Follow TV Tropes



Go To
The laws of sorcery absolutely require that you don't have allergies.
"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."
Foxfire, explaining why wizards have familiars, in the Whateley Universe, 'Boston Brawl II'

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 Creatures, Empathy Pet, Mons, and Right-Hand Cat. The familiar usually acts as an Animal Eye Spy to their master.

Because All Witches Have Cats, cats, and especially black ones, are the most common variant for female magic users. Frogs and toads, bats, owls, small imps, and sometimes snakes are also very common. In theory, however, a familiar can be just about anything.

Today, most witches draw a distinction between a "familiar spirit", which is more like your "personal demon/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.

One possible subversion of this trope is for a wizard to (intentionally or accidentally) form a familiar bond with a human being, usually causing hilarity to ensue.

See also Sapient Steed and Mentor Mascot. In Japanese Mythology, a similar creature is called a shikigami; see Onmyōdō for details.


    open/close all folders 

    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.
    • In the anime, the bounts have something that fits the traditional archetype more closely than Zanpakuto spirits: The dolls. They are servant creatures that bounts can summon to do their bidding. They are bound to the bounts via a contract of power. This means that the bounts must always prove that they aren’t weak and that they are worthy to wield the doll’s power, because if the dolls view their masters as too weak or unworthy, then the doll will turn on its master and kill 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.
  • In The Demon Girl Next Door, Magical Girls get animal navigators that act as their familiars. Momo has her cat Metako, Mikan has a lethally toxic golden dart frog named Michael.
  • 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 first, that is.
  • Kekkaishi:
    • 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.
  • In Luminous Witches, the titular band's Witches often have animals as their familiars. For example, Virginia "Ginny" Robertson's familiar, Moffy, is a swan who can transform into headphones so it can locate Neuroi from a long distance.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, Arf, the Lieze twins, Linith, Zafira, and the movie versions of the Materials serve Fate, Gil Graham, Precia, Hayate, and Yuri 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.)
  • 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.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • 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 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. Zeus is later captured by Nami, so during the Wano Arc, Big Mom creates Hera — a new cloud/lightning Homie — to replace him... and devour him, since he's effectively betrayed her. By the end of their battle though, Zeus has officially and willingly joined Nami, having survived Hera's attempt on his life and merged with Nami's Clima-Tact.
  • 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 if allowed to grow powerful enough.
  • 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.
  • Shaman King has the guardian spirits. Each Shaman has at least one and a person's strength and potential as a shaman is directly reflected in the guardian spirit they partner with. The type of spirit also has a large influence over what form the shaman's abilities will take (such as Horohoro bonding with a nature spirit from his home in the artic and getting ice-based powers) and what type of medium the shaman uses (like Yoh using a katana as a medium for his samurai guardian spirit Amidamaru).
  • In Sugar Sugar Rune, each of the Queen Candidates have their own familiar that advise them on how to capture hearts: Vanilla has Blanca, a mouse, and Chocolat has Duke, a frog. Also, Pierre has a black cat named Cernunnos. It is later revealed that most familiars are actually witches who did something illegal and Cernunnos is actually Chocolat's mother, Cinnamon.
  • Vermeil in Gold: Every magical student must have a familiar to advance to the second year. Protagonist Alto Goldfield has failed to summon one successfully. In desperation, he tries an old book he stumbled across in the library, and gets a busty succubus who agrees to be his familiar.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
      • The series' monsters either subvert and play the trope straight depending on what part of the series you're looking at. The bare basics of the card game imply 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 latter 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 Johan], and the three Ojamas [to Manjyome], although all three of them can talk to most Duel Spirits in their decks.) Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds 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.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The Badger: As an Animal-Themed Superbeing who Speaks Fluent Animal, Badger ends up serving as Ham's familiar.
  • 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 mother's oppression.
  • 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.
  • The Queen And The Woodborn: Morana has Iskran, who serves as her "eyes and ears" in the forest. Danica calls him "the Ember Bird", and he's apparently legendary to mortals.
  • Simon Dark: Gaius, Suzie, and Marty were all once human and transformed into monsters to be summoned to do the bidding of sorcerers. Despite being called familiars none of them have ever cooperated with those who summon them instead killing them for treating them like slaves and trying to bind them. They choose to become Simon's familiars because they're fond of him and need a magic user to tie themselves to the human world, but they're not bound by him in any way and are more friends who can lend him power if they please.
