Timon and Pumbaa are an animated meerkat and warthog duo introduced in Disney's popular 1994 animated film The Lion King. Timon was portrayed through his many appearances by Nathan Lane (in all three films and early episodes of the show), Max Casella (the original actor in The Lion King Broadway musical), Kevin Schon (in certain episodes of the show), Quinton Flynn (in certain episodes of the show), Bruce Lanoil in the Wild About Safety shorts and Kingdom Hearts II, while Pumbaa is voiced by Ernie Sabella (in all of his animated speaking appearances), and was portrayed by Tom Alan Robbins in the original cast of the Broadway musical. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella first came to audition for the roles of the hyenas, but when the producers saw how well they worked together they decided to cast them as Timon and Pumbaa. Lyricist Tim Rice however was pulling for Rik Mayall (for Timon) and Adrian Edmondson (for Pumbaa) to play the roles, as he got the idea for the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata" by watching their show Bottom.
As with many characters in Lion King, Pumbaa's name derives from the East African language Swahili. In Swahili, pumbaa (v.) means "to be foolish, silly, weakminded, careless, negligent". Timon is one of the few characters whose name has no meaning in Swahili; Timon is an historical Greek name, taken to mean "he who respects". Timon's name may also possibly derive from Shakespeare's tragedy Timon of Athens, another Shakespeare reference in a film which derives its plot from Hamlet.
Timon is a wise-cracking and self-absorbed meerkat who is known for claiming Pumbaa's ideas as his own, while Pumbaa has flatulence issues. However, Pumbaa is also a fierce warrior, charging into battle like a battering ram, and taking great offense if anyone who's not his friend calls him a pig, at which point he exclaims "They call me Mister pig!"—a reference to Sidney Poitier's line "They call me Mister Tibbs!" from the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. Unlike real meerkats, Timon can walk on his hind legs, while in real life, meerkats walk on all four legs and can only stand on their hind ones.