This is how ‘The Lion King’ almost ended. And it’s way dark.
The Lion King is already one of the most traumatizing movies from our childhood, because of that scene with Simba and Mufasa where Simba’s like, “Dad…?” and you’re probably crying right now thinking about it, and I’m so sorry. While that wildebeest scene was always going to happen in the movie, did you know that The Lion King almost had a completely different ending? It’s one that would have made us cry tears, and it’s also super dark for a Disney movie.
The way the movie ends right now has Simba returning to Pride Rock to confront Scar. After a fierce battle between the two lions, Scar admits he kills Mufasa. Simba ends up sparing Scar’s life, but Scar is then attacked by the hyenas and killed. Simba takes his place as the lion king, and everyone lives happily ever after.
WELL, that’s not how it was always supposed to go. There’s an alternate ending out there in the world, and we just stumbled across it — our old Lion King VHS didn’t have all sorts of bonus features on it, OK? In 1994 that wasn’t a thing, but now it’s a thing, so it’s time to check it out.
In a very early storyboard for The Lion King, Scar and Simba still fight, and Scar then lets Simba fall to his apparent death. Thinking he’s won, Scar begins his evil laugh, but it’s short lived since he’s then consumed by flames around Pride Rock and burns to death. That’s, uh, some pretty heavy stuff for a Disney movie.
This alternate ending also includes a direct line from Hamlet – which The Lion King is loosely based on — where Scar tells Simba, “Goodnight, sweet prince.” Scar also taunts Simba A LOT about his father’s death, and about how Simba is too good to let Scar die. While the movie ultimately still ends the same way, it’s a much different, and darker, path to get there.
There’s even a rough storyboard of this alternate ending straight from Disney. In it, we see everything play out, and that includes Scar’s graphic death. Not surprisingly, Disney deemed it too graphic and dark, and the ending was changed to the one we see today. That’s just the circle of life of animated films. Check out the alternate ending below!
Image via Disney