- “One day, Simba, the sun will set on my time here... And will rise to you, as the new king.”
- ―Mufasa to his son
Mufasa is a major character in Disney's 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King. He was the king of the Pride Lands and the father of Simba. Mufasa's envious younger brother, Scar, coveted the throne and orchestrated a plot to kill his sibling—a crime of which Scar was successful. Despite his death, Mufasa endures in the memories of his loved ones. His spirit manifested in clouds and sunlight, which has occasionally appeared to guide his descendants.
In A Tale of Two Brothers, Scar (then known as Taka) tried to make a fool out of Mufasa when he was young (see more at Scar's Backstory). The storybook Friends in Need reveals how he met Zazu, his trusted hornbill "majordomo": he saved the bird when he was caught by none other than the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed in the elephant graveyard. However, this conflicts with another book How True, Zazu?, in which Zazu becomes steward to the king after Zazu's mother, Zuzu, retires.
Originally, in the earlier scripts of the film, Mufasa was to be a lion not related to Scar's family, as Scar was to be a rogue lion who wanted to be King as he was jealous of Mufasa's luck and position. Also, Mufasa was originally going to not appear again following his death at the stampede, but in the final draft of the film, it was decided to bring back him via Simba's visions as the writers thought that without his presence, Simba didn't have any reason to return to the Pride Lands. Apart from this, Scar and him were made brothers in the final revisions of the script.
Despite his majestic exterior, Mufasa is kind-hearted and playful, showing respect for all the creatures, even those who are perceived as lower than himself. He is not strictly business, often playing games with his majordomo Zazu, and is unafraid of showing affection, as seen when he greets Rafiki with a hug prior to the presentation of Simba. As a king and a father, Mufasa is instructive and wise, borne down by years of experience and instruction. His rule over the Pride Lands results in a period of prosperity, reflecting his reasonable and responsible approach to kingship. His lessons leave a deep imprint on Simba, who learns from his father that every creature must be respected in order for balance to be maintained. His wisdom touches through on his understanding of responsibility and his willingness to set aside personal gain in order to better the Pride Lands.
If his family is endangered, Mufasa exposes his protective side, ready to throw himself into danger in order to keep those he loves safe. Ultimately, he is willing to sacrifice his life for his family, proving his love to be stronger for his family than for himself. He is happy to impart knowledge to his grandson when he is feeling confused and is willing to give Kion a step in the right direction. His courage and strength were emphasized during the wildebeest stampede when he leaped into the stampede to rescue Simba and later made a massive leap onto the wall of the gorge.
Mufasa was also very patient and optimistic. As a spirit, he is shown to give time for his plans to work and never give up hope on them, even with the obstacles that stand in the way of his goals being reached, waiting till Simba reaches adulthood to guide him back on the path as the rightful king and persuading Rafiki to bring together Kovu and Kiara. For all his positive traits, Mufasa was not flawless. His main flaw was being a poor judge of character. He was unable to recognize Scar's treachery until it was too late and at times he displayed a rather fierce temper.
Unlike Simba, Mufasa was never arrogant and gullible, as well as the fact that he never lets his temper get the better of him; according to Kiara, he would've never banished someone for supposedly betraying him, without hearing an explanation first, indirectly referring to the fact that Mufasa would have forgiven Kovu for his initial role in Zira's plan and would have seen that the ambush was not his fault, as Kovu had no knowledge of the ambush and was completely innocent, if he had been in Simba's position.
Mufusa is an exceptionally large and muscular lion, bearing powerful shoulders and a compact build. He has amber-gold fur, while his muzzle, paws, and underbelly are all beige in color. His upper eye shades are darker than his main pelt, though his lower eye shades are lighter, and his eyebrows are thick and dark. Regal by every means, Mufasa bears a thick mane of dark scarlet that extends down to his middle chest, the tip of his tail matching it in color.
A huge, powerful male lion, Mufasa was the King of the Pride Lands at the start of the The Lion King, father of Simba, and mate of Sarabi. He is shown to be a wise and fair ruler, who follows the "Circle of Life". However, his brother Scar is jealous of Mufasa's position as king and forms a plan to kill Mufasa and Simba, who is Mufasa's heir, so he can be king. Mufasa is ultimately portrayed as an "ideal king"; strong, powerful and kind-hearted, which is contrasted to the deceitfulness and lust for power of Scar.
