List of Columbo episodes

The following is an episode list for the crime fiction television series Columbo. After two pilot episodes, the show originally aired on NBC from 1971 to 1978 as one of the rotating programs of The NBC Mystery Movie. Columbo then aired less frequently on ABC beginning in 1989. The last installment was broadcast in 2003.

Because the Columbo episodes from 1989 to 2003 aired infrequently, different DVD sets have been released around the world. In Region 2 and 4, all episodes have now been released as 10 seasons, with the 10th season covering the last 14 shows from "Columbo Goes to College" (1990) to the most recent, "Columbo Likes the Nightlife" (2003).[1][2] However, in France, and The Netherlands (also Region 2) the DVDs were released as 12 seasons.[3] And in Region 1, all episodes from season 8 are grouped differently; all the episodes that are originally aired on ABC were released as the COLUMBO: The Mystery Movie Collections.[4] For the sake of clarity, all episodes in this article are arranged as they appear in the UK release.

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
Pilots2February 20, 1968 (1968-02-20)March 1, 1971 (1971-03-01)NBC
17September 15, 1971 (1971-09-15)February 9, 1972 (1972-02-09)
28September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)March 25, 1973 (1973-03-25)
38September 23, 1973 (1973-09-23)May 5, 1974 (1974-05-05)
46September 15, 1974 (1974-09-15)April 27, 1975 (1975-04-27)
56September 14, 1975 (1975-09-14)May 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)
63October 10, 1976 (1976-10-10)May 22, 1977 (1977-05-22)
75November 21, 1977 (1977-11-21)May 13, 1978 (1978-05-13)
84February 6, 1989 (1989-02-06)May 1, 1989 (1989-05-01)ABC
96November 25, 1989 (1989-11-25)May 14, 1990 (1990-05-14)
10 + specials14December 9, 1990 (1990-12-09)January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)


Pilot episodes

Before Peter Falk was cast in the role of Columbo, Bert Freed played the character in "Enough Rope", a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, a TV anthology series. In 1962, that episode became a stage play titled "Prescription: Murder" (starring Thomas Mitchell as Columbo).

The play was adapted as a made-for-TV movie in 1968, with Falk debuting in the role. In this made-for-TV movie, Columbo—rather than making the rumpled presentation that would later become the character's trademark—is less shabbily dressed, wearing suits, shorter hair, and heavier stage makeup. He carries a raincoat, which would become a staple, during some scenes. He also appears somewhat more aggressive when confronting suspects.

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim played by Original air date Length
1"Prescription: Murder"Richard IrvingRichard Levinson & William Link
based on their play
Gene BarryNina FochFebruary 20, 1968 (1968-02-20)94 min

Dr. Ray Fleming (Gene Barry), a psychiatrist, murders his wife (Nina Foch) and persuades his mistress Joan Hudson (Katherine Justice), who is an actress and one of his patients, to support his alibi by impersonating her.

Final clue/twist: Columbo stages the suicide of Fleming’s mistress, then urges him to confess now that the love of his life has killed herself for him. Fleming mocks Columbo’s words, saying he never cared deeply for Joan and would have gotten rid of her eventually anyway. Joan, listening in, agrees to testify against Fleming.
2"Ransom for a Dead Man"Richard IrvingS: Richard Levinson & William Link;
T: Dean Hargrove
Lee GrantHarlan WardeMarch 1, 1971 (1971-03-01)92 min

Leslie Williams (Lee Grant), a brilliant and ruthless lawyer, murders her husband Paul (Harlan Warde) to get his money, arranging the act to look as if he had been kidnapped and killed by his captors.

Final clue/twist: Margaret (Patricia Mattick), who hates her stepmother Leslie, tells Leslie she will go away if Leslie gives her a lot of money. When Leslie pays Margaret off with some of the ransom cash, Columbo, who had persuaded Margaret to demand money from Leslie, has the final proof he needs.

Season 1 (1971–72)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
31"Murder by the Book"Steven SpielbergSteven BochcoJack CassidyMartin Milner, Barbara ColbySeptember 15, 1971 (1971-09-15)76 min
42"Death Lends a Hand"Bernard KowalskiRichard Levinson & William LinkRobert CulpPatricia CrowleyOctober 6, 1971 (1971-10-06)76 min
53"Dead Weight"Jack SmightJohn T. DuganEddie AlbertJohn KerrOctober 27, 1971 (1971-10-27)76 min
64"Suitable for Framing"Hy AverbackJackson GillisRoss Martin and Rosanna HuffmanRobert Shayne, Rosanna HuffmanNovember 17, 1971 (1971-11-17)76 min
75"Lady in Waiting"Norman LloydS: Barney Slater;
T: Steven Bochco
Susan ClarkRichard AndersonDecember 15, 1971 (1971-12-15)75 min
86"Short Fuse"Edward M. AbromsS: Lester Pine & Tina Pine;
S/T: Jackson Gillis
Roddy McDowallJames Gregory and Lawrence CookJanuary 19, 1972 (1972-01-19)75 min
97"Blueprint for Murder"Peter FalkS: William Kelley;
T: Steven Bochco
Patrick O'NealForrest TuckerFebruary 9, 1972 (1972-02-09)75 min

