The Lion Guard
The Lion Guard is an American animated television series developed by Ford Riley based on Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. The series was first broadcast with a television movie, titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on Disney Channel on November 22, 2015 and began airing as a TV series on January 15, 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel. It is the second television series to be based on The Lion King, the first being Timon & Pumbaa (1995–1999). The Lion Guard is a sequel to The Lion King and takes place during the time-gap within the 1998 film, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.
|The Lion Guard|
|Developed by||Ford Riley|
|Directed by||Howy Parkins|
|Opening theme||"Call of the Guard" performed by The Lion Guard Chorus|
|Ending theme||"Here Comes the Lion Guard" performed by Beau Black|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||29 (+ 1 pilot) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Ford Riley|
|Running time||approx. 22 Minutes|
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television|
|Original release||November 22, 2015– present|
The series centers around Kion, the son of King Simba and Queen Nala, the younger brother of Kiara and the prince of the Pride Lands, who, as second-born of the Lion King, becomes the leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals who protect the Pride Lands and defend the Circle of Life. Kion, along with his friends Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippopotamus, Fuli the cheetah and Ono the egret, sets out to keep the Pride Lands safe and protected from animals who do not respect the Circle of Life.
The Lion Guard
- Kion (voiced by Max Charles): A lion cub who is Simba and Nala's son, Mufasa's grandson, Kiara's younger brother, the Prince of the Pride Lands, and the leader of the Lion Guard as well as its fiercest member. He serves as the main protagonist of the series.
- Bunga (voiced by Joshua Rush): A honey badger who is the bravest member of the Lion Guard. He is Timon and Pumbaa's adoptive nephew and Kion's best friend.
- Beshte (voiced by Dusan Brown): A hippopotamus who is the strongest member of the Lion Guard.
- Fuli (voiced by Diamond White): A King cheetah who is the fastest member of the Lion Guard and the only female member.
- Ono (voiced by Atticus Shaffer): A cattle egret who is the keenest of sight of the Lion Guard.
The Lion King alumni
The following characters from The Lion King movies appear in this series:
- Simba (voiced by Rob Lowe): A lion who is Mufasa's son, Nala's mate, Scar's nephew, and Kion and Kiara's father. He is the King of the Pride Lands. Simba and Bunga share a history of having lived with Timon and Pumbaa.
- Nala (voiced by Gabrielle Union): A lioness who is Simba's mate, and Kion and Kiara's mother. She is the Queen of the Pride Lands.
- Kiara (voiced by Eden Riegel): A lion cub who is Simba and Nala's daughter, Mufasa's granddaughter, Kion's older sister, the Princess of the Pride Lands and its future queen.
- Timon (voiced by Kevin Schon): Simba and Pumbaa's wisecracking meerkat friend. Timon is Bunga's adoptive uncle. Schon previously voiced Timon in Timon & Pumbaa.
- Pumbaa (voiced by Ernie Sabella): Simba and Timon's warmhearted common warthog friend. Pumbaa is Bunga's adoptive uncle. Sabella reprises his role from The Lion King and its spin-offs.
- Rafiki (voiced by Khary Payton): A wise old mandrill who serves as a shaman for the lions of Pride Rock.
- Zazu (voiced by Jeff Bennett): A red-billed hornbill and Simba's majordomo who supplies news via the morning report of the Pride Lands.
- Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones in Return of the Roar, Gary Anthony Williams in later episodes): Simba's father, and Kion and Kiara's paternal grandfather who was killed in the original film by a wildebeest stampede orchestrated by his younger brother Scar. Since his death, he lives on as a spirit that gives Kion advice on how to get through any tough plight. Jones reprises his role from The Lion King.
- Scar (voiced by David Oyelowo): Simba's deceased uncle, Kion and Kiara's great-uncle, and Mufasa's younger brother. Scar was once the leader of the Lion Guard of his time, until he abused his power. Later on in life, Scar orchestrated his brother's death. In The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar, Kion unintentionally summons Scar's ghost after he uses the Roar of the Elders in anger.
