- “If you were half the king Mufasa was!”
- ―Sarabi condemns Scar
After Mufasa's death and Simba's supposed death, Sarabi remained strong, standing up against the tyrant king Scar. After Simba's return, she joins him, Nala, the other lionesses, Timon, Pumbaa, and Rafiki in fighting against Scar and the hyenas, subsequently watching Simba ascend the throne he was destined to many years before.
As the queen of Pride Rock, she is shown to be in charge of the lionesses and their hunting groups. She is depicted as being wise, courageous, and strong, but gentle and humorous at the same time.
Sarabi originally had yellow-orange fur, matching her deleted sister, Naanda. The fur on her chest was lighter than the rest of her fur. Her red eyes and ear rims remained unchanged through development. In later concepts, Sarabi had gray fur and a pink nose and ears. Her neck was a bit longer than in the final version. Her muzzle and chest were white.
In early drafts of the film, Sarabi was meant to have three sisters who lived in the Ndona Pride (what their Pride was called), Dwala, Diku, and Naanda (who was to be Nala's mother). In a deleted scene, Sarabi is aided by Nala as the hyenas try to scare her away from the watering hole. Also, in an early draft, Sarabi was meant to sing a song called "The Lion in the Moon" to comfort Simba after his encounter with the hyenas. She was also meant to be at the presentation of Simba's newborn cub, though it was scrapped for unknown reasons.
Sarabi is described as a supportive mother and queen. Throughout Mufasa's reign, she displays herself as being a fierce encouragement to her family, viewing Simba's presentation with pride and later motivating him to learn royally duties from his father. Unlike Mufasa, who is gentle but firm in his guidance, Sarabi is softer, shown to be especially affectionate when dealing with her son, with whom she is especially patient. Not only is Sarabi gentle and soft-spoken, but she is also a doting mother who is not afraid to tease. Through her son's many childish complaints, she keeps a smile on her face, proving herself willing to embarrass him if she believes that she is serving his best interests.
Despite her punny nature, Sarabi is wise enough to keep her family safe, willing to put barriers on Simba in order to keep him from harming himself and his friends. Her easygoing approach to parenting is not of an overly lenient nature but strict enough to keep Simba on the right track, rendering her just as protective of her son as Mufasa.
When faced with Scar, an overbearing and unfair leader, Sarabi keeps her head held high, unaffected by the intimidating presence of her abounding enemies. Even when blamed for problems that are not her fault, Sarabi keeps her temper, remaining fair by refusing to take the blame for Scar's doings. She even goes so far as to suggest something radical for the good of her pride. Though her temper typically remains cool and under control, she does let angry words fly when Scar refuses to take action in order to save his pride. In her rage, Sarabi reveals herself to be defiant and sharp-tongued, able to expertly hit Scar's weakness by comparing him to Mufasa. Sarabi proves herself to be a fierce fighter, being the second lioness to leap into battle after Scar's admittance to killing Mufasa. A seeker of justice, Sarabi fights for the rightful ruler of the Pride Lands and proudly accepts Simba as her new king.
Sarabi appears as a robust tan-colored adult female lioness with amber/reddened eyes. She has soft, round features despite her robustness. She has a brownish-pink nose that matches the insides of her ears, which have a dark rim around them. Her muzzle, underside, and paws are all a lighter shade of tan than the rest of her body, and the tuft at the end of her tail is dark brown.
- “So where is this really cool place?”
- ―Sarabi questioning Simba
Sarabi is first seen with the infant Simba at Simba's presentation and watches as the sunshine down upon the new prince and illuminates the kingdom. She later makes an appearance when an excited Simba awakens his parents before dawn. She wryly tells Mufasa that his son is awake, while Mufasa responds that Simba is Sarabi's son before sunrise. She then watches with a smile on her face as Simba is led to the summit of Pride Rock by his father to be shown his future.
