I could be a leader if she'd just give me a chance!
I'm the oldest, I'm the strongest, I'm the smartest[...]
Thin and lanky, Nuka takes after his fellow Outsiders in appearance, though he's in worse condition than most. Standing side-by-side with his young adult sister, he isn't much taller than her despite being considerably older. With little access to food or water, his body is malnourished, a condition which manifests itself in the slightness of his frame. He is dirty and scruffy, plagued by termites in his teenage years, and generally disheveled in appearance. Despite this lack of physical prowess, Nuka is lithe and strong, able to temporarily restrain the much larger Simba despite his young age and keep at the head of the pride with Vitani and Zira when a chase ensues.
Nuka's fur is colored grayish-brown with noticeable tinges of reddish-brown, while his muzzle, paws, and underbelly are all dark brownish-gray in color. His mane is dusty black. Like his brother, his eyeshades are dark, but he has dark scarlet eyes versus Kovu's emerald green eyes. Unlike those of most adult males, Nuka's mane is thin and very scraggly, reaching past his forelegs but not quite filling out the way those of other lions do. Both his mane and his tail tip are ragged, and he bears tufts of fur on the backsides of his elbows and a small beard on his chin.
This is my moment of glory!
As an adolescent, Nuka is shown to be an unappreciated bully whose only concern is to be loved and recognized by his mother. He is constantly picking on his siblings. Rejection seems to take a heavy toll on the young lion, making him resentful of his brother for being the chosen one and downgrading of his mother behind her back. Perhaps because his accomplishments go unrecognized, Nuka feels the need to be powerful, taking great pleasure in bullying his younger siblings and boasting about his own capabilities to their faces.
Because of his arrogance, Nuka is irresponsible and detached from his siblings, leaving Kovu to brave the Outlands alone despite the cub being Nuka's responsibility. Nuka is also shown to be neurotic and easily angered, losing his temper over a simple bout of termite itching. His judgment can understandably be called into question when he grows into a young adult, as he initially accuses Kovu of being a traitor without waiting for his mother's explanation. His inner motive, to gain his mother's appreciation and love, often fogs his common sense.
In his final moments, Nuka proves himself to be strong, agile and fast but still unintelligent, impulsive and willing to throw himself into peril for his own selfish gains. Under no instruction from his mother, he pursues Simba alone and attempts to take down the older lion by himself in order to prove to his mother that he can do what Kovu could not. His lack of care for the loose logs he was climbing over results in his ill-planned attempt at gaining Zira's favor ending in his own demise. Nuka begs his mother to realize just how hard he'd tried to please her just before he dies. What he never realised was that his mother did genuinely love him but never showed it, a realisation Zira comes to all too late.
If Kovu's so special, why does he need us? I never even had a chance!
As suggested by the film, Nuka was born during the reign of Scar before his younger siblings. Despite being the eldest, Nuka was overlooked in favor of Kovu, who was hand-picked by Scar as the heir to the throne of Pride Rock. Shortly after Kovu's birth, Nuka as well as the other Outsiders were banished from the Pride Lands by Simba.
Ugh. The 'chosen one'.
Seeing his brother in trouble, Kovu takes the blame, only to accidentally give his mother a plan to get revenge on Simba. When Zira compliments Kovu for thinking like Scar, Nuka reacts with disgust. Angry, Zira whips around and snarls at him, and the young lion laughs nervously, allowing Zira's glare to linger a bit longer before she gathers up Kovu and carries him into the termite mound. As his mother and brother leave, Nuka once more mutters angrily about Kovu being the chosen one.
Shortly after his mother and brother disappear into the termite mound, Nuka participates in "My Lullaby," enthusiastically singing about bringing harm to the royal family of the Pride Lands. When Zira goes on to praise Kovu, Nuka becomes lethargic and jealous again. At one point, he is forced to sing his brother a lullaby, but he instead forces a sarcastic song of his own. Vitani is angered by this and kicks Nuka away from Kovu. Later on, when Nuka and Vitani sing together, Nuka is seen holding a homemade flag, reluctantly waving it in honor of Kovu. This is the last time Nuka is seen as an adolescent.
Oh...oh...d-d-did you see that?! He let her go! If that were me-
Years later, Nuka has grown into an adult. Kiara, now a young adult herself, starts her first hunt, during which Nuka and Vitani pay a visit to the Elephant Graveyard. Nuka reacts with disgust to the hazy environment, but Vitani dismisses his behavior as fear. Denying her, Nuka laments not having the chance to be the chosen one, wondering why Kovu needs their help if he is so special. In the middle of his rant, a geyser erupts, frightening him, and he races toward Vitani, who rolls her eyes at his immature behavior.
The two sticks they bring are ignited by the geysers, and turned into torches. Vitani picks hers up, and Nuka does the same, getting his face singed by the geyser along with the stick. He and his sister then intrude the Pride Lands, spot Kiara, and proceed to set the plains alight. Nuka ends up making a ring of fire around himself and jumps high to escape it, laughing at his own foolishness. Seeing nothing funny about their situation, Vitani drags him away.
After the plan is a success, with Simba accepting Kovu into the Pride Lands, Nuka and his mother observe Kovu's process from a distance. Nuka is displeased at Kovu for not attacking Kiara and complains about this to Zira, who hushes him and assures him that everything is going according to plan. Not long after this, Nuka joins his mother's ambush, being the first to confront Simba, only to get whacked away. When the Outsiders swarm the king, he tackles Simba alongside his pride and chases the king through the gorge. Simba tries to escape up an unstable dam, and when Kovu refuses to kill Simba, Nuka sees his chance to do better than his brother. Yelling for his mother's attention, he goes after Simba alone and succeeds in grabbing the king's ankle. No sooner has Nuka thought himself victorious when a weak log gives way under his paw, and he slips.
