Akela, like the other wolves, is seen at the beginning of the film. He appears when the pack learns that Shere Khan had returned to their part of the jungle. Akela states that Shere Khan wants to kill Mowgli and not even the strength of the entire pack could fight him off, so he has Bagheera take Mowgli to the Man-Village. Akela and the wolves are not seen again afterwards.
Akela and his mate, Leah, appear as teenagers in the episode "The Coming of the Wolves". At one point, their pack leader, Cain, reveals that he has had feelings for Leah and wanted her all to himself, but she rejects him. Akela and Leah then decide to leave the pack. When Cain and his pack give chase, Akela and Leah manage to escape and seek refuge in the lair without knowing it belongs to the cubs. After Hathi panics at the sight of the two wolves and flees, Akela and Leah laugh awkwardly and decide to rest where they are.
The cubs later have a falling-out with Akela and Leah, who both eventually decide to leave. However, when Cain and his pack arrive at the lair and plan to attack, Akela and the cubs all stand up to him. Akela and Cain then engage in a brutal fight over Leah. In the aftermath, Akela defeats Cain and then orders him to leave the cubs' lair and never return. Cain picks himself up and reluctantly does so. Shere Khan and the other cubs, having a change of heart, tell the two wolves that they can stay at their lair. Just then, Leah goes into labor and has eight wolf puppies. As a reward for the cubs' kindness, Akela and Leah make them the godfathers of their puppies.
Akela appears in the 2016 live-action film adaptation, voiced by Giancarlo Esposito. Esposito has described Akela as "strong and hardened" and welcoming of Mowgli into his pack, but at the same time, worried that Mowgli will one day compromise the safety of his family.
Akela appears in the film as the alpha wolf, the strong patriarch of the Seeonee wolf pack. After his old friend Bagheera finds Mowgli in the jungle, it is Akela who approves of Mowgli's entrance into the pack and lets him be adopted by Raksha. He and Raksha teach Mowgli the ways of the wolves, and over time, Akela comes to disapprove of Mowgli using tools and innovative tricks, saying that they are not the wolf way.
During the drought that hits the Seoni Jungle, the wolves gather with the other animals at the Water Truce, the watering hole where the animals make peace with one another in times of famine to drink safely. During their drinking, Akela notices Mowgli using tools to gather water and gives him a gentle reprimand. When Shere Khan shows himself at the watering hole for a drink, Akela orders Mowgli to stay behind him and refers to the boy as part of his pack when the tiger detects his presence. Shere Khan threatens the pack if they refuse to turn Mowgli over, and causes internal strife with his words. The tiger agrees not to violate the sanctity of the Water Truce and warns Akela that he will return when the monsoon season fills the Water Truce. After the encounter, the entire pack debates on whether or not Mowgli should leave the pack or not. However Mowgli decides to leave so that no one is hurt because of him. With Bagheera agreeing to take him, Akela agrees that Mowgli should go to the Man-Village, and watches him leave.
When Shere Khan returns, he and Akela sit together and discuss Mowgli. Akela says that Mowgli has left the jungle, and that with him gone, he and Shere Khan have no quarrel any longer. However, the furious tiger attacks and throws Akela off a cliff, killing him. Shere Khan then assumes Akela's position as alpha of the wolf pack and tells them to spread the word of Akela's demise, hoping it will lure Mowgli back to his death.
Akela's demise spreads quickly through the jungle and has far-reaching consequences, as it causes Mowgli to avenge him after hearing it from King Louie. With the help of Bagheera, Baloo the bear, and the other wolves including Raksha, Mowgli manages to kill Shere Khan, avenging Akela's death. In the aftermath of the battle with Shere Khan, Raksha becomes the new leader of the Seeonee pack while Mowgli is reaccepted by the wolves as part of their family.
- Akela means "single" or "solitary" in Hindi; Kipling also calls him the "Lone Wolf." Indeed, in the original stories, after he misses his kill and is demoted from the position of Alpha, Akela leaves his pack to hunt alone.
- Despite Akela's page in Disneystrology being on January 17, Raksha along with her puppies' picture is seen instead.
- In the original Jungle Book stories, specifically the "Red Dog" in the novel The Second Jungle Book, Akela dies in battle with the dholes; wild dogs that swarm down to the jungle. In the 2016 film, Shere Khan kills him.
- Akela and the rest of his pack are Indian wolves, a subspecies of gray wolf that ranges from Israel to India. They are currently classified as an endangered species as only around 3,000 remain in India while 7,000 are believed to exist in Turkey, with smaller numbers also existing in Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan.