"Well, there isn't really ONE big reason, but a lot of good reasons. First, your familiar isn't just a pet; she's your ally. She's the best friend that I've ever had, and that I'm ever likely TO have. She listens to me, and tells me when my head is up my- er- when I'm playing silly head games with myself. She can see invisible beings and forces, even when I'm not looking for them, so she watches my back. And heterodyning your magical power with an ally never hurts. And Boots gets... Hey, what DO you get out of it, Boots?" Boots answered by sprawling on her back to allow her tummy to get rubbed. "Oh. Right. That."A familiar is a creature that has been magically bound to a person in a master-and-servant type of relationship. The actual type of familiar varies greatly; it is typically a small animal (such as a witch's cat) but can be anything, including demons or even human beings. Similarly, the type of bond can vary: in some cases it is nothing more than the ability to understand what the familiar says (if it speaks) while in others the familiar is the source of the character's powers. But there must be a specific bond; just having a magical creature as a companion doesn't count. The "master" need not be a sorcerer, either — many stories have a normal person gain a familiar by accident, often resulting in trouble. This is based on the medieval belief that Satan granted demon servants (in animal form) to witches as part of their pacts and that "cunning folk" (white witches, herbalists, folk healers) were assisted by good spirits. The idea has since evolved greatly in Fantasy fiction, and even some Science Fiction settings have similar concepts (telepathic pets, for example, or even a Robot Buddy, especially if animal-like). Compare Bond Creature, Empathy Pet, Mons, Right-Hand Cat. The familiar usually acts as an Animal Eye Spy to their master. Today, most witches put difference between a "familiar spirit" which is more like your 'personal demon' (or daimon), and an animal "familiar" which is an animal you bond with. Sometimes the term refers to your own alter ego behaving independently; your Shadow Archetype self. In any case, the "familiar" is so called because it stands in a close personal connection to you. See also Sapient Steed and Mentor Mascot. Because All Witches Have Cats, cats are the most common variant for female magic users. Likely the second most common is a black dog, usually a small hound type, especially in the British Isles. In Japanese Mythology, a similar creature is called a shikigami; see Onmyodo for details.
— Foxfire, explaining why wizards have familiars, in the Whateley Universe
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Anime & Manga
- In Bleach, all Zanpakuto spirits are this on a spiritual level to their respective Shinigami/Soul Reaper. Learning to communicate with and subjugate the spirits within the sword are key components of receiving more power from them.
- Tamer Meister Exorcists in Blue Exorcist are able to summon them. For the main cast, Rin has Kuro (Size Shifting Magic Cat), Izumo has two Byakko (Spirit Foxes), and Shiemi has Niichan (a greenman). Mephisto has Ukobach, a kitchen demon (though only in the anime), and his Umbrella hybrid, Shura has various snakes, as does Mamushi and the other Hojo family members, while Igor has many, MANY Nausea Fuel inducing ghouls. Tatsuma has the phoenix Karura. Takara can summon puppets and Renzo has the powerful Yamantaka.
- While the "mon" or humanoid creatures used for fighting in [C] - Control are called Assets as part of the series' interest in the financial world, it's pretty easy to see them as Familiars, given that the people using them have made a Deal with the Devil, and some of the Assets even look like demons.
- The main title character of The Familiar of Zero is an ordinary human guy who unexpectedly becomes the familiar of a struggling witch at a Wizarding School.
- In Flame of Recca, Recca is served by his 8 fire dragons. Kurei has Kurenai.
- In Kamisama Kiss Nanami's familiar, Tomoe, is a Little Bit Beastly Kitsune who doesn't like his situation one damn bit...at first, that is.
- The eponymous practitioners summon familiars called "landlords" to aid them in perfecting their abilities. These are basically dog spirits that wear collars to limit their powers.
- An actual Landlord formed by a Kekkaishi looks a lot different. Masamori's is a black carp, and Yoshimori's is... something. Possibly a lot of things.
- Jiji the cat from Kiki's Delivery Service is Kiki's witch familiar. They have a link that allows them to communicate and apparently every witch has one.
- In Lyrical Nanoha, Arf, the Lieze twins, Linith, and Zafira, serve Fate, Gil Graham, Precia and Hayate, respectively. Zafira says he is a "guardian beast" rather than a familiar, but Arf retorts that it's the same thing. (Yuuno plays a somewhat similar role to a familiar for Nanoha in the first season, and is occasionally taken for one; in reality, he's a shapeshifting mage.)
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- While Chamo and Negi really don't seem to have a special bond, Negi officially makes Chamo his familiar so the latter has a valid excuse for staying at Mahora.
- While animal familiars seem to exist, as Chamo suggested becoming Negi's familiar himself, humans are more often than not the familiars of mages. The pactio system specifically is stated to be exactly this — a master/servant relationship magically connected by the ritual. And while there are tons of people shown to be involved in a pactio, almost nobody has been shown with an animal familiar.
- In Maria The Virgin Witch, familiars have both an animal and human form.
- Lucoa acts as one for Shouta in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid... kind of. It's clear that she's the dominant one in the relationship and he doesn't seem to get anything out of it beyond proving to his father that he is a strong wizard.
- In Naruto, the Summoning Jutsu allows a ninja to make a personal pact with a race of Funny Talking Animal that become their close allies.
- In Noragami, The gods assign names to their chosen spirits to create the bond. This allows the gods to turn them into specific item (unique to that spirit), ranging from swords to earrings that you can use for combat or just let them stay at your mansion just like what Bishamon did. Yukine and Kazuma took a level of up when they became Hafuris after they did a noble thing for their masters, like risking their lives.