  • 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 Lil i Put Kirki the goblin serves this role to Miksja the sorceress.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld as expanded by A.A. Pessimal, some magic users have familiars. Young witch Rebecka Smith-Rhodes got hers at the age of three, when she looked at a semi-sentient Imp bound to a picture book for children, and asked "What else can you do?" Grindguts The Destroying Demon, in all his tusked and fanged horror, is now her inseparable companion. Fortunately for the world he is benign and friendly. Most of the time.
    Elsewhere, the young Rodinian Witch, Alexandra Mumorovka, has made friends with a Sylph, a spirit of the air, who is now bound to come to her when she asks for hisnote  help. As a Spirit of Air And Wind can be a mixed blessing to the City Air Watch, her commanding officer has requested Lexi not to summon her sprite while on active duty.
  • 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.
  • In Game Theory, Nanoha gets a familiar. The story also explores the consequences of familiars being Uplifted Animals in greater depth.
  • In Hero Chat, Jagged Stone's pet crocodile Fang is characteristed as his familiar. His link to Jagged means if the Witch/Rock Star is akumatized, then Fang is as well. Fang is able to communicate to his master, which comes to play when Fang shares the conversation between the heroes about Luka Couffaine possibly being Jagged's son.
  • 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.
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What? has the taming ritual, which allows anyone who knows it to bind a dungeon minion or a wild animal to their soul. The tamer essentially starts paying the creature's mana upkeep out of their own personal reserves, including the double upkeep if the tamed creature is not adequately fed. The link allows the tamer to wordlessly command their minion and each has a general idea of the other's location, but they do not share senses. Boss monsters and minions with human-level intelligence cannot be tamed, nor can you tame a creature that someone else has already tamed (though the tamer can pass the bond to someone else). Technically there's no limit to the number of creatures you can tame, but very few people have the mana reserves to sustain more than a couple of tamed creatures at once.
  • Metro: Commentary on the titular Metro's Glamour affecting possible roommate choices:
    "The pheromones he's putting out induce a 'fight or flight' reaction in most animals we've tested, so that excludes students with familiars or service animals.
  • In Never Tear Us Apart, Harry Potter becomes bonded to Lilith Aensland. As it turns out, the part of Morrigan's power that would gain sentience and become Lilith was accidentally released and fused with Lily Evans' unborn child. From then on, she was present as Harry's Not-So-Imaginary Friend, until the events of the Tri-Wizard Tournament caused Lilith to finally break out and gain a physical body. Their bond also has some shades of Magic Contract Romance, as growing up together has made them feel love towards each other.
  • Familiars are a branch of magic in the Pony POV Series:
  • 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.
  • Reflections in the Mirror: Lailaps goes from a family pet unknowingly enchanted by a young Yohane to the familiar of Yohane's mage mother Hekiru, their bond allowing Lailaps to communicate with both her master and her "big sister" through both verbal means, though Hekiru alone can speak with Lailaps through thoughts. When Yohane finally Awakens her magic, Hekiru and Lailaps break their bond so the wolf can be Yohane's familiar, which is what the two agreed on when they first made their contract.
  • 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 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 Teen Titans: Witch-Hunt, Circe the Sorceress is accompanied by one foul-tempered falcon named Perseis. She acts as Circe's spy and can be turned into a harpy-like creature to fight.
  • In There's More Magic Out There, Alix Kubdel's attempt to subdue full-moon werewolf Chloe Bourgeois ends up turning the latter into her familiar after she uses the wrong spell. The familiar bond allows them to feel each other's pain and emotions, enough that not only can be akumatized at once, Alix could siphon the transformation pains when Chloe is under a fullmoon. The pain was so intense that Chloe broke the bond to protect Alix.
    • After rekindling their familiar bond, they then gain a Psychic Link that lets them share each other thoughts.
  • Vow of Nudity:
    • Fiora has a toad familiar named Toadysseus, until she sacrifices it to escape Murkadoth’s tendrils which are easily distracted by corpses.
    • Kay’la eventually gains a snake familiar after briefly becoming a Magic-User when time traveling to the distant past.
  • What Worse Luck:
    • The bond allows the mage to draw on their familiar's power to augment their own, and if the familiar has a wild talent the mage gets access to it as well. In addition, a familiar and their bonded mage can always understand each other, regardless of species or language.
    • Familiars do not have to be non-human. In fact, it's apparently possible to have a non-human mage bond with a human familiar.
    • The bond between mage and familiar is always supposed to require mutual agreement. Some creatures (such as cats) are impossible to bind without explicit consent by both parties, while for others it's possible but highly unethical.
    • Familiar contracts are usually written down in the setting's present day. Plagg and Tikki's contract was made verbally, but that was both because it was a long time ago when the traditions were different, and because they had to make their pact in a hurry for some reason.
  • 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.

