The Making of "The Pride That Never Was"

This page goes into the history behind my piece of Lion King fan fiction, "The Pride That Never Was." This story was based on several images and plot details that never made it into the final draft of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. Obviously, if you haven't read the story yet, I recommend that you do before reading on.




Characters:

Shani: Obviously, Shani is one of Kiara's earlier names. She appears in a couple of storyboard panels and is pretty nondescript except for a small tuft of hair on her head. Despite her name meaning "small and dark", I made her similar to Simba (and Kiara, naturally), but with some of Nala's traits as well. In Swahili, Shani has many meanings, including "adventure", "curiosity" and "exquisiteness". Why the heck did Disney pick Kiara over a name as fitting as this one?


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Chaka: Simba's son, who was cut from the production of SP. No design exists for him, but since he was actually going to be in SP at one point, that technically makes Chaka more canon than Kopa (the son of Simba featured in the book series The Lion King: Six New Adventures). I based his design on "Fluffy" (the cub at the end of TLK), since that cub has bright gold fur and "Chaka" means "blazing sun". By a startling coincidence, I gave him green eyes before discovering that it also meant "forest".

Note: "Chaka" is described as being one of the other names suggested for Kiara in an Australian magazine, but I strongly suspect that this was a mistake (see Timira's entry).


UPDATE (3-7-12): I've been browsing some of the old posts on alt.fan.lion-king, and many posts claim that Tad Stones (creator of several Disney Afternoon cartoons and one of the directors of SP very early in its production) say that Simba was originally going to have two cubs named Shani and Chaka, but Chaka was dropped from the script. Tad is even quoted as saying this in at least one post, but just to make sure, I got in contact with him. Though he admits that his memory of his time working on SP isn't very good (and asked me to stress that his words should be taken with a grain of salt so as not to perpetuate any incorrect information), he seems to confirm that yes -- Chaka was indeed an actual character.

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Timira: Chaka's betrothed, also known as Kirijah. I called her Timira in this story because:

1. "Kirijah" sounds a little like "Kiara" and might have caused a bit of confusion.
2. Unlike "Timira", I couldn't find any meaning for the name Kirijah.

"Timira" has no meaning in Swahili, but according to two sources I discovered, it appears to be a possible feminine form of the Indian name Timir, which means "inferno", and a Sanskrit word meaning "darkness, obscurity". When coming up with a design for her, I incorporated both of these elements into her appearance, giving her dark fur and fiery eyes.

(By an interesting coincidence, there's a piece of concept art showing a dark lioness running away from the fire, which I wasn't thinking of at all while I was designing Timira. It's unclear whether this lioness is really Shani, though.)

Note (referring back to Chaka's entry): Obviously, Kiara wouldn't have been betrothed to a lioness, so the idea that "Chaka" was one of her original names is put into question. The magazine that stated this also said that "Shari" was another name suggested for her, which might be a misspelling of "Shani."

UPDATE (3-7-12): I have been trying to get in contact with several of the people behind The Unofficial Lion King Character Encyclopedia, but from what I've learned so far, I'm starting to doubt Timira/Kirijah's existence as an official character. I haven't been able to contact everyone who is connected to this character in some way, but I'm starting to suspect that she never was an actual character in SP.

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Binti: Zazu's girlfriend. There is no official design for her that I know of, yet Simba's Pride Online says that there "20 different designs of her". Well, where are they, then?

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Bianca: Zira's original name, which seems remarkably out of place among the many other Swahili names. It is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and means "white, fair". Pretty ironic, considering, her dark nature. Still, I decided at the last minute to give her pale fur to reflect her name's meaning.


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Kovu: According to the Unofficial Lion King Character Encyclopedia, the original name for Kovu was "Nunka". I still called Kovu Kovu because I suspect that his name might have gotten mixed up with Nuka's, and "Nunka" is just a misspelling of "Nuka". I also like the name Kovu a lot better than Nunka. I mean, Kovu means "scar", for crying out loud! Could you ask for a better, more fitting name than that?


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Shetani: Vitani's original name, meaning "demon", "devil" and "supernatural power". Her name was changed possibly because the writers thought the name was inappropriate.


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Nuka: As you've probably noticed by now, Nuka doesn't appear in this story. Why not? Because I was already juggling a lot of characters already, and I thought I could tell the story fairly well without him. Sorry, Nuka fans.


Story Notes:

Though this story is basically a rewritten version of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride featuring nearly all the cut characters (complete with many lines of dialogue taken straight from the script), this was also my attempt to "improve" parts of SP that I thought were problematic. In this story, Kiara/Shani is still na´ve and giggly even as an adult, but intelligent as well and less of the airhead/Mary Sue character that some people perceive her as. I also made Kovu's transition to a good guy much more gradual (though I still made the rhino chase the turning point of his metamorphosis ;) ).