- The Outsiders: A group of lions that were loyal to Scar. After a failed takeover plan by the Outsiders following Scar's death, Simba banished them to the Outlands where they tried to invade the territory that Jasiri's cackle lives in. Kion defeated them with the Roar of the Elders which sent them flying to the Outlands' termite mound area.
- Zira (voiced by Nika Futterman): A lioness who is the mother of Kovu, Nuka and Vitani and the leader of the Outsiders. She was a loyal follower and close ally of Scar. After a failed takeover following Scar's death, Zira and those involved were banished to the Outlands with her family by Simba.
- Kovu (voiced by Jason Marsden): A lion cub who is the chosen successor of Scar, Zira's youngest son and younger brother of Nuka and Vitani. Prior to the series, he briefly befriended Kiara. Marsden previously voiced adolescent Kovu in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride.
- Nuka (voiced by Andy Dick): An adolescent lion who is the oldest son of Zira, the older brother of Kovu and Vitani, and a member of the Outsiders. Dick reprises his role from Simba's Pride.
- Vitani (voiced by Lacey Chabert): A lion cub who is Zira's daughter and the sister of Nuka and Kovu. Chabert reprises her role from Simba's Pride.
- Tiifu (voiced by Sarah Hyland): A lioness friend of Kiara's who is somewhat more sensible than her constant companion Zuri.
- Zuri (voiced by Madison Pettis): Another lioness friend of Kiara's who is somewhat vain and hates getting dirty.
- Jasiri's clan: A clan of spotted hyenas who live in the Outlands and respect the circle of life.
- Jasiri (voiced by Maia Mitchell): A friendly female spotted hyena living in the Outlands who allies with Kion. Unlike Janja's group, Jasiri and her hyena clan respect the Circle of Life and mostly scavenge for food.
- Madoa (voiced by Maisie Klompus): A spotted hyena who is Jasiri's sister and is part of her clan.
- Tunu (vocal effects provided by Crimson Hart): A spotted hyena cub and brother of Wema who is part of Jasiri's clan.
- Wema (vocal effects provided by Fiona Hart): A spotted hyena cub and sister of Tunu who is part of Jasiri's clan.
- Makuu (voiced by Blair Underwood): An arrogant and hot-headed Nile crocodile who is the leader of his float after he defeated Pua. In season 2, Makuu has reformed from his trouble-making ways.
- Ushari (voiced by Christian Slater): An Egyptian cobra who often conflicts with Bunga.
- Basi (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson): A hippopotamus who is Beshte's father and leader of a hippopotamus pod.
- Pua (voiced by Gerald C. Rivers): The former leader of the local Nile crocodile float. He was succeeded by Makuu upon being defeated by him where the result of the fight has the loser leaving the float.
- Thurston (voiced by Kevin Schon): A handsome yet scatterbrained plains zebra who is the leader of his herd.
- Baboon Leader (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker): An olive baboon who is the leader of a baboon troop in Nyani grove.
- Mbeya (voiced by Howy Parkins): An old black rhinoceros.
- Shingo (voiced by Phil LaMarr): A Masai giraffe.
- Ma Tembo (voiced by Lynette DuPree): An African bush elephant who is the daughter of Amanifu, an old friend of Simba's who passes away early in the series.
- Twiga (voiced by Alex Cartana): A Masai giraffe.
- Juhudi (voiced by Ivy Bishop): A young Masai giraffe who is Twiga's daughter.
- Mbuni (voiced by Russi Taylor): A cheerful ostrich.
- Muhanga (voiced by Russi Taylor): An aardvark.
- Muhangus (voiced by Khary Payton): An aardvark who is Muhanga's mate.
- Mtoto (voiced by Justin Felbinger): A young African bush elephant calf.
- Kambuni (voiced by Mckenna Grace): A young ostrich chick.
- Shauku (voiced by Jacob Guenther): A young banded mongoose pup.
- Kwato (voiced by Lyons Luke Mathias): A young plains zebra foal.
