This is our countdown toward the #1 female character of all-time. Tomorrow, we start going one by one through the top 25, leading up to our #1 on Sept. 30.
26) Alicia Melchiott (Valkyria Chronicles) – 1 vote
Shaun: We have a lot of atypical representation on our character lists from JRPGS, but I actually really like it — I feel like it’s easy to vote for a lot of the more prominent Western characters, but if you do that, you’re missing an entire subsection of awesome individuals. Alicia is a perfect example of this.
Alicia was destined to be a baker, but out of her desire to help those around her and make a difference, ended up joining the Militia and kicking ass instead. Dependable and altruistic (almost to a fault), Alicia serves as the emotional core in a game full of memorable characters.
Chris: The combat in Valkyria Chronicles was entertaining, an interesting hybrid of strategy RPG and third-person shooter. But it wasn’t the reason I enjoyed the game so much (and if you haven’t played it, you owe it to yourself to check it out).
Alicia is a member of the town watch who gets thrown into some extraordinary circumstances when her village comes under attack. She helps fend off the assault with Welkin Gunther and his “sister” and decides to join up with Squad 7, a ragtag group of army castoffs who are assigned to a unit just to get them out of the way.
Turns out that thanks to Welkin’s battle strategies and Alicia’s determination, Squad 7 starts mounting some significant victories in the war. But everything changes when Alicia discovers that she is a Valkyrur, an ancient race with tremendous power. Suddenly Alicia goes from “wanting to protect her friends” to “oh god, she can shoot laser beams out of her lance, we better not attack her friends.”
I always like when a character has inner strength before finding some source of outer strength. Alicia wasn’t one of the strongest characters because she had superpowers — she already possessed that will. Being a Valkyrur just meant that she had the ability to realize her ideals directly.
27) Morrigan Aensland (Darkstalkers) – 3 votes
Chris: It’s actually remarkable that Morrigan has managed to become this popular despite the fact that the Darkstalkers series has been all but MIA for years. The succubus started off as a powerful but defiant and lazy character who cared only about having fun, but her evolution over the years has given her a lot more depth. Yes, her outfit is impractical and on the fan service side, but then again…succubus. Let’s just not talk about her appearance in the Darkstalkers cartoon from the 90s, mmmkay?
Shaun: My experience playing 2D fighters is almost nil, but that doesn’t stop me from knowing who Morrigan is…even if it’s recognizing her as one of the most ridiculously sexualized fighters in a series that does not really shy away from that. Still, she gets points for being memorable, and if she had even a small hand in killing f***** Galactus in the last Marvel vs. Capcom, then the girl deserves some credit. Here’s hoping a new Darkstalkers is ever released, and fans can explore more of her character evolution that Chris mentioned.
28) Tifa Lockhart (Final Fantasy VII) – 5 votes
Shaun: Run through the list. You’re fighting a metro-sexual god and his legion of lackeys. Your team is composed of characters that wield guns, lances, and swords bigger than their bodies. And then there’s Tifa, who instead fights with her fists and feet. Tifa doesn’t need weapons. She’s content to punch things to death, and that doesn’t change even when Sephiroth explodes the entire universe for his attack.
I’m gonna admit, though, I cheated on this one. While I thought Tifa was actually one of Final Fantasy 7’s more interesting, touching, and dynamic characters (shame about those ridiculous boobs tho), it wasn’t until I watched the impressively mediocre Advent Children that Tifa really cemented her place in my book as one of my favorite female characters. She’s the definition of a character who, despite her power and potential, is completely selfless, and operates only for the good of others and supporting the ones she loves. This includes Cloud, who totally doesn’t deserve her and is lucky she sticks around.
Now when I go back and watch 7, I find myself far more moved by her story portions and supplementary plot than anyone in the cast. When you outshine the Justin Bieber of video games and the most famous death scene in all of gaming, you’re doing work. Never stop punching, Tifa.
Chris: I prefer to look back on the early parts of Final Fantasy VII instead of the convoluted mess it became. Back then, Tifa was running a bar that was also a front for a covert resistance organization, with a base hidden underneath a pinball machine. Barret and his daughter were part of this, as well as Wedge and Biggs and Jessie. Avalanche wants to stop Shinra in whatever ways they can, and their early missions — with some help from Cloud — are a success.
