From the song Hakuna Matata:

Take Pumbaa here
Why, when he was a young warthog...

He found his aroma lacked a certain appeal He could clear the savannah after every meal

I'm a sensitive soul though I seem thick-skinned
And it hurt that my friends never stood downwind
And oh, the shame - He was ashamed
Thought of changin' my name - What's in a name?

Is this a deliberate nudge to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which includes the famous line:

What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.

Given that the plot of the Lion King is more or less a Disney version of Hamlet (and the film makers have credited Hamlet as an inspiration), have they ever discussed this line?

  • Is a song from animation inspired by another animation being animal versions of Hamlet inspired by Hamlet? I will say that yes. Jun 7, 2018 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


Possibly, Yes.

I have yet to find a direct source to Romeo & Juliet, but The Lion King is influenced by Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story, rather than be based on an already existing work. The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the lives of Joseph and Moses, from the Bible, and William Shakespeare's Hamlet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_King

The Following Website Also Makes Comparisons between The Lion King & Hamlet. https://owlcation.com/humanities/Similarities-Between-The-Lion-King-and-Hamlet

This video claims to find several Shakespearian references & allusions through all three Lion King feature films, including the sequel, Simba's Pride having specific references to Romeo & Juliet:

  • It would be great to find a source for Romeo and Juliet. I know that they have admitted „stealing“ the plot and other elements from Hamlet, but I am unsure about other Shakespearan plays.
    – user64572
    Jun 7, 2018 at 5:09
  • that link Tl;dr version "Lion King is ripoff of Tekuza animal version of Hamlet. Jun 7, 2018 at 8:09
  • 1
    @user64572 I agree. I will keep looking, but it stands to reason that if there is one Shakespearian play reference or allusion, then there can be more. And I'm slightly more convinced since Simba's Pride seems to have more of a Romeo & Juliet-like plot, that The Lion King could of also referenced it. Jun 7, 2018 at 12:30
  • 2
    Also a lot of works barrow from other works, but an allusion or reference or influence is not stealing. In the Lion King's case, we also know it was influenced by Biblical Allegory, which Shakespeare also does, but sometimes the point of barrowing something is to tell that story in a new way and/or challange it's original meaning. (ie: The Fault in our Stars specifically examines Shakespeare's original meaning of the phrase and challanges it by putting it into a different context). The Lion King is not "exactly" Hamlet even though it has many allusions to it. Jun 7, 2018 at 12:46
  • 1
    That video did indeed also find the “What’s in a name. And I thought I had just spotted that”. This basically rounds up your answer though.
    – user64572
    Jun 8, 2018 at 15:07

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