    Film — Animation 
  • Aladdin: No word could describe better Jafar's parrot Iago who is 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 could become more reserved and more capable of concentrating on magic studies. Iago became sapient but he was too uncontrollable.
    • The animated series confirms this, aside from the fact that it shows that birds and other normal animals do not normally talk in the Aladdin universe and thus Iago was magically enhanced by Jafar.
  • Jiji the black cat from Kiki's Delivery Service is Kiki'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 magic.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) has Flotsam and Jetsam, a pair of moray eels under the control of the sea-witch Big Bad, Ursula.
  • The Sword in the Stone: Merlin has an owl named Archimedes that has the ability to speak and human-level intelligence. In fact, he's arguably the smartest character in that film. Archimedes is characterized by being grumpy and sarcastic, but he has a good heart.
  • In The Princess and the Frog, Mama Odie has a snake, Juju.
  • Princess Arete: Grovel is a frog given a human form and sapience by Boax as his servant.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Miss Price has a black cat named Cosmic Creepers as her familiar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Teen Witch subverts this by making Louise's familiar an object: a blue charm which she is told both symbolizes her powers and always finds a way back to her from lifetime to lifetime.

  • Bazil Broketail: Lessis and Ribela are both bonded to animals, using them as spies, messengers or a source of power. For Lessis it's birds, Ribela has mice.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Here, this means animals controlled by beastwalkers, people with an ability to do this. Some keep them as pets, though others simply use them for spying etc but don't have any affectionate bond.
  • City of Devils: Witches have familiars, ranging from Hexene's toad to the songbirds of the Salem Sisters.
  • The Marat people in the Codex Alera series form intense spiritual bonds with animals they call their chala. These bonds allow them to understand their chala, affect their moods, and the bonding process changes the color of the marat's eyes to match the color of their chala. Typically, a Marat will take on a chala belonging to their tribe or intended tribe (Kitai, for example, is part of a tribe that binds with giant, sloth-like gargants, but she wants to join her aunt in the horse tribe). However, it turns out that Alerans can also become chalas.
    • Alerans themselves have furies. Furies are nature spirits that when bonded to a person give them control over their respective element and other abilities related to that element (such as earth crafters getting enhanced strength). Strong crafters can even manifest their fury which usually takes on the form of an animal formed out of their element.
  • The Crimson Shadow: All of Greensparrow's wizard minions have demonic partners.
  • Dante Valentine: In 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.
  • Daughter Of Darkness: 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 matures) 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.
  • The Death Gate Cycle:
    • Haplo's dog 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.
    • From the same series, Zifnab and his dragon have this kind of relationship. That is to say, Zifnab is the dragon's familiar, not the other way around.
  • Discworld: Played with. 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 presumptuous. Although Granny Weatherwax is temporarily adopted by a phoenix in Carpe Jugulum.
  • Dragaera: 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.
  • The Dreams in the Witch House: The titular witch has a disturbing one, the human-faced, mean-spirited rat Brown Jenkin.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Played with, in that Harry is Mouse's human Familiar.note 
    • Also, Harry refutes the idea that Bob, the spirit of intelligence he has, is his familiar. His reasoning being that he pays Bob, with raunchy romance smut.
  • 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.
  • Earthsea: 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.
  • Elcenia: Some Elcenian wizards adopt familiars, animals enchanted to help their bonded wizards channel more magic than they could on their own.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fate/Zero: Briefly discussed. 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.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the opening case of the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 3 (The God Killer), Hawk and Fisher investigate killings performed by the Dark Man, whom they discover is a prototype homunculus created to serve as a familiar and bodyguard to the sorcerer Bode. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of loading it with all his negative feelings, so it ended up getting loose and killing people after Bode himself supposedly died.
  • The Freelance Familiars novel series by Danial Potter revolves around a new familiar named Thomas who as the title suggests becomes a freelance familiar.
  • In Nancy A. Collins's Golgotham trilogy, familiars are explicitly demons...only that apparently doesn't quite have the same "pure evil" connotation in-universe as usual.
    • Each has a Sleep-Mode Size form resembling a tiny and mostly ordinary (although Hexe's familiar Scratch defaults to bat-winged sphynx cat) animal, only with glowing red eyes.
    • Each also has a much larger battle form, which retains traits from the other form but becomes a grotesque hellbeast. (Scratch, for example, goes from kitty to smilodon.)
    • While most familiars accompany the witch or warlock who summoned them at all times, they can also be bound to a location unless commanded elsewhere by their summoner.
    • At very least Scratch can speak, although he's the only familiar with any lines of his own in the series. At very least Scratch and Edgar can, additionally, act as living voice recorders for their summoners.
