The Lion King Wiki
The Lion King Wiki
Physical information




Hair color

Black, brown, and cream

Eye color


Distinguishing features

Scar over left eye

Biographical information
Also known as

   Fuzzy maraca (by Timon)
   Green eyes (by Jasiri)
   Little termite (by Nuka)
   Little termite Kovu (by Nuka)
   Riffraff (by Zazu)
   Scar's heir (by Simba)
   The Chosen One (by the Outsiders)




   Pride Lands
   Outlands (formerly)


   Pride Landers
   Pride Lands monarchy
   Simba's pride
   Outlanders (formerly)
   Outsiders (formerly)


Prince of Pride Rock

Relationship information

Zira (mother)
Nuka (brother)
Vitani (sister)
Kiara (mate)
Simba (father-in-law)
Nala (mother-in-law)
Kion (brother-in-law)


Kiara, Kion, Nala, Pumbaa, Rafiki, Simba, Timon, Vitani, Nuka (formerly), Zira (formerly)


Nuka, Zira, Jasiri (formerly), Kiara (formerly), Kion (formerly), Simba (formerly), Vitani (formerly)

I have left the Outsiders. I am a rogue. Judge me now, for who I am. Or am I to be blamed for a crime I didn't commit?
―Kovu challenges Simba's judgment[src]

Kovu is a male lion. He is the prince consort of Pride Rock through his marriage to Kiara. He is the son of Zira, the younger brother of Nuka and Vitani, and the mate of Kiara.

Shortly after his birth, Kovu was named the chosen heir of Scar. However, once Simba rose to the throne, he exiled Kovu and his pride to the Outlands. There, Zira raised Kovu to resent the Pride Landers and, in particular, the royal family. Kovu's view of the enemy pride was challenged when he encountered the princess of Pride Rock, Kiara, who had wandered into the Outlands in search of adventure. The two cubs formed a tentative friendship but were quickly separated by their feuding parents.

Upon finding out about Kovu's friendship with Kiara, Zira resolved to use her son to infiltrate Simba's pride and seize the throne. For years after, Zira trained Kovu to be a ruthless killer. When it came time for Kiara's first hunt, she had Nuka and Vitani set fire to the grasslands, while Kovu was sent ahead to rescue Kiara. Kovu delivered Kiara safely to the Pride Lands, where he requested permission to join Simba's pride. Simba reluctantly agreed but reserved judgment on Kovu's character.

Over the next few days, Kovu's attempts on Simba's life were thwarted by Kiara, whom Kovu began to care for. The two's friendship, through the help of Rafiki, slowly blossomed into love until Kovu resolved to tell Kiara the truth about his mission. Zira caught wind of Kovu's betrayal and framed him for an ambush, which led to his expulsion from the Pride Lands. Kiara sought Kovu out and convinced him to help her unite their feuding prides. Though Zira refused to see reason and died trying to kill Simba, Simba accepted the Outsiders, and Kovu was allowed to rejoin the pride. In a ceremony at Pride Rock, Kovu became Kiara's mate and the future king consort of the Pride Lands.


Early life

Oh, haven't you met my son, Kovu? He was hand-chosen by Scar to follow in his paw prints and become...king!
―Zira introduces Kovu to Simba[src]

A cave painting depicts the Outsiders' exile from the Pride Lands.

Kovu was born to Zira. He had an elder brother, Nuka, and an elder sister, Vitani. The family lived in the Pride Lands under the reign of Scar, who chose Kovu to be his heir.

Sometime after this, Simba returned to the Pride Lands, battled and defeated Scar, and took his place as king.[1] Zira protested that Scar had chosen Kovu to be the next king, but Simba asserted that Scar had not been the true king. In retaliation, Zira attacked Simba, but he defeated her easily. Afterward, he banished Kovu, his family, and several other lionesses who were loyal to Scar to the Outlands.[2]


Befriending Kiara

Kovu: Sorry, Mother! She didn't seem so bad. I thought we could be...
Zira: Friends?
—Kovu and Zira, on his interaction with Kiara[src]

Kovu meets Kiara.

