And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield."
The gentle, quiet life of the countryside, peopled by souls of wise simplicity living In Harmony with Nature. Arcadia is traditionally populated by shepherds and shepherdesses; more recent versions may also include agriculture.
Idealized often to the point of becoming a Utopia. Generally portrayed as a place where people still stick to the Good Old Ways, rather than being trapped in the city's bustle. (Unkind souls may sneer at them for being old fashioned.) Though the city dwellers may scorn them for their lack of luxury, they are happier for not having to rely on material things for happiness.
The good landscape may be responsible, posing in contrast to Evil Is Deathly Cold, the Shadowland, Grim Up North, urbanized Shadowlands such as the Decadent Court or Vice City, or the Shadowland equivalent found in the Green Aesop; the Polluted Wasteland. In older works (as late as the early nineteenth century), wilderness was not considered attractive scenery; a pleasant view was one of the cultivated countryside, usually with human figures in it) it contrasted with the Wild Wilderness and The Lost Woods; making this aspect something of an Evolving Trope.
Arcadia is always the better place in The City vs. the Country. It is not, however, a region free from all evils; the expression Et in Arcadia ego (even in Arcadia I — i.e. Death — am) comments that The Grim Reaper also makes appearances here. Unless, that is, it represents Heaven itself, though this traditional way of depicting Heaven has been largely displaced by Fluffy Cloud Heaven in modern fiction.
A 10-Minute Retirement often brings the character to Arcadia. A character — perhaps a City Mouse who's learned his lesson, or someone who lost his memory, or a Nature Lover who's finally escaped the Vice City — may settle down here for a peaceful life and a quiet romance. The pursuits of Arcadia are often portrayed as bringing life into the world and are more productive than the destructive pursuits of heroes and villains. Depending on how it is depicted, this can range from idyllic leisure to unending and hard work — but this work is never too complicated or stressful, but rather peaceful and fulfilling for a character who was Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
The Country Mouse or the Farm Boy often comes from a (more or less idealized) Arcadia. It often features as Home Sweet Home for an adventurer. Many a Retired Badass and Old Master live here full time, having jumped at the Call to Agriculture. If the question of social relations comes up, it will always turn out to be a Close-Knit Community. The Nature Lover often appreciates it for the greenery.
A brief visit there is an Arcadian Interlude.
The Noble Savage lives with even less of civilization's goods, but operates on the same principle, although he is usually of a different race than the city folks, unlike the Arcadians — in both cases, by whatever definition of race was current.
Suffice it to say that in Real Life, things are much more complicated. Rural areas may have major advantages, but may also come with serious disadvantages. Some people can't stand life in sparsely populated areas, others can't imagine living anywhere else. In both cases, utopian societies generally don't exist in the real world, and presenting any place as such usually involves ignoring its flaws.
Arkadia is a region in southern Greece, the hilly middle of the Peloponnese peninsula. During the Roman Empire, poets (including Virgil) cast it as the idyllic land of the pastoral. Although thus Older Than Feudalism, it is generally a trope used by city dwellers. Compare it to Wild Wilderness which it sometimes can overlap with also.
When a science fiction (rather than realistic or fantasy) story is set in Arcadia, that's Pastoral Science Fiction.
Not to be confused with Tom Stoppard's play of the same name, or the Duran Duran Spin-Off band. Joan of Arcadia and Skies of Arcadia aren't exactly this either. Not to mention all the other things named after Arcadia on Wikipedia. Or arcades.
- "At the end of their lives, all men look back and think that their youth was Arcadia" — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as quoted in the Captain Harlock movie Arcadia of My Youth. Used to justify the name of Harlock's Cool Ship.
- 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 Ghibli Hills of My Neighbor Totoro are next to farming villages fitting this trope.
- A major theme in Only Yesterday is the characters' love for the countryside.
- The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, also an Isao Takahata production, depicts Kaguya's incredibly idyllic, carefree rural childhood, where everyone is kind and pure-hearted, in contrast to the materialistic, snooty, and sometimes downright evil people in the capital shown later on.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Resembool, the Elric brothers' hometown, seems to be this.
