"Gotta love buffet-style dining!"

THE LION KING (1994)

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

EXT. AFRICA

A whole bunch of ANIMALS trudge reluctantly off to meet the new APEX PREDATOR who will one day be in charge of DEVOURING THEM.

ANIMALS

(to the tune of “The Circle of Life”)

From the day we arrive on the planet

And, blinking, step into the sun

We strain and strive

To keep barely alive

Oy, this world is a merciless one

We mostly die off as infants

As a snack for a ravenous beast

Yes it’s life of a sort

Nasty, brutish, and short

When you are part of a living feast

It’s a sad, cruel old life

When you’re always viewed

By the ruling class

As a pile of food

It’s a struggle to live

And it’s just exhausting

In this sad, cruel

And sucky old life!

High over the peasants, a newborn LION CUB is held aloft. Reminded of the neverending cycle of carnage, the crowd starts SHRIEKING and FLAILING in FUTILE PROTEST at the CALLOUS INIQUITIES of this INDIFFERENT UNIVERSE.

EXT. LION KINGDOM

Later, that CUB has partially grown up and become JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS. His dad, KING JAMES EARL JONES, takes him on a tour of their domain.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Yeesh, that opening parody song was bleak. Do we really screw over the herbivores that badly?

JAMES EARL JONES

No, I have a tortured justification for that. So, yes, we DO chase down vulnerable animals and tear them to pieces and eat their flesh. But then years later, after we die peacefully of old age, they can eat grass that’s been nourished by our remains. And that’s pretty much the same thing, right?

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Call me crazy, but I’m still thinking we get the better end of that particular arrangement.

JAMES EARL JONES

Whatever, we don’t give the gazelles or zebras and stuff voices anyway so who gives a shit about them. Now, look around at these pride lands. All of this will be yours one day.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Huh? Aren’t I supposed to get kicked out of the pride when I grow up? Then go murder the leader of another pride? And eat his kids?

JAMES EARL JONES

Dear GOD no! Look kid, we want to avoid as much actual lion behavior as possible, okay? Those things are massive assholes.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Fine then, we’ll go with the direct line of succession thing. Just saying, our genetic diversity is going to be well fucked.

JAMES EARL JONES

Exactly, just like real royalty. Oh, and that dark valley over there is forbidden, okay?

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

(strokes chin mischievously)

Ooohh, forbidden you say...

JAMES EARL JONES

Uh huh.

(pause)

(goes home)

(has dinner)

(goes to bed)

(wakes up, slaps forehead)

"Because it's full of murderous hyenas who will tear you open from end to end"! I KNEW I forgot to say something important!

EXT. PLAINS

JONATHAN is out with his friend NIKITA CALAME, under the supervision of hornbill ROWAN ATKINSON.

NIKITA CALAME

We need to slip away so we can visit your dad's forbidden valley of mysteries. If only we weren't stuck with this damn chaperone!

ROWAN ATKINSON

Yes, to protect and control you two lions, they have assigned a small fussy bird. How EVER will you overcome such an obstacle.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

I know how to handle this. Hey, various animals, distract Rowan for me with an elaborate technicolor acid trip!

ANIMALS

Y-YES SIR, PLEASE DON'T GET YOUR FATHER TO EAT US SIR

(start dancing frenziedly)

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Eh heh heh, man I love abusing my nearly infinite power.

(to the tune of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King")

I'm gonna be the shittest king

I possibly can be

I seem to think the point of it

Is glory unto ME

I'm self-involved and arrogant

And slightly power-mad

The only way I'm qualified

Is I've got the right dad

But hey, that's all you need to be a king!

Isn't that just terrifying?

ROWAN is effectively DETAINED, and JONATHAN and NIKITA run off into an ELEPHANT GRAVEYARD. Within minutes, they find themselves cornered by hyenas WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CHEECH MARIN, and JIM CUMMINGS.

NIKITA CALAME

Oh no, hyenas! The most evil, scummy bottom-feeders in all of Africa!

WHOOPI GOLDBERG

US?! Are you shitting me, what about all the times you guys let us do all the hard work of bringing an animal down, then chase us off and eat it yourselves, you kill-stealing jackholes?

