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Nuka
Physical information
Gender

Male

Species

Lion

Hair color

Black, brown, cream, and gray

Eye color

Red

Distinguishing features

   Bearded chin
   Scraggly mane and whiskers
   Tufted elbows

Biographical information
Status

Deceased

Residence

   Outlands
   Pride Lands (formerly)

Affiliations

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

Relationship information
Family

Zira (mother)
Kovu (brother)
Vitani (sister)
Kiara (sister-in-law)

Allies

Kovu, Vitani, Zira

Enemies

Jasiri, Kiara, Kion, Simba

I could be a leader if she'd just give me a chance!
―Nuka on Zira[src]

Nuka was a male lion. He was a member of the Outsiders. He was the son of Zira, and the elder brother of Kovu and Vitani.

When Nuka was young, Scar chose Kovu to be his heir, despite Nuka being the eldest of Zira's cubs. This caused Nuka to resent Kovu and constantly vie for Zira's attention. Following Scar's death, Nuka and his family were exiled from the Pride Lands by Scar's nephew, Simba, due to their loyalty to Scar.

Because of their banishment, Nuka and his family were forced to take up residence in a barren wasteland called the Outlands. For many seasons, they stewed over their predicament, and Zira plotted to put Kovu on the throne of Pride Rock. Eventually, when Nuka was an adult, he assisted Zira in her plot to assassinate Simba by trapping Kiara, Simba's daughter, in a fire. Kovu used the fire to save Kiara, earn Simba's trust, and infiltrate the enemy pride. Later, Nuka attempted to kill Simba himself but was crushed and killed by falling logs.

Biography

Early life

If Kovu's so special, why does he need us? I never even had a chance!
―Nuka[src]

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

Nuka was born to Zira. He had a younger brother, Kovu, and a younger sister, Vitani. Despite being the eldest of Zira's cubs, he was overlooked in favor of Kovu, who was hand-picked by Scar to be the heir to the throne of Pride Rock. Shortly after Kovu's birth, Scar was killed, and Simba became the new king of the Pride Lands.[1] After Simba's rise to power, Zira protested that Kovu was the true king, as he had been appointed by Scar, but Simba asserted that Scar had never been the rightful king. This incited Zira to attack Simba, but he defeated her easily. Afterward, he banished Zira, her cubs, and her followers from the kingdom due to their loyalty to Scar.[2]

Adolescence

Zira's plot

I should've been the Chosen One. I'm the oldest, I'm the strongest, I'm the smartest...
―Nuka[src]

Nuka complains about Kovu.

At the termite mounds, Nuka muttered angrily to himself about how Kovu was the Chosen One despite not being Scar's son. He caught sight of his sister, Vitani, and asked her where Kovu was. He then used his claw to snap the root she was chewing on, and she tumbled away from him amidst his derisive laughter.

Vitani asked Nuka where Kovu was, to which he replied that it was "every lion for himself" in the Outlands and that Kovu needed to learn to be on his own. Vitani threatened to tell their mother and reminded Nuka that Zira had instructed him to watch over Kovu. Nuka simply shrugged off her threat and complained that he should have been the Chosen One because he was the "oldest," the "strongest," and the "smartest." He went on to say that he would make a good leader if Zira would just give him a chance. Vitani doubted her brother's words, then teasingly informed him that Zira was approaching.

Nuka recoils at Zira's rage.

Upon seeing his mother, Nuka became nervous and informed her that he had caught field mice for their dinner. However, she ignored him and stalked past angrily, which caused him to deflate. He started to bound after her, only for her to round on him and yell that he should have been watching Kovu.

Seeing his brother in trouble, Kovu took the blame. In doing so, he accidentally gave his mother an idea as to how she could enact revenge on Simba. When Zira complimented Kovu for his likeness to Scar, Nuka reacted with disgust. Zira angrily whipped around and snarled at him, which made him laugh nervously. Zira then seized Kovu in her jaws and carried him into the termite mounds. As the two left, Nuka muttered angrily about Kovu being the Chosen One.

Nuka reluctantly expresses enthusiasm for Zira's plot.

