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Dyson Sphere

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"Imagine the energy crisis of a really advanced planetary civilization. They've used up all their fuels, they depend on solar power. An enormous amount of energy is generated by the local star, but most of the star's light doesn't fall on their planet. So perhaps, they would build a shell, to surround their star, and harvest every photon of sunlight. Such beings, such civilizations, would bear little resemblance to anything we know."
Carl Sagan, describing the Dyson Sphere in a nutshell

Big Dumb Object or Planet Spaceship not big enough for you? Look no further. Science Fiction authors have made solar-system-sized artifacts into a trope of their own. A prime example to illustrate how (most) Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale.

The Trope Namer is physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who theorized in a 1959 scientific paper that, given the ever-increasing demand for energy typical of industrial civilization, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens might need to capture all the energy radiating from a star.

While Dyson himself originally saw his concept as a network of many separate orbiting habitats and solar power-stations (sometimes called a "Dyson swarm" to differentiate it from the other type), most media depictions show a single continuous solid sphere completely enclosing its star. Constructing such an artifact would probably bring a civilization up to at least 2.0 on the Kardashev scale.

The technologies and resources needed to do it raise the question of whether a race that could build one would still need it. It has been estimated that constructing the sphere would require the energy equivalent of the lifetimes of several stars AND the raw materials of more than the entire solar system, which rather defeats the purpose of the initial construction.note 

The Ringworld concept was created by science fiction author Larry Niven as a mid-point between this and a true planet because, as Niven put it in his essay Bigger Than Worlds (a discussion of Ring World Planets, Dyson Spheres, and other possible macrostructures), "I like being able to see the stars at night". Something that a solid-spherical-shell Dyson Sphere would prevent.

This trope doesn't require an object to block all light from the star, but it does require construction on that scale. To be a Dyson Sphere, the artifact must:

  1. Be an artificial structure. Naturally-occuring structures don't count, though a nest built by a Space Whale would.
  2. Contain a star inside it. That is, a giant ball of gas lit by stable nuclear fusion initiated by the pressure on its core due to its own gravity, (not some little glowing speck, a mythological god with a lantern, or Bruce Willis, OK?)
  3. Contain an inside surface where people can survive (possibly with space suits) without being burnt to a crisp by the star.
  4. Be at least the size of a small solar system. Typically we're talking 100 million kilometers or more.

In fiction, Dyson Spheres tend to be abandoned and uninhabited. If they are inhabited, the residents are usually not at a tech level capable of building the sphere. This is because, if your protagonists run into a sphere whose residents are in the full flower of their technological might, they and their petty problems promptly get overwhelmed.

See the Analysis page for more information about how such an object might work in the real world.

