In Castle in the Sky, Sheeta, having grown up in a pastoral lifestyle, explains at the climax that Laputa had been abandoned because their ancestors had learned that it cut them off from nature, and an Arcadia was truly a better place to live.
The setting in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, mostly consisting of the Miura Peninsula, lives and breathes this trope. Much like Aria, it's completely necessary for the series that things be so pastoral and peaceful, because the series revolves around the quiet atmosphere that the countryside has.
Big Fish has Spectre, a hidden town where nothing bad ever happens. The ground is covered in soft grass, so no one ever wears shoes. The main character stays there for a bit, but decides that he needs to experience more of life before retiring there.
Subverted in Resident Evil: Afterlife, where "Arcadia" was supposed to be a safe haven somewhere in Alaska. It turned out to be an elaborate trap.
One of Horace's odes ("Beatus ille") begins by extolling at length the supposed joys of living in the countryside. How wonderful it must be, the narrator muses, to have a small, self-sufficient farm in the country, to turn the soil with his own oxen, to enjoy the grafted pears and grapes and drink wine fermented in his own home with a sweet wife who spins his flock's wool and makes cheese from the milk and with gentle home-bred slaves to help them....and the narrator turns out to be a Roman moneylender who has no intention of actually giving up his job. Good thing, too, because (as Horace knew personally) actual country life was nothing like the narrator's imaginings.
In Don Quixote, at the end of the book, Quixote considers leaving being a knight to become an arcadian shepherd instead. Pastoral tropes in general are deconstructed and parodied in the novel: The real shepherds are Country Mice — ignorant people who have enough common sense and work as shepherds by need. They want to help and are sympathetic enough. The problem comes when a lot of City Mice try to invoke this trope:
All this long harangue (which might very well have been spared) our knight delivered because the acorns they gave him reminded him of the golden age; and the whim seized him to address all this unnecessary argument to the goatherds, who listened to him gaping in amazement without saying a word in reply.
Deconstructed again at chapter LII from the first part, Eugenio tells the story of the beautiful Leandra, who elopes with a soldier that left her. Leandra gets Locked Away in a Monastery while her various City Mice admirers decided to become shepherds and make poems about how Leandra betrayed them… even when she never gave them any hope. Eugenio tells that all those shepherds curse Leandra’s indiscretion and they seem so unhappy that he lampshades that Arcadia is really a living hell. Eugenio then says he has decided to follow the easier way, claim All Women Are Lustful and become a Politically Incorrect Hero who hates all women.
Parodied at the chapter LVIII of the Second Part: Don Quixote meets some beautiful shepherdess who are part of a crew of noble and rich people who invoke this trope by retiring to a forest to play to be shepherd and shepherdess. They are so sophisticated that they have studied two poems from Garcilaso (In Spanish) and Camoes (in Portuguese). Only the truly rich CityMouse can afford to live in a happy Arcadia.
Don Quixote considers becoming a shepherd instead of a knight at the end of the second part, before he can invoke this trope, his housekeeper tries to dissuade him by lampshading the truth:
In Aesop'sThe City Mouse and the Country Mouse, the City Mouse scorns the country life as simple, but when the Country Mouse visits, he discovers that the city is dangerous, and he is better off content in the country.
The Shire in Lord of the Rings. The characters even make a point of not even letting the hobbits know Gondor and Rohan are duking it out against Mordor.
On the other hand, the hobbits are also portrayed as unimaginative and parochial, which is atypical.
In Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the shepherds are the only people who do not know of the Blatant Beast.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The background state of Oz is an Arcadia propped up by several potent pieces of nationwide magic (to the point where it hardly even has any death), punctuated by numerous settlements of bizarre people. Adventures consist of protecting Oz from outside invasion, from upset by one of the bizarre internal settlements, or (as in the first story) finding your way home by finding your way through Oz and environs to the Emerald City. So the Arcadian background winds up staying pretty firmly in the background.
Maid Marian was a shepherdess in pastoral plays that were common at May festivities. (Then Robin Hood plays came into fashion, and someone did a Cross Over, and she shed her Arcadian roots as she joined the crew there. But she started out a shepherdess.)
Mildly deconstructed in the Tiffany Aching Discworld sub-series, which make it clear that being a shepherd is bloody hard work, and birthing a lamb at three in the morning in the rain is not conductive to a peaceful life. But both the Chalk and Lancre are generally presented as simpler and "nicer" places than Ankh-Morpork, so Sir Pterry does play it more-or-less straight at times.