Shortly after his mother and brother disappeared into the termite mounds, Nuka joined them. He commented gleefully on how the Outsiders were planning to harm the royal family of the Pride Lands. However, when Zira went on to praise Kovu, Nuka became disgusted and jealous again. At one point, he was forced to sing his brother a lullaby, but he instead forced out a sarcastic song of his own. Vitani was angered by this and kicked Nuka away from Kovu. Later, when Nuka and Vitani were praising Kovu together, Vitani spoke excitedly and sincerely, while Nuka spoke begrudgingly.[1]

Skirmish with Jasiri's clan

It should be three against one! What kind of a lion are you? Siding with a hyena!
―Nuka criticizes Kion for helping Jasiri[src]

Nuka agrees to take Kion and Jasiri to Zira.

Nuka and his family drove a clan of hyenas from their watering hole. The clan leader, Jasiri, went to her friend, Kion, for help. Together, Kion and Jasiri entered the Outlands, where Nuka attacked Jasiri and reprimanded her for returning to the watering hole. Kion fended off Nuka to protect Jasiri, which drew the attention of Nuka's younger brother, Kovu. Nuka declared that the fight had turned in his favor due to Kovu's arrival, but Jasiri stepped up to Kion's side and retorted that they were evenly matched.

Slowly, the four began to circle each other, and Kion learned that Nuka and Kovu'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 Nuka and Kovu wondered if they really could return to the Pride Lands. Kovu pointed out that Kion must first speak with their mother, Zira, and Kion and Jasiri agreed to visit the watering hole.

Nuka and his family face off against Kion.

Once there, Nuka announced Kion as Simba's son, and Zira introduced herself and her daughter, Vitani. Eventually, Kion and Zira moved off to talk about the Roar of the Elders, and Nuka was left to wait with Kovu, Vitani, and Jasiri. While waiting, Nuka got impatient and tried to attack Jasiri but was fended off by Kovu. Nuka tried to shove past Kovu, but Zira arrived and ordered him to stop. Nuka then pretended that he had simply been "playing nice" with Jasiri.

Zira led her cubs to where she had surrounded Kion with her lionesses. Nuka wondered if they should fear the Roar of the Elders, but Zira explained that Kion could not attack other lions without losing the Roar forever. Just then, the Lion Guard attacked and cornered Nuka and his pride against a wall. Zira attempted one last time to convince Kion that he would lose his power if he used it against lions, but he roared anyway and sent the Outsiders flying. The pride landed near termite mounds, and Nuka asked where they were. Zira replied that they were in their new home.[2]

Adulthood

Kiara's first hunt

Roasty, toasty princess... Roasty, toasty princess... Hey, is it hot in here, or is that just me?
―Nuka, as he sets fire to the grasslands[src]

Nuka and Vitani gather fire at the Elephant Graveyard.

Seasons later, a young adult Kiara embarked on her first hunt. Meanwhile, per Zira's instructions, Nuka and Vitani paid a visit to the Elephant Graveyard. Nuka reacted with disgust and commented that the place was "even creepier" since the hyenas had left, but Vitani merely rolled her eyes. Nuka claimed that he was not afraid but still jumped at a strange noise.

While Vitani lit a shoot on fire, Nuka wondered why Kovu needed their help if he was so special, then lamented how he had never had the chance to be the Chosen One. In the middle of his rant, a geyser erupted, frightening him, and he raced toward Vitani. She rolled her eyes again. Just then, a geyser ignited her shoot, and she picked it up. She urged Nuka to hurry so that they could catch Kiara while she was still hunting. Nuka set his own shoot ablaze, then bounded after his sister.

Nuka sets the Pride Lands ablaze.

Together, Nuka and Vitani entered the Pride Lands and spotted Kiara. They proceeded to set the plains alight. Nuka ended up making a ring of fire around himself and jumped high to escape it. He laughed at the close call before Vitani dragged him away.

The plan was a success, as Simba accepted Kovu into his pride. That night, Nuka and Zira observed Kovu at a distance from Pride Rock. Nuka was displeased with Kovu for not attacking Kiara and complained about this to Zira, but she hushed him and assured him that everything was going according to plan. She then reminded him that the closer Kovu got to Kiara, the closer he got to Simba and that Kovu could attack once Simba was alone.[1]

Death

This is my moment of glory!
―Nuka, as he restrains Simba[src]

Nuka joined his mother's ambush. Together, the Outsiders surrounded Kovu and Simba, and Zira praised Kovu for getting Simba alone. She then ordered an attack, and Nuka jumped at Simba, only to get batted away. The Outsiders swarmed the king, and Nuka joined his pride in chasing Simba through the gorge. Simba tried to escape up an unstable log dam. Kovu appeared at the top of the dam but refused to kill Simba, even though Zira commanded him to. Nuka instead began bounding up the log pile and insisted that he would catch Simba for his mother. After climbing higher, he succeeded in grabbing Simba's back paw. However, a log gave way under Nuka, which caused him to slip.