After Scar is discovered to have missed Simba's presentation ceremony, Mufasa comes over to the den to personally tell him off, coming in just in time to see Scar try to devour Zazu and proceeded to order his brother to spit him out. Mufasa then scolded his brother for missing his nephew's presentation, especially when Simba will be his future king. He later gets angrier at Scar when he not only turns his back and walks away, but also implies in response that he might attack Mufasa should he turn his back on Scar. Ultimately, Scar does leave, with Mufasa while conversing with Zazu briefly joking about Scar being made into a throw rug.
Months later, Mufasa is seen asleep inside Pride Rock along with Sarabi and the rest of the pride, until he is awoken by Simba, who reminds his father that he promised to show him the kingdom. Mufasa gets up and takes Simba to the top of Pride Rock and tells him about the responsibilities that he will have as King. Mufasa notes that everything they see is part of the kingdom, with the exception of the Elephant Graveyard, which Mufasa strictly forbids Simba from going to. When walking around the Pride Lands with Mufasa, Simba attempts to get training in terms of pouncing, Mufasa has Simba pounce Zazu as the latter is giving a status report of the kingdom's state of affairs, although not before making sure to tell Zazu beforehand that he needs to have his back facing them so he can use Zazu as pouncing practice, to the latter's shock and irritation. However, during their talk, Mufasa is called away to deal with hyenas in the Pride Lands.
Meanwhile, Simba travels to the Elephant Graveyard, after being manipulated by Scar, not knowing it's a plot by Scar to kill him. Scar's first attempt to kill Simba through the hyenas is foiled when Mufasa, who was summoned by Zazu, rescues him and Nala. Afterward, Mufasa scolds his son for disobeying him and putting Nala at risk, but after explaining the line between bravery and bravado to Simba, forgives and forgets. He then teaches Simba about the Great Kings of the Past, who will guide him, in subtle preparation of his eventual death and physical separation from his son. Meanwhile, Scar, angered by the failure of his plot, makes a new one to kill both Simba and Mufasa to steal the throne to the Pride Lands with the help of the hyenas.
Mufasa is seen the next day, as Zazu points out to him a migration of a wildebeest herd that is said to be unusual. Scar appears and reveals that Simba is trapped in a gorge with the wildebeest, and Mufasa rushes to rescue Simba, not knowing it is part of Scar's plot. Mufasa successfully saves Simba, but is injured and struggles to climb up a cliff to safety. Mufasa spots Scar waiting for him at the top and begs his brother to help him. Instead, Scar cruelly pierces Mufasa's paws with his claws. He leans in and mockingly whispers "Long live the King!" before flinging his brother off the cliff. Mufasa falls back into the gorge and is trampled to death by the stampeding wildebeest. As they both gaze upon Mufasa's corpse, Simba is manipulated by Scar into believing that he caused Mufasa's death and runs away from the Pride Lands.
Several years later, Mufasa appears as a ghost. Rafiki, having discovered Simba's survival, finds Simba in an attempt to convince the now adult lion to return to the Pride Lands. Rafiki takes Simba to a small, magical pool which brings upon Mufasa's ghost, up in the sky. Mufasa tells Simba that as his son and rightful heir, Simba must remember who he is and return to the Pride Lands. This encourages Simba to return to his homeland, where he discovers the truth about Mufasa's death, defeats Scar and takes his rightful place as king and Mufasa is avenged.
In the final scene of the film after the death of his evil brother, Mufasa says, "Remember..." as Simba stands triumphantly on Pride Rock to claim the throne, looking up at an opening in the clouds revealing the stars.
Mufasa has a few brief appearances as a spirit in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. He's also alluded to throughout the film, as many of Simba's actions through the film revolve around trying to live up to Mufasa's legacy.
Mufasa first appears as an image in the sky again overlooking the presentation ceremony of his granddaughter Kiara with a mixture of affection and pride.
He later makes an indirect appearance, communicating with Rafiki. He inspires Rafiki to bring the Outsiders and Pridelanders back together through Kiara and Kovu, an Outsider who is Scar's chosen heir, by having them fall in love with each other.
His next appearance is in Simba's nightmare, where he is seen again clinging to the cliff right before his death. Simba tries to save him but is stopped by Scar, who morphs into Kovu.
After Simba banishes Kovu for supposedly causing an ambush by Zira, Mufasa appears over the exiled young lion and turns away from the sight, disappointed with his son for allowing his hatred for Scar to stimulate his actions. Simba tries to justify his actions by stating Mufasa would have done the same. Kiara tells her father otherwise, knowing that her pragmatic grandfather would have forgiven Kovu for his former involvement with Zira's plans and seen that the ambush was not his fault, and that he will never be Mufasa. Simba is deeply hurt at this declaration.
