Timon and Pumbaa
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|First appearance||The Lion King (1994)|
|Created by||Jonathan Roberts|
|Voiced by||Nathan Lane
(films, Timon & Pumbaa, The Lion King Animated Storybook, The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure (cutscenes only), Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable)
(Timon & Pumbaa, House of Mouse, The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure, The Lion Guard)
(Timon & Pumbaa)
(Kingdom Hearts II, Disney Th!nk Fast, Wild about Safety shorts)
(2019 Live Action Remake)
|First appearance||The Lion King (1994)|
|Created by||Jonathan Roberts|
|Voiced by||Ernie Sabella
(2019 Live Action Remake)
Timon and Pumbaa are an animated meerkat and warthog duo introduced in Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King. Timon was portrayed through his many appearances by Nathan Lane (in all three films and early episodes of the show), Max Casella (the original actor in The Lion King Broadway musical), Kevin Schon (in certain episodes of the show), Quinton Flynn (in certain episodes of the show), Bruce Lanoil in the Wild About Safety shorts and Kingdom Hearts II, and while Pumbaa is voiced by Ernie Sabella (in all of his animated speaking appearances), and was portrayed by Tom Alan Robbins in the original cast of the Broadway musical. In the upcoming live-action remake, the characters will be portrayed by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen respectively. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella first came to audition for the roles of the hyenas, but when the producers saw how well they worked together they decided to cast them as Timon and Pumbaa. Lyricist Tim Rice however was pulling for Rik Mayall (for Timon) and Adrian Edmondson (for Pumbaa) to play the roles, as he got the idea for the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata" by watching their show Bottom.
As with many characters in Lion King, Pumbaa's name derives from the East African language Swahili. In Swahili, pumbaa (v.) means "to be foolish, silly, weakminded, careless, negligent". Timon is one of the few characters whose name has no meaning in Swahili; Timon is a historical Greek name, taken to mean "he who respects". Timon's name may also possibly derive from Shakespeare's tragedy Timon of Athens, another Shakespeare reference in a film which derives its plot from Hamlet.
Timon is a wise-cracking and self-absorbed meerkat who is known for claiming Pumbaa's ideas as his own, while Pumbaa has flatulence issues. However, Pumbaa is also a fierce warrior, charging into battle like a battering ram, and taking great offense if anyone who's not his friend calls him a pig, at which point he exclaims "They call me Mister pig!"—a reference to Sidney Poitier's line "They call me Mister Tibbs!" from the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. Unlike real meerkats, Timon can walk on his hind legs, while in real life, meerkats walk on all four legs and can only stand on their hind ones. In the wild, banded mongoose have a special relationship with warthogs, which is portrayed in the Disney film.
The Lion King
Based on the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet, Timon and Pumbaa are played by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella. Timon was animated and created by Michael Surrey. They made their first appearances in the 1994 film when they shooed away the vultures that swarmed around young Simba, who had collapsed from heat exhaustion. Timon and Pumbaa then took the collapsed lion cub back to a small pool, where they splashed water on him to wake him up. After Simba is awakened by the two, they introduce themselves and welcome Simba to stay with them and follow their hakuna matata philosophy. At first, Simba is confused about Timon and Pumbaa's lifestyle, but it is explained to him in the song "Hakuna Matata".
Many years later, while out on a musical walk with Timon, Pumbaa is distracted by a bug, which he follows into the jungle. The bug leads him right to a hungry lioness prowling around, who then tries to hunt down Pumbaa. She chases the warthog until Simba springs into action, and the two lions engage in conflict. When the lioness pins Simba, he recognizes her as Nala, his childhood playmate. They are happy to be together, but Timon is jealous after they leave for a night of romance. He and Pumbaa start singing the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" and are joined by Simba and Nala on their night out. Still, the two help Simba defeat Scar and gain his rightful place as the king of the Pride Lands, most notably when they create a hula distraction to lure away Scar's hyenas. Pumbaa single-handedly drives off Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. They also stand on top of Pride Rock along with Simba and Nala when Rafiki presents Simba and Nala's newborn cub to the animals of the Pride Lands.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
It is unclear whether Timon and Pumbaa have taken up residence at Pride Rock, or just make frequent visits. They serve as aides to Simba, and are often called upon to keep an eye on his adventurous daughter Kiara so in a way replacing Zazu's role as babysitters. Despite being bumbling, Simba trusts them to look after Kiara, and does not blame them when Kiara runs off as Kiara is known to do just that. When Kiara goes on her first hunt, they are hired to make sure she won't get hurt. Enraged, she escapes from the Pridelands to hunt outside the boundary. Timon and Pumbaa also teach Kovu how to have fun after he forgets due to years of indoctrination in hatred. When Kovu's pride, the Outsiders, turn on Simba and ambush him, Timon is on Simba's side automatically, not even wanting to hear his argument. They later assist in the battle against Kovu's manipulative and vengeful mother Zira, and her pride of exiled lions, but get chased off and cornered by a group, until Timon threatens to use Pumbaa's tail as a gun and use his gas on them causing them to flee in fear. Despite being slightly cowardly, they are willing to fight for what is right. When Simba tries to make peace with Zira after realizing that both prides "were one", he uses the same advice Timon and Pumbaa gave him when he was a cub (put the past behind you) showing how much he had learned from his old friends.
