|Cub - Adult|
- Simba: "Scar couldn't let go of his hate, and in the end, it destroyed him."
Kovu: "I've never heard the story of Scar that way. He truly was a killer."
Simba: "Fire is a killer. Sometimes, what's left behind can grow better than the generation before...if given the chance."
- —Kovu and Simba
- "Look at that scar on his face...He looks just like Scar..."
- —Pridelanders about Kovu
Zira's vicious training seems to have been enough to make Kovu strong even as a cub. Though young, he is compact and broad-featured as a youngster with no sign of the malnutrition that plagues his fellow Outsiders. His fur is colored a brownish-auburn, though his muzzle, paws, and underbelly are all creamy brown in color. Like Simba, he sports a head tuft, though his is much fuller and colored a darker brown than his main pelt. He also sports tufts of fur on his elbow joints that match the color of his head tuft and tail-tip. His dark eye shades mirror those of his siblings, but his green eyes match no member of his family's.
Once grown, Kovu proves to be handsome and muscular, a bit oversized due to Zira's brutal training. His muscles are clearly defined through his fur, and despite being the same age as Kiara, he is considerably bigger and in better shape than his childhood friend. In the years following his cubhood, Kovu has grown a short mane that stops at his chest, indicating that he still has more to grow, as Simba's mane is much fuller in its final stage of maturity. Kovu's mane is colored a rich brown and matches the dark shades of his elbow tufts and tail-tip. He later gets a scar across his left eye that is inflicted by Zira.
Of all Zira's cubs, Kovu resembles her the least. However, despite being bigger, darker in color, and more round-featured than his mother, he has a curved nose and dark eye shades that were inherited from Zira. His colored paws were also passed down to him from his mother.
- Kovu: "Why are we doing this? What's the point of this training?"
Kiara: "Training? This is just for fun!"
- —Kiara and Kovu
Having grown up under the care of the scheming Zira, Kovu is aggressive and crude, even as a cub. Upon first meeting Kiara, his first reaction is to snarl a challenge, and the only game he appears to understand is play-fighting. His violent tendencies are reinforced by a knack for taking care of himself, as he is physically fit and an able hunter, two features which make way for his more arrogant and cocky side. Even as a cub, Kovu strives to please and takes no shame in showing off to the more innocent Kiara. However, when faced by his mother, Kovu is submissive and prone to showing his softer side, exposing a desire to befriend and treat kindly the new cub he has just met.
This softer side is beaten down by Zira as he grows older, though it does not entirely disappear. As a young adult, Kovu retains his arrogance, though his skills have taken a deadly turn, sharpened by his growth into a skilled hunter and killer. He remains violent, but his temper appears to have improved, as he tends to be more patient with Kiara, though no kinder than before. His attempts to kill Simba are slick, and he proves himself to be a good actor by tricking Simba's entire pride into believing that he's changed for the better.
After meeting Kiara again as a young adult, Kovu begins to cave to his inner good, proving himself to enjoy laughter and good times. His dark side occasionally slips in, as seen when he can only pinpoint violent pictures among the stars, and his ties to Scar and his mother continuously bog him down. He does ultimately choose to betray his pride, revealing that even years of evil and violence cannot destroy the kindness in his heart. He becomes gentler with Kiara and more respectful of her, no longer mocking her for that which she cannot do. Having shown his good side, Kovu matures into a character who is always willing to do the right thing, even if it means disappointing those he loves.
Kovu is first seen in the film when Kiara, a Pridelander cub, wanders into the Outlands and accidentally trips off a fallen log and knocks into him. The two cubs sprawl on the ground, coughing. But Kovu immediately jumps back up and snarls at Kiara, who backs away in fear. He demands to know who she is, but she doesn't answer, only tries to evade him without turning her back. He stops, puzzled, and asks what she's doing. She fiercely explains to him that her father had told her to never turn her back on an Outsider. Kovu teases her and asks if she always did what "Daddy" said. Kiara tries to protest, but Kovu just laughs and teasingly calls her "Daddy's Little Girl."
