Just One More Thing

Columbo Goofs

"The Mysterious Re-Appearing Cigar" and other "Columbo" Goofs and Flubs

Every television show or movie has its share of technical and continuity errors. 
They range from real embarrassments like overhead microphones looming into view, to subtle discrepancies like half-filled glasses that spontaneously re-fill and
drain again.

"Columbo" is remarkably free from these flubs -- but nobody's perfect.

So here are a few goofs we've found:

The Re-Appearing Cigar Trick

Cigar trick Cigar trick

The Most Crucial Game Columbo is sitting in his car, listening to the Rockets game
on the car radio.

Watch his cigar: the ash falls on his raincoat, and we see the size of his stubby
stogie - - it's barely a  butt.  Mere milliseconds later, we see the cigar again, and it has magically regenerated,  grown back to almost full size.

The Silver Tray

Silver Tray Silver Tray

Thanks to Kathleen O'Regan for contibuting this goof.

Forgotten Lady:  Soon before his wife kills him, Dr Willis (Sam Jaffe) retires to
do some reading in bed. The butler brings him a distinctive silver tray with
a glass of milk, which the butler places on the nightstand. The nightstand was
empty at the time.

But if you notice, right before the butler comes in, there is a shot of Dr. Willis
reading in bed -- and we can see that the tray and glass of milk are already on the nightstand, before the butler brings it. The tray magically disappears as the butler enters, and moments later it is replaced.

The Chalk Circle

Chalk Circle Chalk Circle

Thanks to Kathleen O'Regan for contibuting this goof.

Fade In To Murder: There is a scene where Columbo has Ward Fowler (William  Shatner) draw a circle with chalk  on the back of his raincoat while Columbo's arms are raised -- he is demonstrating that the bullet holes in the back of  the victim's clothing and in her back prove that she was shot   with her arms  fully raised, and therefore that she probably was not running away.

Well,  there's an earlier scene, when Columbo meets the victim's ex-husband near the "Jaws" exhibit at Universal Studios.  When Columbo turns to look at the shark, the chalk circle on the back of Columbo's  raincoat can already be seen -- long before it was drawn.

Name Change

Name Change Name Change

Now You See Him: When we see the outside of the magic club where Santini is
working, the sign says it is "The Cabaret of Magic" -- which is also the name mentioned by the emcee introducing Santini.

But if you look closely at the letter written to the Department of Immigration by club owner Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff),   Jesse refers to his club as
"The Magic Circle Club".

Incidentally, the club is somewhat based upon "The Magic Castle," the legendary
Los Angeles magic club co-managed by illusionist Mark Wilson, who served as technical advisor for this episode. See Magic Info

Name Change II


The Greenhouse Jungle and Now You See Him:  When we first meet Sgt. Wilson (Bob Dishy), the earnest young officer with interest in modern police methods and technology, his name is Frederick -- Columbo calls him Freddie.

In a rare lapse of continuity, when we see Sgt. Wilson again in "Now You See Him," he is clearly the same character, but his name is John -- John J. Wilson.

Probably the best known goof in "Columbo" history. 

The Tire Change
Dagger Of The Mind

When Detective Chief Superintendent Durk starts to drive Columbo to the
murder scene, the tires on his car have flashy white sidewalls...

Dagger Goof Dagger Goof
Special Thanks To Allen Bishop for spotting this goof.

...but by the time they arrive at their destination, the tires have changed
to plain black. (Later, they turn white again.)

Wrong Directions

Candidate Goof

In Candidate For Crime, when Columbo gets stopped for a roadside inspection of his car, he asks one of the officers for directions to "Ridgeway Drive".  The officer responds with directions instead to "Ridgewood", and nobody seems to notice the difference.

(Thanks to Allen Bishop for spotting this goof)

Rain or Shine

Rock Star Goof Rock Star Goof

In Columbo And The Murder Of A Rock Star, Columbo enters the murder house through
the front door, in a pouring rainstorm. His pants are wet, and he's wearing a hat and using an umbrella. While he is inside, we hear thunder.

Then, Columbo steps out the back door, and into bright sunshine.

Perhaps it could be argued that the abrupt change is consistent with Los Angeles weather patterns.  But this would not explain how there is no rainwater anywhere on the deck, on the garbage cans, or in the sand.

(Thanks to Annie for spotting this goof)

The Backward Fountain

All in the Game Goof

Near the beginning of It's All In The Game there's an establishing shot of the mansion where Lauren (Faye Dunaway) is throwing a party.  The camera appears to zoom in on the house -- but the footage was actually shot zooming away from the house. The film is played in reverse, producing a weird-looking goof.  Watch the fountain -- the water defies gravity, cascading in reverse, running up from the pond and back into the nozzle.

(Thanks to Chris Dawson for spotting this goof.)

