Columbo (1971)

9 corrected entries

(33 votes)

Starring: Peter Falk

Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Death Hits the Jackpot - S11-E1

Corrected entry: Unfortunately for the grieving widow, Columbo's advice to her at the end of the episode - that she will automatically inherit the $24,000,000 won by her late husband and appropriated by Leon Lamarr - is wrong. Columbo has proven (on his standards) that Lamarr murdered Freddy Brower, the rightful winner of the lottery funds, but he has not proven that Brower bought the ticket in the first place. In fact, he doesn't even know he did, he just suspects that he did and that is why he was murdered. He's right, but legally speaking that is irrelevant. The money belongs to Lamarr and will be there waiting for him if and when he gets out of prison, or will go into his estate if he dies while inside. Brower's widow may file a wrongful death suit against Lamarr, but that is a separate legal matter entirely.

Correction: Columbo is perfectly aware of that. He tells Nancy Brower - the widow - that she will get the money instead of Lamarr in order to provoke him into revealing her involvement in her husband's murder. It works. In fact neither would retain any legal right to any of the money as in the United States a criminal cannot profit from his or her crimes. The money would be confiscated by the state or added to Freddy Brower's estate if and when it is definitely established that he bought the ticket.

Correction: Columbo's technique usually includes him saying and doing things to make people think he's a bumbling fool. He frequently mispronounces words, uses the wrong words, and pretends he doesn't understand things.

It's All in the Game - S12-E1

Corrected entry: During the opening credits, the film of a fountain in front of a mansion is running backwards. The water is flowing upwards from the pool back into the water jet.

Correction: The film is not running backwards. It's called the "wagon-wheel effect" where the camera's film rate isn't fast enough to capture the flow of the water. This is a natural phenomenon and not a movie mistake, you can simulate the same effects with strobe lights or blinking rapidly.


Correction: There are times when Wilshire Blvd will run in a SW to NE or NE to SE direction where you can have streets east of it.


It's All in the Game - S12-E1

Corrected entry: Lauren Dayton has a package sent to Columbo. It contains a bed for his basset hound. Later when she meets Columbo at a restaurant and sees the box, she says, "You didn't open it." Since the box and the lid were each separately wrapped in red paper, there is no way she could have known if the box had been opened.

Correction: It had nothing to do with the way it was wrapped. She just figured Columbo hadn't opened it because otherwise he wouldn't have brought it with him if he knew it was just a dog bed.


Publish or Perish - S3-E5

Corrected entry: Riley pays hired killer Eddie off with a wad of bills which he says totals a thousand dollars. But just the top note in the cash roll he hands Eddie is a $1000 bill - so obviously, it's more than a thousand dollars. (00:05:00)

Jean G

Correction: It is not a $1,000 bill, but a $100 bill. The $1,000 bill (last printed in 1945) has either a large portrait of the bald eagle or the words United States of America (depending on the year). The bill seen has neither of these, and in fact you can see part of the Independence Hall portrait that's on the $100 bill. Additional evidence it is a $100 is the way 100 is printed, curving around the border, the $1,000 bill has the numbers flat or curving in the opposite direction.


Correction: Early indications at a crime scene can be misleading. At the scene they have no way to confirm what happens. That is usually determined by the autopsy.


Publish or Perish - S3-E5

Corrected entry: When Columbo talks with a publisher and agent at a fancy restaurant, he asks for Chili, which the snobbish waiter indicates they don't have. However, when asked by the publisher to help him out, the waiter returns minutes later with a bowl of chili, which would be impossible. You don't need to be a chef to know that chili takes two or more hours to prepare.

Correction: What he brought was probably heated up chili from a can.

Negative Reaction - S4-E2

Corrected entry: When Columbo has Galesko at the station, Galesko picks a camera off the shelf and opens up the back to show that the original negative is still in there (as proof of his innocence). But since none of them are in a dark room, opening the back of the camera would damage the negative, something Galesko should know since he's a professional photographer.

Correction: The film has already been developed and printed - Columbo has a huge blowup of the print. It cannot be further damaged by exposure to light. In fact the whole scene is nonsensical - there is no camera in the world which retains the film strip in the way shown here, and there is absolutely no reason for anyone to put the film back into the camera either - and no easy way of doing it. A professional photographer would know that.

The camera is an old Polaroïd of the 60s (model 800). The film used consists of two rolls : the positive one and the negative one. After taking a picture, the photo is extracted and the negative part may remain in the camera.

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.


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.