He then walks across a trail of stones that are jutting out of a nearby swamp, boasting that Outsiders don't need anybody and that he could take care of himself. Kiara follows him out onto the stones and Kovu turns around to see a crocodile about to swallow her whole. The two cubs run away in fear and a chase instigates. Eventually, Kovu decides to distract the crocodiles so Kiara can get away. But when he runs out of stones to jump on, he falls into the water and nearly gets eaten, if not for Kiara, who leaps on the crocodile's snout. The two escape up a thin tree branch and collapse on dry land, but not before Kiara smugly blows a raspberry at the crocodiles before the two leave.
They run into a patch of grass and Kovu listens enthusiastically as Kiara vents about how exciting the chase had been. Eventually, she softens and tells Kovu that he had been really brave. He compliments her as well, and then introduces himself. She tells him her name, and then tries to play tag with him, but he doesn't understand what she's doing and Kiara quickly picks up on this. She growls at him and bounces back and forth. Kovu, recognizing the new game, snarls in response. But as he does so, out of nowhere, Simba appears and roars over Kiara. In response, Kovu's own mother Zira jumps in protection of her son.
She then introduces Kovu as her son and the young lion Scar had chosen to be his successor. Simba growls at Kovu, who quakes in fear. Zira goes on to explain that Kovu had been the last born before Simba exiled Scar and his pride to the Outlands. Simba forcefully reminds her about the penalties of entering the Pride Lands, but Zira reminds him that Kovu was just a cub. As a test, she offers Kovu to Simba, but the lion king tells Zira to "take him and get out." He then takes Kiara by her scruff and carries her away. Zira does the same to Kovu and the two cubs whisper good-bye to each other before separating.
Upon returning to the Outlands, Zira sets Kovu down beside his sister, Vitani, who challenges him to a play-fight. Zira then accusingly turns on Nuka and shouts that he was supposed to be watching Kovu but Kovu quickly jumps to his brother's defense and explains that he had wandered off on his own. Zira demands to know what he'd been doing. Kovu says, "Nothing," and begins to back away. Relentless, Zira asks him who had made them Outsiders, to which Kovu answers, "Simba." She asks him who killed Scar and he gives the same answer. She then growls, "And what have I told you about them?" and Kovu apologizes to his mother and tries to defend himself, admitting that he didn't think Kiara was that bad. Zira is disgusted and vents on how Kovu had thought "Simba would welcome him with open arms." She then stops, realizing that this could be a good way to defeat Simba. Enthralled, she calls Kovu a "brilliant child" and says that he had "the same conniving mind that made Scar so powerful." She then takes him into the Outsiders' cave and sets him down in his nest. She hushes him to sleep and sings "My Lullaby," a song about the Outsiders' rise to power.
Young Adult Kovu
- "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 talks to himself about his love for Kiara
Zira trains and conditions Kovu until he is a fit lion in his young adult years. One day, she proclaims him ready to take on the task of killing King Simba. She circles around him, pleased with his progress, and comments that he had the same blackness in his soul that Scar had. She questions her son about his destiny, and he says that he will avenge Scar and take his place as king of the Pride Lands. She asks him what he'd been taught and he replies that Simba is the enemy. Finally, she asks him what he must do, and Kovu says that he must kill Simba.
Later, Nuka and Vitani set the Pride Lands alight while Kiara is on a hunt. Zira sends Kovu to retrieve and rescue the princess. He manages to carry her through a burning forest and plunges off a cliff face into a lake below. After dragging her through the water, Kovu drops her on land and she asks where she is. He replies that she's "safe in the Pride Lands." Angered, Kiara demands to know why he'd brought her here and who he thought he was. Kovu is offended and reminds her that he'd just saved her life. Kiara protests that she'd had everything under control, but Kovu says, "Not from where I'm standing." Kiara retorts, "Then move downwind!" She tries to get around him, but he blocks her path. Refusing to turn her back on him, she prepares herself for a fight. But then Kovu asks her what she's doing, and Kiara recognizes her old childhood friend.
