Wildebeest are first seen in the song, "Circle of Life" heading towards Simba's ceremonial presentation. Later in the film, while Scar has Simba placed near some shade on top of a gorge and tells him to "work on his little roar," Then, in the movie's most iconic and tragic scene, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are 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 attack 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 practices his roar on a small lizard, which scares it off, and notices a massive wildebeest stampede hurling towards him. The wildebeest stampede chases Simba deeper and deeper into the gorge, while Zazu and Mufasa take notice of the wildebeest stampede and Scar informs them that Simba is in the stampede. The two lions run towards the stampede and see Simba dangling on a dead tree and crying for help. Mufasa saves Simba in time, and places him near a ledge while Mufasa struggles to save himself.
Luckily, Mufasa jumps from the stampede onto a cliff and climbs up. On top of the cliff, Mufasa requests Scar's help, but Scar latches his paws onto his older brother's paws and releases them sending Mufasa to die in the stampede. Watching the final moments of his father, Simba climbs down the cliff and searches for his father. Simba later hears an approaching wildebeest which he leads him to locate his father's corpse, to his complete sadness. Finally, some wildebeest are also later seen after the Pride Lands are revived when Simba becomes the king.
A mother wildebeest is seen during "We Are One," assisting her calf on how to walk. The young calf eventually begins to sprint and run, but its mother prevents her calf from running too far. Wildebeest are seen in 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 appear when Simba exiles Kovu, driving him away from the Pride Lands along with the rest of the animals. They are also seen during Simba's nightmare in the stampede that took place in the first film.
When Timon and Pumbaa choose the gorge as their dream home, Timon complains about the gorge's searing heat, and the two friends notice a wildebeest stampede race down from the gorge. The two friends decide to run away, and eventually during the stampede, they land on a wildbeest bareback until Timon notices the wildebeest is heading towards a cliff. The wildebeest halts at the edge, and drop Timon and Pumbaa.They fall into a river (which they notice later on leads to a waterfall), while a wildebeest herd is seen in the background grazing in the grass.
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.