The Lion King 1½
Timon and Pumbaa are the main characters in this followup, and are revealed to have passed by and caused some key events in the first film before their first appearance. Timon, his mother Ma and Uncle Max were part of a group of meerkats who lived on the savannah, but he was unable to do any job properly, and almost led to the meerkat being eaten by the hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed (Pumbaa was revealed to have blocked out part of the scene by sitting on the remote). Feeling depressed, he received counsel from Rafiki, who taught him the "Hakuna Matata" philosophy and told him to "look beyond what you see." Timon took this literally, and set off to find the ultimate paradise. Along the way, he first encountered Pumbaa, and the two became friends. On the way to find paradise, they passed by the presentation of Simba (it turns out that Pumbaa accidentally passed some gas and the smell made a few animals collapse, causing the other animals to think they were bowing and later they all bowed) and Mufasa was very puzzled at seeing this and his majordomo Zazu then tells him they are bowing to his son; Simba, Nala, and when the animals are singing "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" (it was Timon who hit an elephant's leg with a stick, causing the tower of animals to collapse); the elephant graveyard where Mufasa was on his way to save Simba and Nala from the hyenas ("I see carnivores"); the hyenas marching to "Be Prepared" ("something tells me this ain't the traveling company of Riverdance"); and the wildebeest stampede ("Shall we run for our lives?" "Oh yes, let's."). Finally, they reach a beautiful oasis and are enjoying life until they find a collapsed Simba. After rescuing Simba, Timon and Pumbaa find themselves with their hands full trying to keep up with the mischievous cub.
The film also shows more of Simba's life with Timon and Pumbaa before Nala came along, stating that Simba had beaten Timon in every bug-eating contest they had done with one another. Timon and Pumbaa, afraid that Nala would take away their friend, attempted to spoil Simba and Nala's date by letting out bees, a spider, and tripping the two (explaining why they fell down the hill in the first film), but all failed. Later on, they see Simba and Nala quarrelling. They also mistake the appearance of Mufasa's ghost as bad weather ("I think the storm is coming to a head"). After they realize Simba has gone back to take his rightful place as king, it is revealed that Pumbaa had set off to help Simba before Timon, who was indifferent and reluctant. Timon eventually came to his senses thanks to Rafiki's continued advice, and quickly followed, after which Rafiki says, "My work here is done." The duo provides their hula distraction (shown in the first film. This apparently was Timon's fault because before he did the dance, he asked Simba what his plan was to get past the hyenas, Simba replies "Live bait." When Timon realizes he and Pumbaa were the live bait, he sarcastically asked Simba "What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula?". A few seconds later, the hyenas wake up and see Timon in a hula skirt, a flower, and a flower necklace and Pumbaa like a cooked pig), the two run into Ma and Uncle Max, who had been searching for Timon ever since he left the meerkat colony. Later on during the fight, they defeated the hyenas by digging a massive tunnel network, sending the hyenas down Pride Rock where they get to take revenge on Scar who had betrayed them. This scene explains what happened to Timon and Pumbaa while Simba is fighting Scar. After Scar is killed in the first film and this film, Timon and Pumbaa show up alive and unharmed against the hyenas that chased them, suggesting to audiences that they have either outsmarted or beat up the hyenas in the first film. At the end, Timon takes his entire meerkat colony to live in the oasis, free from threats.
Despite the appearance of Timon's mother, Ma (who was also given reference in at least one episode of Timon and Pumbaa) and his Uncle Max (believed to be his great uncle due to his age-which may be premature-and the fact that Ma also calls him 'Uncle' Max), Timon's father is never mentioned. However, in deleted scenes, Timon's father is an active character, though he was apparently replaced by Uncle Max.
The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa
Timon and Pumbaa starred in their own animated television series which focuses on their lives. The duo is seen having misadventures in the jungle and they are also seen visiting different places around the world, such as the United States, Spain, and France. This series also reveals their last names: Timon's is revealed to be Berkowitz while Pumbaa's is revealed to be Smith.
