[[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 [[UsefulNotes/ConspiracyTheories where's the fun in that?]] Image ©Jan Petter Jørgensen/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 inertia 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]]
* ''Anime/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???

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Speed Force of ''ComicBook/TheFlash'' fame, an energy field from which all speedsters draw their power, is described as one of these.
* The pre-ComicBook/{{Crisis|on Infinite Earths}} ''{{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]].

* ''Film/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/FantasticFour2005'' had this trope to a T, complete with surprise special effect of re-rolling your stats/DNA for you.
* Much of ''Film/{{Interstellar}}'' takes place in a system around a black hole that has 25 times the mass of the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, or 100,000,000 times the mass of our sun. And it is spinning at 99.8% the speed of light. It is also surrounded by an accretion disk of gas and rocks that form a huge ring of glowing hot material, but because of how the incredible gravity bends light it looks like it has two rings at a 90 degree angle. It's probably the weirdest looking portrayal of black hole ever. While also being the most scientifically accurate.
* 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.
* ''Film/{{Dreamscape}}'' uses SwirlyEnergyThingy imagery to illustrate Alex's journey into people's dreams. In this case, the colors of Swirl and the accompanying auditory effects foreshadow the nature of the dream: yelling and whites for a falling nightmare, fleshy pinks and moans for sexual anxiety, darkness and lightning for a boy's night terrors, and fire and explosions for WorldWarIII dread.
* The time warp in ''Film/TheFinalCountdown'' looks like this.

* The "time rip" in Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheLangoliers'' is this.
* 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.
* 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.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' used these in jump gates and jump points.
* ''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 first two seasons of ''{{Series/Eureka}}'' have this calling it the "Artifact" which may or may not have been the thing that caused both the Big Bang AND intelligence...
* 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.
* 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.
** Cat tends to call them out directly by trope name.
-->'''Cat:''' I hate to get all technical but, ''all hands on deck! Swirly thing alert!!!''
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', in particular, used this visual effect for the wormhole that the primary plot centered around.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''.
** The episode "Real Life" had a RecycledInSpace tornado draw a shuttle into an EldritchLocation before AcePilot Tom Paris could figure a way out. And yes, [[FollowTheLeader this episode did air a year after]] ''Film/{{Twister}}''...
** In "Twisted", Voyager becomes an EldritchLocation after passing through an UnknownPhenomenon similar in appearance to this trope. [[{{Bizarrchitecture}} All the cabins and decks become mixed up]] yet the episode ends without any damage to the ship [[EveryoneLives or crew]], or [[RiddleForTheAges even an explanation about what happened]].
* ''Series/BlakesSeven''. In "Breakdown", the Liberator enters a ForbiddenZone against the advice of their MasterComputer, which shuts down all automatic systems in a futile attempt to stop them. They discover why it's forbidden on encountering a swirling 'gravitational vortex' (not a black hole as they encounter one of those in another episode). Fortunately AcePilot Jenna is able to manually pilot the Liberator [[DoNotTouchTheFunnelCloud right through the middle]].
* ''Series/StargateSG1'''s Stargate normally looks like a rippling pool, but when subjected to the effects of a black hole on the far side, it became a swirling funnel-shaped whirlpool that sucked things in.

* The Molecular Mixmaster from ''Pinball/DrDude''.
* 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.

* ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'': At one point, one of these spit out a giant golden [[Franchise/StarWars TIE Fighter]] that was a boss.
** The origins of various other summons.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* 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 [[TheHorde WAAAAGH!]] from beginning to end. One of the [[NegativeSpaceWedgie topographical anomalies]] on the map is literally titled [[FunetikAksent "Da Big Swirly Fing"]]
* In ''TabletopGame/WarhammerFantasy'', the chaos Mutalith Vortex Beast carries a smaller one around on its back. As you'd expect from something that spends so long close to one, the Vortex Beast looks [[OurMonstersAreWeird very, very weird.]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/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, as is the portal to [[spoiler:the Soul Cairn, the realm where all souls trapped in Black Soul Gems go after being used up,]] in ''Dawnguard''.
* The wormholes in ''VideoGame/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, i.e., boring.
* The Jump Holes in ''VideoGame/{{Freelancer}}'' (essentially natural [[CoolGate Jump Gates]]) appear as swirling, red-and-blue SpaceClouds with white specks.
* The superportal from ''VideoGame/HalfLife2: Episode 2''
* In ''VideoGame/MysteryOfMortlakeMansion'', these are located behind each PortalDoor, allowing travel between the real-world mansion and the "shadowy" version.
* Used for the box art of ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryIII''.
* The [[UnrealisticBlackHole Gravitational Singularity]] looks this way on most ''VideoGame/SpaceStation13'' servers, especially the sixth stage present on /tg/station and derivatives.
* 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}}.
* The space anomalies from {{VideoGame/Starbound}} are represented by this.

* Inter-dimensional portals in ''Webcomic/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 ''Webcomic/SlightlyDamned'', the portals to Medius in Heaven were ''black'' swirly energy thingies.
* Where two or more {{Ley Line}}s meet in ''Webcomic/ElfBlood'', they will push up against each other to form an Eyrie which is a valuable magical resource.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' has this in the form of [[Characters/HomestuckSprites Kernelsprites]], swirling orbs which can adopt the traits of the first two things they touch.
* 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."

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Makuta's floating swirl of {{LEGO}} parts and some other stuff in the early ''Toys/{{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]].
* Timmy falls into one of these in the pilot of ''WebVideo/TheTimeGuys'' [[WhatAnIdiot when he leaves the Time... Car in mid-transit]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Ghosts of Christmas in ''WesternAnimation/BarbieInAChristmasCarol'' travel through time and space with {{palette swap}}ped versions of a vortex.
* 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.
* Doc Terror's "Neutron Vortex" from the ''WesternAnimation/{{Centurions}}'' episode "To Dare Dominion."
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "[[Recap/FuturamaS3E19RoswellThatEndsWell Roswell that Ends Well]]", the Planet Express crew is sucked into the past by a Time Rift, a sort of red whirlpool in space caused by the interaction of radiation from a supernova and an exploding microwave oven.
* If their [[LargeAndInCharge stature]] didn't give it away, you could pin ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'''s Princesses Luna and Celestia as powerful from their manes and tails being composed not of hair but of a nebula and an aurora respectively.
* The ''WesternAnimation/TransformersGeneration1'' two-part episode "Dinobot Island" featured various swirly energy time vortexes dropping historical animals, people, and objects into the present day.
* The Void from the ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' continuity of ''SonicTheHedgehog''.

* There have been several such energy spirals appearing all over the world.
## 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 cyclone storm three times the size of Earth.
* 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.