Columbo: how does it end?

From 1971 to 2003 (including an 11-year break), “Columbo” accompanied and marked many generations. But how does it end? If you didn’t follow everything well or if your memory challenges you, we tell you the end of the series.

Warning, spoilers. The following article reveals key plot elements of “Columbo” as well as its ending.

We don’t cult any more than Columbo. Starring the charismatic Peter Falk in the title role, the 13 Emmy-winning series has been on the air for 21 years, years during which the notorious L.A. crime squad lieutenant, short in stature but big in spirit, candid in appearance but an unparalleled investigator, he offered us many fascinating investigations… the culprit of which is always revealed at the start of the episode! Indeed, in Columbo, we know the assassin and we just have to watch the way, always surprising, in which the expert detective will manage to unmask the culprit.

And it was on January 30, 2003 that his last investigation was broadcast with a final episode entitled “Columbo leads the dance”. What’s going on there? We tell you.


Justin Price (Matthew Rhys) is about to open his new club, “The Bait”. He must also receive financial assistance from Tony Galper (Carmine Giovinazzo), gangster and son of a notorious East Coast mobster who came to Los Angeles to close the deal.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television

Tony then goes to Vanessa Farrow (Jennifer Sky), an unwanted visit for the young woman who is in reality his ex-wife. The latter comes across a photo of Justin Price, Vanessa’s new boyfriend, and goes into a rage, projecting his anger onto his Vanessa. In self-defense, she pushes Tony away who however falls on a coffee table and dies.

Vanessa then calls Justin for help and the couple agree: the police should not be called because of the victim’s relationship and the large funding that is about to be transferred. He thus recovers the electronic card from Tony’s hotel room, gets rid of the latter’s body and then goes to the hotel to use the card and create the illusion that he is still alive.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television


The situation becomes more complicated, however: the events were secretly photographed by Linwood Coben (Douglas Roberts), a tabloid photographer who calls Vanessa to tell her that he knows everything and emails proof to Justin. He offers the latter the negatives and the prints for $250,000: Justin agrees to pay.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television

The two men meet the same evening. However, Justin intends to kill the photographer and make his death look like a suicide. He puts his plan into action: he strangles her, puts a noose around her neck, ties her to a radiator, gets rid of the photographic evidence and types a fake suicide note on his computer. However, he suddenly regains consciousness. Justin then pushes him and, in his fall, Linwood goes through the window and lands in the alley below.


Columbo is obviously called to the scene of the crime. The problem is that when the latter investigates the “suicide”, he notices that Linwood has recently used mouthwash and left nail clippings in the toilet. For him, it looks more like the attitude of a man who “prepares for a woman than for a suicide”.

Also, a technician discovers that the victim’s computer keyboard is missing fingerprints (due to the gloves) and that a page from Linwood’s calendar is torn. Columbo finds it strange that someone bothers to tear out a current page from his calendar before jumping out of a window. He’s sure of it, someone wants him to believe it’s a suicide and it turns out that a handwriting indentation clue will reveal an address: that of the club he goes to immediately and Justin asks.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television

The detective eventually realizes that to solve Linwood’s murder he will also have to solve the mystery of what happened to Tony Galper as he discovers that the East Coast mobster group Tony belonged to had sent a representative to Los Angeles. – a representative (Tony) who disappeared after loaning a surprising amount of money.

During the investigation, Justin tells Columbo about Linwood’s firegame addiction in hopes of misleading the lieutenant. Later, the detective comes across a voice message intended for the photographer: he owes money to a man whom Columbo immediately visits. There, he understands that the paparazzi was using this man’s garden to spy on Vanessa (that’s how he witnessed Tony’s death). He then questions her.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television


Finally, in a final twist, Columbo notices that one of the aquariums in Justin’s club dance floor has fewer fish and is smaller than the others. Indeed, Justin made the mistake of hiding the body under one of the tanks that was soon to be installed, which forced him to install a smaller one. This inconsistency has therefore not escaped Columbo who obtains a warrant to confirm his suspicions. Using radar, Tony’s body is found and revelations ensue.

USA Network/NBC Universal Television

Just one more thing… In the final moments of the episode, Columbo remarks that “Tony slept with the fish,” a homage to The Godfather film series. Justin and Vanessa are eventually arrested for covering up Tony Galper’s manslaughter. Columbo then leaves the club, satisfied. And that’s the end of the series.

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