The BEST Episodes of Columbo
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Network: ABC (US)
Many criminals made the mistake of underestimating Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide investigator with a crumpled trench-coat and a beat-up car, who certainly acted as an incompetent bumbler. But he was so polite to every suspect, and he talked so much about his wife (who we never got to see on any episode, but who many believe later had her own show, starring Kate Mulgrew, later of Star Trek: Voyager fame) that he lulled even the shrewdest murderer into a false sense of security. And although the audience had witnessed the murder in the beginning of each episode, it was still a surprise to see what mistakes the killers had made during the seemingly perfect murder.
#1 - The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case
Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired May 22, 1977
Two former college friends, now partners in an accounting firm, become enemies when one realizes the other has embezzled funds. The reason for his embezzling ways is his wife, she demands nothing but the best.
#2 - A Stitch in Crime
Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired Feb 11, 1973
Leonard Nimoy plays a heart surgeon whose talents turn to murder. Stung by jealousy, he's planning a surgical death for his brilliant but ailing associate. Will Geer plays the intended victim.
#3 - Suitable for Framing
Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 17, 1971
An art critic, Dale Kingston, kills his uncle for his valuable collection of paintings. All the clues lead to the dead man's first wife. Can Columbo correct the Lieutenant's error before it is too late?
#4 - Columbo Cries Wolf
Season 9 - Episode 2 - Aired Jan 20, 1990
Columbo is asked to investigate the disappearance of Diane Hunter, director of a men's magazine. Naturally, the prime suspect is her lover and co-editor Sean Brantley, who spends lots of time with the young girls he works with.
#5 - Any Old Port in a Storm
Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 7, 1973
Wine producer Adrian Carsini discovers that his younger brother Enrico plans to sell the family vineyards to pay his playboy-life debts, and sets out to murder him. He locks him in a wine vault and turns off the air and conditioning, then drags the body out to the ocean and makes it look like Enrico died during a scuba-diving accident. Columbo is suspicious of the contradictions that show up in the autopsy, and soon realizes that Adrian is the murderer. The final clue is the wine that was spoiled when the vault's air conditioning was turned off. Only Adrian could tell the difference, so Columbo secretly gets him to sample the wine and declare it unfit. Once Adrian realizes his wines were ruined, he is forced to throw them over a cliff, as Columbo looks on. In the end, Columbo takes in a relieved Adrian, confessing that Carsini is one of the few killers he was reluctant to bring in.
#6 - A Friend in Deed
Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired May 5, 1974
A police commissioner provides an alibi to a friend who has just killed his wife. Later the commissioner kills his own wife and gets the friend to repay the favour.
#7 - Negative Reaction
Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 15, 1974
Brilliant photographer Paul Galesko plans to murder his domineering wife, Frances, and pin the crime on an ex-convict named Alvin Deschler. His plan is to make it look as if Alvin kidnapped his wife and killed her before picking up the ransom money.
#8 - Columbo Goes to College
Season 10 - Episode 1 - Aired Dec 9, 1990
Lt. Columbo is invited as guest speaker in a Criminology course and squares off against two cunning students, who are confident they have duped the lieutenant with various leads, when their professor is found murdered.
#9 - Double Shock
Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired Mar 25, 1973
A wealthy man is murdered; his twin nephews stand to inherit, but which one committed the crime?
#10 - Now You See Him
Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired Feb 29, 1976
Master magician the great Santini is amazing audiences at the Cabaret of Magic. What they don’t know is that Santini hopes to pull of the grandest illusion of his career - making club owner Jesse T. Jerome disappear. The crude Jerome is the only person who knows that Santini was a Nazi death camp guard named Stefan Mueller, He has been blackmailing the magician since learning his dark secret.
#11 - Death Lends a Hand
Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 6, 1971
A private investigator kills his client's wife after she threatens to expose his blackmail scheme. The client then hires the detective to assist Columbo in the search for the killer.