- Haibane Renmei may have a town and some technology, but it perfectly embodies the emotional aspects.
- The idyllic world found in Neo Angelique is actually called Arcadia.
- Windaria The Valley, also known as 'Saki'. It's the region where people farm. It's a beautiful place with friendly people.
- The setting of ARIA. It is mentioned that technologically, it is a lot more primitive than Earth (called "Manhome"). And yet it's an utopia.
- In Saint Beast, heaven is meant to be more like this than a Fluffy Cloud Heaven, but has a sinister edge thanks to the Jerkass Gods.
- 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.
- Cappy Town in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, which is located in a pristine, tropical meadow not too far from the sea. Not to mention, the towns mayor owns a large herd of sheep, which means some level of farming activity occurs in that community.
- The second painting in Romantic painter Thomas Cole's The Course of Empire series is "The Arcadian or Pastoral State".
- Nicolas Poussin is well-known for idyllic, Arcadian depictions, including Et in Arcadia Ego, also known as Les Bergers d'Arcadie.
- The bottom-right scene in The Apotheosis of Washington shows a peaceful goddess holding a basket of fruit while beautiful maidens and men pick fruit and tame horses, all to represent America's agricultural prosperity.
- Fiddler's Green in The Sandman is an Arcadia Genius Loci.
- The mountain that Spider Jerusalem begins and ends Transmetropolitan in is an Arcadia. He also talks about the impact this rural area has on him during his time in the City.
- The Post-Crisis version of Smallville. The portrayal carried over to Lois & Clark and Superman: The Animated Series. Smallville, well that is slightly more mutant-y.
- Astro City's "Pastoral" takes place in a rather Arcadian countryside, with a Close-Knit Community, if not perfectly harmonious.
- In A-Force, "Arcadia" is the name given to a seemingly peaceful island in Battleworld. This turns out to be a subversion, as it soon becomes clear that Arcadia's peace has been maintained through strict adherence to Doom's laws.
- Wonder Woman (1942): Back when Wonder Woman's home was still known as Paradise Island it was unquestionably a lush peaceful green island with a tight-knit community of women who had arrived there over the centuries, generally as refugees, and loved it so much they chose to take the oaths and undergo the training to become Amazons. It especially helped that there was a separate island dedicated to their many RND and science experiments ("Science Island") and that their prison was also on a separate nearby island ("Reformation Island").
- The literary fairy tales of the precieuxes, such as Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's Aurore and Aimee, frequently put their princes and princesses in disguise as shepherds in a pastoral setting.
- In "The Prince", Joshua Christopher and his family live in a town named Arcadia, somewhere in the Midwestern United States. It is the modern-day parallel to Bethlehem/Nazareth/Jerusalem.
- The last segment of Akira Kurosawa's Dreams.
- The Thin Red Line has several examples: the Melanesian village, Witt's flashbacks to his life on the farm, and Bell's memories of his married life.
- The entire plot of The Village is concerned with a desperate, generation-old ploy to preserve an Arcadia.
- Fearless (2006), the village where Huo Yuanjia washes up after his fall from grace could be considered one. The people lead simple lives, spending their days farming, eating, and children playing, the landscape is rife with lush, green grass, and most everyone there has nary a care in the world aside from the harvest.
- 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.
- In The Phantom Menace, this seems to be the overall theme of the planet Naboo. It is a very peaceful place, and the majority of the planetary surface seems to consist of lovely cities, beautiful meadows full of alien livestock, rivers and waterfalls, and lush wetland areas teeming with diverse wildlife.
- Hitler's Madman: Lidice, a lovely peaceful quiet farming village, as shown in the opening montage with simple farm folk harvesting wheat and such. This is to help drive home the tragedy when the Nazis annihilate the entire village.
- The Secret of Roan Inish takes place in one.
- Wonder Woman (2017): The Amazon's home is a lush green island where the beauty of nature is even evident in their more built-up areas.
- 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.
- The entire point of The Georgics is to present a glorified picture of nature. It also happens to be the Trope Namer, since Virgil was the first writer to associate the historical region of Arcadia with an idealized haven of natural beauty.
- Sir Philip Sidney's The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.