- The One Piece pirate Charlotte Linlin, also known as Big Mom, can create such creatures as part of the power of her Soul-Soul Fruit. She can extract pieces of soul and lifespan from individuals. These pieces of soul can then find their way into various inanimate objects or animals and bring them to life as creatures with human intelligence known as "Homies". Big Mom always keeps three particular Homies with her: A cartoonish looking sun named Prometheus, a storm cloud calld Zeus, and her bicorne hat, Napeoleon. These three are explicitly stated by Big Mom to be more powerful than normal Homies since they're given life with Big Mom's own soul. Each has powerful abilities in battle, respectively fire, lightning, and the ability to become a sword. Napeoleon has also displayed an ability to get signals from elsewhere and keep Big Mom informed on goings on around her kingdom of Totto Land.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Familiars are the minions of witches, the evil beings in this anime. Familiars are not that strong and don't have Grief Seeds, but they are still a threat for humans as it's stated in the first episodes they can become witches as well.
- Sailor Moon:
- The talking cats (Luna, Artemis, and Diana) all behave as familiars.
- To a lesser extent, Rei Hino's twin crows, Phobos and Deimos. In the manga, they have the ability to transform into Sailor Senshi themselves.
- Also, Zirconia's familiar, Zircon.
- In Saint Beast, Pearl is a squirrel/mouse-like creature created out of Pandora's bones who keeps him company and acts as a guarantor of Pandora's loyalty. If Pandora goes away from the shrine Zeus keeps Pearl and can harm it if Pandora tries defying him, rebounding on Pandora.
- In Strike the Blood, Kojou Akatsuki, being the Fourth Progenitor, has twelve familiars who are very powerful each giving him specific abilities.
- The series' monsters either subvert and plays the trope straight depending on what part of the series you're looking at. The bare basics of the card game implies the player is the master and any mon they summon acts as a temporary familiar. Some players don't add any attachment to any particular monster to such an extent and the ones that do don't necessarily add any benefits to the monster in question. The first example of a modern duelist who could see and interact with the Spirits of the monsters in his deck and felt a personal relationship with them was Raphael. It's unknown whether they actually talked back to him when he talked to them.
- Occasionally, some cards are seen making independent choices. In the first series, the very first duel between Yugi and Kaiba, has the later attempt to cheat by putting the Blue Eyes he stole from Yugi's grandpa on the top of his deck, then drawing and summoning it instantly. The dragon immediately self destructs, allowing Yugi to call it back to his own side with Raise Dead (Monster Reborn).
- In the Pharaoh's Memory arc where the monsters and their summoners originated from to make the modern day card game, however, it is played much more straight where the summoners can summon any ka (monster) they can access in exchange for the monster tapping into their master's ba (life energy), but every person also has a primary ka that serves as the embodiment of their soul and is not only much stronger than other kas the summoner can use, but whose well-being also affects the health of the summoner directly.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX also references a bond like the Pharaoh's Memory arc by having some duelists share such a strong bond with a particular monster that they become their spirit partners and thus can communicate with their partner from time to time. (The biggest examples are Winged Kuriboh [to Judai], Ruby Carbuncle [to Jonah], and the three Ojamas [to Manjyome], although all three of them can talk to most Duel Spirits in their decks.) Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's also shares this with certain duelists, particularly ones with powerful dragons (such as Luna with the Ancient Fairy Dragon or Yusei with the Stardust Dragon).
- In Zatch Bell!, the "mamodos" need human partners in order to use their spells.
- Durarara!!: The Headless Horseman Celty has a black motorcycle that is actually her familiar; he normally takes the form of a horse, but transformed into a motorcycle to hide in the modern world. It's mentioned that Celty has the ability to un-summon him, but without her head, she's lost the memories of how to re-summon him, and she's not sure what would happen to him while he was gone.
- The Charmers in Yu-Gi-Oh! may count. In their artwork, small monsters can be seen alongside human spellcasters.
- They definitely count, if the closely-related Familiar-Possessed archetype is anything to go by.
- Magic: The Gathering
- The minor DC Comics villain Klarion the Witch Boy has a cat familiar called Teekl. He can transform it into a humanoid form to use him/her as extra muscle.
- In one issue of Beasts of Burden a coven of witches each with a cat familiar moved into town. While most of them were killed along with the witches, Dympha survived and sought revenge on the others, then joined them. She retains some magical capabilities without the witch.
- In Hellblazer the mother of John's friend Chaz is some overbearing witch with an orangutan familiar. They have to off the familiar (which kills the mother) to free Chaz from his mothers oppression.
- In X-Men the relationship between Kitty Pryde and her pet dragon, Lockheed, fits the trope fairly nicely, despite not being of a supernatural nature.
- In the Baldur's Gate fanfic A Tale of Two Mages, an additional rule is established: when a mage casts the Find Familiar spell, the familiar is chosen as the creature maximally "compatible" to the mage in a certain radius. (There's a mention of some poor girl who got her own tapeworm as a familiar, and one character muses that it could be much worse: she could get somebody else's tapeworm as a familiar.) It just so happens that two wizards — Neutral Good Nalia and Lawful Evil Edwin — cast the spell simultaneously while being in a fairly close proximity... and both become familiars to each other. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Sauramud Advice Column for Young Wizardlings, some poor wizard asks for advice about the giant slug which he got as a familiar. Sauramud decisively states:
"In answer to your question, a giant slug is NO GOOD AT ALL as a familiar — in fact MOST familiars are no good as a familiar."
- In Hogwarts Retold, most characters can use their patronus as Familiars, Nathan has Leafy-Sea Dragons, Eddie has Squirrels, Elizabeth has Robins, Fang Lei has Tigers, Marc has Chameleons and Rean has Wolverines.
- In Game Theory, Nanoha gets a familiar. The story also explores the consequences of familiars being Uplifted Animals in greater depth.
- In Queen of All Oni, the Evil Sorceror Lung the apprentice of the by-then deceased Daolon Wong, tries to force Jade into becoming his, so he can command all her forces. Not only does she not submit, but this attempt gets him killed by her vengeful minions.
- The Matriarch, Jade's future self, is shown to have a snake familiar called Mohinder.
