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HBO & Nic Pizzolatto Issue Official Statements Denying Plagiarism Charge Against 'True Detective'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist August 7, 2014 at 4:02PM

Earlier this week, the interwebs lit up when a detailed argument surfaced accusing "True Detective" creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto of plagiarizing significant portions of his scripts for the show. A piece over at the at The Lovecraft E-zine noted the startling similarities between dialogue from "True Detective" and portions of Thomas Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." Other examples, including works by William S. Burroughs and Alan Moore, were brought to light as well. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before a response was issued from the HBO camp, and indeed it has arrived.
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True Detective

Earlier this week, the interwebs lit up when a detailed argument surfaced accusing "True Detective" creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto of plagiarizing significant portions of his scripts for the show. A piece over at the at The Lovecraft E-zine noted the startling similarities between dialogue from "True Detective" and portions of Thomas Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." Other examples, including works by William S. Burroughs and Alan Moore, were brought to light as well. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before a response was issued from the HBO camp, and indeed it has arrived.

Both the network and Pizzolatto deny that "True Detective" was plagiarized, saying that conceptual and philosophical ideas are free for anyone to use. While that's true, neither statement makes any mention of the specific passages in Ligotti's work in particular (or mention him by name) that appear to have been appropriated (sometimes quite closely) for Pizzolatto's scripts. You can read both statements in full below. Let us know what you think.

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.

This article is related to: Television, TV News, HBO , True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto


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