'True Detective' Creator Nic Pizzolatto Dismisses Plagiarism Claims

In a newly released statement, the writer denies borrowing elements from the work of horror author Thomas Ligotti

True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Nic Pizzolatto and Matthew McConaughey.
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True Detective recently earned a slew of nominations for this year's Emmys (including Outstanding Drama Series), but the celebratory mood has been dampened for the show's creator, Nic Pizzolatto. A newly hyped rumor campaign claiming that the first season of his psychological HBO drama borrowed elements from the work of horror author Thomas Ligotti has been revived, centered around the nihilistic outlook of Detective "Rust" Cohle. As Deadline reports, Pizzolatto defended his creative choices in a statement, saying, "Nothing in the television show True Detective was plagiarized."

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"The philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author," he continues. "Rather, these are the philosophical tenets of a pessimistic, anti-natalist philosophy with an historic tradition including Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, 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."

The plagiarism gossip first began back in January, but a recent post from The Lovecraft eZine recharged the rumor mill, breaking down similarities between Ligotti's writing and lines spoken by Cohle (Matthew McConaughey).

Meanwhile, HBO also issued a statement in defense of Pizzolatto's work.

"True Detective is a work of exceptional originality, and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto," the network 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."

Back in July, Pizzolatto told The Daily Beast that he'd already finished half of the scripts for the show's second season, and also confirmed some background details for the next batch of episodes: While Season One focused primarily on a pair of unlikely detective partners – Cohle and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) – based in Louisiana, Season Two will feature an all-new cast with "four central roles" set in California.

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