The Blinking Corpse

All in the Game Goof

Later in It's All In The Game Lisa Martin waits with the corpse, which is covered with an electric blanket.  Notice the corpse's face -- a few seconds after the doorbell rings, the dead man dramatically blinks his eye. The camera angle and the actor's heavy eyelids create a startling effect as he bats his lashes.

Apparently the actor's eyes are open except for the blink, which is puzzling since we earlier saw the dead body with his eyes closed.

(Thanks to Kimberley Dawson for spotting this goof.)

Changing Choppers

Friend in Deed Goof Friend in Deed Goof

When Deputy Commissioner Mark Halpern (Richard Kiley) goes on helicopter
patrol in A Friend In Deed his helicopter actually changes type twice during the flight.  First we see a Bell 206 JetRanger, which then turns into a Hughes 369 before reverting back to the Bell 206.   Commissioner Halpern is then seen climbing out of the Hughes 369 to drag his wife's body out of the pool.  The two helicopters are very different, even to the untrained eye.

(Thanks to Chris Dawson for spotting this goof.)

The Most Mutating Shoes

Match Goof Friend in Deed Goof

The Most Dangerous Match As killer chess-champ Emmett Clayton steps into
an elevator at the hotel, his shoes are light tan loafers, suede-looking, almost matching his suit.When he gets off the elevator, his shoes have been transformed to shiny black leather, with silver buckles.

(Thanks to Steve and Gina Carvin, for spotting this goof.)

The Vanishing Sodas

Smoke Goof Smoke Goof

Murder, Smoke, And Shadows:  Columbo spots a couple of ice-cream sodas left on the counter in Alex Brady's office, known as his "boys' club". One glass is almost full, the other about half-full. Not only can we see this, but Columbo comments on it at length, theorizing with uncanny accuracy how the full and the half-full glasses show what happened earlier, when the victim was visiting Brady's office.The moment Columbo leaves, Brady rushes to the soda glasses, to destroy the evidence.  Inexplicably, he finds both glasses are now empty except for a milky residue.

(Thanks to Steve and Gina Carvin, for spotting this goof.)

Mustache Mystery

In Butterfly In Shades Of Gray As radio commentator Fielding Chase, William Shatner wears a pencil-thin mustache, so wispy and light that it's barely visible even in most close-ups.

ButterMustLite.jpg (15182 bytes) ButterMustDark2.jpg (12928 bytes)

Except while he is talking to Columbo at the murder scene, when the mustache is suddenly, dramatically darker brown. Part of his disguise at the murder scene? Not likely, since the mustache was lighter during the murder itself, and is already back to its light and thin appearance when Fielding brings Columbo into his home afterward.

(Thanks to Steve and Gina Carvin for spotting this goof.)

A Murder Next Door Maybe?

perfectreflec.jpg (15026 bytes)

In "Make me a Perfect Murder", the image of Columbo's car, sitting in the parking lot, can be seen reflecting off the glass of the CNC building as Kay enters it -- BEFORE she commits the murder!

(Thanks to "The Imposter" for spotting this goof.)

“Just in the Neighborhood”?

“Columbo Cries Wolf” features a similar pre-mature appearance by Columbo’s car – it’s under the opening titles, before Columbo is introduced and before the story even begins. Look closely, and you will notice the familiar Peugeot making a U-turn behind the white limo, probably a filming crew error.

Thanks to Stephane Douchain, from France, for spotting this Goof!


Name Change III

UndrGlasChoy.jpg (13024 bytes) UndrGlasShang.jpg (15170 bytes)

In "Murder Under Glass," Mr. Gerard first refers to Mary Choy's restaurant as "The House of Choy" when Columbo asks him about her name appearing in Vittorio's datebook. But later, Columbo meets with bankers over coffee cake, and Mary Choy's restaurant is referred to as "The House of Shanghai".

(Thanks to Lissy Friedman for contributing this goof.)

The Leaping Paintings

In the opening scene of "Suitable For Framing," we see Dale remove several paintings from the wall. Then, when Tracy enters, we see her admire the paintings still on the wall -- including two of the paintings that Dale had taken down already.

Suitable Goof Suitable Goof

These two paintings not only have jumped back onto the wall -- they have also mended themselves where Dale had sliced them with a knife.

Suitable Goof Suitable Goof

(Thanks to Lissy Friedman for spotting this goof.)

Self-Straightening Sleeve

"Double Shock": When Columbo helps Dexter in the cooking show, watch his shirt sleeves: Columbo rolls up his left sleeve, then his right.

DblShock Goof

Then, half a minute later, the left sleeve has neatly rolled itself down, and even re-buttoned itself at the cuff, forcing Columbo to unbutton and roll it all over again.

DblShock Goof

(Thanks to Linda Miller for spotting this goof.)

