beard the lion

Scar (The Lion King)

Scar is a fictional character and the main antagonist in Walt Disney Pictures' popular 1994 animated movie The Lion King. He was voiced by Jeremy Irons in The Lion King and his supervising animator was Andreas Deja.

Scar is one of four Disney characters to be nominated for "Best Villain" in the MTV Movie Awards (the other three being the White Witch, Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones), and is also the only Disney animated character to have achieved this.

The Lion King

Scar is the younger brother of Mufasa, the uncle of Simba, and second in line to the throne after Simba was born. Scar is jealous of Simba's position as the next king of the Pride Lands, so he plots to assassinate his brother and nephew, in order to seize the throne.

To carry out his plans for regicide, Scar recruits three spotted hyenasShenzi, Banzai and Ed — who gladly do the scheming lion's bidding in exchange for food. At first, there seem to be only three hyenas, but eventually it becomes apparent that he has influenced an entire army of them. The first attempt by the hyenas to kill Simba is foiled by Mufasa, so Scar calls up his troops and promises that when he is king the hyenas will "-never go hungry again". In this scene the hyenas march past Scar in a manner evocative of a scene in which the Nazis marched past Hitler in a scene in the film The Triumph of the Will. With the help of the hyenas, Scar triggers a wildebeest stampede meant to kill both Simba and Mufasa. Mufasa manages to save his son, but is badly injured in the process and as he tries to escape by climbing up the gorge, Scar is waiting and grabs his paws. Maliciously taunting him with "Long live the king" Scar throws Mufasa from the cliff into the stampede, where he is trampled to death. Scar then makes Simba believe that the young prince caused the stampede and in turn killed Mufasa. Simba runs away, overwhelmed by guilt and fear. Scar then orders Shenzi, Banzai and Ed to chase the cub and kill him. Unknown to Scar, however, the hyenas do not succeed because of a thorn bush, as Simba evades them and escapes into the desert. Scar then returns to Pride Rock and assumes the throne, letting the hyenas in the Pridelands and leading the other lions to believe that both Mufasa and Simba died in the gorge.

During Scar's reign, the kingdom rapidly declines as droughts hit and food becomes scarce. Years later, to Scar's surprise, Simba returns to challenge his uncle for the throne. Scar forces Simba to reveal the "truth" about Mufasa's death and backs him towards the edge of Pride Rock's promontory. Scar, on thinking that he has won, admits that he killed Mufasa, and prepares to kill Simba before the rightful heir can tell anyone. Simba gets the better of him, however, leaping upon Scar and forcing him to admit his guilt. A fierce battle ensues between Scar's forces and Simba's friends and family while Simba alone fights Scar.

Eventually, Simba traps Scar on Pride Rock's summit. Terrified, Scar pleads for his life, blaming his crimes on the hyenas — unaware that Shenzi, Banzai and Ed have followed him and can hear Scar's condemnation. Simba, not willing to sink to Scar's level, spares his uncle's life. Scar says he would make it up to his nephew and he would have to do whatever the King wishes to do. Then, to his horror, Simba repeats the same warning of "run away and never return." Believing that Simba would do the same trick on him, Scar begins to walk off, but then suddenly flings some burning embers into Simba's eyes, temporarily blinding him. The battle continues, but after Scar leaps in to finish Simba, the younger lion kicks Scar over a cliff where the hyenas are waiting.

The hyenas, determined to get revenge on Scar for denouncing them as "the enemy," surround their fallen leader. Scar tries to explain that he did not mean what he said, but the hyenas leap upon Scar and begin to attack him shortly before they are all engulfed by a giant flame.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

In the direct-to-video sequel The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, it is revealed that Scar had a group of lioness followers whom Simba exiles after he becomes king. They are led by Scar's widowed lioness Zira who is still fiercely loyal to her husband. Zira has three cubs: Kovu, Nuka (Scar's son) and Vitani. In the film, Zira attempts to use Kovu, a lion originally chosen to inherit Scar's throne but of no relation to Scar, to kill Simba and become king. Kovu is very similar to Scar in appearance (despite not being his son) and even incurs a scar on his eye after being slashed by Zira. Kovu was originally written as Scar's biological son, but the idea was dropped because of the incestuous dilemma that would result from Kovu's relations with Kiara.