- Practitioners typically get themselves animal familiars in Faking It while Dipper was unlucky enough to accidentally make Bill his familiar (getting a demonic familiar, even unintentionally, would at least mean jail time). Which of them is actually in charge is also a point of indignation, since while Bill holds all of the power (which is a lot), Dipper is both incapable of being harmed by him and is the only one who can get either of them into the Mindscape.
- Familiars are a branch of magic in the Pony POV Series:
- Porcina from G1 turns out to have originated as the familiar of a member of Hydia's family named the Glass Witch. Her witch eventually tried to eat her when she made a mistake...but Porcina ended up turning her to glass instead and Porcina became a powerful force in her own right. The rest of Hydia's coven left the Glass Witch to her fate, as killing one's own familiar is considered abominable even by their standards.
- Lemon Hearts, one of Twilight's old friends at the School for Gifted Unicorns, has lemons as her special talent. She applies this talent in numerous impressive ways, but the most impressive is using it to create a number of familiars. The most impressive of these is a Kaiju.
- In Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji, Saito has two familiars of his own, one of them a devil, and the other one an ogress.
Films — Animation
- Aladdin: The Return of Jafar: No word could describe better Jafar's parrot Iago who was more a partner-in-crime than a mere goon. According to Word of God there is indeed a magical bond. Specifically Jafar used to be much more hot-headed and bad-tempered but attempted through his arcane knowledge to transfer this part of him to his normal pet parrot so that he would become more reserved and more capable of concentrating on magic studies. Iago became sentient but he was too uncontrollable.
- Jiji the black cat in Kiki's Delivery Service is described as a witch's familiar. Only she can talk to him and apparently every witch has one. Her inability to understand him is one of the signs that she has lost her magick.
- Merlin in The Sword in the Stone has an owl named Archimedes.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Mama Odie has a snake, Juju.
Films — Live-Action
- Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Miss Price has a black cat as her familiar.
- In The Crow the titular animal is effectively a familiar for the main character although, unknown to the main character, the crow also serves as the main character's Soul Jar — wounding it will remove his Healing Factor, and killing it will make him mortal again.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000-viewed movie Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, the jerkass critic tries to turn his cat into a familiar. It doesn't work.
- Teen Witch subverts this by making Louise's familiar an object: a blue charm which she is told both symbolizes her powers and always find a way back to her from lifetime to lifetime.
- Pyewacket, feline companion and familiar to Kim Novak's Hot Witch character in Bell, Book and Candle.
- Children of the Night: Czakyr has a familiar who takes the form of a 10-year-old boy. He's made of Czakyr's desires and is a total perv.
- Maleficent: Maleficent saves the life of the raven Diaval, who in return serves her as a spy and confidant. Diaval is an actual raven, but he has human intelligence and Maleficent himself gives him human form at her will.
- Mythica: Betylla's beetles seem to serve as his, since they can understand and follow his orders, flying to specific people when he's commanded it. He uses it to deliver messages for Peregus. They don't speak though-just flying to people serves as the message.
- In A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged has an otak — a small, rodentlike creature similar in size and disposition to a weasel. He tames it in the wild using the Old Speech, and it follows him around everywhere after that, usually riding on his shoulder or resting in his hood.
- The witches in City of Devils and its sequel have familiars, from Hexene's toad, to the songbirds of the Salem Sisters.
- The Crimson Shadow: All of Greensparrow's wizard minions have demonic partners.
- In J.R. Lowell's 1972 thriller Daughter of Darkness, little Willie Connolly is a Deliberately Cute Child and a super-intelligent Child Prodigy expert in cultural anthropology. Unknown to anyone, she's also an experienced and fairly powerful witch. She asks for a kitten she intends as a familiar. Her parents think she's just asking for a kitten, and her headstrong mother buys what she wants, instead; a white Maltese puppy◊. Unfortunately, Willie's expertise doesn't extend to the fact that she could easily make the little dog her familiar — clinching her own Cuteness Factor (evolving into The Fake Cutie as she matured) besides averting All Witches Have Cats. (Maybe if he'd been black she'd have gotten a clue, since black dogs are also traditional.) Using a combination of animal psychology and a cursed charm, Willie cold-bloodedly arranges to have her puppy run into heavy traffic in midtown Manhattan. The next day she has her kitten.
- Haplo's dog in The Death Gate Cycle is somewhere between a familiar and a Soul Jar, being Haplo's soul given independent form. There's probably some deep philosophical meaning behind the fact that Haplo's soul will run off and pilfer sausages if Haplo neglects it, but the books don't go into that.
- Played with in the Discworld series. Nanny Ogg has a cat, but he's just a pet; Magrat has tried various animals, but none of them lasted for long; Granny Weatherwax has avoided getting a familiar, for fear it would be too familiar. Mrs Gogol's black cockerel Legba, in Witches Abroad, would be the straightest example, except that she privately admits that he's just for show. In The Wee Free Men, the talking toad hanging around with Miss Tick says he's not a familiar, he's just a bit presumptious.
- Although Granny Weatherwax is temporarily adopted by a phoenix in Carpe Jugulum
- In Steven Brust's Dragaera stories, familiars are one of the few things that witches can receive through magic that sorcerers cannot. Vlad Taltos used witchcraft to obtain Loiosh, a jhereg with human level intelligence. He later gains another jhereg familiar. Lazlo, another human witch, also gains two familiars, a dog and a cat that can change into a wolf and a Dzur respectively.
- In The Dresden Files,
MouseHarry is Harry'sMouse's caninehuman Familiar.
- Also, Harry refutes the idea Bob, the spirit of intelligence he has, is his familiar. His reasoning being that he pays Bob, with raunchy romance smut.
- In Enchanted Forest Chronicles Morwen has a large number of cats, all her familiars. This is frowned upon by more traditional witches because not only is one cat more traditional, but none of her cats are black. The cats can communicate with her and she can channel their energy for spells.
