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    Rocky Balboa 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/RockyBalboa_6522.jpg
"Absolutely."

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.


  • 100% Adoration Rating: Near-universally beloved as one of the greatest fighters of all time, even after his fall from grace in V. By the time of Balboa he's still considered the hallmark of boxing.
  • 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 halfway through Rocky II, and will gladly carry fights to support his family.
  • Always Someone Better: Clubber Lang in Rocky III, who is stronger and a lot meaner than Rocky.
  • Badass Beard: In the fourth film training montage.
  • Badass Boast: A few great highlights.
    • Against Clubber Lang in the rematch.
      "YOU AIN'T SO BAD. YOU AIN'T SO BAD!"
    • 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!
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted. Rocky explains in the first film that despite all the fights he went through, his nose never got broken, only for him to have his face quite ruined in the end of the first film and onward. His nose is mentioned again in Rocky II, where it gets busted immediately at the start of the match.
  • Berserk Button:
    • 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!
      • But while anger will draw him back into the ring its repeatedly shown to not be enough to make him train or fight to his fullest. He always needs something more positive than that.
    • 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Rocky's nickname is "The Italian Stallion", and Sylvester Stallone's last name means "stallion" in Italian.
  • Blood Knight: Zig-zagged. When it comes to fighting in the ring Rocky is mainly ambiguous about how he feels towards it as he's shown to love it at times and he's shown to have disdain towards it. This is mostly due to the fact that he had only fought to make a living for himself but after his first bout with Apollo he had planned on retiring and live a normal life but others have a bad habit on drawing him back into the ring even though he tries to put it behind him. Apollo even calls him out on not being true to himself as he could tell Rocky that both of them will always be fighters at heart. He's later proven to be right as Rocky seems to still enjoy the thrill of boxing secretly even though he doesn't express this side of himself as much until he meets Tommy Gunn and starts training him to where this had become his primary focus throughout his time of knowing the latter. Even in Rocky Balboa where he's very nearly lost everything he had from the past (albeit a few people) he ends up getting back into the ring to let out all of his emotions and feel alive once more.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: He's a pretty jovial guy, and rarely fights with any real aggression.
  • Book Dumb: Although by the end of II he's writing poetry for a comatose Adrian and by III he's clearly come far in his acting ability, as is evidenced by the many successful commercials he appears in.
  • Break the Badass: Even Rocky is prone to this, as he goes through this phase in Rocky III.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu:
    • In Rocky II his right eye vision is impaired after his fight with Apollo. Worse still, he has to fight Apollo again before the eye recovers completely. Fortunately its got better by the next movie.
    • In Rocky V, he suffers from brain damage after fighting Drago. Worse still, this forces him to retire from boxing at the worst possible time.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Rocky could be one of the biggest examples in film history. While he may be capable of beating the tar out of anyone in the boxing ring, Rocky is a gentle soul who holds no real malice towards anyone.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Said word for word in Rocky II, albeit in a much more lighter context.
  • Captain Ersatz: Half Rocky Marciano (Italian-American origin, being relatively short and light for a heavyweight,note  relying on stamina and punching power), half Joe Frazier (Philadelphian, A Hero to His Hometown, eventually runs his own gym, trains by punching on meat, trilogy of fights with Muhammad Ali/Apollo Creed), and initially inspired by a Chuck Wepner fight. Pretty funny on the Joe Frazier part considering that he makes a cameo in the first film, where he wishes Rocky luck. The Rocky Marciano part is also lampshaded by a poster hanging in Rocky's apartment, and Micky pointing it out in the same film.
  • Catch Phrase: "Absolutely."
  • 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.
    • Creed has Rocky pretty much out of the boxing game, barring old friends he made along the way, until Donny convinces him to help the young fighter train. When Rocky finds out that he has cancer, it's Donny who rekindles his will the fight on.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Not really the case in the first three films, but reaches incredibly ridiculous levels in the latter half of his sextology.
    • Rocky IV has him beating Ivan Drago, who is clearly- and explicitly- superhuman, basically the Soviet version of Captain America complete with super serum. To wit, Drago can easily punch with over 2,150 pounds of peak force (the strongest punch ever recorded under lab conditions is Frank Bruno's at 1,420 pounds)note  and lift a grown man with one outstretched arm and toss him. Rocky traded blows with this beast of Soviet super science for 15 rounds before triumphing over him, despite also being 40 years old and a good 8 inches shorter + 60 pounds lighter.