Sarabi appears to be friends with Sarafina, Nala's mother, as her next appearance is with them, sleeping on a rock when Simba arrives to convince Nala to accompany him to an elephant graveyard that his uncle told him about, but waking up and snatching her son before he can escape from his bath. She is shown to be quite intuitive. Knowing that her son is possibly up to mischief when Simba and Nala want to go to the "waterhole," she sends Zazu along with them to keep watch for any danger.
Later, when Scar explains to everyone that Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede, Sarabi is nothing short of devastated at her status as a widow and losing her only child (unaware Simba actually survived), as Zazu makes a vain attempt to comfort her by putting a comforting wing on her right paw. Left destitute, she can do nothing but watch in horror with Zazu and the other lionesses as Scar allows the hyenas to overrun the Pride Lands after giving his oath to protect everyone. In reality, the hyenas serve as Scar's strength as king.
Many years later, the Pride Lands have been destroyed by the hyenas and a severe drought. The lionesses lose faith in Scar as their king, though it is unclear whether or not Sarabi still serves as queen. Even the hyenas lose faith, spending time bugging Scar, who lives his life laying on his bed doing stuff and throwing tantrums when nobody obeys him or when he does not get what he wants. It has become clear that the lionesses, including Sarabi, now have pure hatred for Scar.
One day, Scar furiously summons Sarabi, who strides past the hyenas with her nose in the air, refusing to allow them to intimidate her even as they snap and snarl at her heels. Scar demands to know why there is no hunting taking place. Sarabi informs him the herds have moved on due to the drought and that if the pride is to survive, they must leave as well. Sarabi is angered at Scar's refusal because it essentially sentences them to death and begins telling Scar that he is less than half the king Mufasa was. Before she can finish her statement, Scar strikes her in anger, knocking the old queen to the ground. When Simba appears from the shadows, she mistakes him for Mufasa at first. However, she is overjoyed when Simba identifies himself, though she is confused about how he survived. As Simba confronts his uncle, Nala arrives with the remaining lionesses to support Simba, while Sarabi is helped to her feet by Sarafina and another lioness.
- “It's not true! Tell me its not true!”
- ―Sarabi to Simba on him killing Mufasa
When Scar forces Simba to reveal his belief that he killed his father, Sarabi is shocked into disbelief and begs Simba to tell her it can't be true. However, she is shocked when Simba recovers from his uncle's attempt to execute him, pins the now terrified Scar to the ground, and snarls "MURDERER!" Threatened with being choked to death by Simba if he doesn't confess, Scar reveals the truth of the matter that he was the real murderer of Mufasa, and Sarabi joins the fray against Scar and his servants, with Sarabi fighting furiously to avenge her murdered husband and devastated kingdom. She watches on proudly after her son defeats his cruel tyrannical uncle, who is killed by the hyenas shortly after, and assumes the throne of Pride Rock, roaring with him as he announces his status as the rightful king.
Though she is not seen in the end, Sarabi is likely present at her new grandchild's presentation.
In the sequel, she was originally going to appear as a returning character, but her voice actress Madge Sinclair passed away in 1995 before the film's production, as well as her having no purpose to the story according to writer Flip Kobler. Despite her absence, she is known to be the paternal grandmother to Simba and Nala's daughter Kiara. A lioness resembling Sarabi appears next to Simba when he confronts Zira and a young Kovu.
Sarabi is only shown in one scene where she stands alongside Mufasa during the part where Timon and Pumbaa explore Pride Rock. Though when the screen is moved to the top of Pride Rock, Zazu is there instead of Sarabi. Unlike in the first film, Sarabi has no lines (due to the death of her voice actress Madge Sinclair in 1995) . Therefore throughout the film, there is no animation.
Sarabi makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Safety Smart Goes Green", where she arrives to claim back baby Simba after Timon uses him as an example of a CFL (which Timon though was short for cute fluffy lion cub, but is really a lightbulb).
Much like the sequel film, Sarabi does not appear in the series. However, it is known that Sarabi is the paternal grandmother to Kion, the son of Simba and Nala. Sarabi's only appearance is that she makes a cameo appearance in a cave painting in the Lair of the Lion Guard in Cave of Secrets. A lioness resembling Sarabi appears in the episode "The Ukumbusho Tradition" alongside a lioness who resembles Sarafina.