#12 - How to Dial a Murder
Season 7 - Episode 4 - Aired Apr 15, 1978
A famous psychiatrist uses an appointment with his doctor as his alibi while he calls his house, where his dead wife's lover is. The call serves as the first step in a conditioning reflex on the psychiatrist's dogs. The other part is the word Rosebud as uttered by the victim. When Columbo arrives on the scene, the psychiatrist is very understanding when police say they may have to put his dogs to death. But Columbo notices how friendly the dogs seem, and then there's the telephone that's hanging from it's hook.
#13 - Candidate for Crime
Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 4, 1973
A Senate Candidate running for office kills his campaign manager by making it look like he was the target for the killer's bullet.
#14 - Ransom for a Dead Man
Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Mar 1, 1971
A high-flying lady lawyer kills her husband for the insurance money, and tries to makes It look like a kidnapping gone wrong.
#15 - Murder, Smoke and Shadows
Season 8 - Episode 2 - Aired Feb 27, 1989
An egocentric film director resorts to his mastery of special effects to murder a vengeful friend who discovers the director's role in the movie stunt death of the friend's sister years before.
#16 - Blueprint for Murder
Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired Feb 9, 1972
An architect kills his business partner and deliberately lets Columbo suspect him, leading Columbo to think that he's hidden the body in the foundation of a building under construction. He plans to let Columbo dig up the site and find nothing, knowing that its the perfect place to hide the body since Columbo would never look in the same place twice.
#17 - Identity Crisis
Season 5 - Episode 3 - Aired Nov 2, 1975
A spy is killed on a lonely beach by his contact, but the killer has been photographed beforehand walking with the victim.
#18 - Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star
Season 10 - Episode 3 - Aired Apr 29, 1991
Lt. Columbo is pitted against an equally brilliant, nationally recognized criminal defence lawyer who murders his rock star girlfriend when he discovers she is seeing another man.
#19 - Prescription: Murder
Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Feb 20, 1968
Columbo's first mystery pits him against a cheating doctor out to get rid of his wife in favor of his young, pretty actress girlfriend.
#20 - It's All in the Game
Season 10 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 31, 1993
Nick Franco is a violent, two-timing gigolo and his current paramour, Laura Stanton, has had enough. With the help of a young woman named Lisa, she murders her lover and sets herself up with an airtight alibi. When Columbo starts sniffing on her trail, Laura quickly works to seduce the married detective, hoping that her sex appeal will throw the usually stubborn Lieutenant off the scent.
#21 - Murder by the Book
Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 15, 1971
One member of a mystery-writing-team decides to kill his more talented partner when the better writer decides to go solo.
#22 - The Greenhouse Jungle
Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 15, 1972
Jarvis Goodland, along with his nephew, plan a kidnap scam to break the nephews trust fund, but after the money has been collected, Jarvis kills his partner.
#23 - Double Exposure
Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired Dec 16, 1973
A film maker kills one of his clients. in a break, during the screening of a new ad campaign
#24 - Fade in to Murder
Season 6 - Episode 1 - Aired Oct 10, 1976
Ward Fowler, who plays debonair television detective Lieutenant Lucerne, has a reputation for being a difficult actor. His series is a hit, however, so the network and studio executives again and again capitulate to his demands. Although separated, husband and wife team Sid and Claire Daley continue to produce the Inspector Lucerne program. Claire continually advises everyone else to go along with their stars demands. Not even Sid knows that Claire is blackmailing Ward. Claire discovers Ward in Canada. She knows he deserted from the United States Army during the Korean War. If that information got out ,it would ruin Ward's career. When Claire takes a phone call in Ward's trailer, the actor overhears her saying she’ll be getting a sandwich at Tony’s Deli. Ward gets to Tony’s Deli just after Claire disguising himself with a ski mask and bulky parka he pretends to be a hold up man.
#25 - Try and Catch Me
Season 7 - Episode 1 - Aired Nov 21, 1977
A writer of murder mysteries wreaks revenge on her nephew-in-law by blaiming him for her niece's murder.