It is revealed in the series that before Timon met Pumbaa, he had a best friend named Fred, who enjoys pulling practical jokes. In the episode "Isle of Manhood", it is shown that Timon attempts to pass the test of manhood in order to become brave and manly instead of the cowardly meerkat he sometimes claims himself to be. In Pumbaa's case, it is revealed that he was once a member of a warthog sounder, but by the time he was fully grown, the warthogs banished him because of his smell, which was appalling even by warthog standards. It is also stated that years before the episode "Madagascar About You", an arranged marriage has been set up for Pumbaa before he was even born.
It is notable that a pre-existing storyline of how Timon met Pumbaa appeared in this series. This would make the series and The Lion King 1½ independent continuities. However, this pre-existing storyline was later retconned into being a fictional story that Rafiki was telling Zazu.
The Lion Guard
Timon and Pumbaa appear with several of the film's other characters in the Disney Junior series The Lion Guard, which centers around Simba's second-born cub, Kion. During the series, which is set within the time gap in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Timon and Pumbaa are adoptive uncles of a young honey badger named Bunga, who is one of the members of the Lion Guard. When Bunga was an infant, he encountered Timon and Pumbaa singing "Utamu." Instantly smitten, Bunga had begun following them around. Pumbaa wanted to keep Bunga, but Timon didn't want to raise anymore kids since he and Pumbaa have already done so with Simba, but the two friends see that the honey badger wants to be with them as well. Before he accepted Bunga, Timon instructed the honey badger to climb a tree and fetch them some Utamu grubs. When Bunga had succeeded and given the grubs to Timon, the meerkat had allowed him to stay, and the three have lived together ever since.
Timon and Pumbaa made regular appearances in the animated television series Disney's House of Mouse (2001–2002) as guests and also appeared in Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. An occasional running gag in the show involved Timon trying to eat Jiminy Cricket, only to be stopped by Pumbaa. The two have made cameos in other Disney films. In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the Genie turns into Pumbaa in a scene saying, "Hakuna Matata" (he also states that he had an "out-of-movie experience"). Timon appears briefly in the Virtual Magic Carpet Ride game included on disc 2 of the 2004 Aladdin Platinum Edition DVD. In Enchanted, Pip accidentally transforms himself momentarily into Pumbaa in the DVD extra "Pip's Predicament: A Pop-Up Adventure". Pumbaa also makes a cameo appearance in the "Good Neighbor Cruella" episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series, as well as making a cameo appearance in Tangled.
They also appear on the packaging of the Kellogg's cereal "Chocolate Mud & Bugs".
In The Jungle Book 2, Timon and Pumbaa can briefly be seen dancing during the song "W-I-L-D" until Baloo bounces them off with his backside.
They reprise their roles from The Lion King in the 2006 video game Kingdom Hearts II. They charge in to battle the hyenas, and are saved by the game's main protagonists Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy. After Simba's coronation, they fear that Simba will forget them and let the other lions eat them, though Sora assures them that Simba will never forget them. Pumbaa later shows his bravery by standing between a pregnant Nala and Scar's "ghost". Ernie Sabella reprises his role as Pumbaa, while Timon is voiced by Bruce Lanoil. Coincidentally, Quinton Flynn also had a role in the game, providing the voice for Axel of Organization XIII.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Timon also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character. Pumbaa also appears on certain floats in certain parades or shows. Timon and Pumbaa are also the mascots used at Disney World to help kids and parents understand safety issues in the Disney parks and resorts. They are also featured on the Disney Safety website which was created in conjunction with Animax Entertainment. Timon and Pumbaa were also main characters in Legend of the Lion King, a former Fantasyland attraction in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, which retold the story of the film using fully articulated puppets. The two also make cameo appearances in the Hong Kong Disneyland and the Disneyland versions of It's a Small World. They appeared along with Simba in the 1995 film Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable, an edutainment film at Epcot's Land Pavilion. Timon and Pumbaa both feature in Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.
In 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013, Disney Educational Productions and Underwriters Laboratories coproduced an educational film series called Wild About Safety: Safety Smart with Timon and Pumbaa, where Pumbaa educated Timon on how to stay safe. Ernie Sabella reprised his role as Pumbaa, while Timon was voiced by Bruce Lanoil. Each installment was approximately 11 minutes long. They are all animated in the style of the 1994 TV show. The following titles were produced:
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart At Home!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart Healthy and Fit!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart About Fire!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart Goes Green!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart In The Water!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart Online!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart Honest & Real!
- Wild About Safety: Safety Smart On The Go!
- "Pumba" in Swahili-English Dictionary
- Timon: What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula? Nathan Lane (1994). The Lion King (Animated film). Walt Disney Pictures.
- Brett, Susan (February 8, 2016). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Disney’s The Lion Guard creator Ford Riley talks new Lion King sequel". TVdaily.com. Retrieved November 25, 2016.