But before they can catch up with each other, Simba jumps in front of Kiara and roars aggressively at Kovu. After a brief exchange with his daughter, he figures out that the lion standing in front of her is Kovu. He roars a challenge and Kovu roars back. But before a fight can instigate, Rafiki indirectly tells Simba that Kovu had saved Kiara's life. Simba asks him why he'd saved her and Kovu "humbly" asks to join his pride. Simba refuses and reminds Kovu that he'd been banished with the other Outsiders. Kovu reveals that he has left the Outsiders and is a rogue. He tells Simba to judge him for who he was or accuse him of a crime he didn't commit. Simba growls, thinking over the proposition. Nala reminds him that Kovu had saved Kiara's life, and Zazu adds that "royal protocol demands all debts be paid. Though in this case you might want to make an exception." Simba finally comes to a decision, deciding to follow the laws of his father. Kiara is delighted, but as the Pridelanders turn their backs, Kovu grins slyly.
Upon reaching Pride Rock, Simba notices Kovu about to go into the inner cavern with the lionesses, but quickly jumps in front of him with a growl and intimidates him away from the cavern opening as he goes inside. Kovu smirks at Simba before walking to the rocks outside the cavern to sleep.
Kiara is the last of the lionesses to reach Pride Rock and sees Kovu lie down beside the rocks. She approaches him and thanks him for saving her life. Kovu smugly asks her what kind of a hunter she thought she was and points out that she could've been killed. He tells her that she couldn't last three days on her own. Provoked, Kiara asks if he could teach her how to hunt, to which Kovu is confident. Simba then yells for Kiara and she quickly tells Kovu to "impress her"; they'd start at dawn. Kovu smiles smoothly as she walks away and says that he would be looking forward to it.
That night, Kovu appears in Simba's climatic nightmare. Simba is trying to help Mufasa climb out of the gorge in which he died in the first film, when Scar appears on the ledge above them, mocking and cackling at Simba's inability to help his father. After Mufasa falls, Scar morphs into Kovu and kills Simba by throwing him down into the gorge after Mufasa.
The next morning, Kovu sees Simba taking a drink at the waterhole. He prepares to attack, but is interrupted by Kiara, who jumps in front of him and cheerfully tells him good morning. She excitedly jumps around him and tells him that she was ready for her first lesson. Kovu looks at the waterhole and sees that Simba is gone. He growls to himself as they walk away, frustrated that his first attempt to kill the king has failed.
While tirelessly training Kiara, Kovu waits in the grass for her to pounce on him by surprise. He rolls his eyes and counts to three. He then ducks and Kiara leaps full over his evasion, landing on the ground a few feet away. Kovu steps toward her and looks down at her. Embarrassed, she asks if he had heard her, to which Kovu replies, "Only.... a lot." He then tells her that she was breathing too hard; he urges her to feel the earth beneath her paws, so it wouldn't shift beneath her. Kovu then decides to show her an example. He sees a flock of birds alight on a nearby hillside and runs up the side of the hill. He roars and unintentionally pounces on Timon, who cries out in fear and begs Kovu not to eat him.
Kiara rushes up after Kovu and asks Timon what he's doing. Timon is relieved to see her and explains that he was not following her for once. He tells the lions that the birds were eating all their grubs, and gestures to the numerous birds poking at the ground. He asks Kovu to lend a voice, but the Outsider doesn't understand. Kiara shows him what Timon means by roaring at the birds, scattering them into the sky. Kovu tries, and together, the two lions follow Timon and Pumbaa down the hillside, scattering birds in all directions. Kovu is still confused and he asks Kiara what the point of this training was. Kiara laughs and tells him that it was just for fun. Kovu is flustered, but Kiara's laughing and Timon and Pumbaa's whooping eventually bring him out of his shell and he says, "Yee-haw!" and yells right alongside them.
Suddenly, the group accidentally runs into a rhinoceros herd, with the birds sitting atop the creatures' horns. The rhinoceroses snort loudly and Kiara and her friends race back the way they came, with the rhinos in hot pursuit. But the four friends manage to squeeze into a crevice and the herd of rhinos shoot past. They all laugh uncontrollably and even Kovu seems to be having fun. But as they're struggling to get out, Kiara and Kovu accidentally touch muzzles. They're both a bit flustered, and smile in embarrassment, but it is perceived that the two secretly enjoyed the tense moment. All the friends climb out of the crevice and begin making their way out of the gorge.