- In The Familiars series a familiar is an animal, that usually has magical abilities, with whom a wizard has found a magical connection and communicates with via spell. However, unlike most fictional works and hence the title, the series focuses mainly on, not the human wizards, but the familiars themselves. Particularly three familiars:
- Aldwyn, a seemingly ordinary cat who actually has telekinesis.
- Skylar, a blue jay who can create illusions.
- Gilbert, a tree frog who can see visions in puddles of water.
- In Faction Paradox, the prototype sapient timeships adopt the forms of animals rather than humanoids, bond with their pilots in the standard timeship manner, and are referred to as familiars.
- Discussed briefly in Fate/Zero. Most Magi use familiars, which leave a magical trail so they can be detected. However, Kiritsugu also uses normal cameras attached to bats as they do not leave a presence nor can a camera be tricked with magic like the brain of a familiar.
- Harry Potter: The only pets allowed at Hogwarts are animals traditionally thought of as familiars (owl, cat, rat or toad). They don't appear to have any special magical connection to their owners, though. Owls, like Harry's, can be very useful however; wizards tend to use them to deliver messages to other wizards.
- Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, is a familiar in the more traditional sense.
- Voldemort's snake, Nagini, though she is also a horcrux.
- Strangely, the animal that most closely matches the traditional role of a familiar is Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris. This loathsome creature prowls the school grounds for troublemakers, and apparently has the ability to summon Filch to her location when she finds them. This is odd, as Filch is a squib, and apparently lacks the magical talent to create such a bond.
- The daemons in His Dark Materials are a more intimate case, being literally your soul, shaped like an animal, running around outside you.
- In The Hollows novels, people using ley-line magic can use animal familiars to help them in handling the energy of the line safely. This is somewhat hard on the familiar as an accident in handling the energy will hurt the familiar instead of its master.
- Treecats in the Honorverse are a scifi telempath version of familiar. Treecats are biologically telepathic within their species, and able to pick up the emotions of humans to a fairly granular level. When they encounter a suitable human, they form an intense bond with them, and for the rest of their lives the treecat and human can, at a minimum, share emotions (and the treecats can communicate knowledge of things like murderous humans via meaningful posture and gestures). The main character of the series has been able to further the bond to the point of also being able to pick up emotions. The 'rest of their lives' part had a downside for a long time in that treecats normally live around 200 human years, and would commonly suicide when their bondmate finished their normal human lifespan - in the modern days of the series, this has been mostly nullified by prolong extending human lifespans.
- The Hurog duology has Oreg, who is a person, but is magically bound to a ring that goes from father to son on the death of the father. Something inbetween a slave and a familiar, as he is a ghost, and much older than his current owner Ward, who had nothing to do with his enslavement.
- Demons use sentient beings such as humans, elves, witches or even other demons for their familiars. This is considered to be a Fate Worse than Death and is often a result of making a Deal with the Devil. Demonic familiars are slaves to their masters and suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Even worse, the Black Magic used by the demons creates harmful "smut" that can pollute their aura, but the demons transfer this to their familiar instead.
- The short story The Innkeeper's Solution by Steven Piziks is set in a world where everyone gains a familiar at adolescence. It's generally held that the bond is stronger if it happens naturally, which doesn't stop some people forcing a connection with impressive animals rather than risk getting a weak one. The main character's best friend disappears while trying to bond with a dragon. It turns out any sapient race can claim a lesser creature as a familiar, and for dragons that includes humans.
- In Kraken, the wizards of London regularly use familiars to accomplish magical tasks. At least, they do as long as the familiars don't go on strike. The Union of Magicked Assistants is a force to be reckoned with.
- The titular witch in the H.P. Lovecraft story "The Dreams in the Witch House" has a disturbing one, the human-faced, mean-spirited rat Brown Jenkin.
- Greymalkin, Paddock and Harpier, the familiars of the witches in Macbeth.
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Catarina was given Cerebus — though he has only one head.
- Schooled in Magic: Emily makes a Death Viper one to stop it from killing her.
- In Septimus Heap, dragons are familars to their Imprintors (i.e hatchers), as is the case with Septimus and Spit Fyre.
- The Stormlight Archive:
- The ten Orders of the Knights Radiant gained their powers from bonding with spren, though these bonds have not been seen for millennia. Each Order had a different type of spren, which granted access to two different surges, as well as other abilities. Spren could also transform into Shardblades if the bond was strong enough; all current Shardblades are just the corpses of dead spren, killed when the old Knights Radiant abandoned their oaths.
- Honorspren granted access to Gravity and Adhesion, and made their Knight a Windrunner. Kaladin begins bonding one in the first book, though he thinks she's a simple windspren for most of the book.
- Cryptics (also called liespren, though they don't like that term) are the spren of the Lightweavers, granting access to Lightweaving and Soulcasting. Shallan gains one in the second book, who she names Pattern. Actually she's been bonded to him since she was a child, but when her mother tried to kill her for being a Radiant, Shallan used Pattern to kill her, and Shallan was so horrified that she blocked out the entire event and tried to forget it, which nearly killed Pattern.
- Small, shadow-like spren which Word of God names as inkspren give Elsecallers access to Soulcasting and Elsecalling. Jasnah has one named Ivory, though he doesn't like it when she speaks of him to other people.
- Explicitly defied by the Stormfather, who makes it clear that he will neither be at Dalinar's beck and call nor be transforming into any Shards.
- Cultivationspren are bonded to Edgedancers and give access to Abrasion and Growth which can also be used as Regrowth. Lift is bonded to one of these called Wyndle, though she insists he's a Voidbringer, mostly because it annoys him.
- In the Temps short story "Someone To Watch Over Me", "familiar" is the traditional term for what the DPR now calls a semi-autonomous psychokinetic energy field. According to Gentleman Wizard Loric, they can be cats, but the one that appears (or rather, doesn't) is just an invisible emotional force.
