Short Fuse - S1-E7

Continuity mistake: While riding in a chauffeur-driven car, Mr. Buckner wants to smoke a cigar. He picks up a wooden cigar box. The lid is secured by two pieces of black tape. He peels up one piece of tape. After a close-up of his face is shown, he peels up the second piece of tape and the first piece is now back in its original position across the lid.

By Dawn's Early Light - S4-E3

Continuity mistake: Columbo is eating with the commandant of a military academy. Columbo has carrots on his plate, among other things. A few shots later, the carrots have been replaced with beans. The next time the plate is seen, it has carrots on it again. Later on in the same scene, the beans are back. Finally, at the end of the scene, there is a longer shot as the commandant is leaving the table, and where the vegetables were there is now something that looks like meat. (00:36:05 - 00:42:45)


Dead Weight - S1-E4

Continuity mistake: Helen Stewart and her mother are boating in the harbor and are about to pass a small island. A Marine colonel goes to the nearby home of a retired general to inform him that he is under investigation for cost overruns on a government contract, Fearing that the colonel will implicate him, the general shoots and kills him near a window. Helen is looking toward the home and witnesses the shooting. She tells her mother, "We have to go back." The boat is in the same position it was in five minutes earlier.

Make Me a Perfect Murder - S7-E3

Continuity mistake: When Kay retrieves the gun from the elevator ceiling, they switch shots several time looking up at the ceiling and down from the ceiling. In one shot looking up, the barrel and grip of the gun are over the edge of the ceiling tile. In the next down shot, just the barrel is near the edge and the grip is inches away. Back to an up shot and the gun returns to barrel and grip over the edge.

Murder by the Book - S1-E2

Continuity mistake: The witness dunks the strawberry in the white sauce while talking. We cut to a view in front of her, and the dialog continues but suddenly the strawberry is half-eaten. When did she take that bite? (00:41:40)

Ransom for a Dead Man - S1-E1

Continuity mistake: When Columbo is eating his chili in the booth at the diner, whilst talking to the daughter of the murderer, his bowl of chili moves. It is right in front of him at one point but is then away from him. And it now contains less food.

Short Fuse - S1-E7

Continuity mistake: When Buckner's car leaves the chemical plant, it's a stretch limo with three bench seats. When it explodes on the mountain road a few scenes later, it's only a two-seat limo. (Buckner, who was initially in the distant rear seat, is suddenly close enough to reach up and take the cigar box the chauffeur hands him from the front seat. The entire middle section of the limo has disappeared.) (00:13:40 - 00:15:30)

Jean G

√Čtude in Black - S2-E1

Continuity mistake: Towards the end of the episode when Columbo is about to expose the killer he asks the conductor and his wife to adjourn to the recording studio from the stage. When his wife walks off the stage she has one hairstyle, but when she enters the recording studio she has a completely different hairstyle.

Ransom for a Dead Man - S1-E1

Continuity mistake: When Columbo and the woman have finished flying in the light aircraft, she taxis the aircraft back and shuts down the engine. There isn't much to see behind the aircraft at this point, but when Columbo and the woman get out (in the immediate next shot) there are two rather large buildings/hangars which have magically appeared right behind the aircraft. Plus the aircraft propeller has changed to a more horizontal position.

Short Fuse - S1-E7

Continuity mistake: In the cable car climax, Roger opens the cable car door to throw out the cigars. Then while he is scrabbling on the floor, and there is dialogue, the doors are shut. Then, at the end, the doors are open again.

Dagger of the Mind - S2-E4

Continuity mistake: When Columbo takes the whiskey decanter out of the murdered man's liquor cabinet, he puts his cigar in his mouth with his right hand and opens the bottle with the same hand. A second later, the shot changes to a closeup of him sniffing the contents and the cigar is back in his hand. (00:28:55)

Captain Defenestrator

Short Fuse - S1-E7

Continuity mistake: A chauffeur is driving Mr. Buckner to a mountain cabin. It is 7:30 pm and a very heavy rain is falling. The car explodes, killing both men. When their bodies are located the following morning, the road and the surrounding hills are completely dry. There are not even any puddles.

Ransom for a Dead Man - S1-E1

Continuity mistake: In the living room of their home, Lesley Williams shoots her husband in the chest. As he falls, he knocks a lamp off a small table. Lesley puts the lamp back on the table, but in all the following scenes in the living room the lamp is gone. (01:00:00)

Old Fashioned Murder - S6-E2

Factual error: In common with many other episodes, Columbo and all the other police officers at the crime scene hopelessly contaminate it - none of them wear gloves or protective clothing. Not one artifact recovered from the scene would be usable as evidence.


More mistakes in Columbo

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

More quotes from Columbo
More trivia for Columbo

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.


More questions & answers from Columbo

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.