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The Lion King Wiki
"Do you see any other big, lovable chunk of warthog here?"
This article is about the character from the 1994 film.
You may be looking for the character from the 2019 film.

Physical information




Hair color

Black and gray

Eye color


Distinguishing features

   Bald head
   Thick eyebrows

Biographical information
Also known as

   Cactus butt (by Shenzi)
   Honey (by Shenzi)




   Elephant Graveyard (formerly)
   Pride Lands (formerly)


   Shenzi's clan
   Pride Landers (formerly)
   Scar's pride (formerly)

Relationship information

Ed, Shenzi, Scar (formerly)


Ma, Mufasa, Nala, Pumbaa, Scar, Simba, Timon, Uncle Max, Zazu

What are we supposed to do, kill Mufasa?

Banzai is a male hyena. He is a high-ranking member of Shenzi's clan, along with his companion Ed.

Initially, Banzai and his clan lived in exile from the Pride Lands. They formed a friendship with a member of the royal family named Scar, who recruited them to assist in the murder of Mufasa, the kingdom's reigning monarch, and his heir, Simba. On Scar's orders, Banzai and his clan instigated a stampede that led to Mufasa's death. The hyenas then made an attempt on Simba's life but failed. However, they reported to Scar and his pride that Simba had died, which allowed Scar to take the throne.

With Scar as the king of the Pride Lands, the hyenas were allowed entry. During Scar's reign, a famine struck the kingdom, stripping the Pride Lands of its former glory and starving both the hyenas and the lionesses. Eventually, a full-grown Simba returned to the Pride Lands to take his place as the rightful king. Banzai and his clan opposed Simba, supporting Scar's claim to the throne, but Scar betrayed the hyenas to Simba. This led them to turn on and kill him.


Early life

Banzai and his clan lived in the Elephant Graveyard due to their exile from the Pride Lands. At some point in his life, Banzai became close friends with his fellow hyenas, Shenzi and Ed, as well as a lion named Scar.[1]

Attack on Timon's colony

And I thought beans were the only musical food.
―Banzai on Timon[src]

Banzai nearly catches Uncle Max.

While Timon was on sentry duty, engrossed in singing, he failed to notice Banzai and his companions sneaking up behind him. They surrounded him and clapped sarcastically at the song's end. They then pushed Timon to the ground and dashed in among his colony, attacking the scattered meerkats. Though they failed to devour any of the colony, Banzai nearly caught Uncle Max, who escaped down a hole just in time. After the meerkats were safely hidden in their nests, the hyenas walked away, guffawing.[2]

Attack on Simba and Nala

Banzai: Hey, did we order this dinner to-go?
Shenzi: No, why?
Banzai: 'Cause there it goes!
—Banzai and Shenzi, as Simba and Nala escape[src]

Banzai and his friends, Shenzi and Ed, confront Simba, Nala, and Zazu.

When Simba and his friend Nala disobediently trespassed into the Elephant Graveyard, they were confronted by the hyena trio. In echoing Simba's laughter, the hyenas scared the cubs into hiding behind their babysitter, Zazu, who tried to explain to Shenzi that their traipse into the graveyard had been a mere accident. Shenzi promptly identified the hornbill as Mufasa's majordomo, and the hyenas joked about eating the cubs.

Although the cubs and their babysitter attempted to escape, the hyenas managed to catch Zazu and stick him in the birdie boiler. Before they could harm the cubs, Mufasa interfered and attacked them. Banzai was the first of the trio to confront Mufasa, attacking him from behind, but Mufasa swiped him away, leaving him with wounds on his rear. With the battle finished, Mufasa tackled all three to the ground and warned them to never come near his son again. He roared again, and the hyenas scurried away.[1]

Plot to kill Mufasa

If you ever come back, we'll kill ya!
―Banzai to Simba[src]

Banzai and Shenzi mock lions.

