Columbo

The BEST episodes of Columbo

Every episode of Columbo ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Columbo!

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.

Last Updated: 5/17/2022Network: ABC (US)
Share:
The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case
star
7.90
395 votes

#1 - The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired 5/22/1977

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.

Directors: Sam Wanamaker
Watch Now:Amazon
A Stitch in Crime
star
7.89
403 votes

#2 - A Stitch in Crime

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired 2/11/1973

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.

Directors: Hy Averback
Watch Now:Amazon
Columbo Cries Wolf
star
7.82
297 votes

#3 - Columbo Cries Wolf

Season 9 - Episode 2 - Aired 1/20/1990

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.

Directors: Daryl Duke
Suitable for Framing
star
7.79
459 votes

#4 - Suitable for Framing

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/17/1971

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?

Directors: Hy Averback
Watch Now:Amazon
A Friend in Deed
star
7.78
422 votes

#5 - A Friend in Deed

Season 3 - Episode 8 - Aired 5/5/1974

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.

Directors: Ben Gazzara
Watch Now:Amazon
Any Old Port in a Storm
star
7.77
452 votes

#6 - Any Old Port in a Storm

Season 3 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/7/1973

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.

Directors: Leo Penn
Watch Now:Amazon
Negative Reaction
star
7.77
440 votes

#7 - Negative Reaction

Season 4 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/15/1974

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.

Directors: Alf Kjellin
Watch Now:Amazon
Now You See Him
star
7.75
355 votes

#8 - Now You See Him

Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired 2/29/1976

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.

Directors: Harvey Hart
Watch Now:Amazon
Double Shock
star
7.72
418 votes

#9 - Double Shock

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 3/25/1973

A wealthy man is murdered; his twin nephews stand to inherit, but which one committed the crime?

Directors: Robert Butler
Watch Now:Amazon
How to Dial a Murder
star
7.72
352 votes

#10 - How to Dial a Murder

Season 7 - Episode 4 - Aired 4/15/1978

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.

Directors: James Frawley
Watch Now:Amazon
Death Lends a Hand
star
7.72
570 votes

#11 - Death Lends a Hand

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/6/1971

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.

Watch Now:Amazon
Columbo Goes to College
star
7.71
246 votes

#12 - Columbo Goes to College

Season 10 - Episode 1 - Aired 12/9/1990

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.

Directors: E.W. Swackhamer
Watch Now:Amazon
Candidate for Crime
star
7.70
436 votes

#13 - Candidate for Crime

Season 3 - Episode 3 - Aired 11/4/1973

A Senate Candidate running for office kills his campaign manager by making it look like he was the target for the killer's bullet.

Directors: Boris Sagal
Watch Now:Amazon
Ransom for a Dead Man
star
7.67
667 votes

#14 - Ransom for a Dead Man

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 3/1/1971

A high-flying lady lawyer kills her husband for the insurance money, and tries to makes It look like a kidnapping gone wrong.

Directors: Richard Irving
Watch Now:Amazon
Prescription: Murder
star
7.65
877 votes

#15 - Prescription: Murder

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 2/20/1968

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.

Directors: Richard Irving
Watch Now:Amazon
Blueprint for Murder
star
7.65
429 votes

#16 - Blueprint for Murder

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 2/9/1972

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.

Directors: Peter Falk
Watch Now:Amazon
Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star
star
7.64
190 votes

#17 - Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star

Season 10 - Episode 3 - Aired 4/29/1991

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.

Directors: Alan J. Levi
Watch Now:Amazon
Identity Crisis
star
7.62
352 votes

#18 - Identity Crisis

Season 5 - Episode 3 - Aired 11/2/1975

A spy is killed on a lonely beach by his contact, but the killer has been photographed beforehand walking with the victim.

Directors: Patrick McGoohan
Watch Now:Amazon
It's All in the Game
star
7.62
166 votes

#19 - It's All in the Game

Season 10 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/31/1993

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.

Directors: Vincent McEveety
Watch Now:Amazon
Murder, Smoke and Shadows
star
7.62
333 votes

#20 - Murder, Smoke and Shadows

Season 8 - Episode 2 - Aired 2/27/1989

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.

Directors: James Frawley
Double Exposure
star
7.58
446 votes

#21 - Double Exposure

Season 3 - Episode 4 - Aired 12/16/1973

A film maker kills one of his clients. in a break, during the screening of a new ad campaign

Directors: Richard Quine
Watch Now:Amazon
Try and Catch Me
star
7.56
404 votes

#22 - Try and Catch Me

Season 7 - Episode 1 - Aired 11/21/1977

A writer of murder mysteries wreaks revenge on her nephew-in-law by blaiming him for her niece's murder.

Directors: James Frawley
Watch Now:Amazon
The Greenhouse Jungle
star
7.55
396 votes

#23 - The Greenhouse Jungle

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/15/1972

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.

Directors: Boris Sagal
Watch Now:Amazon
Murder by the Book
star
7.55
578 votes

#24 - Murder by the Book

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 9/15/1971

One member of a mystery-writing-team decides to kill his more talented partner when the better writer decides to go solo.

Directors: Steven Spielberg
Watch Now:Amazon
Murder Under Glass
star
7.53
341 votes

#25 - Murder Under Glass

Season 7 - Episode 2 - Aired 1/30/1978

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?

Directors: Jonathan Demme
Watch Now:Amazon

Want to see the rest of the rankings?

Episode Ninja is a small business run by one person.
Pro memberships help fund servers and new feature development!