- Gumba (voiced by Jacquez Swanigan): A young olive baboon.
- Tamaa (voiced by CJ Byrnes): A drongo who can imitate the voice of any animal.
- Muhimu (voiced by Kari Wahlgren in the US version, Emma Bunton in the UK version): A plains zebra who is the leader of a herd of zebras that the Lion Guard leads to Mbali Fields.
- Hamu (voiced by Lyons Luke Mathias): A young plains zebra foal who is Muhimu's son. Shortly after being born, he helped the Lion Guard fend off the Outlander Hyenas.
- Swala (voiced by Tunisia Hardison): A Thomson's gazelle who is the leader of her herd that the Lion Guard leads to Mbali Fields.
- Ajabu (voiced by Ron Funches): An okapi who travels to the Pride Lands to get away from Makucha.
- Aardwolves: A pack of aardwolves that live in the Pride Lands and only come out at night. The Lion Guard accidentally mistook them for Outlander Hyenas until Kion cleared things up and fended off Reirei and Goigoi. The aardwolves are known for keeping the termite population down.
- Laini (voiced by Meghan Strange): A galago.
- Badilli (voiced by Jack McBrayer): A friendly cream-colored African leopard from Mirihi Forest who was driven out of his territory by Mapigano.
- Vuruga Vuruga (voiced by Virginia Watson): An African buffalo who is the leader of her herd. Kiara presided over their Royal Buffalo Wallow.
- Young Rhino (voiced by Kari Wahlgren): A young black rhinoceros calf.
- King Sokwe (voiced by John Rhys-Davies): A mountain gorilla king who is Majinuni and Hafifu's father.
- Hadithi (voiced by John O'Hurley): A legendary African hawk-eagle who faked having invented the Hadithi Spin.
- Zito (voiced by Nick Watt): An African bush elephant.
- Bupu (voiced by Michael Dorn): A stubborn sable antelope who is the leader of his herd.
- Boboka (voiced by Erica Luttrell): A sable antelope who is part of Bupu's herd.
- Chura (voiced by Kari Wahlgren): An African toad.
- Kifaru (voiced by Maurice LaMarche): A poor-sighted white rhinoceros.
- Mwenzi (voiced by Rhys Darby): A red-billed oxpecker who is Kifaru's tickbird and best friend.
- Uroho (voiced by Sinbad): A baboon who is the leader of the Traveling Baboon Show. He and his fellow baboon performers Mwevi and Mwizi stole food from around the Pride Lands, but later saw the error of their ways when the Lion Guard saved them from Janja's clan.
- Kulinda (voiced by Elise Allen): A Hamerkop who leaves her egg in Ono's nest while she builds a new nest that is safe from predators.
- Janja's clan: A clan of male spotted hyenas that live in the Outlands and don't respect the Circle of Life.
- Janja (voiced by Andrew Kishino): A cunning spotted hyena who is the leader of the clan and the main antagonist of the series.
- Cheezi (voiced by Vargus Mason): An excitable spotted hyena and one of Janja's henchmen.
- Chungu (voiced by Kevin Schon): An unintelligent spotted hyena with a slightly heavier build than the other hyenas.
- Nne (voiced by Beau Black): A cunning and stout spotted hyena. He used to be Janja's second-in-command until he betrayed him.
- Tano (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker): A devious and sloping spotted hyena. He use to be Janja's second-in-command until he betrayed him.
- Mzingo's committee: A flock of white-backed vultures that live in the Outlands and is allied with Janja's clan.
- Reirei's family: A pack of black-backed jackals that live in the Outlands.
- Reirei (voiced by Ana Gasteyer): A clever, scheming, and manipulative black-backed jackal who is the leader of her pack.
- Goigoi (voiced by Phil LaMarr): A greedy and dimwitted black-backed jackal who is Reirei's mate.
- Dogo (voiced by Jacob Guenther): A black-backed jackal pup who is one of Reirei and Goigoi's sons. He has blue eyes compared to the other pups who have brown eyes.
