- “Courageous, strong, loyal; truly the lion is king of the jungle—or at the very least, the mayor of it.”
- ―J.K. Simmons on Lionheart
Leodore Lionheart is the 52nd mayor of Zootopia, he graduated from Zootopia law school with a JD and having served as a City Hall councilor prior to being elected. As the head of the city, Lionheart serves as a mighty leader, with genuine pride in the unique community that is Zootopia, primarily in its diversity. As mayor, Lionheart has one particular goal in mind: to ensure all mammals are given a chance to live their dreams, coining the phrase that Judy Hopps lives by: "In Zootopia, anyone can be anything." To do so, Lionheart enacted the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, an act which provides all animals with high-ranking opportunities to ensure equality among the predator and prey citizens. This was met with controversy, specifically with Chief Bogo, the head of Lionheart's police department, but even so, Lionheart was one of the few characters in the film to never show any sign of bigotry, instead judging mammals by their character, rather than their species, and was notably annoyed by those who did otherwise.
He is often accompanied by his deputy mayor, Bellwether, whom he treats more along the lines of a secretary and a stooge, despite the hefty amount of work she puts into assisting him. Unknown to Lionheart, Bellwether holds a fierce grudge against him due to his treatment towards her, and she secretly plots to someday exact revenge by taking over his position as mayor.
- Mayor Leodore Lionheart is the noble leader of Zootopia, who coined the city’s mantra that Judy Hopps lives by: "In Zootopia, anyone can be anything."
Lionheart is a rather controversial figure. He generally presents himself as a charming, noble, and inspiring leader. His will to ensure that all mammals are treated equally within his city supports this, as his goals are primarily focused on keeping his citizens, and the city itself, safe. However, he is willing to go to illegal lengths to achieve these goals, establishing that, despite his nobility, he is not devoid of negative traits.
He is strictly intolerant of incompetence, especially during urgent matters. When angered, Lionheart becomes an imposing figure, which makes him a feared individual to those who work closely enough with him to witness this side. This can be seen with Chief Bogo, who, despite being against some of Lionheart's political decisions, refrained from doing anything to upset the latter, even becoming visibly anxious when his name is brought into conversation.
This is also seen with Lionheart's treatment towards Bellwether, whom he treats with little respect, ordering her around more like a stooge than an actual assistant mayor. In addition to dumping work on her, he sometimes pushes her aside when in public, stealing the spotlight. Lionheart also has Bellwether's office located in a small utility room with a loud water heater, with stacks of file boxes lining the wall outside her door. However, their relationship is not purely black and white. When with Lionheart, Bellwether appears to suffer from anxiety, somewhat, possibly due to her dislike for predators, or perhaps because of the huge amount of work she receives. As a result, she can often fumble, which occasionally annoys Lionheart to the point of lashing out, going as far as calling Bellwether derogatory names, making him seem cold and cruel to his inferiors. Nevertheless, Lionheart at least makes attempts to keep his temper and show compassion towards those who assist him. At one point, when ordering Bellwether to take care of other matters while he tends to something more important, he does so gruffly but somewhat sympathetically adds "please" to his demands at the end, in response to his own roughness. Later on, Bellwether reveals that Lionheart made an effort to actually get her a gift, though it was merely a mug saying "World's Greatest Dad" with the "Dad" bit scribbled and replaced with "Assistant Mayor" through a marker. It seems Lionheart isn't the best at handling much at once and can be rather neglectful towards other needs as a result.
However, Lionheart's actions were not always out of pure selflessness; he appears to care greatly about his own reputation, and in fact, many of the decisions he made were done at least partly to secure his position as Mayor. This was a partial reason for creating the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, as creating opportunities for prey meant winning the favor among the majority of Zootopia. This was also a partial reason for his illegal imprisonment of the savage predators; during the confidential operation, Lionheart is directly advised to come forward due to the urgency of the situation, though he refuses, alluding to his fear of losing his job as a result of prey citizens (the majority of the populous) revolting against having a predator as their mayor. However, this situation should also consider his remark (upon being arrested) of "this could destroy Zootopia", implying that, while he undoubtedly feared for his position, he was also intelligent enough to see and understand, that the savage animals problem was and could become a serious problem (as evidenced when it did become public) and that, going forward about it (before a cure could be found/developed) posed a considerable, domestic risk.
