- “I'm surrounded by idiots.”
- ―Scar; referring to Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
While not especially bright (except for perhaps Shenzi and Banzai), the hyenas do display a degree of competence rarely associated with comic-relief lackeys, generally foiled by their adversaries' own luck. They corner Simba (foiled only by Mufasa's unexpected rescue), successfully drive the stampede into the gorge, and would have captured Simba had he not escaped through the thorn bushes through which they couldn't pass. Despite this, and their loyalty to Scar, he has an extremely low opinion of them, considering them to be stupid and incompetent.
The hyenas were featured in two spin-off books of The Lion King, set before the events of the original film. In A Tale of Two Brothers, the young hyenas appear at the beginning where they surround a helpless Rafiki who had just arrived in the Pride Lands. King Ahadi comes to the rescue just in time, with his sons Mufasa and Taka (Scar), and demands that the hyenas leave. The hyenas appear again later, where Shenzi advises Scar to make himself look good by making Mufasa look bad. Scar decided to incite a cape buffalo called Boma to fight Mufasa. The plan did not turn out well, and Scar's eye was wounded by the buffalo herd in the process, hence the nickname "Scar".
In Friends in Need, the teenage hyenas appear again at the beginning, where they are preparing to boil a teenage Zazu in the elephant graveyard like in the first film. A teenage Mufasa passes by, scares the hyenas away and befriends Zazu.
Shenzi is the leader and only female of the trio, and the de-facto secondary antagonist of the first film, and the main antagonist of its midquel. According to Timon in The Lion King 1½, her full name is Shenzi Marie Predatora Veldetta Jacquelina Hyena. Her first name means "savage", "pagan", "uncouth", or "barbarous" in Swahili. Her distinguishing features are five prominent bangs hanging over her face and a mane that reaches all the way to her bangs. She also lacks the dark gray 'stubble' snout of the males, the dark patches around her eyes are shaped to resemble heavily applied eye-shadow, and she has thicker lips with what seems to be black lipstick.
She is assertive, collected and possesses a considerable amount of self-control, only very rarely losing her temper. This makes her the de-facto leader of the trio, and apparently the Matriarch of the clan of hyenas. Her authority is so absolute that she has no need to exert physical force over other hyenas - Banzai and Ed consistently follow her orders without her needing to fight them - whether they are to stop fighting, remain where they are, or even to lie to Scar. Despite her dislike of Mufasa, she clearly has a measure of respect and fear for him, as she gets the "shivers" when she hears his name and, though she elbows Banzai before he can say the name in front of Scar, clearly agrees with his opinion that they were better off when Mufasa was in charge (even if he didn't like them or permit them to live in the Pride Lands, he still treated them better and didn't abuse or insult them for amusement, unlike Scar). Despite this, she has shown cowardice along with her partners on several occasions: running away from Pumbaa in the final battle and Mufasa during their first encounter.
Shenzi's primary concern is the well-being of her Clan. She allies the Clan with Scar even though the hyenas dislike the lions simply to provide for them, tells Scar that Simba is dead to get them into the Pride Lands, and is even unafraid of informing him that there's no food or water left, meaning the Clan is starving and dehydrated. When Scar tries to pin Mufasa's death on the hyenas at the end, she doesn't hesitate to inform the Clan of his betrayal, resulting in his elimination. And in Simba's Pride, she presumably has taken the Clan away from the elephant graveyard to find better hunting grounds.
Shenzi is one of the most popular characters of the franchise. She was originally going to be male and played by Tommy Chong, reuniting him with his old comedy partner Cheech Marin, who was playing Banzai, but apparently the two had had a falling out. Many of Shenzi's facial expressions and voice were copied from her voice actress Whoopi Goldberg.
Banzai is the most aggressive of the trio. Unlike the calmer, more diplomatic Shenzi, he has almost no self-control and is always ready to lash out or start a fight. However, because he thinks with his muscles first and his head second, and has a tendency to speak without thinking, he is not the leader of the trio and always submits to Shenzi, consistently obeying her orders. There are times when Ed tries his patience, to which he finally snaps.
