The Lion King is probably my favorite Disney movies of all time, and also one of the first films I remember seeing at the cinema. The adventurous tale of lion cub Simba in the Pride Lands of Africa gripped my 5-year-old self from the beginning and didn't let go until the credits rolled. It's fair to say the movie is beloved by fans, and the latest theory I've found about The Lion King just goes to show that 21 years later the film is still entrenched in pop culture.
Reddit user hypatia02 recently put forward a pretty interesting thought: The reason that Simba returned to Pride Rock in The Lion King was not because of his strength and fighting ability, but because of his reproduction ability!
Although the theory might sound a little far-fetched, stick with me on this one as I break it down, I promise it definitely makes sense!
Simba is the pride's 'only hope'
In the film you'll remember the touching scene when Simba and Nala are reunited. Soon after this Nala tells Simba that he has to return to the Pride Lands because he's their 'only hope,' implying that the lionesses need Simba to return and defeat Scar. However it's interesting that Nala should say this, given that Simba is clearly a poor fighter! Only moments before Nala asks Simba to return to his home he was easily pinned down by Nala and almost killed before she recognized him. Simba is probably a bad fighter due to his unconventional upbringing with Timon and Pumbaa and the odd diet of mostly bugs. Not to mention that lionesses are usually the ones who do the intense fighting and hunting, rather than the male lions.
So why would Simba be the Pride Lands 'only hope'? Well...
The lionesses needed a fertile lion before they could rebel against scar
That's right! If the lionesses, who are traditionally the hunters, overthrew scar and disposed of the Hyenas, they would soon find themselves dying out as a pride due to the lack of male lions. Therefore they needed another male lion before they could execute their plan: enter Simba, a.k.a. their 'only hope' of a future generation for the pride!
So basically I'm sorry to wound Simba's pride in his fighting ability, but according to this theory it wasn't his sharp claws that Nala was interested in, it was a rather different body part! Although to his credit he does eventually gather the strength to throw Scar off Pride Rock to be eaten by the hyenas.
I have to say I quite like this theory, plus as Redditor etegrul jokingly points out, this does explain why Mufasa sent down the message 'SEX' in the clouds...