That night, Kiara and Kovu are lying on the grass, gazing up at the stars. They try to decipher pictures in the stars, Kiara spots a baby rabbit and Kovu sees two battling lions. Kiara grimaces, but Kovu laughs and admits that he's never done this before. Kiara is surprised and tells Kovu that she used to do it all the time with her father, who told her that the "great kings of the past" looked down on them from the stars. Kovu wonders if Scar is up there, but Kiara doesn't answer. Troubled, Kovu tells her that, even though Scar wasn't his father, he was still a part of him. Kiara tells Kovu that Simba had said there was a darkness in Scar that he couldn't escape. Kovu quietly wonders if that darkness was in him, too. Kiara doesn't answer, but puts her paw on Kovu's and they nuzzle. Simba and Nala watch them from a nearby hillside, and Simba seeks counsel with the great kings. He is hesitant to trust Kovu, especially around his daughter, but Nala urges him to give the Outsider a chance.
Kovu then pulls away from Kiara and she asks what's wrong. Kovu starts to tell her his part in Zira's plan, but decides against it and starts to walk away again. Kiara softly urges him to stay and Kovu hesitates, then starts to leave again. But Rafiki suddenly appears out of the grass and asks where he thought he was going. Kovu is flustered and replies, "Nowhere." Rafiki laughs and says, "That's what you think." He then disappears into the grass and Kovu searches frantically for him. He then asks who that was, and Kiara laughs nervously and explains Rafiki as "a friend of the family." Rafiki then appears on Kovu's back. The baboon slips off him and pulls his tail, telling him that "Rafiki knows the way." Kovu asks, "The way to where?" And Rafiki tells him that if he'd follow, he'd see. The baboon then springs away and Kiara follows after him, giggling. Kovu runs after her and Rafiki sings, "Upendi" to the young lions, encouraging them to like each other more. They sing to themselves afterward as they make their way back to Pride Rock. But as they reach the caves, they remember that Kovu isn't allowed inside. They part and Kovu makes his way back to the rocks. But Simba, seeing Kovu happy after his night with Kiara, invites the young Outsider to come into the cave with him. As Kovu follows the king into the caves, Vitani watches him eagerly, waiting for him to attack Simba. But when the alleged attack never comes, Vitani runs back to the Outlands and reports all she's seen to Zira, who roars and growls angrily that Kovu could not betray them.
The next morning, Kovu resolves to talk to Kiara and confess his true reasons for coming to the Pride Lands. He wants to tell her that he has abandoned the plot because he loves her. However, before he can do so, Simba appears out of the caves and informs Kovu that he wants to talk to him. The king leads Kovu out of Pride Rock and takes him out to a fire-ravaged section of the Pride Lands, still suffering from Scar's long-ago rule. As they walk, Simba explains to Kovu that Scar couldn't let go of his hate, and in the end, it destroyed him. Kovu admits that he'd never heard the story of Scar that way and that he really was a killer. Simba adds that fire was a killer, too, but then says that things "left behind can grow better than the generation before, if given the chance."
At that moment, there is an evil cackle and Simba and Kovu immediately look up to see the Outsiders surrounding them. As Kovu realizes that he has inadvertently completed the plot he'd formerly abandoned, he begins to panic. After taunting Simba, Zira congratulates Kovu on a job well done. Simba accusingly turns on Kovu for setting him up, but the young lion pleads his innocence and tells Simba that he'd had nothing to do with the ambush. Ignoring the exchange between Kovu and Simba, Zira orders her pride to attack. Kovu shouts in protest, but too late, the lionesses attack Simba. Kovu attempts to save him, but is knocked aside by Vitani. He hits his head on a rock and passes into unconsciousness.
