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The Best Episodes of Columbo

Every episode of Columbo ranked from best to worst. Let's dive into the Best Episodes of Columbo!

Columbo is a friendly, verbose, disheveled-looking police detective who is consistently underestimated by his suspects. Despite his unprepossessing appearance and apparent absentmindedness, he shrewdly solves all of his cases and secures all evidence needed for indictment. His formidable eye for detail and meticulously dedicated approach often become clear to the killer only late in the storyline.


Top Episode Highlight

The best episode of "Columbo" is "Any Old Port in a Storm", rated 8.3/10 from 3742 user votes. It was directed by Leo Penn and written by Stanley Ralph Ross. "Any Old Port in a Storm" aired on 10/7/1973 and is rated 0.1 point(s) higher than the second highest rated, "A Friend in Deed".

  • Any Old Port in a Storm
    8.3/10 3,742 votes

    #1 - Any Old Port in a Storm

    Season 3 Episode 2 - Aired 1973-10-07

    A wine connoisseur kills his half- brother to prevent him selling the family winery to a merchant company so he can pay off his gambling debts.

    Director: Leo Penn

    Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross

  • A Friend in Deed
    8.2/10 2,859 votes

    #2 - A Friend in Deed

    Season 3 Episode 8 - Aired 1974-05-05

    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.

    Director: Ben Gazzara

    Writer: Peter S. Fischer

  • Try and Catch Me
    8.2/10 3,016 votes

    #3 - Try and Catch Me

    Season 7 Episode 1 - Aired 1977-11-21

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

    Director: James Frawley

    Writer: Paul Tuckahoe, Gene Thompson

  • Now You See Him
    8.1/10 2,907 votes

    #4 - Now You See Him

    Season 5 Episode 5 - Aired 1976-02-29

    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.

    Director: Harvey Hart

    Writer: Michael Sloan

  • A Stitch in Crime
    8.0/10 3,299 votes

    #5 - A Stitch in Crime

    Season 2 Episode 6 - Aired 1973-02-11

    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.

    Director: Hy Averback

    Writer: N/A

  • Swan Song
    8.0/10 3,290 votes

    #6 - Swan Song

    Season 3 Episode 7 - Aired 1974-03-03

    A Country and Western singer kills his overpowering wife in a plane crash while he parachutes to safety.

    Director: Nicholas Colasanto

    Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross

  • Negative Reaction
    8.0/10 2,939 votes

    #7 - Negative Reaction

    Season 4 Episode 2 - Aired 1974-10-15

    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.

    Director: Alf Kjellin

    Writer: Peter S. Fischer

  • Forgotten Lady
    8.0/10 3,066 votes

    #8 - Forgotten Lady

    Season 5 Episode 1 - Aired 1975-09-14

    A fading actress kills her husband when he refuses to back her comeback show.

    Director: Harvey Hart

    Writer: William Driskill

  • How to Dial a Murder
    7.9/10 2,554 votes

    #9 - How to Dial a Murder

    Season 7 Episode 4 - Aired 1978-04-15

    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.

    Director: James Frawley

    Writer: Anthony Lawrence

  • Double Exposure
    7.8/10 2,691 votes

    #10 - Double Exposure

    Season 3 Episode 4 - Aired 1973-12-16

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

    Director: Richard Quine

    Writer: Stephen J. Cannell

  • By Dawn's Early Light
    7.8/10 2,883 votes

    #11 - By Dawn's Early Light

    Season 4 Episode 3 - Aired 1974-10-27

    The head of a military school kills one of the governors by sabotaging the gun which is used on founders day.

    Director: Harvey Hart

    Writer: Howard Berk

  • Columbo Cries Wolf
    7.8/10 2,328 votes

    #12 - Columbo Cries Wolf

    Season 9 Episode 2 - Aired 1990-01-20

    Columbo is asked to investigate the disappearance of Dian 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.

    Director: Daryl Duke

    Writer: William Link, Richard Levinson

  • It's All in the Game
    7.8/10 2,278 votes

    #13 - It's All in the Game

    Season 10 Episode 7 - Aired 1993-10-31

    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.

    Director: Vincent McEveety

    Writer: Peter Falk

  • Murder by the Book
    7.7/10 5,223 votes

    #14 - Murder by the Book

    Season 1 Episode 1 - Aired 1971-09-15

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

    Director: Steven Spielberg

    Writer: Steven Bochco

  • Death Lends a Hand
    7.7/10 3,756 votes

    #15 - Death Lends a Hand

    Season 1 Episode 2 - Aired 1971-10-06

    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.

    Director: Bernard L. Kowalski

    Writer: Richard Levinson, William Link

  • Suitable for Framing
    7.7/10 3,587 votes

    #16 - Suitable for Framing

    Season 1 Episode 4 - Aired 1971-11-17

    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?

    Director: Hy Averback

    Writer: Jackson Gillis

  • Étude in Black
    7.7/10 3,626 votes

    #17 - Étude in Black

    Season 2 Episode 1 - Aired 1972-09-17

    The mistress of a conductor becomes a target for murder after threatening to tell all to her lover's wife.

    Director: Nicholas Colasanto

    Writer: Steven Bochco, William Link, Richard Levinson

  • Double Shock
    7.7/10 2,763 votes

    #18 - Double Shock

    Season 2 Episode 8 - Aired 1973-03-25

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

    Director: Robert Butler

    Writer: Peter Allan Fields, Steven Bochco, William Link, Richard Levinson

  • Candidate for Crime
    7.7/10 2,763 votes

    #19 - Candidate for Crime

    Season 3 Episode 3 - Aired 1973-11-04

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

    Director: Boris Sagal

    Writer: Dean Hargrove

  • Troubled Waters
    7.7/10 2,798 votes

    #20 - Troubled Waters

    Season 4 Episode 4 - Aired 1975-02-09

    While holidaying on board a cruise liner, Columbo helps capture the killer of the singer with the ship's band.

    Director: Ben Gazzara

    Writer: Jackson Gillis, William Driskill

  • Murder Under Glass
    7.7/10 2,479 votes

    #21 - Murder Under Glass

    Season 7 Episode 2 - Aired 1978-01-30

    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?

    Director: Jonathan Demme

    Writer: Robert Van Scoyk

  • Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo
    7.7/10 2,218 votes

    #22 - Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo

    Season 9 Episode 4 - Aired 1990-03-31

    Columbo unwittingly becomes part of a deranged woman's diabolical plot to destroy the two men she believes responsible for her husband's death in prison. After murdering one, she moves in on the other, Columbo, to kill the person closest to him, his wife.

    Director: Vincent McEveety

    Writer: Peter S. Fischer

  • Columbo Goes to College
    7.7/10 2,236 votes

    #23 - Columbo Goes to College

    Season 10 Episode 1 - Aired 1990-12-09

    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.

    Director: E.W. Swackhamer

    Writer: Jeffrey Bloom, Frederick King Keller

  • Blueprint for Murder
    7.6/10 3,079 votes

    #24 - Blueprint for Murder

    Season 1 Episode 7 - Aired 1972-02-09

    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.

    Director: Peter Falk

    Writer: N/A

  • Publish or Perish
    7.6/10 2,509 votes

    #25 - Publish or Perish

    Season 3 Episode 5 - Aired 1974-01-18

    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.

    Director: Robert Butler

    Writer: Peter S. Fischer