In the film Scar only appears twice, the first time in Simba's nightmare. In the nightmare, Mufasa clings to the cliff above the stampede as in the first film, and Simba tries to reach down to help his father. However, Scar appears on the ledge and grabs Simba's paws. Scar laughs, suggesting Simba trust him and let Mufasa fall. Mufasa falls into the stampede and the cackling Scar morphs into Kovu. Kovu flashes an evil grin and throws Simba into the stampede, as Scar had done to Mufasa in the first film. He appears again when Simba banishes Kovu from the Pride Lands. As Kovu looks into a stream, he sees Scar's reflection rather than his own. Given that Kovu had rejected defending his legacy, the young lion flees the vision in panic.

In Simba's nightmare, Scar was voiced by Jim Cummings, who had previously sang the finale of the song "Be Prepared" when Irons had been unable to complete it.

The Lion King 1½

In the direct-to-video "midquel" The Lion King 1½ (2004), Scar makes a few brief, non-speaking appearances in the scenes for which he was present in the original film. The last appearance was when he fell to his death.

The Lion King musical

In the Broadway musical based on the original film, Scar is portrayed by a human actor in an African-style costume with a lion-face headpiece that comes down over the actor's face using a hidden remote control. Scar also uses a cane. Scar was originally portrayed in the Broadway production by John Vickery, and is currently played by Patrick Page. Dan Donohue portrays this character on the Broadway tour.

Scar's role is expanded upon with the song "The Madness of King Scar". In it, Scar begins doubting his reign, fearing that he might be losing the respect of the lionesses and that he needs a queen. He attempts to seduce Nala, only to be met with a scratch to his face from an angry Nala.

Kingdom Hearts II

Besides appearing in various The Lion King video games, Scar also appears in the Disney and Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts II as the primary villain of the Pride Lands world, voiced by James Horan. Much like in the film, Scar murders Mufasa to become king, and under his reign the Pride Lands suffers a drought and food becomes scarce.

Prior to the game's main protagonists' (Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy) arrival at the Pride Lands, Pete (in the form of a lion) offers Scar use of the Heartless to maintain his hold on the throne. Sora (in the form of a lion cub, a change brought on by his magical clothes) brings Simba back to the Pride Lands so he can challenge his uncle for the throne. The confrontation between Scar and Simba that follows is almost identical to that in the original film, the only noteworthy exceptions being no hyenas for most of it and Sora and his group replacing the lionesses. Sora's group saves Timon and Pumbaa from Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, while Scar and Simba fight. As in the film, Simba eventually triumphs over his uncle.

Thinking Scar to be defeated, the protagonists are surprised when, as Pete explains, Scar returns to battle once again as a Heartless. Scar's anger and jealousy were so strong they lingered after death and consumed him. During the battle Scar uses a series of swift and strong physical attacks and powerful magic against Sora and company. Sora and his friends defeat Scar again. Scar is the only character in the Kingdom Hearts universe - excluding Xehanort and Kairi - to keep his original form as a Heartless. Whether or not a Nobody will be fleshed out in Kingdom Hearts continuity is debated.

By the time Sora returns to the Pride Lands to see how Simba is faring, rumors of Scar's ghost haunting the Pride Lands have driven Simba into doubt. But once he overcomes this problem, the "ghost" is revealed to be the interaction of Simba's lack of confidence and Scar's spirit. Multiple copies of Scar's "ghost" then combine to form a gigantic Heartless that is eventually killed by Simba and Sora.


According to the novel series The Lion King: Six New Adventures, Scar's original name is Taka, which is Swahili for "dirt" or "trash", also "want". In A Tale of Two Brothers, one of the books in the set, teenage Taka is angry that Mufasa is chosen to be the heir to the throne. He gets even angrier when his father King Ahadi breaks his promise to go hunting with him, choosing to solve the drought problems in the Pride Lands instead. Taka wanders off to talk to Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, who tell him that if Mufasa is made to look like a failure, then he will look good in comparison and take the throne.

