The Lion King Has One of the Best Endings in All Of Cinema

What makes it so emotionally charged?

Jeff Valdivia
5 min readMar 9


Photo by Hana El Zohiry on Unsplash

The Lion King is a Disney classic, as I’m sure you know. And part of what makes it so good is that it’s relatable.

Simba’s journey is really all of our journeys. That’s what makes for a good story — that we can see ourselves, in all our glorious ridiculousness, in the actions of its characters.

Simba is relatable because he’s real. He’s bratty and spoiled. He’s scared and ashamed. He’s lazy and fun-loving. He’s hiding a deep hurt in his heart. He needs an old friend to knock some sense into him. He learns that some things are worth taking responsibility for. He discovers his courage. He takes his place in the world.

It would be unusual for this not to resonate. This is a version of the Hero’s Journey, which is an archetypical story. It inevitably evokes powerful emotions because we all identify with this journey. It’s one of the most fundamental journeys a human can take.

But the brilliance of the Lion King goes beyond its telling of the Hero’s Journey.

The layers keep pulling back

The ending of the Lion King is so powerful because it’s layered with emotion and meaning.

Up to that point, the movie had been about Simba’s journey of transformation. But, ultimately, the storytellers have more to show us.

When Simba finally confronts Scar, his evil uncle, the tension ramps up as we witness Simba risk his life for those he loves. While we had watched a child throughout the rest of the movie, the battle with his uncle symbolizes Simba’s trial by fire and transition into adulthood.

What makes it gripping is that it’s unclear whether he’s going to win. It takes every last ounce of determination and grit Simba has to defeat his uncle.

But, interestingly, this isn’t the hardest part for him. When Rafiki, the pride’s shaman, motions for Simba to climb to the peak of Pride Rock it’s clear that Simba’s next steps are different than those that came before — this is now a spiritual journey.

Then, we see Simba take a deep breath and hesitate — he’s afraid because in some sense his…



Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about psychology, meditation, self-development, and spirituality.