The primary protagonist of the series, Rocky begins as a part-time boxer, part-time mob enforcer and debt collector. Despite his violent occupations, however, Rocky is ultimately well meaning and doesn't want to hurt people, he just happens to be good at it. When world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed plans to have a major match on the bicentennial, (America's 200th birthday) and his opponent pulls out due to an injury, Creed decides to give a local fighter a shot at the title, and picks Rocky. This begins a long roller coaster ride for Rocky, as he goes from the gutter to local, then national hero and back again.
10-Minute Retirement: Becomes a brick joke when Mickie tells Rocky to consider retiring in the first movie. He ends up doing just that in the beginning of Rocky II, only to come out of retirement when he's down on his luck, again. He attempts to retire in the third movie, only to be put into yet another fight, before officially retiring in Rocky V. GW Duke attempts to enforce this trope on Rocky to no success even when he convinced Tommy Gunn to try to do it for him, only to prove unsuccessful when they fight it out in the alley.
Action Dad: Becomes a father half way in Rocky II, and will gladly carry fights to support his family.
Adorkable: Talks to his pets, awkwardly courts his best friend's sister, tells his coach about her like a lovesick teenager, and starts dancing and posing after running up a flight of stairs. And that's just the first movie!
A Hero To His Hometown: In Rocky V and in Rocky Balboa, rich or not, Rocky is well respected by just about everyone in Philadelphia. In Rocky V, it gets to the point where some of his fans ended up trying to defend him from Tommy Gunn.
All There in the Manual: Rocky's official fight record is 82 fights. 57 Wins (54 via knockout), 24 Losses and 1 Draw.
Half way into the match against Drago, he's taunting him!
Duke: He's not a machine! HE IS A MAN!
In ''Rocky V, Rocky took a rather brutal beating to the head, which seemed to have nearly killed him. Then he stands up after hearing Mickey's words and tells Tommy:
Rocky: Yo! Tommy! I don't hear no bell!
Badass Grandpa: How else can you describe a boxer in his 60s who is able to carry a heavy weight champion in his 20s?
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted. Rocky explains in the first film that despite all the fights he went through, his nose never got busted, only for him to has his face quite ruined in the end of the first film and on ward. His nose is mentioned again in Rocky II, which gets busted immediately at the start of the match.
Want to get on his bad side? Say anything bad about Adrian. Clubber Lang said something bad alright. He was offering her sex back at his crib, at the time that Rocky was just announcing his retirement!
His friends being harassed is another good way to get him angry, especially at Paulie.
In Rocky V, Tommy Gunn should not have punched Paulie.
Rocky: "You knocked him down, why don't you try knockin' me down now?"
In Rocky Balboa, some punks were harassing him and Marie. Just a dose of Rocky's aggression, and that got them to shut up.
Captain Ersatz: Half Rocky Marciano, half Joe Frazier, and inspired by a Chuck Wepner fight. Pretty funny on the Joe Frazier part considering that he makes a cameo in the first film. The Rocky Marciano part is also lampshaded by a poster hanging in Rocky's apartment, and Micky pointing it out in the same film.
Character Development: Rocky becomes better in personality, with some other flaws to iron out in each film.
Rocky had him going from a poor enforcer for a Loan Shark who got his shot at the title.
Rocky II has him enjoying his spoils and taking on responsibility for maintaining a home and keeping him and Adrian fed, until he has to fight again.
Rocky III has Rocky's acting greatly improved to where he can star in commercials, and after his downturn phase, has gained so much skill to the point of properly applying strategy in his rematch.
Rocky IV has him at such a high point in his life and career, where he's willing to throw it away if it meant avenging the very man that got him there to begin with.
Rocky V goes a little backwards (possibly due to brain damage) as it is an upsetting transition between being rich to going back to rags, as he tries to pass on his talents to Tommy Gunn, but eventually accepts his new life style and lets go his shot back to the ring.
Rocky Balboa has Rocky in his 60s, Older and Wiser, running a restaurant, owning many pets, and still being his humble self, with the only flaw being that he's holding onto the past too tightly.
Determinator: As seen in the numerous examples below, this is practically the core of his entire style — he might not be the strongest offensively, but he can take infinitely more punishment than seems humanly possible, which lets him ride out fights up to the double digit rounds that most of his opponents have never needed to go into. By the final film, Rocky himself (as well as his coach, former bud of Apollo) realize this and utilize it to its fullest to capitalize on what he has left, since at his more advanced age, his raw determination is really all he's got.
Determined Defeatist: In the first film, he knows that he will lose, but decided that he'll go the distance so at least he won't be seen as a bum.
Fighting Dirty: When Spider Rico pushes him into Unstoppable Rage at the start of the first movie. Most seem to forget that Rocky isn't just a trained champion boxer... he was a former enforcer and knows how to throw down in a street fight. Also against Tommy Gunn in Rocky V.
Friend to All Living Things: He loves visiting the pet shop in Rocky I. He even has his own pet turtles, goldfish, and finally a dog. By the time of Rocky Balboa he's feeding the birds, keeping numerous pets, and adopting a new dog.
"I love almost everybody" (Rocky V)
Friend to All Children: In Rocky II, he's playing stick ball with the children on the streets. He was also being chased by an army of children while going for a run.