Simba clambers safely onto a nearby cliff at the top of the dam, causing more logs to go down the pile and onto Nuka, crushing him. In a panic, Kovu descends, throwing the clutter out of the way in an attempt to save his brother, but he is pushed aside by Zira, who digs madly for her son. She is too late, and after Nuka gains the affection that he's always desired from his mother, he dies in her paw. Brokenhearted at Nuka's death, Zira angrily slashes Kovu across the face, leaving him with a facial wound identical to Scar's.
When Nuka and his family drive a clan of hyenas from their watering hole, one of the hyenas, Jasiri, goes to her friend Kion for help. Together, Kion and Jasiri enter the Outlands, where Jasiri is attacked by Nuka, who reprimands her for returning to the watering hole. Kion fends off Nuka to protect Jasiri, which draws the attention of Nuka's younger brother, Kovu. Seeing his brother, Nuka declares that the fight has turned in his favor, but Jasiri steps up to Kion's side and retorts that they're even.
Slowly, the four begin to circle each other, and Kion learns that Kovu and Nuka's family is not welcome in the Pride Lands. Confused, he asserts that his father would likely welcome them into the kingdom, and Nuka asks who his father is. Jasiri answers that Kion is the son of Simba, the king of Pride Rock, and a shocked Kovu and Nuka wonder if they really can return to the Pride Lands. Kovu points out that Kion must first speak with their mother, Zira, and Kion and Jasiri agree to visit the watering hole.
Once there, Nuka announces Kion as Simba's son, and Zira introduces herself and her daughter, Vitani. Eventually, Kion and Zira move off to talk about the Roar of the Elders, and Nuka is left to wait with Kovu, Vitani, and Jasiri. While waiting, Nuka gets impatient and tries to attack Jasiri, but is fended off by Kovu. Nuka tries to shove past Kovu, but is called off by a newly arrived Zira and pretends that he had simply been "playing nice" with Jasiri.
Zira leads her cubs to where she has surrounded Kion with her lionesses. Nuka wonders if they should fear the Roar of the Elders, but Zira explains that Kion cannot attack other lions without losing the Roar forever. Just then, the Lion Guard attacks and corners Nuka and his pride against a wall. Zira attempts one last time to convince Kion that he will lose his power if he uses it against lions, but he roars anyway and sends the Outsiders flying. The pride lands in a termite mound, and Nuka asks where they are. Zira replies angrily that they are in their new home.
It is unclear whether the working name "Nunka" was Nuka's original name. Nunka was supposed to be Scar and Zira's son and was to be voiced by Andy Dick, who ended up voicing Nuka, but it was also a working name for Kovu, as Nunka was supposed to be Kiara's love interest, a role which went to Kovu in the final film. One possibility is that Nunka was split into two characters: Nuka and Kovu.
Appearance and PersonalityIn early concepts for Nuka, he shared many similarities to Scar. He had the same reddish-brown fur, albeit a bit duskier than Scar's, and he even had uncolored paws in certain concepts. Based on his facial expressions, Nuka wasn't originally the comic relief villain he is in the final film. His expressions in most of the concepts are deceptive, sneaky, and scheming. His fur, mane, and whiskers are smooth and elegant, unlike the scruffy, unkempt final version.
In another one of his concepts, his groomed look has become more disheveled, but he is still in better shape than the final Nuka. He retains the devious look, though it seems more dopey than the first. In this picture, his mane doesn't extend down the length of his neck, staying only at his head. This could mean that he was the same age as teenage Simba in the original film. His last two concepts are more reminiscent of the final Nuka. His deviousness has been completely taken away and replaced by stupidity. However, both concepts have Nuka with uncolored paws.
- In some Simba's Pride books, Nuka is referred to as Zira's second-in-command. It is unclear whether this is true or not, as the spot seems to belong to Vitani in the film.
- Since Simba's Pride is adapted from Romeo & Juliet, Nuka is most likely based on Tybalt in that he is Kovu's rival in the same way that Tybalt is Romeo's, and their deaths heighten the tensions in their respective stories.
- The scene where Nuka dies was originally longer. As Nuka lies crushed beneath the logs, Zira cradles his head gently with a paw. Pleased with her affection, Nuka manages to say, "Well, I finally got your attention, didn't I?" Zira smiles at him as he croaks another, "Didn't I...?" before he finally dies.
Kovu, Kovu, Kovu. Scar wasn't even his father. They just took 'im in.
Yeesh. This place is even creepier since the hyenas ran off.
Roasty toasty princess...roasty toasty princess...Hey, is it hot in here or is that just me?
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: I'm sorry, Mother. I tried...
The Lion King Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Nuka.
|The Lion Guard|
|"Never Judge a Hyena by its Spots":||"The Rise of Makuu":||"Bunga the Wise":||"Can't Wait to be Queen":||"Eye of the Beholder":||"The Kupatana Celebration":||"Fuli's New Family":|
|"The Search for Utamu":||"Follow that Hippo!":||"The Call of the Drongo":||"Paintings and Predictions":||"The Mbali Fields Migration":||"Bunga and the King":||"The Imaginary Okapi":|
|"Too Many Termites":||"The Trouble with Galagos":||"Janja's New Crew":||"Baboons!":||"Beware the Zimwi":||"Lions of the Outlands":||"Never Roar Again":|
|"The Lost Gorillas":||"The Trail to Udugu":||"Ono's Idol":||"Beshte and the Hippo Lanes":||"Ono the Tickbird":||"TBA":||"TBA":|
|Characters from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride|