The Lion Guard
The Lion Guard Logo.png
GenreAdventure
Coming-of-age
Comedy drama
Developed byFord Riley
Directed byHowy Parkins
Voices of
Opening theme"Call of the Guard" performed by The Lion Guard Chorus
Ending theme"Here Comes the Lion Guard" (Seasons 1–2) performed by Beau Black
"The Power of the Roar" (Season 3) written by Ford Riley and Beau Black
performed by Michael Luwoye
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes74 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersFord Riley
Howy Parkins
Running time22 minutes
Production companyDisney Television Animation
DistributorDisney–ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original networkDisney Channel (2015)
Disney Junior (2016–2019)
First shown inNovember 22, 2015 (pilot)
Original releaseJanuary 15, 2016 (2016-01-15) –
November 3, 2019 (2019-11-03)

The Lion Guard is an American animated television series developed by Ford Riley[2] and based on Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. The series was first broadcast with a television film titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on Disney Channel on November 22, 2015, and began airing as a TV series on January 15, 2016, on Disney Junior.[3] It is the second television series to be based on The Lion King, the first being Timon & Pumbaa. The Lion Guard is a sequel and spin-off to The Lion King, and takes place during the time-gap within the 1998 film The Lion King II: Simba's Pride,[4] with the third and final season taking place in parallel with the film's second act, followed by the final two episodes of the series serving as an epilogue to the film.

The second season premiered on July 7, 2017. A third season was commissioned on March 15, 2017, and premiered on August 3, 2019.[5] The series finale aired on November 3, 2019.

Premise

Prince Kion is the son of King Simba and Queen Nala and the younger brother of Princess Kiara. As the second-born cub of the royal family, he is gifted with a power called the Roar of the Elders and becomes the leader of the Lion Guard, a team who protects the Pride Lands and defends the Circle of Life. Despite the tradition that the Lion Guard has always been made of lions, Kion appoints his friends Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippopotamus, Fuli the cheetah, and Ono the egret, and together, they set out to keep their homeland safe and protect it from animals who do not respect the Circle of Life.

Starting in season 2, the Lion Guard's mission becomes harder when Kion’s deceased great uncle Scar returns as a fiery spirit and plans to destroy the Pride Lands. Scar forms an army consisted of animals from the Outlands. This eventually leads to an all-out battle between the Pridelanders and the Outlanders.

At the beginning of season 3, the Lion Guard have become teenagers and defeat Scar. They then leave the Pride Lands and travel out of Africa to get to the Tree of Life in Asia to cure Kion and Ono’s battle injuries. Kion's team also gets a new member, a martial eagle named Anga who replaces Ono's position as the keenest of sight after Ono temporarily loses his eyesight, while he gains a new position as the smartest.

Once reaching the Tree of Life, the Lion Guard assists in defending the haven from intruders together with the Night Pride, the group who protects the Tree of Life. After Kion and Ono are healed and their enemies are defeated, hyenas Jasiri and Janja come looking for them and alert them that Zira and her pride are back. The Lion Guard returns to the Pride Lands, only to find out that the conflict has already been settled. Zira's daughter, Vitani, has formed her own Lion Guard in their absence, causing an argument between them and Kion's Lion Guard. However, after seeing Vitani's confidence in becoming a leader even without the Roar, Kion allows Vitani's Lion Guard to succeed his Guard as defenders of the Pride Lands. Kion and his friends return to the Tree of Life where Kion marries the Night Pride’s leader, Queen Rani, and is crowned King of the Tree of Life with his family and friends attending.

Episodes

Main article: List of The Lion Guard episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast released
PilotNovember 22, 2015 (2015-11-22)
126January 15, 2016 (2016-01-15)April 21, 2017 (2017-04-21)
229July 7, 2017 (2017-07-07)April 22, 2019 (2019-04-22)
319August 3, 2019 (2019-08-03)November 3, 2019 (2019-11-03)

Characters

Main article: List of The Lion King characters

The Lion Guard

The Lion King alumni

The characters returning from The Lion King and its sequels and spin-offs appear in this series:

Supporting characters

Villains

Production

The series was announced by Disney on June 9, 2014 on the run-up to the first film's 20th anniversary. Disney Junior general manager Nancy Kanter stated: "It's kind of like The Lion King meets The Avengers."[10] The series' announcement came after a meeting between Kanter and Disney chief executive Robert Iger. Iger suggested to Kanter that Disney Junior should consider producing content to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Lion King in 2014. Disney had shown early footage to young test audiences, who were able to make suggestions, such as adjusting the look of the hyenas.[11] Disney Consumer Products launched a line of toys to tie into the television series, as well at book titles based on the series such as Return of the Roar, Can't-Wait to be Queen, Bunga the Wise, Meet the New Guard, Fuli Finds Her Place, Join the Lion Guard! and Kion's Animal Alphabet.[12] A sneak peek of The Lion Guard was shown at the 2015 D23 Expo.[13] On August 12, 2015, a sneak peek was shown, with new information that the television movie was scheduled to air in November 2015 to be titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar.[14] On October 9, 2015, it was announced that Return of the Roar would premiere on November 22, 2015, on Disney Channel.[15]

On coming up with the idea, the series' creator and executive producer Ford Riley noted that at the end of The Lion King the presentation of Simba and Nala's newborn cub is seen. In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, it is revealed that the cub in question is Kiara and that she will be the future queen. Riley was interested in the idea of a second-born cub and what his role would be if Kiara is destined to become queen. Additionally, he was inspired by his 8-year-old son, who would visit the park with friends and pretend to be a superhero team.[4][16]

Riley confirmed the timeline of the series; in Simba's Pride there is a years-long time gap, The Lion Guard takes place during the years in-between Kiara's first meeting with Kovu as a cub and her first hunt as an adult.[4] Riley also noted the inclusion of Swahili into the series, which is used for names of characters, locations, songs and catchphrases.[4]

Classic mythology is used as inspiration for the show. Riley stated "We want it to feel epic and so we're trying to draw from as many epics in classical literature and classical television in addition to (The Lion King) itself." Riley noted that protecting the Circle of Life is the main theme of the series; "The animals who respect it don't eat too much, allow for the grass to grow, and larger animals to eat smaller animals. Our bad guys come from those that don't respect the Circle of Life. They just want to eat and wreak havoc."[16]

In terms of giving The Lion Guard the same look as the original film, director Howy Parkins stated that they were mindful to keep the essence of The Lion King. To that end, the crew did extensive research on the look of the backgrounds and characters and were able to obtain some original model sheets. In addition, Barry Atkinson and Mike Surrey, background painter and supervising animator for Timon on the original film respectively, were brought in to consult with the series' background artists, animators and storyboard artists.[17]

Speaking on the show's educational aspect, Parkins stated that research was done on animals and habitats in the Serengeti, and that this information is woven into storylines without being overt.[17]

Spin-off

A short-form series called It's UnBungalievable starring Bunga and Ono was produced by Disneynature and premiered on Disney Junior on January 9, 2016. In the series, Bunga and Ono pick two animals to compete in contests such as "Who's Quicker?" "Who Has Better Hair?" and "Who's Hungrier?" The series features live-action animal footage provided by Disneynature.[18]

# Episode
1 Who's Quicker?
2 Who's Mightier?
3 Who Has Better Hair?
4 Who's Hungrier?
5 Who's the Better Babysitter?
6 Who's Cuter?
7 Who's Sillier?
8 Who's Louder?
9 Who's Brainier?
10 Who's a Better Flyer?

Broadcast

Like its American counterpart, Return of the Roar premiered on November 22, 2015 on Disney Channel in Canada, while the series premiered on January 17, 2016 on Disney Junior, two days after its American premiere.[19][20] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Return of the Roar premiered on Disney Junior on February 8, 2016, while the series premiered on April 13, 2016.[21][22] In Australia and New Zealand, the pilot debuted on February 6, 2016 and the series began airing on February 28, 2016 on Disney Junior.[23] In Southeast Asia, the pilot premiered on March 20, 2016 on Disney Channel (April 11 on Disney Junior) and the series itself on April 17 on the Disney Junior block on Disney Channel.[24][25]

Home media

Region 1 DVD releases

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Title Release Date Episodes Additional Features
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar[26] February 23, 2016 Television movie Music video of Beau Black performing "Here Comes the Lion Guard."