Genius Bruiser: During the fight with Clubber Lang, Rocky uncovers Clubber's weakness (i.e. he burns out quickly) and gets Clubber to throw everything at him in the second round by taunting him excessively. It works rather well to Rocky's advantage and is the shortest climax fight in all the films, closing out in the third round.
The Gloves Come Off: In Rocky III, Rocky had to go bare-fists in order to really bring down Thunderlips. Also in Rocky V, where Rocky and Tommy are in a street brawl. In Rocky Legends, the first fight in career mode is a bare-fist street brawl.
Gradual Grinder: He'll be in the fight for the long haul. You better be able to handle it. Averted in Rocky III where the first match with Lang ended in two rounds, and the next ended in three.
In Rocky II, he was doing poorly in his training, until he flat out stops after hearing about Adrian going into a coma. He doesn't say a word, and only stays to her side and read stories to her until she recovers.
In Rocky III with a bad case of Break the Badass, where he suffered from the triple whammy of Mickie's revelation that the ten title defenses Rocky is so proud of were all handpicked opponents while Mickey carefully steered Rocky away from anybody that could actually be dangerous, his crushing loss to Clubber Lang, and Mickey's death. This sends Rocky into a tailspin of depression and questioning not just whether he'll ever be capable of beating Clubber, but whether he was ever any good and his worth as a fighter in the first place.
In Rocky IV, Rocky feels like he has to fight Ivan Drago, even an unsanctioned match for no money, all to avenge Apollo's honor.
There are times where despite being told to stay down, or to throw the fight, he berates the idea of that and presses on.
Know When to Fold 'Em: In Rocky V, after finding out him and his family is heading from Riches to Rags, he decides that he will accept a match again Union Cane, until Adrian convinces him to see a doctor, in which they confirmed that he has brain damage from his match against Ivan Drago. It takes further convincing from Adrian to finally talk Rocky out of fighting any further, if only to protect himself.
Made of Iron: How else do you describe a guy who goes for 15 rounds with a World Champion and still comes out strong? Drago said it best:
In Rocky V, he is this to Tommy Gunn who later betrays him.
In Rocky Balboa, he employs Steps as his personal assistant, practically being a mentor to him.
In the upcoming spin-off film: Creed, Rocky will become one to Apollo's grand-son.
Mighty Glacier: What he logically becomes to an extent by the time of his final fight. There's no way he can out-hit or even bother outmaneuvering Dixon at his age, so he trains to outlast and deal as much damage as he can with any hit he gets in.
The Mourning After: In Rocky Balboa, Rocky cuts short any potential romance with Marie because his reverence for Adrian. Which makes his promises to Adrian in Rocky II thru IV all the more powerful.
Mr. Fanservice: Rocky V especially treats their audience with a side body shot of Balboa in the shower.
My God, What Have I Done?: In Rocky V, he spent most of the movie training Tommy Gunn, and never really paid much attention to his own son, who was trying to win his approval. Adrian and Paulie noticed this, but when Robert disowns Rocky, and when Tommy Gunn disowns him as well, Rocky goes through a Heroic BSOD, having realized that he nearly lost his own son because of his own desire for another chance.
Nice Guy: In spite of spending most of his adult life beating people up for a living, Rocky is incredibly sweet and kind to everyone. It's especially evident in Rocky Balboa where he puts up with having his picture taken with Robert's boss despite overhearing him berate him earlier, gives former rival Spider Rico free meals at his restaurant, and responds kindly to every single person who says "Hey, Rock!" or "Hi Champ!" on the street.
In Rocky Balboa, after catching up with Marie, Rocky learned that her son, Steps, is without a job, and decided to employ him as his personal assistant. He eventually gives Marie a job as well since one of his waitresses will be on pregnant leave.
Even when he was collecting for Loan Shark Gazzo in the first movie, Rocky went out of his way to avert the Evil Debt Collector trope as much as humanly possible under the circumstances: his first scene with Gazzo has Gazzo berating him for not breaking a someone's thumbs for being behind on payment. He doesn't buy Rocky's reasoning that the guy won't be able to work (and therefore pay up) if he's injured.
Rocky V has a case where Rocky can be too nice. Adrian had to stop him in the end.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Rocky V, Rocky formed a brotherly alliance with Tommy Gunn, helping to develop him. However, he ends up practically ignoring his own son, despite his bully problems, leading him to take matters into his own hands (although it ended quickly due to a Defeat Equals Friendship moment), and even that didn't get Rocky's attention. Paulie notices this is happening, and noticing that Tommy is in the process of being bought by GW Duke, and tried to warn Rocky that the boat's sinking. Unfortunately, Rocky's son disowns him, and Tommy disowns Rocky as well. He did manage to fix things with Robert, thankfully.
Older and Wiser: In Rocky Balboa, he is in his 60s, and is able to maintain a restaurant successfully, and has gotten more intelligent by then.
Rags to Riches: Takes this trope on a roller coaster ride. In I, it's rags. He does better for a while in part II, but quickly goes through the money from fighting Apollo and doesn't catch on doing other things. After winning the rematch with Apollo, he's solidly rich through III and IV. V sees him going back to rags, and by the 6th movie he seems to have found a happy medium, making a decent living as a successful restaurateur.