- In Three Dark Crowns most people living on the island of Fennbirn have a gift. Naturalists are those whose gift connects them to nature - and each of them at one point (usually in childhood) gets a familiar. These range from a small woodpecker to a mountain cat, depending on the strenght of gift. Most naturalists seem to have birds or dogs as familiars but we also see a sea lion (this happens on an island, after all). Familiars share the feelings of their humans, help them in everyday life, and can fulfil their orders - but it is hard to force them to do anything against their will.
- In Vernor Vinge's proto-cyberpunk novella, "True Names", the "wizards" (hackers) of The Other Plane often have small, specialized programs appear as animals that they call their familiars. When Virginia, the federal officer in charge of Mr. Slippery's case, comes online, she takes a frog form and pretends to be Slip's familiar.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, Tarma and Kethry end up with a unique version of this. Kethry cast a spell to summon a familiar, but when Warrl responded to the call, he chose to become Tarma's familiar instead, much to Kethry's chagrined amusement.
- Villains by Necessity: Valerie's raven Nightshade is hers, doing things such as spy or perform small tasks she orders. She also has genuine affection for him-he's more than just a tool. Good mages also often have them. The downside however is having a familiar requires a kind of psychic link, so any harm is shared. Sam and Arcie quickly exploit the fact when Valerie takes over the group by holding Nightshade hostage until she gives up her amulet. Later, Nightshade fights some familiars of the Good mages, and kills two in one go.
- In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Witches of Worm, Jessica believes that Worm is a witch's familiar because she can hear him talking. And he gives her very bad advice. She has a growing certainty that he's someone else's familiar though...
- In Dante Valentine: Working for the Devil, Danny is assigned the greater demon Tierce Japhrimel, essentially the Devil's hitman, as a protector while she hunts down another demon that the Devil wants killed. Neither is given a choice in the matter, but Lucifer promises Japhrimel his freedom in exchange for the service. Japhrimel eventually becomes Fallen and stays with Danny permanently.
- The Young Wizards series has a few characters who fit the bill. It's explained that human wizards who use magic around the house (read: basically all of them) may find their pets getting smarter than usual and developing strange talents due to the exposure. So far we've had a parrot and several koi with prophetic abilities, a dog who can take "walks" through alternate dimensions, a bardic cat, and (at a stretch) Dairene's sentient laptop/wizard manual Spot. In something of a reversal, there are also perfectly normal humans who may or may not (probably not) realize that their pets are wizards.
- Zoo City refers to these as Animals. They appear to someone who's suffering from trauma-induced guilt, usually but not always relating to someone's death. It seems that their owners always feel affection for them—at the very least, the "animaled" will suffer severe panic attacks if they're ever separated from their Animals. Animals can live indefinitely while their animaled lives, and will survive for several months if their animaled dies, but if an Animal dies, a mysterious darkness will appear and swallow up the corresponding animaled. (The animaled also gain a supernatural power, but this power may or may not have any relation to the Animal.)
Live Action Television
- In the 2000 Arabian Nights mini-series, the sorcerer who recruits Aladdin to retrieve the lamp for him has a raven as a familiar.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Averted when Tara suggests she and fellow witch Willow get a cat. Willow thinks she means a familiar but no, she just means a pet. And so Miss Kitty Fantastico guest-stars for a few episodes before its Noodle Incident in an off-screen accidental crossbow discharge.
- Charmed, of course. Familiars guide new witches until they can fend for themselves. The sisters had a feline familiar, who was turned human because she guided good witches. Inversely, an evil familiar got turned into a warlock when he killed his witch.
- One episode of Masters of Horror, based off of H.P. Lovecraft's "Dreams in the Witch House", dealt with the protagonist vainly trying to protect a baby from a witch and her familiar, a giant rat with the face of a man.
- On The Mighty Boosh Bollo is Naboo's familiar, although most of the time they're just pals. Also, in one episode, Noel Fielding briefly plays the character "Barry", whose familiar is a bat named Chrissie.
- Salem: Discussed by John and Cotton Mather-later shown to be the case with Mary, who stores her toad familiar down her husband's throat, preventing him from speaking. Mercy Lewis's is a snake put in her stomach.
- Tituba's is a spider.
- Legend of the Seeker: The Keeper sends a spider to free Nicci from her Rada'Han in "Perdition." Nicci then uses a crow to retrieve some of Kahlan's hair in "Bound". In the same episode, Marissa sends a spider to kill Nicci.
Myths & Religion
- Xander Quest Reborn On The Hellmouth: Briar the fairy is Alex's familiar. Ritual to make it more official pending.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Early editions have a spell for wizards to summon a familiar; most are animals, but there is a small chance to get a weak monster.
- 3rd edition makes familiars a class feature of wizards and sorcerers, who can summon or replace them with a magical ritual. It adds feats to obtain more powerful creatures as familiars, for other arcane spellcasters to acquire familiars, and for shadowcasters to obtain a familiar-ish shadow creature.
- 4th edition makes familiars minor spirits that any arcane class can acquire; they can take various forms and can reform after "death" as long as their master lives.
- 5th edition makes summoning a familiar a first level wizard spell, potentially usable by wizards or anyone with the Ritual Caster or Magic Initiate feat.
- A homunculus is a magical construct created through alchemy, which serves much the same purpose as a familiar.
- The Al-Qadim setting for AD&D 2nd edition features a special type of wizard called the sha'ir; they cannot prepare spells on their own, so they gain a minor genie familiar called a gen to travel the planes pilfering magic for them to use. The consequences of a gen trying to steal divine magic can be most unpleasant.
- Pathfinder, being based on the 3rd edition of D&D, retains familiars as an option for wizards and sorcerers (but no longer has it as the only option in the core) and makes them the source of witches' magic. In addition, any character (except for a scattered few class options that specifically prohibit having familiar-style arcane bond) willing to invest in the feats can gain a familiar through lingering magical potential in their bloodline.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Imperial psykers are often accompanied by a familiar of some sort that boosts their psychic abilities. These range from cybernetic and cloned birds (usually in the form of ravens or two-headed eagles) to the more macabre Cherubim (vat-grown infants who have mechanical wings and propulsion devices installed) and Servo-Skulls (skulls of particularly loyal servants of the Imperium fitted with an antigravity generator and a machine spirit so that they can continue to serve even in death).
