[[caption-width-right:350:Real life swirly energy thingy.[[note]][[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Norwegian_spiral_anomaly Generally agreed to be a Russian missile test gone WAY the hell out of control]], but [[ConspiracyTheory where's the fun in that?]] Image ŠJan Petter Jorgensen/Rex Features [[/note]] ]]

->''"Is it a wibbley thing or a swirly thing, sir?"''
-->-- '''Kryten''', ''Series/RedDwarf''

The Swirly Energy Thingy is what it sounds like: a spinning, shining vortex of... something. [[SpaceIsAnOcean Like a whirlpool]], [[GravitySucks it's easy to get pulled in if you get too close]].

Enter it and something weird will happen. Often it's a boring old [[OurWormholesAreDifferent wormhole]] -- it'll drop you [[FTLTravel somewhere else in the universe]]... whether you wanted to go there or not -- but like any good NegativeSpaceWedgie, it can also trigger a wide range of weird phenomena. The most common variant is that it'll [[TimeTravel send you through time]] as well.

Usually [[SpaceIsMagic a natural phenomenon in space]], but they've been known to be artificial, and if they are they might (rarely) appear inside an atmosphere as well.

Most [[UnrealisticBlackHole Black Holes]] will take this form in media, never mind that you shouldn't be able to ''see'' a black hole under most circumstances... well, usually. Some black holes have what is called an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accretion_disc accretion disc]] that looks quite a bit like such a thing -- it's matter just outside the event horizon that manages to go into orbit around it before falling in, because centrifugal force balances out the massive gravity experienced so close to the event horizon. Nonetheless, the black hole will look like this in media even if there's no apparent source of the matter in the first place.

Despite the similar images the names might conjure, this is unrelated to TimeyWimeyBall (although a Swirly Energy Thingy might very well have Timey Wimey effects). The trope name is an example of BuffySpeak.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' has "Spiral Energy", the force of will of mankind made manifest, often depicted as and accompanied by swirling wind and glowing spirals. Power taking the form of a spiral swirl is used as something of a metaphor for mankind's development and determination to advance as well as a visual cue that [[HolyShitQuotient awesome crap is about to go down.]]
* ''Manga/{{Uzumaki}}'' - Won't you come into the spiral???

* The PreCrisis {{Superman}} story "Superman's Secret Afterlife!" had the hero being caught by a LifeEnergy sucking creature called a Helix in space, that looked like a miniature galaxy. It trapped him in [[LotusEaterMachine an illusion of his possible future life]] (with a little help from the PhantomZone Villains). Superman destroys it, appropriately enough, by [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome spinning it towards a nova]].
* The [[TheFlash Speed Force]], an energy field from which all speedsters draw their power, is described as one of these.

* ''TheBlackHole'' is one of several films that features a ''funnel-shaped'', rather than flat, accretion disc around the event horizon.[[labelnote:*]]You won't actually see anything funnel-shaped if you look at a black hole, as the "funnel" doesn't point anywhere in three-dimensional space. A black hole looks like a sphere. (Though you can, in a sense, see the "dimpling" of space by the distortion of the starlight near the edge of the hole...[[MindScrew auuuuggggh forget it]], just [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole look at the picture in Wikipedia.]]) Once you pass through the black hole's event horizon, space and time swap places. The all-crushing singularity at the center of the black hole, which was previously "down," is now "the future." Specifically, ''your'' future. The only way to avoid the singularity now is to start going backward in time. Black holes may thus be considered the end of the universe that has got here a little early.[[/labelnote]]
* ''Film/FantasticFour'' had this trope to a T, complete with surprise special effect of re-rolling your stats/DNA for you.
* The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' film shows the evil Romulan mining ship traveling through time by way of a giant swirling lightning storm in space. Bonus swirling vortex when the planet Vulcan is absorbed by a black hole bomb in the planet core.