On full display in Rocky V. A punch to Paulie's face had Rocky try to open Tommy's head.
In Rocky Balboa, he gives a punk a dose of his fury when he insults Marie.
Unskilled, but Strong: He has a cast iron jaw and a real talent for the sport, but for most of his history, that was all he had going for him. He couldn't even defend himself and allowed himself to be punched in the head repeatedly. Then first Mickie and later Apollo trained him and converted all of that raw talent into true skill and ability, transforming him into The Ace.
Played by: Talia Shire (1976-1990)
Paulie's sister, a painfully shy woman who runs a local pet store and that Rocky has had a crush on for years, although she has never responded to his flirting and such. They begin to connect romantically during the build up to Rocky's first fight with Apollo, as Adrian also begins dealing with her own issues and putting her overbearing brother in his place.
While not a fighter like her husband, thanks to a confidence boost by Rocky she is often considered very tough. Rocky even lampshades it in III.
Rocky: When did you get so tough.
Adrian: I married a fighter.
In Rocky V, she does this again, fed up with how Rocky is practically giving a lot to Tommy, while leaving his own son out of the equation. Rocky finally snaps out of it shortly after.
Changed My Mind, Kid: Adrian spent a good chunk of the film, refusing Rocky to take up the rematch against Apollo. She was quite un-supportive at first until her water broke and she gave birth to Rocky Jr. After waking up from a short-term coma and spending a heart warming moment with Rocky, she is suddenly supportive of him, motivating him to train at full force.
Morality Chain: In Rocky II, Adrian's unsupportive attitude about Rocky fighting was apparently linked to Rocky's poor performance in training. When Paulie realizes this, he tries to get Adrian to support Rocky.
Not Afraid of You Anymore: For a good chunk of the first movie, Paulie will throw her around (figuratively, never physically) and ridicule her for being too shy. Half way in, after spending the night with Rocky, she stands up to her brother the moment he starts getting aggressive.
Progressively Prettier: Goes from dressing and styling herself in frumpy, unattractive ways to more and more flattering styles with each passing movie.
You Are Better Than You Think You Are: As well as Beautiful All Along, Adrian does this trope to a T. She starts out as a shy, meek, woman who constantly keeps her appearance covered. But after her first date with Rocky, she gets a big boost of confidence and stands up to Paulie. In later films, she becomes the voice of reason.
Played by: Burt Young
"I don't sweat you."
Adrian's older brother and Rocky's long time friend, he begins the films as a drunken, overbearing lout who tries to lord over his sister and hopes to use Rocky in order to make connections with Rocky's mob boss. At first he is resentful of Rocky due to Rocky's greater success and popularity, but eventually Rocky always being there for him make him become a true friend.
The Alcoholic: Peaks at the start of the third film, afterward focus on it dies away.
Big Brother Mentor: Shows up in Rocky V, where he is this to Robert (Rocky Jr.) when helping him with his bully problem.
Blood Brothers: Paulie and Rocky's relationship gets better with each film, with a brief hiccup here and there. Rocky Balboa solidifies this, with Paulie and Rocky confine to each other despite some differences.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He made an attempt to fight Rocky, who had defended his title several times, for making him mad. While he never really landed a hit and Rocky said on the defensive, Rocky told him that he fought good. Attempting to take on Thunderlips in Rocky III while trying to get him to let Rocky go is another great moment. And another moment in Rocky V. See Shut Up, Hannibal! below.
Follow the Leader: In the PS2 version of Rocky Legends, he is a playable character, hoping to emulate Rocky's fame.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: A look at the counter in the first movie shows Paulie wearing some sort of an officer's uniform.
Hidden Depths: He can be a total jerk, but he can also be a genuinely good guy, as each film progressively shows. It's also implied (thanks to the Freeze-Frame Bonus above) that he may have been an officer of a sort once, though that was never elaborated on.
Jerkass: He uses Rocky just so he can get work from a loan shark collector, and later profits off of his match with Apollo, not to mention calling for a news interview with Rocky without his consent. It works, until the third movie where he is just a bum now, that is until he confronts Rocky, where Rocky lets him in his home with open arms.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: However, after going through an emotional breakdown with both Rocky and Adrian, he decided to be a little nicer to Rocky the next day, and (to be fair about him making money off of Rocky) asked him to advertise the meat factory on Rocky's name. He also becomes like any other good friend to Rocky beginning at Rocky II. He shows further shades of this when he attempts to rescue Rocky from Thunderlips. Then he flat out admits it in Rocky IV.
Made of Iron: Takes a shot to the head from Tommy Gunn (the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion) and just shakes it off. He also took quite a punch to the head by Thunderlips, a heavy weight wrestler, and he can still stand up afterward.
My Sister Is Off Limits: Subverted. Paulie encourages Rocky to take his sister out, despite her resistance, but is quite surprised when he learned implicitly (based on her Not Afraid of You Anymore moment) that he had sex with her, and bursts into tears.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Rocky V, Adrian and Paulie got into an heated argument early in the film about Paulie signing power to attorney to their accountant. It turns out he thought he was signing a tax form. It can be assumed that he was simply tricked into signing something he shouldn't have.