His name means "skulk" or "lurk" in Swahili. It can also mean "Suicide" or "ten thousand years" in Japanese, possibly a reference to his aggressive nature but more likely coincidental. His most distinguishing feature is his unusually heavy eyebrows. Apart from these, Banzai is the model for most generic hyenas. He is the greediest of the three, frequently making references to being hungry, and asking for food. He also usually speaks and acts without thinking, losing his temper with Ed twice, and complaining when the Pride Lands lacks food under Scar's rule ("It's dinnertime, and we ain't got no stinkin' entrees!"). He even quietly remarks to his friends that Mufasa was a better king than Scar, showing his audacity. In addition, when about to commence the Wildebeest Stampede, he almost tried to kill and eat a sick wildebeest before Scar gave them the signal, but was stopped by Shenzi, reminding him to wait.
Otherwise, Banzai appears to be Shenzi's intellectual equal. He understands pig Latin, as Zazu tried to keep Simba from calling the hyenas stupid ("Who you calling upidstay?!"); Spanish, when he immediately refrained from saying "Mufasa" in front of Scar any further ("I said, uh, ¿Qué pasa?"); and French, for which "entree" and "buffet" are associated with food. He learned that he and his two comrades couldn't defeat Mufasa on their own, let alone kill him, which he explained to Scar after the failed attempt on Simba and Nala's lives; this would eventually lead to the entire Clan overwhelming Simba and, at the battle's end, Scar.
Banzai is wounded twice in the first film; the first time in taking the worst injuries, Banzai's buttocks were severely lacerated by Mufasa's sharp claws, causing him to be unable to sit down for a week, ("I won't be able to sit for a week!") he tells Shenzi and Ed; and secondly when he is knocked into a thorn patch while chasing Simba out of the Pride Lands.
Ed is one of the few characters (and the only hyena) not to have a Swahili name. However, there exists in English the word eddy meaning whirlpool.
Ed is apparently the "idiot" of the trio. His distinguishing features are two round cuts on each ear, he is constantly grinning, his tongue often lolls from his mouth and his eyes rarely seem to focus on anything. Also, he has no eyebrows. He has a common tendency to laugh but has shown a line of dialogue being the chorus of the song "Be Prepared" (mostly because Jim Cummings was filling in Jeremy Irons'/Scar's lines at this point). When amused by anything, he cannot control his laughter.
For whatever reason, he chooses not to speak (although some of Shenzi and Banzai's reactions to his laughter seem to indicate that they are able to translate his laughter to meaningful language anyways). He often displays lucidity, being the first to notice Simba, Nala, and Zazu escaping while his two peers are busy cracking jokes about lions. However, Banzai was the first to communicate effectively through English instead of through gestures, that their dinner was getting away.
When Shenzi comments that the hyenas would be running the show if the lions weren't around, he nods in agreement, listening to the conversation. And when Scar betrays the hyenas at the end, he understands that they have been betrayed just as well as Shenzi and Banzai, and is just as angry as they are. In addition, both Banzai and Shenzi have waited until Ed's reply before deciding on a response or a proper course of action at least twice: The first time when Shenzi and Banzai were rhetorically asking who was present in the elephant graveyard, and the second when noting that Scar had earlier called them their enemies before exacting revenge with the other Hyena Clan members. However, when they were attacked by Mufasa and Shenzi and Banzai denied knowing that Simba was his son, Ed confirmed it with a simple nod; during a scuffle with Banzai, he chews on his own leg obliviously; also, when Pumbaa saved Timon and Zazu from being ganged up upon by Shenzi and Banzai in the final battle, he had no idea what to do and ended up cowering with the rest of the hyenas after Pumbaa beat them up. Jim Cummings recorded over four hours of various laughter clips for any situation Ed might be in; excited, amused, angry, etc.
Whatever his shortcomings, Ed was smart enough to block the entrance to a meerkat tunnel, thus leaving Uncle Max briefly at the trio's mercy.
