What You Need To Know About the 'True Detective' Plagiarism Row

So you've heard about the True Detective 'plagiarism row'. You've heard about Thomas Ligotti, and Nic Pizzolatto, and Rust Cohle's monologues - but how does all this fit together? Who's being accused of what?

True DetectiveWoody Harrelson [L] and Matthew McConaughey [R] in 'True Detective'

Well, the specific allegations concern Pizzolatto - the creator and writer of True Detective - and his existential dialogue for Matthew McConaughey's character in the acclaimed HBO show. Some have flagged up the similarity between the lines and the work of the horror writer Thomas Ligotti.

More: should we care about True Detective's plagiarism accusations?

More: Elisabeth Moss coy on True Detective rumors

Jon Padgett, the founder of Thomas Ligotti Online and Mike Davis, the editor and founder of The Lovecraft eZine website, compared a few of Rust Cohle's famous lines in the show with Ligotti's book Conspiracy Against the Human Race. For example, one line in True Detective goes: 

"We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law."

While Ligotti's work reads:

"We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does."

Another famous line from True Detective saw McConaughey telling Woody Harrelson's character:

"The only honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, and march hand-in-hand into extinction."

This is similar to the line in Ligotti's book:

"...the human race will never do the honorable thing and abort itself..."/ "To end this self-deception... we must cease reproducing."

Pizzolatto has been pretty open about Ligotti's influence on his work - but is this really plagiarism? Sure, the themes are similar, but the Pizzolatto is creating fictional characters for a TV show. Rust Cohle shares Ligotti's philosophy, his world view and general sense of ennui. Should we really be throwing accusations of plagiarism around? Jury's out.

More: meet the probable cast of 'True Detective' season 2


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