When Kiara, a Pride Lander cub, wandered into the Outlands and accidentally tripped off a fallen log, she knocked into Kovu. The two cubs lay sprawled on the ground, coughing. Kovu immediately jumped back up and snarled at Kiara, who backed away in fear. He demanded to know who she was, but she did not answer, only tried to evade him without turning her back on him. He stopped, puzzled, and asked what she was doing. She fiercely explained to him that her father had told her to never turn her back on an Outsider. Kovu teased her, asking if she always did what "Daddy" said. Kiara vehemently denied this, but Kovu just laughed and mockingly called her "Daddy's Little Girl."

Kovu then walked onto a log in the middle of a nearby swamp, boasting that Outsiders did not need anybody and that he could take care of himself. Kiara followed, unaware that the log was actually a crocodile. Kovu turned in time to see a crocodile about to swallow Kiara whole from behind. The two cubs ran away in fear, and a chase instigated. Eventually, Kovu decided to distract the crocodiles so that Kiara could get away. However, when he ran out of crocodiles to jump on, he fell into the water and nearly got eaten. Just in time, Kiara leaped on the crocodile's snout and urged Kovu to move. The two escaped up a thin tree branch and collapsed on dry land. The two looked over the cliff to where the crocodiles were straining to climb up the cliff after them, and Kiara smugly blew a raspberry at them.

Kovu and Kiara work together to escape a float of crocodiles.

The cubs ran into a patch of grass, and Kovu listened enthusiastically as Kiara vented about how exciting the chase had been. Eventually, she softened and told Kovu that he had been really brave. He complimented her as well, then introduced himself. She told him her name and tried to play tag with him, but he did not understand what she was doing. Kiara quickly picked up on this and began to growl and bounce back and forth. Kovu, recognizing the new game, snarled in response. But as he did so, Simba appeared and roared over Kiara. In response, Kovu's own mother, Zira, jumped out in the defense of her son.

Zira then introduced Kovu as her son as well as Scar's chosen heir. Simba growled at Kovu, who quaked in fear. Zira went on to explain that Kovu had been the last born before Simba had exiled Zira and her pride to the Outlands. Simba forcefully reminded her about the penalty for entering the Pride Lands, but Zira reminded him that Kovu was just a cub. However, she offered Kovu to Simba, but he told Zira to leave the Pride Lands. He then took Kiara by her scruff and carried her away. Zira did the same to Kovu, and the two cubs whispered goodbye to each other before separating.

Zira scolds Kovu for interacting with Kiara.

Upon returning to the Outlands, Zira set Kovu down beside his sister, Vitani, who challenged him to a play-fight. Zira then accusingly turned on Nuka and shouted that he should have been watching Kovu. Kovu quickly jumped to his brother's defense and explained that he had wandered off on his own. Zira demanded to know what he had been doing. Kovu replied, "Nothing," and began to back away.

Relentless, Zira asked Kovu who had made them Outsiders, to which Kovu answered, "Simba." She asked him who had killed Scar, and he gave the same answer. She then growled, "And what have I told you about them?" Kovu apologized to his mother and tried to defend himself, admitting that he did not think Kiara was so bad. Zira was disgusted and vented about how Kovu had thought "Simba would welcome him with open arms." She then stopped, realizing that this could be a good way to defeat Simba. Enthralled, she called Kovu a "brilliant child" and said that he had the same devious mind as Scar. She then took him into the termite mounds and set him down in his nest. She hushed him to sleep and gloated about the Outsiders' eventual rise to power.[1]

Conflict with Jasiri's clan

Mom? What's going on? Kion said he'd talk to Simba about letting us go back to the Pride Lands. Why can't we be friends?!
―Kovu, after Zira turns on Kion[src]

Kovu and Nuka meet Kion.