    • At very least Trinket can detect arcane threats.
    • If Scratch is any indication: they're voracious and messy carnivores (although Purina, prosaically, manufactures demon chow in-universe).
  • The Goosebumps Series 2000 book Revenge R Us has a witch named Iris whose crow, Maggie, actually seems to be the source of her powers: petting Maggie while making a wish will cause it to come true. Since she runs a "revenge" business, it's possible this only includes curses. Also, you can only make three wishes per day, or the fourth will rebound on you.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The only pets allowed at Hogwarts are animals traditionally thought of as familiars — owls, cats, rats and toads. They don't appear to have any special magical connection to their owners, although owls, like Harry's, can be very useful, however; wizards tend to use them to deliver messages to each other.
    • Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, is a familiar in the more traditional sense.
    • Voldemort's snake, Nagini, though she is also a horcrux.
    • Strangely enough, 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. We later meet Mrs. Figg in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, another Squib, whose many felines serve as her scouts.
    • The spell "Expecto patronum", which repels Dementors and allows communication over long distances, summons a patronus, a guardian spirit in the shape of a spectral animal that protects the spellcaster. The species of the patronus is distinct to every wizard or witch and reflects the character of its summoner. Thus, Harry's patronus is a stag, Hermione's is an otter, and Ron's a Russell terrier.
  • In the Heralds of 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.
  • High School D×D has the Devils getting familiars instead of the human magicians. One short story, which made it into the anime, focuses on Asia and Ise trying to find familiars. She recruits a tiny, lightning spewing dragon. And he almost recruits a clothing-eating slime, but Rias destroys it first.
  • His Dark Materials: The daemons are a more intimate case, being literally your soul, shaped like an animal, running around outside you.
  • The Hollows:
    • 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.
    • Demons use sapient 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.
  • Honor Harrington: Treecats are a sci-fi 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.
  • Hurog:
    • Oreg is a person but is magically bound to a ring that goes from father to son on the death of the father. He's something in between 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.
  • I Am Mordred: Gull and the hawk are Nyneve's.
  • Inkmistress: The Tamers are forest people who take different animals as these.
  • 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 from 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.
  • The fae in Katabasis can become familiars by taking part in a ritual called a Rise, which energetically binds them to a human.
  • 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 Little Witch: The talking raven Abraxas serves the little Witch as her advisor.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Catarina was given Cerebus — though he has only one head.
  • Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded: Chantel's familiar is Japheth, a snake she summoned using magic when she was six. Since most girls, when they perform a summoning, usually end up with dust bunnies or catnip mice, and usually spend ten years learning before they do so, this is apparently quite a feat.
  • Moongobble and Me: Urk the toad for Moongobble, who serves as his talking animal companion and advisor, which is good... because Moongobble needs all the help he can get.
  • The protagonist of Moonlite Seasons made her own familiar, Opera, with animal bones.
  • Mother of Learning: Familiars are acquired by bonding the souls of the mage and the animal together. It's technically possible for any two beings with souls to do this, but since the bond tends to result in a subconscious dominance contest, with the stronger soul reshaping the weaker to more closely resemble and become submissive to itself, it's generally a bad idea for both parties to be sapient. On the other hand, by bonding with humans, animals typically get increased intelligence and improved control of whatever magical abilities they possess. Zorian becomes unable to form a familiar bond, since that would risk disrupting the soul marker that is keeping him aware of the time loop.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, each of the main human characters has an animal companion. Jill the witch has the traditional cat, Jack has a dog (who is the story's narrator), and so on. The nature of the relationship varies; Snuff is an equal partner to Jack (and actually better than him at some kinds of magic that are usually handled by the human), while some of the other characters have more coercive relationships (Owen's squirrel familiar is bound by magic, and when his master dies is quite happy to go back to being a normal squirrel).
  • Of Fire and Stars: Tamers bond to animals with their magic.
  • In Pact, familiars are gained by enacting a ritual such as the one found 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.
  • Pale, set in the same universe as Pact, elaborates upon the familiar-practicioner bond: The familiar bond is an ancient ritual that defines the relationship between man and Other, and often is an indicator of how twisted the relationship between practitioners and supernatural creatures has become-some take familiars as little more than extensions of their will, while the Musser family attacks practitioners who they feel are treating familiars with undue respect to take the unfortunate familiars for their own. Avery Kelly consciously defies this trend when she performs the familiar ritual with Snowdrop, vowing to share freely with her familiar as a friend and companion, and staging the ritual in the realm of the Lost, Snowdrop's people.
