- "Time passes, people move... Like a river's flow, it never ends... A childish mind will turn to noble ambition... Young love will become deep affection... The clear water's surface reflects growth..."
- — Sheik
Sheik (シーク Shīku?, ) is a character from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sheik serves as Princess Zelda's alter ego in the game; to escape Ganondorf's capture, Zelda passes herself off as a male Sheikah known as Sheik. Throughout the course of the game, Sheik aids Link, who is initially not privy to Sheik's true identity, by providing him with information and teaching him teleportation songs with a lyre.
Sheik's physical appearance and frequent usage of Deku Nuts as a means to vanish quickly is decidedly reminiscent of a typical ninja. Possibly owing to this, Sheik has become a popular character in The Legend of Zelda mythos, despite currently appearing only in one game out of the main series. In the later games where Sheik appears, she has a more feminine body figure.
- "They say that, contrary to her elegant image, Princess Zelda of Hyrule Castle is, in fact, a tomboy!"
- — Gossip Stone
After having retrieved the Spiritual Stones in order to prevent Ganondorf from finding the Sacred Realm, Link sees Princess Zelda and her nursemaid Impa ride away from the gates of Hyrule Castle Town. Zelda desperately throws the Ocarina of Time to Link and rides out of sight. Ganondorf appears shortly thereafter, chasing after Zelda and Impa after knocking Link down with magic. Link enters the Temple of Time and opens the Door of Time with the "Song of Time" and the Spiritual Stones. Inside the chamber past the door, he finds the Master Sword, and upon drawing it from the Pedestal of Time, he is sealed away in the Temple of Light for seven years. Seeing his chance, Ganondorf invades the Sacred Realm and steals the Triforce. However, due to his imbalance, the Triforce splits into three pieces, leaving only the Triforce of Power in his possession. Despite this, he uses the power bestowed upon him by the Triforce piece to attack Hyrule Castle and assume control over the land of Hyrule.
After managing to ride away from Hyrule proper, Princess Zelda travels to places unknown and passes herself off as a male Sheikah known as Sheik with the dual agenda of remaining hidden from Ganondorf as well as spying on him. At some point, Sheik tries to help the ailing Zora race, whose domain has been cursed by Morpha, an evil being that has taken residence in the Water Temple, a temple holy to the Zora. Sheik manages to rescue Princess Ruto from beneath the thick sheets of ice that eventually comes to encase most of Zora's Domain. Despite the many hardships that Hyrule goes through under the cruel rule of Ganondorf, Sheik remains confident that the Hero of Time will return to defeat Ganondorf and restore Hyrule.
Seven years after acquiring the Master Sword, Link awakens as an adult. After being sent on a new quest to awaken the Seven Sages, Sheik approaches Link without a sound and tells him where the Seven Sages can be found. Sheik directs Link towards the Forest Temple in southern Kokiri Forest and tells him to return to the room of the Pedestal of Time once he has awakened the Sage of Forest therein. In the Sacred Forest Meadow, Sheik appears before Link and teaches him the "Minuet of Forest", a special song that can teleport him back to the meadow should he wish it. Sheik then uses a Deku Nut to temporarily blind Link and vanish from sight. After awakening Saria as the Sage of Forest, Link returns to the Temple of Time, where Sheik informs Link that the Master Sword that he holds can be used to travel back in time seven years, when he was a child. To help him return to the Temple of Time more quickly than before, Sheik teaches Link the "Prelude of Light". They encounter one another again several times near the entrances to each dungeon, where Sheik relates to him many parables about life and teaches him teleportation songs.
Later in Link's quest, he arrives in Kakariko Village to find the village has been set on fire; he sees Sheik standing near the Well of Three Features just as the evil spirit Bongo Bongo attempts to break the seal that had placed it there. The powerful Bongo Bongo successfully escapes, and is able to knock both Sheik and Link to the ground, rendering him unconscious. Link is awakened by Sheik, who teaches him the "Nocturne of Shadow" that can transport him to the Shadow Temple, where Bongo Bongo has now taken residence. Link clears the temple and awakens Impa as the Sage of Shadow. When all Six Sages have been awakened, Link is telepathically contacted by Rauru, who tells him return to the Temple of Time, where "someone" is waiting for him.
Upon Link's arrival in the temple, he encounters Sheik, who reveals her true identity as Princess Zelda and presents Link with the Light Arrows, magical arrows with the power to defeat Ganondorf. Suddenly, the room goes dark, and Ganondorf's voice booms throughout the Temple of Time. From inside his castle, Ganondorf seals Princess Zelda within a crystal, transports her to him, and challenges Link to meet him there; all an elaborate plan for Ganondorf to reassemble the Triforce, whose two remaining pieces had been given to Zelda and Link, and attain the true power of the Triforce. At the very top of the tower, Ganondorf and Link engage in battle, and Link leaves the victor. Princess Zelda is released from her prison, but with his last breath, Ganondorf attempts to bring the castle down and crush them under the rubble, and the two narrowly escape certain death. After a final battle against Ganondorf's beast form, peace reigns in Hyrule once more, and Link is sent back seven years by Zelda to regain his lost time. However, this causes the Hero of Time to live a regret-filled life until the events of Twilight Princess.
Sheik appears as a playable character in the spinoff games Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends. In addition to the arsenal of weapons the character carries to fight enemies, Sheik also wields a Harp. In promotional material for Hyrule Warriors Sheik is referred to as female.