Not really. Ankh-Morpork is, in real-world terms, a cross between New York and New Jersey. Being nicer than Ankh-Morpork isn't hard; the bottoms of particularly uninviting wells are routinely nicer than Ankh-Morpork.
Which doesn't stop people from moving from places like Lancre to Ankh-Morpork.
Hed, in The Riddle Master Trilogy, is an idyllic, pastoral island mostly unaffected by turmoils on the mainland — at least at first.
In "The Kelpie", healthy living in the countryside is cited to explain Emma's height.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline, the begining of which is a discription of the French colony of Acadie.
The Two Rivers from The Wheel of Time series, mostly shepherds with a scattering of farmers, check, Ghibli Hills in the mountains, check, believes in the Good Old Ways, check. Small wonder that the Protaganists grew up there. There's a bit of deconstruction going on, since it's made plain that the farmers do actual work for their food (on one occasion some women are joking that men always faint during childbirth, and Rand reminisces about the rigors of lambing), and the area suffers the typical Doomed Hometown phenomenon, though it manages to survive... and become a cosmopolitan economic center.
Flashbacks show that the Age of Legends was more or less a giant one of these, thanks to advanced and persistent Magitek. The ruling magic-using class pervaded the effects of their skill to the point of a Background Magic Field, allowing common peoples to live among giant trees which exuded an aura of peace and contentment, and grow crops by merely singing to them.
Yet in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, Faldor's Farm is portrayed as one of the best possible places to grow up, and Faldor himself is one of the few unambiguously good people in the series. The Rivan Pasturelands and The Vale of Aldur also count as pastoral places.
Tess of the d'Urbervilles deconstructs the concept of an idyllic Arcadia. The beauty of the Victorian countryside is juxtaposed to the chain of heinous events that happen to the titular heroine.
Appears in much of William Morris' works. In particular, his vision for a socialist future in News From Nowhere.
In P. G. Wodehouse's Uneasy Money, Elizabeth starts to be reconciled with the notion of Bill as a house guest when it turns out he's kept bees, and when their talk turns to dreams of living the Arcadian life in a farm, she is quite reconciled.
Deconstructed in Sherlock Holmes; while Watson appears to hold the Arcadian view of the country as opposed to crime-ridden London, Holmes the hardened crime-solver does not. (He does end up retiring to the Sussex Downs and keeping bees, however.)
"Good heavens!" I cried. "Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?" "They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside." "You horrify me!" "But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser."
Many Agatha Christie novels are the deconstruction of this. On the countryside, everyone knows everyone. That's, good, right? Well, everyone has a reason to hate the others, and everyone had a reason to kill the victim.
In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the emperor dreams of a life as a cowboy on another planet. The harper notices how romantically deluded and inaccurate his dreams are. Then, he's really miserable as emperor.
In Robin McKinley's Sunshine, the city is New Arcadia. It once, before the war, had been a backwater, and it's still surrounded by wilderness.
Late in Galaxy of Fear, the protagonists, running from the Empire, finally end up on grassland-covered Dantooine and spend a while traveling with the nomadic, primitive native Dantari. And it's peaceful there, with no threats that can't be cleared up quickly. After a month Tash and Zak are getting extremely bored, though when circumstances force them to leave the world they are reluctant.
In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Vaynamo is heavily rural, and quite peacable. Elva feels quite safe doing the circuit with only some Alfavala servants, who are barely intelligent enough to talk, and at one point contemplates how little violence they have in their history.
In the 2013 novel Cross And Poppy, the countryside is simply better, even if Death can (and often does) say, "et ego." After all, there are no chalk-streams in London; they won't let the Duke shoot journalists and politicians on the wing; and as for huntin', damn it all….
This is precisely the reason why In-Universe celebrities have bought country houses in the district when they could, although the Duke of Taunton, who owns most of the countryside, is determined that the place shall not become Cheshire or Essex, overrun with WAGs and telly types and all sorts, damn it all, what.
Live Action TV
Doc Martin takes place in an idyllic rural fishing village.
In Doctor Who's series 2 finale, the Doctor alludes to "the Fall of Arcadia", a battle during the Time War.