  • Pool of Radiance: Cerulean was the familiar to Shal's mentor, and then to Shal herself. He is a horse.
  • The Scholomance: Wizards bond animals as familiars by spending time with them and imbuing them with mana, after which they'll act independently on the wizard's behalf. When Liu swears off Black Magic, she starts to do this with the mice she'd been sacrificing. Gwen Higgins, meanwhile, is such a Friend to All Living Things that animals show up and volunteer as familiars now and then.
  • Schooled in Magic: Emily makes a Death Viper one to stop it from killing her.
  • In Septimus Heap, dragons are familiars to their Imprintors (i.e hatchers), as is the case with Septimus and Spit Fyre.
  • Witches in Seven Years Awesome Luck tend to use transformed humans as familiars, since they're more intelligent. They can also form bonds with regular animals, but the level of control needed to make them useful tends to burn out the animals' minds.
  • Steel Crow Saga: The magic of Shadepacting lets a human exchange parts of their soul with a consenting animal, which gives them a Psychic Link, transforms the animal into a Dire Beast, and lets the human manifest and de-manifest it at will. It's seen as sacred by the Shang and Sanbuna peoples and as vile slavery by the Tomodanese, and the human can in fact dominate the animal's will — or pact with another human...
  • 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 Gravitation 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 Illumination and Transformation. 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 Transformation and Transportation. 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. That said, as one of the three spren who are a category of their own, he still grants his Bondsmith the powers of Tension and Adhesion.
    • Cultivationspren are bonded to Edgedancers and give access to Abrasion and Progression Lift is bonded to one of these called Wyndle, though she insists he's a Voidbringer, mostly because it annoys him.
  • In Strike the Blood, Kojou Akatsuki, being the Fourth Progenitor, has twelve familiars who are very powerful each giving him specific abilities.
  • Temps: In the 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 strength 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 fulfill their orders — but it is hard to force them to do anything against their will.
  • In 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.
  • 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, usually birds as well.
    • Kaylana also has a wild cat who acts like this, along with many other animals.
    • Fenwick's sun eagle is also one, and it spies on the villains for him.
    • However the downside is that 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 Good mages, and kills two in one go this way.
  • 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...
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Multiple magicians in this story have familiars. The protagonist Emily first serves on a squad with a girl named Amanda, who has a cat familiar called Princess. Emily is also attacked early on by a witch from an evil magic school who has a giant wolf familiar named Sica. Other new Scholomance recruits have familiars too, including Gelila, who has a goat named Akko, and Maura, who has an eagle named Zuleg.
  • All witches in the series The Witch of Turlingham Academy have a familiar; an animal that comes to them when they first develop their powers. The protagonist's familiar is a squirrel, her father's is a fox, her aunt's is a cat, and her grandmother's is a crow.
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): In "Refamiliarization", the main characters go as a wizard and his dragon familiar, which in the unspecified tabletop campaign that they're playing is a creature magically bonded to a spellcaster to whom it's connected by a mental link. After the Change, the two remain telepathically connected.
  • 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 TV 
  • Arabian Nights: In the 2000 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 (1998), 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.
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina changes Salem from a transfigured human warlock to Sabrina's familiar. Accordingly, he no longer speaks (and has a markedly reduced presence due to Kiernan Shipka being allergic to cats).
  • Kamen Rider Wizard: They're named PlaMonsters, and are summoned from the collectible magic rings magicians used, forming themselves from the ring itself and a summoned plastic model kit. Wizard/Haruto has four-Red Garuda, Blue Unicorn, and Yellow Kraken help with scouting in the air, earth, and water, respectively, while Purple Golem helps with crafting new rings, The Rival Beast/Kosuke has Green Griffon who acts like Red Garuda, and Wiseman has a White Garuda as well as a Black Cerberus.
  • 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.
  • Masters of Horror: "H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch-House" deals 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.
  • The Outpost: Yavalla controls animals to serve as her minions, having them infect people with spores from her kinj so they're under her spell too, plus spy on them.
  • 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.
  • Supernatural: Some witches have familiars; at least one of them is a dog rather than a cat, and they also have an alternate human form.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Older Than Steam: Accounts of witches with familiars go back to the 1500s. The Bible also speaks of sorcerers who have familiar spirits, condemning them to death.
  • In Malaysian Mythology, ghosts often perform this function, being kept in jars by sorcerers, offered food, and released to attack whoever the sorcerer doesn`t like.