When Kovu and his family drove a clan of hyenas away from their watering hole, one of the hyenas, Jasiri, went to Kion for help. Kion and Jasiri returned to the watering hole, where they were attacked by Nuka, Kovu's older brother. Kion fended off Nuka, which drew the attention of Kovu. Kion questioned Kovu as to how he knew Nuka, and Kovu admitted that they were brothers.

With Kovu having joined the fray, Nuka declared that Kion was outnumbered, but Jasiri jumped to his defense and declared that they were even. Slowly, the four began to circle each other, and Kion learned that Kovu and Nuka's family was not welcome in the Pride Lands. Confused, he asserted that his father would likely welcome them into the kingdom, and Nuka asked who his father was. Jasiri answered that Kion was the son of Simba, the king of Pride Rock, and a shocked Kovu and Nuka wondered if they really could return to the Pride Lands. Kovu hoped that he might see Kion's sister, Kiara, again. Kovu pointed out that Kion must first speak with their mother, Zira, and Kion and Jasiri agreed to visit the watering hole.

Kovu ducks out of the way of Kion's Roar of the Elders.

Once there, Kion and Zira moved off to speak privately about the Roar of the Elders, while Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani stayed with Jasiri. During the wait, Nuka grew impatient and tried to attack Jasiri, but Kovu jumped in the way and warned his brother not to start a fight. Just then, Zira returned and lied to Jasiri that Kion had agreed to let the Outsiders keep the watering hole. She then brought her cubs to where she had surrounded Kion with her lionesses.

Once Kovu realized what his mother was doing, he questioned Zira as to what was going on and wondered why they could not be friends with Kion. Just in time, the rest of Kion's Lion Guard arrived and forced the Outsiders up against a wall. As Kion readied himself to use the Roar of the Elders, Kovu backed away and ducked down in time to avoid the blast. The force of the Roar blew his family away, and he scrambled to catch up to them.[2]

Young adulthood

Romance with Kiara

Okay, I have to tell her today. Oh, where do I start? 'Kiara, Zira had a plot, and...I was part of it. But I don't wanna be, because... It's because I love you.'
―Kovu recites his confession to Kiara[src]

Kovu rescues Kiara from a fire as part of his mother's plan.

Zira trained and conditioned Kovu until he was a fit young adult lion. One day, she proclaimed him ready to take on the task of killing King Simba. She circled around him, pleased with his progress, and commented that he had the same blackness in his soul as Scar. She questioned her son about his destiny, and he said that he would avenge Scar and take his place as the king of the Pride Lands. She asked him what he had been taught, and he replied that Simba was the enemy. Finally, she asked him what he must do, and Kovu said that he must kill Simba. The Outsiders then roared in affirmation.

Later, Nuka and Vitani set the Pride Lands alight while Kiara was in the middle of her first hunt. Zira sent Kovu to retrieve and rescue the princess. He managed to carry her through a burning forest and plunged off a cliff face into a lake below. After dragging her through the water, Kovu dropped her on land, and she asked where she was. He replied that she was "safe" in the Pride Lands.

Kovu requests permission to join Simba's pride.

Angered, Kiara demanded to know why he had brought her there and who he thought he was. Kovu was offended and reminded her that he had just saved her life. Kiara protested that she had had everything under control, but Kovu said, "Not from where I'm standing." Kiara retorted, "Then move downwind!" She tried to get around him, but he blocked her path. Refusing to turn her back on him, she prepared herself for a fight. But then Kovu asked her what she was doing, and Kiara recognized her childhood friend.

Before the two could catch up with each other, Simba jumped in front of Kiara and roared aggressively at Kovu. After a brief exchange with his daughter, he figured out that the lion standing in front of her was Kovu. He roared a challenge, and Kovu roared back. Just then, Rafiki indirectly told Simba that Kovu had saved Kiara's life. Simba asked him why he had saved her, and Kovu asked to join Simba's pride.

Kiara challenges Kovu to teach her to hunt.

Simba refused and reminded Kovu that he had been banished with the other Outsiders. Kovu revealed that he had left the Outsiders and was a rogue. He told Simba to judge him for who he was or else accuse him of a crime he had not committed. Simba growled, thinking over the proposition. Nala reminded him that Kovu had saved Kiara's life, and Zazu added that "royal protocol demands all debts be paid." Simba finally came to a decision, deciding to follow the laws of his father. Kiara was delighted, but as the Pride Landers turned their backs, Kovu grinned slyly.

Upon reaching Pride Rock, Simba noticed Kovu about to go into the inner cavern with the lionesses. He quickly jumped in front of him with a growl and intimidated him away from the cavern opening. Kovu glared at Simba before walking to a tall rock outside the cavern to sleep.

Kovu's attempt to assassinate Simba is foiled by an unsuspecting Kiara.

Kiara was the last of the lionesses to reach Pride Rock and saw Kovu lying down beside the rock. She approached him and thanked him for saving her life. Kovu smugly asked her what kind of a hunter she thought she was and pointed out that she could have been killed. He then told her that she could not last three days on her own. Provoked, Kiara asked if he could teach her how to hunt, and Kovu smugly confirmed this. Simba then yelled for Kiara, and she quickly told Kovu to "impress her," for they would start at dawn. Kovu smiled and commented that he was looking forward to it.

That night, Kovu appeared in Simba's nightmare. In the dream, Simba was trying to help Mufasa climb out of the gorge when Scar appeared on the ledge above them, cackling maliciously. After Mufasa fell, Scar morphed into Kovu and threw Simba to his death.

Kovu teaches Kiara how to hunt.

The next morning, Kovu saw Simba taking a drink at a water hole. He prepared to attack but was interrupted by Kiara, who jumped in front of him and cheerfully told him good morning. She excitedly jumped around him and told him that she was ready for her first lesson. Kovu looked at the water hole to see that Simba was gone. He growled to himself, then followed after Kiara.

While training Kiara, Kovu waited in the grass for her to pounce on him by surprise. He rolled his eyes and counted to three. He then ducked, and Kiara leaped full over his head, landing on the ground a few feet away. Kovu stepped toward her and looked down at her. Embarrassed, she asked if he had heard her, and Kovu replied, "Only...a lot." He then told her that she was breathing too hard. He urged her to feel the earth beneath her paws so it would not shift beneath her. Kovu then decided to show her an example. He saw a flock of birds alighting on a nearby hillside and ran up the side of the hill. He roared and unintentionally pounced on Timon, who cried out in fear and begged Kovu not to eat him.

Kovu and Kiara accidentally kiss while hiding from a herd of rhinoceroses.

Kiara rushed up after Kovu and asked Timon what he was doing. Timon was relieved to see her and explained that he had not been following her for once. He told the lions that the birds were eating all their grubs and gestured to the numerous birds that were poking at the ground. He asked Kovu to lend a voice, but the Outsider did not understand what he meant. Kiara showed him, roaring at the birds, which scattered them into the sky. Kovu roared, and together, the two lions followed Timon and Pumbaa down the hillside, scattering birds in all directions. Kovu was still confused and asked Kiara what the point of this training was. Kiara laughed and told him that it was just for fun. Kovu was flustered, but Kiara's laughing and Timon and Pumbaa's whooping eventually brought him out of his shell, and he began whooping alongside them.

Suddenly, the group ran into a rhinoceros herd. The birds, who were sitting atop the creatures' horns, blew raspberries at Kovu and his friends. The rhinoceroses then snorted angrily, and the friends raced back the way they had come, with the rhinoceroses in hot pursuit. The foursome managed to squeeze into a crevice, and the herd of rhinoceroses shot past. They all laughed uncontrollably, and even Kovu expressed that he was having fun. As the group struggled to get out, Kiara and Kovu accidentally touched muzzles. They were both a bit flustered and smiled in embarrassment. All the friends climbed out of the crevice and began making their way out of the canyon.

Kovu realizes his blossoming love for Kiara during the "Upendi" musical sequence.

That night, Kiara and Kovu were lying on the grass, gazing up at the stars. They tried to decipher pictures in the stars. While Kiara spotted a baby rabbit, Kovu saw two battling lions. Kiara grimaced, but Kovu laughed and admitted that he had never done this before. Kiara was surprised and told Kovu that she used to do it all the time with her father, who had told her that the Great Kings of the Past looked down on them from the stars. Kovu wondered if Scar was up there, but Kiara did not answer.

Troubled, Kovu told her that even though Scar was not his father, he was still a part of him. Kiara told Kovu that, according to Simba, there had been a darkness in Scar that he could not escape. Kovu quietly wondered if that darkness was in him too. Kiara did not answer but put her paw on Kovu's and nuzzled him. Simba and Nala watched them from a nearby hillside, and Simba sought counsel with the Great Kings of the Past. He was hesitant to trust Kovu, especially around his daughter, but Nala urged him to give the Outsider a chance.

Simba offers Kovu a night's lodging in the den.

Kovu then pulled away from Kiara, and she asked what was wrong. Kovu started to tell her his part in Zira's plan but decided against it and started to walk away again. Kiara softly urged him to stay, and Kovu hesitated. He started to leave again when Rafiki suddenly appeared out of the grass and asked where Kovu thought he was going. Kovu was flustered and replied, "Nowhere." Rafiki laughed and said, "That's what you think." He then disappeared into the grass, and Kovu searched frantically for him. He then asked who Rafiki was, and Kiara laughed nervously and explained Rafiki as "a friend of the family." Rafiki then appeared on Kovu's back.

The mandrill slipped off Kovu and pulled his tail, urging him to follow. Rafiki then sprang away, and Kiara followed after him, giggling. Kovu ran after her, and Rafiki encouraged the two young lions to like each other more. Afterward, Kovu and Kiara sang to themselves as they made their way back to Pride Rock. As they reached the cave, they remembered that Kovu was not allowed inside.

Kovu resolves to tell Kiara of his feelings for her.

They parted, and Kovu made his way back to his rock. Simba, seeing Kovu happy after his night with Kiara, invited the young Outsider to come into the cave with him. As Kovu followed the king into the cave, Vitani watched eagerly, waiting for him to attack Simba. But when the attack never came, Vitani ran back to the Outlands and reported all she had seen to Zira, who roared and growled angrily that Kovu could not betray them.

The next morning, Kovu resolved to talk to Kiara and confess his true reasons for coming to the Pride Lands. He wanted to tell her that he had abandoned the plot because he loved her. However, before he could do so, Simba appeared out of the cave and informed Kovu that he wanted to talk to him. The king led Kovu out of Pride Rock and took him to a fire-ravaged section of the Pride Lands, which was still suffering from Scar's rule.

Simba tells Kovu the true story of Scar.

As they walked, Simba explained to Kovu that Scar had been unable to let go of his hate and that, in the end, it had destroyed him. Kovu admitted that he had never heard the story of Scar that way and that Scar really had been a killer. Simba added that fire was a killer too. He then said that "what's left behind can grow better than the generation before, if given the chance." As he said this, Simba revealed a small green shoot in the dirt.

At that moment, there was a cackle, and Simba and Kovu immediately looked up to see the Outsiders surrounding them. As Kovu realized that he had inadvertently completed the plot he had formerly abandoned, he began to panic. After taunting Simba, Zira congratulated Kovu on a job well-done. Simba accusingly turned on Kovu for setting him up, but the young lion pled his innocence and told Simba that he had had nothing to do with the ambush. Ignoring the exchange between Kovu and Simba, Zira ordered her pride to attack. Kovu shouted in protest, but too late, the lionesses attacked Simba. Kovu attempted to save him but was kicked aside by Vitani. He hit his head on a rock and was knocked unconscious.

