In the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, a father and son attempted to flee from an island where they were held prisoner. The father, Daedalus, constructed two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers. Attaching the wings to their arms, he and his son Icarus managed to escape, flying over the ocean.
Icarus, however, overcome with the joy of flying, started soaring higher and higher toward the sun. Eventually, the sun melted the wax of his wings and they disintegrated, causing Icarus to fall to his death.
This story has had an influence on modern media, with a number of stories about flying characters going too high and suffering the consequences. (It's particularly common with characters who have only recently gained the ability to fly). The reason behind their trouble may vary; problems will range from extreme temperature changes to oxygen deficiency at high altitudes.
If a character or aircraft is named Icarus, then it's fairly obvious that this is going to happen.
- Parodied in One Piece when the giant squid Daidalos flew too close to the sun and turned into surume (dried squid), traumatizing his friend Ikaros.
- In Ergo Proxy, one of the characters is a scientist named Dr. Daedalus and one of his creations is given wings and dies from exposure to the sun (not because of wings melting, but because she was a Proxy and sunlight is their Achilles' Heel)
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, a parallel is drawn between Icarus and the Elric brothers, who believed they could successfully perform human transmutation despite the fact that no one ever had before. Of course, they failed.
- The first Iron Man film had Tony fly toward the moon, causing a buildup of ice on his suit. He later solves this problem and uses it to his advantage against an enemy.
- Sunshine has two spaceships named the Icarus flying very close to the sun. Icarus 1 fails in its mission, but Icarus 2 succeeds.
- The French movie I as in Icarus has this as the name of some criminal operation. At the end of the movie, the protagonist is on a phone conversation with his wife who surmises that it's about offing someone who has come too close to the truth... Right as said operation is carried out on her husband.
- In Eragon, neither Eragon nor his dragon, Saphira, knows that air gets thinner the higher you go. One night, they fly too high. The lack of air makes it impossible for Saphira to concentrate and communicate mentally with Eragon, and she doesn't realize there's a problem until Eragon passes out.
- Both the original novel and the 1976 film adaptation of The Man Who Fell to Earth reference this myth (the opening section of the novel is called "Icarus Descending") -- the protagonist is an alien who comes to Earth in hopes of saving his Dying Race back home, but gradually succumbs to Earthly vices.
- In Babylon 5, the scientific expedition that reawoke the Shadows by poking into Things Man Was Not Meant to Know was called the "Icarus expedition", after the ship on which it traveled.
- A two-part episode of the series Farscape is titled "Daedalus Demands" and "Icarus Abides". The episodes are about the alien who put the wormhole knowledge in Chrichton's head returning, fearing he had given it to the wrong people. To cut a long story short, they end up in a situation where they need to unlock the wormhole knowledge in his head and give him complete access to it in order to build a wormhole weapon to destroy a massive ship. He goes on to die of radiation from the open power source(the "flying to close to the sun" bit).
- Referenced in Kansas' song "Carry On Wayward Son".
Once I rose above the noise and confusion
- Deus Ex Human Revolution is fueled entirely by allusions to the Icarus myth and the colour yellow. Both Sarif and Darrow claim to be the Daedalus to Jensen's Icarus (Sarif Industries' logo is a wing and Sarif often calls Jensen "son"), the Tie-in Novel is named Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect, and believe me there are more allusions after that. Also, to prevent fall damage, Jensen can unlock the "Icarus Landing System."
- In the Kid Icarus games, the main character is an angel who cannot fly. In Kid Icarus: Uprising, his goddess grants him the Power Of Flight, but warns that if he flies for too long, his wings will burn up. That winds up happening.
- In an episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle makes some magical wings for Rarity, warning her that they are very delicate. Ignoring this, Rarity enters a flying competition, deciding to fly as high as possible so that the sun would shine through her wings and cover Cloudsdale in colorful light. The sun burns her wings up, and Rarity plummets nearly to her death, being saved only at the last moment by Rainbow Dash.
- Icarus also shows up in the |Hercules animated series. Naturally, he has a permanent tan and lightning bolt-shaped hair.
- The opening even shows him flying up against the sun, buring his wings, and falling.
- In the South Park episode "Cartman's Incredible Gift" Cartman tries to fly from his roof with cardboard wings and ends up in the hospital recovering from head trauma. The cops believe that he now has psychic abilities because they have heard of similar cases; they take his advice and dismiss Kyle's. Kyle concludes he has to be as stupid as Cartman to be acknowledged. Before he does so, Butters tells him not to fly too close to the sun.