Noodle Incident: Between Rocky II and III, there is no mention of Gazzo, and Paulie is down on his luck as he descended into alcoholism, and he suddenly resents Rocky.
The Resenter: To Rocky in Rocky III. Like his alcoholism, it reaches a peak at the start of the third movie and dies away when the two bond after that. In the deleted scenes of Rocky Balboa, he fully resents what kind of a person Paulie himself had become and wishes he would have died in Adrian's place.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: In Rocky V, he gives this, full force, to Tommy Gunn, when he insulted Rocky's honor. This resulted in getting punched.
Spell My Name with an S: Paulie (and Adrian's) surname was finally revealed officially in "Rocky Balboa". It was Paulie Panina. However, for years it was said their surname was "Pennino", based on Talia Shire's grandmother's surname. This is why you see "Paulie Pennino" all over the net, especially on IMDB. But sorry, 'Net, if Tony Duke is now suddenly Tony "Duke" Evers (thanks to RB), then Paulie is Paulie Panina.
You Owe Me: Paulie sees himself as giving a lot to Rocky, and felt like he wasn't given the same care that he gave to Adrian and Mickey, gets mad at Rocky, and tried to fight him because Rocky tells him, straight up that no body owes him anything. He got better after asking Rocky for a job.
Paulie: ...can I have a job?
Rocky: ...all you had to do was ask.
"You're gonna eat lightning and crap thunder!"
Played by: Burgess Meredith (1976-82, 1990) note appears in the fourth and sixth movies in archive footage
"You're going to eat lightning, and you're gonna crap thunder!"
The owner of the local boxing gym where Rocky trains during the first movie, he begins the first film unsympathetic, and even antagonistic towards Rocky, angry at Rocky squandering his talent and working for the mob. He has to eat crow later when Rocky is picked as Apollo's opponent, and begs Rocky to let him be Rocky's trainer, because he knows he can turn Rocky into a dangerous opponent instead of no hope challenger. Rocky, remembering all of Mickie's slights, almost turns him down, but accepts in the end, and a deep relationship forms between the two as Mickie becomes mentor, trainer, and even to a degree a father figure for Rocky.
I Was Quite a Looker: In Rocky Legends, his young self, while in his prime, is a playable character. Not a bad looking guy for his time. Although averted in the Rocky game for PS2, where it's his old self as a playable character.
Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold: Subverted. He doesn't like how Rocky is a collector, and makes it known, but when he caught wind of Rocky facing Apollo, he offers to train him, where he makes THAT known that he is worried for him.
He becomes protective of Rocky in Rocky II like a father would. He even decides to train Rocky again after getting fed up with Apollo giving him a bad name.
"I say we bash his his head in."
In Rocky III, he revealed that in Rocky's rise to fame, he went so far as to ensure he picked fighters he knows Rocky can beat, in order to secure Rocky's successful future. This is because he believes that Rocky's prime as a fighter is in danger of passing quickly, and he wants to make sure Rocky makes the money he'll need for the rest of his life without being badly hurt before his career is over.
Retirony: Mickey plans to retire from being Rocky's manager after his fight with Clubber Lang. Lang just so happen to accidentally and indirectly cause cardiac arrest, which later claimed Mickey's life.
Sour Supporter: Despite letting Rocky use that one locker for six years, he has another fighter take it over and practically abandons Rocky due to his affiliation with Gazzo. Then he swings right back to him the moment he learned about his match with Apollo Creed.
Spirit Advisor: Not emphasized, but he does appear in a flashback, and says a line near the end of Rocky V where he says to Rocky "Get up you sonavabitch! Because Mickey loves you!"
Suddenly Shouting: His normally gravelly low voice often blows up into extremely loud outbursts.
Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Jr. (sometimes called Rocky Jr.)
Played by Seargeoh Stallone (II, 1979), Ian Fried (III, 1982), Rocky Krakoff (IV, 1985), Sage Stallone (V, 1990), and Milo Ventimiglia (Balboa, 2006)
As he appeared in Rocky Balboa
The son of Rocky and Adrian who was born in the second film. He has an expanded role in Rocky V where he was close to Rocky until Tommy Gunn came into their lives, drifting them apart. Robert attempted to win his father back, even decided to learn how to fight (with Paulie's help) so he can stand up for himself against bullies, but gave up when even THAT didn't get his father's attention. In the end, Rocky makes up to Robert, and the two get close again. Until Rocky Balboa where they both are quite distant from each other, with Robert pursuing a career in business, and attempting to separate himself from Rocky so he can build his own life.
In Rocky V, Robert resents Rocky when he was training Tommy Gunn, giving him more attention than Robert.
In Rocky Balboa, he is always compared to his father, causing him to resent him (again if you count V).
Defeat Equals Friendship: Despite beating one bully and watching the other run off, he asks him to be friends with him so they both don't have any more problems. He agreed, and the other one comes through as well.
The Dog Bites Back: In Rocky V, after getting beaten up by a pair of bullies, twice, he takes up training and beats them both to the ground.
A Friend in Need: To his father, where he decided to quit his job after taking his dad's words to heart, he came to him to support him for his exhibition match.
Genius Bruiser: In Rocky V, he is said by Rocky to be really smart. When bullying becomes a problem to him, he takes up training, and can punch as good as he is smart.