Season 2 (1972–73)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
101"Étude in Black"Nicholas ColasantoS: Richard Levinson & William Link;
T: Steven Bochco
John CassavetesAnjanette ComerSeptember 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)97 min
112"The Greenhouse Jungle"Boris SagalJonathan LatimerRay MillandBradford DillmanOctober 15, 1972 (1972-10-15)74 min
123"The Most Crucial Game"Jeremy KaganJohn T. DuganRobert CulpDean StockwellNovember 5, 1972 (1972-11-05)74 min
134"Dagger of the Mind"Richard QuineS: Richard Levinson & William Link;
T: Jackson Gillis
Richard Basehart and Honor BlackmanJohn Williams, Wilfrid Hyde-WhiteNovember 26, 1972 (1972-11-26)98 min
145"Requiem for a Falling Star"Richard QuineJackson GillisAnne BaxterPippa ScottJanuary 21, 1973 (1973-01-21)74 min
156"A Stitch in Crime"Hy AverbackShirl HendryxLeonard NimoyAnne Francis, Jared MartinFebruary 11, 1973 (1973-02-11)74 min
167"The Most Dangerous Match"Edward M. AbromsS: Richard Levinson & William Link;
S/T: Jackson Gillis
Laurence HarveyJack KruschenMarch 4, 1973 (1973-03-04)74 min
178"Double Shock"Robert ButlerS: Jackson Gillis, Richard Levinson & William Link;
T: Steven Bochco
Martin Landau in a dual rolePaul Stewart, Julie NewmarMarch 25, 1973 (1973-03-25)74 min

Season 3 (1973–74)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
181"Lovely But Lethal"Jeannot SzwarcS: Myrna Bercovici;
T: Jackson Gillis
Vera MilesMartin Sheen, Sian Barbara AllenSeptember 23, 1973 (1973-09-23)73 min
192"Any Old Port in a Storm"Leo PennS: Larry Cohen;
T: Stanley Ralph Ross
Donald PleasenceGary ConwayOctober 7, 1973 (1973-10-07)96 min
203"Candidate for Crime"Boris SagalS: Larry Cohen;
T: Irving Pearlberg, Alvin R. Friedman, Roland Kibbee & Dean Hargrove
Jackie CooperKen SwoffordNovember 4, 1973 (1973-11-04)93 min
214"Double Exposure"Richard QuineStephen J. CannellRobert CulpRobert Middleton, Chuck McCannDecember 16, 1973 (1973-12-16)70 min
225"Publish or Perish"Robert ButlerPeter S. FischerJack Cassidy and John ChandlerMickey Spillane, John ChandlerJanuary 13, 1974 (1974-01-13)73 min
236"Mind Over Mayhem"Alf KjellinS: Robert Specht;
T: Steven Bochco, Dean Hargrove & Roland Kibbee
José FerrerLew AyresFebruary 10, 1974 (1974-02-10)73 min
247"Swan Song"Nicholas ColasantoS: Stanley Ralph Ross;
T: David Rayfiel
Johnny CashIda Lupino, Bonnie Van DykeMarch 3, 1974 (1974-03-03)99 min
258"A Friend in Deed"Ben GazzaraPeter S. FischerRichard Kiley and Michael McGuireRosemary Murphy and an uncredited actressMay 5, 1974 (1974-05-05)98 min

Season 4 (1974–75)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
261"An Exercise in Fatality"Bernard KowalskiS: Larry Cohen;
T: Peter S. Fischer
Robert ConradPhilip BrunsSeptember 15, 1974 (1974-09-15)97 min
272"Negative Reaction"Alf KjellinPeter S. FischerDick Van DykeAntoinette Bower, Don GordonOctober 6, 1974 (1974-10-06)95 min
283"By Dawn's Early Light"Harvey HartHoward BerkPatrick McGoohanTom SimcoxOctober 27, 1974 (1974-10-27)98 min
294"Troubled Waters"Ben GazzaraS: Jackson Gillis;
S/T: William Driskill
Robert VaughnPoupée BocarFebruary 9, 1975 (1975-02-09)98 min
305"Playback"Bernard L. KowalskiDavid P. Lewis & Booker T. BradshawOskar WernerMartha ScottMarch 2, 1975 (1975-03-02)73 min
316"A Deadly State of Mind"Harvey HartPeter S. FischerGeorge HamiltonStephen Elliott, Lesley Ann WarrenApril 27, 1975 (1975-04-27)74 min