That night, Banzai gathered with his friends in the Elephant Graveyard and complained about the wounds on his rear. Ed's constant taunts spun him into a fury, and he scuffled with his friend until he was ordered away by Shenzi. The hyenas proceeded to complain about lions and the subordinate stature of their own species. No sooner had they slammed lions with insults such as "pushy," "hairy," and "stinky," when Scar appeared, bearing gifts of food for his friends, despite their prior failure to kill the cubs. When Banzai challenged his leader, asking if they had been expected to kill Mufasa as well, Scar braced his minions for the death of the king.

Banzai helps to drive Simba out of the Pride Lands.

The next day, Banzai and his friends gathered at the top of the gorge, waiting for Scar's signal to startle the herd. While they waited, Banzai attempted to pick off a sick wildebeest in order to settle his hunger, but Shenzi forbid such an action, as it would disrupt the plan. Scar soon appeared at the top of the ridge, and the hyenas chased the wildebeests into the valley.

After joining up with Scar again, the hyenas were sent after Simba, who had run away from his father's dead body. The three almost managed to catch the cub until he escaped into a thorn thicket. Banzai himself was accidentally pushed into the thicket, and when he emerged, he refused to keep chasing the cub. Leaving Simba for dead, the hyenas yelled taunts after him and then returned to Scar, who was deceived about Simba's survival.[1]

Scar's reign

It's dinnertime, and we ain't got no stinkin' entrées!

Banzai complains about the lack of food in the Pride Lands.

With Mufasa and Simba reportedly dead, Scar took the title of king. Many years passed, during which the hyenas moved into the kingdom alongside the lionesses. When prey became scarce, Banzai and his friends approached Scar, demanding he provide them with more food. Annoyed by their pestering, Scar ordered them away, yelling in particular at Banzai when he mentioned Mufasa's name. Though the hyenas tried one last time to appeal to their king, Scar roared furiously at them, which prompted the hyenas to flee the den, whooping fearfully.[1]

Battle of Pride Rock

Shenzi: Ooh, encore, encore!
Banzai: No, no, no. You mean, "entree, entree."
—Banzai and Shenzi, as Timon and Pumbaa attempt to stall them[src]

A while later, a full-grown Simba returned to the Pride Lands and confronted Scar, who pointedly glared up at the hyenas for their failure to kill Simba. During the final battle, the hyenas flanked their leader, and the trio targeted Timon and Zazu in a bone cage. Pumbaa soon came to the rescue, and Banzai and his friends were chased away by the warthog's brawn.[1]

Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed turn on Scar after he betrays them.

However, the hyenas eventually cornered Timon and Pumbaa in an inner cave of Pride Rock after being angered by an offensive joke the duo made about the hyenas. In an attempt to distract the clan while Ma and Uncle Max dug a tunnel beneath the hyenas, Timon and Pumbaa tried different tactics to keep the hyenas' attention. When the trap tunnel failed, Timon jumped down between Shenzi's legs and finished the contraption himself, causing Banzai and his clan to fall through the ground and plummet to the bottom of Pride Rock.[2]

As the battle drew to a close, Banzai and his friends gathered on the summit of Pride Rock, where they witnessed Scar blaming the hyenas for the coup against Mufasa. They ultimately backed away from the scene in anger. When their king was thrown from Pride Rock by Simba and landed in the midst of the hyena clan, Banzai and his friends gathered around Scar, who welcomed them as friends. The hyenas in turn taunted Scar for blaming the problems of the Pride Lands on them and then proceeded to attack him, eating him alive amidst the burning flames of Pride Rock.[1]


Yeesh, this place is even creepier since the hyenas ran off.
Nuka on the Elephant Graveyard[src]

While gathering fire at the Elephant Graveyard with his sister, Vitani, Nuka mentioned that the hyenas had run off.[3]

Physical appearance

Banzai is a moderately sized hyena, with a hunched back, a long neck, and thin legs. His fur is gray, while his ears, mane, and paws are black. He has several distinctions, including a speckled gray muzzle, spots on his hide, thick eyebrows, and some sparse hairs on his head.[1]

Personality and traits

Cheech's character was kind of the opposite [of Shenzi], you know, very volatile, barely ever able to speak in whispers, very "on" all the time, high pitch.
Alex Kupershmidt on Banzai

When insulted, Banzai is prone to react with aggression.