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-1530 ("A Bender's Friends"). A woman named Josephine used an SCP object to summon two familiars, a calico cat named Salix and a female beagle named Willow. They were her only companions, and after an escaped D-Class killed her they avenged themselves upon him.

  • In Gottlieb's Genie, a small monkey-like creature can be seen near the wizard.


    Tabletop Games 
  • 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. Magi from House Bjornaer (who have the special power of Voluntary Shapeshifting) are unable to form the magical bonds necessary to create a familiar, and "No Familiar" is a flaw available to other magi; taking this flaw sometimes causes one to be mistaken for a Bjornaer magus.
  • 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.
  • 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. Certain evil classes in the Book of Vile Darkness, once they reach a certain level, automatically gain a minor demon (or devil) as a familiar, whether they want one or not; if they already have a familiar, their new one eats it.
    • 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. There is also an unspecified ritual to make an already existing animal (such as a Pseudodragon) into your familiar. Both the spell and ritual has upsides and downsides, with the spell giving a mystical spirit that's closely tied to your character, while the ritual gives a more independent familiar that can act on its own without receiving orders, but lacks many of the spell's mystical properties.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Basic familiar can be from any animal species of sufficiently small size. More powerful characters can bond with more explicitly magical creatures such as fey animals, small elementals, and similar entities.
    • Each of the main outsider species also has a very low-ranking caste or subspecies, generally the very least and weakest of their kind, that is commonly summoned for use as familiars by mortals of matching alignment who have become powerful enough to bond with them — thus, powerful wizards, sorcerers, and witches can be seen accompanied by things such as angel-winged living helmets, sapient celestial cats, winged mechanical orbs, colorful and airborne wormlike creatures, impish devils and demons, balls of flesh bound in metal and bristling with blades, and the like.
    • Particularly exotic options include small constructs, including animated dolls; spirits called to possess the character's hand; and an option for Alchemist players to grow a sentient, mobile tumor capable of detaching itself from their bodies and acting on its own.
  • 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.
  • 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 (cyborgs built from 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). To be used as a familiar, all of these are a specialist variants of otherwise common technologies (perhaps with the exception of the psyber-eagle) and are rare and to expensive to make, meaning only the wealthiest or most connected Imperial servants get to make use of these.
    • The familiars used by Chaos Sorcerers generally take the form of small mutated beasts of daemonic creatures that will, depending on the edition, enhance their sorcerous powers, fight to protect their masters or, in 8th Edition, give the Sorcerer far greater adaptability. One notable exception is Chaos Lord Lufgt Huron; though neither a sorcerer nor a psyker, he was granted the Hamadrya, a small daemonic familiar which casts psychic powers on his behalf.
    • Aeldari 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. Human psykers sometimes form bonds with Gyrinx as well, but this is rarer.
    • Wyvachs are small dragon-like animals that can form similar bonds with pyskers. A wyvach's master can see and hear through their familiar's eyes and ears, but if the two are separated for extended periods of time they become physically and psychologically weakened.
    • Patriarchs and Magi of Genestealer Cults are often accompanied by Genestealer Familiars, small alien creatures created from the solidified psychic residue of their master. These Familiars perform a variety of functions, depending on their type, such as enhancing their master's psychic abilities or defending them from enemy attacks.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Some spellcasters can bind an animal as a familiar, create their own through alchemy, or, on The Dark Side, summon and bind a daemon. Familiars earn Experience Points that they can spend on their own advancement scheme and on special abilities that benefit the spellcaster, like a Psychic Link or an extra chance to avoid a Magic Misfire.

  • Faust: First Part of the Tragedy: As 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.
  • Greymalkin, Paddock, and Harpier, the familiars of the witches in Macbeth.

