Joan of Arcadia

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Name: Joan of Arcadia
Abbreviation(s): JoA
Creator: Barbara Hall
Date(s): September 26, 2003- April 22, 2005
Medium: live-action TV series
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB
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Joan of Arcadia is an American television fantasy/family drama that aired on CBS for two seasons starring Amber Tamblyn as Joan.


16-year-old Joan Girardi as she settled into life in a new town (Arcadia), made new friends at the local high school, dealt with all the usual trials and tribulations of growing up. What set the show -- and Joan -- apart was that God talked to her. Pretty often, in fact, and in a number of different guises, from Cute Guy God to Goth Guy God to Little Girl God to Substitute Teacher God to Street Musician God.

The show was also different in that the parents were as important as the kids in JoA, with a separate storyline for at least the dad, Will Girardi, every week. He had moved the family to Arcadia because he got a job there as Chief of Police, and most of his storylines revolved around his police work. (Always visually cued by cool blue lighting; Joan's storyline and the overall family storyline always had warm gold lighting.)

Joan's brothers also got their own storylines, to differing degrees. Kevin, the oldest, had been in a car accident pre-series that left him paralyzed from the waist down, and most of his storyline dealt with his adjusting to a very different life than he'd expected. Luke, the youngest of the three, is also the smartest by far, extremely smart, possibly genius-level. His storylines tended to involve his open-minded approach to life, and the girls he was involved with -- first Glynis, a geek like him, and later Grace, a rebel and poet, and also Joan's best friend.

The Ten Commandments of Joan of Arcadia

The show was created by Barbara Hall, who had a show "bible" that included "The Ten Commandments of Joan of Arcadia"[1], which are also crucial to remember for fanfic:

  1. God cannot directly intervene.
  2. Good and evil exist.
  3. God can never identify one religion as being right.
  4. The job of every human being is to fulfill his or her true nature.
  5. Everyone is allowed to say "no" to God, including Joan.
  6. God is not bound by time. This is a human concept.
  7. God is not a person and does not possess a human personality.
  8. God talks to everyone all the time in different ways.
  9. God's plan is what is good for us, not what is good for him.
  10. God's purpose for talking to Joan, and everyone, is to get her (us) to recognize the interconnectedness of all things - i.e., you cannot hurt a person without hurting yourself; all of your actions have consequences; God can be found in the smallest actions; God expects us to learn and grow from all our experiences. However, the exact nature of God is a mystery, and the mystery can never be solved.[2]

Joan of Arcadia Fandom

Television Without Pity provided a strong base for the fandom while the show was on the air, with very popular recaps and active forums.

(other fannish bases? lists, ljs?)


The fanfiction was pretty well distributed across gen and het, with some slash and femslash as well. Most of the fanfic is about the younger characters, although Helen and Will aren't ignored completely.

There was no single OTP in the fandom; the canonical relationships of Joan/Adam and Luke/Grace were popular, but Luke/Glynis, Joan/Grace, Adam/Iris, even the incest pairing of Kevin/Luke have fanfic written about them.

JoA fanfic has dropped off to nearly nothing, except on, where several stories (or at least chapters of stories) seem to be posted each month.


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.



Archives & Fannish Links

LiveJournal Communities


  1. ^ COVER STORY; Plots That Work In Mysterious Ways, New York Times, March 28, 2004. Accessed October 28, 2008.
  2. ^ Notes on pilot episode writeup,, accessed October 28, 2008.