Should True Detective be a Shared Universe?


It’s been beaten into the ground that True Detective is an anthology series and that each season is stand-alone. With no links between season, it means that Nic Pizzolatto can effectively reboot the series each time. That also makes it more difficult to get viewers to care about the characters because they’re only around for so long, and eight episodes isn’t exactly a lot of time to drive character growth.

This is something that True Detective season one was good at, and that season two floundered with.

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By introducing a shared universe, however, that could elevate some of those problems. This is something along the lines of what Fargo is currently exploring. The second season of Fargo is not directly tied to the first, but does involve some characters and events from the first season that viewers may have heard of or are already invested in.

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True Detective’s nature as an anthology series doesn’t have to get in the way of building links between characters. At this point it may be difficult to have a shared universe since True Detective has already made a strong point of not having one, but the links to past and future seasons can be built slowly. They don’t have to be overtly obvious, and could even just be little winks at the audience.

The enduring popularity of Matthew McConaughey as Rust is proof that fans want to see something like this. That doesn’t mean that Rust should be brought back, because that could end up crippling the series and be seen as a weak lack of ideas. But he could be mentioned in passing, or even vaguely.

Next: Matthew McConaughey is now a koala.

This is not something that True Detective needs in order to be successful, but using the building blocks from past seasons, even in small doses, could take the load off future seasons and help keep the fans invested. We don’t know anything about season three yet, so technically it’s not out of the question. True Detective can be a great show without constantly sacrificing everything that came before.