- The Christopher Marlowe poem "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love". Walter Raleigh's response "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" is a Deconstruction.
- In Johannes Cabal the Necromancer the final town the diabolic carnival visits is one of these — Cabal notes that it's nice in a nearly-pervasive way. The place seems almost magical though it's noted that even in such a place there are few who would be deserving to sign their souls over. In chapter description its described as a nice place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit-its so powerful Cabal, quiet misanthrope, finds himself unable to tell off a child, feeling a strange urge to find a nice lady have kids and settle down, and gets quietly pushed into a teahouse and having a polite conversation, all very unusual for him.
- 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:
- At the Sierra Morena, Don Quixote converses this trope with the goatherds in Chapter XXI, delivering an Author Filibuster, Discourse on the Golden Age, comparing the goatherds with Noble Savages. None of them understand a word. One of the goatherds sings a song, but he didnt compose it (because he doesnt know how), it was his uncle who composed it, a cleric who has studied.
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.
- In any Arcadia poem, one or various shepherds complains about the shepherdess that ignores him. Marcela and Grisostomo deconstruct this in chapters XII XIV, where the Shepherdess claims she is So Beautiful, It's a Curse and so she had to be a shepherdess only to get her freedom, but all the City Mice that court her decided to be shepherds too. And if that Grisóstomo killed himself, it is unjust to blame her.
- Deconstructed again in 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 in chapter LVIII of the Second Part: Don Quixote meets some beautiful shepherdesses who are part of a crew of noble and rich people who invoke this trope by retiring to a forest to play at being 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:
''Will your worship be able to bear, out in the fields, the heats of summer, and the chills of winter, and the howling of the wolves? Not you; for that's a life and a business for hardy men, bred and seasoned to such work almost from the time they were in swaddling-clothes. Why, to make choice of evils, it's better to be a knight-errant than a shepherd!
- At the Sierra Morena, Don Quixote converses this trope with the goatherds in Chapter XXI, delivering an Author Filibuster, Discourse on the Golden Age, comparing the goatherds with Noble Savages. None of them understand a word. One of the goatherds sings a song, but he didnt compose it (because he doesnt know how), it was his uncle who composed it, a cleric who has studied.
- In Aesop's The 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 Lord of the Rings:
- The Shire is a subversion. It's a nice place to live, definitely, but it's not utopian, and while the hobbits are generally friendly, generous, and bucolic, they are also unimaginative, clannish, parochial, and prone to gossip and Tall Poppy Syndrome.
- Tom and Goldberry Bombadil really live in an Arcadia. Many people like to think this is JRRT's Big-Lipped Alligator Moment from the first part of the story, but it might be the only place on Middle-Earth that would be safe from Sauron's ravages should he win.
- In Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the shepherds are the only people who do not know of the Blatant Beast.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Honour Guard, Saint Sabbat's background, as a herder in the mountains. Consequently, Vamberfield's visions of her are also visions of Arcadia.
- The novel Ecotopia has the Northwestern US secede and become a separate country which is an Arcadian Nation. The protagonist is a reporter and visits the nation.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Uriel retreats from Cold-Blooded Torture to the memories of his childhood home, an Arcadian Shadowland to the Eye of Terror. Only when his dead mentor Captain Idaeus appears to chide him does he return to the pain.
- 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 Crossover, 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 conducive to a peaceful life. But both the Chalk and Lancre are generally presented as simpler and "nicer" places than the Wretched Hive of Ankh-Morpork, so Sir Pterry does play it more-or-less straight at times. (This doesn't stop people from moving from places like Lancre to Ankh-Morpork.)
- Patricia A. McKillip:
- 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 beginning of which is a description 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 three heroes 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.
- The vast majority of the Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery are set in this trope (except goes to Anne of the Island, where she is in a city going to college), and her "Emily," "Story Girl," "Magic For Marigold," "A Tangled Web (1931)," and "Pat" books also fit the bill. On the other hand, "The Blue Castle" and "Jane of Lantern Hill" are about City Mice finding fulfillment in Arcadia — here embodied in Prince Edward Island.
- Pastoral literature is mocked extensively in David Eddings' The Tamuli.
