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Nic Pizzolatto and HBO Deny 'True Detective' Plagiarism Claims

"As an autodidact pessimist, Cohle speaks toward that philosophy with erudition and in his own words," says Pizzolatto. "The ideas within this philosophy are certainly not exclusive to any writer."

True Detective creator and current Hollywood Reporter cover subject Nic Pizzolatto briefly came under fire this week when a blog accused the writer and executive producer of plagiarizing the work of Thomas Ligotti and other authors. The turnaround for a response was speedy.

The claims focus on similarities between quotes delivered on the series by the character Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and passages in Ligotti's novel The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Both Pizzolatto and HBO issued statements on Thursday flat-out denying the accusations.

"Nothing in the television show True Detective was plagiarized," said Pizzolatto. "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."

Those who aren't autodidactic pessimists themselves may need to give that a second read, but HBO is much clearer. The network also issued its own statement in defense of its Emmy-nominated showrunner. 

True Detective is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto," reads the statement. "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."

True Detective has been one of the bigger events to hit HBO in recent years, locking up 12 Emmy nominations and sparking a casting frenzy rarely seen in TV for its not-yet formally announced sophomore run. Pizzolatto has mostly been met with critical acclaim. And as for his detractors, he chalks it up to "stupid criticism."