Lionheart tends to justify his questionable decisions by claiming them to have been done for the greater good, as evidenced by him rather casually claiming that his illegal imprisonment of the afflicted predators was "a classic doing the wrong thing for the right reason kind of a deal". Though he is truthful in this regard, this heavily implies that he sees no harm in committing illegal acts if it's for the sake of something he values.
Lionheart is first introduced alongside his assistant, Bellwether, during the graduation ceremony of Judy Hopps, from the Zootopia Police Academy; a success that he credits to have been produced by his Mammal Inclusion Initiative. Judy's impressive record prompts Lionheart to assign her to the highest precinct in the department, located across from City Hall at the heart of Zootopia. Unbeknownst to Lionheart, his head officer, Bogo, disapproves of the mayor's decision to add Judy as a member of the force, but begrudgingly abides out of fear for his job.
Meanwhile, Zootopia faces a crisis: various predator mammals across the city have lost their sanity and become mindlessly aggressive, violent, and "savage". The cause of the outbreak has yet to be discovered, with Lionheart being one of the only citizens to have knowledge of it. He takes the issue of solving the problem into his own hands by assembling a team of elite wolf guards to patrol the city and capture the savage animals, incarcerating them at an asylum on the outskirts of Rainforest District, where Dr. Madge Honey Badger is stationed to find a cure. The entire operation was kept confidential as a means to avoid civil unrest, making it an illegal operation. Over the span of two weeks, a total of fifteen afflicted predators occupy the asylum, and uncovering the mystery behind their disappearances becomes the top priority at the ZPD.
The situation also takes a toll on Lionheart's mental health, with his temper more unruly than usual, and unintentionally taken out on Bellwether. With his afternoon cleared courtesy of his assistant, Lionheart visits the asylum for updates, only to find that the cause of the outbreak is still unknown. Frustrated with the delays, Lionheart confronts Dr. Badger on her incompetence, to which the latter responds by hypothesizing the outbreak to be linked to "biology". She points out that the only animals going savage are predators, implying that they may be reverting back to their primitive instincts. Badger advises Lionheart to inform the public of the situation, but the mayor refuses, knowing the balance between predator and prey would be broken out of fear should word get out, while also alluding to his own personal insecurities, as the rapid distrust and bigotry towards predators, such as himself, could ruin his reputation. When asked about Chief Bogo's thoughts on the matter, Lionheart admits that Bogo is being kept in the dark. Just then, Lionheart hears the ringtone of a phone and removes himself from the scene while Badger alerts the guards. The spies were Judy and her accomplice, Nick Wilde, who recorded Lionheart's admission. After escaping the guards, Judy alerts Bogo of Lionheart's not-so-legal operation.
The asylum is raided that night, and Lionheart is arrested along with Dr. Badger. As Bogo and Judy escort him to a patrol car, Lionheart protests his innocence, explaining that he was trying to protect the city, though Judy unsympathetically accuses him of caring only for his job. Lionheart warns Judy of the danger that the savage outbreak holds, and if a cure can't be found, it could lead to the destruction of Zootopia; his words are dismissed, and Lionheart is subsequently removed from office. Bellwether, meanwhile, rises to power in his place. Unfortunately, Lionheart's fears prove to be correct; the news that predators are the only mammals going savage causes citywide panic, with prey mammals developing a heightened fear of predators, who in turn face direct discrimination and injustice. Over time, many more predators fall under the mysterious savage infliction, leading to public attacks, though Lionheart is now powerless to suppress it.
