List of Columbo episodes

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DVD box cover for the third season.

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 ten seasons, with the tenth 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 twelve 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[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilots 2 February 20, 1968 March 1, 1971
1 7 September 15, 1971 February 9, 1972
2 8 September 17, 1972 March 25, 1973
3 8 September 23, 1973 May 5, 1974
4 6 September 15, 1974 April 27, 1975
5 6 September 14, 1975 May 2, 1976
6 3 October 10, 1976 May 22, 1977
7 5 November 21, 1977 May 13, 1978
8 4 February 6, 1989 May 1, 1989
9 6 November 25, 1989 May 14, 1990
10 and
Specials
14
[DVD 1]
December 9, 1990 January 30, 2003
  1. ^ The Season 10 DVDs released in Regions 2 and 4 cover the last 14 episodes.

Episodes[edit]

Before Peter Falk[edit]

Before Peter Falk was cast as the character of Columbo, Bert Freed played the role in "Enough Rope," a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, a TV anthology series. In 1962, that episode was adapted as a stage play titled "Prescription: Murder" (starring Thomas Mitchell as Columbo), which then became a made-for-TV movie in 1968, with Peter Falk debuting in the role. In this pilot episode, Columbo appears more smartly dressed, with Falk appearing in suits, shorter hair and wearing more stage makeup, rather than the shabby appearance that would later become the character's trademark. He also appears somewhat more aggressive when confronting suspects.

The NBC years (1968–1978)[edit]

Pilot episodes[edit]

No. in
series
Title Directed by Written by Length Original air date
1 "Prescription: Murder" Richard Irving Richard Levinson & William Link
based on their play
98 minutes February 20, 1968 (1968-02-20)
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.
2 "Ransom for a Dead Man" Richard Irving Teleplay: Dean Hargrove
Story: Richard Levinson & William Link
98 minutes March 1, 1971 (1971-03-01)
Leslie Williams (Lee Grant), a brilliant lawyer and pilot, 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. Columbo and Leslie's step-daughter (Patricia Mattick), who hates her, successfully work together to get Leslie to implicate herself by revealing where she is keeping the money.

Season 1[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 1)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
3 1 "Murder by the Book" Steven Spielberg Steven Bochco 73 minutes September 15, 1971 (1971-09-15)
4 2 "Death Lends a Hand" Bernard L. Kowalski Richard Levinson & William Link 73 minutes October 6, 1971 (1971-10-06)
5 3 "Dead Weight" Jack Smight John T. Dugan 73 minutes October 27, 1971 (1971-10-27)
6 4 "Suitable for Framing" Hy Averback Jackson Gillis 73 minutes November 17, 1971 (1971-11-17)
7 5 "Lady in Waiting" Norman Lloyd Teleplay: Steven Bochco
Story: Barney Slater
73 minutes December 15, 1971 (1971-12-15)
8 6 "Short Fuse" Edward M. Abrams Teleplay: Jackson Gillis
Story: Lester & Tina Pine and Jackson Gillis
73 minutes January 19, 1972 (1972-01-19)
9 7 "Blueprint for Murder" Peter Falk Teleplay: Steven Bochco
Story: William Kelley
73 minutes February 9, 1972 (1972-02-09)


Season 2[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 2)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
10 1 "Étude in Black" Nicholas Colasanto Teleplay: Steven Bochco
Story: Richard Levinson & William Link
98 minutes September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)
11 2 "The Greenhouse Jungle" Boris Sagal Jonathan Latimer 73 minutes October 15, 1972 (1972-10-15)
12 3 "The Most Crucial Game" Jeremy Kagan John T. Dugan 73 minutes November 5, 1972 (1972-11-05)
13 4 "Dagger of the Mind" Richard Quine Teleplay: Jackson Gillis
Story: Richard Levinson & William Link
98 minutes November 26, 1972 (1972-11-26)
14 5 "Requiem for a Falling Star" Richard Quine Jackson Gillis 73 minutes January 21, 1973 (1973-01-21)
15 6 "A Stitch in Crime" Hy Averback Shirl Hendryx 73 minutes February 11, 1973 (1973-02-11)
16 7 "The Most Dangerous Match" Edward M. Abroms Teleplay: Jackson Gillis
Story: Jackson Gillis and Richard Levinson & William Link
73 minutes March 4, 1973 (1973-03-04)
17 8 "Double Shock" Robert Butler Teleplay: Steven Bochco
Story: Jackson Gillis and Richard Levinson & William Link
73 minutes March 25, 1973 (1973-03-25)