- Yet in Eddings's 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 on 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."
Bernstein. All these neat little houses on all these nice little streets. It's hard to believe that something is wrong in some of these little houses.
- This is paraphrased in All the President's Men in the scene where they meet Sloane and his pregnant wife in their perfect Stepford Smiler Suburbia:
Woodward. No, it isn't.
- Many Agatha Christie novels are the deconstruction of this. In the countryside, everyone knows everyone. That's good, right? Well, everyone has a reason to hate 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 Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus novel The Mark of Athema, a tapestry shows a pastoral scene when Annabeth reaches the chamber of Athena Parthenos.
- 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 peaceable. 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". Such that the In-Universe celebrities have bought country houses when they could. 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 .
- Richard Brautigan has a questionable Arcadia in In Watermelon Sugar. You sense that the people of iDEATH are trying hard to make it one, in any case.
- In Victoria it is the ultimate goal of the heroes to create an Arcadia by rejecting all modernity and multiculturalism. This is even compared to the Shire.
- In The Machineries of Empire, the Hafn culture has Arcadia as its central motif, idealizing simple farm life and putting agriculture on a pedestal. Their version is slightly more high-tech, though, as Jedao notes they write poetry about milking machines. Theyve also launched an invasion of the Hexarchate and have some nasty but effective Functional Magic at their disposal, so theres not a lot of peace or gentleness happening there, either.
- Martín Fierro: At the second song, Fierro declares his former life as a rancher as this: All the hard work the gauchos made seemed to be a party, everyone was happy after work, even the poorest gaucho had hope in the future, the Cattle Baron respected them, and there was food in abundance for all. At the third song, Fierro implies this is full of Nostalgia Filter because he is now an Outlaw who only can remember his lost old life.
- The Mennonite community in Alien in a Small Town is essentially this, with lengthy descriptions of how beautiful the countryside is. However, Indira grew up there, left for years, and returned under awkward circumstances, so her feelings about the place are decidedly mixed.
- Arthur Dent retires to a planet like this at the end of Life, the Universe and Everything, where he is free to pursue his skill of falling and missing the ground.
- The Divine Comedy: Purgatorio Canto 27 uses agricultural imagery to describe the peace Dante finds upon reaching the top of Paradise. He compares himself to a goat sated in a meadow as his two mentors stand over him in the role of kind shepherds.
- The rural village of Harley's Crossing in Northern California is never seen in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling, but one gets a clear sense that Ivy Carson sees it as an Arcadia.
- Algernon Blackwood presents his ideas about the connection between Arcadia and Cosmic Consciousness — a sense of Nature and earth as a living, conscious being — in The Centaur. O'Malley journeys to the Caucasus and in the "hills of the ancients" experiences a great vision. The key is to downsize, free ourselves of material concerns as much as possible and live in harmony with nature, as in "the simple life". (The prose in this section is positively Lovecraftian, in the sense of that author's early dream stories like "The White Ship" or "Celephais".) He tells people what he's learned, but even those who believe him say you can't convince people of a truth about feelings and emotions, by talking and appealing to their intellect. Each person must find it in their own time. He even thinks he'll be better able to nudge humanity in the right direction after he dies.
- The Anderssons: As much as this series applauds progress in most other areas, it is very protective of the increasingly marginalized countryside. Elin is determined to live on the family homestead until she dies, and Elisabeth and Saga also live in the countryside. The commune "Fyra systrar" is located in the countryside too and gives several women (including members of the Andersson family, like Judith and Maria and Nina and Louise) a place to live in the 1970s. Of course, some members of the Andersson family have other interests and prefer to live in the nearby town of Växjö. Anna, Cecilia and Åsa even spend most of their lives abroad. But still, Saga writes a series of books about the family. And that reminds them of where their origins are.
- Doc Martin takes place in an idyllic rural fishing village.
- Doctor Who:
- In the 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.
- Another Arcadia was a pastoral human colony planet, introduced in the Doctor Who New Adventures.
- In "The Mutants" Ky assures us Arcadia was the Back Story of his planet.
- Glue is set among the rolling hills of the English countryside, where the hobbies are farming, horse racing, and murder.
