->'''Egon''': I'm worried. It's getting crowded in there and all my data points to something big on the horizon.\\
'''Winston''' What do you mean, big?\\
'''Egon''': Well, let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie... thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.\\
'''Winston''': That's a big Twinkie.
-->-- ''Film/{{Ghostbusters 1984}}''

With as much AppliedPhlebotinum flying around, there's just as much TechnoBabble around to explain it. However, when even TechnoBabble piles on too much, it too needs to be explained away. Thus, we have the Phlebotinum Analogy. It consists of using a simple simile to explain away something that is seemingly complex to the audience. Really, the only reason that it would be confusing to us is because nine-tenths of the time, whatever the character is explaining has been completely made up, anyway.

Expect LiesToChildren to show up in the examples a lot. Compare with HiroshimaAsAUnitOfMeasure when it comes to less technobabbly, much bigger things. See also LaymansTerms.

* There was such an analogy in ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}'', spoken in Mission Control. In this case what it referred to wasn't totally made up. (That part of the script was written by John Sayles, to raise money for his own projects.)
* ''Film/EventHorizon'' (1997): The eponymous ship features a prototype graviton drive, a kind of [[FasterThanLightTravel jump drive]], which bends space to eliminate the distance between two points anywhere in the universe, thus enabling instant travel from a to b (jumping). Dr. William Weir visualizes this by folding a sheet of paper, creating the synonymous term [[FasterThanLightTravel fold drive]].
** Nearly the same analogy (using the edge of a skirt rather than a sheet of paper) is used to describe tessering in Creator/MadeleineLEngle's ''Literature/AWrinkleInTime''.
*** Another similar example in ''AHappyAccident'', using a leg bending to explain a way that time travel is possible.
*** ''Film/DejaVu'' used the paper-folding analogy to explain it to Creator/DenzelWashington.
*** And [[OlderThanTheyThink lest we forget]] the originator of said analogy, Albert Einstein.
** The analogy was also used by Creator/WilliamShatner on "How Franchise/StarTrek Changed the World", but using pizza dough to illustrate the concept.
* In ''Film/TheFly1958'', Andre Delambre takes it one step further. Not only does he use the way televisions transmit pictures through the air as an analogy for how his [[TeleportersAndTransporters teleporter]] transmits matter, he insists that since a television isn't all that fantastic or impressive ''a teleporter isn't either''.
* ''Film/{{Ghostbusters|1984}}'' has the scene where Egon points out to Winston just how much the levels of psychokinetic energy in New York City have risen. Using an ordinary Twinkie as a baseline, he says the current levels would be represented by "a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds."
* In ''Film/TheTheoryOfEverything'', Stephen and Jane Hawking invite their family friend Jonathan to dinner. Stephen has trouble speaking because of his ALS, so Jane uses their peas and potatoes to explain Stephen's physics theories.

* Parodied in the Literature/{{Discworld}} book ''Discworld/NightWatch'', where Lu Tze's explanation of why it's easier to get Vimes back to the present than it was to make sure the time loop that has been formed by Carcer killing his mentor before he met him was stabilized, (It's like climbing up, and then jumping off, a mountain) is satisfactory to Vimes. Then Qu starts to point out that that's [[LiesToChildren not how it works at all]] and Lu Tze tells him to shut up because it'll prevent too many further questions.
** There's also the scene in ''Discworld/MakingMoney'' in which Adora Belle Dearheart calls the Cabinet of Curiosities "like a sliding puzzle, but with lots more directions to slide." Ponder Stibbons responds "[[AnalogyBackfire That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way]]."
** And in ''Discworld/ThiefOfTime'', [[spoiler: Lobsang]] explains how he's putting time back by comparing it to a jigsaw (in which the peices are scattered across the universe, moving, and mixed up with other jigsaws), before adding "Everything I have just said is nonsense. It bears no resemblence to the truth of the matter in any way at all." Sir Pterry, who co-created the phrase "LiesToChildren", is fond of this gag.
* In Michael Crichton's ''Literature/{{Sphere}}'', a physicist character explains gravity and black holes to some of the other characters using fruit on a table.