As we later learn from Day of The Doctor and the earlier minisode Last Day, Arcadia is considered the safest and best defended city on Gallifrey during the time war. Until the Daleks broke through the sky trenches.
The Night Visions episode A View Through The Window involves a man seeing an idyllic world of this sort through an interdimensional window, and longing to go there. Subverted when he does so; to find it populated by carnivorous aliens, who begin to look for a way through themselves.
In the classic Twilight Zone episode "A Stop at Wiloughby", the protagonist is very sick and tired of the rat race of 1960s American society. During a nap, he visits the town Wiloughby, which is this trope, as an idealized late 1800s American town. He cannot find the town on any map. When he decides to stay, he is deeply content, but his body died as he was taken to Wiloughby Funeral Home.
Beethoven's Sixth, the Pastoral Symphony.
Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull moved out to a farm to enjoy the bucolic life, and then made the album Heavy Horses about this trope.
In general, Jethro Tull songs are typically full of references to a sort of rural utopia. The album Songs From The Wood has a more forest-y, less farm-y version of this trope.
Many songs by The Libertines are about Arcadia. Both Carl Barat and Pete Doherty used to talk longingly about the idea of reaching Arcadia, and Doherty still believes in it.
In (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover, one of the promises is that "The shepherd will tend his sheep,".
Romance between shepherds & shepherdesses and other country folk was a common theme for English madrigals, e.g., Fair Phyllis I Saw Sitting All Alone, Now Is the Month of Maying, It Was a Lover and His Lass.
Al Stewart's "Timeless Skies." The refrain is "Under timeless arcadian skies."
The New World of Darkness has not one, but TWO Arcadias, one from whence all Fate and Time magic stems (resulting in the trickster-like Acanthus mage path) and another, where the twisted True Fae of Changeling: The Lost takes their kidnapped mortals. All Changelings must fight their way out of Arcadia, which is only peaceful and idyllic to the True Fae themselves; the Changelings are the slaves that make their happiness possible. Despite attempts by fan club members to retcon the two into one space, Word of God has refused to confirm whether they are or not.
Most of the New World of Darkness is ambiguous, and quite a few Mages want Changelings to take them through the deadly thorns of the Hedge and into Arcadia to learn more about it. As well, Fate and Time are more useful than any other type of magic within the realm of Faerie. One of the Changeling line books finally confirms what happens when a Mage ends up in Arcadia. It's... not pretty.
Then there was the Arcadia of Changeling The Dreaming, which was a lot less Cosmic Horror Story and a lot more, well, Arcadia. It was the homeland of the fae, but was cut off from Earth once disbelief got too strong, forcing the fae left on Earth to take refuge in human bodies.
In Ars Magica, Arcadia was the sort of Faerieland you'd get if you mixed folk mythology to get a cross between Shakespearean fairies, the Celtic Otherworld, and Norse "Aelfheim" (Elfland).
And it was pretty dangerous place, despite of being almost always beautiful. It had four directions: Dark, Light, Summer and Winter. If you went towards any of them long enough, you would either die or lose your mind.
One of the Outer Planes in the Planescape AD&D setting, specifically the park-like "Lawful Good with emphasis on the lawful" plane, was called "Arcadia." (The complete name, according to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, was "the Peaceable Kingdoms Of Arcadia." But that's splitting hairs.) However, Dothion, one of the Twin Paradises of Bytopia, fits the trope just as well if not better.
The halfling homeland of Luiren in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. It's not completely free from danger (this is Dungeons & Dragons after all — why go somewhere if not to kill and loot stuff?), with a dangerous forest at its border and the occasional monster, but all in all it's one of the safest places in the Realms.
Fortitude in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is like this, only with a bit more of a focus on sailing and a culture of swashbuckling rats, and Little Island is if anything even more so. The area actually named Arcadia, on the other hand, is a huge shopping district haunted by tsukumogami and with so much neat flashy stuff it probably has epilepsy warnings.
As You Like It is arguably a parody of this trope as a reaction against all of the pastoral plays of Shakespeare's time. The "arguable" part stems from the fact that it still retains the spirit of this trope while mocking its conventions — the shepherds, for example, repeatedly complain about their supposedly idyllic jobs and are terrible at wooing their love interests.
