Both HBO and "True Detective" creator Nic Pizzolatto were quick to dismiss a plagiarism accusation against the writer. Pizzolatto denied that he was directly lifting some of the dialogue on the hit show, particularly the philosophical reflections of Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle, from the works of various authors including horror novelist Thomas Ligotti.
"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," HBO said in a statement. "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 added in his own 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."
Earlier this week, the editor of a site dedicated to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft published an article accusing Pizzolatto of plagiarizing directly from Ligotti's "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race". Collaborating with Thomas Ligotti Online founder Jon Padgett, Mike Davis noted that Pizzolatto "in some places using exact quotes, and in others changing a word here and there, paraphrasing in much the same way that a high school student will cheat on an essay by copying someone else's work and substituting a few words of their own."
According to Padgett, Pizzolatto previously admitted that Ligotti's work was one of his inspirations but he acknowledged the horror author out of "pressure." Padgett said, "Usually I would give any kind of writer who appeared so praising of Ligotti the benefit of the doubt, but I knew how deep the plagiarism issue ran, and I had no illusions that Pizzolatto suddenly and coincidentally wanted to talk about Ligotti after already having dozens and dozens of opportunities to do so before."
Pizzolatto is nominated for a writing Emmy, which voting ends August 14.