Tifa spends this time keeping the group together, especially with Cloud, her childhood friend. She encourages him to stay when he tries to quit Avalanche. Their next mission runs into some issues, however, and Wedge, Biggs and Jessie meet an untimely end — as does anyone else living in the Midgar slums, when part of the plate overhead collapses. All of the feels.
I could harp on all of my issues with the rest of VII for hours, but that’s not what this is about. Tifa kicks ass, and while her design was a little gratuitous 17 years ago, there’s a much more layered character hiding underneath her enormous…features.
29) Robin (Fire Emblem Awakening) – 3 votes
Chris: Robin’s an interesting case. The character functions as your avatar in Awakening, and can be either male or female (hence the unisex name). Robin didn’t receive any votes for our male top 25, but the female variant nearly cracked the list. One of those votes came from me. I played Robin as a female and romanced the hell out of Chrom — and as an added bonus, that made me Lucina’s mother. More on that later.
Shaun: Yeah, that’ s a good point, Chris — while it’s fun to be brosephs with Chrom, it’s another thing entirely when Robin becomes his love interest, and has a much more direct connection to the major players of one of the top games ever created (in my opinion).
Robin is notable because she doesn’t possess the best battle prowess, courage, or determination- she is simply a master at battle tactics, and has an uncanny ability to lead those around her. Her leadership keeps the cast going, and they in turn offer the inspiration, badassery, and refusal to quit that she needs to ultimately conquer the day. It’s a great dynamic to have a main character who’s not the most capable, but instead possesses the qualities that shepherd the most capable to reaching their full potential.
30) Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark) – 3 votes
Shaun: I’d like to make a clarification: this in no way refers to Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark Zero. That game is a train wreck. It’s like what would have happened if Michael Bay took over for Christopher Nolan to wrap up the Batman trilogy. Zero took everything the original did that was good and ruined it. Probably intentionally. What you’re left with is a shambling mess, and this includes Joanna…which is a shame, because the original really established her as a smart, stealthy, badass spy — a female version of Bond, if you will. If Bond ever unraveled a global conspiracy and started fighting aliens. Joanna made you feel like you could handle the crazy of her world because she was so adept at literally everything. Watching her mind explode as the game’s plot twists and turns makes her triumph at the end that much more savory.
Chris: I should have known that Perfect Dark Zero was going to be trouble when Joanna Dark suddenly had highlights in her hair. I think that should have tipped me off. To make a different film analogy, Zero was to Perfect Dark what The Last Stand was to the X-Men trilogy. Ugh.
Joanna gets the code name “Perfect Dark” because she destroys her training tests without any problems. She gets thrown into her first mission, but instead of recovering some important data or rescuing a compromised agent or something else that was simple by comparison, there are aliens and conspiracies and other planets to consider. Joanna was ahead of her time in 2000, and it’s a shame to see her character so dumbed down in the sequel.
31) Lyndis (Fire Emblem) – 2 votes
Chris: Travel back to 2003 with me. At a time when strong, independent female protagonists were much tougher to find, the Fire Emblem series makes its first appearance in the United States — and Lyn is the first hero you encounter. She’s a pimp. In fact, she’s the star of the first 10 chapters of the game. As an added bonus, her critical hit animations look awesome.
Shaun: But more than the fact that she’s badass, she is a fully realized CHARACTER. She’s not some princess perched in a castle needing rescue – she’s on her own quest, for her own reasons, and is able to both lead and fight with the best of them. Lyn is not the best Fire Emblem fem ever created, but she may be one of the most important, and she truly set the precedent for more greatness to come.
32) Makise Kurisu (Steins;Gate) – 2 votes
Shaun: The ice queen with a heart of gold — we’ve seen it a million times. Abrasive on the surface, once you peel back some of the layers, you discover the truth depth behind the layer of ice.
Makise is all of that, and yet she manages to avoid being one walking trope because of how insanely interesting she is. Propelled by ego and her own considerable intelligence, Makise is the more practical, down-to-earth foil for your hero in Stein’s Gate. More often than not, she’s a driver of the action, and actually has a good majority of the game’s breakthroughs, as the team tries to figure out the whole “time-travelling” thing.
Eventually, you find out her father is competing for worst dad on the planet, and the fact that Makise managed to do anything with her life is a god damn miracle. By the end, you’re rooting for her to win/survive/conquer the day, and it’s that emotional investment that truly elevates the finale of the game.