Tazmily Village, the setting of Mother 3. It seems a little too good to be true. It's too good to last, anyway. It was never really true in the first place. The villagers founded Tazmily with the Arcadia stereotype in mind, designing it to be a utopia and then altering their own memories to believe it had always been that way. That's why Tazmily has all the features of Arcadia at the start of the game. The ways of life there are peaceful and simple, resources are so plentiful that the villagers can't fathom the concept of money, and the lead character is even the son of a shepherd. And then Fassad comes along to ruin it...
The Mega Man Zero series had Neo Arcadia, the last utopia for humans.
Which, in another bit of irony, is a technological paradise rather than a pastoral one. It's not Neo Arcadia for nothing. The guy running it even tries to make the environment outside Neo Arcadia uninhabitable at one point.
Typically, in Pokémon, the protagonist begins their journey in a ridiculously tiny, picturesque town. Played with in that these places usually host a widely-respected scientist who sends the protagonist on their journey, a character not normally found in Arcadia settings. Other Arcadia spots besides the beginning of each game include:
Johto contains a large farm on one of its routes, and the small hamlet of Mahogany Town and its scenic lake.
The White version of Pokémon Black and White's Opelucid City, a quiet, old-timey town. Black's version of Opelucid is a techo haven.
Agate Village, the only beautiful place in the hellhole that is Orre.
In FireEmblem: Blazing Sword, there was a village named Arcadia where humans and dragons lived in peace (when everywhere else, dragons were made extinct by humans). However, its giant libraries were also the place where the Big Bad obtained his ability to drain and consume Life Energy.
In BioShock, Arcadia is the name of the underwater forest that serves as a source of oxygen for Rapture.
It was originally planned for Andrew Ryan to use the line "even in Arcadia, I exist", before he gasses all the vegetation in Rapture.
Present-day Winhill in Final Fantasy VIII. It's the only town where the primary party does not engage in combat, the townspeople are mostly friendly, and is the site of two of the relatively few peacefully-resolved sidequests.
Ironically, Winhill is still less of an Arcadia than it used to be (even after the giant bugs were exterminated). Compared to Laguna's flashback, the atmosphere is melancholic and downbeat — the colours are less vivid and there are fewer signs of life. Which makes sense since the town was repeatedly raided for child prisoners by Esthar and children orphaned by the war were placed into an orphanage on another continent, making Winhill a declining Arcadia.
In Modern Warfare 2 the 1st Batallion, 75th Regiment of US Army Rangers passes through Arcadia, Virginia, on the way to Washington DC. It's an upper middle-class community and the scenery is therefore a match, if a subversion in that the inhabitants would certainly not be simpler-minded folk. We can't ask them because they've been run off by the invading Russian Army, which the Rangers are fighting against.
In Fable II, the town of Oakfield is a great example of Arcadia, consisting mostly of farmland with a few houses, produce stalls, and an inn. From the first game you have Oakvale, but by Fable 2 it's become a cursed marsh.
Rural Sicily is shown to be something of an Arcadia in Hitman II Silent Assassin
Touhou: The very purpose of Gensokyo. But it just end up being a very broken paradise with a 60-years-long Vicious Cycle, some truly psychotic casts, and failing in actually stopping technology from encroaching it.
A majority of the Harvest Moon games are set in this type of area.
Shin Megami Tensei II features a straight example of this, ruled over by the mysterious Gimel. Except it's all a virtual reality created as a prototype of the Thousand Year Kingdom, with the plan to plug everyone into the system if it's successful.
Yormgen from "Tales of Vesperia" is beautiful, secluded and doesn't need Magitek to protect against monster attacks. Because it is an ancient memory created by Phaeroh of a town that was reduced to a barren desert because of overuse of said Magitek.
The Matrix Path Of Neo has a sort of Japanese/Chinese version of this in one of the training levels, it's completely empty except for you, the training A.I. and Trinity. It's a simple, peaceful forest with a stream/waterfall with two red bridges and the only house is a blue/gray one.
In The Dreamer, 18th century Roxbury Massachusetts definitely fits the bill.
The Trope Namer is a historic region of the Greek Peloponnesus (still a prefecture of Greece today). It is mountainous and surrounded by mountains, which tended to isolate it from cultural changes and preserve old dialects and old ways. In ancient and medieval times, it was so rustic and secluded that its inhabitants became proverbial as primitive herdsmen leading simple lives.