The hyenas first appear in the elephant graveyard that Simba and Nala venture into. The hyenas, secretly under the orders of Simba's uncle Scar, chase the cubs in an attempt to kill them. While in pursuit, Shenzi catches up with Nala and is about to savage her when she is struck by Simba, which results in three visible blood-like scratches on her cheek. The hyenas push Zazu into a 'birdie boiler' and corner the cubs but are thwarted by the arrival of Simba's father, Mufasa. They try to flee but Mufasa quickly subdued them and pinned them to the ground warning them not to come near his son again. The hyenas are then scared off by a frightening roar by Mufasa.
Later while the hyenas are talking, Scar arrives in the elephant graveyard, to tell off the hyenas for failing to kill Simba. However, after Banzai and Shenzi ask sardonically whether Scar should kill Mufasa to claim the throne while feasting on a zebra's leg that Scar supplied to them (Banzai: "Yeah. What are we supposed to do - kill Mufasa?"), they unwittingly gave him an idea: He then informs them of the newly-formed plan to kill both Mufasa and Simba during the song "Be Prepared" while promising them unlimited food. Afterward, they help Scar carry out his plan to kill Mufasa by triggering the wildebeest stampede. Immediately after Scar tells Simba to run away and never return, he commands the hyenas to kill Simba too, but Simba falls into thorny bushes where the hyenas can't follow him. Shenzi decides that Simba is as good as dead out alone in the desert, that if he survives he probably won't come back (not unreasonable assumptions), and that if he comes back, they'll kill him then. The entire pack then enters the Pride Lands under Scar's reign.
Some months into Scar's reign, the hyenas' excessive presence in the Pride Lands has damaged the ecological balance. The trio, who appear to be the same age as they were, come to Scar's cave to inform him that there's no food or water and that the lionesses refuse to follow his orders, but Scar couldn't care less about their complaints. Banzai quietly remarks that things were much better under Mufasa, implying that they favor him over Scar, despite the prejudice he had against them. Scar angrily orders Banzai to repeat what he just said, Banzai is about to say that he said "Mufasa", but a nervous Shenzi elbows him and Banzai quickly "corrects" himself by saying that he simply said "¿Que Pasa?". Still touchy about Banzai's remark and angry at being compared unfavorably to his brother, Scar throws them out without listening to their complaints.
When Simba returns to overthrow Scar, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed grew worried when Scar learned that Simba was alive and backed away (Scar glared at them, indicating that he found out that the hyenas had failed in their task and presumably lied to him about it), but then the hyenas demonstrate their continued loyalty to Scar by joining the fight on his side, but most are defeated, and Shenzi and Banzai are ruthlessly beaten up by Pumbaa for calling him a "pig" while Ed watches. When Shenzi, Banzai and Ed follow Scar and Simba at the top (possibly to back Scar up), they overhear Scar trying to foist all blame for the plot on them to Simba, they furiously turn against their former boss. Alerting the other hyenas to his treachery, they corner Scar after he is defeated by Simba. Scar frantically tries to absolve himself, but the hyenas have had enough of his lies, derogatory treatment and broken promises. They surround Scar, leap on him and tear him apart, as flames rise around them. They run off after this.
In the direct-to-video sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the hyenas are only briefly mentioned by Nuka as he and his grown sister Vitani arrive at the elephant graveyard. He says simply, "This place is even creepier since the hyenas ran off." Originally, Zira was going to be accompanied by the hyenas but it was changed to being Outsider Lions after the developers remembered that the Hyenas were the reason why Scar died.
However, the three hyenas are never directly referred to by name, and the ones Nuka mentioned have instead been the hyenas not involved in the mutiny against Scar (given the many hyenas seen in "Be Prepared"). The fate of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed is unknown.
In the direct-to-video midquel The Lion King 1½, the hyenas have a fairly major role in setting the story rolling and serve as the film's main antagonists (seeing as Scar has no lines and makes only very brief appearances). Despite being the main antagonists, they only appear twice in the film (for obvious reasons).
In their first appearance, they attack a meerkat colony when Timon, who is the sentry on duty for the colony, is daydreaming. They fail to catch any meerkats, but this incident drives Timon to leave the colony to find where he truly belongs. The hyenas make an appearance again during the film's climax at Pride Rock. Some anonymous hyenas are seen chasing Timon and Pumbaa into a cave (after the Hula song in the first film) and are driven away by Pumbaa's flatulence.