Simba flees from the Outsiders and falls into a gorge where a log dam is holding back the river. He climbs up the log pile to reach safety and Kovu appears on a ledge above him. Zira orders her son to attack, but he turns away and races back down the gorge. Nuka, wanting to impress his mother, takes Kovu's place in killing Simba. He climbs up the log dam and manages to grab Simba's ankle. But the logs dislodge and Nuka falls backward. Simba climbs for safety and more logs are dislodged, promptly falling down the pile and crushing Nuka. Kovu races down into the gorge and begins clawing through the logs, trying to reach his wounded brother. But Zira pushes him aside and finishes digging through the logs until she sees Nuka buried beneath them. After a hushed conversation between the two of them, he dies. She sends a desperate prayer to Scar, asking him to watch over Nuka, then turns accusingly on Kovu. He looks up in shock just as she swings her paw forward and rakes her claws across his face. He cries out in pain, then looks up at her angrily with a fresh scar across his left eye. Zira snarls at him, demanding to know what he'd done. Kovu says that he's done nothing and Zira says, "Exactly. And in doing so, you betrayed your pride.... betrayed Scar!" Kovu shouts that he wants nothing more to do with him, but Zira says that he cannot escape it. She then accuses him of killing his brother, Nuka. Zira made the comparison between Scar and Kovu in this way with the killing of their own brothers. In anger of being constantly reminded of his and Scar's similarities, as well as grief and guilt over the loss of his brother, Kovu runs away.
Kovu returns to the Pride Lands, but is not greeted warmly. An enraged Simba demands to know why he has come back, and Kovu starts to say that he had nothing to do with the attack, but Simba interrupts him, telling him that he didn't belong in the Pride Lands. Kovu asks for Simba's forgiveness and Kiara begs her father to comply. But Simba ignores them both and reminds Kovu that when the Outsider had first come to the Pride Lands, he had asked for judgment. Simba states that he will pass it now and promptly exiles Kovu. The animals of the Pride Lands sing "Not One of Us" as they drive Kovu away from Pride Rock.
Distraught, Kiara ignores Simba's orders to not leave Pride Rock unescorted and runs away to find Kovu. But when she is unable to find him, she begins to mourn and sing "Love Will Find a Way." But in the midst of the song, Kovu finds her and they reunite. They laugh together and lie down next to a pool. Kovu looks at their reflection, which has merged through the ripples, and says to her, "Look. We are one." He smiles at her and she smiles back, then realizes what Kovu has just said and looks shocked. Kovu leaps away from the pool and announces that they should run away together and start a pride of their own. Kiara smiles affectionately and reminds him that they had to go back. Kovu thinks she's kidding and reminds her that they were finally together. She tells him that their place was with their pride and that if they left, their families would be divided forever. Kovu considers, but doesn't seem entirely convinced.
The battle of the prides begins, and Kovu and Kiara race back to stop their battling families. They run down an embankment covered with fallen logs; Kovu nearly slips, but catches onto one of the logs and jumps to safety. The logs begin shifting. The battle continues until Simba and Zira start a showdown. But just as they raise their paws to inflict a blow, Kovu and Kiara jump in front of their parents. Zira orders Kovu to move, but he says to his mother that he would never let her hurt Kiara or Simba; at least not while he's there to stop her. Kiara then convinces her father to accept the Outsiders as "one" with the Pridelanders. After Simba sees the wisdom in his daughter's words, he complies. The Outsiders, realizing that there's a better way, abandon Zira and walk across the battlefield to join Simba's pride. But Zira, unable (and not wanting to) to let go of her hate, attacks Simba in a last resort to avenge Scar, but Kiara leaps in her father's way to protect him and both lionesses go rolling into the gorge, where the logs have dislodged and a raging river is now flowing. Kiara manages to find a ledge to cling onto, but Zira is less fortunate. After refusing help from Kiara, the conflicted leader of the Outsiders falls into the river and does not resurface. Kovu sighs sadly as he watches his mother disappear beneath the waves.
Kiara then climbs back out of the gorge with help from her father. Kovu embraces her and the two reunite affectionately. King Simba watches his daughter embrace the Outsider, and tells Kovu that he had been wrong: Kovu did belong with the pride. The two prides then join together and go back to Pride Rock as one. They gather on Pride Rock, where Rafiki shakes his stick over top Kiara and Kovu's head, blessing their union and hinting that they are now mates. King Simba and Queen Nala lead the procession through the pride, who are lined up along Pride Rock with bowed heads; Kiara and Kovu follow behind them. Both couples make their way to the tip of Pride Rock; first, Simba roars, then Kovu. Finally, all four roar together while the rest of the pride roars in answer.
