It's the little spiraly design that seems to come up so often in cartoonier media influenced by Goth culture, which itself was heavily inspired by the feel of The Nightmare Before Christmas (pictured). The popularity of this film has influenced an entire generation of young artists with dark proclivities (see DeviantArt) and seems at times so common that one wonders if all one needs to add a bit of gothic appeal to their work is to add a few little spiral designs here and there.
Contrast (or sometimes compare) Everything's Better with Sparkles.
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Anime & Manga
- In One Piece, the spooky, Uber Wald-esqe island where Zoro, Perona, and Mihawk end up has several spiraly mountains as a Shout-Out to The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Uzumaki, which turns the humble and ubiquitous spiral into horror beyond imagination.
- The Sandman (1989):
- Death is portrayed with a small spiral design under her eye. Although she is indeed a Perky Goth, this is more an Egyptian motif (probably the Eye of Horus) in keeping with her habit of wearing an ankh, although the ankh is much more symbolic.
- Delirium's sigil is a spiral or a bunch of spirals (at least in the manga-esque At Death's Door), although they're less goth, more insane.
Films — Animated
- In Barbie and the Secret Door, while the world of Zinnia is bright and cheery, the kingdom has a lot of spirals in its architecture, cliff designs, and plant life.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas. Interestingly, the trope picture is photoshopped to look spookier..
- And much of Tim Burton's work; he seems to like them. In fact, the logo for the exhibit on him at the Museum of Modern Art was a spiral.
Films — Live-Action
- Dark City made a repeating theme of spirals: spiraling staircases, spiral patterns carved into victims, spiral rat mazes, spirals drawn by a madman. A good chunk of the movie is devoted to this trope. As seen from the Strangers' map, the entire city is arranged as a spiral.
- Pretty much the entire filmography of Tim Burton.
- The font used for the italic words in Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain contain spirals.
- The title font of Twilight is this. And sparkly.
- There's a pretty big spiral motif in the artwork for Changeling: The Lost.
- Tharizdun is one of the big, nasty evil gods who has been featured prominently in Dungeons & Dragons. An evil Lovecraftian god, his "holy" symbol is none other than a black spiral.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse had a group of evil corrupted werewolves as one of its main villain types. Their name? The Black Spiral Dancers.
- The primary initiation ritual for the Dancers is to walk a literal one, which looks like a harmless spiral in the floor but will bring you face-to-face with the Wyrm, and you don't want to come face-to-face with the Wyrm.
- Found all over the place in Death Jr.: Root of Evil, most prominently in the character designs.
- Ditto for Psychonauts.
- In World of Warcraft, Scourge and Forsaken buildings quite often have small spirals on them.
- In Eversion, the flowers become deadly spiked spirals after many eversions. So do the face blocks in World 7. And a lot of spirals can eventually seen in the background in HD version.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, anything associated with Twilight is going to have these, from the Tron Lines on portals, monsters and Midna to the markings on Zant's robes (even the emblem on the front part of his outfit, which is interesting considering that it's a stylized version of the previously non-spirally Gerudo symbol).
- Some types of heartless in Kingdom Hearts have spirals in their design.
- And, obviously, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of the recurring worlds.
- This is also all over Gunnerkrigg Court, especially in vapor and hair. It's particularly associated with the Donlan family.
- Secret from Keychain of Creation has a small spiral under her eye.
- Dot from Goth Oz wears eye makeup spirals.
- Many of the pages in Various Happenings are adorned with spirals, swirls and other similar markings in the filigree appearing around them.
- Ember of Danny Phantom sports a spiral design under her right eye in her role as something of a Gothic (undead) rock star. It may be a Shout-Out to Gaiman's Death.
- Perhaps not everywhere in the hilariously quoteworthy Invader Zim, but at least two examples can be seen: One being in Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom, Nightmare Membrane's lab coat ends with strangely swirling mist, and Nightmare Gaz's hair is shaped like squared spirals. In Door to Door, the specter of Poop Dogg (wearing a black robe, a la Ghost of Christmas Future) has the same swirls as Nightmare Membrane.
- Skyclone, the Big Bad of Sky Dancers wears a spooky spiral on his shirt.