Timon and Pumbaa insult the hyenas to get them away from Simba so that he has a better chance against Scar - Ed as usual laughs at the joke, and Banzai hits him, while Shenzi tells them, "For your last meal, you're gonna eat those words." Eventually, Timon and Pumbaa are cornered by the hyenas.
Timon first balances plates then performs the can-can, which stalls the hyenas briefly, then break dances with Pumbaa, which Shenzi applauds to before simply agreeing with Banzai to eat them. Finally, he proposes to Shenzi as a desperate move to buy time for his mother and Uncle Max as they dig a tunnel, which she turns down, becoming more and more disgusted at his proposal. Banzai seems to realize Timon is trying to buy time for something, and says, "I say we skip the wedding and get straight to the buffet!" However, this has bought just enough time and the hyenas then fall into the tunnel (presumably transporting them to the base of Pride Rock in time to corner Scar), after which they do not appear again in the film.
The three hyenas made occasional appearances in the TV series The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa. While Jim Cummings reprised his role as Ed, Tress MacNeille and Rob Paulsen replaced Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin as Shenzi and Banzai. The hyenas are also more noticeably dim-witted in the series in comparison to the movies, in that they are often unable to catch their prey. In addition, for unexplained reasons, they somehow managed to learn how to stand on their hind legs and are able to talk to humans, though one reason may be because it was to appeal to the audiences.
The hyenas have four episodes in which they star, trying to get food. These were called "The Laughing Hyenas".
TV Dinner: The hyenas observe a nature documentary made about an armadillo in the Serengeti. This is pretty impressive for a start, as armadillos are not native to ANY part of Africa, only the Americas. The three of them decide that they too can be stars and get great meals. For the host Martin Partin, Shenzi demonstrates ballet dancing, Banzai performs a singing act and Ed attempts slapstick comedy, but they are turned down abruptly. When the armadillo gets a movie deal, they are offered jobs but decide that they'd rather be directors and have Martin Partin for lunch.
Can't Take A Yolk: Shenzi wakes up and wakes up Banzai, who wakes up Ed. While Banzai and Ed fight, Shenzi spots a mother ostrich nursing an egg and persuades Banzai that the egg would make an excellent breakfast. First, they attempt to creep up on the egg but find it's heavily alarmed. Then they try to crush the mother ostrich with a large rock but get crushed themselves. Then they try to tunnel up under the egg, but end up tunneling to China, and get crushed by a cart. Then they redirect an elephant to crush both mother and egg but get crushed by the elephant. Finally, Shenzi has them disguise themselves as ostriches and persuades the mother to put her head in the sand, while they steal the egg and substitute a rock. However, as they argue over who gets to eat the egg, it hatches into a huge ostrich, and they are knocked into a canyon and squashed by a large rock.
Cooked Goose: Two snooty Cheetahs have found that the hyena trio is disturbing their hunts, so they decide to send them on wild goose chases to get them out of the way. First, they try giving them a treasure map where X marks the spot, but the hyenas don't know how you spell 'X'. Then they try catapulting the hyenas via Serengeti Shuttle into a volcano, but the hyenas just come back, suspicious about the lack of seatbelts, airbags, and lack of peanuts. Finally, they decide that if they split the hyenas up, telling each one that they are the brains of the bunch and giving them directions to the North Pole. Unfortunately, the hyenas meet up there and realize they've been conned. Back in the Serengeti, they find the Cheetahs again, who are so stuffed from eating that they cannot outrun the hyenas. Just as the hyenas are about to eat them, a wild goose arrives and asks them which way is south, as he's headed for a wild goose convention. The five of them direct him, then chase him.
