|“||You'll never hurt Kiara, or Simba, not while I'm here.||„|
|~ Kovu to Zira|
Kovu is the deuteragonist of the 1998 film The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and a guest character in it's 2016 midquel series The Lion Guard. He is the adopted son of Zira, the alleged heir of Scar, Nuka and Vitani's younger adopted brother, Simba and Nala's son-in-law, and Kiara's best friend and later, her husband.
He is voiced by Ryan O'Donohue as a cub and Jason Marsden (who also plays Max Goof) as an adolescent (Gene Miller, singing) in the movie. Marsden reprised the entire role in The Lion Guard (including replacing O'Donohue as his cub self).
As "The Lion King II: Simba's Pride" is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, Kovu [due to being Kiara's love interest from a hostile family (The Outsiders)] is based on Romeo.
Kovu has auburn fur and green eyes. As a cub, he had a dark brown tuft of hair on his head. As an adolescent, this tuft grows into a mane which stops at top of his chest. His most distinguishing feature is the scar over his left eye, which he got from Zira after she blamed him for Nuka's death. His appearance is quite similar to Scar, but his physiques are similar to Simba.
Kovu was born sometime near the end of Scar's reign over the Pride Lands to unknown parents shortly after the fall of Scar. Sometime before Kovu's birth, Scar's nephew, Simba, returned to the Pride Lands, battled and defeated Scar and reclaimed his rightful title as King. Zira was then exiled when she declared that Scar was the rightful king. But when Simba told Zira that Scar was not the true king, she attacked him. After Simba won the fight, he banished Zira who would later discover Kovu and adopt him as her son, declaring, falsely, that he was Scar's heir.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
Some years later, Simba's daughter Kiara distracted her babysitters Timon and Pumbaa and sneaks into the Outlands and bumped into Kovu. He snarls at Kiara and demands her to tell him who she is before teasing her for doing what her father says (never turn the back to an Outsider), saying that Outsiders don't need anybody and that he takes cares of himself. Kiara and Kovu end up wandering onto crocodiles. The crocodiles tried to eat them, but they escaped from the angry reptiles. After this, the two cubs play before Zira pops up and tries to face off with Simba, Nala, Pumbaa, Timon and some of the Pridelanders, but to no avail. Zira picks up Kovu and then takes him to their home in the Outlands where his two siblings Nuka and Vitani are. Kovu is seen sleeping during Zira's song ("My Lullaby").
As the years go by, Zira sets up her plan for Kovu to avenge Scar's death by killing Simba. After Nuka and Vitani set fire to the Pride Lands whilst Kiara is out hunting trapping her, Zira sends Kovu into the fire to save Kiara from being burned and along the way they fall into a lake but Kovu manages to stop Kiara from drowning and swims her to land. When Kiara wakes up she at first angry that Kovu ruining her hunt but when she recognizes Kovu she is happy to see him. Just then Simba and Nala arrive and find out from Rafiki that Kovu saved Kiara and Kovu asks to join the pride but at first Simba refuses as he is an Outsider but Kovu says that he left the Outsiders and is now a rogue and tells Simba to judge him for who he is or blame him for a crime he didn't commit. Simba going by the law of owing debts decides to let him join the pride but says he will reserve judgment until he sees what Kovu really is and makes him sleep outside Pride Rock. Kiara goes to see him and arranges for him to teach her to hunt whilst being watched by Zira and Nuka. He later appears in Simba's nightmare in which Simba tries to save Mufasa from falling into the gorge but is stopped by Scar who then turns into Kovu and throws Simba into the gorge after Mufasa.
The next morning, Kovu prepares to sneak up and attack Simba but fails when Kiara arrives to start her training. Along with Timon and Pumbaa and Kiara, they accidentally run into a herd of angry rhinos. After avoiding the rhinos, Kiara and Kovu are later seen laying on the grass stargazing. They later appear in the song "Upendi". After the song, Simba following Nala's advice to give Kovu a chance, lets him sleep inside Pride Rock and starts to trust him unaware that Vitani is watching and reports to Zira that Kovu did not kill Simba. The next morning, Simba and Kovu go out walking and talking about Scar when they are ambushed by Zira and the Outsiders. They attack Simba and when Kovu tries to save him, he is knocked away by Vitani and Simba unintentionally kills Nuka by knocking logs onto him crushing him whilst escaping up a dam. After Zira says a prayer to Scar to look after Nuka, she gets angry at Kovu and scratches him across the face leaving a scar over his left eye and blames him murdering Nuka and betraying his pride, his own mother and Scar. Having enough, Kovu stands up to his mother and leaves to return to the Pride Lands. But when he gets there Simba accuses him of being in on the ambush and has the other animals of the Pride Lands chase him away, much to Kiara's sadness who believes Kovu is innocent and against her father's orders leaves Pride Rock to follow Kovu.