- Kijana (voiced by Amber Hood): A black-backed jackal pup who is Reirei and Goigoi's daughter and Dogo's sister.
- Makucha (voiced by Steven Blum): A cream-colored African leopard who tracks Ajabu to the Pride Lands since okapis are rare creatures.
- Mapigano (voiced by Jorge Diaz): A cream-colored African leopard who bullied Badilli upon invading his territory in Mirihi Forest in the Backlands.
- Mpishi (voiced by Carla Hall): An African harrier-hawk who travels to the Pride Lands looking for a rare meal.
The series was announced by Disney on June 9, 2014 on the run up to the first film's 20th anniversary. Disney Junior general manager Nancy Kanter stated: "It's kind of like The Lion King meets The Avengers." The series' announcement came after a meeting between Kanter and Disney chief executive Robert Iger. Iger suggested to Kanter that Disney Junior should consider producing content to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Lion King in 2014. Disney had shown early footage to young test audiences, who were able to make suggestions, such as adjusting the look of the hyenas. Disney Consumer Products launched a line of toys to tie into the television series, as well at book titles based on the series such as Return of the Roar, Can't Wait to be Queen, Bunga the Wise, Meet the New Guard, Fuli Finds Her Place, Join the Lion Guard! and Kion's Animal Alphabet. A sneak peek of The Lion Guard was shown at the 2015 D23 Expo. On August 12, 2015, a sneak peek was shown, with new information that the television movie was scheduled to air in November 2015 to be titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar. On October 9, 2015, it was announced that Return of the Roar would premiere on November 22, 2015 on Disney Channel.
On coming up with the idea, the series' creator Ford Riley stated that at the end of The Lion King "[W]e see Simba and Nala as king and queen and Rafiki’s holding up the cub. In Lion King 2, [we learn] that is Kiara the cub and she’s going to grow up to become queen. I’ve got two kids, and usually stories are about the oldest child or an only child. I was really interested in a second born cub. What would his role be if Kiara’s gonna grow up to be queen?" Riley explained that he was inspired by his 8-year-old son. "Every Thursday he and his buddies go to the park and they have this imaginary superhero team and they have all these imaginary adventures. That’s when it hit me. Let’s have a group of superheroes in the Pride Lands – The Avengers meets The Lion King!"
When asked where the show fits into the timeline, Riley explained that in The Lion King 2; "Kiara meets Kovu and they get into trouble. The very next scene, Kiara is fully grown and off on her first hunt. Clearly there’s a few years gap in there, so we’re filling that gap with The Lion Guard."
When choosing the members of the team, Riley stated "The qualities came first. If we’re going to have this superhero team, we want them to be fierce and brave and strong and fast and keen of sight. Those are the qualities of our five animals in the Lion Guard... [O]bviously the lion is going to be the fiercest. The bravest is the honey badger, hippo the strongest, cheetah the fastest, and the egret – egrets have sort of binocular vision which gives them depth perception which most birds who have eyes on either side of their head don’t, so Ono our egret is the keenest of sight. They’re the best of the best within the Pride Lands."
Riley also noted the inclusion of Swahili into the series; "[I]t’s one of those things that struck me about The Lion King that there’s all these Swahili phrases... I wanted to have that element in the series as well, so we’ve actually hired Sarah Mirza, who literally wrote the book on English-Swahili translations. We’ve been using Swahili not just in names of characters and places but also in the language of the show itself. Like ‘Zuka zama’ which is Bunga’s catchphrase and ‘Sisi Ni Sawa’ song. All of the characters have catchphrases which mean real things in Swahili."
In terms of giving The Lion Guard the same look as the original film, director Howy Parkins stated: "[W]e were very mindful to hold the essence of The Lion King, through the look of the background environments to the actual characters. We did extensive research and were also able to obtain some original model sheets... The challenge with The Lion Guard was capturing the stunning beauty and look of The Lion King, so when one of my friends, Barry Atkinson, who worked on The Lion King as a background painter, became available, we brought him in. He shared a lot of insight when it came time to look at examples that the new backgrounds artists had done. Then another friend of mine, Mike Surrey, came in to talk to the animators and the storyboard artists. He was the animation supervising director on Timon on The Lion King. So we've pulled in some favors."