Alternating Ashes

"Agenda For Murder": In the scene where Columbo leans into Oscar Finch's car, Columbo's cigar ash switches back and forth from long to short.

Agenda Goof Agenda Goof

It's short when we see Columbo from the front, then long each time we see Columbo from behind.

(Thanks to Royal Berglee for spotting this goof.)

No Sweat

In An Exercise In Fatality When Columbo is speaking with Milo Janus in his office after he's been doing exercise his track suit is all sweaty, but when they meet in the corridor a moment later it is clean.

Sent to us by Vergara from Spain

Mystery Belt

In "Blueprint For Murder," Goldie asks Columbo to turn around while she puts on her robe -- "Lieutenant, I don't want to corrupt you." As Goldie ties her belt, we clearly see the belt go across her back, and around her waist.

Moments later, and for the rest of the scene, Goldie's belt is no longer around her waist -- it is just tied at the front.

Thanks to Tony Molinaro for spotting this goof.

Slippery Spectacles

In "Candidate For Crime," we see Chadwick the tailor (Vito Scotti) put his glasses on; then in close-up, the glasses have disappeared. Returning to the long shot, the glasses reappear on Vito's nose.

Thanks to Franck Vandystadt for spotting this goof, and for the pictures.

Identity Crisis

In "
Blueprint For Murder,", the killer is approached in his car by a motorcycle cop, because of a flat tire. When the motorcycle cop asks for the killer's license and registration, the killer gives the cop Lieutenant Columbo's police license -- the same photo ID that Columbo always flashes. The cop tries his best to conceal the picture with his finger, but to no avail -- to fans who have seen Columbo flash that ID many times, Peter Falk's picture on the license is quite obvious. Since Peter Falk directed this episode, it is possible that when a license was needed for this shot, Peter Falk simply provided Columbo's own.

Thanks to Nick Dimeo for spotting this goof.


Persistent Painting

In "Prescription: Murder", the reception room at Dr. Fleming's office features a distinctive painting, of trees and white houses with red roofs, which is prominent in several scenes.

This same painting later appears in "Suitable Framing", as part of the art collection sliced and stolen by Dale Kingston.

In its return appearance, this painting is also part of a "Columbo Goof" because it magically mends itself and returns to the wall, after it was vandalized and removed.

Thanks to Lissy Friedman for spotting both this "Flashback" and the "Goof"!


Multiplying Candy Wrappers

In Lady in Waiting, Beth's sitting on her bed, waiting for Bryce to come home, and she opens a box of chocolate and reaches in for a piece.  There are no wrappers on the bed at this point.  But as she puts the piece of candy in her mouth, the bed is suddenly littered with candy wrappers. 

(Thanks to Lissy Friedman for spotting this goof.)
Strange Strawberries

In Murder By The Book, Lily LaSanka dips strawberries in sugar and eats them, while talking to Ken Franklin. In a shot looking toward Franklin, we see that Lily is holding an entire strawberry, still coated with sugar at the tip. A moment later (and also in the previous shot), before she can take a bite, we see that Lily's strawberry is half-devoured.

(Thanks to Linda Miller for spotting this goof.)

Flip Side: Legs

In “Last Salute To The Commodore”, Columbo sprawls out on the pier with his left leg extended beneath him, and his right leg up and bent.

Then he instantly switches to having his right leg extended below, and his left leg up – then switches back again.

(Thanks to L. Vergara for spotting this goof.)

Flip Side: Teeth

In “Uneasy Lies The Crown”, Columbo complains to Wesley that he has a “sensitive tooth on the left”, as he chews his bagel on the right and holds his hand to his painful jaw – on the left.

But when Columbo goes to the dentist, the dental work is done to a tooth on his right. And afterward, at the outdoor café, Columbo holds his hand to his painful jaw – on the right.

Some dentists might call this “referred pain”, but we diagnose it as a goof!

(Thanks to L. Vergara for spotting this goof.)  

Time To Re-tire?

In “The Conspirators”, when Columbo goes to the pier to harass Joe Devlin , Columbo gets a flat tire (and it was “practically a brand new recap!”). The flat is on the front right side.

Columbo’s spare tire is at home (“very sensible”, says Joe), so Columbo borrows a dime to get the car towed .

But when we see the Peugeot being towed, the tire is good as new . Now why would he need a tow when the tire is fixed ?? 


(Thanks to Tim Dog for spotting this goof.)

Gun-handle Goof

In “Blueprint For Murder”, Bo Williamson’s car is specially outfitted with a silver six-gun on each door-handle. It’s a great touch of character, big and gaudy enough that we should see the revolvers at considerable distance.

But in the longer views of the car, driving through the construction site near the beginning, the guns are missing. In fact, it might be a different gold Cadillac than the car used in close-ups, because we are also unable to see the decorative air-vents aft of the doors.

