Wildebeest were first shown in the song, "Circle of Life" heading toward Simba's ceremonial presentation. Later in the film, while Scar had Simba placed near some shade on top of a gorge and told him to "work on his little roar," Then, in the movie's most iconic and tragic scene, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed were near a wildebeest herd awaiting for Scar's signal to release the herd into the gorge, which was part of Scar's plot to kill Mufasa. Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed attacked an ill wildebeest upon Scar's signal, thus triggering the stampede (Banzai, being the hungry one that he is, was about to kill one prematurely, until Shenzi stopped him and told him to await Scar's signal shortly before Scar arrived). Meanwhile, Simba practiced his roar on a small chameleon, which eventually scared it off, and noticed a massive wildebeest stampede hurling toward him. The wildebeest stampede chased Simba deeper and deeper into the gorge, while Zazu and Mufasa take notice of the stampede and Scar informed them that Simba was in the stampede. The two lions ran toward the stampede and saw Simba dangling on a dead tree, crying for help. Mufasa saved Simba in time, and placed him near a ledge while Mufasa struggled to save himself.
Luckily, Mufasa jumped from the stampede onto a cliff and climbed up. On top of the cliff, Mufasa requested Scar's help, but Scar latched his paws onto his older brother's paws and released them sending Mufasa to die in the stampede. Watching the final moments of his father, Simba climbed down the cliff and searched for his father. Simba later heard an approaching wildebeest which he led him to locate his father's corpse, to his complete sadness with tears in his eyes. Finally, some wildebeest were also later shown after the Pride Lands were revived when Simba became the king.
A mother wildebeest was shown during "We Are One", assisting her calf on how to walk. The young calf eventually began to sprint and run, but its mother prevented her calf from running too far. The wildebeest that were part of the stampede that took place in the first film also appeared during Simba's nightmare, where he tries to save Mufasa from falling into the stampede, but is stopped by Scar, who turns into Kovu and throws Simba into the stampede after Mufasa.
Some wildebeest later briefly appeared when Simba exiled Kovu, driving him away from the Pride Lands along with the rest of the animals during the song, "Not One of Us".
When Timon and Pumbaa chose the gorge as their dream home, Timon complained about the gorge's searing heat, and the two friends noticed a wildebeest stampede racing down from the gorge. The two friends decided to run away, and eventually during the stampede, they landed on a wildebeest's bare back until Timon noticed the wildebeest was heading toward a cliff. The wildebeest halted at the edge, and dropped Timon and Pumbaa. They fell into a river (which they notice later on led to a waterfall), while a wildebeest herd was shown in the background grazing in the grass.
One appeared multiple times in the episode "Cooked Goose". Another named Herman had a prominent role in "Beauty and the Wildebeest". Unlike the other wildebeest, this one appeared to have the ability of speech.
The wildebeest made a guest appearance in House of Mouse.
The wildebeest made a brief appearance on the first visit to Pride Rock, which showed Scar murdering Mufasa as he did in the movie before it shifts to Sora, Goofy, and Donald's arrival at the present day.
The wildebeest also appeared in The Lion Guard.