Is Zelda Sheik: The Mysterious Connection Between Two Iconic Characters

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has captivated generations of players since its original debut on the N64 in November 1998. Despite only being six years old, the game instantly hooked me. I was unable to fully grasp the magnitude of the scope and ambition of the game, but I knew I loved it, and it was the first game I ever scored 100% completion. Ocarina of Time is an epic tale of good versus evil that spans multiple timelines. It will test your mettle against challenging foes and head-scratching puzzles, all while rewarding you with new locales and abilities to keep the pace brisk and reward player exploration. The game is also home to iconic characters like Sheik, who instantly became a fan favorite due to his mystique, confidence, and selective appearances. Before his eventual reveal, players and fans had been scratching their heads about his origin. Was Sheik Impa’s child? What is his connection to Princess Zelda? Or better yet: Is Zelda Sheik? 

A Grim Introduction

While the game begins with you assuming the role of Child Link, this lengthy section serves as a great tutorial introducing players to the game’s mechanics and setting. Upon completing the 3rd and final dungeon as Child Link, you finally manage to open the door to the Temple of Time and unsheathe The Master Sword. However, doing so results in you traveling seven years into the future, and all is not well upon your arrival.

As you emerge as Adult Link, you’re handed a massive plot twist: Hyrule is ruled by Ganondorf, and the world has fallen into darkness. You’re tasked with waking the sleeping Sages and have to defeat Ganondorf while you’re at it. With such a tall order, you’ll need some help, and that’s when Sheik makes his debut.

Before you can even exit The Temple of Time, the mysterious individual introduces himself as “The Survivor of the Sheikah” and appears semi-frequently throughout your adventure to offer advice, teach essential songs, and move the plot forward. But who is the Sheikah, and how did Sheik become their sole survivor?

Moreover, how does Sheik happen to be so knowledgeable of the current situation? It’s almost like he’s Princess Zelda herself which is what we’ll be exploring today. Zelda is the owner of the Triforce of Wisdom and Sheik is one of the most knowledgable people in the game, which makes one wonder: Are Sheik and Zelda the same?

Cutting to the Chase

Is Zelda Sheik
The Legend of Zelda Wiki

There are many similarities between Sheik and Zelda that a player can determine shortly after meeting him. Both have pointy ears, both are the same height as Link, and Zelda is the owner of the Triforce of Wisdom and Sheik is no slouch in that department. Sheik seems to be the only person who knows the assortment of songs Link needs to progress in his journey.

Sheik is well aware of the current state of affairs and Ganondorf’s power, and Zelda is one of the few living people to witness his destruction firsthand and spent her childhood immersed in studies fit for royalty. Lastly, Zelda spent her childhood with a member of the Sheikah by her side. She would be the most knowledgeable person about the elusive race, which would make her a prime candidate to cosplay as one when anonymity is needed. But who exactly is the Sheikah? Let’s delve into that.

Who is the Sheikah?

The Sheikah are a race of people who appear in every Legend of Zelda timeline and are a community dedicated to protecting the Hylian royal family. They devote themselves to the family as chosen guardians and stewards because they’re the race chosen by the Goddess Hylia to protect her mortal descendants, including Princess Zelda herself.

The Sheikah as a race have pointy ears and red eyes, excel in hand-to-hand combat techniques, and are very adept in magic. Their trademark symbol of red-eye with three points can often be found in Zelda games and is almost as iconic as the Triforce itself. While they didn’t appear as a particular race of people until Nintendo released Breath of the Wild in 2017, a certain Sheikah has appeared in just about every Zelda game since the original, that being Impa. The Sheikah eventually created Kakariko Village, which is where Ocarina of Time begins. It’s all connected. 

The Impa Connection

Impa is a constant within the Legend of Zelda series regardless of the timeline. Link is always the hero, Ganon is always the villain, Zelda is omnipotent, and Impa is forever a guardian. In Ocarina of Time, Impa is the only reason Princess Zelda survived Ganondorf’s initial attack and siege of Hyrule Castle. She and Zelda were speeding off on horseback, narrowly avoiding Ganodorf’s pursuit.

During the seven-year slumber that Link uses to travel through time, Impa was known to stay by Zelda’s side and would teach her magic and combat abilities to help ensure her survival. Perhaps the most helpful technique Zelda learned was the one of illusion, using it to become Sheik as a disguise to allow her to move about Hyrule and evade Ganondorf’s watchful eye.

