- “Simba, being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.”
King Mufasa is a supporting character in the 1994 Disney animated feature film The Lion King. He is Simba's father, Sarabi's husband and Scar's older brother. He is also the grandfather of Kiara, Kion and Kopa and the father-in-law of Nala.
He is voiced by James Earl Jones.
Mufasa was the first son and heir of King Ahadi and Queen Uru, as evidenced in a set of prequel books released after the success of The Lion King.
In a Tale of 2 Brothers, Scar (then known as Taka) tried to make a fool out of Mufasa when he was young (see more at Scar's Backstory). The storybook Friends in Need reveals how he met Zazu, his trusted hornbill "majordomo": he saved the bird when he was caught by none other than the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed in the elephant graveyard. However, this conflicts with another book How True, Zazu?, in which Zazu becomes steward to the king after Zazu's mother, Zuzu, retires.
Mufasa was very wise, brave and powerful. His courage and strength were emphasized during the wildebeest stampede when he leapt into the stampede to rescue Simba and later made a massive leap onto the wall of the gorge. Although he was a predator, he was beloved even by those who would normally be his prey. Mufasa preached about the circle of life, saying that everyone was connected and all had their role in life, even if it was to simply be food for predators. Further evidence of his rather spiritual views is his belief that all the great kings of the past live among the stars.
Mufasa was a loving husband and father. When not doing his duties as King, he was shown to be quite playful and had a good sense of humour, teaching Simba to pounce by using Zazu as the target and playing with his son under the stars. He was rarely frightened and Simba believed he wasn't scared of anything, although Mufasa admitted that the one thing that did frighten him was losing a family member. Unfortunately Mufasa's faith in his family resulted in his death due to his trust in Scar.
Mufasa is portrayed as a rather godly figure which is especially emphasized when he appears in the stars after his death to convince Simba to return to Pride Rock. Although Scar was responsible for Mufasa's death, his spirit never showed any hatred or desire for revenge, merely wanting Simba to take his rightful place on the throne.
For all his wonderful traits, Mufasa was not flawless. He was unable to recognize Scar's treachery until it was too late and at times he displayed a rather fierce temper, although he was capable of keeping his anger in check as he spared Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. According to Scar, Mufasa had inherited the brute strength in the family while Scar inherited the brains. Mufasa was also prejudiced against hyena's, although considering what became of the Pride Lands once Scar took over as King, this prejudice was not entirely unjustified.
A huge, powerful male lion, Mufasa was the King of the Pride Lands at the start of the The Lion King, father of Simba, and mate of Sarabi. He is shown to be a wise and fair ruler, who follows the "Circle of Life". However, his brother Scar is jealous of Mufasa's position as king and forms a plan to kill Mufasa and Simba, who is Mufasa's heir, so he can be king. Mufasa is ultimately portrayed as an "ideal king"; strong, powerful, and kind-hearted, which is contrasted to the deceitfulness and lust for power of Scar.
After Scar is discovered to have missed Simba's presentation ceremony, Mufasa comes over to the den to personally tell him off, coming in just in time to see Scar try to devour Zazu and proceeded to order his brother to spit him out. Mufasa then scolded his brother for missing his nephew's presentation, especially when Simba will be his future king. He later gets angrier at Scar when he not only turns his back and walks away, but also implies in response that he might attack Mufasa should he turn his back on Scar. Ultimately, Scar does leave, with Mufasa while conversing with Zazu briefly joking about Scar being made into a throwrug.
Later, Mufasa takes Simba through the kingdom, teaching Simba about the responsibilities that Simba will have as King. He notes that everything they see is part of the kingdom, with the exception of the Elephant Graveyard, which Mufasa strictly forbids Simba from going to. When Simba attempts to get training in terms of pouncing, Mufasa has Simba pounce Zazu as the latter is giving a status report of the kingdom's state of affairs, although not before making sure to tell Zazu beforehand that he needs to have his back facing them so he can use Zazu as pouncing practice, to the latter's shock and irritation. However, during their talk, Mufasa is called away to deal with hyenas in the Pride Lands.
Meanwhile, Simba travels to the Elephant Graveyard, after being manipulated by Scar, not knowing it's a plot by Scar to kill him. Scar's first attempt to kill Simba through the hyenas is foiled when Mufasa, who was summoned by Zazu, rescues him. Afterwards, Mufasa scolds his son for disobeying him (and was also implied to be angered with Zazu for failing to keep watch), But then forgives and forgets. He then takes time to teach Simba about the Great Kings the of the Past, who will guide him. Meanwhile, Scar, angered by the failure of his plot, makes a plan to kill both Simba and Mufasa with the help of the hyenas.