Chris: I cheated a little bit on this vote, and I’m not ashamed of it in the slightest. It’s probably the will of Steins;Gate.
Makise’s character was already fleshed out in the visual novel-style video game before the anime adaptation, which is why she can make this list without being disqualified. She falls into a couple of familiar character traits, like the typical stammering-and-look-away-when-embarrassed-while-calling-you-an-idiot routine.
But none of that matters because, as Shaun mentioned, she’s the main reason anything gets done in the series. When Okube falters (and he does, faced with the enormity of his actions), Makise is there to help him break down the science and figure out a path forward. She does this because of her remarkable smarts and ability to stay cool under pressure, and as a result, she’s perhaps the best character in a fantastically-written series.
33) Amaterasu (Okami) – 4 votes
Chris: This might seem like an unusual pick on the surface. Then again, Ammy manages to be a badass despite being a goddess who takes a wolf form. Everything about Okami was cool, especially at the time. The art design looked great and the paintbrush mechanics were creative and fun (more so on the Wii version).
Shaun: The best Zelda clone on the market, Okami is anchored by the extremely compelling Amaterasu, the wolf hero on a journey to restore the land from evil and rebuild the people’s faith in her. Wise and majestic, the creators of Okami also played with the fact that Amaterasu is still, in fact, a wolf, creating an interesting and layered duality. Combined with her ass kicking abilities and the beauty and creativity of the paint brush gameplay mechanic, Amaterasu entered the scene and easily became one of the most memorable female characters ever.
34) Ashelia B’nargin Dalmasca (Final Fantasy XII) – 3 votes
Shaun: It’s funny that Ashe is right next to Princess Peach on our list, because THIS is exactly how you handle a strong female princess. After the murder of her husband and on the brink of war, Ashe takes the future of her nation in her own hands, and personally ventures off to defend it. While still tormented from the tragedy she’s faced, Ashe is willful and determined, and is faced with some extraordinarily difficult choices along the way. Still, buoyed by the legacy of her husband, the purity of her moral compass, and the support of her friends, Ashe pulls through, and makes the right calls. It doesn’t hurt that she is more capable and interesting than the “main character,” either.
Chris: I haven’t finished Final Fantasy XII yet for a variety of reasons, but I can assure you that none of those reasons are related to Ashe. In fact, she left enough of an impression in the 15-20 hours I put in that she ended up on my list.
Let’s be clear: Square made a tremendous mistake shoehorning Vaan into the protagonist spot when it already had a great option sitting on the table in Ashe. She goes through enough trauma to break most characters — eight dead brothers, dead husband, only heir to the throne, assassination attempts — and emerges from it with resolve and determination.
Some unfortunate souls like to say that Lightning is the most important female character in the Final Fantasy series because she was the first to be a main character. They’re wrong, and Lightning is boring. Ashe should have carried that torch, and it’s a shame that the developers panicked about poor sales at the last minute.
35) Princess Peach (Mario) – 3 votes
Chris: Peach has been improved since her early days as Princess Toadstool, when she was constantly in another castle and just served as a motivation for the player. Now, she’s starred in her own games, rejoined the cast as a playable character in titles like Super Mario 3D World, and been oddly sexualized in Super Mario Strikers (seriously, her and Daisy are terrifying in that game). It’s better than her just being in another castle, I guess.
I’ll never forget the salt cake we made in Paper Mario, Peach. Salt cake forever.
Shaun: Has she improved? Rather, I think someone messed up – while iconic she certainly is, I think Peach is actually one of the WORST characters in gaming, period. Literally all she does is get kidnapped. We’ve never seen her rule, or stand up for herself, or…really do anything. Except bake a horrible cake and get kidnapped. So not only is she useless, but she also promotes the damaging stereotype of females only existing in entertainment mediums to serve as the catalyst for action from the heroic male protagonist. Just bad all the way around, regardless of how recognizable she is. Still, the panel has (erroneously) spoken.
