Opinion / Poll

What’s YOUR ultimate favourite Columbo episode? Vote now!

Columbo poll

If you’re anything like me, debating the merits of your favourite Columbo episode with fellow fans is one of life’s great pleasures.

But have you ever wondered which episodes rate the highest with fans across the globe? Well now’s your chance to find out! Below is a simple list of all 69 Columbo episodes, from 1968’s Prescription: Murder to 2003’s final curtain Columbo Likes the Nightlife. Please have a look, and vote for your single favourite. It’ll only take you a moment!

The poll will remain open in perpetuity so visitors can continue to have their say, and help to shape a pretty clear picture of the favourite Columbo episodes of the majority. And at each year’s end I’ll write an article outlining the current fans’ top 10.

I have my own suspicions on which episodes will remain near the top of the standings, but  would be very happy to be surprised so have your say today!

You may have already read my own thoughts on the best Columbo episodes of them all. If not, I insist you have a look immediatelyYou can also view the 2019 fans’ top 10 list here and find out about Peter Falk’s own favourite episodes here.

As ever, thanks for visiting this site, and do have a great day wherever you are.

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165 thoughts on “What’s YOUR ultimate favourite Columbo episode? Vote now!

  1. Hello, I am watching the DVD collection now so I am still looking for my favorite one .i just watched Forgotten Lady and disagree with most on here. It was maybe the best. i mean Janet Leigh’s performance was outstanding and the fact they showed old film footage of her in that movies is something very special.
    I went into this favoring the Johnny Cash, Jack Cassidy and the Robert Conrad ones but ‘The Forgotten Lady ” changed my mind. The actors are so good. I had forgotten how good it was.
    When I finish, i will rate my top ten or so. I agree that people today wouldn’t like any of these for it is too slow for tv. today.

    • What about Etude in Black? Have you got to that one. I just saw it last Sunday for the first time. It was interesting, the villain very smooth.

  2. I voted for Candidate for Crime for one reason, Joanne Linville. I love seeing her in anything she played in. She was a lady in whatever she played, She had a grace and inner beauty that shines through any character. Just a beautiful lady. So sorry to hear of her passing, even at 93. There were other episodes I liked better but this one I watch over and over.

  3. Hello, everyone, hello Columbophile. Hope your daughter is feeling better, you and your family are in my prayers. Noticed that some Columbo episodes and clips are available now on YouTube- under Columbo- here is the link to one of them: https://youtu.be/fwxbH8hT3E8

    Best regards,

    Ed the Florida librarian

  4. A fun thing, it seems my favourite episodes are rather different from common ones here. But my first place, the episode that I watch and re-watch 🙂 faaaaaaar more times that any other is “Any Old Port”. I can’t explain why I do this, what I like so much in this episode. Yeah, it’s pretty good, it is in classic Columbo style, but paradoxally there are more enjoyable episodes for me.

    • Obviously, my vote is for pilot # 2- Ransom for a Dead Man- awesome, timeless.


      Ed the librarian

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  6. I lived in the Sates for 11 months. One morning, a radio station announced a competition to find the bext Star Trek episode of all time. Although in no way a Trekkie, I remembered watching them and was able to tell my (very Trekkie) American mate the winner – “The Trouble with Tribbles” . If you announced a similar ‘Columbo’ competition, I’d be willing to bet the winner would be “How To Dial A Murder”. Why? It’s the one we all (those of us who have not studied like the excellent Columbophile) remember…..

    • I like your idea! And appreciate your contribution! But I’d vote for Troubled Water because it was unique. And for Star Trek, I think most people would (or did) vote for The City on the Edge of Forever. It represented everything about ST that fans loved.

      The CP does run a Top 10 Survey which seems to change. And I’m not sure why it does. Maybe somebody could explain that.

  7. Definitely “Double Exposure.” I love how early Columbo KNOWS Culp is responsible, and I love how early Culp KNOWS that Columbo knows he’s responsible, and yet, Culp also knows he covered his tracks very well. The car scene where Culp meekly asks how to get to the theater after White is killed, the moment he almost loses his cool on the golf course before collecting himself and going back to goading. “Oh look. Here’s my ball. I’ll just toss it over here….And no one will ever know.” I loved all of Culp’s appearances, but DE is the tops.