* IT (orig. 'ES'), the first [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien super-intelligence]] encountered in ''Literature/PerryRhodan'' and provider of the protagonists' {{immortality inducer}}s, has been known to manifest in a form like this especially early in the series.
* The "time rip" in Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheLangoliers'' is this.
* In ''[[Literature/ZeusIsDead Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure]]'', when the Ninjas Templar manage to get the [[SealedEvilInACan cans containing]] [[spoiler: the Titans]] opened, their release involves coming out of the resulting Swirly Energy Thingy.

* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' had a million of these over the course of its run. The other ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series weren't above using them either.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', in particular, used this visual effect for the wormhole that the primary plot centered around.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' used these in jump gates and jump points.
* As the [[Quotes/SwirlyEnergyThingy quotes page]] suggests, ''Series/RedDwarf'' encounters quite a few of these. Among them are a "time hole" (which goes into a dimension where time runs backward), a "white hole" (which ''spits out'' everything that a black hole pulls in), and a dimensional portal.
* A major plot point right through ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. In fact, one of these kicked off the plot in the first place. Farscape wormholes usually just send you through space, but can do time as well. John has the distinction of being pretty much the only person who can predict when and where they will open, which paints a huge target on his back.
* The first two seasons of ''{{Eureka}}'' have this calling it the "Artifact" which may or may not have been the thing that caused both the Big Bang AND intelligence...
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' is another big fan of this trope. Most notably, the Time Vortex through which the TARDIS travels, first featured in the 70s title sequence, and reborn in the new series for both the titles and occasionally within the series itself.

* The Spirals in ''Pinball/TheTwilightZone''. Aside from being decorative, they can also temporarily trap a pinball, which is helpful for making some of the shots.
* The Molecular Mixmaster from ''Pinball/DrDude''.

* ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'': at one point, one of these spit out a giant golden TIE-Fighter that was a boss.
** The origins of various other summons.
** the portals from cookie clicker that were part of a mini-event.

* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', there's a warp rift called the [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Eye of Terror]], and it's roughly the size of a small spiral galaxy. It's technically an area of space where there realspace and [[HyperspaceIsAScaryPlace warpspace]] overlap, though that's just another way of saying that it's just [[NegativeSpaceWedgie where ''hell'' itself has spewed into reality]]. Although the Eye of Terror is the largest and most notorious, there are others: the Maelstrom, the Maw, the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath, the Screaming Vortex...you get the idea. In the Fifth Edition rulebook, during its description of the Orks, the book gives a (not-to-scale) map of a [[KillEmAll WAAAAGH!]] from beginning to end. One of the [[NegativeSpaceWedgie topographical anomalies]] on the map is literally titled [[FunetikAksent "Da Big Swirly Fing"]]

* The Jump Holes in ''{{Freelancer}}'' (essentially natural [[CoolGate Jump Gates]]) appear as swirling, red-and-blue SpaceClouds with white specks.
* The [[FasterThanLightTravel jump points]] in the later installments of the ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' series are depicted, in video {{cutscene}}s, as opening into these, then reversing the effect after the ship has passed into {{hyperspace}}.
* ''DawnOfWar 2'' and its expansions actually showed Imperial ships jumping in and out of the warp, whose jump rifts basically fit into this. Bonus points for also making it look like the ships were being ''pulled'' in by giant lightning tentacles. Which, [[HyperspaceIsAScaryPlace knowing the nature of the Warp]], is entirely possible to be what was actually happening.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', a certain quest leads the player to encounter a [[IDontLikeTheSoundOfThatPlace Wretched Abyss]], a swirling, purple-ringed hole in space. This turns out to be [[spoiler:a manifestation of [[EldritchAbomination Hermaeus Mora]], the Daedric Prince of the Unknown]]. Any [[OurDemonsAreDifferent daedric]] summon uses a portal that manifests as a Swirly Energy Thingy. Also, the portal to [[spoiler:Sovngarde located in Skuldafn]] is also a Swirly Energy Thingy. In ''Dawnguard'', the portal to [[spoiler:the Soul Cairn, the realm where all souls trapped in Black Soul Gems go after being used up]] is also a Swirly Energy Thingy.
* The wormholes in EveOnline are the inverse of this, being understated translucent spheres in space that go 'blib' when you go through them. Irritatingly, this is quite possibly what a real wormhole might look like, ie, boring.
* The superportal from ''VideoGame/{{Half-Life 2}}: Episode 2''
* Used for the box art of ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryIII''.

