This is the detective series that inspired them all. Legendary actor Peter Falk is back in his 4-time Emmy® Award winning role, as the ruffled, cigar-chomping, trenchcoat-wearing police lieutenant who is asking all the right questions.

Columbo - Netflix

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 120 minutes

Premier: 1968-02-20

Columbo - Columbo (character) - Netflix

Columbo or Lieutenant Columbo is the eponymous main character in the successful detective crime drama series Columbo. The character is a shrewd but inelegant blue-collar homicide detective whose trademarks include his shambling manner, rumpled beige raincoat and off-putting, relentless investigative approach. Columbo is portrayed primarily by Peter Falk, who appeared in the role from 1968 through 2003. Columbo's first name has never officially been identified, although the name “Frank Columbo” has been visible on pieces of identification throughout the show's history. The character of Columbo was created by William Link, who said that Columbo was partially inspired by the Crime and Punishment character Porfiry Petrovich as well as G. K. Chesterton's humble cleric-detective Father Brown. Other sources claim Columbo's character is also influenced by Inspector Fichet from the French suspense-thriller film Les Diaboliques (1955).

Columbo - Career - Netflix

After serving in the United States army during the Korean War (“mostly KP”, as he says), Columbo joined the New York City Police Department and was assigned to the 12th precinct. He trained under Sergeant Gilhooley, a genial Irishman who mentored him and taught him a great deal about police work. Columbo reminisces about Gilhooley and mentions him often. Columbo moved to Los Angeles in 1958, at the behest of his cousin Fred who convinced him he'd prefer it to New York. Early in his career, he worked in the L.A.P.D.'s Hollenbeck Division (part of the Central Bureau, covering the communities of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno). In Falk's first appearance as Columbo in the 1968 TV-movie, Prescription Murder, the character had the rank of police lieutenant. In Uneasy Lies the Crown released in 1990, Columbo tells a colleague that he has been “on the force” (presumably meaning the LAPD) for 22 years, which would suggest that he began his career on the LAPD as a lieutenant in the homicide department, having never worked as a uniformed officer for that police force. In Prescription Murder, Columbo speaks of a colleague, Lieutenant Silver, who was supposed to be assigned to the case but was thought to be “too young and inexperienced” compared to Columbo. In mentioning Lt. Silver, Columbo begins a tradition that will return often, of the rejection of lesser officers from his investigations. However, he also often involves younger detectives in his investigations and usually finds some reason to praise them. This in turn allows the other common motif of suspects attempting to have Columbo removed from investigating, because they fear him. Despite solving numerous murders over the next few decades, in Falk's last appearance as Columbo in the 2003 cable-TV movie Columbo Likes the Nightlife, the detective is still a lieutenant. A very common motif is that Columbo enjoys and lives for his work. He is happy being a lieutenant with the homicide department, and often makes statements about his lack of ambition. He is precisely where he has always wanted to be, and he will remain there. The attempts to remove him from cases never work because Columbo “is something of a legend”, and thus has a powerful position with the police force. In fact, in Falk's pilot episode, Prescription Murder, he mentions to a suspected accessory that somebody has attempted to have him removed from the case, but he says: “Just to clear things up on one point, Miss Hudson: I am on the case. Somebody was pulling a few strings, all right. But my superior doesn’t like that. Gets him thinking. So he says to me, ‘Columbo, you must be touching a sore spot somewhere. Keep at it.’ Very intelligent man, my superior.”

Columbo - References - Netflix