Subtrope of Hollow World. Compare Big Dumb Object and Planet Spaceship. Not to be confused with the Dyson Ball, which is part of a vacuum cleaner.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blame! takes place inside of one. This is hinted at throughout the story, but the biggest piece of evidence comes later on when the protagonist finds a chamber that is absolutely massive. Its measured diameter is the same as that of the planet Jupiter and possibly where it was entombed until all of it's matter was eventually stripped away.
  • While not spanning an entire solar system, in Sol Bianca: The Legacy the Earth is like this, surrounded by a mini-Dyson sphere known as Lotus. The Lotus is roughly the size of the Moon's orbit; in fact, the moon is clearly visible sticking halfway out of the shell of Lotus. Interestingly, the government tries to hide the fact that the Earth That Was is already dead, and thus the people who think they're on Earth live ON the sphere, not shielded by it on the planet. One character alludes to the Lotus Eater myth before The Reveal.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
    • Christopher Arclight (called simply V most of the time) uses a monster called "No. 9: Dyson Sphere", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. In fact, in terms of sheer size, it's no doubt the biggest Duel Monster in the history of the franchise, being the size of a small star, and it seems to be one of the most powerful Numbers.
    • Later in the series, while battling against Mizael of the Seven Barian Emperors, V introduces an evolved version of this monster, "Chaos No. 9: Chaos Dyson Sphere", which manages to be big enough to use a giant star as its power core.
  • Valvrave the Liberator: The series descriptions say that 70% of humanity is now living in space "thanks to the development of the Dyson Sphere". Though the story never delves into the nature of the sphere, it has the characters living on one of many modules that are territories of Earth nations (they are from JIOR, which is essentially future Japan). Theirs is Module 77, and it appears to be big enough for just their school and a small town. They end up disconnecting their module from the sphere, and moving it to the Moon, which is neutral territory.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman): Tony Stark pays aliens to build a Dyson Sphere for him as part of a alternate world destroying weapon he is preparing. Only a very small part of it is constructed before Tony is forced to fire the weapon to take out an invading alien fleet, which destroys the construction.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: The modern-day team visits one early on in Guardians of the Galaxy (2008), when a fissure in time and space opens up there. They arrive and find that the locals aren't there. And when they do find them, they really wish they hadn't. Note that only the tiniest fraction of the sphere's surface was inhabited, protected from the local star by a shell, which the team had to open to get rid of what they found. The trouble with that started when they wound up a good distance away from the control panel required to re-seal the shell.
    • New Mutants features a Dyson Sphere belonging to Cannonball's then-girlfriend, Lila Cheney. It was built and abandoned by unknown aliens, but Lila (whose power is intergalactic teleportation) found it and claimed it as her base of operations. Since she can only teleport over intergalactic distances, any short-range travel requires a double teleport, with the Dyson Sphere being a convenient transit point. It's featured in the opening and publicity artworks as a nice, yellow-greenish background.
  • Tom Strong: The supporting character Johnny Future comes from a more realistic one, known as the Crepusculum, a cloud of space colonies orbiting a dying sun.
  • Transmetropolitan has an inversion: instead of building the sphere around the Sun, the planet Mercury was covered in solar panels in order to supply the gargantuan energy needs of Earth (such as household appliances that reconstitute atoms into electronics and food).

    Fan Works 
  • An untitled short story by A.A. Pessimal speculates that supernovas are caused by an interplanetary Fred Dibnah taking on demolition jobs around the galaxy, touring in a clapped-out elderly spacecraft and using low-tech strategies note  to bring down redundant and outdated Dyson Spheres which are surplus to requirements. Fered Dhibnha hopes that at least one Dyson Sphere is preserved as an industrial heritage monument.
  • Glorious Shotgun Princess: This is what Autochthon's worldform jouten looks like from the outside.
  • Transcendent Humanity has one for the Sol System in order to make the best use of the sun's energy and raw materials. It's made abundantly clear that materials required for it made it necessary for humanity to take material from the sun itself, turning a G Class yellow dwarf sun into at the very least a K Class yellow (or orange) dwarf in building it.
  • Undocumented Features: The Republic of Zeta Cygni makes its home in a Dyson Sphere (which happens to be home to one of the most blatant Shining Cities in written fiction).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Infinity War: The planet Nidavellir is a Dyson sphere surrounding a neutron star whose energy is harnessed by dwarves to make magical weapons.
  • Men in Black: International: The MacGuffin turns out to be a star compressed into a handheld gun that's capable of destroying solar systems.

