Both HBO and True Detective’s creator have responded to allegations of plagiarism. Nic Pizzolatto has been accused of lifting dialogue from horror novelist Thomas Ligotti for character Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) philosophical musings.
“True Detective is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto,” HBO said in a statement, according to Entertainment Weekly. “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.”
Writer Pizzolatto followed up with his own denial. “Nothing in the television show True Detective was plagiarized,” the writer said. “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 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.”
Pizzolatto has previously said that the works of Ligotti and others have been an inspiration to him.