Thanks to Fran Serafin for spotting this goof!  


About Face

When Cathy Goodland gets the telephone call from “kidnapper” Jarvis Goodland, we see that the bedside photo of her husband is turned toward her, on the nightstand. Only its edge is visible, propped against the clock-radio.

Cathy gets up to find that her husband is indeed missing. When she returns to her bedroom, the camera pans across her nightstand to show that the photo of Tony is now turned around 90 degrees, facing toward the camera. Also, the photo has moved over to the far side of the clock-radio. Who turned the picture around?

Thanks to Lorena Manara for spotting this goof, and for sending us these pictures from Italian televison. Lorena is an architecture student in Venice, who noticed this goof while she was studying the set-design features in “The Greenhouse Jungle” as part of a University examination.  

Blueprints ‘n Blackboards


Observant fans have spotted two separate Goofs in the scene where killer Elliot Markham writes on a blackboard in “Blueprint For Murder”.

Gary Nolte points out that when Markham reaches up to erase the blackboard (because Columbo is too short to finish erasing it!), we can see a large, prominent chalk mark on Markham’s left shoulder. But in the conversation that follows, the chalk mark is gone.

And Tenna Hoeyer, a great fan from Denmark, notes that if you watch the text on the blackboard, it tends to shift and disappear as the camera angles change. Especially prominent is Markham’s drawing of an Egyptian pyramid, which is seen behind him, then disappears, then reappears until he finally erases it.

Thanks to Gary and to Tenna!

Raincoat Reversal

In yet another “Blueprint For Murder” goof, Columbo pays an
office visit to Dr. Moss (familiar character actor John Fiedler), who is Beau Williamson's cardiologist.  To add to the comedy of the scene, the doctor insists on examining Columbo as he answers his questions.  As Columbo is leaving the examining room, we see his suit jacket and raincoat folded over his right arm. In the next shot, as Columbo emerges through the door into the waiting room, his jacket and raincoat have suddenly shifted sides, and are now folded over his left arm.

Thanks to Matt Sissman for spotting this Goof!

Fans of  “Columbo Goofs” will notice that “Blueprint For Murder” might be emerging as the “Goofiest” episode in “Columbo” history.

Radio Re-run 

In "Murder By The Book", if you listen to the police radio at both murder investigation scenes (Ken Franklin's house and Lake LaSanka), the tape used is exactly the same. It seems they were a little lazy and didn't bother to look for a different tape. 

And other fans have reported hearing this same bit of tape in at least one other episode.

Thanks to Ed Barczak for spotting this Goof!

BONUS “COP-RADIO” TRIVIA, sent by Suzanne Menapace: In “A Friend In Deed,” we hear Columbo being paged over his car’s police radio, and for the first and only time, Columbo’s call number is revealed: it is “194”. Thanks, Suzanne!

“His ‘n Hers” Hair Goofs

In “Etude In Black,” Alex Benedict has long hair, in the Maestro tradition -- curling over his ears, covering his neck, flipping up in back, and generally flying around in disarray. But there is a memorable (and largely irrelevant) scene where Columbo visits Alex Benedict’s home, and ends up asking about how much he pays in taxes, how big the house is, etc. And in this scene, John Cassavetes’ hair is visibly shorter than before or afterwards – trimmed farther up on his ears, neatly poufed all around, and shaved in back to expose his neck.

The likely explanation is a bit of “Columbo” history: this scene was probably part of the extra footage added after the network ordered director Cassavetes to lengthen the episode, from 90 minutes to 2 hours, and Cassavetes apparently got a haircut before the additional scene was shot.

Thanks to Larry Prager for spotting this goof!

And what is it with the hair in this episode? Another Goof occurs with Janice Benedict’s (Blythe Danner’s) hair, at the end. Just before she accompanies Columbo and Alex into the screening room to watch the incriminating video, we see her hair swept up in a bun behind her head. But when she enters the room (it’s a continuous scene, leaving no opportunity for Janice to change hair styles), her hair is down in a long ponytail.

This Goof was spotted both by Lissy Friedman, and by Harriett M. Chomen, sent to us by Harriett’s friend, Ira Fink.  Many thanks!

Eyes Wide Shut

In “Murder With Too Many Notes,” we see that the victim’s eyes are peacefully closed as he lies on the rooftop, thoroughly drugged, until he is shoved off the building. But when Gabe’s body hits the pavement, his eyes are wide open.

Writer Jeffrey Cava admits, with humor and grace, that everyone failed to spot this goof in multiple screenings during production. So, special thanks and congratulations must go to Stephanie Butcher, age 11 -- the youngest “Columbo” fan ever to spot a Goof!!!

Goofs 2 & Goofs 3

Return to Scrapbook