I Am Not My Father: Then in Rocky Balboa, he blames his father for having it easy in life, and yet never really being able to make a name for himself, and even went so far as to give Rocky "The Reason You Suck" Speech, only for Rocky to turn it around on him, telling him that he's looking for someone to blame because he couldn't try to make a name for himself. He comes through and proceeds to respect his father again.
Like Father, Like Son: Shown in Rocky V. Robert can be as humble as Rocky, but when he gets picked on by bullies, he takes up fighting just to beat them up. But thankfully, his humble side shined through, so they became friends afterward.
Plot-Relevant Age-Up: He was a little boy in Rocky IV. He suddenly ages a year or two by the time of Rocky V. Somewhat justified since the actors changed. Again. But still...
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: In Rocky V, he gives one to his dad, fed up with him spending all of his time with Tommy Gunn. This leads into a Random Smoking Scene when Rocky finds him. Thankfully, it doesn't become a habit after him and Rocky reconcile.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: In Rocky V, he appeals to his dad, surprising him with a trophy collection stand he set up, drawings, and even tried to talk to him about how he reclaimed his stolen coat, but Rocky never really returned a meaningful affection.
Who's Laughing Now?: A non-villainous example. Near the end, Robert gives Rocky a prep talk before the final round, telling him that people thought of both of them as a joke, but no body is laughing now.
Played by: Carl Weathers (1976-85)
Rocky's opponent in the first two films and friend in the following two films. Creed begins the series as the reigning heavyweight champion, and between his dazzling skills, speed, and power, no one has ever managed to go the distance with him. When an opponent pulls out a fight set for July 4, 1976, Creed, realizing no other top level contender will be free to fight by then, and unwilling to change the date, instead comes up with a gimmick: to give an unheralded local fighter an opportunity to reach the top ala the American Dream by fighting him. He then picked Rocky as his opponent, and the rest was history...In the third film after Rocky loses to Clubber Lang and Mickie dies, Apollo trains Rocky for the rematch with Lang, beginning what fans have called "an epic bromance" with Rocky that lasts through the end of the third film and into the fourth, until Drago kills Apollo in an exhibition bout.
Fatal Flaw: Pride. Which leads to his death after he seriously underestimated Drago.
Genius Bruiser: Emphasized more in the novelization and other background materials, but Apollo isn't just a boxer, he also entirely runs, markets, and manages and entire business empire based around himself.
Large Ham: Actively cultivates this as part of his image.
Lightning Bruiser: Faster and more skilled than Rocky, but doesn't have Rocky's legendary endurance.
Manipulative Bastard: In the second film. Frustrated by the fan response to his first fight with Rocky, he decides to provoke Rocky into getting back to the ring for a rematch by playing the role of the Heel in the media and angering him. It works.
Pride: Apollo put on quite a show in the first match, but felt his pride seriously injured in the next movie to the point where he changes his mind about the no-rematch and wanted an immediate rematch with Rocky. Sometime later, the hate-mail started to pour in and he gets obsessed over fighting Rocky. The next time they're in the ring, he's not putting on a show then.
Red Baron: "The King of Sting, the Doctor of Destruction, the Count of MonteFisto, the Master of Disaster, the One, the Only... Apollo Creed!" That last one (The Master of Disaster) deserves extra credit... the man who inspired the character's creation, Ali himself, noted that that was something he should've used in his heyday.
The Bus Came Back: In Balboa, he may have returned half way in, but man does he leave an impression.
Defeat Means Friendship: In the video game: Rocky Legends, Duke is the first opponent Apollo fights. Winning has Duke telling Apollo that he plans to retire, but is willing to train him all the way through.
Put on a Bus: He hasn't been seen in Rocky V after the beginning scene, and has practically disappeared from existence then (probably so that the name "Duke" is mentioned to a new character, and not to him).
The antagonist of the third film, he is a brutal jerkass of a fighter shaped by the streets into a fearsome opponent. While Rocky enjoys the high life as champion, Lang cuts a swath through the heavyweight ranks, mercilessly knocking out anyone he faces. Mickie quickly becomes aware of what a dangerous man he is, and desperately wants to avoid a bout between him and Rocky.
Animal Motifs: Numerous. His bizarre haircut, leather jacket, and feather earrings make him look like an animal, he roars when he throws a punch, and during the intro, a tiger's roar is played several times while the camera is on him.
Ax-Crazy: He wanted to tear Rocky apart, and you better hope he's in a good mood if you get in his way.
Captain Ersatz: Of a young George Foreman. To an extent the first bout between him and Rocky is an a fictionalization of the bout where Foreman defeated Joe Frazier (one of the inspirations for Rocky Balboa) to become world heavyweight champion. In that bout Foreman knocked out Frazier in two rounds and knocked Frazier down six times during those two rounds. Like the film there was a rematch, unlike the film while Frazier did better and lasted longer, Foreman once again knocked him out.
