon & Pumbaa.
Nathan Lane returned to voice Timon in a few early episodes, but was soon replaced by Kevin Schon and Quinton Flynn. Ernie Sabella reprised the role of Pumbaa throughout the series.
Timon & Pumbaa ran for three seasons as part of the syndicated Disney Afternoon block. The show also aired as part of a Saturday morning children’s block on CBS. Reruns later appeared on Disney Channel, the now-defunct Toon Disney, and Disney Junior.
The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
In 1998, Disney released a direct-to-video sequel to The Lion King. The film focuses on Kiara, the daughter of Simba and Nala.
Kiara falls in love with a male lion named Kovu, who was hand-chosen to be Scar’s successor. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go over too well with Kiara’s father, Simba.
The entire cast from the original film returned for the sequel, minus Rowan Atkinson as Zazu. Voice actor Jim Cummings also portrayed Scar in a very short cameo.
The new series, The Lion Guard, serves as a “mid-quel” to this film. Much like the original film, there is a time jump in the movie from when Kiara is a cub to when she becomes a young adult. The Lion Guard takes place in the space between those two time frames. Several characters from The Lion King II are slated to appear in future episodes of The Lion Guard.
The Lion King 1 1/2
The Lion King 1 1/2 is a hard movie to describe. It serves as a prequel, a “side-quel,” and a sequel to the original Lion King.
Essentially, The Lion King 1 1/2 retells the story of The Lion King from the point of view of Timon & Pumbaa. We learn how the two met and what they were up to during scenes we didn’t see in the original film.
The entire cast returned once again (minus Rowan Atkinson once more). In addition, Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice composed a new song for the film titled, “Meerkat Rhapsody.”
The Lion Guard
The newest Lion King spin-off focuses on Kiara’s younger brother, Kion. As the second born to the Lion King, Kion is put in charge of the Lion Guard. The Guard is a team of animals charged with protecting the Pride Lands.
Kion’s team includes Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippo, Fuli the cheetah, and Ono the egret.
Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union take over the roles of Simba and Nala, while a host of famous actors and comedians appear in guest roles.