When Kiara manages to escape her bumbling babysitters Timon and Pumbaa, a strange cub tackles her to the ground. At first, the two don't recognize each other, but then Kiara identifies the cub as her old playmate, Kovu.
The princess is delighted and proceeds to invite her friend to come to the canyon with her so they can watch her father drive away the Outsiders together. To her disappointment, Kovu declines the offer. Dejectedly, Kiara begins to walk away, but then she realizes that it would be much more fun to stay and play with Kovu, so she turns around and starts up a game of tag with her former playmate.
As the cubs are playing, Kiara hears Pumbaa cry out for help. The two friends immediately race to the source of the voice and find that Timon is hanging unconscious from a vine in a tree. Quickly, the two formulate a plan. While Kovu climbs up the tree and frees Timon, Kiara clambers onto Pumbaa's back and catches the meerkat as he falls. After laying Timon gently in Pumbaa's tusks, Kiara bids her friend farewell, as they both agree that he would not be welcome in the Pride Lands.
On the way back to Pride Rock, Timon revives and thanks Kiara for saving his life. The three friends then agree not to tell anyone about their encounter with Kovu but to merely mention him as a friend.
- Mother: Zira
- Brother: Nuka
- Sister: Vitani
- Mate: Kiara
- Father-in-law: Simba
- Mother-in-law: Nala
- Kovu's animator was named Andrew Collins.
- He is the only Outsider without his claws permanently extended.
- Zira slashes Kovu horizontally, yet his scar is vertical.
- In the brief scene where Kovu mourns for Zira's death, his scar is not shown on his left eye. This is because the filmmakers flipped the animation in which Kovu sighs before planning to tell Kiara about Zira's plan.
- In the documentary Proud of Simba's Pride, Kovu is described as a "teenage killer". So that would mean that his young adult self is meant to be the equivalent of someone in their late teens.
- By the end of the film, it is assumed that Kovu becomes the king consort of the Pride Lands.
- Kovu's mane was originally going to be slicker and black, and his eyes were going to be bright green to match his intended father, Scar. These were later changed, along with his relation to Scar.
- He was originally scripted as Scar's son, but after realizing the incest this would have created in his romance with Kiara (as that would make him Simba's cousin and therefore Kiara's first cousin once removed), it was scrapped and clarified that he had no relation to Scar.
- There is a deleted scene where Kovu first catches a bug, then allows it to fly away. Zira then kills the bug herself, angry at her son's mercy. This suggests that during his childhood Kovu was partly trained by killing animals weaker than himself, so as to get him used to killing when he gets older. Simba's Pride director Darrell Rooney would later clarify this scene was deleted for pacing reasons and to keep focus on the main storyline.
- According to Variety, Kovu, then named Nunka, was going to be voiced by Andy Dick, who ended up voicing Nuka.
- Director Darrell Rooney later made a statement on Facebook about Kovu, describing him as an orphan, in which case, Zira would only be his adopted mother.
- "Bet you do! Bet you're Daddy's little girl!"
- —Kovu mocks Kiara
- Kovu: "I humbly ask to join your pride."
Simba: "No! You were banished with the other Outsiders."
Kovu: "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 asking to join Simba's pride
- Kiara: "Hey, uh, thanks... for saving me today."
Kovu: "What kind of hunter are you, anyway, princess? You almost got yourself killed out there."
Kovu: "You wouldn't last three days on your own."
Kiara: "Oh, and I suppose you could teach me?"
Kovu: "Heh, yeah."
- —Kovu provokes Kiara upon returning to Pride Rock
- "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 talks to himself about his love for Kiara
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ Fleming, Mike (December 4, 1996). ‘Blackout’ awakens at Miramax; Hammer hit. Variety. Retrieved on August 28, 2014.
|Preceded by||Succession Right||Succeeded by|
|Simba (assumed)||Mate of Kiara||Unknown|
|Characters from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|