  • Across A Billion Years: Some archaeologists discover an artifact left behind by a billion-year-old vanished civilization that leads them to the Dyson sphere that the civilization disappeared into.
  • Aeon 14: The Last Bastion of Star City: The eponymous settlement is a Dyson sphere built around a neutron star. The inhabitants have reportedly fended off a number of Orion Guard attacks by dumping matter into the star to produce a targeted X-ray burst.
  • Century Rain: Half of the story is set in one of these, but it wasn't built for the normal reasons. The inside of the sphere is patterned with stars that match the stars in our own solar system, and by some pseudo-scientific method they shift as our own stars would, so that those inside the sphere don't know that they're not really on Earth.
  • Commonwealth Saga: A Dyson Sphere made of a forcefield holds the Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The Culture: Dyson spheres are referenced in the casualty list of the Culture/Idiran War at the end of Consider Phlebas.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: Pryan, the world of fire, is a hollow sphere with an internal surface covered by miles-high jungles and with four small suns at its center. As the suns never set or move, it has no true night (the closest most of the world gets are storms that move over its surface at regular intervals and provide some measure of darkness) outside of areas where darkness is provided by artificial means. Most of the characters are not aware of the world's nature for a while, resulting in some difficulty and confusion when navigating it, as most of them had a more "regular" world in mind. It is the biggest of the four worlds by far, having far more surface area than even the pre-sundering Earth. It's also the most sparsely populated, as there has simply not been enough time in the setting's relatively brief history for the its population to grow enough to inhabit more than a tiny part of its surface. This is also why Zifnab gets an elf inventor to start shooting rockets day and night to attract Haplo's attention when he enters the world — it's implied that, without some visual cue to head for, Haplo could have spent a lifetime flying over Pryan without ever coming across civilization. Originally, it was designed by the Sartan to be essentially an enormous power plant for the same reasons that it's theorized high-tech civilizations would be driven to build such spheres — its shape means that all the suns' energy is captured and channelled into its rocky crust, from where it is then directed into a number of citadels. From there, it's channeled into complex machinery that sends it off to the other worlds.
  • Doctor Who New Adventures: The Also People has two.
    • The main plot is set in a Dyson Sphere inhabited by a society which seems suspiciously similar to Iain M. Banks's Culturenote  and who have orbited a planet inside it. As a mark of the dwellers' sense of humour the planet is called Whynot and is home to a massive supercomputer named God.
    • The other appears in a brief flashback to Bernice's past when she was a field archaeologist. It is an abandoned ruin, slowly disintegrating, and its current inhabitants are a species that evolved in it after the start of its disintegration and abandonment.
  • Eldraeverse: The Empire of the Star has built two, which they refer to as Cirys bubbles or swarms after the eldrae who devised the concept. One is a "bubble" made of light-sail material used to power antimatter production facilities, the other is a "swarm" that houses the Transcend's central processing node.
  • Gamester Wars has a Dyson sphere setting that's still being built — the Precursors' ancient robots have been at it for millions of years and it's still only half-complete, because of its size. There are also a Ring World Planet and other stellar-scale objects in the same universe.
  • Heretical Edge: At one point in the backstory, the Seosten found seven Dyson Spheres and connected each sphere to one of their champions so they could draw upon their power, creating the Archangels.
  • The History of the Galaxy: An unfinished Dyson Sphere was built three million years ago by the Insects as a way to escape an oncoming swarm of Planet Eaters. The idea was to hide the star from the outside, as the swarm is attracted to starlight. They manage to build most of it, but the swarm still reaches them. Strangely, the Forerunners don't consume it but merely damage it. The sphere is part of the ancient Portal Network. Interestingly, one novel reveals that the "sphere" is a misnomer, as the structure is, in fact, an ellipsoid and looks like an American football from the side. The wider sides are the habitable ones. The Insects' modern-day descendants have forgotten all about their glorious past.
  • House of Suns: Dyson spheres made out of perfectly reflective Ring World Planets are used to encapsulate stars that are about to go supernova.
  • Hyperion Cantos: In The Rise of Endymion, the Ousters are growing an organic Dyson Sphere around a star. It does not have gravity. While this particular one is heavily damaged by the Pax war fleet (at least, the narrator assumes the damage was heavy — he is not a very smart guy and only saw the start of the battle) it is revealed that there are more in existence.