Big Top Breakfast: The hyenas are walking along, complaining about how hungry they are. Banzai comments that he's so hungry he could eat a circus monkey, and a crate with Simon the circus monkey on it lands on the three of them. They promptly start arguing about who gets to eat him, allowing him to escape. Shenzi suggests that they pretend to be monkeys and hide in a barrel, and Banzai suggests that "Hey, we can build an environment suitable and comfortable for all species in the class known as Chimpanzee." Ed, however, discovers that the crate the monkey landed with is full of circus stuff. Shenzi promptly constructs an elaborate circus, and posing as ringmaster, gets Simon to dive into their cooking pot. He breaks out and hides in a circus cannon, which Banzai fires. The cannon explodes and the hyenas are left charred and monkey-less. Banzai complains that he is so hungry that he could eat a blue whale, and one promptly lands on the three of them.
The hyenas made cameo appearances in several House of Mouse episodes. They're notably seen near the beginning of the premiere episode "The Stolen Cartoons".
In "House of Turkey", the hyenas are anxiously waiting to eat Mr. Turkey, but when they learn that he's a guest performer and not an entree, they briefly try to eat Pumbaa.
In "Donald's Pumbaa Prank", they were seen at their table about to eat Zazu.
In "House of Crime", Shenzi can be seen in a cage along with other villains before they all disappear.
The hyenas were also part of the entourage of Disney villains featured in Mickey's House of Villains.
Cameos and other appearances
Shenzi and Ed appear in the animated blooper reel featured in the The Lion King: Diamond Edition special features, where Shenzi is shown showcasing her hyena laugh for a take, while a seemingly annoyed Ed stands by.
In the episode "Scar and Lion King Friends" of Disney Crossy Road: The Animated Series, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed are ordered by Scar to capture Simba; they are met with unsuccessful results in their attempts.
In the fifth installment of the saga, Shell Game, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed appear as henchmen to the Overtakers. They are usually guarding important places or objects.
Shenzi, Banzai and Ed are among the villains imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. They are the parents of young hyenas given to the children of the villains.
The Lion King (SNES)
While hyenas were a common enemy in the Lion King SNES release, none of the hyenas fought were Shenzi, Banzai or Ed. Even the end-of-level boss hyena in the first level was not one of them. Once defeated, each hyena performed Ed's drooling 'salute' briefly before collapsing.
Banzai appears at the end of the "Simba's Exile" level, to deliver his line "If you ever come back, we'll kill ya!"
The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure
The hyenas first appear in the "Graveyard" level, chasing Simba as he tries to escape the elephant graveyard. At the end of the level, all three must be defeated before the player can win. The hyenas later appear in the "Return of the King" level, trying to prevent Simba from reaching Scar.
In this video game, Kingdom Hearts II, the trio play a relatively minor role in their home world "The Pride Lands", where it largely follows the story of the film.
In the game, the trio and the Clan are desperate for food and try to eat Sora, Donald and Goofy. Banzai almost killed Sora but were stopped when Scar roared. The hyena trio ran off to Scar to see what he wanted along with the other hyenas.
The hyena trio are seen once again at Pride Rock and were about to attack them, but Scar roared then the hyena trio looked up and saw Scar and Pete. When Nala knocked down Scar and told Sora, Donald and Goofy to run, the three heroes ran with Shenzi, Banzai, Ed and the other hyenas in pursuit. Sora, Donald, Goofy and Nala managed to get away from the hyenas. The hyena trio is later seen again at Pride Rock preventing Simba from getting to Scar. Sora then told Simba to go after Scar while his friends handle the hyenas. Timon and Pumbaa knocked the hyenas into the air but they were chased into Pride Rock by the hyena trio and the other hyenas. Sora, Donald and Goofy battled the hyena trio inside Pride Rock. The trio was easily defeated and ran out of Pride Rock.
Later on in the game, the trio of hyenas are fought again for information on the source of Scar's ghost. They know nothing of the ghost and taunt Simba about it. They also seem to have somewhat of a grudge against Sora, Donald and Goofy, as it was thanks to their part in overthrowing Scar that they were sent back to the elephant graveyard to only eat scraps.
The hyenas have also made prominent appearances in the musical, having been given more dialogue and a much more expanded role than in the movie. They even appear during the first part of The Madness of King Scar in which Shenzi and Banzai give their complaints to Scar over a shortage of food and water and tell Scar that he is adored. They also have their own song, Chow Down when Simba and Nala enter the Elephant Graveyard.