* One of the times it fit in ''Franchise/StarTrek'' was in the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS4E16GalaxysChild Galaxy's Child]]", where a [[SpaceWhale larva space creature]] is feeding on the Enterprise, both because the ship's energy is compatible, and because it thinks the Enterprise is its mother. So they change the form of the energy to something incompatible, which they call "souring the milk".
** Later, in "Relics", [[CallBack when LaForge is retelling this incident to Scotty]], Scotty uses that exact phrase, despite [=LaForge=] (presumably) using only TechnoBabble in his explanation.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' is also riddled with this trope. A fine example occurs when the Fourth Doctor attempts to explain the transdimensional TARDIS to Leela by showing her two boxes and explaining that if the bigger box (which has been placed farther away and looks smaller than the actual smaller box) could be kept where it was and yet located where the small box is, it would fit inside the small box.
** This was subverted in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episodes "The Runaway Bride", in which the explainee resolutely fails to understand what The Doctor's talking about ("I'm a pencil inside a mug?"), and "Blink", where The Doctor's [[BuffySpeak inability to explain the way time works]] led to the TropeNamer example for TimeyWimeyBall.
** The Doctor uses a strangely appropriate analogy to describe the way a PerceptionFilter works.
-->'''The Doctor:''' It's like, [[ObliviousToLove when you fancy someone and they don't even know you exist!]]\\
''[He runs off, Martha looks frustrated]''\\
'''Jack:''' ''[to Martha]'' [[EvenTheGuysWantHim You too, huh?]]
** The novel ''The Pirate Loop'' includes a great one of these (paraphrased):
--> '''Martha:''' So, it's like a stone skipping across the surface of a lake?
--> '''The Doctor:''' Good analogy! I wish I'd said it. Can we just pretend I did?
** In recent years, especially, the Doctor has developed a tendency of telling his companions that their attempts at this trope are, in fact, completely inaccurate, but that they should keep up that line of thinking if it's what helps them understand.
--> '''Amy:''' Wait, so we're in a tiny bubble universe sticking to the side of the bigger bubble universe?
--> '''The Doctor:''' Yeah...No! But if it helps, yes.
** A good one is from the Doctor Who audio adventure "The Shadow of the Scourge"
--> "I'm inside the Scourge, which is inside of my consciousness, which is inside of the Scourge, so if we detonate one it's like two Russian dolls eating each other!"
* Happens often enough in ''Series/{{Numb3rs}}'' that in "Brutus", when Charlie explains his analysis of a directed graph then fails to explain, one of the FBI agents listening prompts him by saying "Which is just like..."
** An example of one of the times it's used: Internet Relay Chat, as used by hackers, is like a sea full of boats passing each other leaving nothing but water wakes passing cargo between them. Uh?
* Constantly used in ''Series/StargateSG1'' and ''Series/StargateAtlantis''. "It's like a miniature universe in a bottle," says [=McKay=], talking about a ZPM.
** For that matter, almost any abnormality of the Stargate system is explained in terms of telephones; dialing your own gate gives you a "busy signal", etc.
---> '''Daniel excitedly turns to Teal'c:''' What do you get when you dial your own phone number?
---> [[{{Beat}} *Teal'c stares blankly at him*]]
---> '''Daniel:''' Wrong person to ask.
---> *Turn to Gen. Hammond and repeat the question*
---> '''Gen. Hammond:''' You get a busy signal.
** Also in ''Stargate Atlantis'', a scientist back at SGC explains his intent to relay a transmission with an analogy to ''101 Dalmatians'' (specifically the "twilight bark" scene), as his kids love that movie. The audience completely fails to understand, so he falls back to the GondorCallsForAid sequence of ''TheLordOfTheRings'' instead.
*** Whereby they all [[CrowningMomentofFunny visibly understand]].
** Fantastically toyed with in one conversation between Zelenka and Sheppard. Zelenka is trying to track a device so they can find kidnapped Daniel and Rodney.
--->'''Zelenka''': No offense, but the math I'm using is so complicated I don't know if I can dumb it down enough for it to make sense.
