Taylor Sheridan's $45M Movie Did True Detective Season 4 Story First, and Better

Taylor Sheridan's $45M Movie Did True Detective Season 4 Story First, and Better
Image credit: HBO, globallookpress

It's the first season of True Detective with a subtitle, but it's not the first to tell this story.


  • There are almost too many similarities between these two stories, 7 years apart.
  • There are positive elements of both, but Sheridan's work trumps True Detective.
  • Sheridan's movie had a smaller budget and a better outcome because of the way it told its story.

A dark and mysterious murder takes place against a remote, icy backdrop, with each chilling discovery leading to more unexpected twists. Throw in a small team with limited resources, a sub-zero crime scene, and the death of an indigenous woman. In true thriller style, the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they seem to be in.

That should narrow it down to something you've seen before. One thing. The plot is too specific to be shared. Or is it? There are not one, but two answers: The movie Wind River and the fourth season of True Detective.

Two releases, years apart, claim one plot

In Wind River, an FBI agent heads to a snowy and remote Indian reservation in Wyoming to investigate the murder of a young woman. At her side is the wildlife officer who first found the body. As they pursue the killer, they realize their own lives are in danger.

Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner, Wind River's murder mystery truly twists and turns, with palpable grief and dark backstories that play into the present. The film has received praise from fans for those in front of and behind the camera during production.

True Detective: Night County, concluded its six-episode series in February this year with a budget of $60 million. The murder of an indigenous Inupiaq woman years earlier is at the heart of Season 4's storyline, which is linked to the mysterious disappearance of a group of scientists who were discovered frozen together in a block of ice. Once again, the story is set against a white, icy backdrop, in this case, Alaska.

Praise should be given where praise is due, and while Night Country parallels Wind River in many ways, its emphasis on indigenous people sets it apart from the film. Aware of today's trends and the importance of representation, 2024's Night Country eliminated the 'white savior' element of its story and placed the focus on indigenous culture throughout the season.

The version that came first, was a cold and clear winner

With two murder mysteries set in remote, frozen locations and a focus on environmentalism and indigenous people, it's almost impossible not to compare their stories.

The fourth season of True Detective was supposed to be a redemption of the previous seasons, but in its effort to stand out, the show ended up replicating another story 7 years too late.

For True Detective fanatics, Night Country would undoubtedly have been a welcome addition to the franchise, but when the latest season is pitted against Wind River, there is a clear winner.

Going back to the basics, Wind River is faring much better on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 90% compared to the rather dismal 59% awarded to True Detective: Night Country by its viewers. The biggest problem with Night Country was that while it had an exciting and progressive storyline, it struggled to distance itself from previous seasons, with too many references to Season 1 that only added to the confusion.

Wind River, with the same snowy backdrop, delved more effectively into the investigation of the murder of a native woman. The unfortunate 'white savior' element was the only negative aspect in an emotionally powerful movie that managed to effectively explore and conclude the complex mystery in its short runtime.