Legend of the Blue Sea Accused of Copying Elements from Sherlock and Splash


I’m not even surprised anymore when a drama becomes a hit and immediately encounters some sort of backlash. I do think this one may have some merit solely resting on the shoulders of the screenwriter. Netizens are buzzing about potential plagiarism issues with SBS drama Legend of the Blue Sea, and how valid it is depends on the degree of direct copying versus taking inspiration from. Legend is being accused on borrowing a visual plot device from hit British show Sherlock, that of Lee Min Ho sizing up a person with their vitals being shown on screen as text bubbles.

Secondly is the plagiarism allegation that Jeon Ji Hyun‘s mermaid acting like the mermaid female lead in the iconic mermaid movie Splash – devouring food by hand, not knowing traffic signals, and learning to speak by watching television shows. These are similarities for sure but takes on an additional significance because screenwriter Park Ji Eun’s last big hit You From Another Star was also accused of plagiarizing the opening title sequence from US show New Amsterdam. Take it for what you will, some may be bothered while other viewers less concerned with patrolling the lanes.


Legend of the Blue Sea Accused of Copying Elements from Sherlock and Splash — 43 Comments

  1. Haven’t seen Splash, but I did watch the Sherlock episodes, and this doesn’t seem like just a coincidence- the text next to the “clues” look very similar. That’s a bit disappointing, as it was quite a clever idea and was one of my favorite parts about Sherlock.

    • Yeah, the ‘Sherlock Scan’ appearing as text onscreen was noted as a device unique to the show back when Sherlock first aired in 2010.

      It’s not a common thing, I wish PD Jin Hyuk had given credit to the UK show.

    • Nah. Sherlock wasn’t the first to do that and they won’t be the last. No media today is completely “original” now anyhow. Unless the show was copying veeerrry specific plot elements, anyone complaining is throwing a fit over nothing.

  2. Lets just call it inspiration, shall we?? But those text on screen is such a Sherlock trademark, its hard to not feel weird at it. As for Splash, yeah I’ve definitely felt the same since the beginning. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking original show, mishmash of two or more things.

    • Yeah it’s not ‘plagiarism’ exactly, just uncredited inspiration from Sherlock.

      But the Splash similarity gives me pause. The funny thing is there actually has been a mermaid-themed kdrama before, Surplus Princess with Jo Bo Ah in the title role, and it didn’t have any of these Splash similarities other than the tail coming out when she got water on it. So the argument that all those elements similar between LOTBS and Splash are just tropes of all mermaid stories, doesn’t hold up.

      • In that sense though you could also say that LOTBS is copying Werewolf Boy. Or that Werewolf Boy copied Splash. I just don’t think having nonhuman characters acting…well…not human, is that novel of an idea.

  3. The text bubbles doesn’t really bother me. Whether they were inspired or just directly copy it, only they know. But the same thing can’t be said for the mermaid behaviour. I mean, it’s possible that the mermaid eating like that out of water since she doesn’t know how to begin with or learn the language from tv shows (maybe… I’m still iffy about this) but the traffic light thing is a bit more than just being “similar” don’t you think?? The prison is another thing. At this point, they should just call this a remake or an adaptation. That’ll make people shut up

  4. I have seen both Sherlock and splash… I don’t think it can considered as plagiarism, the similarities are insignificant in my opinion….people who brought the issues in the first place probably just haters…lmao! Meanwhile, I don’t think LOTBS its going to maintain its leadership for long cuz oh my geum bi is sooooo good!! I’m hooked!. The child actress really know act, better than IU/Suzy/Yoona combined.

  5. Copied or not is a grey area. Anyway these scenes are typical scenes that can happen in our daily life
    Some of us drink hot coffee from a straw. So how? Do we accuse each other of copying?
    Some of us blow bubble with a straw into a glass of water. Copying again?
    Blah blah

    • Silly defense, lol. If they made a popular movie/ drama with you as a main lead who blew bubble into a straw, then somewhere else later, a non-remake new movie/ drama with similar main lead doing similar things. You judge it.

      I saw a couple of sites that showed heaps of similarities between Splash scenes and LOTBS ones, even the light blue shirt these two mermaids were wearing. Smh, can’t deny it. That Stars was luckly to win the case may be because of not much substantial similarities, just the intro part and the theme, but nothing else when the story went.
      Meanwhile, LOBTS has contained too many similarities in just 2 first eps. Ms Park should be concerned.

  6. This is a comment i found on kkuljaem adressing the accusations of copying splash

    1. Connection in their childhood // Connection in their past lives.
    :since when did childhood=past live ? (and we dont even know if this mermaid is the same mermaid in the past).

    2. Male lead picks up the female lead who was taken away by the police
    : this has to be either plagiarism or homage, too similar

    3. Learns language by watching TV // Learns language while watching videos on laptop
    : this is not new, you could find over 10,000 shows and movies of mystical being/creature learning stuff through media devices

    4.Legs transform to mermaid tail when in the water
    : almost every mermaid folktale has this, (thats like saying a show is copying another show because the made dracula drink blood)

    5. Uses hand to eat food ravenously while attracting stares from people
    please google “fish out of water movies and scenarios” and find 10.000 shows and movies with scenes like this.

    6. Learning about the crosswalk traffic lights.
    : I agree but they were both executed differently.

    7. The last one is pure reaching fam, come one drawing on vase does not equal exposing a mermaid on the street

    • sherlock is not the last or first show to do that text on screen stuff, go and watch any crime procedure show where the protagonist is a genius.

      if you guys don’t like it, just don’t watch it. go watch that show of a skinny model, weightlifting 115kg.

      Or go watch oh my geumbi which is the most superior of the three shows

      • “If you guys don’t like it,just don’t watch it.Just go watch that show of a skinny model,weight lifting 115kg.”

        Your last line said it all. You’re getting a bit biased may be.
        Anyway coming to the topic, yes,the traffic scene,the police scene, that language picking from TV, or eating by hands, even on kkuljaem there was another picture where the heroine in splash is wearing same kind of shirt like jjh does in LOBS(without pants), so the problem is not about how familiar these tropes are…it’s rather the fact that all these are assembled in one show,which also happened to be there in splash, seemed to be more than a coincidence.Especially the traffic and the police scene,those similarities are quite eerie TBH. I also doubted the possibility of this being pure copying , but then all the pictures all together kind of gave away the resemblance,it’s hard to ignore. Writer should have acted like a grown up and gave splash the deserved credit.It won’t have hurt to call it an inspiration..though it’s more than that .

      • @Clinton Carter
        Its uncool to bash two shows completely unrelated to this topic of discussions just to prove a point. Bok Ju actually is clever about handling her physique, they focus on her height, its actually pretty smart the way they have filmed it to counter the points. Before blindly criticizing the show, how about checking it out once for yourself. As for Geumbi, it truly is a very good show.

    • @Enny. I am not delusional, I know Oh my geumbi is not gonna hold first place, I am not sure i am going to finish this drama as i do not like tear jerkers and i am not really in the mood for crying.

      @Hue. I think you are right, for all of those scenes coming together like that is suspicious to say the least. I am going to give the LOTBS the benefit of the doubt for npw

    • And you are not a hater? It’s obvious oh my geum bi is a good show, just because you like one show, pls don’t bash others and seriously, I don’t watch dramas based on ratings, even if the ratings are bad I believe the production team should be happy if they produced a solid show although I do feel bad for them cause more ratings are what make a hit drama and we’ve seen bad dramas have good ratings (e.g heirs.). I don’t think we will have shock in the ratings but oh my geum bi still the best out of the three

  7. Personaly, I just tought at Les Visiteurs, a french movie, when she played with the light in the hotel room. Jacquouille la Frippouille did the same :p

    For now, it’s not why I’m not a big fan. It’s more about the story…

  8. I remember watching Love me if you dare (the C-drama) and there were many episodes in the beginning where the male lead had characteristics of Sherlock (from Sherlock) and the background music from Sherlock (or at least a very similar sounding one was used.)

    I think taking inspiration is okay. However I can’t comment on the Splash movie as I don’t know anything about it.

  9. This is the theory 1 when a drama is doing well then there will be a lot of people saying they prefer the underdog … This drama is in the introductory stage but yet it receive a lot of back lash I want to see how this drama will unfold tomorrow to be honest I really want them to eat their words

    • yeah that is true. more popularity = more viewers = more haters/lovers.

      Lovers of the drama move on with their life when the drama ends, it is the haters that keep bringing it up.

      example: you cannot mention DOTS without someone coming up to tell you how much it sucks.

    • Ikr they talk like the drama has already aired half of it run but it just only 2 episode in , i do shake my head sometime because it seems like they judge dramas way early in the game before completing oooo.

  10. Haters are going to hate ooo,all this similarities have been done before even beforeLOTBS by other shows.i don’t know why they are making so much fuss over nothing really.i fell like ppl/haters what to bring the drama down in one way or another.