  8. I’m new to this great site. Mr. Moderator, you are superb. A great writer with a sense of humor to match. I’ve DVR’d most of the 70s episodes and watch them time and time again. My favorite is A Friend In Deed. Also up there is Any Old Port, Playback, and Try And Catch Me. Cheers to all the fans of this great series!

  9. By Dawn’s Early Light for me by a whisker over Exercise in Fatality, The Most Crucial Game, Suitable for Framing, Lady in Waiting and Murder by the Book. Very hard to pick just one.

  10. My favorite episode is Columbo Goes to College. Loved to see the two young punks actually mock Columbo, not realizing just who they were up against.

  11. Wow, no one picks Last Salute to the Commodore? I think it is so clever…and unpredictable. Columbo: “The Commodore’s Watch” Swanie: “Tisn’t”

    • Even the least popular Columbo has fans! To me it shows that all episodes have some good moments, including Commodore…Also interesting to see a favorite from the NEW Columbos (“College”)

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  13. I put my vote in for “Troubled Waters” (okay for obvious reasons) but also because I want to see all the comments in my email!!

    • While it may not be the best Columbo, I love Last Salute to the Commodore because: a) it is the only, to my knowledge, episode where you don’t know ahead of time who committed the murder b) it has some great comedy and riffs on MacMillan and Wife with Columbo’s protege referring to himself as “Mac” even though he is not Scottish or Irish I also love Falk’s directness at certain parts as in “we all know where we are.”

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  16. Really difficult to choose ONE favorite Columbo episode. “Most Crucial Game” ….I would definitely say is a favorite, as well as “Double Exposure.” Robert Culp really was a great villain (as well as Jack Cassidy).
    “Etude in Black” another great one. John Cassavetes who led the cast in ‘Etude in Black’ was great friends with Peter Falk…. An episode not given much attention is “Murder Under Glass.”
    Again..just too many to narrow it to “one.”

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  19. Prescription: Murder is close. But with the delightful comedic turns in Negative Reaction and its ending, that’s probably my favorite. And though no one has mentioned Suitable For Framing, I think it’s so entertaining!

  20. It must be “Double Exposure”, I think. Culp, for me, was the ultimate Columbo villain, with his natural air of arrogance. And the plot in this episode is very elegant. But “Ransom for a Dead Man” was also great. It’s a close call between the two, but the former wins very narrowly, I guess.

    • Ransom for a Dead Man is the best episode, ever. In my humble opinion, ever. Absolute cinematic art. Well written, well directed, superbly acted. TV awesomeness.

      • “Portions” of the soundtrack are grating and the brattiness of the stepdaughter make this one of my least favorite episodes.

        • It’s an episode that’s well done and introduced the audience to many of the good Lieutenant’s idiosyncrasies- to quote the lady lawyer. But hey, it’s a free country. We can agree to disagree.

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  24. Looking at the list it’s impossible to choose one episode, so many great episodes. I voted for The Most Crucial Game because i’m surprised at how few votes it has. It’s certainly in my top 10, although putting them in order seems just too hard to do. Robert Culp is fantastic in every episode he did, same goes for Jack Cassidy. Very surprised how spread the votes are, there’s at least 20 episodes i can’t imagine anybody voting for as their favourite. For me it can change the more i watch an episode.

    Any Old Port in a Storm is a definite grower for me, it was always a good episode but over the years it’s steadily moved up in my estimations. Same with the “pilots” Prescription: Murder and Ransom for a Dead Man. They’re now firmly in my favourite episodes to watch list. My top 10 right now are probably the four i’ve just mentioned, plus How to Dial a Murder, Try & Catch Me, Now You See Him, Ashes to Ashes, Murder by the Book and Negative Reaction. Oh and Bye Bye IQ etc etc. So top 11! How could i forget that episode, i love the whole thing. The song, the scales puzzle, the book falling, the umbrella. Unbelievably good episode, though i’d say the same about the others i’ve mentioned. Ridiculous that so many episodes are wonderful works of art as well as entertainment.

    There’s a few i really like that i’m surprised aren’t more popular. How to Dial a Murder, Death Hits the Jackpot, The Most Dangerous Match, Lovely But Lethal, Fade into Murder, Old Fashioned Murder, Murder Smoke & Shadows, Columbo Cries Wolf. I’d have all those ahead of Troubled Waters, Suitable for Framing, Identity Crisis, Candidate for Crime, Lady in Waiting and a few others that seem more popular. All good episodes too though.