Season 5 (1975–76)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
321"Forgotten Lady"Harvey HartWilliam DriskillJanet LeighSam JaffeSeptember 14, 1975 (1975-09-14)100 min
332"A Case of Immunity"Ted PostS: James Menzies;Hector Elizondo and Sal MineoAndré Lawrence and Sal MineoOctober 12, 1975 (1975-10-12)70 min
343"Identity Crisis"Patrick McGoohanWilliam DriskillPatrick McGoohanLeslie NielsenNovember 2, 1975 (1975-11-02)95 min
354"A Matter of Honor"Ted PostBrad RadnitzRicardo MontalbanRobert CarricartFebruary 1, 1976 (1976-02-01)70 min
365"Now You See Him..."Harvey HartMichael SloanJack CassidyNehemiah PersoffFebruary 29, 1976 (1976-02-29)85 min
376"Last Salute to the Commodore"Patrick McGoohanJackson GillisFred DraperJohn Dehner and Robert VaughnMay 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)91 min

Season 6 (1976–77)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
381"Fade in to Murder"Bernard L. KowalskiS: Henry Garson;
T: Lou Shaw and Peter Feibleman
William ShatnerLola AlbrightOctober 10, 1976 (1976-10-10)73 min
392"Old Fashioned Murder"Robert DouglasS: Lawrence Vail;
T: Peter S. Feibleman
Joyce Van PattenPeter S. Feibleman and Tim O'ConnorNovember 28, 1976 (1976-11-28)73 min
403"The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case"Sam WanamakerRobert Malcolm YoungTheodore BikelSorrell BookeMay 22, 1977 (1977-05-22)70 min

Season 7 (1977–78)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim played by Original air date Runtime
411"Try and Catch Me"James FrawleyT: Paul Tuckahoe;
S/T: Gene Thompson
Ruth GordonCharles FrankNovember 21, 1977 (1977-11-21)70 min
422"Murder Under Glass"Jonathan DemmeRobert van ScoykLouis JourdanMichael V. GazzoJanuary 30, 1978 (1978-01-30)73 min
433"Make Me a Perfect Murder"James FrawleyRobert BleesTrish Van DevereLaurence LuckinbillFebruary 25, 1978 (1978-02-25)97 min
444"How to Dial a Murder"James FrawleyS: Anthony Lawrence;
T: Tom Lazarus
Nicol WilliamsonJoel FabianiApril 15, 1978 (1978-04-15)73 min
455"The Conspirators"Leo PennIdea: Pat Robison;
T: Howard Berk
Clive RevillAlbert PaulsenMay 13, 1978 (1978-05-13)93 min

Season 8 (1989)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim played by Original air date Runtime
461"Columbo Goes to the Guillotine"Leo PennWilliam Read WoodfieldAnthony AndrewsAnthony ZerbeFebruary 6, 1989 (1989-02-06)88 min
472"Murder, Smoke and Shadows"James FrawleyRichard Alan SimmonsFisher StevensJeff PerryFebruary 27, 1989 (1989-02-27)90 min
483"Sex and the Married Detective"James FrawleyJerry LudwigLindsay CrouseStephen MachtApril 3, 1989 (1989-04-03)89 min
494"Grand Deceptions"Sam WanamakerSy SalkowitzRobert FoxworthAndy RomanoMay 1, 1989 (1989-05-01)90 min

Season 9 (1989–90)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer played by Victim played by Original air date Runtime
501"Murder: A Self Portrait"James FrawleyRobert ShermanPatrick BauchauFionnula FlanaganNovember 25, 1989 (1989-11-25)98 min
512"Columbo Cries Wolf"Daryl DukeWilliam Read WoodfieldIan BuchananDeidre HallJanuary 20, 1990 (1990-01-20)98 min
523"Agenda for Murder"Patrick McGoohanJeffrey BloomPatrick McGoohanLouis ZorichFebruary 10, 1990 (1990-02-10)98 min
534"Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo"Vincent McEveetyPeter S. FischerHelen ShaverEdward WinterMarch 31, 1990 (1990-03-31)98 min
545"Uneasy Lies the Crown"Alan J. LeviSteven BochcoJames ReadMarshall R. TeagueApril 28, 1990 (1990-04-28)92 min
556"Murder in Malibu"Walter GraumanJackson GillisAndrew StevensJanet MargolinMay 14, 1990 (1990-05-14)90 min