Super Smash Bros. series
Sheik's appearance is based on her Ocarina of Time design, albeit with a more feminine appearance. This is Sheik's only appearance in an original Nintendo GameCube game. In the opening sequence, Sheik is seen playing a lyre. Interestingly, Event Battle #9 (which takes place on the Termina: Great Bay stage) is named "Hide 'n' Sheik" (an obvious play on the traditional children's game Hide-and-Seek), implying how her name is pronounced; however, whether this is how the creators of the character intended her name to be pronounced is uncertain.
- "...My designers did work on the designs for Sheik and Link and Ganondorf. So they submitted the initial designs, and so it would fit in the Smash Bros. Brawl environment, they've had to tweak some of the designs. But Sakurai has brought those altered designs to NCL. We’re working very closely with the team of Smash Bros. Brawl to make sure the characters look their best."
- — Eiji Aonuma
Sheik's appearance is based on a design draft that was created during the development of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Interestingly, Sheik now has what appears to be a Japanese tantō or wakizashi on her back, which is not seen or used in Ocarina of Time and Melee; however, a piece of artwork from Ocarina of Time depicts Sheik wielding a blade of similar length in battle against Ganondorf's minions. Furthermore, Sheik is depicted as wielding such a blade in the manga. This could also come from Impa's character design from Ocarina of Time, in which she is also a Sheikah and carries a similar weapon on her lower back. Her skin tone is also noticeably paler than her Ocarina of Time and Melee designs, yet similar to her costume change design as seen as her All-Star trophy in Melee. Another interesting detail is that she apparently has her hair tied up in one long braid covered in cloth, which means that Zelda changed her hair's color but not her hair's length.
Sheik returns as playable characters in the fourth installment of Super Smash Bros. Her appearance is once again based on Twilight Princess. Unlike her Melee and Brawl appearance, she is not a transformation of Zelda, but rather her own character. She has two new moves, Burst Grenade and Bouncing Fish. Her other moves remain the same or highly similar.
Sheik's role in the story is, for the most part, consistent with what occurs in the game; however, Sheik is shown to be working in conjunction with Ganondorf in order to spy on his dealings. Sheik's real face is also shown before Sheik transforms back into Zelda.
For unknown reasons, an unused model of Sheik exists within the game's code along with models of Impa and Ganondorf. The files names indicate they may have been planned to appear in the Swamp Fishing Hole and Ocean Fishing Hole.
Since the release of Ocarina of Time, many arguments have been raised regarding Sheik's true gender. As revealed in the ending of the game, Sheik is actually Zelda in disguise and not a separate character. Fans debate what methods were used by Zelda to make herself appear more masculine; whether it was a literal transformation or a disguise. Zelda's masculinity as Sheik may merely be the product of clothing (breast bindings, shoulder-pads) and not any literal magical transformation. Official art of Sheik shows tape around his/her chest, implying this could be a binding. However, shoulder pads would restrict mobility and breast binding does not explain every physical difference, such as the difference in the shoulder-to-hip ratio and muscled arms shown in the official art.
In the game itself, some of Sheik's grunts seem vaguely masculine. Additionally, Zelda and Sheik do not share physical characteristics, such as Zelda's helplessness when trapped by a ring of fire in Ganon's collapsing castle; this is a jump that she would presumably be able to make as Sheik, implying an actual transformation or magical augmentation as opposed to a mere clothing difference. When Princess Ruto describes Sheik to Link, she refers to him as a "nice young man", and in the original Japanese version, Sheik introduces him/herself using boku, a pronoun mostly used by young males; these may simply be examples of an effective disguise, however.
Several sources considered non-canonical, or otherwise unreliable, touch upon the subject of Sheik's gender: the official PrimaGames strategy guide consistently cites Sheik as being female, given that she is merely Zelda in disguise; in the Ocarina of Time manga, Impa seals Zelda's consciousness, telling her to "live as a boy" until the time comes for her to awaken. Other moments in the manga, such as when Sheik remains unaffected by the Desert of Illusions, also hint at the fact that Sheik is a different personality that houses Zelda's body; Sheik's trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee states that the magic used to change Zelda's form affected only her skin, hair, and eye color, whereas the Brawl trophy states that she remained female throughout the entirety of Ocarina of Time. These descriptions, however, are in the English-language version of the games only, with the original Japanese versions not using any female pronouns. Additionally, the Japanese official site uses 'seinen' to describe Sheik, meaning 'young man' (which can also be translated as 'wakamono', the descriptor Princess Ruto uses in Ocarina of Time). According to Bill Trinen of Nintendo of America, Sheik is female. In many non-canonical games, such as Hyrule Warriors, as well as the Super Smash Bros. series, Sheik has a notably more feminine body figure and face, which could be taken as hints toward a possible definitive gender.
Sheik's name may be derived from the Sheikah tribe, from which Impa taught young Zelda its ways of survival and arts, or it could be derived from the Arabic word Sheikh (العربية: شيخ) meaning king or ruler, but in more general and tribal use (which the Sheikah tribe might well be using) it references any male member of the royal or ruling tribe. The latter possible name origin might hold validity when comparing it to Sheik's nature and motives in the game, as Sheik is both a tribe member and one of the royal family.