--->'''Sheppard''': Try.
---> When Zelenka does come up with an analogy, Sheppard proudly says "I understand that" only to be told that the analogy isn't at all an accurate depiction of what he's doing.
** Fails in the episode that introduced the Tollan. When Daniel takes Omoc outside to send a FTL transmission to the [[TechnicalPacifist Nox]], he asks Omoc to explain how his message can cross interstellar distances in an instant. At first reluctant (due to the Tollan rule about not giving technology to younger races), Omoc takes a branch and bends it, so that the ends touch, explaining that the distances seem to be far away, until you merge the points together (paraphrasing). Daniel assumes he's talking about space folding, causing Omoc to shake his head in disappointment and shut up on the subject.
* In ''Series/RedDwarf'' there's a famous example that goes as follows:
-->'''Cat''': What is it?\\
'''Rimmer''': It's a rent in the space-time continuum.\\
'''Cat''': So what is it?\\
'''Lister''': The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.\\
'''Cat''': So what is it??\\
'''Rimmer''': It's singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of time and space don't apply.\\
'''Cat''': So what is it?!?\\
'''Lister''': It's a hole back into the past.\\
'''Cat''': Oh, a magic door! Well why didn't you say?
* ''Series/{{House}}'' plays with the trope; all the other doctors are generally happy to speak to one another in the proper jargon [[AsYouKnow they all understand]], but House himself ''likes'' talking this way: sometimes to [[TheGadfly wind his colleagues up]] or freak patients out, sometimes to stimulate lateral thinking, sometimes purely, as they say, for the lulz. He's been known on occasion to insist that the others speak in analogies, too.
-->'''House''': We think you have a tumour, easily removed surgically. We're going to poke it with a stick.
** This was parodied in ''[[Series.DeadRingers Dead Ringers]]'', in which House asks his [[InsistentTerminology Entourage of Improbably Attractive Sidekicks]] to first describe a medical problem in an impenetrably TechnoBabble way, and then to come out with an overly emotive PhlebotinumAnalogy. "...''His brain is literally eating itself!!''"
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' has fallen back on this one a few times. Not to anywhere near Franchise/StarTrek's level, of course.
* ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' does this on occasion, hindered (sometimes hilariously) by mutual cross-cultural ignorance.
* In ''Series/{{Lost}}'', Ben tells Locke that there is a "box on this island that can contain anything you want." And when Locke takes it [[SidetrackedByTheAnalogy a little too literally]], Ben states outright "the box is a metaphor, John." Hilariously, later we do see something that can be described as a magic box. Locke asks Ben "[[CallBack Is that the box]]?" Ben is confused for a moment, but quickly answers "no."
* In ''{{Series/Eureka}}'', the geniuses often use this to explain the Problem of the Week to Carter. The standard format is that one of the regulars gives a TechnoBabble explanation of what's happening, and then use the analogy when Carter admits he's no idea what they're talking about. Carter then proposes a solution based on the metaphor, which Henry or Alison translates ''back'' into TechnoBabble to provide the ''actual'' solution.
* ''Series/TheFlash2014'': In "Paxadox", Jay Garrick explains to Barry Allen that no matter how many times you try to fix things with time travel, the best you'll get is a CloseEnoughTimeline. Jay illustrates this by breaking a coffee cup. No matter how well you try to put it back together, there will always be cracks.