- The familiars used by Chaos Sorcerers generally take the form of small mutated beasts of daemonic creatures that will either enhance their sorcerous powers and/or fight to protect their masters.
- Eldar psykers are sometimes able to form a mental bond with the lynx-like creatures known as Gyrinx. This mental bond enhances all the psyker’s mental abilities from their Psychic Powers to their basic speed of thought.
- Mage: The Awakening features Familiars for the title mages, creatures that are actually manifested spirits capable of using Numina (spirit powers) at will. Those with a good knowledge of the Spirit Arcanum even have the ability to summon temporary familiars at will. Mages decently versed in Death magic can bind ghosts as familiars instead.
- Changeling: The Lost has Hedge Beasts, animals touched by the strange magic of the Hedge. They're capable of human speech, are much smarter than the average animal, and have the ability to use Contracts.
- In Rifts, when a magician tries to summon a demon and they fail to maintain control over it, it actually reverses the relationship, making the summoner the familiar of the demon.
- Summoner Wars has the Owl Familiar, a non-unique unit that can go in any deck. Familiars help wizards focus their magics, represented in-game by the ability to rearrange the top few cards of our deck.
- In Ars Magica, Hermetic magi often have familiars because they are amazingly useful. They can help you not botch your spellcasting rolls, resist mind control, resist physical damage (and heal it when it happens), not drown, starve or die of thirst and resist aging. And that's just from the magus-familiar bond. You can add special powers later in the lab.
- Exalted has the Familiar background which gives an Exalted character a supernatural animal companion. At one or two dots the familiar is simply loyal and a bit smarter than a normal animal, starting at three it also acts as an Essence reservoir. Lunars have a note that their choice of familiar is limited by their Totem animal, a rabbit probably wouldn't want to bond with someone who turns into a wolf but a raven might.
- Faust: As his part of his deal with Faust, Mephistopheles becomes Faust's permanent companion and servant. In other words, he is Faust's familiar. He usually takes human form, but he appears as a black dog at his first meeting with Faust.
- The "Manas" in the Atelier series and Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, where the main character is one.
- Erasmus, the Eccentric Mentor of the Quest for Glory series of games, has a talking rat as his familiar.
- Considering that Fenrus is himself a wizard of comparable power and skill, it's worth noting that he claims Erasmus is in fact his Familiar.
- Zara from the first game has a winged demon-like creature as a familiar called Damiano.
- Considering that Fenrus is himself a wizard of comparable power and skill, it's worth noting that he claims Erasmus is in fact his Familiar.
- Baldur's Gate (mostly) follows the second edition AD&D rules, but makes the familiar summoning a lot more forgiving, albeit still rather harsh. Which familiar gets summoned is determined by the mage's alignment: for example, a fairy dragon for Chaotic Good, an imp for Lawful Evil, etc. Familiar gives the mage a hit points bonus plus some other small benefits; but if it is killed, the mage loses one point of constitution permanently.
- While its engine and gameplay are based on D&D 3.0, Neverwinter Nights diverts from the source in a number of ways, familiars being one of them. Perhaps to make gameplay easier, a wizard or sorcerer PC's familiars are largely combat-oriented (save for one which works as a replacement rogue). They're still animals or weak monsters... but this game lets a wizard have a frickin' panther. Or a hellhound.
- For the record, the sequel doesn't do this. You do get a familiar but it can't do much; it is, however, hilarious to see the grumpy, snarky wizard Sand summon his adorable cat familiar.
- Beastmasters in Final Fantasy XI can summon familiars as a replacement pet. Unlike charmable pets, they will never turn against their master. (They may spontaniously vanish after 30 minutes or so, but what can you do?) Summoners can call forth elemental spirits(Elementals), and Avatars (Classic FF summons).
- Yukari from the Touhou games has a familiar (the term they use in Japanese is shikigami, which is related to Onmyodo) called Ran, who in turn has a familiar called Chen. Apparently, Yukari is so powerful that her familiar can have a familiar of its own. The benefit of being a familiar is that, in return for being a servant, the creature in question shares its master's powers.
- Len from Tsukihime and Melty Blood is a familiar, apparently of Arcueid. In the pseudo-sequel Kagetsu Tohya, it's revealed that Arcueid isn't actually her master: as a vampire, she can't form a contract with Len, so she's just looking after her. At the end of the game, Shiki agrees to become her master to prevent her death from lack of mana.
- In addition, Shiki himself was converted into a Shikigami by his sister to save his life when he was murdered as a child. This means that Len is, somewhat amusingly, effectively the familiar of a familiar.
- Familiars play a fairly important role in Kingdom of Loathing, and certain familiars are vital to complete some of the higher-level quests. This being KOL, they are somewhat stranger than in other fictions (Sabre-Toothed Lime, Blood-Faced Volleyball, Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot, etc.). They have several possible functions, such as restoring your HP and/or MP, damaging your opponent with physical and/or elemental attacks, weakening and/or disrupting your opponent during a fight, increasing the amount of items and/or meat and/or stats you get when you win a fight, or any combination of these. Black Cats deserve special mention, because they create bad luck for the player: they reduce the amount of items and stats you're awarded after winning a fight, they regularly strip you of beneficial status effects and drain your MP, and they usually prevent you from using skills, spells, or items in combat. Basically, they do everything short of attacking you directly. However, using them exclusively can let you permanently unlock Bad Moon, a special harder-than-hardcore difficulty level.
- Additionally, pastamancers have a variety of pasta-based entities that they can establish contracts with and summon in combat up to ten times a day, which are probably closer to traditional familiars.