She is first seen during the musical number "Circle of Life" where she and her mate Mufasa present their newborn cub Simba (the novelization based on the film's plot implies that Mufasa followed his wife along with Rafiki back to his family's den while Mufasa made sure not to bother his wife or his newborn son and telling Zazu to tell Scar he is displeased that he did not attend the birth of Simba). Sometime later after Simba's birth, Sarabi next appears sleeping with her husband telling her that his son is awake to which he and Simba explore the world around them (the novelization, however, implies that while sleeping, she checks on Simba by looking at him to know if he has any injuries or he needs to be healed to which Sarabi checks that everything is fine with Simba). During a morning routine with Simba and Mufasa exploring the Pride Lands around them, Zazu reports to his master that he found out there are hyenas in the Pride Lands to which he warns Mufasa that Sarabi is leading the lionesses to ward off the hyenas (this was not mentioned in the original film), while Mufasa tells his advisor to take Simba home since he cannot allow his son to join him in taking care of the hyenas.
Sarabi later appears during the part where Simba meets Nala for the first time, which before Simba can go with Nala, Sarabi gives him a bath. After the short bath, Simba asks his best friend Nala to know if he could go to the water hole, but Sarabi tells the two not to go anywhere else or any further, to stay downwind, and that they need Zazu to assist the two in case danger happens with the cubs. When they question the idea, she tells them that either Zazu goes or they don't.
Later after Simba is banished, Sarabi is seen among the mourning lionesses when Scar explains that Mufasa and Simba died together as he takes over as king with the Pridelanders noticing the hyenas invading the Pride Lands to turn it into a deserted wasteland.
Later after Zazu is banished by Scar, he secretly sends messages to Sarabi, as he sneaks into Pride Rock, telling the lionesses about the bad news in the decimated Pride Lands, where she tells Nala to get used to Pride Rock with Scar as the new king, much to Nala's refusal just as Shenzi arrives in the conversation between her and Nala to take Sarabi to see Scar. Also, Scar mentioned that in the past, he wanted her as his mate, but she rejected him and chose Mufasa instead. Upon seeing Scar delivering an oryx carcass, he then tried to win her over and convince her to be his queen, but she kept rejecting him because she tells Scar that he is destroying the Pride Lands and the Circle of Life by overhunting. This did not happen in the original film, but in an earlier concept, Scar tried in similar ways to convince Nala, instead of Sarabi, to be his queen, only to be rejected. As a result, Scar allows the hyenas to eat first before the lionesses, much to Sarabi's worry. Later when Nala escapes Pride Rock with the help of Zazu, Sarabi watches over Nala's escape in worry.
Sarabi is later seen during the film's climax, where Scar wants Sarabi to be his queen again, but Sarabi rejects his offer once again and tells him he's nothing compared to Mufasa, causing Scar to attack her. Upon seeing Scar attacking her, Simba confronts him in trying to defend his mother. Hearing Sarabi thinking Mufasa came back, and Simba explains to her that he returned, Sarabi then sides with Nala, who leads the lionesses to prepare for battle against Scar. Later after Simba gets himself back on Pride Rock, Scar explains to the Pridelanders that Simba killed Mufasa and now wants to kill him. After Sarabi listens to Simba fighting his uncle who left Mufasa to die, Sarabi explains to Scar that he lied to the lionesses that Simba died along with Mufasa and only Mufasa died as Scar did not return to the gorge in time while Simba calls his uncle a murderer. As the hyenas attack Simba under Scar's command, Sarabi and the other lionesses, lead by Nala, attack the hyenas in which, after Scar's death, the Pridelanders' victory over Scar was successful. Sarabi is later seen among the other Pridelanders who are proud of Simba, who saved the Pride Lands from Scar as Simba becomes the new king of the Pride Lands.