* Happens regularly in ''Radio/{{Nebulous}}'', where the eponymous professor's analogies get twisted beyond the point of {{Metaphorgotten}}.
* In the ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' radio play "The Dead Line", using an EMP to dislodge an alien presence in the phone system (which, in the scenario presented, makes sense) is described as "just like a computer uses an EM pulse to repel viruses" (which is total nonsense).

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* While [[SmarterThanYouLook Okabe]] can mostly keep up with [[TeenGenius Kurisu]]'s explanations on Kerr black holes and theoretical physics in ''[[VisualNovel/SteinsGate Steins;Gate]]'', Daru and [[TheDitz Mayuri]] don't quite manage to do the same. Thus, Kurisu and Okabe end up explaining physics with {{Magical Girl}}s and video games respectively.
* Happens a lot in the Franchise/{{Nasuverse}}'s due to its FunctionalMagic. Much more expanded upon in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' due to the protagonist being an amateur magus himself.

* [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'', [[http://www.adventurers-comic.com/d/20060512.html here]]:
-->'''Drecker''': We gave the ball of death a giant cavity and now it's past the enamel! There! Fine! Okay?\\
[[BeatPanel (pause)]]\\
'''Drecker''': Oh, like I'm the only one who took a correspondence course in apt metaphors. Sheesh.
* An explanation of Deep Time's [[http://starslip.com/2008/10/31/starslip-number-904/ plan for ending the time war]] in ''Webcomic/{{Starslip}}'':
-->'''High Agent Blank''': Put another way: the future as we know it was ''chiseled'' over billions of years from a stone block. We ''know'' what the finished statue looks like. So let's make a mold of that and pour ''the universe'' into it. Then we don't have to worry about whether or not it gets chiseled right.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Digger}}'', the statue eventually explains how Digger came to the story's setting by saying that Digger's home and the temple she emerged from were like two pieces of fabric, sewn together by [[spoiler:[[ChekhovsGun the fossil she brought through with her]], aka the "bones of the sea"]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Drive}}'': The first emperor of La Familia uses this to explain how he ''thinks'' the Ring Drive works in a letter to his grandson.

[[folder: WebOriginal]]
* ''WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee'' parodies the original twinkie analogy from ''Film/{{Ghostbusters 1984}}'':
-->'''Tease:''' His brain is still downloading vast amounts of information from somewhere.
-->'''Sage:''' How much information?
-->'''Block:''' (referring to the hot dog Sage is eating) Enough to make that wiener of yours twice the size of Chicago and three times the height of Mount Everest.
-->'''Luke:''' Wow, you are hung!
-->'''Snob:''' (walking into the room) How's Spoony holding up?
-->'''Luke:''' Not good. [[ItMakesSenseinContext Ask Sage about his wiener.]]
-->'''Snob:''' ...No.

* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'', "Where No Fan Has Gone Before":
-->'''Fry:''' Usually on Franchise/StarTrek, they came up with a complicated plan and explained it with a simple analogy.\\
'''Leela:''' Hmm, if we can re-route engine power through the primary weapons and configure them to Melllvar's frequency, that should overload his electro-quantum structure.\\
'''Bender:''' Like putting too much air into a balloon!\\
'''Fry:''' Of course! It's all so simple!\\
'''Leela:''' It's not working! He's gaining strength from our weapons!\\
'''Fry:''' Like a balloon and...[[BuffySpeak something bad happens!]]
** In another episode, Nibbler explains that Fry is resistant to psychic attacks because he lacks the "Delta Wave", and so his brain had to adapt to function without it.
-->'''Leela:''' Like a prom dress made out of carpet remnants!
-->'''Nibbler:''' [[HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood Yes, like your prom dress.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ExtremeGhostbusters'' made use of this. One episode followed up such an analogy with the LaymansTerms explanation "It's gonna blow up real good."
* ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'': In "My New Wand!", Glossaryck tries to explain to Star how she can "dip down" and cast magic without her wand by comparing magic to a cauldron of stew and her wand to a spoon. Star promptly gets SidetrackedByTheAnalogy.
-->'''Star:''' My wand isn't a spoon, it's a wand.\\
'''Glossaryck:''' It's a metaphor, Star.\\
'''Star:''' No, it's a wand.