  • Illegal Aliens by Phil Foglio and Nick Pollotta has two such sphere mentioned:
    • The inside shell of the first was covered in solar collectors, and its people lived inside the shell as well, as basically it was a big spherical shaped space station.
    • The second was discovered in a previously-unknown sector of space. When opened, it was found to contain a slightly smaller sphere. Which itself had another inside, and so on. The discoverers abandoned their investigation after going several layers deep, positing that "With so many amateur lunatics around the universe, nobody wanted to meet professionals."
  • Imperial Radch: It's mentioned that the true Radch is an ancient Dyson sphere and the Galactic Superpower that shares its name exists primarily to protect it. Radchaai citizens outside the Dyson sphere don't know any more than that, given their strong xenophobia.
  • The Journal Entries: While Pendor itself is "only" a ring world, at least one story is in fact set against the background of a Pendorian archaeological expedition exploring an abandoned Dyson sphere of unknown origin.
  • Junction Point: It's offhandedly mentioned that the tianlong are considering it for the star that their capital planet orbits.
  • Macrolife mentions an alien solar system that consists of Worldships orbiting a black hole in a Dyson cloud. Later, a fleet encounters an interuniversal transport ship 100 million km in diameter.
  • The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps features a more realistic version of a Dyson Sphere called a Dyson cloud. It also proposes a solar-cell sphere around the orbit of Mercury, held up by the solar-sail effect and leaving a gap around the ecliptic for the planets and the aforementioned cloud.
  • Para Imperium: The New Pallas Republic built a small sphere around Proxima Centauri in order to produce the wormholes that allowed them to form a unified government with the other lost colonies.
  • The Polity: Polity Agent features the Cassius Project, humanity's first attempt to construct a Dyson Sphere. One of the subplots kicks off when an antagonist tries to sabotage its construction.
  • Second Genesis is mostly set on a Dyson sphere composed of planet-orbit sized disks, used to power a massive interstellar transmitter (The rest of the story is set on another of Dyson's conceptual objects, a Dyson Tree that has been converted into a Living Ship).
  • Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon contains the first known instance of this, long before Freeman Dyson came up with it and gave it a name. During the travels of the narrators, they encounter several of these that range from uninhabited spheres, spheres composed of artificial beings and artificial-but-sentient spheres that share a symbiosis with their inhabitants who are also artificial and sentient beings. It's even more complex than it sounds.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • A Star Trek novel about the sphere in TNG: "Relics" indicates that the area around this sphere is nearly devoid of other star systems, because the ancient builders of the Dyson sphere had consumed them (stars and all!) for raw materials. It also implies that the sphere's builders would go on to become the Borg.
    • There's also one in Star Trek: New Frontier, but called a Thul Sphere after the financier. Needless to say, it gets blown up.
    • In the non-canon novel series Star Trek: Titan, the crew of the U.S.S. Titan uncover evidence of the existence of what may be the largest lifeform in the galaxy, a living Dyson Sphere distantly related to an alien lifeform the Enterprise encountered in The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint".
    • In one of the other non-canonical novels, part of the Star Trek: Millennium trilogy, O'Brien is trapped in one of these for what seems like years as the Fate Worse than Death meted to him by the Pah-Wraiths.
    • The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy features the Caeliar. They build a sphere around their sun to hide it from the rest of the galaxy and another smaller one around their planet which draws energy from the sun's sphere allowing them to make the Omega Particles which power their civilization. It's later shown that a civilization in one of the first galaxies ever formed, in reality an offshoot faction of the Caeliar which had been sent back in time billions of years, by an accident which nearly destroyed their civilization, built spheres around every single star in that galaxy, thereby harnessing not just the full power of a single star, but the full power of an entire galaxy. They do this in order to create a Stable Time Loop and CAUSE the 'accident' which sent them back in time to begin with. The Enterprise E briefly visits this 'shrouded galaxy' by traveling through a subspace corridor and realize any race capable of doing such a thing is one best left alone, and very quickly gets out of there.