36) Xion (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) – 1 vote
Shaun: A lot of people dismiss Xion as a Mary Sue, but I think they are failing to grasp the true depth of what’s going on in her sad, manufactured head. Created for the purpose of evil, as so many people are in video games, Xion took on a life of her own beyond her design and function, clearly demonstrating a soul and a self-awareness, despite her supposed inability to do so. After forging strong friendships with Roxas and Axel, she learns the truth about how her existence is preventing the endearingly idiotic Sora from ever awakening, and sacrifices herself to protect her friends. This sets off a chain of events as Roxas almost kamikazes himself against Organization XIII to avenge her. Truly sad stuff, anchored by a great, interesting character.
Chris: I’ve never played 358/2 Days, but thanks to the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix release in the U.S., I’ve had a chance to watch all the cutscenes. Xion’s story is touching and tragic and helps fill in some missing pieces in the extended story, but I have the same problem with her that I do with a lot of what KH has become these days: overbloated, needlessly complicated storytelling with seemingly no end in sight. Maybe Kingdom Hearts 3 will tie all of these strings together in a way that makes sense after more than a decade of waiting, or maybe it’ll just create further questions that won’t be answered until 2026. I’m reserving judgment for now, but I’m not super optimistic.
37) Moira Brown (Fallout 3) – 1 vote
Chris: My Vault 101 survivor wasn’t a big fan of Moira Brown. Here I am just trying to make it in this harsh, unforgiving wasteland, and one of the first towns I reach has a woman who wants me to try to dodge landmines or douse myself in radiation? It almost made me reconsider my choice not to blow up Megaton. Almost. Still, Moira was endearing in her own clumsy way.
Shaun: In my head canon, I married Moira, and she was the one thing that kept me from blowing up Megaton. Yeah, she was a little crazy, but you can’t be picky when it comes to the world of Fallout. As my character crawled through radiation in the finale, the thought of Moira is what kept him going. Sure, I made this all up, and none of it was supported in game, but clearly Moira made an impression, and that’s the sign of a good character.
38) Ms. Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man) – 2 votes
Shaun: The problem here is that there is nothing that makes Ms. Pac-Man as Ms., other than a bow on her head. She acts no differently in game than her male counterpart, except in tiny , stupid skits between some levels. Still, it’s hard to argue against the iconic red bow on her head, or the fact that her game is a superior version of the Pac-Man formula.
Chris: I suppose the skits are reason enough to make the separation. The only other distinguishing factor is that Ms. Pac-Man played like the original game on crack, with a noticeable speed increase that upped the difficulty significantly. My aunt used to play this game in the arcades when I was a kid, racking up high scores while I wandered around the rest of the place and dumped quarters into machines I wasn’t very good at playing.
39) Tetra (Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker) – 2 votes
Chris: Another confusing entry on this list, but both people who voted for Tetra also had Zelda on their list separately, so we let it rock. It’s understandable. Tetra acts completely different than her princess counterpart usually does, and there’s something to be said for a pirate badass sailing the great sea and running a crew of scallywags.
Shaun: When Sheik transformed into Zelda, she became completely useless, only able to get kidnapped and scream really loudly. When Terra transforms into Zelda, she wields a bow of light into combat, helping Link to vanquish the most sword savvy Ganondorf in history. Enough said.
40) Alyx Vance (Half-Life 2) – 2 votes
Shaun: It’s hard to believe that Alyx Vance is one of the first females in all of gaming that wasn’t designed with a “Will male players want to bone her?” mentality as a foundation of her design. Because yes, male players DO still want to bone her, but it’s for her sharp wit, independence and self-reliance, and her complex, fully realized personality. Alyx would set the much welcomed trend to come, but one that still has a long way to go.
Chris: At one point, Alyx’s father tells her that she and Gordon Freeman should have kids together. And even though her father ends up dying a miserable death, he’s absolutely right. Considering that Half-Life 2 was a decade ago, it’s important to remember that she and Gordon are essentially equals who help each other out tremendously throughout the course of the game. Shaun’s right about her design, too — nothing over the top, nothing gratuitous, just a normal character. I’d love to reach a point where creating a regular female character wasn’t cause for celebration, but back then? Alyx was a breath of fresh air.
41) Mother Brain (Metroid) – 2 votes
Chris: Mother Brain serves as the prime example of why creating self-sufficient AI can be terribly dangerous. Among the many (many, MANY) mistakes the Chozo made throughout the years, watching helplessly as Mother Brain decided the Space Pirates were the future of the universe is probably #1. Eight-year-old Chris thought that Mother Brain having a body in Super Metroid was scary.