    Video Games 
  • The "Manas" in the Atelier Series and especially in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, where the main character is one.
  • 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 the story Eidolons also share a Psychic Link with their Envoy, letting them sense their emotions (Whether the Envoy wants them to or not).
  • Azure Dreams allows you to have a variety of familiars.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Daemon Bride is a Fighting Game that's a cross between Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and the Guilty Gear series. Each character is contracted to either an angel or demon that serves as their familiar. An example is Eve having the demon Beezlebub as her partner.
  • Beastmasters in Final Fantasy XI can summon familiars as a replacement pet. Unlike charmable pets, they will never turn against their master. (They may spontaneously vanish after 30 minutes or so, but what can you do?) Summoners can call forth elemental spirits (Elementals), and Avatars (Classic Final Fantasy summons).
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Arcanists in A Realm Reborn gain the ability to summon Carbuncles, which are arcane entities created to support the Arcanist who summoned them. Upon promotion to Summoner, the former Arcanist can upgrade some of their Carbuncle forms to Egi forms, miniature versions of the Primals fought in the main story, though a side quest can be done to unlock the ability to change the Egis' appearance back to Carbuncles while keeping the upgrade in effect. On the other hand, the other promotion for Arcanist, Scholar, retires the Carbuncles entirely, and instead use a faerie for a familiar, to aid in healing.
    • In Shadowbringers, the nu mou frequently have familiars called Porxies, small pig-like beings that fly by flapping their sizeable ears. And the Dragon to villain Vauthry, Ran'jit, has a serpent familiar he is capable of merging with to enhance his combat abilities.
    • In Endwalker, in the area of Elpis, the thinness of the player character's aether (and other characteristics) gives them away as not one of the humans of that world, so they are forced to pose as an unusually gifted familiar belonging to a notable individual. There's also a lot of mention of familiars in that area, and a few familiars of various kinds are seen.
  • Galaxy Angel II has Mimolette, who looks like a floating black cat head and acts as Kahlua and Tequila's familiar. His magical prowess has seen him act as a body decoy, a portable mic to eavesdrop, and an umpire for impromptu baseball.
  • 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.
  • In Gravity Rush, Kat's familiar is a cat, and Reven's familiar is a Raven, appropriately enough.
  • Nat, the protagonist from Hazelnut Hex has a flying squirrel named Sam as her familiar, who assists its master by tagging behind and collecting power-ups for her.
  • 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.
  • 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 number 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 number 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 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.
  • 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 Planescape: Torment the Player Character has one in the form of a Servile Snarker talking skull named Morte.
  • In Pop N Magic, Anise and Lester can summon their Nice Mice familiars Tornado and Feel into battle.
  • Erasmus, the Eccentric Mentor of the Quest for Glory series of games, has a talking rat as his familiar.
    • Considering that Fenrus claims to be a wizard of comparable power and skill, and claims Erasmus is in fact his Familiar. Then again, Fenrus constantly makes jokes, and his strongest demonstrated magical ability is small-scale telekinesis...
      • Zara from the first game has a winged demon-like creature as a familiar called Damiano.
  • 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.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land has Rose the cat, who is referred to be this for the protagonist, Ein.
  • In Runescape, the Summoning skill allows you to summon various spirit animals to act as familiars, who give you various gameplay bonuses.
  • 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 (though this does tend 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 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.
  • In The Sims 4: Realm of Magic, spellcasters can buy familiars, small creatures that follow them around everywhere. If you have Cats and Dogs, you can also bind a pet as a familiar. Either way, they can protect their masters from death and aid them in duels.
  • 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.
  • Parodied in this newspaper for Team Fortress 2, where Merasmus attempts to sell his former roommate, the Soldier, as a familiar.
  • Yukari from the Touhou Project games has a familiar (the term they use in Japanese is shikigami, which is related to Onmyōdō) 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.
  • Trick & Treat: Amelia is a familiar born from a pumpkin, created by Charlotte.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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 that 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.
    • In Fate/Grand Order, the Demon Gods/Pillars are ultimately revealed to be the 72 familiars of King Solomon. It speaks volumes as to how powerful Solomon is that he controls 72 such beings, as each of them can match a team of multiple Servants in combat.
    • In Fate/Grand Order, it's eventually discovered that the Team Pet Fou is Merlin's familiar, that he sent to Chaldea so he could keep an eye on the situation from Avalon. It turns out that in Fate, the Round Table did not destroy the Cath Palug, and Merlin turned it into his familiar afterward... oh, and Cath Palug/Fou is actually the Beast of Gaia, and has the potential to become the fourth Evil of Humanity, known as Primate Murder. Fortunately, Merlin's and Chaldeas' influence has prevented Fou from going down that path.
  • The spell Familial Bond in Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane allows the caster to form an unbreakable bond with a creature. Normally this is an animal but can also be a demon, like in Beatrice's case. The mage can communicate telepathically with the familiar over any distance, see through its eyes, and cast spells from its location. There are three familiars in Episode 4 alone, and all of them play a part in the case.