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Hey, we already made it clear this isn't fucking Nat Geo Wild. Besides, we look regal as shit, while you guys look like dogs and goats had a crack baby, so who do you think the audience is going to side with?

The HYENAS go to EAT JONATHAN and NIKITA, but then JAMES storms in and chases them off.

JAMES EARL JONES

RAAH! Fuck off! How dare you try to eat a vulnerable creature who wandered into your territory! That's only okay when you do it to NON-lions, you peons!

He takes JONATHAN and NIKITA home. While the HYENAS are licking their wounds and grumbling about LION SUPREMACY, JAMES'S CREEPY BROTHER JEREMY IRONS shows up.

JEREMY IRONS

Look guys, I can help you out. I hate my brother as much as you do! Partly because he became king instead of me, but mainly because he insists on only ever calling me by my facial disfigurement. I mean, RUDE.

(pause)

Either that or I was born with a jacked-up eye and my parents decided to just go ahead and name me after it. Or maybe I was just given the weird name "Scar", and then later got a really noticeable scar by total coincidence? Whatever happened, I'm PISSED OFF! I have a plan to kill James, I need help executing it and you're what I've got!

WHOOPI GOLDBERG

(drools)

CHEECH MARIN

(gets foot stuck in own ear)

JIM CUMMINGS

(literally just giggles vacantly for every line)

JEREMY IRONS

(sighs)

Well this is just how it goes for a family-movie villain, I guess...

(to the tune of "Be Prepared")

You'd think for this delicate killin'

I'd need to find competent goons

But as a cartoonish arch-villain

Of course I get stuck with buffoons

Yeah, Shredder's lieutenants were numbnuts

Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor's as well

And Hades could only get dumb fucks

So I'll do the same, what the hell!

So despair as we undercut tension

We despair as the bad guys seem lame

The heroes seem half-shit

When thwarted by halfwits

The stakes just feel lower

When henchmen are slower

I guess we can brag

Of some half-decent gags

Way more than Pain and Panic can claim

But when serious threat should be there

We despair!

EXT. CANYON

JEREMY brings JONATHAN to the bottom of a deserted CANYON.

JEREMY IRONS

Now remember, Jonathan, your father says to stand here alone in this random canyon, for unspecified reasons.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Gee, just yesterday it seemed like he was pretty dead-set on me not being anywhere unsupervised. And I nearly got killed between then and now. Honestly, this doesn't seem like anything he would do or say.

JEREMY IRONS

I know, but what you're not considering is that this is totally normal and not in any way suspicious.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Oh okay then!

JEREMY leaves. Then the HYENAS start a STAMPEDE of WILDEBEEST who pour into the CANYON and now JONATHAN is about to get TRAMPLED, OH NO!

JAMES EARL JONES

(arriving)

Don't worry Jonathan, I'll save you! Here, let me place you on this small ledge, so that you're positioned where you can see me try to climb out, then see me fall to my doom, but just sliiiightly in the wrong place to make out what happens in between.

JEREMY murders JAMES slightly up and to the right from JONATHAN'S field of vision!

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

NOOOO!!! My dad died! I stood still in a place on the instructions of adults, then a terrible accident happened and now my father is dead! How utterly, obviously not the result of any decision I have ever made!

JEREMY IRONS

Nope. That was basically cold-blooded murder, you sick little bastard.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Um. How?

JEREMY IRONS

I don't have to explain my reasoning to a father-killer! Fuck off forever!

JONATHAN runs off crying. JEREMY takes over the pride and lets all the HYENAS run amok. And presumably dozens of HERBIVORES stand vigil over JAMES'S CORPSE, waiting for it to turn to GRASS so they can EAT HIM.

EXT. JUNGLE

MEERKAT NATHAN LANE and WARTHOG ERNIE SABELLA are wandering the jungle when they come across JONATHAN, who has run until he PASSED OUT.

NATHAN LANE

SHIT, A LION! LET'S GET THE FUCK OUT OF - oh wait we're voiced characters, our lives must have meaning. Phew, we're fine!

ERNIE SABELLA

Fart joke.

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Yeah, never mind me guys. I'm a turd and deserve to die.