The scenery of northern Tōhoku, the northernmost bits of the Japanese main island Honshu, looks straight out of My Neighbor Totoro. The people there are also incredibly kind to bumbling foreigners.
Marie Antoinette was notorious for having set up a mock-dairy and play-acting as a shepherdess. She really believed country life was like that — with the cows all scrubbed for her arrival and probably people in the wings who knew what they were doing well enough to fool Marie into thinking she was doing well.
Some commenters of the time noted that with the money it cost to build that section of the palace gardens, they could probably have fed the area, though the cost was exagerated by contemporaries in an attempt to discredit her. Not that the actual price would have been insignificant.
The Old South before the Civil War, though there was obviously slavery and supposed threats of "black rebellion" against whites to break the idyllic image.
The Appalachian area of the Old South as well, which traded in slavery for more lawlessness and backwood feuds.
Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, though it's a lot colder than ideal half of the time.
Parts of western Massachusetts could qualify as well.
The northwestern and north-central portions of New Jersey most definitely qualify as this, and are colloquially known as "The Skylands" by New Jerseyans. Areas of gorgeous countryside, isolated by scenic mountains that get even more scenic in the spring and autumn, and a largely pristine landscape dotted by small, peaceful towns definitely make New Jersey's Skylands a modern version of Arcadia. It really is a crime that Hollywood and New York media have never allowed this to become a prevalent image of New Jersey in movies.
Much of Pennsylvania is like this, which has been cemented by an old joke: "You have Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama with winters in between." Huge swathes of incredibly fertile farmland (officially called the Piedmont region) are also occupied by large populations of the Old Order Amish and Mennonites, two groups that are often considered in North American culture to personify the simple lifestyles of yesteryear.
There have been many different "Arcadias" and varients thereof throughout North America. The earliest one was apparently in the coastal regions of Eastern Virginia, but the name seemed to migrate north throughout the colonial era, eventually coming to describe various places along the northern east coast, up to Maine, then to Nova Scotia.
Acadia was historically a French colony consisting of modern day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Maine. Maine still has a reputation for being old fashioned and idealistic. There are still some French speaking descendants of those colonists, particuliarly in coastal New Brunswick, the Saint John Valley on the Maine-New Brunswick border, and the Louisiana Cajuns.
In fact, the word "Cajun" originated from "Acadian" (In refrence to these French speaking peoples, originally of the northern East Coast.)
The less famous parts of California (particularly the coastal region) are often close to this. While most cities are at least partially developed, they also have lots of greenery and well-kept parks. On the other hand, living/rental costs are among the highest in the States, so that balances things out a little.
Oddly enough, an actual city of Arcadia exists a little north of Los Angeles, nestled against the mountains. It is pleasant enough, though still obviously a suburb of LA.
Most small rural towns seem like a real-life Arcadia to those who don't live in them, and everyone's home-town from their childhood seems like Arcadia when looked back upon twenty or thirty years later.
Welcome to the North West Coast of Scotland, please be nice to the sheep. Actually the South West and North East of Scotland fits too, but not the Central Belt, that is Mordor.
Because of Anne of Green Gables and her enduring popularity (see Literature), Prince Edward Island has worked very hard to preserve its Arcadian spirit. Does a very good job, too.
Which is very fitting, as P.E.I. was once a part of Acadia (see above) and later Nova Scotia before becoming it's own colony/province.
Northern Oakland and Macomb Counties, Michigan, are filled with forests, small farms, rolling hills, and lots of eccentric country squires.
There is a medieval term, Locus Amoenus (pleasant place) which is described in similar terms to both the Garden of Eden and Arcadia. It could pass as an alternate title to this trope.
Lincolnshire. Basically a flat plain of some of the most fertile farmland in Europe with lots of small towns and barely any real urban areas.
Basically, any part of the UK that isn't a city or otherwise designated.
Rural Ireland is one as well. Really, most of the 'Celtic nations' have Arcadian traits, though Ireland has a lot more rain than typical. Ironically, the agriculture industry isn't very prosperous in the more Arcadian parts of the country (the West) because the terrain isn't good for farming. This Arcadia makes most of its money from forestry and fishing while the more urbanised East has a more productive farming industry — the land is much better and it's pretty easy to transport the produce with Dublin being so accessible.
Ukraine. It's not called the breadbasket of eastern Europe for no reason.