The BEST Episodes of Columbo
Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!
Last Updated: Oct 3, 2019
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
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 - Negative Reaction
Season 4 - Episode 2
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.
#3 - Ransom for a Dead Man
Season 1 - Episode 2
A high-flying lady lawyer kills her husband for the insurance money, and tries to makes It look like a kidnapping gone wrong.
#4 - How to Dial a Murder
Season 7 - Episode 4
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.
#5 - A Friend in Deed
Season 3 - Episode 8
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.
#6 - Any Old Port in a Storm
Season 3 - Episode 2
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.
#7 - Columbo Goes to College
Season 10 - Episode 1
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.
#8 - Prescription: Murder
Season 1 - Episode 1
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.
#9 - Death Lends a Hand
Season 1 - Episode 4
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.
#10 - Try and Catch Me
Season 7 - Episode 1
A writer of murder mysteries wreaks revenge on her nephew-in-law by blaiming him for her niece's murder.
#11 - A Stitch in Crime
Season 2 - Episode 6
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.
#12 - Murder by the Book
Season 1 - Episode 3
One member of a mystery-writing-team decides to kill his more talented partner when the better writer decides to go solo.
#13 - Columbo Cries Wolf
Season 9 - Episode 2
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.
#14 - By Dawn's Early Light
Season 4 - Episode 3
The head of a military school kills one of the governors by sabotaging the gun which is used on Founder's Day.
#15 - Candidate for Crime
Season 3 - Episode 3
A Senate Candidate running for office kills his campaign manager by making it look like he was the target for the killer's bullet.
#16 - Now You See Him
Season 5 - Episode 5
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.
#17 - Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star
Season 10 - Episode 3
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.
#18 - Suitable for Framing
Season 1 - Episode 6
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?
#19 - Troubled Waters
Season 4 - Episode 4
While holidaying on board a cruise liner, Columbo helps capture the killer of the singer with the ship's band.
#20 - Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo
Season 9 - Episode 4
Columbo unwittingly becomes part of a deranged woman's diabolical plot to destroy the two men she believes responsible for her husband's death in prison. After murdering one, she moves in on the other, Columbo, to kill the person closest to him, his wife.
#21 - Blueprint for Murder
Season 1 - Episode 9
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.
#22 - Double Exposure
Season 3 - Episode 4
A film maker kills one of his clients. in a break, during the screening of a new ad campaign
#23 - Murder Under Glass
Season 7 - Episode 2
A famous food critic is threatened by a restaurant owner, and so the critic leaves. Soon after, the cook dies. Columbo's involvement is welcomed by all the other chefs in the area, but Columbo wonders why the dead restaurant owner slammed the drawers before he died. And how could the poison that killed him enter an unopened bottle without the killer even being in the room? Could it have been suicide? But then there's the cheques to a mysterious society, and the victim's calender. Can Columbo's cooking skills really match the food critic's taste?
#24 - A Case of Immunity
Season 5 - Episode 2
An ambassador from Suari and his code clerk kill the chief of security in an attempt to make it look like the chief was a traitor, who blew up the legation safe and stole £600.000 on behalf of a dissident group. But Columbo gets suspicious. He just have problem crushing the ambassador's alibi. And then, when the code clerk turns up dead, the ambassador has an alibi again. But even if Colombo could rock the two alibis, there is always the immunity problem.
#25 - Grand Deceptions
Season 8 - Episode 4
Frank Brailie runs a private military foundation for wanabe soldiers owned by the wheelchair bound General Padget. The General has become suspicious of Frank as a great deal of money seems to be going to a Special Projects Fund. The General tells a close colleague to investigate Frank and the Special Projects Fund. Instead of reporting his fraudulent findings back to the General, he decides to blackmail Frank for some of the money, Frank agrees and starts to plan his murder.