Shaun: Look, if GLaDOS is female, then Mother Brain is female. Unfortunately, while GLaDOS and Mother Brain are certainly both villains, they are cut from a very different cloth. Whereas GLaDOS would prefer you dead, but enjoys making snippy comments about your weight and inhumanity, Mother Brain sends an entire legion of Space Pirates after you, with the specific goal of murdering Samus. And stealing her suit technology. Both of those things.
Hell, she even sanctions experiments that involve twisting her loyal followers into pieces trying to replicate the morph ball, and has no problem manipulating an entire species of parasitic alien. All in all, I’d say Mother Brain is a worthy villain for a worthy hero.
42) Chun-Li (Street Fighter) – 4 votes
Shaun: Chun-Li has never met a stair master she didn’t like. With thighs of steel, Chun Li has set out to carve her own legacy in Street Fighter, easily becoming one of the best, most iconic characters in that series. I’m still waiting for her to get a proper representation in a film, because the Legend of Chun Li was deadening to my soul. Perhaps then I can get the Chun Li-Vega ‘ship that I’ve always yearned for. Just stop fighting and kiss already, you two.
Chris: Like a lot of Street FIghter, Chun-Li’s history is all over the place. Still, Capcom seems to have settled on her as a police officer who kicks a significant amount of ass, all to help avenge her father, who generally was killed at the hands of Shadaloo and M. Bison.
More importantly, she was the one of the first important females in gaming. Surrounded by an otherwise all-male cast in Street Fighter II (and all its variations until Super), Chun-Li stood out for hundreds of thousands of gamers. Her legs have become a little ridiculous over the years (I prefer her Alpha design, personally). And Shaun, if you have hopes for a Chun Li/Vega ship, you may not want to watch the Street Fighter II V anime. They…uh…don’t get along.
43) Saria (Legend of Zelda) – 2 votes
Chris: The “best friend who loves the protagonist but it’s usually unrequited” character is a staple in anime, but not so much in the Zelda series. That scene in Ocarina of Time when Saria gives Link her instrument and then Link hesitates for a moment before running out into Hyrule Field? That’s a heart-wrencher, even if you ship Link with Malon like Shaun does.
Shaun: While that’s a good scene and all, the true tragedy of Saria doesn’t hit me until after the seven year time skip, when Link saves Saria, the now Sage of the Forest Temple. Where did their childhood go? You get the sense that , while she’s loyal to her cause and has accepted her fate, there’s a part of her that would give anything to return to the days when they could play in the forest, unburdened by the evil in the world and the weight of their responsibilities. Sad face.
44) Bastila Shan (Knights of the Old Republic) – 1 vote
Shaun: You only watch NASCAR to see the crashes, and you only explore the mighty to see how they fall. Bastila is a perfect example of this. Perfectly content to judge you from her soapbox for the majority of the game, it’s cathartic — and very humanizing — when Bastila is eventually corrupted to the dark side. As has become pattern with this list, you’re not going to get the full poignancy of her story unless you play as the light side and convert her back to the side of the Jedi…but then again, there’s something compelling about her unending loyalty to you as your Sith disciple…
Chris:. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, but every time there’s a Sith master and a Sith apprentice, the apprentice tries to kill the master. Every time. In the non-canon ending, Bastila seems to be an exception to this, but who knows.
Anyway, Bastila is interesting for the reasons Shaun mentioned. She also is one of the few characters in the Star Wars universe who — in the end, at least — refuses to be blinded by ideology, having experienced both sides of the Force. It reminds me of the path that Luke Skywalker ultimately chose, acknowledging that there cannot be a light side without a dark, and vice versa.
Oh yeah, and Jennifer Hale. So that’s good too.
45) Terra Branford (Final Fantasy VI) – 1 vote
Chris: Despite her horrific back story (seriously, consider the implications of the slave crown that Kefka forced her to wear), Terra wasn’t all that interesting to me until after the world falls into ruin. Kefka’s silly “world destruction” thing ends up orphaning an entire village of children, and Terra’s character develops considerably when Celes and Sabin and company stop by Mobliz for a visit.
Shaun: Terra was most interesting in the way that she was, for a large part of the game, a blank canvas shaped more by those around her than by any of her own actions. By the end of the game, she finally manages to find her own identity thanks to those meaningful relationships and friendships, and it really resonates.