Taka then tricks his brother into going down to the waterhole, where a Cape buffalo named Boma is refusing to share the water. The Pride Lands is in a terrible drought and any water there is precious. Mufasa begins reasoning with Boma, when Taka roars and says that Boma must move by order of the Lion King, or Mufasa will face Boma in combat. Boma charges out of the water at Mufasa. Mufasa escapes to safety with Rafiki the mandrill, but Boma says that his herd will get Taka. Mufasa runs back to find Taka being attacked by Boma's herd. The largest of the buffaloes slashes Taka with his horns, knocking him unconscious. Mufasa leaps in to save his brother and the buffaloes ready themselves to attack again.

Before they can do so, however, Ahadi appears with a large herd of animals. The herd surrounds the buffaloes and ends the fight. Later on, Rafiki examines Taka and finds a deep cut on Taka's left eye, which cannot be fully healed. Taka then asks that he be called Scar from now on as a reminder of how he foolishly allowed his anger to rule him.



Scar is a Machiavellian individual who is mainly concerned with gaining power and will kill anyone he sees as competition. Despite his ruthless nature he is a somewhat cowardly individual, more likely to run away from violence than confront it. Conversely he is portrayed as a fierce fighter who holds his own against and almost defeats Simba at the movie's climax. In the face of his cowardice, he possesses great strength of will and determination, fighting to the last to cling to his throne, even after losing the support of his subjects.

Scar is highly intelligent and charismatic, able to rally the hyenas to his cause and gain fanatical loyalty from Zira and her pride of lionesses.

Scar's lyrics in the song Be Prepared ("meticulous planning, tenacity spanning, decades of denial, is simply why I'll be King undisputed, respected, saluted and seen for the wonder I am") establish him as a narcissist.

Critics have also noted allegorical resemblances between Scar and Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler which are particularly apparent during the Be Prepared musical number.

Physical appearance

Scar is depicted as an emaciated lion with dusty brown fur, a long black mane and distinctive almond shaped green eyes. He has large, white paws with black claws that are always bared and never retracted, unlike those of the other lions in the film. This is perhaps to show his vicious nature. Scar also possesses a white goatee beard, characteristic of villains, (particularly the evil twin archetype) and a thin white gash over his left eye, earning him his name.

Scar's facial features and expressions were modelled on those of his voice actor, Jeremy Irons.

Comparisons to other fictional characters

The Lion King was based on Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. As such, Scar plays the role of King Claudius in the story, being the brother of a king who kills his brother and takes his throne, eventually being defeated by his nephew.

Scar's personality however is more reminiscent of Iago, the main antagonist of Othello. Arguably Shakespeare's most well-known villain, Iago shares Scar's overt malevolence, sadism and bitterness. Both are manipulative, self-centred schemers who relish the psychological power they hold over those around them.

Scar is also very reminiscent of Shere Khan, another animal villain from a previous Disney film, The Jungle Book and may in fact have been modelled on Khan.

Other appearances

Scar makes very brief, non-speaking appearances in a couple of episodes of the animated TV series The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa (1995-1999). He is seen when Timon tries to revive Pumbaa's amnesia after being struck by lightning, and when Zazu cleans out his trashcan. He also appears briefly in the TV series House of Mouse (2001-2003).

Scar also briefly appears in Disney's 1997 animated film Hercules as a mere lion skin, similar to the Nemean Lion. In the film, Hercules wears Scar's skin while being sketched on a vase by a Greek artist. The inclusion of Scar in this manner is likely a reference to a dialogue between Mufasa and Zazu in The Lion King, where Zazu suggests that Scar would "make a very handsome throw rug".

Scar appears in Festival of the Lion King, an attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom and Hong Kong Disneyland. The attraction is a shortened version of the Broadway musical, and Scar is also portrayed by a human actor. He also appears as one of the villains the Queen evokes to fight Mickey Mouse in the Disney's Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic! Nighttime Show Spectacular.

Scar appeared as one of The Walt Disney Company's lawyers in a Saturday Night Live Saturday TV Funhouse sketch called "The Disney Vault". After the two children try to escape the vault, the lawyers stop them and Scar bribes them to stay by showing them The Lion King 5 & 2/3: Simba fills in on The View.

Scar appears in the Disney World attraction Fantasmic as one of the villains plotting to destroy Mickey Mouse's dream. He says only one line: "Yes, perfect."

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