- 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.
- The Picard Family Orchard is depicted this way in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Ironic usage on The X-Files, with a planned community called Arcadia that's really a Town with a Dark Secret.
- In the classic The Twilight Zone episode "A Stop at Willoughby", the protagonist is very sick and tired of the rat race of 1960s American society. During a nap, he visits a town called Willoughby, 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 and he was taken to Willoughby and Sons Funeral Home.
- On the less-settled end of the spectrum is Merlin (1998): Merlin and Arthur's childhood homes, and the dream-like sanctuary created for Nimue and Merlin by Mab appear to be the forest version of this - a small cottage with friendly animals all around and only occasional human occupants, allowing a simple, peaceful life at home with nature.
- Beethoven's Sixth, the Pastoral Symphony, was inspired by his love of nature and his vacations in the countryside outside Vienna.
- 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.
- Pink Martini's music alludes from time to time to a place,
Where the hills are green, and the cars are few and farDays are full of splendor, and at night you can see the stars...
- Avantasia's Journey to Arcadia may be referring to this.
- 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 and 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."
- Peaceful country life is described in Joni Mitchell's "Sisotowbell Lane". The name comes from a mythology she invented and is an acronym: "Somehow, in spite of troubles, ours will be ever-lasting love." There is something of this in Graham Nash's "Our House", describing his relationship with Joni. The house was hers, in idyllic Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles.
- Russian folk-rock band Otava Yo set lots of their music in a timeless Russia where people are either pre-revolutionary village muzhiks or else have gone back to the land to recreate a simpler older Russia. the video to Иванушка-рачек (Ivan the Crayfish) is set in an idealised Russian summer with an extended peasant family living barefoot on the land and dressing in a way that hearkens back to over a century ago. The video evokes the idea of "Rodinia" - Mother Russia, sustaining and nurturing.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- One of the Outer Planes in the Planescape AD&D setting, specifically the park-like "Lawful Good with emphasis on the lawful" plane, is called "Arcadia". (The complete name, according to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, is "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.
- Exodite Worlds in Warhammer 40,000 are the closest you can get to paradise in this setting. Terraformed by the Eldar on the edges of the galaxy before the Fall, plenty of these Eden-like worlds became refuges for Eldar post-fall who yearned for a simple life or refused to repeat the past. Discarding a lot of the higher technology in favour of being closer to the land. Some of these paradises were discovered by the Imperium of Man and developed into luxury retreats emulating a theme-park version of this trope for the aristocracy.
- William Shakespeare used it more than once:
- In Cymbeline, two young princes are raised outside civilization by their adoptive father.
- In The Winter's Tale, a royal foundling is raised by shepherds.
- In As You Like It, Rosalind, fleeing her uncle's corrupt court, seeks refuge in the Arcadian locale of the Forest of Arden. The play 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.
- Strephon from Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe is an Arcadian shepherd. He's also half fairy.
- Arcadia, strangely enough, takes place in a rural country house, even if it isn't necessarily where the title comes from.
- In John Milton's Comus, Comus poses as a shepherd to make the Lady more trusting. More honestly, the Attendent Spirit greets her brothers as a shepherd.
- In Banished, the aim of the game is to ensure the survival of a colonial-era settlement, and manage its growth. Most successful settlements will look like this, but unfortunately, you will need to build smoke-spewing mines, quarries, and heavy industry sometimes, which will tarnish the aesthetic.
- 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.
- The Fallout 4 DLC Far Harbor revolves around a hidden colony where artificial humans ("synths") can live in peace and harmony. Of course, they are set up at Arcadia National Park, Maine.
- Zion National Park counts as one. It's a mythical, hard-to-reach place, there is virtually no ecological damage from the Great War, the water is free of radiation, plants thrive in abundance, and it is inhabited by the innocent and peaceful tribe known as the Sorrows. Played With in that it's still a part of the Fallout world and as such is host to lovely mutants like Yao Guais, Green Geckos, Cazadores and Giant Mantises.
- In Fable I, the hero's Doomed Hometown of Oakvale is an Arcadian hamlet, and the neighbouring Barrow Fields are equally idyllic. However, by the time of the second game, the region has become a cursed marshland.