She eventually finds him and convinces him to return with her to try and reunite their prides. Kovu along with Kiara return to the Pride Lands and see the battle between the Pridelanders and Outsiders going on and manage to stop the fight by jumping in front of Simba and Zira just as they were about to fight one-on-one. Zira tells Kovu to move, but he refuses, saying that he won't let her hurt Kiara or Simba whilst Kiara reminds Simba about what he told her as a cub about them being one and says that she didn't understand him then but does now. Hearing this Vitani and the Outsiders go over to the Pridelanders except for Zira who tries to attack Simba, but Kiara knocks her aside causing the two lionesses to go over the side of a cliff. Luckily Kiara lands on a platform and tries to help Zira but she falls to her death into a fast flowing river below much to Kovu's sadness having lost both his brother and mother. Simba apologizes to Kovu and allows him and the other Outsiders to rejoin the Pridelanders. Kovu is last seen at the end of the film now married to Kiara and joins her and Simba and Nala to roar at the end of Pride Rock.
The Lion Guard
Kovu reappears in the 2016 Disney Junior series The Lion Guard, which takes place after he first meets Kiara.
He is once again voiced by Jason Marsden.
Kovu is first seen in the Season 1 episode "Lions of The Outlands" where he comes across Nuka being pinned down by Kion (who was in the Outlands to sort out a problem of lions not sharing a waterhole with his hyena friend Jasiri's clan) after Nuka attacked Jasiri. At first, Kion believes that Kovu is Nuka's friend, only for Kovu to correct him in saying that Nuka is his brother.
Kion then questions Kovu and Nuka on why they are in the Outlands and not the Pride Lands and learns that their family's not welcome there. After learning from Jasiri that Kion is Simba's son, Kovu believes that his family might be allowed back into the Pride Lands and he could see Kiara again. Kion is surprised to hear that Kovu knows his sister, to which Kovu says that it was a while ago, before telling Nuka that they have to take Kion and Jasiri to see Zira.
Kovu and Nuka take Kion and Jasiri to Zira, who is drinking from the waterhole with Vitani. After Kovu tells Zira that Kion is Simba's son and Jasiri says that he is also the leader of the Lion Guard, Zira takes Kion away to talk privately and leaves Jasiri with Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani.
Kovu is later mentioned when Rafiki tells Bunga, Fuli, Beshte and Ono about how the Outsiders were banished to the Outlands after Zira tried to claim Kovu as Scar's heir and attacked Simba when he told her that Scar wasn't the true king, though, given Zira's mental state, it is probable that part of this is falsified.
Nuka gets impatient on waiting on Zira and tries to attack Jasiri, but is stopped by Kovu. Eventually, Zira returns and tells Jasiri that Kion decided to let the Lions keep the waterhole. After Jasiri leaves, Zira takes Kovu, Nuka, and Vitani to Kion, who is surrounded by the other Outsiders. Kovu is confused about what is going on as he believed that Kion was going get them back into the Pride Lands and be their friend. Zira tells Kovu that if Kion uses the Roar of the Elders on his fellow lions, he will lose it and if he doesn't use it, he will still lose, thus the Outsiders win.
Just then, Jasiri and the rest of the Lion Guard arrive to help Kion and fight off the Outsiders. When Kion confronts Zira, Kovu distances himself from the other Outsiders. After learning from Bunga that Scar didn't lose the Roar due to using it against his fellow lions but for evil, Kion uses the Roar to blast Zira and the Outsiders away to termite mounts. Kovu is the only one not to be blasted away, but when seeing Kion approaching him, Kovu runs after his family and pride.
Kovu reappears at the end of Season 3 as a young adult where he and Kiara stop Kion and the Lion Guard (who had left the Pride Lands to search for the Tree of Life to heal Kion and Ono following the Guard's battle with Scar's spirit) from fighting Vitani when she mistaken them for intruders. Kovu and Kiara explain to Kion that whilst he and the Lion Guard where away, the Outsiders joined the pride and Vitani had formed her own Lion Guard in the usual Guard's absence. Kovu later goes to the Tree of Life where be witnesses Kion (who had retired as leader of the Lion Guard and was succeeded by Vitani) marry Rani and become King of the Tree of Life.
A Little Help From a Friend
In this comic (which is a midquel to the film), Kovu runs into a cub whom he eventually discovers is Kiara. She invites Kovu to go to the canyon to watch Simba deal with Outsiders, but he declines. Kiara begins to leave but decides to stay and play with Kovu.
As the cubs are playing, Kiara hears Pumbaa cry out for help. The two friends immediately race to the source of the voice and find that Timon is hanging unconscious from a vine in a tree. Quickly, the two formulate a plan. While Kovu climbs up the tree and frees Timon, Kiara clambers onto Pumbaa's back and catches the meerkat as he falls. After laying Timon gently in Pumbaa's tusks, Kiara bids her friend farewell, as they both agree that he would not be welcome in the Pride Lands.
- In the original script for The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Kovu was originally called Nunka and was going to be both Zira and Scar's son and be voiced by Andy Dick and would have had orangey-brown fur, a black mane and green eyes like Scar. However, this would have made him Simba's cousin and therefore Kiara's first cousin once removed, thus having a relationship with Kiara would count as incest. So Kovu instead became Scar's adoptive son and Dick went on to voice Kovu's brother Nuka. The only thing Kovu has left from his original design is his green eyes.
- The director later declared that Kovu is an orphan and that Zira is his adopted mother, which makes the claim he is the heir of Scar void.
- Kovu is one of three members of the Pride Lands' royal family to have a scar over his left eye, with the other two being Scar and Kion. However whilst Kovu got his scar after being scratched by Zira, Scar and Kion got their scars after being bitten by cobras.
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