(smears on black eye makeup, blasts Nine Inch Nails)

NATHAN LANE

Whuh oh, sounds like you've been through a terrible experience that could really mess you up emotionally. You know what you should do?

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Go and talk it out with people who care about me, so as to deal with it openly and honestly before-

NATHAN LANE

What? No, fuck that gibberish. I was gonna say you should push the bad memories deep deep down where you never have to think about it again. That's the easy way out!

(to the tune of "Hakuna Matata")

Repress all your trauma!

Keep ignoring the pain!

Repress all your trauma!

Pretend you're right as rain!

Just let it fester

At the back of your brain!

Never deal with it!

Block out that shit!

Repress all your trauma!

JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

I like your thinking!

(seals memories away in the darkest recesses of his soul)

EVERYTHING'S FINE WOOO LET'S GO SWIM IN A LAKE!!!

ERNIE SABELLA

Fart joke!

They FROLIC for like a solid YEAR. JONATHAN grows up partially and briefly has a mane that looks like HOT GARBAGE, then FULLY GROWS up into a proper ADULT LION. JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS sadly walks away to live off HOME IMPROVEMENT RESIDUALS, while MATTHEW BRODERICK takes over the role for the rest of the movie.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

That's right, it's my last hurrah playing a cool roguish youth, before I get consigned to an endless string of neurotic loser roles forever!

NATHAN LANE

Ah, this is the life, huh kid? Spending all day just lazing around, not doing anything...

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Not doing anything, are you kidding me?! An adult male lion eats like twenty pounds of food a day, do you have any idea how hard it is to do that with beetles and grubs? I've been eating ten thousand bugs every single day, it's EXHAUSTING!

NATHAN LANE

Woah there, you wouldn't happen to be experiencing a negative emotion would you?

MATTHEW BRODERICK

(squashing everything down even harder than before)

O-of course not! Everything's still well repressed! Now I'll go slump down as I stare mournfully up at the stars, in a CAREFREE WAY!!

As he plomps down on the ground, he kicks up a couple of LEAVES, which then float on the BREEZE all the way back to the PRIDE LANDS, and are picked up by WISE OLD MANDRILL ROBERT GUILLAUME.

ROBERT GUILLAUME

Oh my God, these random leaves that I somehow knew were important enough to snatch out of the air smell like Matthew! HE'S ALIVE! And hey, wouldn't it be CRAAAZY if I found this out, like, a matter of hours before somebody else from the pride stumbled across Matthew anyway? How stupidly improbable THAT would be!

EXT. JUNGLE

NATHAN and ERNIE are out on a walk when suddenly a LIONESS jumps out and tries to eat them!

ED SABELLA

(fleeing)

FART JOOOOKE!!

MATTHEW charges in and fights the LIONESS. But suddenly he RECOGNIZES HER.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Holy shit, Nikita?!

MOIRA KELLY

Actually I'm voiced by Moira Kelly now. But wow, Matthew, long time no see! And rawr, you sure grew up nicely! I mean yes you're the first non-evil non-megalomaniac male lion I've met since I hit puberty, so my standards aren't super high, but still.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Okay, granted, we do have a bit of a Blue Lagoon vibe happening here, but... I mean, who's your dad? There were only two male lions in the pride as far as I could tell, my uncle and my father, so are you and I...?

MOIRA KELLY

Eh, I think this was already covered by the "inbred royalty" joke.

They run off and have... a sex scene possibly? Is that what happens?

MATTHEW BRODERICK

(to the tune of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight")

"Get real", you say, "It's Disney.

That's not a thing they'd do."

But watch again, it's fairly possible

That at some point we screw

MOIRA KELLY

I mean, come on, I lick him

Then give him "fuck me" eyes

It's clear that I'm completely DTF

So what's the verdict, guys?

CHORUS

Do we think they banged tonight?

It's not entirely clear

The editing makes it ambiguous

Just what happened here...

MOIRA KELLY

Well this was nice, whatever actually happened. So now I guess we're gonna go kill your evil uncle and save the pride lands, right?

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Woah! Uh, listen, I had fun tonight and all, but I'm not really looking for anything serious, like a royal coup or anything. Tell you what, I'll call you, yeah?

