Some might argue The Lion King was the crescendo of Disney's 90s reniassance. The memorable characters, Shakespearean story and catchy music have endured to this day; the franchise spawned multiple sequels and even a recent TV show. But the animated classic that you cherish from your childhood was almost much different. Not only were the original scripts for The Lion King way more violent, but they also featured blatant incest.
Early drafts of The Lion King share the same basic structure as the final product -- Simba is a young lion who becomes exiled after the death of his father Mufasa, then returns to take his pride back from the evil Scar -- but the meat of the movie is almost unrecognizable. Several characters never made it to the big screen, like a German pachyderm named Herr Rhino and an anteater who had an unhealthy crush on Simba.
Some of the most substantial changes were saved for Scar, who was even more ruthless in 1990 story treatments by J.T. Allen and Ron Bass. In his earliest iterations, Scar wasn't Mufasa's brother, but instead a rogue lion who had been banished from another pride. And instead of being a slinky manipulative creep, Old Scar was a bruiser, twice as big as Mufasa. There was no complicated scheme involving a wildebeest stampede -- Scar just straight-up murders Mufasa in a fight, in front of everyone.
That's right, Mufasa didn't get trampled by a herd of scared animals; he got his neck snapped in the jaws of his rival. A death like this would probably be the most brutal in Disney history (you know, next to Mulan burying thousands of soldiers alive), so you can see why they scaled it back. In reality, the Circle of Life does include fatal brawls like this, but the animals on the Discovery channel aren't cartoons made specifically for family entertainment.