  • The Time Ships: The Time Traveler's second trip into the future sends him into a history where the Morlocks built an immense sphere around the sun, living in the near limitless — and, importantly for them, almost entirely dark — space within its thickness, while ancestral-type humans live within the sunlit interior.
  • Uplift: Retired species live in fractal worlds that are similar to Dyson sphere built around red dwarf stars from hydrogen snow impregnated with carbon fibers. The structure also extends inward towards the star in fractal patterns to maximize "window space".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: The Magog Worldship is somewhat closer to the original concept of a Dyson Sphere but even more fantastic in some ways. It consists of twenty inter-connected planets surrounding an artificial sun. If the stresses involved in connecting twenty planet-sized bodies in stable orbits around a sun isn't enough, the entire thing could move.
  • Doctor Who: The episode "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" reveals that the TARDIS itself is a Dyson Sphere. The TARDIS is Bigger on the Inside, and one "room" contains a massive star frozen in time at the moment it collapses into a black hole. This is the "Eye of Harmony" that powers the TARDIS' engines.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Relics", the ''Enterprise' encounters such a sphere, that was abandoned after the encased star became unstable, rendering the inner surface uninhabitable. The characters themselves, even with all their advanced technology and having encountered far more advanced aliens, are astonished that anybody would be capable of building such a thing.
    • Star Trek: Discovery: The fourth season has a species that built several Dyson rings around their local star, presumably purely as a method of generating energy. When the biosphere of their homeworld was obliterated by a barrage of meteors, they abandoned the system, leaving only the rings and a few scattered ruins as evidence of their presence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • AT-43: The Therians' eventual plan is to enclose every solar system in the universe in a Dyson sphere, specifically so as to be able to control their movement and prevent the universe becoming too dispersed to be inhabitable.
  • Eclipse Phase: One exoplanet is believed to be a Dyson sphere. Who built it, and why, and why the Pandora Gate is on the outside, and why it shoots down any attempt at orbit, and at least a hundred other things about it, is not known.
  • Exalted: The Shard known as Heaven's Reach has the Primordials exist in this form and similarly scaled hyperconstructions. Malfeas in particular is a Dyson sphere wrapped around a green sun, with a demonic city on the inside.
  • Mage: The Ascension has a Dyson Sphere that belongs to the Void Engineers; the Copernicus Research Center functions as an Earth-away-from-Earth for a large number of Engineers, researchers, and their families. This actually puts the Void Engineers under suspicion: People started thinking that it'd be unlikely they managed to build "the Cop" on their own, and some wonder if they got it from some... "friends"... they met beyond the stars. In one outcome of The End of the World as We Know It, the Void Engineers retreat to the Sphere en masse and leave the Universe in their own portable biosphere.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a plane called Pyrulea, which is a Dyson Forest. It's a hollow sphere around a star, with its entire inner surface covered by towering rainforests of massive, massive trees — "massive" here meaning that their individual leaves are large enough to build a small house on.
  • Spelljammer: First, Crystal Spheres often take this appearance (e.g. Realmspace has pseudo-stars, walking cursed people and big magical scroll-like writings on its inner surface, while Herdspace's inner surface is out-and-out inhabitable and home to colossal megafauna). Also, while Penumbra's Stellar Well isn't a Dyson Sphere, it's a large enough part of it, and the disk behind it is of Dyson Sphere scale.
  • Traveller. A Klemperer Rosette created by the Ancients exists in the Tireen system in the Vargr Extents.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • One of the C'tan star-gods is sealed inside a Dyson Sphere. Whether it was imprisoned or sealed itself there is not quite clear (although the background seems to suggest the latter).
    • In the Space Marine Battles novel Malodrax the titular planet is surrounded by a orbital coral reef, because the writers in this franchise will go to any length necessary to drive home the point that Space Is an Ocean. Interestingly, the reef does nothing to block out the planet's twin suns... though Malodrax is a daemon world, so it probably gets free sunlight from the Warp instead.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: There is an Xyz Monster called Number 9: Dyson Sphere, a Real Life version of the card used by V in the anime, as well as its upgraded form, Number C9: Chaos Dyson Sphere. Both card artworks are shown on a space background, and both are shown to have an actual sun in their cores to power them.