    • Rocky V shows him fresh from his fight with Drago with severe brain damage to such an extent that any hard blow to the head is, according to the doctor, potentially fatal. Despite this he still beats the hell out of the much larger Tommy Gunn, the world heavyweight champion and over 25 years his junior, in a no-holds-barred street fight. While getting hit clearly hurts and debilitates him, he doesn't suffer any permanent injury from the dozens of blows he took, while Tommy gets beaten into unconsciousness. In fact, their initial confrontation has Rocky leaving him bleeding on the floor in under ten seconds while having taken no damage himself- the fight only drags on after that because Tommy gets a bunch of cheap shots while Rock's back is turned.
    • Rocky Balboa features Rocky, as an arthritic 60+ year old man with arteries full of spaghetti and a head full of brain damage that we spent an entire movie looking at and which was supposed to kill him if he took a strong blow to the head, training for about a month before climbing into the ring with unreasonably successful heavyweight champion Mason Dixon (who A. is half his age, and B. had previously smashed dozens of top-tier fighters with such ease that his sponsors were seriously considering dropping him because all his fights were too one-sided). Mason proceeds to punch Rocky in the face for an hour until he breaks his hands, then barely remains conscious through the handful of cumbersome blows that the geezer who hadn't boxed in decades lands on him (with Mason wondering if he had hidden bricks in his glove with how insanely powerful his blows were).
  • Combat Pragmatist: 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.
  • Cool Old Guy: How else can you describe a boxer in his 60s who is able to carry a heavy weight champion in his 20s?
  • David vs. Goliath: Like his namesake, Rocky was always pretty small for a heavyweight; he's 5'10 and per the announcer he was 191 lbs in the first movie, 202 lbs in the second movie, 191 lbs again in the third, and a similar weight in the fourth.note  In each movie, Rocky's opponents are always taller and heavier than him. The best example is Rocky IV, where Dolph Lundgren had 8 inches and 70 pounds on Stallone. They wouldn't even have fought in the same weight class!note  Meanwhile, in Rocky Balboa he's not that much lighter than Mason Dixon/Antonio Tarver (having put on a significant amount of weight to make up for his lack of speed), but this is more than made up for by him being over twenty years older.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Rocky usually gains the respect of his opponents through their fights, including Spider Rico, Apollo Creed, Mason Dixon, and even Ivan Drago.
  • Dented Iron: A theme present across the series. The first major plot point of the fifth film is that his body is so broken down that he has to retire from boxing, and in Rocky Balboa, Duke runs down a laundry list of Rocky's injuries, explaining why he has to train for pure power.
    • Ultimately subverted, in relative terms. At 70+ in the Creed films, Rocky is still coherent and able-bodied despite taking thousands of punches to the head throughout his career. Compare him to real life boxers who suffered severe CTE like James Toney or Jerry Quarry. The difference is staggering.
  • 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) realizes this and utilizes 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.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: To Adrian. Unusually for this trope, his persistence pays off, as her shyness is the only real obstacle to their relationship.
  • Expy: of Chuck Wepner and Rocky Marciano.
  • Feeling Their Age: In the sixth film. While Rocky keeps himself in quite good shape for a man his age, and goes through a formidable Training Montage to get ready to face Dixon, he still gets his ass kicked because Dixon is in his prime and faster, while Rocky's age and injuries have slowed him down and taken away the things that made him a great fighter; it isn't until Dixon breaks his hand that Rocky actually stands a chance.
  • 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.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: In Rocky V, he was forced to retire from boxing after suffering brain damage from Drago.
  • 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.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Rocky II had Rocky being forced to fight right-handed due to his bad right eye, and the possibility of going blind or even killed.
    • Again in Rocky V. Despite sustaining brain damage, he can still brawl down with a heavy weight champion of the world. In the back alley. Barehanded!
  • Happily Married: To Adrian. They're consistently shown to have a very close and loving marriage that lasts through all the difficulties thrown at them.
  • 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.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has gone through a few of these
    • 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 Mickey'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.
    • Goes through another in Rocky V. See My God, What Have I Done? below.