Mufasa is seen the next day, as Zazu points out to him a migration of a wildebeest herd that is said to be unusual. Scar appears and reveals that Simba is trapped in a gorge with the wildebeest, and Mufasa rushes to rescue Simba, not knowing it's part of Scar's plot. Mufasa successfully saves Simba, but struggles to climb up a cliff to safety. Mufasa spots Scar nearby and begs his brother to help him. Scar, waiting for him at the top, pierces Mufasa's paws with his claws, he leans in and whispers "Long live the King!" then flung his brother off the cliff. Mufasa falls back into the gorge, lands on his head and back and is trampled to death by the wildebeest. Simba is manipulated by Scar into believing that he caused Mufasa's death, and runs away from the Pride Lands.
Several years later, Mufasa appears as a ghost. Rafiki, having discovered Simba's survival, finds Simba in an attempt to convince the now adult lion to return to the Pride Lands. Rafiki takes Simba to a small, magical pool which brings upon Mufasa's ghost, up in the sky. Mufasa tells Simba that as his son and rightful heir, Simba must remember who he is and return to the Pride Lands. This encourages Simba to return to his homeland, where he defeats Scar and takes his rightful place as king and Mufasa is avenged. In the final scene of the film, Mufasa (again in the clouds) says, "Remember" as Simba stands triumphantly on Pride Rock to claim the throne.
Mufasa has a few brief appearances as a spirit in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He's also alluded to throughout the film, as many of Simba's actions through the film revolve around trying to live up to Mufasa's legacy.
Mufasa first appears as an image in the sky again overlooking the presentation ceremony of his granddaughter Kiara.
He later makes an indirect appearance, communicating with Rafiki. He inspires Rafiki to bring the Outsiders and Pridelanders back together through Kiara and Kovu, an Outsider who is Scar's chosen heir, by having them fall in love with each other.
His next appearance is in Simba's nightmare, where he is seen again clinging to the cliff right before his death. Simba tries to save him but is stopped by Scar, who morphs into Kovu.
He is later mentioned by Kiara after Simba banishes Kovu for supposedly causing an ambush where she tells her father that he will never be Mufasa suggesting that Mufasa would of forgiven Kovu and would have seen that the ambush wasn't his fault.
Once this plan has been achieved, he congratulates Simba as he, Nala, Kovu, and Kiara stand on Pride Rock ("Well done, my son. We are one"!).
In the 2004 direct-to-video interquel The Lion King 1½, Mufasa is seen in three scenes: At the presentation of Simba, in the Elephant's graveyard on the way to save his son and Nala from the hyenas, and when his ghost is forming from the clouds above the grasslands at night. Unlike the first two films, he doesn't speak any lines, instead, he just roars.
When Simba was a small cub, Mufasa came to Wildebeest Gorge to save him from being crushed by stampeding wildebeests. Although he saved Simba, he had to climb a cliff to exit the gorge. When he got to the top, he was tossed off the cliff by his own brother, Scar, and crushed by the stampede down below. After his death, Scar convinced Simba that it was his fault (Simba's) that Mufasa had died, and encouraged him to run away and never return. Scar then told the other lions that both Mufasa and Simba had died in the stampede, allowing him to take control of the Pride Lands as its new king.
Later, Mufasa appeared to Simba as a spirit to enlighten Simba's courage to take his role as the Pride Land's true king by usurping Scar's leadership. It is his spirit (in the form of a star) that gives Sora access to a new pathway.
Mufasa's role is somewhat expanded in the musical based on the movie. He sings "They Live in You" ("He Lives in You" with the lyrics slightly changed) to young Simba in the scene when the two of them are looking up at the stars and discussing the Great Kings of the Past.
There is also an added scene in which Mufasa tells Zazu of his concerns about Simba's daring behavior. Zazu then reminds Mufasa of his early years as a rambunctious cub.
The role of Mufasa on Broadway was originated by Tony award nominee Samuel E. Wright in 1997 and Cornell John in the original London cast.
A prototype sculpt of his headdress/mask was donated to the collection of the Puppetry Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia alongside the mask for Scar, taking prominent display upon their initial appearance.