  • Baskets of Guts: General Creedy is a one to Lich. Actually, it's just an undead rat, but it's still the most long-living servant of the Lich.
  • 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.
  • Crow Time: In "Breakfast", there's the familiar auditions, where a witch chooses a familiar out of all the animals that show up. The witch ends up choosing a rooster instead of the crow because it can give her breakfast every morning.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Technomages 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.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: "Familiars" are demonic Drath spirits bound into living or dead animal hosts, to generally gruesome effect. These beings are intelligent and can serve as protectors, aides, or "supplements" to spellcasting, so long as one doesn't mind a shadowy companion that intuitively knows one's deepest insecurities and most painful secrets.
  • Digger: The Hag 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.
  • Far Star Summer School: Most of the students have familiars by the time the story starts. Namtara is particularly happy to have recently gotten a plant familiar, which Madam Karrisa notes in a meeting with the school’s teachers, is a healthy if unconventional familiar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (but it turns out Qarr was lying about that and has his own agenda).
  • 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.
    • Simonicus has cat familiar called Ebony (strangely, the cat is white).
  • Prezleek Comics: Prez's preferred summoning familiar is a Pack Yak, named Baroo.
  • Sleepless Domain:
    • It's implied that some magical girls can have familiars. In Chapter 2, Tessa remarks upon the possibility of a mysterious golden creature being one, though whether or not it actually is remains to be seen; if it is one, the girl to which it is bound remains unknown.
      "That doesn't look like a monster... maybe a girl's familiar or something?"
    • In Chapter 5, Techno Blitz is shown to have the power to create, remotely control, and see through her kiwi bird-shaped familiars.
  • Use Sword on Monster: A rogue wizard on the Second Sphere 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.
  • Wizard School: Graham's familiar is a talking goat, Goatsie.
  • Yamara: The elven mage Fea has "Poopsie"... er... Ralph the toad. "Poopsie" has nightmare.
  • Yokoka's Quest: Misha is a talking cat who is Azha's familiar. According to Misha, in the Moon Clan, it's a familiar's job to carry their master's belongings (by keeping them in a "storage dimension"). Misha can also shapeshift into a big saber-tooth cat, allowing Azha to ride her, though that may have nothing to do with being a familiar. When not doing any of the above, she mostly just acts like a pet.

    Web Original 
  • In Alanna, the title character has Franklin, a Lesser Electrical Sprite.
  • In Canticle, many of the characters possess familiars called Thralls. By making a pact with another and fusing souls, they can perform magic without lethal repercussions.
  • 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 Only Villains Do That the protagonist has a flying lizard called Biribo, who acts as a Mr. Exposition to explain the world into which Seiji has been isekai'd.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, Maja has a crabbit (crow-rabbit Hybrid Monster) 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 familiar, 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, Aang's predecessor Roku 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.
  • Darkwing Duck: Hot Witch Morgana McCawber has three familiars, bats Eek and Squeak, and grumpy spider Archie.
  • In Hilda, since the title character doesn't have the right temperament to be a witch, she instead becomes her friend Frida's familiar after the Arch-Sorceress Matilda Pilqvist offers to train her.
  • 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 a 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 The Spirit Morph Saganote , 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..
  • The Owl House: In the Boiling Isles, most witches have a "Palisman", an animal familiar that can transform into a magic staff, which their witches can use to fly and cast magic. Teenage witches used to carve their own Palismen from the wood of a Palistrom tree as a coming-of-age ritual, but as Palistrom trees have gone nearly extinct, the Hexside students and Hunter get to adopt existing Palismen instead, by voicing their deepest wish and letting a Palisman choose them based on their emotions.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • In the episode "Denial", Doctor Fate and Klarion the Witch Boy are battling and Fate takes a shot at Teekl, prompting this prissy response from Klarion:
      Klarion: I can't believe you would assault a defenceless pussy cat!
      Dr. Fate: We both know that creature is no cat, Witch Boy.
    • Come the fourth season, Teekl was killed by fellow Lord of Chaos Child, severing Klarion's anchor to the mortal plane. Klarion temporarily took on a school bus (alongside its driver and passengers) as a familiar in a bid to locate and join forces with Dr. Fate to take Child down. As part of this, he ends up taking on a new cat familiar, also called Teekl.
      Zatanna: I guess you could name her after your old cat.
      Klarion: Please! You have no imagination! New cat, new name. Something totally original... [gasps] I've got it! I'll call her... Teekl!
      Mary Marvel: But that was—
      Zatanna: Don't.

    Real Life 
  • Many Wiccans have animal familiars, though they usually adopt them in the normal way rather than receiving them from some diabolic power — Wiccans don't even believe in things like Satan. In Wicca, an animal familiar enhances your practice by loving you and being interested in what you're doing and may do just about what Foxfire says in the page quote that leads off this article. (Some animals actually avert the Familiar trope. A witch being interviewed by Hans Holzer in the 1970s said that when she did any spells she had to put her cat in another room because "he takes the power". His mere presence would suck up all the energy, and her spell would be a flop.)


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Witchs Familiar



After finally returning to Sikul, Ethnobalt returns Chris to Kizuna.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Familiar

Media sources: