Oh, who cares? I should've been the chosen one. I'm the oldest, I'm the strongest, I'm the smartest-- Ooohh! These termites!
This is my moment of glory!
~ Nuka monologuing to himself as he chases after Simba, only instead of leading up to his death.
We told you to stay out of here, hyena!
~ Nuka voicing his hatred of hyenas towards Jasiri.
Nuka is one of the two secondary antagonists of Disney's 1998 animated film The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and a guest antagonist in its 2016 midquel series The Lion Guard. He was the eldest son of Zira, and the older brother of Vitani and Kovu.
He was voiced by Andy Dick, who later played Boingo in Hoodwinked! and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil.
In a similar manner to Scar and Mufasa, Nuka was jealous, resentful and acquisitive of his younger brother and his position as heir. He constantly tried to please his mother and carried out what she commanded, along with his sister Vitani. When Nuka snaps the branch Vitani was fighting with, making her fall backward, Nuka is shown to be laughing, proving him to be extremely cruel, sadistic, unforgiving, and merciless, like his mother, but to a much lesser degree. His egotism could also be a defense mechanism to hide his insecurities.
Like the rest of the Outsiders, Nuka is a malnourished lion but appeared to be even worse for wear than they. He has dusky brown fur and a scraggly black mane as well as an equally scraggly goatee. His eyes are yellow with red irises (like his mother's) and his claws were always present. The borders around his eyes were dark and heart shaped. His whiskers are twisted.
As a teenager, Nuka was regularly plagued by termites.
Nuka was born in The Pride Lands during Scar's reign to Zira, who later had two other cubs named Vitani and Kovu, the latter of whom was chosen by Scar, over Nuka to be the heir to Pride Rock in the wake of Scar's passing, sparking a jealousy within the elder brother. Some short time after Kovu's birth, Scar's nephew and the rightful king Simba returned to The Pride Lands to defeat Scar and reclaim his birthright. After defeating Scar, Simba was approached by Zira, who told him that Scar had chosen Kovu to succeed him as king. But when Simba told Zira that Scar was not the true king, she attacked him. After Simba emerged victorious, he was left with no choice but to banish Nuka along with his family and several lionesses that were loyal to Scar to the Outlands.
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride
Nuka is first seen in the film as an adolescent in the Outlands complaining to himself about his brother Kovu getting to be Scar's heir despite not being to him. He then comes across his sister Vitani tugging at a tree root and sarcastically asks her where Kovu is, but Vitani ignores him and carries on tugging the root. Annoyed, Nuka retaliates by cutting the root in half with his claw, sending Vitani flying backwards to which Nuka laughs. Vitani gets up and questions Nuka on Kovu's whereabouts, to which Nuka replies that it's every lion for himself. Vitani then berates Nuka as their mother Zira had told him to watch Kovu. Nuka replies that he should be the chosen one as he is the oldest, strongest and (in his opinion) the smartest. Nuka then declares that he could be a leader if Zira gave him a chance. Vitani then alerts Nuka to Zira's arrival with Kovu (who Zira found playing with Simba's daughter Kiara) to which Nuka approaches his mother and proudly tells her that he caught field mice for her dinner, but Zira just walks past him, much to Nuka's dismay. Zira then scolds Nuka for not watching Kovu.
After Kovu unintentionally gives Zira an idea to use Kovu's friendship with Kiara in order for Kovu to earn Simba's trust and then kill him, Zira expresses pride in him and compares him to Scar to which Nuka expresses disgust but then laughs nervously when Zira snarls at him. Zira then picks up Kovu and takes him to bed as Nuka bitterly mutters chosen one. Nuka is last seen as an adolescent taking part in "My Lullaby".
A few years later Nuka (now an adult) and an adolescent Vitani are sent by Zira to collect fire from The Elephant Graveyard in order to set fire to The Pride Lands during Kiara's first hunt in order to trap the young princess so Kovu can rescue her. The two are able to start the fire and quickly leave. Later that night after Kovu is accepted into the Pridelander pride as gratitude for saving Kiara, Nuka and Zira watch him talking to Kiara at Pride Rock. Nuka is annoyed that Kovu will not attack Kiara, but Zira reminds him that the closer Kovu gets to Kiara, the closer he gets to Simba in order to kill him.
