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The Best 'Columbo' Episodes 

Ranker TV
Updated March 10, 2020 43.2k votes 4.6k voters 202.5k views 69 items

List Rules Vote for your favorite Columbo episodes, no matter how popular they are.

This list of the best Columbo episodes, is determined by voters like you. Ranking high on the best TV detectives, Columbo is also one of the best detective shows of all time. With all the amazing episodes of the show that exist, it's hard to trust just one person's opinion of what the top Columbo episodes of all time are. Fans of Columbo are very passionate about the show, and there are often debates over which episodes are the greatest. That's why this list exists- so you can vote for your favorites and we can find out once and for all what everyone thinks the best episode is.

Starring Peter Falk as the brilliant detective, Columbo ran for 10 seasons and is considered one of the greatest TV shows of all time. Consider this list your definitive guide to the best Columbo episodes. 

Just one more thing - episodes here include everything from "Murder: a Self Portrait" to "Étude in Black." What is the best Columbo episode of all time? Look below and find out.

 

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list ordered by
1
Murder By The Book is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 3, Season: Columbo - Season 1

Original Airing: 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.
2
Any Old Port In A Storm ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 2, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: Oct 07 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 ...more
3
Now You See Him is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Now You See Him Episode: 5, Season: Columbo - Season 5

Original Airing: 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 ...more
4
A Friend In Deed is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 8, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: May 05 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.
5
Negative Reaction is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 2, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: 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 ...more
6
Swan Song is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 7, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: Mar 03 1974

A Country and Western singer kills his overpowering wife in a plane crash while he parachutes to safety.
7
A Stitch In Crime is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 6, Season: Columbo - Season 2

Original Airing: 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.
8
Death Lends A Hand is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 4, Season: Columbo - Season 1

Original Airing: Oct 06 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.
9
Prescription: Murder is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 1, Season: Columbo - Season 1

Original Airing: 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.
10
Try And Catch Me is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 1, Season: Columbo - Season 7

Original Airing: Nov 21 1977

A writer of murder mysteries wreaks revenge on her nephew-in-law by blaiming him for her niece's murder.
11
Double Exposure is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 4, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: Dec 16 1973

A film maker kills one of his clients. in a break, during the screening of a new ad campaign
12
Étude In Black is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 1, Season: Columbo - Season 2

Original Airing: Sep 17 1972

The mistress of a conductor becomes a target for murder after threatening to tell all to her lover's wife.
13
Columbo Goes to College ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 1, Season: Columbo - Season 10

Original Airing: Dec 09 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 ...more
14
The Most Crucial Game is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 3, Season: Columbo - Season 2

Original Airing: Nov 05 1972

The manager of a football team kills the team's owner, disguising himself as an ice cream vendor as a cover. He then uses a recording of a faked phone call as an alibi to prove he was elsewhere ...more
15
An Exercise In Fatality ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 1, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: Sep 15 1974

A health club owner kills his partner who is about to uncover a fraud and makes it look like an accident
16
Candidate For Crime is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Candidate For Crime Episode: 3, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: Nov 04 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.
17
Playback is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 5, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: Mar 02 1975

An inventor video tapes his mother-in-law's death, and then replays it back to the security guard, to give himself an alibi.
18
The Conspirators is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 5, Season: Columbo - Season 7

Original Airing: May 13 1978

An Irish poet, who fronts a peace organization while secretly running guns, kills an arms dealer who tries to swindle him.
19
Suitable For Framing is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 6, Season: Columbo - Season 1

Original Airing: 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 ...more
20
By Dawn´s Early Li... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 3, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: Oct 27 1974

The head of a military school kills one of the governors by sabotaging the gun which is used on founders day.
21
A Deadly State Of Mind ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 6, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: Apr 27 1975

A doctor kills the husband of the woman,he is having an affair with. but is seen leaving the house by a witness who is happens to be blind.
22
Blueprint For Murder is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 9, Season: Columbo - Season 1

Original Airing: Feb 09 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 ...more
23
Murder Under Glass is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 2, Season: Columbo - Season 7

Original Airing: Jan 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 ...more
24
Columbo:Troubled Waters ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 4, Season: Columbo - Season 4

Original Airing: Feb 09 1975

Columbo:Troubled Waters is a 1975 crime/drama TV film written by William Driskill and directed by Ben Gazzara.
25
Publish Or Perish is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best 'Columbo' Episodes
Episode: 5, Season: Columbo - Season 3

Original Airing: Jan 18 1974

A publisher hires a Vietnam vet to kill his star author and thus give himself an alibi before the writer can defect to another publisher.