Mufasa is Sarabi's mate. Sarabi cares a lot about her mate. Sarabi got mad when Scar told everyone that he killed Mufasa.
Sarabi is Simba's mother, as well as the queen of the Pride Lands. Sarabi and Simba have a loving mother-son relationship; she was proud of her son, and like Mufasa, tried to teach him proper conduct and groomed him for his future as the king. She was also protective of him, ensuring that Simba didn't run off to where he could get himself into trouble. When Scar claimed that Simba died alongside Mufasa in the wildebeest stampede, she was heartbroken.
Years later, when Simba arrived to save his home, he watched in horror as Scar scolded his mother. When Scar struck her down in a fit of rage, Simba immediately came to her defense and comforted her. Sarabi is pleased to see her son is still alive and fights by his side to overthrow Scar's tyranny.
Nala knew Sarabi since she was cub because she was friends with Simba. Nala helps Sarabi and Simba fight Scar.
Kiara is Sarabi's granddaughter, although the two never interacted with each other.
Kion is Sarabi's grandson, although the two never interacted with each other.
Sarabi is in good condition with Nala's mother. When Simba is talking to Nala about going to the water hole, her mother thinks if it is good to which she agrees with her to which Sarabi tells Simba that he and Nala can only go if Zazu goes with them to protect them from danger.
Zazu and Sarabi are good friends. Sarabi tells Zazu to go with Simba and Nala to the Watering Hole, much to Simba and Nala's disgust. Zazu works with her mate Mufasa. He gives them the morning report.
Sarabi is good friends with Timon and Pumbaa. They help fight Scar in the final battle.
Sarabi did not have a close relationship with Scar, despite him being her mate's brother. When Scar took over the Pridelands after Mufasa's death, she hated his tyranny and how he did not allow anyone to leave the Pride Lands when there was nothing to eat. When Sarabi learns that Scar killed Mufasa, she helps Simba fight him in the final battle to avenge her mate's death, to which the final battle was successful.
Sarabi not only hates Scar for his tyranny but also hates the plan Scar did to rule the Pride Lands by bringing in a hyena clan to decimate the natural habitat of the Pridelanders by overheating.
- "Sarabi" means "mirage" in Swahili.
- Sarabi's voice actress Madge Sinclair and Mufasa's voice actor James Earl Jones have played African Queen Aoleon and King Jaffe in Coming to America, which was released six years prior to The Lion King. In both films, Jones and Sinclair's characters were both king and queen of an African country and the parents of their films' protagonists (Akeem for Aeoleon and Jaffe, Simba for Mufasa and Sarabi).
- A since-suspended Disney website stated that Sarabi was banished alongside the Outsiders. However, this was not shown in the film.
- The character of Sarabi was inspired by Queen Gertrude from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". However, there are some major differences between the characters. Gertrude dies near the end of the story from poison and, by her own will, remarries King Claudius after her first husband's death. Meanwhile, Sarabi survives the whole film and stays loyal to Mufasa even after his death.
- Her granddaughter Kiara bears a striking resemblance to her.
- According to an original script to The Lion King, Sarabi was meant to be present at Simba and Nala's cub's presentation at the end of the film.
- In the early drafts of the film, Sarabi had three sisters named Naanda, Diku, and Dwala. She would also have been Nala's aunt due to the latter being Naanda's daughter. However, Nala's relationship with Simba would have been considered as incest. Because of this, Naanda became Sarafina and was Sarabi's friend rather than her sister whilst Diku and Dwala were written out.
- After Simba's encounter with the hyenas, Sarabi was scripted to sing a song called "The Lion in the Moon" to calm her son.
- There is a deleted scene in which the hyenas try to scare Sarabi away from the water, and Nala comes to her side and protects her.
- On Disc 2 of the 2-disc editions of The Lion King 1½, on the game titled "Who Wants To Be King Of The Jungle", Sarabi's name is misspelled as Serabi.
- "Alfre Woodard Joins Disney's 'The Lion King' (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter (August 7, 2017).
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