Was True Detective plagiarized? Say it ain’t so! Well, the show’s creator Nic Pizzolatto has denied the claims, but let’s look at the accusations first. Pizzolatto has been accused of lifting phrases and ideas off Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horrorand applying him to his breakout hit on HBO. The accusations came not directly from the author, but from Jon Padgett, founder of the website Thomas Ligotti Online, and Mike Davis, editor of The Lovecraft eZine. In an interview Padgett gave for Davis, he said that Pizzolatto seems to have plagiarized Lugotti “like a high school student will cheat on an essay” – paraphrasing in some places and copying directly in others. Now, both the showrunner and the company are disputing Ligotti’s claims, according to E! News.

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew Mcconaughey in True Detective.

The network released a statement, backing up Pizzolatto.

"True Detective is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto," HBO said. "Philosophical concepts are free for anyone to use, including writers of fiction, and there have been many such examples in the past. Exploring and engaging with ideas and themes that philosophers and novelists have wrestled with over time is one of the show's many strengths—we stand by the show, its writing and Nic Pizzolatto entirely."

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It’s not unexpected that HBO would back up their own showrunner, but Pizzolatto’s statement is even better. Here’s what he had to say on the matter (via E! News): "Nothing in the television show True Detective was plagiarized. The philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author; rather these are the philosophical tenets of a pessimistic, anti-natalist philosophy with an historic tradition including Arthur Schopenauer, Friedrich Nietzche, E.M. Cioran, and various other philosophers, all of whom express these ideas. As an autodidact pessimist, Cohle speaks toward that philosophy with erudition and in his own words. The ideas within this philosophy are certainly not exclusive to any writer."

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Well that’s certainly an original way to put it. It doesn’t really get Pizzolatto off the hook, as he’s also accused of lifting specific phrases, but it’s still the best response to a plagiarism charge we’ve ever read.