- In Heroes Of Might And Magic V, the Inferno faction have a unit called the Familiar which, on its first turn, will absorb mana from the enemy hero depending on how many of them there are in a stack.
- In World of Warcraft there's a minipet called Kirin Tor Familiar. It looks like a small mana elemental. Some NPC mages have familiars, such as cats, dragonhawks or servants. Warlock's demons could be considered Familiars, especially if you spec demonology when they provide various beneficial effects for the master.
- Frost mages' water elemental might also fit this, as well as the Death Knight's ghoul.
- Galenth Dysley of Final Fantasy XIII has an owl familiar named Mernva, who is often seen with him when he appears. She is actually an extension of his power and he uses her to transform into his true form, Barthandelus. Not only that, she is capable of turning into an airship, as well.
- Azure Dreams allows you to have a variety of familiars.
- Several games in the Castlevania series allow you to have familiars, including Circle of the Moon, Symphony of the Night, and Curse of Darkness (in which they played an important role).
- Djinn in the Golden Sun games act mostly like familiars, enhancing or changing the abilities of their Adept master and granting Summon Magic. There's also a Mons aspect to the Djinn; catching them all enables the most customization, the best summons, and access to the last Bonus Dungeon in The Lost Age.
- Riviera: The Promised Land has Rose the cat, who is referred to be this for the protagonist, Ein.
- Familiars are the back-bone of the Shin Megami Tensei series, being a Mon series. Generally Demons are obtained by contracting and negotiating with the demon itself instead of being summoned (thought this does tends to happen often enough in the games), and one can combine 2 or more demons with each other to produce a third one. Another difference with the more traditional familiars is that they tend to be stored on computers, and what binds demons to the summoner will is not a spell, but rather a computer program.
- In Master of Magic familiars are defined by the Wizard's book picks and colored accordingly: Life gives Dove, Death - Cat, Nature - Snake, Chaos - Imp, Sorcery - Beetle. These serve as announcers of events and appear in the magic research cutscene — that blue beetle is bigger than the man's head, by the way.
- Mages in Valkyrie Profile have to wait a turn or two in order to attack with magic, so they have a familiar attack for them. Most of the mages have either a parrot or a dove as a familiar. Mystina, a powerful and high-strung researcher, has a bat as a familiar, while male mages like Gandar and Lezard (who serves as a guest for one battle) have dragons.
- In Pop'n Magic, Anise and Lester can summon their Nice Mice familiars Tornado and Feel into battle.
- In Aura Kingdom, all Envoys are partnered with an Eidolon when their powers awaken. Gameplay-wise they act as partners in battle, able to perform combo attacks or soak up damage for you. In story Eidolons also share a Psychic Link with their Envoy, letting them sense their emotions (Whether the Envoy wants them to or not).
- Parodied in this newspaper for Team Fortress 2, where Merasmus attempts to sell his former roommate, the Soldier, as a familiar.
- In The Sims 3, if you have both the Supernatural and Pets expansions installed, witches recharge their magical power and raise their magical skill level more quickly in the presence of a familiar such as a cat or lizard.
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, dealing with magic spells, has "Famalia", which summons a witch's familiar. It's actually a Red Herring, as the spell never actually comes into play during the game and is instead suggested in cases of deliberate misdirection. How the Shades would accomplish enacting it is anybody's guess.
- Nocturne (RPG Maker) allows the player to summon random encounters as familiars after they drop a "core item". The familiar starts with the same stats as the random encounter version, but can gain levels and can customize its stats and abilities via sorcery items. One of the antagonists, Ristill, has Maxwell familiars that can possess a living body. The most remarkable case goes to Khaos, who created a sentient familiar who is almost exactly like a human in a botched attempt to revive his lover.
- In Gravity Rush Kat's familiar is a cat, and Reven's familiar is a Raven, appropriately enough.
- In Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria any Seraph (Malak in Berseria) that has a human as their vessel acts as such. The Seraph grants supernatural powers to the vessel and gains protection from malevolence in return. In the case of Sub-Lords to a Shepherd's Prime Lord, they get a minor boost in ability, gaining the ability to actually fight and purify hellions.
- Familiars are fairly common in the Nasuverse and not much notice is really taken of them unless they are exceptional.
- In Tsukihime and Kagetsu Tohya, we get the first introduction to familiars in the Nasuverse: A mage takes a dead body, places a soul inside it and reanimates it by forming a contract. The new being is neither of the two things that went into making it and usually acts as a servant or assistant to the magus, such as being used for surveillance, combat or use of special abilities. A magus generally needs to supply mana to the familiar, which limits how many a normal mage can possess, but Len has adopted some succubus traits and is thus capable of feeding on her own by manipulating dreams.
- The Servants in Fate/stay night and Fate/Hollow Ataraxia are technically familiars due to possessing the same type of contract, but the scale is vastly different. A Servant is a legendary hero or villain with even the weakest having powers far beyond all but the most powerful mages or vampire lords. Due to their immense power, they are placed into classes which reduce their burden and are further supported during the Grail War by the Grail itself.
- Tohsaka also creates bird familiars out of crystal while Caster uses dragon tooth bone golems. They're both pretty weak.
- In Fate/Zero, familiars are briefly mentioned as well as bringing up a certain disadvantage: Magecraft can easily be used to trick or fool one with illusions, so Kiritsugu attaches cameras instead as they are not so easily fooled. Caster also fights entirely through the use of summoned familiars, though they're actually bound to his Noble Phantasm instead of him.
- General Creedy from Baskets of Guts is a one to Lich. Actually, it's just an undead rat, but it's still the most long living servant of the Lich.
- In Charby the Vampirate Yiska has three bird familiars, their skulls adorn her tarnkappe where they maintain a glamor to make its color match her outfit and she uses two of them to send and receive messages.
- Technomages in The Cyantian Chronicles have familiars that were formerly animals but had their consciousness transferred into cybernetic bodies after their deaths and are used as power sources by their masters.
