Did "True Detective" creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto lift ideas and even quotes straight out of the works of Thomas Ligotti and Alan Moore? That's the allegation being made by Mike Davis of The Lovecraft eZine.
"True Detective," of course, is HBO's eight-episode detective show starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson that became major water cooler fodder when it aired in early 2014. Viewers were captivated by McConaughey's Rust Cohle, whose unapologetically bleak, nihilistic worldview intersected with the serial killer case he and his partner Marty Hart pursue.
Thomas Ligotti is the prolific, if little-known, author of "philosophical horror" fiction and nonfiction books, screenplays and poetry. His highly distinctive writing and reclusiveness have made him a cult icon of sorts. His 2010 nonfiction book, "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race," is an epic work explaining Ligotti's own philosophical pessimism and antinatalism (a philosophical notion that believes that birth and procreation are negative acts that should be avoided).
Lovecraft eZine, with assistance from a Ligotti fansite, outlines almost a dozen quotes spoken by Cohle on "True Detective" that can be traced to nearly exact quotes from Ligotti's "Conspiracy." Pizzolatto has admitted to drawing from Ligotti (and others) as influences, but suggests that any similarities are evidence of homage, not plagiarism. An example of the alleged plagiarism, cited by Lovecraft eZine:
Rust Cohle, "True Detective": "We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law."
Thomas Ligotti, "Conspiracy Against the Human Race": "We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does."
Additionally, other sources, such as Vulture, have noticed a strong resemblance between the final exchange between the show's two leads and a conversation that ends Alan Moore's 2000 comic book called "Top 10."
In Moore's comic, a character named Kapela stares at the night sky filled with stars while a friend asks if the presence of so much more black means that light is losing. Kapela replies that "Once there was only black. [Light] is winning." In "True Detective," Hart and Cohle have an almost identical exchange about the night sky that ends with Cohle's dramatic change of heart about the nature of existence. "Once, there was only dark," he tells his partner. "You ask me, the light's winning."
Are these similarities evidence of homage or plagiarism? Perhaps it's in the eye of the beholder.