Three liquor-store robbers, two men and a woman, kill a cop while escaping. The woman and the younger man get away, but the older killer is captured. When allowed to make his one phone call, he talks in Greek to the younger robber, telling him about Kojak's niece and the birthday party she is having in East River Park. The killers stake out the party and kidnap the little girl, demanding the leader's release as a ransom for letting the child go. Kojak uses a painting the little girl included in a ransom note to figure out where they might be headed.
The police investigate the bombing of a restaurant in which several people were killed, including the mistress of one of the detectives working of the case, who doesn't tell the others about his relationship with her, and who is unaware that the person who committed the bombing is his own emotionally unstable wife.
The key witness in a robbery/murder trial is murdered just before he was about to testify, seriously damaging the prosecution's case. Kojak's hopes are either to use less reliable witnesses or find another way to nail the killers.
In an episode originally scheduled as the season opener (it was pushed back a few weeks to allow "Birthday Party," considered a better audience draw, to get the slot), a serial killer plunges a knife into anyone who stiffs him consumerwise -- six murders to date. The chief suspect is a troubled young man who sprays graffiti on walls talking about the character "The Grim Reaper."
Kojak's team snares child molester Dettrow, who they are forced to release because he has diplomatic immunity and is helping out the FBI. Kojak won't give up on nailing the arrogant serial sex offender, and doubts the FBI's pledge to keep Dettrow under wraps. Dettrow's psychiatrist counsels Kojak that such a compulsive is most likely to nab a child when he's under pressure. Kojak's shields tail the elusive Dettrow to prevent another molestation, so when they spot the East German embassy chauffeur sweating through a furtive meeting with a Red Chinese, Kojak fears ...
An undercover street cop shoots and kills a Puerto Rican youth who was pointing a gun at his partner, but the boy's sister tells a different story of what happened, and the community accuses the police of covering up for the officer.
Two longshoremen are murdered, but Kojak can't break through the code of silence of their co-workers and get any of them to testify against the mobsters who killed them. The workers are more concerned with dealing out their own justice on whoever of their own may have helped set up the victims.
A young man is killed by police after he attempts to kill an assistant district attorney at a courthouse. Kojak learns that the young man was a boyfriend of an ice skater who is in prison for the murder of her mother two years before. But when he tries to look further into the case, he gets pressured to drop it, with the orders ultimately coming from a powerful political operative.
A nun is shot in a churchyard by an assailant. Later she escapes from the hospital, and Kojak learns she is not a real nun but a dethroned Yugoslavian princess who, with the help of her bodyguard, is planning to get back the family jewels lost in World War II that are now in the hands of the mob.
Rosey Grier returns as modern-day bounty hunter Salathiel Harms, now looking for a hit man who has come to New York after jumping bail on the West Coast. His search complicates Kojak's case, as the detectives try to learn the identity of the target of the killer's $100,000 contract.
Joe Arrow, a Mohawk Indian recently fired, sneaks into his former boss's apartment to beg him to give him his job back, but a scuffle breaks out and he ends up accidentally killing the man. Joe's frustration and anger keep dragging him deeper and deeper into trouble.
A young woman comes to police headquarters and tells Kojak that she just recognized a man on the street as an old neighbor of hers, a mobster who was reported killed a year ago. She fears he is going to kill her because she knows he is alive. Kojak takes her home and convinces her she was probably mistaken. But shortly afterward, she is killed in a fall from her window, and Kojak is guilt-stricken for not believing her.
When his namesake godson is picked up as one of a gang of youths extorting money from a storekeeper, Kojak tries to intervene and keep the boy from going further into crime. But the smooth talking leader of a major hijacking gang plans to use the boy as part of his group and take advantage of his ties to Kojak.
While catching a pair of burglars breaking into an apartment, Kojak and his detectives stumble across an apparent plan by the prostitute occupying the apartment to kill her lover. But actually, the prostitute doesn't exist and has simply been created as the patsy by a woman intent on killing her husband.
Frustrated by the inability of the police to stop protection rackets that are harassing his community, a Puerto Rican undercover cop decides to join with some of the local street groups that want to mete out their own justice with the mobsters.
Kojak and his detectives try to identify the dead man found in the trunk of a Rolls Royce, while also searching for: 1) a woman who admits to killing her husband and plans to kill herself, 2) an armed youth who is on the streets looking for the pushers who've gotten his mother hooked, and 3) a prostitute who a religious fanatic accuses of accosting him.
Kojak and his detectives continue to search for the distraught woman who killed her husband before she also kills herself. Meanwhile, the killers of the man found in the trunk are ordered to find his body to prove to their boss that he is dead, and more killings result. The detectives also continue their search for an armed youth and a prostitute, while a man begs Kojak to keep his son out of getting deeper into trouble.
Kojak is unhappy when McNeil insists an attractive woman Detective joins the team. But the hostility between them begins to wane when they begin a murder investigation. In this tale of Murder and drug dealing, Detective Jo Long eventually wins over the respect of her male colleagues.
When her sister is killed before she was able to testify against a drug dealer, a nun takes it upon herself to bring the man to justice, by simply following him everywhere in the hope that he'll be driven to do something.
A woman in a Gypsy clan disguises herself and goes to Kojak with false information regarding a serial killer. She is doing this to stop members of another clan from killing that man, whom they think betrayed them to the Communists several years before, resulting in the deaths of several family members. While Kojack trails the wrong man, the Gypsy woman and her friends look for the real serial killer.