The Familiar popped up quite often throughout Earth's history — most often in anecdotes told by lonely travellers who had been "guided across a treacherous moor" by the supposed spirits of long-dead loved ones or friends that appeared to them. These "living ghosts" were in fact the Familiar, who read could read people's thoughts and use the information to create a near-perfect double of the one they loved most, solely for the altruistic purpose of helping them. [source needed] After the Rory Williams got the Familiar to heal the Eleventh Doctor, his accumulated pain was too much for it and it was destroyed. However, a ghost of it remained and the Doctor used it to give Maria, one of its creations, back her mother.
The Familiar were purely benevolent in nature, but impressionable; if they encountered the wrong person with enough influence, they would willingly follow him or her.[source needed]