    Video Games 
  • AI War: Fleet Command: Zenith Dyson Spheres can be found around the galaxy as a minor faction, who usually just want to be left alone. They will attack anyone that bothers them by sending endless Zenith vessels, and may actually make a brief alliance with anyone that helps keep their surroundings free of pesky owners (thus, liberating without capturing is usually a good option). You can mess with them through hacking, but anything you try will get them pissy. Interestingly, knowing how Zenith work, it's very likely the sphere is an actual, living creature, or at least was one once.
  • Dyson Sphere Program: The player takes the role of an engineer sent to a star system to construct a Dyson sphere for humanity to inhabit, as the far future civilization can no longer supply its energy needs with what's available on Earth. Building it also requires strip-mining the resources of an entire cluster of up to sixty-four star systems, including all their planets, and you have to accomplish this all on your lonesome. Also of note is that the game features a Dyson swarm as an intermediate stage between planet-bound solar panels and the rigid Dyson shell that is the final goal.
  • Evolve Idle allows the player to research the possibility of a Dyson Sphere after getting to space. Initially they're described as impractical, if not outright impossible and the player can instead construct swarm satellites to fulfill a similar function. Later a flexible Dyson Net can be constructed around a neighboring star as a superproject. Late game the player can upgrade it into a full Dyson Sphere, which grants an achievement.
  • Fargate: One species has one of these as their home system. As these aliens possess no apparent mechanical technology but are the masters of biological manipulation, the entire double-layered Dyson Sphere is grown organically. It looks very fleshy.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy XIII takes place mostly within one called "Cocoon" run by the fal'Cie. It even has its own miniature fal'Cie sun inside.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has Dalamud, which was treated before as the second moon of the world until the Calamity when it's revealed that it contained a royally pissed off Bahamut, sealed inside for thousands of years, who proceeded to unleash hell on earth. Had it not been for Louisoix performing a Heroic Sacrifice, there would be nothing left.
  • Freelancer: Shows up in the final level.
  • Halo: The Forerunners built quite a few of these. Known as "Shield Worlds'', they were intended to be bunkers where the Forerunners would take shelter when the Halo Array was triggered:
    • Halo Wars: The final arc takes place in a micro Shield World, complete with a miniature artificial sun. Serina reacts appropriately upon realizing they've been pulled inside a planet only to wind up on another planet.
      Serina: So... am I the only one freaked out by the fact we're inside the planet?
    • Halo: Ghosts of Onyx has one that's Bigger on the Inside. Specifically, though the sphere itself is twice the size of Earth's orbit, it is contained within a slipspace bubble that is only 23 centimeters in normal space; due to this, time passes much slower inside the sphere than it does outside. Considering that the Forerunners were an interstellar empire ruling over a countless number of less-advanced sentient species, it's understandable that they felt like they would need a lot of room (a Dyson sphere that size would have over fifteen trillion times the surface area of Earth).
    • Halo 4 is mostly set within Requiem, the oldest known Shield World. It's similar to the Halo Wars example, but instead housing a star surrounded by an "inside-out" planet, Requiem's outer shell houses additionally layered shells, the outermost of which has an Earth-like environment on its surface.
    • Halo: Broken Circle features an incomplete Shield World similar to (if nowhere near as complex as) Requiem, named "The Refuge" by its current inhabitants, the Ussan Sangheili. It also has an experimental emergency feature where it can break apart and hide its various components in a nearby asteroid belt.
  • Homeworld: One level takes place inside of a partially finished Dyson Sphere. The builders are nowhere to be seen and the area is filled with clutter and wreckage. Like most of the game, the level is sheer Scenery Porn with vast sections of plate in the background, still so distant they're unreachable. No explanation is ever offered; even the Precursors whose technology the third game revolves around didn't have anything remotely that advanced.
  • Infinite Space: The Dyson sphere covers the Sun, absorbing its energy to empower the True Void Gate. Taranis successfully destroyed it in the end of the game at the cost of his own life, preventing the Overlords from destroying the universe further.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2: Legion states that the end desire of the mainstream geth is to build a structure somewhat analogous to a Dyson sphere and upload each one of their individual programs into it. The geth gain proportionally in intelligence as they mass together, with more bodies or "mobile platforms" available meaning faster processing and higher thought processes. If every geth were able to simultaneously occupy one such super-structure, they would become nigh-omniscient.
    • As of Mass Effect 3, the geth have finished it... just in time for the quarian Migrant Fleet to roll in with a new weapon that disables geth, who then destroy the superstructure, which houses the majority of the geth "species" and utterly shattering their ability to process and analyze data. The geth revert to survival mode, and turn to the Reapers for code upgrades to protect them from immediate destruction by the quarians.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, Meridian, is one of these (albeit a tiny one, noted to be roughly the size of Earth's moon). Also, it's mobile.
  • Mission Critical: The ending cutscene has the protagonist travel to the future (a positive one this time), where humans and ELFs live in peace. Earth is gone and has been replaced by a Dyson Sphere, with the humans living on the inner surface, while the ELFs live on the outside, as they don't need air or heat.
  • Polycon, a total conversion for EV Nova, contains several of these, including at least one Dyson cube.
  • Prey (2006) takes place, for the most part, in an organic/cybernetic living Dyson spaceship, the "Sphere". It's essentially a smaller version of this trope, with a small dwarf star at its core.
  • Seedship: You can find one of these during the game, and interacting with it will allow the player to enact the Simulation ending if they accept the alien's offer to take in the ship.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: The Ascent to Transcendence ending suggests a variant: "stellar encapsulation", effectively bottling the star without dismantling the planets of the system or otherwise affecting their biospheres.
  • Space Pirates and Zombies has stars encased in glass cages as window dressing for some maps.
  • Star Trek Online: The Season 8 expansion "The Sphere" takes place inside of one as the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Republic fight the Voth for possession of Omega Particles. We eventually learn that it, the original one from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a third that is visited in "Uneasy Allies" were all built by the Iconians, the Big Bad of the first several years of the game's existence.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion has an artificial world called Iokath. A Dyson sphere constructed by an incredibly advanced ancient civilization, it completely engulfs its star, making both completely undetectable to the larger Star Wars galaxy.
  • Stellaris allows you to build your own Dyson Spheres as of the Utopia expansion, though doing so is a massive undertaking. They can only be built in uninhabitable systems (because blocking the sun like that freezes every world around it), and are constructed in six stages that take a total of 55 years and tens of thousands of alloys to finish - but once you are finished, you can basically forget about building power plants for your Energy Economy ever again. You may also find ruined Dyson Spheres left behind by some Precursor civilization, which can be repaired for faster and cheaper than building your own from scratch.
  • X:
    • X 3 Terran Conflict: A plot leads you to the Hub, an ancient space station inside a Dyson sphere. However, the latter orbits a star, and, looking outside, you can see more of them, like in Dyson's concept.
    • In the Xtended Game Mod for the previous game, X3: Reunion, the Sohnen — the robotic representatives of the Precursors that built the Portal Network — possess a dyson sphere built around tiny star in a remote sector, which the player must dock with to interact with the friendly faction of Sohnen. Inside the sphere, the miniature star is surrounded by a massive gyroscope spinning at a rate that will crush any ship.
    • The games' fluff speaks of the Ancients, who have uploaded their minds into vast computer arrays called "Presence Clouds", which are more or less dust clouds that completely surround a star, feeding off of it for their energy needs. Though not a single solid object, this does qualify as a Dyson sphere as originally imagined.

    Web Animation 
  • Kurzgesagt: Discussed. They dismiss a true "sphere" as impractical, instead opting for a "Dyson swarm" of mirrors built using Mercury's mineral resources that transmit solar energy to Earth and the Solar System's other inhabited bodies.

    Web Comics 
  • Dreamwalk Journal: The world of Cyeatea, with its immense jungle housing a peaceful culture of sexually-insatiable anthropoid insects and spiders, is apparently a habitat within a Dyson Sphere called Velveteen. However, there is only one reference to this in a related text piece.
  • Grrl Power: When Sydney discovers her orbs' FTL function she winds up at The Fracture, an interstellar trade station that appears to be a Dyson sphere built around a neutron star and using it to power several gates, some of which are big enough for entire fleets of ships.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • The F'sherl-Ganni have built several of these. They call them "buuthandi", a shortened version of a F'sherl-Ganni phrase that roughly translates to "This was [expletive] expensive to build" (fully transliterated as "expensive and expensive-expensive [expletive] we built."). At one point, the characters gather a fleet to assault one. The author tried to depict them more realistically then a solid shell build around a star. In this setting Dyson Spheres (there are four, formerly five before one was destroyed) are constructed from a flexible material. They are practically bubbles around a star kept inflated by the solar wind. Habitats are anchored to the interior of the sphere. The setting also has widespread gravity generators, so that's not a problem either. Of course, when we say "more realistic"... the galaxy's general populace assumes the buuthandi to be more like the cloud or network of orbiting satellites envisioned by Dyson. One character goes nearly catatonic upon learning that they are fully contiguous.
    • Much later, the "All-Star" is discovered, which is a massive layered sphere around a star called a Matrioshka brain. It is mostly a computer dedicated to holding all the virtual minds of trillions of inhabitants; they could upload every single person in the galaxy without going over forty-five percent capacity — from a starting point of 44%.note  It's implied that all the survivors of previous galactic epochs created Dyson spheres of some flavor or another to hide from the rest of the galaxy.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm: Many types appear. Most are swarms of oribiting habitats, housing either humanoid-friendly environments or computer systems home to AI. One is a suprastellar shell, a solid Dyson sphere (actively supported) that people live on the outside of. The one and only solid Dyson Sphere which people live on the inside of is called "the Impossible Dyson" and exists only in a virtual reality.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: In "Decision 3012", Richard Nixon wants to build a Dyson fence to keep alien immigrants out of the solar system rather than collect energy.
  • Mighty Orbots: Umbra, the Big Bad, is a Dyson Sphere. He's the core of the Shadow Star, a world so large that it contains its own internal sun.
  • Pantheon has a Time Skip to the very distant future in the final episode, where Maddie has constructed a Dyson Swarm around a star for the purpose of powering a vast simulation to model countless variations on human history.
  • Star Trek cartoons offer some vastly smaller versions:
    • The USS Protostar from Star Trek: Prodigy gets its name due to being powered by an artificial protostar allowing it to travel thousands of lightyears in minutes.
    • In the Lower Decks episode "We'll Always Have Tom Paris", Rutherford is trying to work out how Lieutenant Shaxs came back from the dead. One of his imaginary scenarios has Shaxs saying that a microscopic civilization brought him back to life and turned his body into a tiny Dyson sphere.

    Real Life 
  • There are quite a few stories of small children getting the misconception Earth is like this — and of some grown-ups mimicking this, completely disregarding the fact that Earth would be a Dyson Sphere if the Hollow Earth theory was proved true. To summarize: Earth is hollow and there is a tiny star inside, providing enough heat and light to sustain life. Just ask them who is inside.
  • Some folks at SETI want to use some recently installed IR telescopes for searching after Dyson Spheres. While some feel it would be a waste of the usage time of a scientific instrument, others say that these spheres should stick out like sore thumbs and therefore it would be silly at least not to check.
    • This has been done, as part of the WISE spacecraft's all-sky infrared survey. Among other things, WISE was designed to discover brown dwarf stars with surface temperatures similar to Earth's within ~30 lightyears of the Sun. It would also have found 1-AU-radius Dyson Swarms around Sun-like stars out to >3000 lightyears. It didn't find any.
    • On the other hand, there IS at least one object that could be a Dyson Sphere, judging by its visual properties.
    • A recent proposal is to look for Dyson spheres built around white dwarfs, the cooling corpses of Sun-like stars, something that would resolve the issues of Dyson spheres built around main-sequence stars (namely, very low gravity). These constructions, however, would be much harder to detect.
  • KIC 8462852 is a star larger and brighter than our Sun located in Cygnus, that according to data from the Kepler telescope suffers irregular changes in brightness consistent with many small masses in close formation orbiting together the star. Among the hypotheses that can explain those variations is that the star is surrounded by a Dyson swarm.note 
  • The Birch Planet is a variant on this which is built around a black hole instead of a star. This could potentially be very large, as in "an entire light-year in diameter" large. Though due to the close proximity to a black hole, it would also experience time dilation.