Popular Chinese Drama Who Rules The World Hit With Allegations of Plagiarism & Animal Abuse


In The Republic, Plato’s theory on art is that it is nothing more than a copy of a copy of an ideal, thrice removed.

In essence, art is oftentimes imitation, albeit unwittingly or not.

But when it borders on plagiarism, then welcome to the world of intellectual property, patents, copyrights, and trademarks, where the legalese will surely drown you.

Chinese Period Drama Accused of Plagiarism

With any kind of art form, there will be some similarities.

There is a reason why archetypes, troupes, and stereotypes exist; they’re just common themes that are either close to reality or border on the fantastical and futuristic, only limited by the range of your imagination.

The Chinese period drama, Who Rules The World, has recently been slammed with accusations of plagiarism and animal abuse, to the point where netizens are calling for it to be cancelled.

The 40-episode series is at the height of its popularity as one of the Top 10 most watched shows on Netflix, ever since it started airing on 18 April.

However, eagle-eyed netizens in China started pointing out plot similarities between Who Rules The World and Royal Nirvana (2019).

For one, both series revolve around a prince who is caught up in palace politics and unfavoured by his royal father. There’s an arc involving fraud during the imperial civil service examinations in both shows, and to make matters worse, even the dialogues are alike.

Both series are adapted from novels, but it’s the scriptwriter of Who Rules The World that’s being accused of plagiarism.

The reasons are simple.

The author wasn’t part of the production team of the drama series; it’s more than likely that she sold the IP rights for a television series adaptation and took her hands off after the contract was signed.

While she claims that she hasn’t watched the show, she states with absolute certitude that her novel definitely wasn’t plagiarised because she wrote the novel in 2004, 15 years before Royal Nirvana was even conceptualised.

It’s been 18 years since she completed the novel, so no fault can be pinned on her.

Rather, it would be more probable if some scriptwriter took inspiration from her old novel, hence why the scriptwriter is currently under a barrage of criticism. 

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Another issue that has cropped up with the show was the allegations of animal abuse.


In one of the most recent episodes, a galloping horse was seen plunging headfirst into the ground and breaking its fall by twisting its neck at an unnatural angel.

Corded and trained muscles of steel or not, even a toy robot wouldn’t be able to take the brunt impact of that kind of fall well.

However, the stunt horse trainers denied this accusation by trotting out Ferrari the horse to show that it was alive in a video clip.

Additionally, they asserted that there was a thick layer of sand to cushion the blow and the horse had undergone months of special training before executing that stunt.

Despite the visual and verbal explanation, netizens still remain doubtful about whether the horse was truly unharmed in the filming process.


 Who Rules The World might have reigned in the popularity charts, but it’s uncertain what will become of the show if the accusations are taken seriously and it falls into legal hot waters.

But to err on the safe side, it’s best if you watch the show while you can if you wish to, or boycott it completely if the accusations bother you, because Netflix might take off the show just to wipe their hands of any unneeded drama on their platform.

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Featured Image: C-Drama Love