* Regarding the Swirly Thingy over Norway, self-admitted MadScientist Tony Flaansas of Webcomic/RealLifeComics pointed out that it could also be a villain trying to hypnotize Norway. When asked if he had tried to hypnotize Norway, his response was "Of course not, that's silly. I tried to blow it up, but my missile failed."
* Inter-dimensional portals in BobAndGeorge tend to look like this. Or, in George's words, "it's big and shiny and looks like what an extra-dimensional portal should".
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', Nioi has a marble sized ball which creates a dimensional portal which has this general appearance but the shape of a doorway.
* In ''SlightlyDamned'', the portals to Medius in Heaven were ''black'' swirly energy thingies.
* Where two or more {{Ley Line}}s meet in ''ElfBlood'', they will push up against each other to form an Eyrie which is a valuable magical resource.

* Timmy falls into one of these in the pilot of ''WebVideo/TheTimeGuys'' [[WhatAnIdiot when he leaves the Time... Car in mid-transit]].
* Makuta's floating swirl of {{LEGO}} parts and some other stuff in the early ''{{BIONICLE}}'' on-line clips. Fans tend to call it "the Void", but that's most likely a misinterpretation of one of his lines. In fact, it's never cleared ''what'' it is, and it isn't represented in subsequent media. Could be where he kept his spare parts...
** That last part [[WordOfGod has later been confirmed]] to be canon. When shifting into the small form he kept while facing the Toa, Makuta placed the rest of his mass into the swirly cloud as a way of dealing with ShapeshifterBaggage. It helped him avoid the problem he had faced some years before, where he had to absorb mass and energy from things around him after having disguised as a smaller character for some time. This energy absorption [[http://biosector01.com/wiki/images/e/ec/LoMN_Great_Cataclysm.PNG also took the form a Swirly Energy Thingy]].

* The Void from the ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' continuity of ''SonicTheHedgehog''.
* Doc Terror's "Neutron Vortex" from the ''WesternAnimation/{{Centurions}}'' episode "To Dare Dominion".
* When Megatron destabilizes history in the second season finale of ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'', a huge time-swirl starts spreading out into space with Earth at its center.
* The Ghosts of Christmas in ''WesternAnimation/BarbieInAChristmasCarol'' travel through time and space with {{palette swap}}ped versions of a vortex.
* The ''TransformersGeneration1'' two-part episode "Dinobot Island" featured various swirly energy time vortexes dropping historical animals, people, and objects into the present day.

* There have been several spirals appearing all over the place such as these.
## China - 1988 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhVv8eqrRfI
## Russia - 2006 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG-3S2WKP6Y
## Norway - 2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3z8DlNZKag
## Australia - 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ijxQL6SPg
## Canada - 2010 (VIDEO TAKEN DOWN)
## Israel - 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVE_wwgvf38
* Jupiter's Great Red Spot has been swirlin' for the last few hundred years, though it's less of an energy thing and more of a gigantic tornado.
* Black hole accretion disks. Lots of swirly. Lots of energy. Lots of thingy.
** Taken [[UpToEleven up to eleventybillion]] by quasars. They have so much swirly, energy, ''and'' thingy in such a small area that they appear to be point sources (like stars, hence the original acronym QSR or quasi-stellar radio source). The accretion disk in this case is typically about the size of the solar system around a black hole billions of times more massive than the Sun, but has the brightness and energy output of a ''galaxy''. Oh, and about a Sun's worth of stuff falls in each year to fuel it.
** A quasar is, in fact, a specific kind of galactic core. A really big black hole with a really big accretion disc with lots of stuff falling in.
** The supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way (Sagittarius A) may very well create a quasar when it begins feeding on a massive amount of dust and stars in its vicinity in about 200,000,000 years.
** Heck, the entire ''galaxy'' is a really big swirly energy thingy made of stars, planets, planetoids, nebulae and other things; while it's more solid than most thingies, it does have plenty of stars to make it glow.