One of the most unexpected stories earlier this week was a report accusing “True Detective” creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto of plagiarizing significant portions of his scripts for the show.
Specifically, an article on The Lovecraft E-zine noted similarities between dialogue from “True Detective” and portions of Thomas Ligotti’s “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”. Elements from works by William S. Burroughs and Alan Moore were said to have been lifted as well.
Now, both the network and Nic Pizzolatto are denying that “True Detective” was plagiarized, saying conceptual and philosophical ideas are free for anyone to use. No mention is made of specific passages in Ligotti’s work that appear to have been quite closely appropriated in Pizzolatto’s scripts:
HBO Statement: “‘True Detective’ is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto. 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.”
Nic Pizzolatto Statement: “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.”