MOIRA KELLY

Oh fuck you! And after I was polite and didn't eat your warthog friend. Thanks for nothing, asshole!

(leaves)

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Argh, I'm so torn up inside! This is the most crucial, pivotal moment of self-doubt I've ever had, so if some wise mentor could drop out of the blue RIGHT this second that'd be really handy thanks.

At RIGHT that second, ROBERT arrives.

ROBERT GUILLAUME

Hey Matthew! You need to remember who you are and stop running from your past! And if you won't take it from me, how about let's have your dead dad tell you the exact same thing.

JAMES appears in the sky!

JAMES EARL JONES

Behold! I manifest among the stars!

MATTHEW BRODERICK

The stars? You're just in a cloud, dude.

JAMES EARL JONES

Wait, what?

(looks down at self)

A fucking cloud?! But we had this whole thing about dead kings becoming the stars. We mentioned it several times! Why set that up so thoroughly, then only ALMOST pay it off?

(sighs)

You know what, it doesn't matter. Moira and Robert are right, Matt. You should realize your destiny instead of running away like a bitch.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

But I'm not worthy, Dad! I killed you!

JAMES EARL JONES

Oh! Right, I should have explained, JEREMY killed me. He threw me off a cliff, it had nothing to do with you.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

OH. Well then, guilt over, and yeah I'm totally going to go fuck Jeremy up, that asshole!!!

(runs off)

JAMES EARL JONES

Boy, that was effective. Probably should have said that in the actual movie.

EXT. PRIDE ROCK

MATTHEW'S MOTHER MADGE SINCLAIR is chewing out JEREMY.

MADGE SINCLAIR

You're the worst king ever, Jeremy! There's no food or water anymore! We should probably just kill you, you know. There's like eight of us and you're actually pretty skinny, the fight would be over in twenty seconds.

JEREMY IRONS

Look, is it my fault if it stopped raining the minute I became king? Nobody warned me about magic spite weather!

Then MATTHEW shows up to reclaim the THRONE.

MADGE SINCLAIR

Holy shit, Matthew?! What's the meaning of this, Jeremy? You told us Matthew died! You said he got trampled so hard by the wildebeest that he was reduced to his component atoms and that's why there was no body! Are you telling us that was a lie?!

JEREMY IRONS

Er, DON'T TRUST MATTHEW EVERYBODY, HE KILLED JAMES!

MADGE SINCLAIR

Wait, what? How? He was a tiny cub. Are you going to explain that in any way?

MATTHEW BRODERICK

HE'S LYING! HE'S THE ONE WHO KILLED DAD!

MADGE SINCLAIR

Okay, that ALSO needs further elucidation. This is some heavy shit guys, do you think we could get some fucking details here?!

MATTHEW BRODERICK

NO EXPLAINING, I KILL HIM NOW!!

MATTHEW slaps JEREMY in the FACE! Then JEREMY slaps MATTHEW in the FACE! This happens in SLOW MOTION in front of a RAGING FIRE so that it comes off way less LAME than it SOUNDS. Finally MATTHEW throws JEREMY off of a LEDGE.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Yes! He had a minor fall, so I will now consider him permanently dealt with and stop thinking about him altogether.

(dusts paws, strolls away)

JEREMY meanwhile is only SLIGHTLY WINDED. He gets up to rejoin the FIGHT, but THEN:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Hey Jeremy! We hyenas heard what you were just saying about us a little while back. You talked shit about us! You said, just, some VERY mean things!

JEREMY IRONS

Well yeah. That's all I've been doing since the moment I met you, so how come-

(eaten)

As soon as JEREMY is DEAD, the WEATHER stops being a JERK and starts RAINING EVERYWHERE. Finally we cut to everything being LUSH AND VERDANT again, as MATTHEW has taken his place as KING and he and MOIRA are presenting their own CUB to the assorted ANIMALS.

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Hey look, it's all ended where it began! I guess it's true, that there is a great... Circle of Life.

(pause)

Although if life IS cyclical, I sure hope the whole Evil Lion Usurping the Throne thing isn't gonna happen again.

ZIRA FROM THE LION KING II

Do - do I count?

MATTHEW BRODERICK

Ha ha ha! Don't embarrass yourself.

END.

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