Peter Falk was also great in Murder by Death, Princess Bride, and much else. But of course his role as Columbo is justifiably the one for which he's best remembered. I've seen almost every episode multiple times, and must say that his character approaches the paragon of a libertarian policeman — he virtually never violates the rights of third parties, he almost always targets the guilty and only searches and seizes their property, he catches most murderers through eliciting confessions and getting them to hand over the evidence themselves, and of course he never goes after victimless crimes. As he says in one 1973 episode, "I'm from homicide, I'm not from the vice squad." Of course, no cop is that good. The Lieutenant's failure to violate the non-aggression axiom, with maybe a handful of exceptions that come to mind, proves he is a fictional character. And what an amazing character he was, and what a great actor Falk was for bringing him to life for millions of viewers to see.
Am I overstating my love for Columbo? Check out my Halloween costume from last October, and judge for yourself:
(Photo above taken at the Halloween party at the Independent Institute)