Season 10 and specials (1990–2003)

No. in
No. in
Title Directed by Written by Murderer(s) played by Victim(s) played by Original air date Runtime
561"Columbo Goes to College"E.W. SwackhamerS: Jeffrey Bloom & Frederick King Keller;
T: Jeffrey Bloom
Stephen Caffrey and Gary HershbergerJames SutoriusDecember 9, 1990 (1990-12-09)98 min
572"Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health"Daryl DukeSonia Wolf & Patricia Ford & April RaynellGeorge HamiltonPeter HaskellFebruary 20, 1991 (1991-02-20)98 min
583"Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star"Alan J. LeviWilliam Read WoodfieldDabney ColemanCheryl ParisApril 29, 1991 (1991-04-29)98 min
594"Death Hits the Jackpot"Vincent McEveetyJeffrey BloomRip TornGary KroegerDecember 15, 1991 (1991-12-15)98 min
605"No Time to Die"Alan J. LeviS: Ed McBain;
T: Robert van Scoyk
(No murder.  Daniel McDonald plays the would-be murderer.)(None)February 15, 1992 (1992-02-15)93 min
616"A Bird in the Hand ..."Vincent McEveetyJackson GillisTyne Daly and Greg EviganSteve Forrest and León Singer and Greg EviganJune 19, 1992 (1992-06-19)98 min
627"It's All in the Game"Vincent McEveetyPeter FalkFaye Dunaway and Claudia ChristianArmando PucciOctober 31, 1993 (1993-10-31)98 min
638"Butterfly in Shades of Grey"Dennis DuganPeter S. FischerWilliam ShatnerJack LauferJanuary 10, 1994 (1994-01-10)98 min
649"Undercover"Vincent McEveetyS: Ed McBain;
T: Gerry Day
Ed Begley Jr. (Jon Beshara and an uncredited actor also portray two characters who kill each other)Burt Young and Shera DaneseMay 2, 1994 (1994-05-02)98 min
6510"Strange Bedfellows"Vincent McEveetyLawrence VailGeorge WendtJeff Yagher and Jay AcovoneMay 8, 1995 (1995-05-08)89 min
6611"A Trace of Murder"Vincent McEveetyCharles KippsDavid Rasche and Shera DaneseRaye BirkMay 15, 1997 (1997-05-15)98 min
6712"Ashes to Ashes"Patrick McGoohanJeffrey HatcherPatrick McGoohanRue McClanahanOctober 8, 1998 (1998-10-08)90 min
6813"Murder with Too Many Notes"Patrick McGoohanT: Patrick McGoohan;
S/T: Jeffrey Cava
Billy ConnollyChad WillettMarch 12, 2001 (2001-03-12)98 min
6914"Columbo Likes the Nightlife"Jeffrey ReinerMichael AlaimoJennifer Sky and Matthew RhysCarmine Giovinazzo and Douglas RobertsJanuary 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)88 min

Repeat offenders

Here is a list of the actors who starred as more than one murderer:

  • Patrick McGoohan starred in four episodes as the murderer: By Dawn's Early Light (Emmy Award) (1974), Identity Crisis (also directed) (1975), Agenda for Murder (Emmy Award) (also directed) (1990), and Ashes to Ashes (also directed (and co-wrote - uncredited)) (1998). He also directed two additional episodes: "Last Salute to the Commodore" (1976) and "Murder With Too Many Notes" (also co-wrote) (2001).
  • Jack Cassidy starred in three episodes as the murderer: Murder by the Book (1971), Publish or Perish (1974), and Now You See Him... (1976).
  • Robert Culp starred in three episodes as the murderer: Death Lends a Hand (1971), The Most Crucial Game (1972), and Double Exposure (1973). Also appeared in one episode as the father of the murderer: Columbo Goes to College (1990).
  • George Hamilton starred in two episodes as the murderer: A Deadly State of Mind (1975) and Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health (1991).
  • William Shatner starred in two episodes as the murderer: Fade in to Murder (1976) and Butterfly in Shades of Grey (1994).
  • Martin Landau starred in one episode in a double role as identical twin brothers who committed murder together: Double Shock (1973).



  • Dawidziak, Mark (1989). The Columbo Phile : A Casebook. New York: Mysterious Press. ISBN 978-0-89296-984-5.
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