At the Disney theme parks, Mufasa was also one of the main characters in "The Legend of the Lion King, a former Fantasyland attraction in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which retold the story of the film using fully-articulated puppets. His face can also be seen in the Hong Kong Disneyland version of It's a Small World. In World of Color at Disney's California Adventure, Mufasa is seen during The Lion King segment. Mufasa's likeness is also featured at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
- The name "Mufasa" means "King" in the Manazoto language.
- Mufasa is similar to Bambi's mother in Bambi in the sense of teaching their son/the protagonist the lessons of life and death and getting killed by the main antagonist (Mufasa: Scar, Bambi's mother: Man) at his/her son's young age. Also like Bambi's mother they both appear in a dream by their children in the second film (Mufasa: sequel, Bambi's mother: midquel).
- On the original 1995 VHS cover to The Lion King, Mufasa is given a pink nose instead of a brown one like he should have.
- As a ghost, Mufasa's voice sounded much like Darth Vader. This is because his voice actor, James Earl Jones, also voiced Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy.
- In an early script for The Lion King, Mufasa would sing a song called "Mighty King of the Wild", but it was cut due to the fact that it didn't match Mufasa's Character.
- Some of the vocalizations for Mufasa were recycled from that of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast.
- Interestingly enough, the way Scar kills Mufasa (by pushing him into a rapidly-moving herd of animals to be trampled under) is reminiscent of the way Mowgli kills Shere Khan in the original Jungle Book novels.
- He is similar to The Great Prince of the Forest. They are both the head of their home and father of the protagonist and their sons (Mufasa: Simba, The Great Prince of the Forest: Bambi) are the heir to their leadership and are seen teaching their sons.
- The way Mufasa struggles up the cliff and gets thrown down by Scar is very similar to when Aladdin struggles up the cliff in the Cave of Wonders and then thrown down by Jafar. However, unlike Aladdin, Mufasa died while Aladdin survived because of the Magic Carpet.
- Mufasa is based on King Hamlet from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet on which The Lion King is based. Like King Hamlet, Mufasa is remembered as a strong, wise and just ruler and was killed by his younger brother for the sake of his throne only to visit their son as an apparition and urge him to take back the throne. However unlike King Hamlet, Mufasa is a kind and humorous individual who urges his son to take his inheritance for the sake of the Circle of Life, whereas King Hamlet only wanted his death to be avenged. Both also have queens whom they adore, in the case of King Hamlet, Gertrude, in the case of Mufasa, Sarabi, the difference being that Sarabi loved Mufasa whereas Gertrude loves Claudius who inspired the character of Scar.
- He is similar to Caesar from Osamu Tezuka's anime Kimba the White Lion. Unlike Mufasa, Caesar died before he was able to teach life lessons to his son. Poachers killed him when he tried to rescue his mate, Snowene. Like Mufasa, Caesar's spirit spoke to Kimba from the sky at night.
- Mufasa makes a cameo appearance in Fantasia 2000. A figurine of him is behind his voice actor, James Earl Jones, before the "Carnival of the Animals" segment.
- His wisdom is shown in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride as he is the first person to realize that Kiara and Kovu belong together, something his son Simba wouldn't understand resulting Simba defying it 'till the end of the movie.
- Due to his death in the first film, he never met Timon and Pumbaa.
- Mufasa's voice actor, James Earl Jones, and Sarabi's voice actress, Madge Sinclair, have also played African King Jaffe and Queen Aeoleon in the 1988 live-action film Coming to America, which was released six years prior to The Lion King. In both films, Jones and Sinclair's characters were not only an African King and Queen, but also the parents of the protagonists of their respective films (Simba for Mufasa and Sarabi, Akeem for Jaffe and Aeoleon).
- After Simba exiled Kovu and Kiara telling him that he will never be Mufasa, Mufasa was supposed to appear in the sky immediately witnessing a weeping Kiara running inside the den, angrily lectures Simba for distrusting Kovu, exiling him, failing to follow his father's paw prints and breaking the Circle of Life.
- If one looks closely, when Scar slams his claws into Mufasa's paws, blood can be seen. This is the only point in the film where blood is seen.
- Mufasa's line "IS THAT A CHALLENGE?!" has become the subject of a very popular internet meme where he says this to other cartoon characters, even some Disney characters (e.g The Queen of Hearts and Prince John).