Talking Lion Guard Backpack Clip

The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power[27] September 20, 2016
  • "Fuli's New Family" (Season 1, Episode 7)
  • "Bunga the Wise" (Season 1, Episode 3)
  • "Eye of the Beholder" (Season 1, Episode 5)
  • "Follow That Hippo!" (Season 1, Episode 9)
  • "The Search for Utamu" (Season 1, Episode 8)
  • "Never Judge a Hyena by Its Spots" (Season 1, Episode 1)

Lion Guard Power Necklace

The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands[28] January 10, 2017
  • "The Rise of Makuu" (Season 1, Episode 2)
  • "The Kupatana Celebration" (Season 1, Episode 6)
  • "Bunga and the King" (Season 1, Episode 13)
  • "Never Roar Again" (Season 1, Episode 21)
  • "The Imaginary Okapi" (Season 1, Episode 14)
Music videos: "A Trail to Hope", "Teke Ruka Teleza"

It's UnBungalievable shorts

Five Lion Guard Wristbands

The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar[29] January 9, 2018
  • "The Rise of Scar" (Season 2, Episode 5/Television movie)
  • "The Trouble With Galagos" (Season 1, Episode 16)
  • "Janja's New Crew" (Season 1, Episode 17)
  • "Baboons!" (Season 1, Episode 18)
  • "Lions of the Outlands" (Season 1, Episode 20)

Region 2 DVD releases

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

Title Release Date Episodes Additional Features
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar[26] 28 March 2016 Television movie Music video of Beau Black performing "Here Comes the Lion Guard."

Talking Lion Guard Backpack Clip

The Lion Guard: Unleash the Power[27] 3 October 2016
  • "Fuli's New Family" (Season 1, Episode 7)
  • "Bunga the Wise" (Season 1, Episode 3)
  • "Eye of the Beholder" (Season 1, Episode 5)
  • "Follow That Hippo!" (Season 1, Episode 9)
  • "The Search for Utamu" (Season 1, Episode 8)
  • "Never Judge a Hyena by Its Spots" (Season 1, Episode 1)

Lion Guard Power Necklace

The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands[28] 13 February 2017
  • "The Rise of Makuu" (Season 1, Episode 2)
  • "The Kupatana Celebration" (Season 1, Episode 6)
  • "Bunga and the King" (Season 1, Episode 13)
  • "Never Roar Again" (Season 1, Episode 21)
  • "The Imaginary Okapi" (Season 1, Episode 14)
Music videos: "A Trail to Hope", "Teke Ruka Teleza"

It's UnBungalievable shorts

Five Lion Guard Wristbands

The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar[29] 5 March 2018
  • "The Rise of Scar" (Season 2, Episode 5/Television movie)
  • "The Trouble With Galagos" (Season 1, Episode 16)
  • "Janja's New Crew" (Season 1, Episode 17)
  • "Baboons!" (Season 1, Episode 18)
  • "Lions of the Outlands" (Season 1, Episode 20)

Soundtracks

The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series)
The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series).jpg
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJanuary 8, 2016
GenreChildren, Pop, Pop rock, World, Soundtrack
Length34:43
LabelWalt Disney
The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series)[30]
No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."Call of the Guard (The Lion Guard Theme)"The Lion Guard Chorus1:03
2."A Beautiful Day (Ni Siku Nzuri)"Beau Black2:16
3."Zuka Zama"Bunga1:57
4."Tonight We Strike"Janja, Mzingo & Hyenas1:56
5."Kion's Lament"Kion3:24
6."Here Comes the Lion Guard"Beau Black2:28
7."We're the Same (Sisi Ni Sawa)"Kion & Jasiri2:33
8."Outta the Way"Janja, Cheezi & Chungu2:00
9."Duties of the King"Simba & Zazu2:01
10."Bunga the Wise"Timon, Pumbaa & Bunga1:41
11."My Own Way"Fuli2:18
12."Jackal Style"Reirei2:10
13."Panic and Run"Janja, Cheezi, & Chungu1:34
14."It Is Time"Beau Black3:01
15."Call of the Guard (Full Version)"The Lion Guard Chorus4:21
Total length:34:43

A second soundtrack release entitled The Lion Guard: Disney Junior Music was released digitally on September 1, 2017.

Reception

Max Nicholson from IGN gives the pilot episode score of 7.7, describing the special as "a fun-filled, if younger-skewing, hour television." He praised the pilot for introducing more of the Lion King lore, and also the animation, music, and performance of the new voice actors. However, he found Janja and his clan lacked the appeal to make a compelling villain.[31]

Ed Power of The Daily Telegraph scored the pilot two stars out of five, labeling it a "Soggy, Sentimental throwback."[32]

Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media gives the series four out of five stars, stating "With its strong messages about courage, responsibility, and friendship, this series is a fun pick for kids, and parents who watch with their kids will enjoy seeing the original The Lion King gang -- including Timon, Pumbaa, and the eccentric Rafiki -- in cameos throughout the series."[33]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2017 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Original Song Beau Black, Sarah Mirza, Ford Riley, Kevin Hopps for "Sisi Ni Sawa” Nominated [34]
2020 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Original Song Beau Black, Ford Riley, Jennifer Skelly for "As You Move Forward” Nominated [35]