- In Fable II, the town of Oakfield follows in Oakvale's bucolic footsteps, consisting mostly of farmland with a few houses, produce stalls, and an inn.
- The village in Fez is this.
- 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 Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, 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.
- The human colony of Arcadia from Halo is implied to normally be this, given that it's a resort planet. Ironically, it's nothing of the sort when we actually see it in Halo Wars, since it's in the middle of being invaded by Covenant.
- A majority of the Harvest Moon games are set in this type of area.
- Rural Sicily is shown to be something of an Arcadia in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
- The Idolmaster: "arcadia", one of Chihaya's image songs, can be considered a reference to this trope. The lyrics describe people striving to reach a mythical, ideal land.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- Skyloft from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a Floating Continent version.
- Hateno Village from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It's a rural Hylian village on tallish hills overlooking beautiful green hills, and unlike the settlements of the other races of Hyrule, it isn't facing any imminent threat from the Divine Beasts.
- In The Longest Journey, Arcadia is Another Dimension where magic is possible. While it looks like a pastoral utopia to people coming there from our world, it has its own share of problems, too.
- 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.
- The Mega Man Zero series had Neo Arcadia, the last utopia for humans.
- Which, in a 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.
- 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.
- 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...
- 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 beside 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.
- Verdanturf Town from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, it's so idealized that simply being there makes you healthier.
- There's a lot of farmland near Solaceon Town. Comes bundled with free ruins!
- The White version of Pokémon Black and White's Opelucid City, a quiet, old-timey town. Black's version of Opelucid is a techno haven.
- Agate Village, the only beautiful place in the hellhole that is Orre.
- Pokémon X and Y has Camphrier Town, a small idyllic village heavily inspired by the French countryside with berry fields nearby. There's also the Baa de Mer Ranch on Route 12 where Skiddo run around.
- 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.
- The Eastern Kingdom of Mikado in Shin Megami Tensei IV starts as this.
- 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.
- Touhou Project: The very purpose of Gensokyo. But it just ends 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.
- The forest and prairie regions in Wolf are apparently this to the humans in the game, since they're pleasant and good for grazing cattle. You'll wish they'd go home instead, because humans are the most annoying enemy in the game.
- Elwynn Forest, the human starting zone in World of Warcraft has shades of this.
- The angelic plane of Elysium/Paradise in Nexus Clash is always this trope, full of idyllic rolling hills, perfect vistas, and quaint little towns. One version even had Fluffy Cloud Heaven floating on the clouds above.
- Eden Prime from Mass Effect was said to be this. People were even housed in arcologies so the landscape wasn't ruined with urban sprawl. By the time Normandy arrives, however, it's under attack by the Geth, smoke fills the air and is a Doomed Hometown for one of the crew.
- Players can enforce this trope with the Agrarian Idyll civic in Stellaris. City districts house fewer people, gathering districts (farming and mining areas) house more people, farmers produce amenities (which counters unhappiness), oh and only pacifistic empires can adopt this.
- The Sims 2, the Seasons expansion, added the very rural neighborhood of Riverblossom Hills, with an archaic country architecture and a heavy focus on seasons, gardening, and fishing (major features introduced in the expansion pack).
- In The Dreamer, 18th century Roxbury Massachusetts definitely fits the bill.
- In Sarab, most of the world is like this.
- In Sandra and Woo, Larisa solemnly proclaims that a painting depicts this -- shortly before declaring it showed hostility to the old rural life.
- In Red's Planet, the Cawaweeans.
A small agrarian people who lead a very simple life farming the beautiful green hills and valleys of the tiny planet Cawawee.
- In ThunderCats (2011), (a series prone to Scenery Porn)
- "Omens Part One" has it present in the Epic Tracking Shot that introduces Thundera, seen to the south of the walled city.
- In "The Duelist and the Drifter" this is the setting of the Swordmaker's home, full of rolling fields.
- Ponyville from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a small farming community where they still wrap up winter by hand (er, hoof) and seems to be the only town where nobody wears clothes.
- This is only when things are going well, though. Everything from parasprites to Discord to Cerberus (Yes, that one) seems to make a beeline for Ponyville whenever they show up in the show, so Ponyville is far from peaceful and idyllic.
- Equestria as a whole very much this. The occasional monster rampage aside, its a peaceful, pastoral nation dotted with pleasant towns in a landscape of farmland and lush nature where candy-colored ponies live in harmony with every sort of magical creature, friendship rules supreme, and the weather is managed on demand by Pegasus weather teams and the night and day cycle by the alicorn princesses for the benefit of all.
- Crac: The beautiful, lush rural Quebec village inhabited by the farmer. Woodsmen chopping trees, waterfalls, bubbling streams. All ruined when industrialization comes.
- The Simpsons: Ned Flanders briefly moves his family to Humbleton, Pennsylvania, home of the "Humble Figurines" (expies of sorts for Hummels?), where everyone looks and acts like idealized Rockwell characters, and are super polite and Tastes Like Diabetes sweet—an ideal type of place for Flanders' manner and idealized worldview, and he acts like this is the place he's longed to be all his life. However, he is pressured to shave his mustache to be accepted into the town... and he moves back to Springfield instead.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: The episode "Ceiling Zero Zero" opens with the skyline of a peaceful little town called Dunkelville, where as the narrator intones "nothing exciting ever happens." The skyline of the city disintegrates into rubble when the Vulture Squadron passes over chasing Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
- The Trope Namer is a historic region of the Greek Peloponnesus (still a prefecture of Greece today). It's 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.
- Diocletian abdicated as Emperor and built a retirement palace at Split, and when asked to come out of retirement replied that "If you could see the vegetables planted by my hands at Salona, you would then never think of urging such an attempt."
- 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 exaggerated 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.
- Fictional works sympathetic to the Confederate side in The American Civil War, such as Gone with the Wind, usually play up this trope and combine it with Happiness in Slavery. Expect the slavery system to be depicted as pastoral and paternalistic and contrasted favorably with the soulless industrial capitalism of the North, all of which plays on the appeal of this trope.
- In fact, there was a whole intellectual/literary movement, known as the "Southern Agrarians," dedicated to this notion of the rural South being a modern-day Arcadia.
- This, and any other views of old-fashioned Arcadias in the United States would be subject to dissonance nowadays, as formal lawns are a relatively recent thing. Those gentle agrarian places of old used to have either no grass in the yard, or whatever bushes, trees, and wild plants grew up instead, with household trash tossed in. That's just where people threw their trash in rural areas back then. Either that or they planted vegetables.
- More specifically, growing grass was done to show that you were rich and didn't need to use your yard for a produce garden as had once been the norm. Today, some people are returning to this practice to save money — and have been charged with a crime and faced jail time for doing so.
- 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.
They will be on wonderful, mystical land, and may they have good games.
- The northwestern portions of New Jersey most definitely qualify as this, and are part of the area colloquially known as "The Skylands" by New Jerseyans. This corner contains 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.
- Even parts of South Jersey have been Arcadia, perceived to have natural and historic value. Patti Smith actually bought her childhood Arcadia, Thomas' Field in Woodbury Gardens, a part of Deptford, hoping to have it protected as a wilderness preserve. She was later forced to sell it so that the Childhood Memory Demolition Team could destroy its historic buildings, and the land she and her siblings had known was a sacred, magical place turned into a soccer field.
- 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.
- Much of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is like this, and so are some of the northern parts of the Lower Peninsula.
- Parts of western Massachusetts could qualify as well.
- 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. In spite of the mass deportations by the British in 1755, there are still some French-speaking descendants of those colonists, particularly 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 reference to these French-speaking peoples, originally of the northern East Coast, who were moved to Louisiana.)
- 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 hometown 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 its 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.
- Any part of Cornwall that is not on the coast (the coasts, for the record, are Surfer Dude territory) is an Arcadia. Extends to most of The West Country, as well.
- 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 before certain events started. It was called the breadbasket of Eastern Europe for a reason.
- Polulu Valley on the north coast of Hawaii's Big Island. Not only do you have to drive to the literal end of the highway, but you have to hike about an hour down a cliff trail just to get down to its beach.