Also, to make Simba less of an Outsider-hating jerk than he is in the movie, I "transplanted" a lot of his hate onto Chaka. This was perfect, given that Chaka is Shani's sister and Kiara/Shani and Kovu eventually end up together -- that certainly made for some interesting conflicts. I made sure to mention the reason for the Outsiders' banishment as well, so that Simba and Chaka weren't hating them for what seemed like no reason.

I removed a lot of Timon and Pumbaa's scenes for several reasons. Some of their scenes seemed superfluous and somewhat unfunny compared to their scenes in The Lion King, and I had to find a way to give the other supporting characters (e.g., Nala, Zazu and Binti) more "screen time." Also, as much as Simba trusts this duo, sending two small prey animals to watch over his daughter didn't seem like a wise move on his part.

I had Kiara/Shani fall into the river after she first meets Kovu because Kovu's walking onto a crocodile in the movie seemed a little odd to me. You'd think a cub that had lived his entire life near that river would know that it was full of crocodiles.

The ambush and exile scenes always bugged me a bit, so I tried to rewrite them so that Simba's reason for thinking the ambush was Kovu's fault was more justified. I made Kovu a bit less of a wuss during the scene where Zira/Bianca claws him as well. Also, just turning and running away from his loved one without even calling out to her or putting up a fight seemed a bit out-of-character for Kovu, so I made him do all of those things in the exile scene.

As for the scene where Kiara/Shani and Zira/Bianca fall into the gorge, I got rid of the whole "paws as hands" thing because it just didn't make any sense. Even if Kiara could reach Zira, there was no way Zira could grab her paw -- paws don't work like hands. They don't have opposable thumbs. Anyway, this meant devising another way for Simba to rescue Kiara/Shani, and I decided to toss out the whole Kiara/Shani trying to save Zira/Bianca thing, since Kiara/Shani does so many heroic things during the third act of the movie that it's almost ridiculous. I also had Kovu do a bit more in this scene besides stand on top of the gorge yelling "Kiara!" If you really do care about your girlfriend, then get your tail down there and rescue her!


Other Plot Details

The Outsiders' lair was apparently meant to be a network of crystal caves at one point. There is concept art of Shani sneaking into the caves and noticing Kovu's shadow on a wall.

I originally called the river in this story the Great River, but then I realized that there is a river by that name located far from the Pride Lands in The Brightest Star. To avoid confusion, I called the river the Zuberi River, since this is the river in the Pride Lands mentioned in The Lion King: Six New Adventures. (Incidentally, the Swahili meaning of "zuberi" is "strong".)

Kovu was originally meant to be Scar's son, but obviously this was changed so Shani wouldn't be marrying her second cousin. Changing things so that he is Scar's son may seem a little objectionable, but hey, this is fan fiction. If Chronicles of the Pridelands can make Mufasa and Sarabi cousins, making Shani and Kovu second cousins doesn't seem that outrageous by comparison.

In this story, Chaka is based somewhat on Kopa from one of my alternate TLK timelines (Kopa is the cub who is Simba's son in the series of books, The Lion King: Six New Adventures). I've only drawn pictures of this alternate timeline, which is pretty much identical to SP, except that Kopa grows up alongside Kiara. As a cub he is told about how dangerous Zira and the Outsiders are as well as how they supported Scar and that Scar killed his grandfather. Kopa becomes very frightened by this information, and so great is his anxiety that his young mind becomes confused and he starts thinking that the Outsiders were the ones who killed Mufasa. As he grows up, he develops a deep hatred towards the Outsiders, and Simba isn't aware of this until the final battle. Chaka doesn't become nearly as dark and hateful in this story, but it's still the same general idea.

The only two major things I left out of this rewriting of SP were Zira having the hyenas instead of the Outsiders as her minions and the Outsiders killing Simba. I couldn't figure out how to work the hyenas into the story in a logical and non-repetitive way, and I saw no reason to kill off Simba.

Out of the several cut scenes from SP that made it to the animated stage, the only one I included in this story (well, sort of) was Zira's suicide. I also changed the scene to make Simba's rescue of Shani reflect his dream about Scar and Kovu (something which I felt needed to be resolved). I also made Kovu's "scar" just a scratch, since a cut that isn't deep enough to draw blood just doesn't seem like it could leave a scar.

Masika, Winston and Zazu and Binti's chicks are all original characters. Timira needed a mother, Binti needed a rhino to ride, and the idea of giving her and Zazu children just seemed like the perfect way to end the story. ("Masika" means "born during the rainy season" or just "rainy season".)


Sources:

Koraden's Simba's Pride Photobucket album
lionking.org's Simba's Pride page
The Unofficial Lion King Character Encyclopedia
Simba's Pride Online's plot page


Akril 1-26-10
--P.S.: Special thanks to Mizan for inspiring me to write this story!