Kovu attempts to defend Simba from the Outsiders.

Simba fled from the Outsiders and fell into the gorge, where a log dam was holding back the river. He climbed up the log pile to reach safety, and Kovu appeared on a ledge above him. Zira ordered her son to attack, but he turned away and raced back down the gorge. Nuka, wanting to impress his mother, took Kovu's place in killing Simba. He climbed up the log dam and managed to grab Simba's ankle. Just then, the logs dislodged, and Nuka fell backward. Simba climbed to safety, and more logs were dislodged. They fell down the pile and crushed Nuka.

Kovu raced down into the gorge and began clawing through the logs, trying to reach his wounded brother. But Zira pushed him aside and finished digging through the logs until she saw Nuka buried beneath them. After a hushed conversation between the two of them, he died. She sent a desperate prayer up to Scar, asking him to watch over Nuka, then turned accusingly on Kovu. He looked up in shock just as she swung her paw forward and raked her claws across his face. He cried out in pain, then looked up at her angrily with a fresh scar across his left eye. Zira snarled at him, demanding to know what he had done.

Kovu defies Zira.

After a moment's consideration, Kovu said that he had done nothing, and Zira replied that he had betrayed his pride and Scar. Kovu shouted that he wanted nothing more to do with him, but Zira said that he could not escape it. She then accused Kovu of having killed his brother. Horrified, Kovu fled.

Kovu returned to the Pride Lands but was not greeted warmly. An enraged Simba demanded to know why he had come back after what he had done, and Kovu denied having been involved in the ambush. However, Simba interrupted him, telling him that he did not belong in the Pride Lands. Kovu asked for Simba's forgiveness, and Kiara begged her father to comply. Simba ignored them both and reminded Kovu that when the Outsider had first come to the Pride Lands, he had asked for judgment. Simba stated that he would pass it now, then promptly exiled Kovu. The animals of the Pride Lands helped drive Kovu away from Pride Rock.

Kovu flees after Simba exiles him from the Pride Lands.

Distraught, Kiara ignored Simba's orders to not leave Pride Rock unescorted and ran away to find Kovu. When she was unable to find him, she began to mourn. Eventually, Kovu found her, and they reunited. They laughed together and lay down next to a pool. Kovu looked at their reflections, which had merged through the ripples, and said to her, "Look. We are one." He smiled at her, and she smiled back, then realized what Kovu had just said and looked shocked.

Kovu leaped away from the pool and announced that they should run away together and start a pride of their own. Kiara smiled affectionately and reminded him that they had to go back. Kovu thought she was kidding and reminded her that they were finally together. She told him that their place was with their pride and that if they left, their families would be divided forever.

Kovu is reunited with Kiara.

The battle of the prides began, and Kovu and Kiara raced back to stop their feuding families. They ran down an embankment covered with fallen logs. Kovu nearly slipped but caught onto one of the logs and jumped to safety. The logs began shifting. The battle continued until Simba and Zira started a showdown. But just as they raised their paws to inflict blows, Kovu and Kiara jumped in front of their parents. Zira ordered Kovu to move, but he said that he would never let her hurt Kiara or Simba.

Kiara then convinced her father to accept the Outsiders as "one" with the Pride Landers. After Simba saw the wisdom in his daughter's words, he complied. The Outsiders, realizing that there was a better way of life, abandoned Zira and walked across the battlefield to join Simba's pride. Zira, unwilling to reconcile with the Pride Landers, attacked Simba to avenge Scar, but Kiara leaped in her father's way to protect him. Both lionesses went rolling into the gorge, where the logs had dislodged and a raging river was flowing. Kiara managed to find a ledge to cling on to, but Zira was less fortunate. After refusing help from Kiara, she fell into the river to her death. Kovu sighed sadly as he watched his mother disappear beneath the current.