Despite Sheik’s frequent appearances, he always escapes before staying too long and is never in the same place for a moment longer than necessary. Impa is the type of person who also doesn’t wait longer than needed and always has their eyes on the next task, which she wisely imparted the same sense of focus and urgency to Zelda.

Having come of age in an apocalyptic timeline without her family, it makes sense that Zelda would want to fashion herself after Impa, and I would argue that Sheik’s entire personality was cut from her cloth.  

Sheik isn’t Zelda, But Zelda Is Sheik

The Legend of Zelda Wiki

Sheik, as we know him, is nothing more than an idea. A persona Zelda invented to protect herself and assist Link on his quest. There is no canonical origin of Sheik or even any information to lend to the theory that Sheik was a natural person at one point. As such, Sheik is whoever you want him to be. A hero of folklore Impa passed onto Zelda? Sure, why not. An imaginary friend Zelda concocted as a child to be her role model? Very well could be. Is Sheik a manifestation of Zelda’s insecurities and desire to be more independent and protect herself? It’s worth debating!

I believe in the theory that Zelda created Sheik to fulfill a similar role that Impa filled for her. Sheik is often in the shadows but always knows where Link is, watching over him from afar to ensure his success and survival. While there is no confirmation of this theory, I believe it’s highly plausible. Regardless of what any player subscribes to, we know that Sheik as a persona is not Zelda.

Key Similarities and Differences

  • Sheik and Zelda are both highly skilled in magic and possess a rich firsthand knowledge of the world they live in
  • Both want Link to succeed and put an end to Ganondorf’s rule
  • Both are skilled musicians, with Sheik playing the harp and Zelda playing the Ocarina
  • Sheik is much colder than Zelda and lacks her warm and compassionate personality
  • Sheik is more independent and carries a self-made aura as opposed to Zelda, who’s more aristocratic
  • Sheik isn’t afraid to go into Hyrule and will appear wherever he needs to ensure success
  • Sheik and Zelda are the same height, and both possess pointed ears much like Links


Question: Isn’t Sheik in Super Smash Bros?

Answer: Yes! Sheik is in Super Smash Brothers, but he cannot be selected as his character. He can only be played by picking Zelda and switching to him. I feel this further supports the theory that Zelda is Sheik, but Sheik isn’t Zelda.

Question: Why Wouldn’t Zelda Reveal her Identity to Link Sooner?

Answer: If you had a bounty on your head placed by the owner of the Triforce of Power, I doubt you’d want people to know where you are. Ganondorf wants all three Triforce pieces and running around Hyrule as the crown princess would be the easiest way to help him succeed. Zelda is more valuable alive than dead, and therefore she uses illusion magic to create the perfect disguise.

Question: Couldn’t Zelda Defeat Ganondorf on her Own?

Answer: At worst, she would perish. At best, it would be a stalemate. Balance is frequently a theme in Zelda games, and Ganon isn’t capable of balancing his power in a way that isn’t destructive. The Triforce of Power can’t be tamed without Link’s Triforce of Courage added to the mix. Zelda knows her role and strengths and understands the severity of the situation. She can’t take unnecessary risks, for if she fails, Link fails.

Final Thoughts

Sheik is an entirely different being with differences in mannerisms, physicality, personality, gender identity, and eye color. However, Zelda is Sheik. Without Princess Zelda, there is no Sheik. Without Princess Zelda, there is nobody to aid Link in his journey and keep him on track. There is nobody who can steer him in the right direction and help ensure that he successfully awakens the Sages and can stop Ganondorf and bring peace to Hyrule. The real kicker is that Sheik doesn’t even reveal his true identity until Link has awakened all six sages and is ready to face Ganon. In true Sheik fashion, he sneaks up on Link waiting for him all along, always one step ahead. It’s only a natural fit that Sheik would be revealed to be a disguise of Princess Zelda, who is the elusive seventh Sage. 

Zelda possesses the knowledge that Link and the player need to complete their mission. As such, I argue that while Sheik himself may be a standalone persona, all of his qualities are directly influenced by Zelda herself. Sheik isn’t Zelda, but Zelda sure is Sheik. How do you feel about the Zelda and Sheik connection? Do you have a particular hunch or theory that you believe? 

Continue reading:

Zelda Races Guide – Learning the Many Races of Creatures

Kakariko Village Guide

Hateno Village Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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