Nuka dies in Zira's paw.

Simba clambered safely onto a nearby cliff at the top of the dam, which caused more logs to fall down the pile and crush Nuka. In a panic, Kovu descended into the gorge and began to dig out his brother. However, Zira pushed him aside and began digging madly for Nuka herself. Eventually, she uncovered Nuka's face. He coughed weakly and told his mother that he had tried. Shushing him, Zira cradled his face in her paw, and he died with a final groan.

After Nuka's death, Zira sent up a prayer to Scar, begging him to watch over her son. She then turned her ire on Kovu and slashed him across the face, giving him a scar over one eye. She accused him of having killed Nuka, and Kovu ran away in dismay.[1]

Physical appearance

A side-profile view of Nuka.

As an adolescent, Nuka was skinny and underfed. He had unkempt fur, scraggly whiskers, and a short ungroomed black mane. His main pelt was brown with a gray tint, while his muzzle, paws, and underbelly were cream. He had dark eye rims, a short black goatee, tufts of black fur on his elbows, and red eyes. Like most Outsiders, he had a hooked black nose and unsheathed claws.

Once an adult, Nuka became larger and more muscular, though he remained thin and weakly built, especially compared to his brother, Kovu. His mane grew longer but remained scraggly and unkempt.[1]

Personality and traits

I'll do it for you, Mother! Mother, are you watching? I'm doing it for you...and I'm doing it for me!
―Nuka, as he chases Simba up a log pile[src]

Nuka was bombastic, highstrung, and volatile. Unlike his siblings, who were more long-suffering and scheming, he jumped into situations headfirst and displayed almost manic enthusiasm for Zira's plots. He was considerably neurotic and could lose his temper at a moment's notice, even if the issue was as trivial as itchy fur. His excitable nature sometimes got him into trouble, such as when he accidentally trapped himself in a ring of fire while setting the Pride Lands ablaze. Even so, he was a fierce fighter and took orders well. He was aggressive and persistent, and did not shy away from attacking much larger opponents like Simba.

Nuka resented his brother, Kovu, for being the Chosen One.

Despite being the eldest of Zira's cubs, Nuka was irresponsible and often neglected his duties. He liked to bully his younger siblings, either by making disparaging comments about them, laughing at them, or outright physically abusing them. Though he longed for Zira's attention, he did not share her enthusiasm for Kovu's position as the Chosen One and only reluctantly went along with her plans to put Kovu on the throne of Pride Rock.

Because of Zira's favoritism, Nuka resented Kovu and wished he had been the Chosen One instead. He constantly vied for his mother's attention and deliberately tried to make Kovu look incompetent and unfavorable. Despite Nuka's best efforts, Zira continually ignored him, which only frustrated him further and made him try all the harder to capture her attention. He went so far as to climb up an unstable pile of logs to attack Simba for her, which ultimately led to his demise.[1]

Appearances

Trivia

General

  • Nuka's name means "smell (bad), stink" in Swahili.[5]
  • 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 development

  • In a deleted scene, Nuka and Vitani bring news to Zira that Simba's cub is a girl. Zira gloats over the news and speaks to Scar's spirit, calling herself his "loving, devoted queen." This implies that Scar was originally going to be Nuka, Kovu, and Vitani's father.[7]
  • During early production of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka had an extended death scene. As he lay crushed beneath logs, Zira cradled his head gently with one paw. He managed to say, "Well, I finally got your attention, didn't I?" She smiled at him, and he croaked a final "Didn't I...?" before he finally died.[8]

References

  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 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. Andy Dick. IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved on September 23, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ian Harrowell. IMDb. IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved on July 13, 2021.
  5. Online Swahili - English Dictionary. African Languages. Retrieved on September 23, 2020.
  6. 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.
  7. YouTube favicon.png Lion King- Cut scene 3- Nuka and Vitani's News on the Lisa Williams YouTube channel
  8. YouTube favicon.png Nuka Dies (The Version Never Seen) on the pepelepew2006 YouTube channel
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