Of the hyena trio, Banzai is the most aggressive and volatile. He is prone to losing his temper, especially when mocked by his companions, and often resorts to violence if provoked too much. Despite this, he submits to the authority of his leader Shenzi and does her bidding whenever she demands his obedience.

Like most hyenas, Banzai is bumbling, humorous, and driven by hunger. He showed exceptional gluttony and greed when he encountered Simba and Nala, being willing to kill young cubs to sate his appetite. Additionally, he has complete disregard for the Circle of Life, as he chafed at Mufasa's authority and willingly stripped the Pride Lands of all life. He is simple-minded and unintelligent, which often led to misunderstandings between him and Scar, who expressed frustration at his stupidity.

Ultimately, though Banzai is loyal and subservient, he does not take well to betrayal, as seen when he murdered his former friend Scar as an act of revenge.[1]



Television series

Video games


Short stories




Stanley Wayne Mathis (right) as Banzai in the stage musical version of The Lion King.

  • Banzai was originally slated to appear in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, as Cheech Marin reportedly reprised his role for the sequel.[11]
  • Hyenas who bear a striking resemblance to Banzai are seen in the Timon & Pumbaa episodes "No-Good Samaritan" and "Guru-Some". In the former, the hyena attempts to catch and eat Claudia, and in the latter, the hyena receives advice from Pumbaa.[12][13]
  • In the stage musical version of The Lion King, Shenzi mentions that Banzai's father was eaten by Nala's mother, Sarafina.[10]

In development

  • Banzai and his fellow hyenas were originally imagined as cape dogs.[16]
  • In the January 1990 and May 1990 drafts of The Lion King, the hyenas were represented by two males named Banagi and Baasho. Unlike the hyenas of the final film, they were the true masterminds behind Scar's murder of Mufasa and subsequent rise to the throne.[17][18]
  • Cheech Marin and his fellow comedian Tommy Chong were considered for the roles of the hyenas. However, due to Chong and Marin breaking professional ties, Marin and Whoopi Goldberg were cast instead.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Revealed in Disney's The Lion King (1994). Written by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton, and directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revealed in Disney's The Lion King 1½ (2004). Written by Tom Rogers, and directed by Bradley Raymond. Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.
  3. Revealed in Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998). Written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus, and directed by Rob LaDuca and Darrell Rooney. Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Cheech Marin. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 1, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Rob Paulsen. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 1, 2021.
  6. Alex Kupershmidt. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 1, 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bob Baxter. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 1, 2021.
  8. Stanley Wayne Mathis. Playbill. Retrieved on February 16, 2021.
  9. Revealed in Disney's The Lion King (2019). Written by Jeff Nathanson, and directed by Jon Favreau. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Revealed in the stage musical version of The Lion King
  11. CHEECH COPS PLUM ROLE ON 'NASH'. Daily News. Retrieved on October 15, 2020.
  12. Revealed in "No-Good Samaritan" from Disney's The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa. No. 22a, Season 3. Written by Nick DuBois, and directed by Brad Neave. Originally aired May 28, 1999.
  13. Revealed in "Guru-Some" from Disney's The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa. No. 31a, Season 3. Written by Roger Reitzel, and directed by Brad Neave. Originally aired July 30, 1999.
  14. YouTube favicon.png Hidden Surprises from The Lion King | The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar | Disney Channel on the Disney Channel YouTube channel
  15. Iss49Prt10.png
  16. Revealed in the Laserdisc release of The Lion King
  17. Revealed in Disney's The Lion King (1990). Written by J. T. Allen.
  18. Revealed in Disney's King of the Beasts (1990). Written by J.T. Allen and Ronald Bass.
  19. 'The Lion King' Was Originally a 'Cheech and Chong' Movie. Civilized.. Retrieved on February 16, 2021.
  20. YouTube favicon.png Nathan Lane On THE LION KING on the American Film Institute YouTube channel