It also helps that she’s secretly an all powerful esper that goes Super Saiyan on those that used to oppress her.
46) Morrigan (Dragon Age) – 1 vote
Shaun: Like all the best characters, Morrigan really opens up more as you journey with her in your party, showing there’s a lot more to her than the crazed lunatic that wants to kill everything and cause as much chaos as possible. Those are things she still wants to do, but there’s MORE than that.
Chris: Back in the days before I knew much about Dragon Age, the only thing I knew about Morrigan was that she was wearing a somewhat ridiculous outfit in any of the screenshots I saw. Turns out she’s a powerful sorceress and an unyielding love interest for your Warden. If you make choices that don’t appreciate her independence and her personal goals, you can say goodbye to Morrigan. Uncompromising and deadly.
47) Crimson Viper (Street Fighter) – 1 vote
Chris: Easily the coolest of the new characters in Street Fighter IV (no, Rufus, you shut up), C. Viper cares about two things: her daughter, and fancy gadgets that enhance her fighting ability. That combination makes for a single mother that you don’t really want to mess with — and her theme music is among the best in the series.
Shaun: Crimson Viper is proof that Capcom still knows how to design and implement iconic characters, even all these years later. Fun to play and dapper as hell, she’s one of the best new additions to join the Street Fighter cast in some time.
48) Zoey (Left 4 Dead) – 2 votes
Shaun: I always appreciated how Zoey’s horror genre knowledge helped her navigate the zombie apocalypse. It helps me to think all of my gaming and movie watching is actually going to enable me to survive one day when some horrible event comes to pass , or when the princess I know gets kidnapped. She’s the girl I’d want by my side during the zombie outbreak. Don’t take that the wrong way.
…actually, yeah, take it the right way, and then you can also proceed to take that the wrong way.
Chris: I think it’s the eclectic characters that really help Left 4 Dead stick out amongst a sea of zombie games and movies. None of the four is the most memorable or well-written character in history, but the group dynamic and the way they interact is what works.
Zoey’s the pinnacle of this — she’s fully capable of holding her own and always has a movie reference or sarcastic quip dialed up for when Bill or Francis or Louis is being a whinypants. All four of the characters from L4D received some excellent backstory in the official comic that Valve put out before releasing some of the game’s DLC, and that went a long way toward making Zoey great as well.
49) Lilith (Borderlands) – 4 votes
Chris: I didn’t play as Lilith when I played Borderlands, and I consider that to be a mistake. I don’t typically play characters with stealth and melee elements, but Lilith looked like a ton of fun. Her design and personality are distinct enough that I remember her character, and not whoever I actually played the game as. Whoops.
Shaun: Chris talked about how fun she is to play as in the original — I’m going to talk about how awesome of a character she is to interact with in the sequel. Lilith was my favorite, because despite being a siren with cosmic powers, she was actually the most grounded and relatable of the bunch, and served as an emotional core throughout the most poignant moments of the story. With outrageous power, a hilarious mean streak, and surprisingly genuine moments, fleshed-out Lilith was one of the best parts of Borderlands 2, and the series as a whole.
50) Sheik (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) – 1 vote
Shaun: I don’t get it. Sheik is Zelda. Sheik is a badass ninja who bails Link out numerous times and looks like a dude, but it’s Zelda nonetheless. That’s like voting for Dante and also Devil Trigger Dante — they look different but are the same….still, Sheik was one of my favorite parts of Ocarina of Time, so I guess I can let it slide.
Next time though, Sheik, probably just stay hidden. You could have saved the Hero of Time a lot of trouble by not turning into the princess at the most critical juncture of the future. I can literally hear Link facepalming when you shifted back.
Chris: Teenage Chris had his suspicions about Sheik, but was still a little bit surprised by the reveal in the Temple of Time. Twenty seconds later, Zelda was encased in a pink crystal and Ganondorf was like “mine now.” So Shaun’s right — might’ve wanted to wait until after the credits rolled to unveil that seven-year disguise, Sheik. Thanks for the Light Arrows.
Still, once you realize that Sheik is indeed Zelda, those seven years take on a new perspective. Knowing that Link was sealed away (and having his ears pierced by Rauru), Zelda could have tried to stay in hiding and hoped that things worked out. Instead, she travels around and helps Link with encouragement and ocarina songs.