Season 3[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 3)
No. in
series
No. in Season Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
18 1 "Lovely But Lethal" Jeannot Szwarc Teleplay: Jackson Gillis
Story: Myrna Bercovici
73 minutes September 23, 1973 (1973-09-23)
19 2 "Any Old Port in a Storm" Leo Penn Teleplay: Stanley Ralph Ross
Story: Larry Cohen
98 minutes October 7, 1973 (1973-10-07)
20 3 "Candidate for Crime" Boris Sagal Teleplay: Irving Pearlberg & Alvin R. Friedman and Roland Kibbee & Dean Hargrove
Story: Larry Cohen
98 minutes November 4, 1973 (1973-11-04)
21 4 "Double Exposure" Richard Quine Stephen J. Cannell 73 minutes December 16, 1973 (1973-12-16)
22 5 "Publish or Perish" Robert Butler Peter S. Fischer 73 minutes January 18, 1974 (1974-01-18)
23 6 "Mind Over Mayhem" Alf Kjellin Teleplay: Steven Bochco and Dean Hargrove & Roland Kibbee
Story: Robert Specht
73 minutes February 10, 1974 (1974-02-10)
24 7 "Swan Song" Nicholas Colasanto Teleplay: David Rayfiel
Story: Stanley Ralph Ross
98 minutes March 3, 1974 (1974-03-03)
25 8 "A Friend in Deed" Ben Gazzara Peter S. Fischer 98 minutes May 5, 1974 (1974-05-05)


Season 4[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 4)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
26 1 "An Exercise in Fatality" Bernard L. Kowalski Teleplay: Peter S. Fischer
Story: Larry Cohen
98 minutes September 15, 1974 (1974-09-15)
27 2 "Negative Reaction" Alf Kjellin Peter S. Fischer 98 minutes October 6, 1974 (1974-10-06)
28 3 "By Dawn's Early Light" Harvey Hart Howard Berk 98 minutes October 27, 1974 (1974-10-27)
29 4 "Troubled Waters" Ben Gazzara Teleplay: William Driskill
Story: Jackson Gillis and William Driskill
98 minutes February 9, 1975 (1975-02-09)
30 5 "Playback" Bernard L. Kowalski David P. Lewis & Booker T. Bradshaw 73 minutes March 2, 1975 (1975-03-02)
31 6 "A Deadly State of Mind" Harvey Hart Peter S. Fischer 73 minutes April 27, 1975 (1975-04-27)


Season 5[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 5)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
32 1 "Forgotten Lady" Harvey Hart Bill Driskill 92 minutes September 14, 1975 (1975-09-14)
33 2 "A Case of Immunity" Ted Post Teleplay: Lou Shaw
Story: James Menzies
73 minutes October 12, 1975 (1975-10-12)
34 3 "Identity Crisis" Patrick McGoohan Bill Driskill 98 minutes November 2, 1975 (1975-11-02)
35 4 "A Matter of Honor" Ted Post Brad Radnitz 73 minutes February 1, 1976 (1976-02-01)
36 5 "Now You See Him..." Harvey Hart Michael Sloan 85 minutes February 29, 1976 (1976-02-29)
37 6 "Last Salute to the Commodore" Patrick McGoohan Jackson Gillis 98 minutes May 2, 1976 (1976-05-02)


Season 6[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 6)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
38 1 "Fade in to Murder" Bernard L. Kowalski Teleplay: Lou Shaw and Peter S. Feibleman
Story: Henry Garson
73 minutes October 10, 1976 (1976-10-10)
39 2 "Old Fashioned Murder" Robert Douglas Teleplay: Peter S. Feibleman
Story: Lawrence Vail
73 minutes November 28, 1976 (1976-11-28)
40 3 "The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case" Sam Wanamaker Robert Malcolm Young 73 minutes May 22, 1977 (1977-05-22)


Season 7[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 7)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
41 1 "Try and Catch Me" James Frawley Teleplay: Gene Thompson & Paul Tuckahoe
Story: Gene Thompson
73 minutes November 21, 1977 (1977-11-21)
42 2 "Murder Under Glass" Jonathan Demme Robert van Scoyk 73 minutes January 30, 1978 (1978-01-30)
43 3 "Make Me a Perfect Murder" James Frawley Robert Blees 98 minutes February 28, 1978 (1978-02-28)
44 4 "How to Dial a Murder" James Frawley Teleplay: Tom Lazarus
Story: Anthony Lawrence
73 minutes April 15, 1978 (1978-04-15)
45 5 "The Conspirators" Leo Penn Howard Berk
Based on an Idea by: Pat Robison
98 minutes May 13, 1978 (1978-05-13)


