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.
While on a work trip to London, to learn the techniques of the British police, Columbo gets involved with the murder of Roger Haversham, a rich old businessman who is financing the careers of two rundown theater stars. When Sir Roger threatens to end their careers, because he felt betrayed, he's killed. A short while after, his butler figures out the motives for his master's murder, and blackmails the actors, who have no other choice than to kill him and make it look like he commited suicide due to remorse, because he murdered his employer. Columbo stills manages to catch both the murderers, with the help of a pearl and a new umbrella.
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.
Dr. Marshal Cahill, head of a think tank, is forced to protect his plagarizing son by killing the professor, Nichols, who discovered the plagarized information. Cahill programs a robot to take his place during a war game exercise that he runs from an isolated room, then fakes a hit-and-run accident on Nichols and plants evidence to make it look like a drug theft gone awry. The first thing Columbo notices upon arrival is a match burned down to the base - something Columbo knows well because it's how you light a cigar. And Dr. Cahill is the only other cigar smoker around. There are a lot of other little things that Columbo notices as well, and with the help of a child prodigy he discovers how Cahill used the robot to provide himself with an alibi. But without one major clue, Columbo arrests the son to force Cahill, who was willing to kill for his son, to confess his crime to protect the boy.
An ambassador from Suari and his code clerk kill the chief of security in an attempt to make it look like the chief was a traitor, who blew up the legation safe and stole £600.000 on behalf of a dissident group. But Columbo gets suspicious. He just have problem crushing the ambassador's alibi. And then, when the code clerk turns up dead, the ambassador has an alibi again. But even if Colombo could rock the two alibis, there is always the immunity problem.
The owner of a bull ranch in Mexico gives his workers the day off, and then talks his number one man into fighting the bull who nearly killed his son. But instead he shoots him with a tranquilizer gun, and lets the bull kill him. Colombo, who is on vacation in Mexico, gets dragged into this case by an admiring colleague, but he has trouble convincing the Mexicans that the accident is really homicide. And how do you prove that the bull is a murder weapon?
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.
The family and friends of brilliant naval architect Commodore Otis Swanson have gathered for the company’s annual party. The commodore, however, has become increasingly discontented with the way his son-in-law, Charles Clay, has developed the shipbuilding firm into a vast, impersonal corporation. He is tired of being surrounded by freeloaders like his alcoholic daughter, Joanna, his irresponsible nephew, Swanny, and of course, Charles. The only man he respects is Wayne Taylor, the head of the boatyard. In fact, the Commodore intends to sell the company. That night, Charles is wiping clean the belaying pin used to bash the Commodore’s skull.
Ward Fowler, who plays debonair television detective Lieutenant Lucerne, has a reputation for being a difficult actor. His series is a hit, however, so the network and studio executives again and again capitulate to his demands. Although separated, husband and wife team Sid and Claire Daley continue to produce the Inspector Lucerne program. Claire continually advises everyone else to go along with their stars demands. Not even Sid knows that Claire is blackmailing Ward. Claire discovers Ward in Canada. She knows he deserted from the United States Army during the Korean War. If that information got out ,it would ruin Ward's career. When Claire takes a phone call in Ward's trailer, the actor overhears her saying she’ll be getting a sandwich at Tony’s Deli. Ward gets to Tony’s Deli just after Claire disguising himself with a ski mask and bulky parka he pretends to be a hold up man.
The female head of a museum hires one of the guards to rob the museum to collect the insurance money. But during the robbery she kills him and her own brother, and makes it look like they killed each other. The guard/robber's brother reports a strange message on his answering machine, that makes it seem that he has been killed. And Columbo gets the case. When Columbo first comes to the crime scene, he notices that the lights are off, a gold medallion in the robber's pants, and signs that pointed to the fact that he was going abroad after the heist. And he concluded that these clues mean that someone else was involved.
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?
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.
Frank Brailie runs a private military foundation for wanabe soldiers owned by the wheelchair bound General Padget. The General has become suspicious of Frank as a great deal of money seems to be going to a Special Projects Fund. The General tells a close colleague to investigate Frank and the Special Projects Fund. Instead of reporting his fraudulent findings back to the General, he decides to blackmail Frank for some of the money, Frank agrees and starts to plan his murder.
A famous artist, Max Barsini, lives with his wife Vanessa and a beautiful live-in model named Julie at his beach house/studio. Max's ex-wife Louise lives in the beach house next door. Together, these women comprise Max's own little harem. He loves them all in different ways, but, more importantly, likes to control them. In fact, Max derives a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that they all fight for his attention and are reliant upon him financially and emotionally. The competitive jealousy between the women reaches a head at the dinner table one night when Max asks each of them what they think of the other. Their answers prove the intense rivalry between the women.
After winning a $30 million lottery, photographer Fredy Brower, who wishes to keep the money a secret from the wife who is divorcing him, arranges with his uncle, wealthy jeweler Leon Lamarr (Rip Torn), 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 (Greg Evigan) plants a bomb under the Rolls Royce of his uncle, sports magnate Big Fred (Steve Forrest). 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.