Appearances by the hyenas at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are extremely rare. In the parks, they walk upright instead of on all four legs. All three have a very awkward-looking hunchback posture.
To date, their most reliable presence has been as part of the Walt Disney World Resort's annual Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party event. They also made appearances during Unleash the Villains in 2014.
The hyenas appear alongside Scar in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Here, Hades revives Scar from the dead and recruits him in a take-over plot. Scar, needing henchmen to assist him, convinces the hyenas that he is invincible through magic and must obey his commands. They reluctantly agree to do so and are ordered to start an elephant stampede to crush anyone who interferes. Banzai notices the park guests and battles them, but he is quickly defeated. Soon after, the park guests must reveal Scar's lies by injuring him in front of the hyenas. Once Scar's lies are revealed, Shenzi gathers the clan and departs, leaving Scar without aid.
Shenzi, Banzai and Ed's likenesses are also featured in Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
In 2004, they were featured in The Lion King Carnival event.
They would also appear in Disneyland Paris for the 2013 event Disney Dreamers Everywhere!.
- Ernie Sabella, who voiced Pumbaa in the film, originally auditioned for the role of Shenzi. But after Nathan Lane, who previously worked with Sabella on Guys and Dolls and were already good friends, auditioned for the role of Zazu, Lane and Sabella were instead cast as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively.
- They are some of the most popular characters of the franchise.
- Ed is the only character not to have a Swahilian name.
- Shenzi's position as leader of the hyenas is very like that of real life - real spotted hyenas are matriarchal, and females dominate the males. For male hyenas to have any real power within a clan, they have usually performed long-time services for high-ranking females.
- Ironically, Janja's pack is led by a male (then again, there are no females in his pack so perhaps there simply wasn't an option).
- Shenzi was originally going to be male and voiced by Tommy Chong, who is best known for his collaborations with Cheech Marin, who voices Banzai.
- In early production of The Lion King, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed were originally suppose to be cape dogs but were later changed to spotted hyenas. This may have been because the cape dog is an endangered species, and spotted hyenas and African lions are naturally enemies - more so than most animals.
- Shenzi, Banzai, Ed and the rest of the hyenas are the second villain sidekicks to kill their former boss. The first being Iago, however, he reformed and it's generally believed the hyenas did as well.
- Ed's behavior seems to suggest that he is either mentally challenged or has some sort of brain damage.
- The way Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, and the rest of the hyenas kill Scar is similar to what the wolves from Beauty and the Beast were originally supposed to do to Gaston at the end of the film.
- Currently, Shenzi has the longest name out of any character in the Lion King series, possibly more than any other Disney character created. Her full name being "Shenzi Marie Predatora Veldetta Jacquelina Hyena", a total of six names. However, given that Timon was trying to stall her and the other Hyenas while his family broke the tunnel underneath them, it's unknown if it was actually her name, though it might not be since Shenzi doesn't say that it's not her real name.
- In the Kingdom Hearts series, Banzai came the closest to killing Sora out of any villains in the series, due to the hero becoming a lion cub and being unfamiliar with his new anatomy, and was only unable to since Scar called for him and the others.
- According to The Lion King: The Junior Novelization, when Shenzi, Banzai and Ed finally kill Scar out of revenge for betraying them and the other hyenas, they describe his death as being "a king fit for a meal."
- In an early script for the climax of The Lion King, Banzai was originally going to be flung onto the ribcage imprisoning Zazu, thus freeing him and allowing him to peck Banzai on the head, then Ed comes to help. The two come close to killing Zazu when Timon and Pumbaa ram them from behind and send them flying to a burning tree. Also, it was originally going to be just Shenzi who follows Scar up Pride Rock and hears him betray the hyenas.
- It has been revealed that Janja (the main antagonist of The Lion King's spin-off series The Lion Guard) and his clan are descendants of Shenzi, Banzai and Ed's clan, but it is still never revealed what happened to the previous clan.