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.
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.
Wade Anders, a former security expert, hosts the show Crime Alert. A rival host, news reader Bud, discovers Wade was in a porno movie and plans to tell the world then take over his show.
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.
After winning a $30 million lottery, photographer Freddy Brower, who wishes to keep the money a secret from the wife who is divorcing him, arranges with his uncle, wealthy jeweler Leon Lamarr, to pretend the lottery ticket is Lamarr's, until the divorce is final. Little does Brower know his uncle is having an affair with Brower's wife. Lamarr kills Brower in order to keep the lottery winnings for himself.
Columbo attends the wedding of his police officer nephew. While her husband takes a shower, the bride disappears from the bridal suite. The groom enlists Uncle Columbo's help in unraveling the case. Seems she has been kidnapped by a psychopath who intends to kill her once he consummates "their" marriage.
Given a deadline to pay his debts or else, chronic gambler Harold plants a bomb under the Rolls Royce of his uncle, sports magnate Big Fred. However, Big Fred is killed by a hit-and-run driver while jogging that very morning, and the Rolls Royce explodes when Fred's gardener tries to move it out of the way of the TV camera crews. Just when Columbo thinks he has the goods on Harold, it is Harold who turns up dead.
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.
Ego-maniac Fielding Chase, is a radio talk show host who in order to prevent his daughter from moving to New York, murders a member of his staff.
A photograph is the only clue for Columbo when two dead men and a seven year old mystery with $4 million dollars involved as well as an obnoxious insurance investigator come into play.
Graham McVeigh, a thoroughbred ranch owner, kills his brother, and frames a local mob bookie. Then, under the guise of making good on his brother's debt, he kills the bookie as well, claiming self-defense. Mob boss Vincenzo Fortelli starts to exert pressure on McVeigh. To solve the crime Columbo must work with the gangster.
Cathleen Calvert and her lover, crime scene investigator Patrick Kinsley, plot to get rid of Calvert's husband, Clifford, a powerful businessman, by killing an investment broker with whom he is currently feuding, and pinning the murder on Clifford. As long as he is alive and in prison, Cathleen has access to all his money. Columbo must uncover a criminal who is part of the team handling the investigation.
Mortician to the stars Eric Prince, kills gossip reporter Verity Chandler, who had knowledge of skeletons in Prince's closet. Columbo must figure out what happened to her and why.
Hollywood film composer and conductor Findlay Crawford has been mentor to a talented young composer who has been ghostwriting most of Crawford's work for the last few years, and penned Crawford's entire last movie score, which won an Oscar. When the protege wants to venture out on his own, Crawford, whose own talent seems to have run dry, concocts the perfect murder, made to look like a suicide.
The final Columbo story starring Peter Falk, Los Angeles rave promoter Justin Price helps his girlfriend Vanessa get rid of the corpse of her ex-husband, who was backing Price's new club, after he drops dead in Vanessa's apartment. When an investigative reporter pieces the crime together and threatens to blackmail Justin, Justin kills him.