When Kiara runs away after this argument, she goes to find Kovu. As "Love Will Find A Way" ends, a breeze blows over the united lovers; indicating the spirit of a pleased Mufasa.
Once his plan has been achieved and his granddaughter and Kovu are wedded, he congratulates Simba as he, Nala, Kovu and Kiara stand on Pride Rock ("Well done, my son. We are one!").
In the 2004 direct-to-video interquel The Lion King 1½, Mufasa is seen in three scenes: At the presentation of Simba, in the Elephant Graveyard on the way to save his son and Nala from the hyenas, and when his ghost is forming from the clouds above the grasslands at night. Unlike the first two films, he doesn't speak any lines, instead, he just roars.
Mufasa appears in the animated series, as well as its pilot film The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar. The series centers around Simba's son, and Mufasa's grandson, Kion, who is tasked with protecting the Pride Lands through a team known as the "Lion Guard". In the form of a spirit, Mufasa serves as a source of guidance for young Kion when he's having a crisis or needs advice for something.
After Kion demonstrated the "Roar of the Elders", Simba and Rafiki show him and Bunga the lair of the Lion Guard beneath Pride Rock. According to the paintings on the wall, during Mufasa's reign, Scar was the leader of the Lion Guard and was gifted with the roar. But Scar let the power go to his head, making him believe he'd be a worthier king than Mufasa and attempted to rally the Lion Guard to help him usurp his brother. When they refused, Scar destroyed them with the roar, but his crime caused him to lose the roar forever. When Kion starts having doubts about leading the Lion Guard after Simba tells him that the Guard should be an all-lion group, Mufasa appears before his grandson. He counsels Kion, stating that leadership is never easy. When Kion asked why he could not use the roar on command and confided his worries about becoming corrupted like Scar, Mufasa assured him that the roar and himself will be there for him when he needs them most, before vanishing.
In "Bunga the Wise", Mufasa appears when Kion asks for his advice with a storm threatening the Pride Lands and whether he should use the Roar to blow the clouds away. Mufasa gently reminds that the Pride Lands need the water and stated that the easy way is not always the best way.
In "Can't Wait to be Queen", as a result of Kiara becoming interim queen while her parents were away, leading to a falling out with her and Kion over her decisions, Mufasa appears out of the sky to remind Kion that Kiara was his sister and he should always be there for her, especially when she's wrong. This led Kion and the Lion Guard to rescue Kiara from an ambush set by Janja and the hyenas.
In "The Mbali Fields Migration", Mufasa gently encourages Kion to have confidence in himself and not rely on others opinions when the gazelles and zebras doubt Kion's leadership in bringing them to Mbali Fields.
In "Never Roar Again", Mufasa appears when Kion calls for him, having almost hurt his mother by accident when hyenas attacked her. Kion contemplates never using the Roar again, for he fears turning into Scar. Mufasa reminds Kion that Scar's misuse involved his own selfishness, which fueled his anger, then asks why Kion used the Roar out of anger. When Kion explains why, Mufasa informs Kion that Scar never cared for anyone, and suggests speaking to the one he cares so much about: his mother, Nala.
Then, during "The Savannah Summit", Kion seeks guidance when he believes the leader of the crocodiles, Makuu, is scheming against the other animal leaders. When Mufasa asks why he believes this, Kion fails to give a convincing answer. Mufasa humorously states one of Rafiki's quotes of wisdom, "when you leap to conclusions, you leap to confusions", which helps the cub see things in a new perspective.
In The Rise of Scar, Rafiki's apprentice, Makini, inadvertently witnesses a conversation between Kion and Mufasa's spirit (who cautions Kion not to lose his temper and thus his control of the roar. Though the ability to summon the deceased is kept confidential and is to be exclusive to the Royal family and its mjuzi, Makini shares this news with a snake named Ushari, who ponders on whether or not evil lions can also be summoned; more specifically Scar. Through plotting and manipulation, Ushari (along with Janja and his hyena clan) successfully summon Scar's spirit.
In "The Wisdom of Kongwe", Mufasa speaks to his son and grandson over his brother's return. Kion accepted blame for being tricked into using the roar to summon Scar, but Mufasa reminds that the roar can be turned to both good and evil. Sadly, he had no advice on how to defeat Scar, but was confident the answer laid somewhere in the Pride Lands, which led Simba and the Lion Guard seek out the wisdom of Kongwe.
In "The Kilio Valley Fire", Kion summons Mufasa for counsel, as Scar's minions had driven Ma Tembo's herd out of Kilio Valley and Kion felt deeply responsible for failing the elephants. Mufasa encouraged him not to let others doubt of him weigh him down. He also tells that the Pride Lands are more than just land.