Nuka later takes part in the Outsiders' ambush of Simba (who was out walking in the Pride Lands with Kovu). Simba attempts to escape by climbing up a pile of logs. Zira calls for Kovu to kill Simba, but the young lion runs off instead. Seeing his chance to prove himself to his mother, Nuka steps forward and climbs up the logs after Simba. Nuka catches up with Simba and grabs his ankle and declares that this is his moment of glory. Suddenly, Nuka loses his footing and falls down the logs and gets trapped. Simba continues to climb to safety, but causes more logs to fall on Nuka, crushing him.
Kovu arrives and tries to move the logs to save his brother, but is pushed aside by a horrified Zira, who moves the logs herself and finds Nuka fatally injured among the logs. In his dying breath, Nuka tells Zira that he is sorry and that he tried. A saddened Zira then tries to comfort Nuka by cradling his head in her paw, but he dies. Zira and Vitani then express sadness at Nuka's death. Afterwards, Zira prays to Scar to watch over Nuka. Angered, Zira scratches Kovu across the face, giving him a facial wound identical to Scar's, and accuses Nuka's death on the young lion, resulting in his exile from the Outlands, before Zira declares war on Simba's pride as an act of revenge against Scar and Nuka's deaths.
The Lion Guard
Nuka along with Zira, Kovu, and Vitani, guest stars in the Disney Junior series, The Lion Guard (which takes place in the middle of the second film) in the episode "Lions of the Outlands".
He is first seen pouncing on Jasiri the hyena, telling her to stay away from the watering hole only to bested by Jasiri's friend and Simba's son Kion, implying that he shares his mother's hatred of hyenas. When Zira makes Kion use the Roar of the Elders to create rain, he watches in slight awe and fear. Later Nuka tries to "hunt" Jasiri, only to be humiliated as she easily avoids him. Nuka only shows the confidence to attack Kion again, when he's surrounded by the others in his pride and told Kion can't use the Roar on fellow lions. Once again, Kion easily beats him. He is last seen being blasted out of the Outlands to the termite mounds by Kion's Roar.
A popular belief is that Scar is Nuka's father and that's why he was so jealous of Kovu. However, when Zira asks Scar to watch over him after his death, she says "my Nuka", not "our Nuka".
When he dies, Nuka's last words to Zira are "I tried". However, there is a deleted scene after that line, where he also says "Well, I finally got your attention, didn't I?" whereupon Zira gives a heartwarming smile. This scene was deleted because it would give younger viewers the impression to commit dangerous acts upon themselves to get attention, which would give them wrong ideas to please their parents.
Nuka and Zira were the only two villains who died and were not redeemed. However, it should be noted that unlike Zira, Nuka died before Vitani and the Outsiders switched sides with Simba's pride upon realizing their mistakes, so it's unknown if Nuka would have switched sides as well or remained loyal to his mother's cause.
In the early stages of The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka was originally going to be a serious villain rather than the comic relief one in the final film.
It is unclear whether the working name "Nunka" was Nuka's original name. Nunka was supposed to be Scar and Zira's son and was to be voiced by Andy Dick, who ended up voicing Nuka, but it was also a working name for Kovu, as Nunka was supposed to be Kiara's love interest, a role which went to Kovu in the final film. However this idea was dropped as Nunka and Kiara's relationship would have been incestuous due to them being first cousins once removed. One possibility is that Nunka was split into two characters: Nuka and Kovu.
Writer Flip Kobler stated in a post that Nuka is Scar's son, making him first cousins once removed with Kiara and Kion. He later stated that Nuka, Vitani, and Kovu were originally scripted as Scar's cubs in the shooting script. but after Kovu was changed to the adoptive son of Scar, he couldn't have a say in Nuka and Vitani's relationship with Scar. So it is a possibility that in one version of the draft, Kovu was Nunka and Zira's only child, whilst in the shooting script, Kovu, Vitani, and Nuka all existed. Darrell Rooney stated that Zira and Scar's relationship was obscured to be "just a follower." making Nuka unrelated to Scar.