Columbo was a long running television series starring Peter Falk as casual police detective Lt. Columbo. A pilot film aired in 1968, and from 1971 to 1978, it aired as a rotating series on NBC Mystery Movie. It was picked up by ABC in 1989, with occasional TV movie installments airing as late as 2003. The series was focused not on who did it, but how the murderer would be caught, and celebrities were often cast as the killers. The character of Columbo became such a pop culture phenomenon that he was ranked at number seven on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters.
Although the topic has been frequent comic-strip fodder, Columbo is not related to Christopher Columbus, noting in the episode "Dead Weight" that it must have been another branch of the family.
- The character was spoofed on Sesame Street with Colambo, who shares Columbo's wardrobe and "Just one more question" mannerisms, as well as references to his unseen wife.
- The series was spoofed as Columbsy in the Hallmark calendar The Muppets Look at TV, with Fozzie taking on the role of the famous detective.
- Theodore Bikel played Oliver Brandt in "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case" (1976)
- Roscoe Lee Browne played Dr. Steadman in "Rest in Peace Mrs. Columbo" (1990)
- Stephen Caffrey played Justin Rowe in “Columbo Goes to College” (1990)
- Julius Carry played a policeman in "Columbo Likes the Nightlife" (2003)
- Johnny Cash played Tommy Brown in “Swan Song” (1974)
- Dabney Coleman played Detective Murray in "Double Shock" (1973) and Hugh Creighton in “Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star” (1994)
- Billy Connolly played Findlay Crawford in “Murder with Too Many Notes” (2001)
- Tyne Daly played Dolores in "A Bird in the Hand" (1992)
- José Ferrer played Dr. Marshall Cahill in "Mind Over Mayhem" (1974)
- James Frawley directed six Columbo installments between 1977 and 1989 and played Roark in "Make Me a Perfect Murder" (1978)
- George Gaynes played Everett in "Étude in Black" (1972) and the Frenchman in "Any Old Port in a Storm" (1973)
- H.B. Haggerty played a masseur in "Make Me a Perfect Murder" (1978)
- George Hamilton played Dr. Mark Collier in "A Deadly State of Mind" (1975) and Wade Anders in "Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health (1991)"
- Mariette Hartley played Eileen McRae in "Publish or Perish" (1974) and Veronica in "Try and Catch Me" (1977)
- Edward Hibbert played Bramley Kahn in "Undercover" (1994)
- Sally Kellerman played Liz Houston in "Ashes to Ashes" (1998)
- Bruce Kirby played Sergeant Kramer and other roles in multiple installments
- Martin Landau played Dexter and Norman Paris in "Étude in Black" (1972)
- Edie McClurg played Mrs. Lerby in "Ashes to Ashes" (1998)
- Ian McShane played Leland St. John in in "Rest in Peace Mrs. Columbo" (1990)
- Pat Morita played the house boy in "Étude in Black" (1972)
- Marianne Muellerleile played Nurse Hilda in "Undercover" (1994)
- Evita Muñoz played a chambermaid in "A Matter of Honor" (1976)
- Leslie Nielsen played Peter Hamilton in "Lady in Waiting" (1971) and A. J. Henderson in "Identity Crisis" (1974)
- Leonard Nimoy played Dr. Barry Mayfield in “A Stitch in Crime” (1972)
- Vincent Price played David Lang in "Lovely but Lethal" (1973)
- Little Richard played himself in "Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star" (1991)
- Clive Revill played Joe Devlin in "The Conspirators" (1978)
- William Shatner played Ward Fowler in "Fade In to Murder" (1976) and Fielding Chase in "Butterfly in Shades of Grey" (1993)
- Martin Sheen playd Karl Lessing in "Lovely but Lethal" (1973)
- Jack Tate played John in "Caution - Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health" (1991)
- Dick Van Dyke played Paul Galesko in “Negative Reaction” (1974)
- Lesley Ann Warren played Nadia Donner in "A Deadly State of Mind" (1975)
- Louis Zorich played Frank Staplin in "Agenda for Murder" (1990)