    The only episodes i can’t bear to watch are Last Salute to the Commodore and A Case of Immunity. Immunity has a solid 7.3 on IMDB which makes me shake my head in disbelief.

    • How to Dial a Murder was fantastic. One of the rare examples of tension where the audience thinks Columbo might be in danger (however briefly) and a great and satisfying gotcha.

    • I wish there was a way to rank our own top 10 episodes. Because to me I actually have a 3-4 way tie. How to dial a Murder, A Friend in Deed, Columbo goes to College, and Troubled Waters.

    • I watched A case for Immunity last night. I love the ending. I am watching the whole set as we speak.

  25. Favorite Columbo episode? Obviously Ransom for a Dead Man- 1971. Surprised as of why it only has 0.93% of the votes in the poll. It’s such a great pilot- great veteran actors- Peter Falk and Lee Grant, great filming effects, it introduced us to Columbo and his love for chili, is very interesting and has awesome, superb, lovely Patricia Mattick as Margaret- what else could one ask for? Thank you letting add my 2 cents for the conversation. 👍

    • I agree with you. A great episode. You got lee grant, the daughter, Barneys beanery, a bowl of chili, airplanes, a 70’s decorated sky lounge, an opulent mansion, lee Grants designer wardrobe, columbo is as unassuming and greasy as ever. What more do you need. It’s got a great soundtrack, groovy sound effects, the color schemes and interior locations are plush. It’s a perfect example of The franchise at it’s best.

      • Thanks for the reply, TRTHMASTR! Ransom for a Dead Man is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. And if I may add Margaret Williams is the stepdaughter of Leslie Williams, the evil lady lawyer, not her daughter.


          • Just wanted to add- I seen critical comments of how Pattye Mattick portrayed Margaret- I truly consider these very unfair. (Not necessarily here but in several websites.)
            Actors (and actresses) follow the instructions of the director. How would I feel if I strongly believe my stepmother killed my dad? That’s what happened in the episode…..
            Also this was her second acting appearance- after Room 222 the previous year- and she was only 19.
            Just wanted to mention my humble opinion…. many thanks. 🙋🏻‍♂️

            Ed 📚

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  27. If I had to choose 1 out of what I consider the 10 best episodes, I would have to go with Negative Reaction. Dick Van Dyke is the most dislikeable Columbo villain of all. The comic scenes with Vito Scotto and Larry Storch are brilliant. And the gotcha scene is priceless, plus the title actually alludes to it.

    • I like vito as the tailor in candidate for crime. But he does make an interesting drunk. He plays the fallen gentleman.
      Highlights include mr. Galesco’s secretary’s legs. She has the best legs The franchise. If you note the camera angles and frame shots you see the director used her to great advantage. Van Dyke is great as a cold blooded killer bent on getting to Taihland with his fantastic secretary. Lots of good points, and moments. Such as joyce Vanpatten making gold out of a small part. The wife was good too. All she wanted was was a tea set and she got wasted instead. I wont even mention the raw deal that ex con got.

  28. I think “Columbo Goes to College” deserves mention in the top 10 (it’s not #1). It’s a clever murder and some nice finish.
    I also like “Suitable for Framing”: Ross Martin alone is worth it (let’s face it, Martin’s performance and costumes were the real reason we watched “Wild Wild West”).
    As to “Any Port in a Storm”, I think Donald Pleasence is the entire key to its rating. He was as fine as any wine in the episode.
    Sadly, I thought George Wendt’s episode was one of the very weakest, as much as I liked him on Cheers.

    • Having just re-watched “Any Old “Port in a Storm” and always considering it the best, I now am finding some plot weaknesses, that bring it down a few slots. That being said I am even more impressed by Donald Pleasence’ performance. It certainly is in the running for the best of any bad guy in the series. He seems so into the character, I absolutely believe him, and wish I could tell him so. (Maybe I am doing so right now. I’m certain he would be most gracious in his thanks)

      • I love the casting and performances in Any Old Port, but you are right, there are some plot flaws. For example, if the victim had expired in an oven-like wine vault, and stayed there for several days, there is no way in hell anyone would think he had died while diving. Donald Pleasance would have come home to find a bloated, leaking, bacteria-filled corpse that would have left an odor that could knock out an elephant.