Crippling Overspecialization: He is focused solely on getting fast knock-outs with hard hooks (he rarely uses any other punch and doesn't throw a single jab). His style seems to be keyed solely on destroying Rocky and once Rocky starts outfighting, Clubber is outclassed and decimated in three rounds. It's very likely that the retired Apollo Creed, who specialized in outfighting and was much better at it than Rocky, and whom Clubber repeatedly insulted, threatened, and even attacked, would have beaten or even humiliated him in the ring. (Which would also correspond to the inspirations for the 3 characters. Rocky primarily borrows from Rocky Marciano and Joe Frazier, Creed from Muhammad Ali, and Lang from George Foreman. In real life Frazier won his first bout Ali, then was brutally destroyed by Foreman in two rounds, and Foreman was then outclassed, knocked out, and demolished mentally, physically and psychologically by Ali.)
Curbstomp Battle: The first fight between Rocky and Clubber is one, as Clubber demolishes an overconfident and ill-prepared Rocky in two rounds, although Rocky does manage to get a few good blows. The rematch is also one, this time with Rocky defeating Clubber, although like the first bout Clubber does have his moments and gives both Rocky and the audience some scares.
Evil Counterpart: To Rocky in the first two films. Both are hard hitting southpaw brawlers from the streets and expanded materials give Clubber a criminal past. Clubber just takes it all Up to Eleven and has a Jerkass personality.
Glass Cannon: Kinda. Stamina is more his weakness than an inability to take a punch, but still, he's the only one of Rocky's challengers to suffer an early KO.
Trash Talker: Par excellence. In fact, it was his trash talking that got him a shot at the title, since Mickey made sure the match wouldn't be made and Rocky was about to retire before Clubber's trash talking caused Rocky to lose his cool and make the match.
Sincerity Mode: During an interview with the upcoming rematch against Rocky, Lang admits that he doesn't hate the guy, but he "pities the fool!" When he was asked about his prediction for the match, without any personal bias, he tones down his usual attitude and simply responded with "pain."
A Soviet amateur fighter who, due to being unable to compete as a professional, (Eastern Bloc athletes of the time did not compete in professional leagues, only in the Olympics and other amateur leagues) is being touted as a potentially awesome but unproven boxer. Apollo sees this and is sure he knows better, and challenges Drago to exhibition fight. After Apollo loses and dies from his injuries, Rocky challenges Drago to an unlicensed bout in Russia that will not be recognized as legitimate by boxing authorities.
All There in the Manual: According to Rocky: The Ultimate Guide, Drago's career stalls until the fall of the USSR five years later, and he turns pro, winning one of the World Title belts, its not specified which one, and amassing a record of 31 straight wins by KO. He never unifies the World titles or fights the top contenders of the early 90s due to promotion politics. His only loss in his entire career was against Rocky.
Alternate Ending: In Rocky Legends, Drago defeats Rocky, and has his own national anthem going on afterwards.
Badass: His punching strength is over two times the average psi for a boxer, and close to three at tops. Rocky seemingly takes his blows way easier than Apollo's or Lang's, despite the fact that Drago's blows should theoretically make his head explode. And Rocky does this for a whole fifteen rounds. If you're willing to ignore Stallone calling ''Rocky V'' non-canon, it does cause Rocky brain damage in that movie.
Curb-Stomp Battle: He absolutely pounds Apollo in the first two rounds, actually killing him. He initially has the better of Rocky during the first round of their match, but Rocky manages to turn the tables in the second round.
Heel-Face Turn: When he starts fighting Rocky, he becomes arrogant and dominant in the rounds, but when Rocky manages to fight back, he is impressed by his skill and determination. ("He's not human, he's like a piece of iron.") While he did still fight Rocky, he turns against his trainers (and to an extent, his own country) with the following words.
The Quiet One: His handler and wife do the talking. He does the punching. It's established that while he does speak and understand English, he's just a man of few (if any) words.
Silent Snarker: During the prefight trash talk with Creed. He's the only one to catch on that the argument between his handler and Creed is simple trash talk to psych each other out and simply pushes Creed as his own way of snarking back.
Unskilled, but Strong: Major subversion. Apollo thinks he is this, due to the limited number of Drago bouts that Apollo can view footage from. Apparently Drago's skill and form had improved by leaps and bounds since his last bout that Apollo saw.
What Happened to the Mouse?: According to Stallone, while making Rocky Balboa, Drago would have been consumed by Alcoholism or long term steroid abuse.
Worthy Opponent: Before Round 14, Drago's handler began to order him to win. Drago responded by throwing him out of the ring and announcing this, much to his wife's approval, in Russian:
"I fight to win, FOR ME!!! FOR ME!!!"
After the match, he didn't seem as antagonistic towards Rocky, but more or less respectful.
Ludmilla Vobet Drago
Played by: Brigitte Nielsen (1985)
Ivan Drago's wife, who doesn't play a big role, but is supportive of her husband's career.
Appeared in Rocky V. The boxing promoter who is trying to capitalize on getting current Heavy Weight Champion, Union Cane, in a match with the legendary: Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, due to Rocky's injuries, both him and Adrian decline, but Duke tries anything, and everything he can, just to coherence Rocky into a rematch.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Duke wanted a sanctioned fight between Rocky and Union Cane. When he didn't get that, he tries to get one for Rocky and Tommy Gunn. He got it, but it wasn't sanctioned...