The ABC years (1989–2003)[edit]

Season 8[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 8)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Runtime Original air date
46 1 "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" Leo Penn William Read Woodfield 93 minutes February 6, 1989 (1989-02-06)
47 2 "Murder, Smoke and Shadows" James Frawley Richard Alan Simmons 95 minutes February 27, 1989 (1989-02-27)
48 3 "Sex and the Married Detective" James Frawley Jerry Ludwig 94 minutes April 3, 1989 (1989-04-03)
49 4 "Grand Deceptions" Sam Wanamaker Sy Salkowitz 95 minutes May 1, 1989 (1989-05-01)


Season 9[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 9)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
50 1 "Murder: A Self Portrait" James Frawley Robert Sherman November 25, 1989 (1989-11-25)
51 2 "Columbo Cries Wolf" Daryl Duke William Read Woodfield, Richard Levinson & William Link (uncredited) January 20, 1990 (1990-01-20)
52 3 "Agenda for Murder" Patrick McGoohan Jeffrey Bloom February 10, 1990 (1990-02-10)
53 4 "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo" Vincent McEveety Peter S. Fischer March 31, 1990 (1990-03-31)
54 5 "Uneasy Lies the Crown" Alan J. Levi Steven Bochco April 28, 1990 (1990-04-28)
55 6 "Murder in Malibu" Walter Grauman Jackson Gillis May 14, 1990 (1990-05-14)


Season 10 and specials[edit]

Main article: Columbo (season 10)
No. in
series
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
56 1 "Columbo Goes to College" E.W. Swackhamer Teleplay: Jeffrey Bloom
Story: Jeffrey Bloom and Frederick King Keller
December 9, 1990 (1990-12-09)
57 2 "Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" Daryl Duke Sonia Wolf, Patricia Ford and April Raynell February 20, 1991 (1991-02-20)
58 3 "Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star" Alan J. Levi William Read Woodfield April 29, 1991 (1991-04-29)
59 4 "Death Hits the Jackpot" Vincent McEveety Jeffrey Bloom December 15, 1991 (1991-12-15)
60 5 "No Time to Die" Alan J. Levi Teleplay: Robert van Scoyk
Story: Ed McBain
March 15, 1992 (1992-03-15)
61 6 "A Bird in the Hand..." Vincent McEveety Jackson Gillis November 22, 1992 (1992-11-22)
62 7 "It's All in the Game" Vincent McEveety Peter Falk October 31, 1993 (1993-10-31)
63 8 "Butterfly in Shades of Grey" Dennis Dugan Peter S. Fischer January 10, 1994 (1994-01-10)
64 9 "Undercover" Vincent McEveety Teleplay: Gerry Day
Story: Ed McBain
May 2, 1994 (1994-05-02)
65 10 "Strange Bedfellows" Vincent McEveety Lawrence Vail May 8, 1995 (1995-05-08)
66 11 "A Trace of Murder" Vincent McEveety Charles Kipps May 15, 1997 (1997-05-15)
67 12 "Ashes to Ashes" Patrick McGoohan Jeffrey Hatcher October 8, 1998 (1998-10-08)
68 13 "Murder With Too Many Notes" Patrick McGoohan Teleplay: Jeffrey Cava and Patrick McGoohan
Story: Jeffrey Cava
March 12, 2001 (2001-03-12)
69 14 "Columbo Likes the Nightlife" Jeffrey Reiner Michael Alaimo January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)


Repeat offenders[edit]

Here is a list of the actors who starred as murderers in more than one episode.

  • Patrick McGoohan starred in four episodes as the murderer: By Dawn's Early Light (Emmy Award) (1974), Identity Crisis (1975), Agenda for Murder (Emmy Award) (1990), and Ashes to Ashes (1998).
  • 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).

Index of killers by episode[edit]

Pilot episodes

Season 1 (1971–1972)

Season 2 (1972–1973)

Season 3 (1973–1974)

Season 4 (1974–1975)

Season 5 (1975–1976)

Season 6 (1976–1977)

Season 7 (1977–1978)

Season 8 (1989)

Season 9 (1989–1990)

Season 10 and specials (1990–2003)

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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