References

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  2. ^ "Disney's The Lion King to Continue with The Lion Guard". ComingSoon.net.
  3. ^ a b Wagmeister, Elizabeth (December 9, 2015). "Disney's 'Lion King' Revival Series 'The Lion Guard' to Premiere in January". Variety. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Brett, Susan (February 8, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Disney's The Lion Guard creator Ford Riley talks new Lion King sequel". TVdaily.com. Archived from the original on August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  5. ^ Disney Junior [@disneyjunior] (July 18, 2019). "The #CircleofLife continues! Join the #LionGuard as they start their journey to the Tree of Life on August 3 at 9a on Disney Junior. #LionKing pic.twitter.com/sWbunHh9e1" (Tweet). Retrieved October 11, 2019 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ a b c "Lion King spin-off The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar sneak peek". Entertainment Weekly.
  7. ^ a b c McCarthy, Tyler (August 12, 2015). "'Lion King' Sequel Series 'The Lion Guard' To Debut On Disney With Several Original Characters Recast". International Business Times. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Beck, Jerry (August 12, 2015). "FIRST LOOK: Disney Channel's "The Lion Guard"". Animation Scoop. Indiewire. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  9. ^ "David Oyelowo to Play Scar in 'The Lion Guard'". Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  10. ^ "The Lion King Getting Sequel TV Series, The Lion Guard, On Disney Junior". E! Online.
  11. ^ Fritz, Ben (June 9, 2014). "Disney Junior Plans Preschool Series Based on 'The Lion King' (Exclusive)". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  12. ^ "Catalog Overview". abovethetreeline.com.
  13. ^ "Disney Channel, Disney XD & Disney Junior Stars Set for 2015 D23 EXPO". Broadway World. June 11, 2015. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  14. ^ Steinberg, Brian (August 12, 2015). "Disney to Revive 'Lion King' With 'Lion Guard' TV Series". Variety. Variety Media. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  15. ^ Beck, Jerry (October 9, 2015). "Disney's "The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar" Set For Nov. 22 Debut". Animation Scoop. Indiewire. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Kelley, Shamus (December 12, 2017). "How Does A Disney Junior Show Tell Compelling Stories?". denofgeek.com. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Dickson, Jeremy (November 12, 2015). "The Lion Guard director dishes on how Disney re-animated a classic". kidscreen.com. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  18. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (January 8, 2015). "Disney's The Lion Guard gets short-form spinoff". kidscreen.com. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  19. ^ "Disney's The Lion Guard: Return Of The Roar Primetime Television Movie Event Premieres Sunday, November 22 on Disney Channel" (Press release). Toronto: Corus Entertainment. October 9, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  20. ^ "Disney Junior's The Lion Guard, an Animated Series Featuring the Adventures of Kion — Simba and Nala's Second-Born Cub Debuts Sunday, January 17 at 11:30 a.m. ET/PT" (Press release). Toronto: Corus Entertainment. December 10, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar". TV Guide UK. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Lion Guard debuts 13th April 2016 on Disney Junior". Primary Times. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Lion Guard: the circle of life continues". Foxtel Insider. Foxtel. February 4, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  24. ^ "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar". Disney Southeast Asia. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  25. ^ "The Lion Guard: Series Premiere". Disney Southeast Asia. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "' The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar' on DVD with Exclusive Gift on February 23 – Stitch Kingdom". Stitch Kingdom.
  27. ^ a b Lambert, David (June 10, 2016). "The Lion Guard – 'Unleash The Power': Disney's Press Release for the First DVD!". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  28. ^ a b "The Lion Guard – Life in the Pride Lands on Disney DVD January 10th". dapsmagic.com. November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  29. ^ a b Snook, Jay (January 8, 2018). "A Dangerous Foe Returns on 'The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar'". goodmenproject.com. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "The Lion Guard (Music from the TV Series) by Various Artists". iTunes Store. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  31. ^ Nicholson, Max (17 December 2015). "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar Review". IGN. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  32. ^ Power, Ed (8 February 2016). "The Lion Guard: Return of the Raw is a soggy, sentimental throwback - review". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2022-01-12. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  33. ^ Ashby, Emily. "The Lion Guard TV review". commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  34. ^ "THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES ANNOUNCES NOMINATIONS FOR THE 44th ANNUAL DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS" (PDF). emmyonline.org.
  35. ^ "THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES ANNOUNCES NOMINATIONS FOR THE 47th ANNUAL DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS". deadline.com.