Speaking on the show's educational aspect and tone, Parkins said: "We have multiple characters and stories to tell, so we've used the Circle of Life as sort of a nice story arc to the entire series as well as the feature. For the research we've done, we've been able to take facts about the animals in the Serengeti and some of the habitat information and either work them into the stories or create entire stories based on an actual fact. Without being overly educational, we are very educational. It's been a fun thing to run with through the entire storytelling process... [W]e have to be mindful of the two to seven audience. We have the music, the chase sequences, a lot of comic relief, as well as our villains, so there will be some dark moments. But we tend to pull back a little more than they did on the original movie or on a movie, for example, like Finding Nemo."
|First aired||Last aired|
|Pilot||November 22, 2015|
|1||26||January 15, 2016||April 21, 2017|
|2||34||July 7, 2017||TBA|
A short-form series called It's UnBungalievable starring Bunga and Ono premiered on Disney Junior and Disneynature on January 9, 2016. In the series, Bunga and Ono pick two animals to compete in contests such as "Who's Quicker?" "Who Has Better Hair?" and "Who's Hungrier?" The series features live-action animal footage provided by Disneynature.
- "Who's Quicker?"
- "Who's Mightier?"
- "Who Has Better Hair?"
- "Who's Hungrier?"
- "Who's the Better Babysitter?"
- "Who's Cuter?"
- "Who's Sillier?"
- "Who's Louder?"
- "Who's Brainier?"
- "Who's a Better Flyer?"
Like its American counterpart, Return of the Roar premiered on November 22, 2015 on Disney Channel in Canada, while the series premiered on January 17, 2016 on Disney Junior, two days after its American premiere. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Return of the Roar premiered on Disney Junior on February 8, 2016, while the series premiered on April 13, 2016. In Australia and New Zealand, the pilot debuted on February 6, 2016 and the series began airing on February 28 on Disney Junior. In Southeast Asia, Return of the Roar premiered on March 20, 2016 on Disney Channel (April 11, 2016 on Disney Junior) and the series premiered on April 17, 2016 on Disney Junior block in Disney Channel. It aired in TVNZ in New Zealand and 7flix in Australia.
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
|Title||Release Date||Episodes||Additional Features|
|The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar||February 23, 2016||Television movie||Music video of Beau Black performing "Here Comes the Lion Guard."
Talking Lion Guard Backpack Clip
|The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power||September 20, 2016||
Lion Guard Power Necklace
|The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands||January 10, 2017||
||Music videos: "A Trail to Hope", "Teke Ruka Teleza"
It's UnBungalievable shorts
Five Lion Guard Wristbands
|The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series)|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||January 8, 2016|
|Genre||Children, pop, world, soundtrack|
|The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series)|
|1.||"Call of the Guard (The Lion Guard Theme)"||The Lion Guard Chorus||1:03|
|2.||"A Beautiful Day (Ni Siku Nzuri)"||Beau Black||2:16|
|4.||"Tonight We Strike"||Janja, Mzingo & Hyenas||1:56|
|6.||"Here Comes the Lion Guard"||Beau Black||2:28|
|7.||"We're the Same (Sisi Ni Sawa)"||Kion & Jasiri||2:33|
|8.||"Outta the Way"||Janja, Cheezi & Chungu||2:00|
|9.||"Duties of the King"||Simba & Zazu||2:01|
|10.||"Bunga the Wise"||Timon, Pumbaa & Bunga||1:41|
|11.||"My Own Way"||Fuli||2:18|
|13.||"Panic and Run"||Janja, Cheezi, & Chungu||1:34|
|14.||"It Is Time"||Beau Black||3:01|
|15.||"Call of the Guard (Full Version)"||The Lion Guard Chorus||4:21|
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- "The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series) by Various Artists". iTunes Store. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
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