The Determinator: He tries everything he can think of to get Rocky back into the ring. Get him to lose all his money? Check. Try to convince him that he doesn't have brain damage? Check. Steals away Tommy Gunn for a more elaborate scheme later? Check. Bribes Rocky and his family with birthday gifts before rubbing in his face that Tommy Gunn is now with him? Check. Finally has Tommy humiliated just so he can personally force Rocky out of retirement? Ccccheck!
Didn't Think This Through: He intended Tommy to force Rocky out of retirement for a prize fight. He never counted on Rocky to say "my ring's outside."
Evil Mentor: He steals Tonny Gunn away from Rocky, with promises of fame and fortune. He even intentionally staged the champion fight just so Tommy can get ridiculed and convinces him to challenge Rocky, seeming that master versus apprentice is much more profitable than a regular title match.
Laser-Guided Karma: Of all the crap he put Rocky through, a single punch to his chin was all that Rocky wanted.
Duke: Touch me and I'll sue.
Rocky: *uppercuts him, launching him to his car* Sue me for what?!
Only in It for the Money: He doesn't care if one match with Rocky could possibly disable him, or even kill him. What matters to him is that he profits from the match, and he'll do anything to make that happen.
Riches to Rags: It's implied that he was the cause of Rocky losing his fortune.
Appeared in Rocky V. A poor young man seeking to become a professional fighter, he has left his home in hopes of being trained by the legendary Rocky. At first Rocky refuses, but eventually agrees. Tommy proves a talented student, but eventually becomes frustrated at the slow pace with which Rocky insists on developing his professional career, believing that he's ready to be champion. This provides an opportunity for unethical promoter George Washingtion Duke to first sign Tommy, then turn him against Rocky.
Ascended Fanboy: Tommy has been a big fan of Rocky when he was younger. He took a trip to Philadelphia, with risks included, just so he could ask Rocky if he can be trained. He sure is gleeful when he accepts.
Corrupt the Cutie: He may be aggressive, but he was a genuinely nice guy with some personal issues to iron out. Before GW Duke corrupted him. Paulie even saw this coming.
Paulie: The ship's sinking, Rocko.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: The news media loves to make Tommy Gunn out to be as if he's Rocky's puppet. Even when he won the title match, everyone berated him for a variety of reasons, almost all of which are related to Rocky (he can never measure up to being like Rocky, AND he is berated for leaving Rocky for GW Duke), eventually fueling his need to take Rocky on.
Face-Heel Turn: From humble, eager and mindful with Rocky, to mean, angry and irrational with Duke.
Freudian Excuse: Tommy definitely has Daddy issues, as he elaborates early on. He may have projected some of them onto Rocky by the end of the movie.
"My dad was the first guy I punched out. Every time I go into the ring, I see him again."
Lonely at the Top: Thanks to Rocky, he's made it up to become a contender for the heavy weight belt, but dumps Rocky for GW Duke just so he can get the fame and money he wanted. He got his belt, but he gained no respect from anybody, especially because he abandoned Rocky. When he takes on Rocky in the street fight and loses, he may still be the champion, but only on paper to many, MANY people as an aging Rocky can still beat him down. Being arrested and having Duke disown him afterward also didn't help his case.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Duke encouraged Tommy to get angry and get Rocky to fight him. Punching Paulie in the face got Rocky angry too, angry enough to get a street brawl going on. Not the type of fight Duke had in mind...
Passing the Torch: Rocky provides Tommy the same shorts Apollo gave him later in his career.
A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Starts the film pleading with Rocky to have Rocky train and teach him, eventually sells out and throws Rocky aside. He even refused to thank Balboa for his success at getting the title belt.
True Final Boss: In Rocky Legends, Career mode for Rocky went on and on until he takes on Tommy in a street brawl match, much like how career mode started.
Unskilled, but Strong: He brute-forces his way into fights, though he's gotten a bit more skilled after Rocky has been managing him.
Unstoppable Rage: The first time we see him fight, he is shown as overly aggressive and give a sparring partner a near-nasty beating. Thanks to Rocky, he's managed to control it until the street fight scene where the press, GW Duke's speech to him, and Paulie calling him off all lead to him wanting to draw Rocky's blood.
Played by: Michael Anthony Williams (1990)
Appeared in Rocky V. A heavy weight champion who claimed the belt shortly after Rocky retired. He is eager to challenge him, but was constantly declined to. He eventually takes on Tommy Gunn, only to be downed in the first round.
Adaptational Badass: In Rocky Legends, he is a playable character, and predictably, can last much longer in the ring then he did in the movie.
Flat Character: Just in case you thought Ivan Drago was a flat character. This guy barely even get fifteen minutes of screen time!
Paper Tiger: He supposedly became a #1 contender for the world champion belt, so you'd think he'd be able to put up a fight. Tommy Gunn floored him not even past the first round. The reporters lampshade this when interviewing him.
The Unfought: Rocky never got to fight him, leaving the title belt his for the taking.
Applies even in Rocky Legends, where none of the characters in career mode gets to face him. Ouch.
Mason "The Line" Dixon
Played by: Antonio Tarver (2006)
A successful and dominant heavyweight champion from the 2000s, he has everything (money, friends, women, etc) except the respect of the people, who see him constantly winning his fights with such ease that they assume his opponents must be hopeless bums. As a result, the only people who seem a fair match for Dixon are the greats of the past, and when a computer simulation shows Dixon losing by KO to a prime Rocky Balboa, Dixon's management sees it as an interesting chance for an exhibition just as Rocky is looking at getting his boxing license back.
