(Pocket-lint) - Rocky Balboa is one of the most iconic characters in film history. His underdog story of a journeyman boxer who gets an unlikely shot at the title has inspired over 40 years' worth of films and even a statue in Philadelphia.

Pocket-lint decided it was time to give the legend his due, by compiling every film in the Rocky Universe (Creed movies too) into one handy list of everything Italian Stallion-related. Honestly, it's never a bad time to start a re-watch of Rocky. We recommend watching all eight films just to perfect your argument about which is best. Or you can just catch up to prepare for Creed III.

Here's the Rocky Universe in release date order, which also happens to be chronological. Skip to the bottom for a spoiler-free version.

Rocky and Creed movies: Best viewing orders
Rocky and Creed movies in order of release (spoilers)Rocky and Creed movies in order of release (spoiler free)
Rocky storyline order (spoiler free)Creed storyline order (spoiler free)

Rocky and Creed movies in chronological order

NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW.

United Artists

Rocky (1976)

In this ultimate underdog story, Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) is a small-time prizefighter who’s given a shot against the undefeated world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weather). This first installment in the Rocky franchise was written by Stallone and eventually won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

United Artists

Rocky II (1979)

Rocky II films, stars, and was written by Stallone. It picks up right where the first film ended, following Creed’s victory by split decision. It sees Rocky retire from boxing due to injuries he sustained, but Creed (Weathers) wants a rematch to prove Rocky’s success is a fluke.

United Artist MGM

Rocky III (1982)

After his victory in Rocky II, Rocky (Stallone) has a string of title defenses, but little does he know his manager, Micky (played Burgess Meredith), has been keeping him from an up-and-coming fighter, Clubber Lang (played by Mr T), who might be too much for Rocky to handle. Stallone once again directed, starred, and wrote this Rocky installment.

United Artist MGM

Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky (Stallone) is out for vengeance against the top boxer from the Soviet Union, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), who killed his friend Apollo Creed in an exhibition bout. Rocky heads to Russia to fight the dangerous Drago on his own turf on Christmas. Like the two films before this installment, Stallone not only directed but also wrote and starred in Rocky IV.

MGM UA Communications Company

Rocky V (1990)

After his fight with Drago, Rocky (Stallone) is forced to retire from boxing again. This time, he quickly falls into financial ruin due to poor business decisions made by his brother-in-law, Paulie (played by Burt Young). Rocky eventually finds and trains a young fighter by the name of Tommy Gunn (played by Tommy Morrison). Keep in mind Rocky V was a critical and box office failure and is considered the worst Rocky film.

Interestingly, although Stallone wrote this film, he didn't direct it. John G Avildsen did, the same guy who directed the first Rocky.

Metro Goldwyn Meyer/Columbia Pictures

Rocky Balboa (2006)

Sylvester Stallone was lured back to his most iconic role 16 years after the failure of Rocky V. The film sees Rocky - now in his 60s and running a small restaurant after the death of his wife - return to boxing. When the current heavyweight champion, Mason “The Line” Dixon (played by Antonio Tarver), hears of Rocky’s return to the ring, he moves to set up a fight between himself and the legendary Rocky Balboa.

Stallone directed, wrote, and starred in Balboa.

New Line Cinema/Metro Goldwyn Meyer

Creed (2015)

Creed sees the debut of Michael B Jordan as Adonis Johnson. He's the son of Apollo Creed from an extramarital affair. Adonis decides to become a boxer like his father but has trouble finding anyone who will train him, so he heads to Philadelphia to see if Rocky (Stallone) will help him.

It's worth noting Rocky isn't the lead character in the Creed series. And, although Stallone reprises his role, he didn't write or direct Creed.

New Line Cinema/Metro Goldwyn Meyer

Creed II (2018)

Three years after the events in Creed, Adonis (Jordan) - who is now sporting his father’s last name - has become the heavyweight champion of the world. This leads to Ivan Drago (Lundgren), the man who killed his father in the ring, seeing an opportunity to promote a fight between Creed and his own son, Viktor Drago (played by Florian Munteanu). Once again, Rocky isn't the lead, and Stallone didn't write or direct.


Rocky and Creed movie orders at a glance

Rocky and Creed movies in release date order

This is the same list as above, only spoiler-free and much quicker to read.

  • Rocky (1976)
  • Rocky II (1979)
  • Rocky III (1982)
  • Rocky IV (1985)
  • Rocky V (1990)
  • Rocky Balboa (2006)
  • Creed (2015)
  • Creed II (2018)

Rocky storyline order

Here are all the Rocky movies starring Stallone (no Creed films included). Stallone wrote and directed them all, except he didn't direct Rocky or Rocky V.

  • Rocky (1976)
  • Rocky II (1979)
  • Rocky III (1982)
  • Rocky IV (1985)
  • Rocky V (1990)
  • Rocky Balboa (2006)

Creed storyline order

Here are all the movies centering around Apollo Creed and his son. It basically axes the Rocky V and Rocky Balboa films.

  • Rocky (1976)
  • Rocky II (1979)
  • Rocky III (1982)
  • Rocky IV (1985)
  • Creed (2015)
  • Creed II (2018)

Did you like this?

Then maybe you'll like our other movie order viewing guides:

We also have these rumour round-ups on upcoming movies:

Writing by Maggie Tillman.
Sections TV