Mufasa makes several appearances in the animated blooper reel featured in the Diamond Edition release of The Lion King, where he is seen preparing his voice and throat for a roar, though the process proves to be rather lengthy.
When Simba was a small cub, Mufasa came to Wildebeest Gorge to save him from being crushed by stampeding wildebeests. Although he saved Simba, he had to climb a cliff to exit the gorge. When he got to the top, he was tossed off the cliff by his own brother, Scar, and crushed by the stampede down below. After his death, Scar convinced Simba that it was his fault (Simba's) that Mufasa had died, and encouraged him to run away and never return. Scar then told the other lions that both Mufasa and Simba had died in the stampede, allowing him to take control of the Pride Lands as its new king.
Later, Mufasa appeared to Simba as a spirit to enlighten Simba's courage to take his role as the Pride Land's true king by usurping Scar's leadership. It is his spirit (in the form of a star) that gives Sora access to a new pathway.
Mufasa's role is somewhat expanded in the musical based on the movie. He sings "They Live in You" ("He Lives in You" with the lyrics slightly changed) to young Simba in the scene when the two of them are looking up at the stars and discussing the Great Kings of the Past.
There is also an added scene in which Mufasa tells Zazu of his concerns about Simba's daring behavior. Zazu then reminds Mufasa of his early years as a rambunctious cub.
The role of Mufasa on Broadway was originated by Tony award nominee Samuel E. Wright in 1997 and Cornell John in the original London cast.
A prototype sculpt of his headdress/mask was donated to the collection of the Puppetry Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia alongside the mask for Scar, taking prominent display upon their initial appearance.
Mufasa was also one of the central characters in The Legend of the Lion King, a former Fantasyland attraction in the Magic Kingdom, which retold the story of the film using fully articulated puppets. Mufasa is also mentioned by Scar during an exchange with Hades in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. In the Magic Kingdom's nighttime spectacular, Happily Ever After, Mufasa's spirit appears as the introduction of the "Go the Distance" sequence.
Mufasa's likeness is also featured at Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Mufasa's face can also be spotted in park's version of It's a Small World.
Mufasa appears in the on-property Mandarin production of The Lion King stage musical. In the park, itself, he makes an appearance during Simba's segment in Ignite the Magic.
- On the original 1995 VHS cover to The Lion King, Mufasa is given a pink nose instead of a brown one.
- In an early script for The Lion King, Mufasa would sing a song called "Mighty King of the Wild". It was cut since it didn't match Mufasa's character.
- Mufasa's death is considered by many to be the most graphic and horrific in all of Disney history, as his dead body is shown and is killed on-screen.
- Some of the vocalizations for Mufasa were recycled from that of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast.
- Mufasa is based on King Hamlet from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, on which The Lion King is based. Like King Hamlet, Mufasa is remembered as a strong, wise and just ruler and was killed by his younger brother for the sake of his throne, only to visit their son as an apparition and urge him to take back the throne. However, unlike King Hamlet, Mufasa is a kind and humorous individual who urges his son to take his inheritance for the sake of the Circle of Life, whereas King Hamlet only wanted his death to be avenged. Both also have queens whom they adore, in the case of King Hamlet, Gertrude, in the case of Mufasa, Sarabi, the difference being that Sarabi loved Mufasa whereas Gertrude loves Claudius who inspired the character of Scar.
- Mufasa makes a cameo appearance in Fantasia 2000. A figurine of him is behind his voice actor, James Earl Jones, before the "Carnival of the Animals" segment.
- Mufasa's voice actor, James Earl Jones, and Sarabi's voice actress, Madge Sinclair, have also played African King Jaffe and Queen Aeoleon in the 1988 live-action film Coming to America, which was released six years prior to The Lion King. In both films, Jones and Sinclair's characters were not only an African King and Queen but also the parents of the protagonists of their respective films (Simba for Mufasa and Sarabi, Akeem for Jaffe and Aeoleon).
- James Earl Jones also voices the infamous Darth Vader.
- Sean Connery was originally considered for the role of Mufasa.
- Mufasa's character design would go on to influence the final design of Mayor Lionheart; a character from Zootopia.
- In "Never Roar Again", Mufasa understood that Scar didn't have Kion's genuine ability to love and care for others and gently reminded Kion of this fact. He also suggested that Kion seeks the one he loves so much.
- He is the only Disney character thus far to have the same actor for his debut and the upcoming live-action remake of his debut.