        But even setting that aside, there is a low probability that hinting at the heat ruining wine will trigger Carsini to toss out all the soiled wine that was in the vault. Why would he necessarily bother? He wasn’t planning on drinking or selling them (as established earlier in the episode), so why the rush to destroy them? Columbo is a good judge of character, but nobody is *that* psychic.

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  31. Try and catch me , negative reaction , the bye bye , swan song , identity crisis , make me a perfect murder , prescription murder , troubled waters , suitable for framing , playback , double exposure , publish or perish , death hits the jackpot , double shock , agenda for murder , now you see him , random for a dead man , blueprint for murder and etude in black roughly make up my top 20 .

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    • Hello Columbo fans! Many thanks for this great site which I only discovered this year. As a teen in the 70’s, I watched Columbo on an ad-hoc basis whenever my parents were tuning in. But I have recently become an addict, helped by the fact that here in the UK we have three Columbo episodes back-to-back on a Sunday afternoon! I have watched 25 episodes so still not even half-way there!

      I voted for Now you See Him, with its wonderful visual conjuring tricks and a great steely performance by Jack Cassidy as the villain. The gotcha is a cracker when Columbo produces the incriminating document that the magician Santini sets fire to, only for Columbo to rustle out of his raincoat multiple copies aka a masterful conjuring trick suitable to nail Santini. I’ve seen all the top five as voted for here and they are all great.

      Let’s hear it though for some of the later episodes: I’m surprised by the fact that some of the later ones don’t fare as well. Just let me mention three I have seen recently that had me jumping out of my seat. In no order of preference, Ashes to Ashes with the ever reliable McGoohan is a gem of an episode. McGoohan plays the unscruplous bent undertaker who murders his blackmailing ex with a trochar. This episode is ingenious in the script and has some great graveside humour, as when McGoohan receives his award for undertaker of the year and the pianist sings ‘For he’s a jolly good undertaker…no one can deny’. The last line is a corker, a so often a joke, with Falk saying to McGoohan ‘It’s up to you sir it’s your funeral’ when McGoohan wants to ride in a separate police car after his gotcha.

      I also love Sex and the Married Detective (Season 8 episode 3) a deliciously dark episode with Lindsay Crouse as the villain and her alter ego as the courtesan who kills. The end is brilliant, where Columbo arranges for one of the police women to float around the killer’s offices dressed as her alter ego!

      And Columbo Cries Wolf (Series 9 episode 2) has got to be one of the most ingenious of scripts. The Lady disappears and Columbo is convinced she’s dead, only for her to re-appear. But then, it wouldn’t be Columbo without some more twists. The gotcha has to be one of the best …spolier alert if you don’t know it watch this one! Ian Buchanan is ace as the smug villain who knows more than Columbo does…

      • Columbo asking Dr Joan Allenby to share the fire is so sweet, but bittersweet. I so badly want the jury to acquit.

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  37. It keeps saying to cast a vote, but other than making a comment, I don’t see where one casts an actual vote.

    • Are you viewing on mobile? The poll is embedded after the 4th paragraph but renders differently on some mobile devices. You might see a blue linked sentence ‘What is your ultimate favourite Columbo episode?’ under the 4th par that opens the poll?

      • I am viewing on a desktop, and in the fourth paragraph, not including the sentence in bold print that is under the four pictures, there are three links, none of which take one to a poll, and there is no other link that says, “What is your ultimate favorite Columbo episode?”

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  39. what is it about any old port in a storm that everyone likes it so much , to be honest i think its a very average episode

    • I like it, but it’s far from the absolute best. Way too many holes. I guess because it’s extremely well acted and everyone loves the end scene in the car when Columbo hands him the bottle of wine. But, I am with you, the murder and coverup is average at best.

    • Just guessing here, but I suspect that 95% of those who really like it are at least somewhat into wine appreciation…..plus the perfection of Donald Pleasance

  40. watched murder under glass this afternoon didnt like it much think its very poor , cant beleive its not neare the bottom

  41. Catch Me If You Can
    Great sympathetic murderer, great incidental music, great speech about losing loved ones, beautifully shot. It has everything.

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