  11. Seriously most people doing this are either dots fan but then again I think they are mature people who doing this hatred of thing are scarlet fans a and those people who can’t move on from jjh and ksh

  12. I don’t think the problem is the plagiarism or whatever it is.
    I do believe that the main problem is the emptiness of the story! I saw two episodes I got nothing in return… like at the end of episode two I was like “what is this whole thing supposed to be anyway?” kind of feeling! And it doesn’t help that the only interesting thing is the lead actress beauty… but I’m not a beauty person, I need at least an interesting or charming character if I’m not getting a decent story.
    So, dropping it like so many others this year…

    • honest question, why do some people call others who don’t like a drama, haters?
      it just a drama! dramas are things where we are supposed to have fun watching it.
      If I’m not having fun, then it sucks and I can say that as loud as I can. Because it’s just a drama and not someone’s real life 🙂

  13. I know it’s only been 2 easy eps butni dissappointed me so far.
    The back story with the saeguk story us amazing but the modern times made me go “wth is this?”
    JJH is stunning but the stort isn’t clear and quite cheesy. I remember watching MLFAS, it wasn’t my fave but even with the alien thing.. it wasn’t cringey at all.
    I’m also sick of LMH acting that way..like i’ve seen him in most of his dramas

    • If u r sick of LMH acting that way I think u should not watch the drama.i think he definitely has not act the same way because his character from his previous dramas have been different so far like really duo u really see the differences.

    • It’s called criticisms not bashing first of all. Second of all, if you read my previous comment you would actually see that I dropped it after the second episode and I have no interest in continue watching it. My main problem here is the attitude of drama fans where everything is hating and everyone is a hater. I’ve never seen a comment on IMDB calling people haters and saying “don’t see this movie if you don’t like it!”.
      If I say this movie or book do not have a story to it, does it make sense that the writer would come to me and say “then don’t read it?!”
      It’s just plain stupid to think that producing a movie should not be faced with criticisms.

  14. My daughter is enjoying the 2 episodes of LOTBS and she is impatiently waiting for the following episodes.
    Me? this drama leaves me dissatisfied. I am not even sure why. But I find myself fastforwarding all the fighting and flight scenes because they are unoriginal/too similar to stuff by Jackie Chan. Yet, Jackie totally kills with his action/comedic scenes.
    The only thing which is still keeping me glued to the screen is finding out what happens next. I guess that means.. the leads could have been anyone else and I would have watched the drama regardless.
    I hope the writing will get better. After W and Moon Lovers, I was ready to stop watching all k-dramas, the 16th episodes onwards were so bad!!!
    I restarted watching last week, because of Seo In Guk. Shopping King Louis led me to King of High School and for Me, KHS is a heavy drama executed with excellence by SIG

    • Bringing Jackie Chan in to the equation is just unfair. The only East Asia actor to have won an honorary Oscar for his 50 years of hard work in the film industry and I’m sure he has his critics too. Like he said in his thank you speech there has not been one bone in his body that has not been broken.

  15. aiyoo people… it just 2 episode to pass the judgement! be patience people! I for one watching this for JJH as I’m huge fan. I also like LMH although his acting subpar most of the time, i can tolerate that due to his superstar look oh c’mon he is so good looking. what I dont understand is some people still watching LMH drama even-though they don’t like him??, what kind of attitude is that?? .. I were you will staaay away from any actor that i dont like, I dont even bother to comment or click on any article related to him. i got many of them but I don’t spread hate towards them.

  16. Much ado about nothing ! It only means that Sherlock is so popular that writers can make un” Clin d’œil”. It’s only a drama for people to relax and escape the stress of dailylife . As for JJH copying Darryl Hannah in “Splash”, there’s no much room for an actress to play a mermaid !

  17. LOL. I have yet to figure out what exactly LMH’s character is supposed to be in the show. Is he a magician? con man? Korean Sherlock? Some other species of the blue seas?
    The show is entertaining and JJH is LOVE but lets be honest, Forget Sherlock or Splash, the writer is basically reusing MLFAS formula again. I realised it after rewatching the second episode, JJH is pretty much the hero from MLFAS and LMH is heroine, the difference is that story was about an alien who fell in love with a human many years back and met this reincarnated version of hers in the future whereas here, its about a mermaid who fell in love with a human and meets his reincarnated version now.

  18. I’ve tried to watch this show today, but I could not get myself to finish ep 2. Well, at least Koreans could get what’s so great about it, but I just can’t.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to see Sherlock’s new season in January. 😀

  19. LOL. Splash came out in 1984. THIRTY TWO YEARS AGO. I am SURE that someone who saw this in their childhood would be inspired by it. You could say that the Little Mermaid by Disney “plagerized” Splash when it came out in 1988. Ariel was a sloppy eater in a montage when she was learning how to use a knife and fork…..

    The show Numb3rs had info like this on the screen before Sherlock … Nothing new. Get a grip, Korean Netizens. LOL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.