The Ace: To the point where nobody takes him seriously because he doesn't appear to have faced any real challenges.
Captain Ersatz: Of Roy Jones Jr and Floyd "Money" Mayweather. (And his penchant for first-round knockouts brings a little bit of Mike Tyson into the character, too.)
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite being the current Heavyweight champion and undefeated, he didn't got any respect from the crowd. He did get it after his fight with Balboa. There's a bit of Truth in Television here. There have been many fighters who didn't get the respect they deserve because the guys around are nowhere near their level. Therefore, it creates the illusion that a dominant champion is fighting nothing but bums. In contrast, Muhammad Ali receives platitudes not just because of his tremendous skills, but because of the high level of the other heavyweights around, nearly all of whom Ali fought and beat.
Lonely at the Top: Heavyweight Champion and undefeated, but is anything but loved by the crowds. Not because he's a bad guy, but because his fights are too easy. It doesn't help that his managers also don't respect him very much as they're more motivated by money than gaining him respect.
Jerkass: Averted. He's actually a fairly nice guy as the film portrays. He's just disgruntled by the lack of respect from the press, especially considering that he agreed to a match where some of the proceeds will go to charity.
Only in It for the Money: Averted. He may be rich, but he doesn't have the respect he wanted. He also clearly misses his old manager, Marvin, and decided to recruit him back since he's the only guy who really respects him. Not to mention firing him wasn't even his decision.
Marvin: You came back after you let me go?
Mason: C'mon Marvin, you know I ain't got nothing to do with that.
Punny Name: For those who don't get the joke, the Mason-Dixon line was the result of a compromise in 19th century American Politics on where slavery would be legal. South of the line it was legal, north of the line it was not.
Worthy Opponent: Mason treated the idea of fighting an old Rocky as a joke, but he does respect him on a personal level, and later respects him as a great fighter during the match.
Played by Hulk Hogan (1982)
A wrestler who participates in a charity event boxer vs wrestler match. He puts on quite a show against Rocky, and by extension, the immediate crowd that participated. In the end of it, he compliments Rocky and his pals and has a photo shoot with him.
The Ace: He IS the wrestling world champion at the time of Rocky III
Fail O'Suckyname: His lips are made of thunder? Does he emit thunder when he kisses? A reference to his trash talking, bombastic personality? Whatever the truth might be, there were better names out there.
Large Ham: Par of the course, and Hogan doesn't disappoint. He's also this In-Universe, since he adopts a completely different, over the top persona for his matches and in hyping up the crowd.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: A total jerk that will attack anyone who tries to stop him in the ring. An utterly kind gentleman outside of the ring. He just loves to put on a good show.
Rocky: Yo why were you so rough out there?
Thunderlips:That's the name of the game.
Played by Jodi Letizia (I, 1976), and Geraldine Hughes (Balboa, 2006)
Marie is that young girl who appeared in Rocky I, who has been hanging out with other juvenile delinquents, whom Rocky tried to convince her away, which seemed unsuccessful at first. A long time later, Marie is working at a bar, supporting herself and her son, without her husband, but becomes friends with Rocky and catches up on old times. She eventually becomes his moral support.
May-December Romance: In Rocky Balboa, although averted. She and Rocky are simply friends, and in fact, she brings a photo of Adrian to Rocky just to remind him that she's always there for him.
Progressively Prettier: In Rocky Balboa, she becomes less shy and a little more prettier as the movie progresses.
Shrinking Violet: In a deleted scene, she is implied to be one towards Rocky until the guy in the wheel chair (only present in this scene) convinces her to go with Rocky for a safe ride home.
Ungrateful Bastard: Rocky, in a show of his own inner goodness, convinces Marie to quit smoking and seek out better friends and to stay in school, and he even walks her home. Her response? "Screw you, creepo!" Becomes funny, and tragic when you see her in Rocky Balboa...
Played by James Francis Kelly III (2006)
Marie's son, whom she had to raise in the slums, alone. He is a nice guy who stays out of trouble, and is glad to work for Rocky as his personal assistant. He also helps him train when Rocky decides to fight Mason.
Real Men Love Jesus: By Rocky Balboa, he appears to be a devoted Christian and prays with Balboa before his match with Mason.
Ungrateful Bastard: A sort of heart warming example: He receives free meals from Rocky in the sixth film. The only thing he's ungrateful about is that he was never told to pay him back, and decided to force himself into Rocky's kitchen so he can help around and earn his meals instead.
Played by Joe Spinell (1976)
The Loan Shark who has Rocky under his employ in the first movie. He orders Rocky around to collect for him, but he's also a nice guy.
Benevolent Boss: Despite conducting illegal business, he's not entirely immoral, and he'll even give Rocky extra cash when he felt that Rocky could need it, no strings attached.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Gazzo is never seen again after Rocky II, although he gets a passing mention in Rocky V. Even with Paulie down on his luck in Rocky III, Gazzo has not been mentioned once. In a deleted scene of Rocky Balboa, he does get mentioned again.
Nice Guy: To Rocky. He's also nice enough to allow Paulie to take Rocky's place in the second film.