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This article is about the sociological theory. For the novel, see Deus Ex: Icarus Effect.
DX3 AdamAngel

Adam Jensen depicted as Icarus, the figure from Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun

The Icarus Effect is a sociological theory featured in the novel Deus Ex: Icarus Effect.

The general idea of the theory is that members of a society whose abilities greatly exceed the average are a threat to the society's stability. Thus, these renegades, like Icarus who dared to use technology to allow him to "fly too close to the sun," are eliminated by society. This allows stability to return such that the species does not advance too rapidly.


  • "Whenever someone threatens to do something that will upset the balance, like flying too high … the Icarus Effect kicks in. Society reacts, cuts them down. Stability returns."
  • "Imagine a pack of animals, among which is a single individual exhibiting signs of nascent evolutional superiority. Not common superiority, that is, but a marked difference from the norm. A rare excessive. The individual’s renegade nature threatens the stability of the pack. The others close ranks against it. Expunge or terminate it. Stability returns, and the pace of evolution is slowed to a more manageable scale.”
    Janus to Anna Kelso

In Deus Ex: Icarus Effect[]

In the novel, Janus explains the Icarus Effect in detail to Anna Kelso. Janus also explains that although the Icarus Effect plays out naturally in society, the Illuminati take it upon themselves to artificially induce it when it suits them. Their goal is to ensure that advances, particularly technological ones, do not develop too quickly and escape from their control.

An example of the Illuminati employing the Icarus Effect is their attempt to control and restrict mechanical augmentations. They use tools such as the Tyrants to eliminate or silence those who support the unregulated advancement of augmentation technology. In this way, they create a bias towards having the technology restricted - thus keeping its rate of advancement under their control.

See also[]