Simba finally accepts Kovu as one of the pride.

Kiara then climbed back out of the gorge with help from her father. Kovu embraced her, and the two reunited affectionately. Simba watched his daughter embrace the Outsider and told Kovu that he had been wrong, for Kovu belonged with the pride. The two prides then joined together and went back to Pride Rock as one. They gathered on Pride Rock, where Rafiki shook his stick over Kiara and Kovu's heads, blessing their union.

King Simba and Queen Nala led the procession through the pride members, who were lined up along Pride Rock with bowed heads. Kiara and Kovu followed behind them. Both couples made their way to the tip of Pride Rock. First, Simba roared, then Kovu. Finally, all four roared together, while the rest of the pride roared in answer.[1]

Lion Guard's return to the Pride Lands

Zira raised me to believe that Simba was our enemy. But after I got to know Simba and Kiara, I realized she was wrong.
―Kovu explains his history to the Lion Guard[src]

Kovu explains his history with Kiara.

When the Lion Guard arrived in the Outlands, anticipating a fight with Zira, Anga spotted Kovu standing at the edge of Pride Rock. Just then, Vitani and her self-formed Lion Guard arrived and attacked Kion's Guard, whom they mistook for enemies. As the battle came to a head, Kovu and Kiara appeared, and Kion warned Kiara that Kovu was behind her. Just before Kion could harm Kovu, Kiara blocked his path and explained that Kovu, Vitani, and the rest of the Outsiders had joined Simba's pride. Kion mentioned Zira, and Kovu explained that she had died. Kiara then urged Kion to return to Pride Rock, where he could hear the full story.

Back at Pride Rock, Kovu, Kiara, and Rafiki explained everything that had happened with Zira's pride while the Lion Guard had been away. Simba concluded that Kovu and Kiara would become the king and queen of Pride Rock someday. That night, Kovu and the rest of the royal family witnessed the appearance of Mufasa's spirit in the heavens. The next day, Kovu watched the competition between Kion's Lion Guard and Vitani's Lion Guard, specifically Beshte's, Fuli's, and Anga's individual challenges. He also watched the final mashindano between Kion and Vitani, and the appearance of Askari's spirit in the sky.[3]

Kion's coronation

Kovu attended Kion's coronation and wedding to Rani at the Tree of Life.[3]

Physical appearance

Evil as plain as the scar on his face.
―Pride Landers on Kovu's scar[src]

Zira expresses her approval of Kovu's powerful physique.

As a cub, Kovu was large, broad, and stocky. He had brown fur, with a paler muzzle, paws, and underbelly. He had a dark brown head tuft as well as dark brown tufts of fur on his elbow joints. Like most Outsiders, he had a hooked nose and unsheathed claws. His eyes were green.

As a young adult, Kovu retained his coloring but grew to be larger and more powerfully built. He has a dark brown mane that extends to the top of his chest and a scar over his left eye.[1]

Personality and traits

Kovu: Why are we doing this? What's the point of this training?
Kiara: Training? This is just for fun!
Kovu: Fun...?
—Kovu and Kiara, while playing with Timon and Pumbaa[src]

Due to Zira's harsh training, Kovu grew into a cold-blooded killer.

As a cub, Kovu was aggressive and crude. Upon meeting Kiara, his first reaction was to challenge her with a snarl, and the only game he understood was play-fighting. He was considerably arrogant and egotistical, and liked to brag about his independence and survival skills. However, while aggressive, Kovu was heroic in his determination to save Kiara from crocodiles and showed a willingness to make friends with her, despite the enmity between their prides. Additionally, he stood up for his brother, Nuka, even in the face of their mother's rage.

Though Kovu displayed bravado in his interactions with Kiara, he was submissive and fearful of Zira. He sometimes questioned her bloodthirsty tendencies but gave in if she rebuked him harshly.[1] Even so, he remained open to meeting outsiders, as he was calm in his first interaction with Simba's son, Kion, and did not seem to hold hyenas like Jasiri in contempt.[2]

After falling in love with Kiara, Kovu became kinder and more temperate in nature.