- The Hag of Digger thinks that the Shadowchild is Digger's familiar, but Digger is emphatic that this is not the case.
- Errant Story: Meji has Ellis, a winged talking cat. While he's referred to as a familiar, he was apparently bought from a pet store and has little to no magical significance. He's also sarcastic and abrasive to everybody and especially Meji.
- Hemlock: Lumi has had her familiar Suul for a long time, when Suul's time as a crow is over Lumi eats her and spends ten years asleep in mourning. Eventually poor Tristan ends up her new familiar.
- In Homestuck, familiars are a recurring theme, with John recruiting a salamander NPC and calling it Casey, then accidentally trading pets with Rose when he takes her cat. Rose then proceeds to get a small team of familiars, which she mainly uses for inventory space. The bunnyKind Strife Specibi causes the Uber Bunny to instantly align itself with John in the same vein as a familiar.
- My Roommate Is an Elf Griswold has Glen the monkey as a familiar, who is quick to point out he is not a pet.
- In The Order of the Stick:
- Vaarsuvius the wizard has their raven Blackwing. In early strips, he is a nameless class feature who only appears when the Insufferable Genius remembers a use for him, but he becomes a more active member of the party after Vaarsuvius Took a Level in Kindness.
- Blackwing gets his own Evil Counterpart in the Linear Guild in the form of Qarr the Imp, who's assigned to be the familiar of the Guild's wizard, Zz'dtri.
- In Our Little Adventure, Angelika has Norveg, an exceptionally intelligent rat who offers to become her familiar. The fate of her previous familiar is a Noodle Incident that worries him a fair bit.
- A rogue wizard on the Second Sphere in Use Sword on Monster had a familiar dubbed "Edison" who took the form of a monkey wearing a bowtie and a bowler hat. It later turned out he was a Demon Lord before being summoned and bonded and really resented that, to the point of offering to re-bond with a mage from the military police hunting his master.
- In Wizard School, Graham's familiar is a talking goat, Goatsie.
- In Yamara the elven mage Fea has "Poopsie"... er... Ralph the toad. "Poopsie" has nightmare.
- In Alanna, the title character has Franklin, a Lesser Electrical Sprite.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, many but not all mages have familiars. Antigonus has Bifrons the rat, Belial has Valefor the raven, and Josiah has Artagel the cat.
- In Pact, familiars are gained by enacting a ritual in the book Famulus to contract with a willing Other. Any Other who partakes in the ritual will then take on an animal form. Familiars are important for practitioners because they give them a power source outside themselves that isn't (necessarily) a Faustian bargain and the Familiar gives them a range of additional abilities. The familiars consent to this for varying reasons but mainly to have a foothold in the mortal world and share in the practitioner's power. The personality and traits of the familiar and practitioner are often complimentary.
- For example, Blake Thorburn's familiar is Evan, the spirit of an 11 year old boy who died of exposure while trying to escape a demon that Blake later defeated and bound with Evan's help. Evan gains the ability to shapeshift into a sparrow and is kept from having to "cross over" into death, and Blake gains a major power boost and a familiar who excels at finding escape routes and using terrain and opportunity to his advantage.
- Familiars are common for Wizards in the Whateley Universe, but not universal; in at least one case (Josie Gilman and the infant Shoggoth, Shroedinger), there's some question of which of the two is the other's familiar.
- In Adventure Time, Maja has a crabbit (crow-rabbit hybrid creature) familiar. However, Maja's a Bad Boss, so said familiar eventually quits.
- The villain, Mozenrath, from Aladdin The Animated Series is almost always accompanied by his loyal (if constantly bullied) flying eel familar, Xerxes, who happens to speak in a faint Peter Lorre impression.
- Appa in Avatar: The Last Airbender would appear just to be a Loyal Animal Companion to Aang, although that it has been hinted that he's more than this, and that all Avatars have an 'animal spirit guide' to help them in their life. The first Avatar, Wan, had a Cat-Deer named Mula, Roku, Aang's predecessor had Fang the dragon, and his successor Korra has Naga the Polar-Bear-Dog. They have the ability for their spirits to communicate with the next Avatar after death, and they appear to be able to share dreams.
- Mummies Alive!: Scarab's talking Snake-Staff is described as the warlock's familiar in The Other Wiki.
- An episode of The Real Ghostbusters had the team finding a witch's cat and making the pun mentioned above.
- Sabrina: The Animated Series. Like the live action series, the younger Sabrina and her family own a wise-talking black cat who was once a powerful wizard. A few episodes had her dealing with an witch-hating enemy whose familiar was a magic sniffing anteater. In the spin-off, "Sabrina's Secret Life", Sabrina's Alpha Bitch witch rival, Cassandra, owns a white rabbit who may also have once been human.
- Most of the The Smurfs' magical villains often have animal companions that act more like familiars than normal pets; Gargamel's cat Azrael, Hogatha's vulture, Balthazar's raven and Chlorhydris' talking Toucan.
- Steven Universe:
- Lion seems to behave as a familiar to the title character. He's connected to Steven's mother in some way and he sometimes helps Steven with missions and his powers. Eventually, we discover Lion is a dead animal who Came Back Strong thanks to Rose's powers. The same thing eventually happens to Lars.
- A Show Within a Show example, Connie's favorite book series is Unfamiliar Familiar, a fantasy series where people in the world have animal guides as familiars. One joke has Steven saying he doesn't understand what the familiars in the book are, even though he basically has one.
- Napoleon, Lilian's cat familiar in W.I.T.C.H..
- Young Justice in the episode "Denial", Dr. Fate and Klarion the Witch Boy are battling Fate takes a shot at Teekl prompting this prissy response from Klarion:
Klarion: To think Dr.Fate would hurt a poor, defendless pussy cat!
Dr.Fate: You and I both knows that creature is not a cat.
- Many Wiccans have animal familiars, though they usually adopt them rather than recieving them from some diabolic power — many Wiccans don't even believe in things like Satan.