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HBO's acclaimed drama True Detective took the Emmy nominations by storm last month, but the show's road to glory is getting bumpy.

Both the pay cable network and series creator Nic Pizzolatto are now on the defensive after an online magazine, The LoveCraft EZine, accused the writer of plagiarizing some of True Detective's dialogue from other authors—horror novelist Thomas Ligotti in particular.

In an article published on August 4, the online magazine interviewed the founder of a website dedicated to Ligotti, Thomas Liggoti Online. The founder claims there is "ample evidence" that excerpts from Ligotti's nonfiction book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, were either paraphrased or directly lifted to be used primarily as dialogue for one of True Detective's main characters, Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle.

On Thursday, HBO defended Pizzolatto in a statement released to Entertainment Weekly:

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.

Pizzolatto, who in the past has named Ligotti as one influence for Rust's musings—which include such gems as his famous "time is a flat circle" line—also issued a 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 Schopenhauer, 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.

True Detective is nominated for five Emmys, including Best Drama Series. 


What's your take on the accusations against Pizzolatto?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/9/2015

Season 2 : Episode 8

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Yeah, I don't think so, crazy fan site guy. Nic already openly acknowledged Ligotti as a major influence and inspiration for Rust Cohle months ago while the season was actually airing, long before your accusations. Enjoy your petty 15 minutes of fame while they last!
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Many of Rust's dialogues are paraphrases of ancient Indian texts from scholars and philosophers and the 'Time is a flat circle' is a particularly popular one for thousands of years. You don't see anybody jumping up to defend that, do you!
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I've read some other articles about this, and I kinda think Ligotti's fans are applying academic plagiarism standards to this TV show. Perhaps Pizzolatto could have given Ligotti a bit of credit from the beginning, but I don't think this is plagiarism. It seems more like an homage.
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Agreed - From what I saw on the website mentioned above, I would not call it plagiarism.
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I tend to follow Nic's surname after spending too much in Starbucks.
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My knee jerk reaction to this is to defend Nic Pizzolatto, because I loved the first season of True Detective... but he did borrow Rust's philosophy from other writers, and it does seem like some of the dialog is really similar, and in some cases more than similar. I don't think it's a bad thing that Pizzolatto did this, but perhaps in the interests of fairness he should, I dunno, give Ligotti more credit? It's probably a bit too late for that, and could open the doors to being sued or something. Shit, maybe Ligotti is even flattered by it. He's certainly getting more attention now than he was before. Someone should interview him!
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*Nietzsche
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I went to the site claiming plagiarism - Some lines are similar - some very similar - but I did not see enough evidence to call it plagiarism. This is really a fine line to walk though and probably is a little too close to the work of Ligotti but from what I saw I'd say it falls short of outright plagiarism. Still - something that should probably be avoided in the future.
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Did you read Alan Moore's Top 10? Go to the main show page and see my comments, read the comic page and come back - it seems Pizzolatto borrowed from a LOT of sources. Pastiche of homages?
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Yeah - he did borrow from a lot of sources - and the themes were all common, nihilistic ones. I think that is fine to do - as long as it's not word for word over an extended period and as long as it doesn't rip off the plot. Still need to be careful when some are as close to word-for-word as was the case with that one work from Ligotti.
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Pizzolatto should just come clean and explain that Cohle had read and appreciated Ligotti's work. But to double down and say it's so generic that it isn't attributable is moronic and lacks credibility. Give credit where it's due but fight that it requires giving royalties. The website owner, however, is just an opportunistic whiner seeking publicity.
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So as a writer, are we allowed to even write about anything without being sued?

Oh wait, I also used to be a lawyer and the answer to that is: COPYRIGHT LAW IS STUPID!
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It's simple really. Rust Cohle is the reincarnation of Thomas Ligotti. Problem solved!
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Even more impressive as Ligotti isn't even dead yet :P
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Oh that's easy too, you just eat a bag of 'shrooms and have a vision quest in a gas station bathroom, next thing you know, the future reincarnation of yourself and you are occupying the same timeline! - See Silicon Valley...
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I've read Ligotti's book, and Cohle's dialogue is extremely similar to Ligotti's in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. I think the complaint is reasonable, but I don't think it is due to bad intentions on Pizzolatto's part. Pessimissism is sometimes difficult to understand and explain in a practical manner. and Ligotti simply did it better than anyone else. It is remarkable how beautifully he puts it. This happening is more of a testament to Ligotti's skill and less of one to Pizzolatto's lack thereof.
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Philosophical navel-gazing is a flat circle.
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That's literally incorrect.
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Most philosophical observations are literally incorrect. The fact that they're philosophical means they're usually meant to be taken figuratively, not literally. More importantly, Noel nails the joke.
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No, pun suits.
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Gasp. I do. BTW, your use of the word "pun" is literally incorrect. "Parody" would be more accurate.
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Gasp. If you think a pun is more important than a massively substantial body of work on human's being, well.
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