In the end, however, it is revealed that the predators were not turned savage through "natural instinct", but through a serum concocted by Bellwether's henchman from unique flowers called "night howlers", in her scheme to get all predators alienated from the city and usurp Lionheart. Due to Judy's heroism, Bellwether is arrested and removed from office, while the inflicted predators are successfully cured of their ailment. When informed and interviewed on the matter, Lionheart (who appears to be rather unfazed by the fact that he is in prison) explains that he had no knowledge of Bellwether's plot, but fully confesses his crime of illegally imprisoning the savage predators during his confidential mission to protect the city, confidently declaring it to have been done for the "right reasons".
During the end credits, a tranquil Lionheart is seen casually lounging in his prison cell while enjoying and sharing his thoughts on a magazine with his (unseen) cellmate.
During the Sequel Comic, Lionheart is revealed to have been released from prison and reinstated as Mayor. This means either he paid his debt to society or was found not guilty in a trial since Bellwether's actions were already exposed. Nonetheless, he was ultimately forgiven by the citizens of Zootopia for his illegal, yet well intentioned actions.
An emoticon version of Lionheart appeared in the Zootopia entry of the As Told by Emoji short series.
- Mayor Lionheart's first name Leodore is a portmanteau of "Leo", which is Latin for lion, and "Theodore".
- According to some sources, "Leodore" itself is Latin for "god-given".
- In Latin American dub, he is named "Leonzalez"; a cross between León (lion) and Gonzalez, Spanish surname for Gonzalo. In Spain, he is named "Leónidas Lionheart". "Leónidas" comes from Greek and means "son of lion". Interestingly, he shares this name with two kings of Sparta and also with "Leónidas de Alejandría", a recognized Greek lyric poet.
- His exact fate in the film's ending is ambiguous, as he was still seen in jail during the end credits even though Bellwether was found guilty for the crime. However, the junior novelization mentions that he was released from jail following Bellwether's arrest.
- The official Zootopia sequel comic, centered around Judy and Nick's adventures as officers shows that Lionheart was, indeed, reinstated as mayor following the events of the film.
- In early drafts of the story, the mayor was a female pig named Swinton instead of Lionheart. She was also going to be the true mastermind behind the prey-supremacist conspiracy, a role that was given to Bellwether. It was later decided that a lion would serve as the city's ruler due to the animal's reputation as "king of the jungle".
- Lionheart has three visible scars; one under his left eye, another under his right, and one on the right side of his snout.
- There is a street named "Lionheart Avenue" in the downtown area of Zootopia.
- A framed picture of Lionheart and Bogo can be seen hanging on the wall of Bogo's office.
- The relationship between Lionheart and Bellwether was inspired by the old phrase "In like a lion, out like a lamb". This happens when March starts, it’s still winter, and by the end of the month spring has begun. At this time of year, Leo is the rising sign; by April, it’s Aries. (“Kid” just doesn’t have quite the same ring as “lamb,” though.) Some have pointed out that Jesus arrives as the sacrificial lamb, but will return as the Lion of Judah. Which, weather-wise, means a false spring.
- Stitch Kingdom (January 29, 2016). "Disney ‘Zootopia’ Fun Facts, Part One". Stitch Kingdom.
- Walt Disney Animation Studios (March 5, 2016). "J.K. Simmons—I AM ZOOTOPIA" (Video). YouTube.
- ScreenSlam (February 18, 2016). "Zootopia: J.K. Simmons "Mayor Lionheart" Behind the Scenes Movie Interview | ScreenSlam" (Video). YouTube.
- Berman, Rachel (October 26, 2015). "Meet the Characters in Zootopia" (Blog). Oh My Disney.
- Alexander, Bryan (June 5, 2016). "'Zootopia' mayor was originally a woman — and a pig" (Article). USA Today.
- Zootopia city map
- Moore, Rich (May 8, 2016). "Hey Jacob-- it's a bit of a reference to the old saying, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."" (Tweet). Twitter.