As Kovu aged, his soft side was beaten down by Zira, who molded him into a cold-blooded killer. He retained his arrogance and continued to show scorn in his interactions with other lions, even going so far as to mock Kiara for her subpar hunting skills. His attempts to kill Simba were subtle and slick, and he proved to be a good actor, as he tricked Simba's entire pride into believing that he had changed for the better.

After meeting Kiara again as a young adult, Kovu began to cave to his softer side, embracing mischief and laughter. His dark side occasionally slipped in, as seen when he could only pinpoint violent pictures in the stars, but he softened considerably and even showed open affection for Kiara. Ultimately, he chose to betray his pride, revealing that his feelings for Kiara were stronger than his initial drive to avenge Scar. He became gentler toward and more respectful of her and was always willing to do the right thing, even if it meant disappointing those he loved. Despite having betrayed his family, Kovu continued to love them. For instance, he mourned Zira's death despite her refusal to reconcile with Simba's pride.[1]




  • Kovu's name means "scar" in Swahili.[8]
  • Like the other Outsiders, adult Kovu keeps his claws extended at all times. However, after he forms a bond with Kiara, his claws retract. Likewise, the other Outsiders retract their claws after Simba welcomes them back to Pride Rock.[1]
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the Outsiders already live in the termite mounds by the time Kovu meets Kiara.[1] However, in "Lions of the Outlands", the Outsiders move into the termite mounds for the first time, despite Kovu mentioning that his encounter with Kiara has already taken place.[2]
  • In the Proud of Simba's Pride documentary, Kovu is described as a "teenage killer." This indicates that his older self is meant to be the equivalent of someone in their teens.[9]
  • Kovu and Zira's relationship was inspired by the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, in which a mother brainwashes her son into becoming an assassin.[9]

In development

  • According to Variety, Kovu was initially named Nunka. His original voice actor was Andy Dick, who ended up voicing Kovu's older brother, Nuka.[10]

In early concept artwork, Kovu had a black mane.

  • Kovu was originally written to be Scar's son. However, after realizing the incestuous undertones his romance with Kiara would have, the writers scrapped the idea and clarified in the film that he had no biological relation to Scar.[11]
  • Kovu's mane was originally going to be black and slick, and his eyes were going to be bright green. This design was changed, along with his relation to Scar.[12]
  • In a deleted scene, Kovu catches a bug, then allows it to fly away. Zira then kills the bug herself and expresses outrage at her son for showing mercy.[13] Director Darrell Rooney clarified that this scene was deleted for pacing reasons and to keep focus on the main storyline.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 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.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Revealed in "Lions of the Outlands" from Disney Junior's The Lion Guard. No. 20, Season 1. Written by Kevin Hopps, John Loy, and Ford Riley, and directed by Howy Parkins. Originally aired November 11, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Revealed in "Return to the Pride Lands" from Disney Junior's The Lion Guard. No. 19, Season 3. Written by Kendall Michele Haney and Ford Riley, and directed by Tom De Rosier and Howy Parkins. Originally aired November 3, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ryan O'Donohue. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 15, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jason Marsden. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 15, 2020.
  6. Gene Miller. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 15, 2020.
  7. Andrew Collins. IMDb., Inc. Retrieved on September 15, 2020.
  8. Online Swahili - English Dictionary. African Languages. Retrieved on September 15, 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Revealed in the Proud of Simba's Pride documentary
  10. Mike Fleming (December 4, 1996). ‘Blackout’ awakens at Miramax; Hammer hit. Variety. Retrieved on August 28, 2014.
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  12. KiaraKovuConcept.png
  13. YouTube favicon.png The Lion King 2 - Deleted Scene's on the AndsterThePancer YouTube channel
  14. Rooney questions.png