Suitable for Framing - S1-E5

Character mistake: Art expert Dale Kingston describes Goya as 'the penultimate artist'. "Penultimate" has nothing to do with greatness or artistry, it means second to last, and nowhere during his speech does he indicate that Goya is 'second to last' in anything to do with the discussion. In the context he uses it the word is completely meaningless.

Candidate for Crime - S3-E3

Character mistake: Columbo explains to Hayward (the killer) how the accepted version of events is impossible, because when he was shot Harry Stone was standing in a dark garage and the killer could not have angled the headlights of his car in such a way that he was made visible (in order to be shot). But neither he nor Hayward even consider the possibility that the killer could have been carrying a torch, which would not only have illuminated the scene, it would have dazzled the victim and hidden the shooter.

Étude in Black - S2-E1

Character mistake: Columbo discusses the murder of Jennifer Welles with Alex Benedict - who killed her - and he reveals that the odometer reading of Benedict's car showed an extra nine miles despite the fact that it was supposedly immobilised in a garage on the night of the murder. Benedict challenges Columbo, saying that he assumes that he has established the distance between the garage and Jennifer's apartment. "Yes, sir." says Columbo. "Exactly nine miles." Since the murderer would have had to have driven to and from the garage to the scene of the murder - the car was back in the garage when the police searched it the next day - shouldn't he have said "Exactly four and a half miles."?

Any Old Port in a Storm - S3-E2

Character mistake: Adrian Carsini, a wine connoisseur and winery manager, pours two glasses of wine, one for himself and one for Lieutenant Columbo. Each man puts his hand around the top of his glass and begins to drink. A true wine connoisseur never touches the top of the glass. He holds the glass by the stem so the warmth of his hand does not affect the taste of the wine.

Ransom for a Dead Man - S1-E1

Character mistake: Piloting a helicopter, Leslie ends a radio conversation by saying "Over and out." "Over" means "I'm done talking; please respond." "Out" means "I'm done talking and I'm ending this communication." An experienced pilot would never say "Over and out." They are two different terms.

Steven Lee

Ransom for a Dead Man - S1-E1

Character mistake: The policeman gets the bag for the ransom from the wife of the kidnapped person, grabs it with bare fingers and puts the money into it - without gloves, too. (00:23:30)

A Case of Immunity - S5-E2

Character mistake: A valet tells Columbo that automobiles belonging to Sauri embassy personnel are repaired at a service station two blocks away. Later, when Columbo is speaking with Hassan Salah, he says, "I know your cars are taken to a service station three blocks away."

Étude in Black - S2-E1

Character mistake: During a rehearsal, conductor Alex Benedict instructs the orchestra to play "como un fantasia." Columbo asks Benedict's wife Janice what those words mean. She tells him, "It's Latin for 'like a fantasy." The words are Italian, not Latin.

A Friend in Deed - S3-E8

Character mistake: Columbo drives to a car lot to question salesman Charlie Shoup. Admiring Columbo's Peugeot, the salesman says, "We don't see many of these. What's it got on it? 20,000 miles? 30,000?" When Columbo tells him "100,000," he replies, "Well, I don't care what's on the speedometer." He meant to say "odometer."

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Suggested correction: As a retail worker of 18 years, I know that POS (signage) mistakes happen in supermarkets, for example a product is moved and the correct POS is not replaced. This scene seems to be filmed in a real supermarket meaning this is not a mistake made by the show's producers, however if this was filmed in a studio, "Character Mistake" would be the wrong category as the mistake would have been made by the set designers.

James Ransford Premium member

While I've never seen mislabeled items I know mistakes can happen. But since the characters aren't real, every mistake they make is the fault of someone on the crew, whether it's the actor, writer, or set designer. For example, misspellings are considered character mistakes (unless intentional), even though it would have been made by the person who created it.


Columbo Cries Wolf - S9-E2

Character mistake: Columbo took the Beretta off the gun display by inserting a pencil into the barrel of the gun. In a previous episode, he said to NEVER insert a pencil there because it will ruin the groove of the barrel, making it impossible for ballistics to get a match on the bulletin. When using a pencil, Columbo picks up a gun up near the trigger.

Columbo mistake picture

Étude in Black - S2-E1

Character mistake: When Columbo is in Mr Benedict's house with Mr Benedict, he calculates the cost of Mr Benedict's house at $720,000. A moment later Mr Benedict asks Columbo; "How did you arrive with that figure, $750,000?" (00:43:20)

The Most Crucial Game - S2-E3

Factual error: Probably an in joke - the wheels of the "airliner" shown landing at LA international airport are those of a B52 bomber. They are very distinctive and look nothing like those on any airliner ever made.


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Columbo: Oh, I didn't come to ask any more questions. I came to arrest you.

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Show generally

Question: Why was Columbo never promoted, given that across the whole show he solves all the murders in such a spectacular fashion?

Answer: In the show, he was already a Lieutenant. A promotion would put him in the next rank up, which for the L.A.P.D. would be Captain. However, some of a Captain's duties would be overseeing other officers and ensuring they're compliant with policies, regulations, and standards. It would also most likely take him out of the field. This is something Columbo has no desire for as he rarely goes to police HQ's. Nor does he show interest in compliance and standards (for example, not going to his semi-annual evaluation at the firing range). However, he could still be assigned to a higher pay grade based on expertise, which is a form of promotion that does not include rank advancement. This would be going from Lieutenant I to Lieutenant II. I don't believe in the show it's ever started what his pay grade is. Although, in s02e01 (I believe) he mentions making $11K a year. Whether or not this was a true statement on his part, if you could find pay scale information for an LAPD Lieutenant in the 70's, it could give you an idea of his pay grade.


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