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.
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.
The episode was rated from 152 votes.
#2 – 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.
The episode was rated from 131 votes.
#3 – 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.
The episode was rated from 139 votes.
#4 – 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.
The episode was rated from 132 votes.
#5 – 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.
The episode was rated from 156 votes.
#6 – 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.
The episode was rated from 270 votes.
#7 – 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.
The episode was rated from 147 votes.
#8 – 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.
The episode was rated from 121 votes.
#9 – 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.
The episode was rated from 96 votes.
#10 – 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.
The episode was rated from 105 votes.