  • Heartbroken Badass: The death of Adrian nearly sends him into a Despair Event Horizon, and when he contracts cancer, he considers not trying to fight it, just so he can join her.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • 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. Even before that, he chose to honor Apollo's wishes and refused to stop the fight, which allowed Drago to kill Apollo.
    • There are times where despite being told to stay down, or to throw the fight, he berates the idea of that and presses on.
  • Honorary Uncle: He's a little thrown when Adonis starts calling him "Unc" but accepts it pretty quickly.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In Rocky V, after finding out he and his family are 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.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: In the first film, he was a nobody. By the time of Rocky Balboa and the Creed series, he's renowned as one of the greatest boxers in the world.
  • Lightning Bruiser: After Apollo trained Rocky in all the more complicated aspects of boxing, Rocky becomes a Lightning Bruiser Master of All with the ability to fight in close and far away, use a fast but strong jab to confuse and wear out his opponent, has agile footwork and the ability to constantly use feints, and both effectively block and avoid his opponent's punches.
  • Like a Son to Me: Mickey Goldmill with Rocky, and more recently Rocky himself with Adonis in Creed. Adonis even starts calling Rocky "Unc", and Rocky doesn't object.
    • He's notably much closer to Adonis Creed than his own natural son, Robert.
  • 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:
    "He's not human. He's like a piece of iron."
  • The Mentor:
    • 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 Creed, he becomes one (and a surrogate father figure) to Apollo's 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 does get in. His training does him good, as he goes from his prime weight of 191 lbs to, per the announcer, 217 lbs for the Dixon fight.
    Mason Dixon: *to his trainer* He's got bricks in his gloves...
  • 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 Robert, despite his bully problems, leading the boy 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 when Paulie sees that Tommy is in the process of being bought by GW Duke, he tries 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. This continues in Creed where Rocky has matured enough to become a good mentor for Adonis.
  • Parental Substitute: To Adonis Creed. It's particularly poignant since Rocky and his own son Robert had grown distant and this relationship encouraged him to reconnect.
  • 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.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Is a devout Catholic and often has a Padre pray with him, or ask for a blessing, before a big fight.
  • Red Baron: The "Italian Stallion". Probably one of the most important nicknames in the series, as it's what causes Apollo to choose him as his opponent in the first movie.
  • Retired Badass: Briefly in Rocky II, and definitely in Rocky V. Also in Rocky Balboa. Fully cemented by Creed.
  • Revenge: His main motive in Rocky IV is to avenge Apollo's death at Drago's hands.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: The series shows that the only woman Rocky has ever loved is Adrian and even after her untimely death he is still devoted to her.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: Played with in the first movie. Rocky was a smoker, and then he lectures young Marie about hanging out with the wrong crowd and smoking. However, he drops the habit when he has to train for the match against Apollo, and seemed to have never picked it up since (unless you count Rocky V in which he picks the habit back up). However, he appears to put it back down when he trains Tommy Gunn.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: In Creed, when Adonis uses his smartphone to take a picture of his paper training schedule.
    Rocky: Wait, don't you want this?
    Adonis: I got it right here!
    Rocky: What if you lose that there or it breaks?
    Adonis: It's already up in the cloud!
    Rocky: [looks up at the sky in confusion] What cloud? What cloud?
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Rocky's fight with Drago after Apollo's death.
    • 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, incredible punching power, was a southpaw, and a real talent for the sport, but for most of his history that was mostly all he had going for him as he was still a brawler at heart and couldn't even defend himself properly 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.
    Mickey: Ya got a lot of heart, but you fight like a goddamn ape!
  • Warrior Therapist: On full display by the time of Creed.
    Rocky: (points to Adonis' reflection) This guy right here is the hardest opponent you'll ever have to face. That's true in the ring and I think that's true in life too.
  • World's Best Warrior: Rocky is arguably the best boxer in the entire franchise being able to overcome many challenges in his path against stronger opponents such as Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago, who were all able to outclass him in terms of boxing prowress, (or out right physical strength) at first until he was able to turn the tables to win through his adaptability by becoming The Ace through training to counteract their styles thus becoming more skilled, and sheer determination in order to push through the pain.
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    Adrian Pennino Balboa 
Played by: Talia Shire (1976-1990)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/talia-shire-as-adrian_5088.gif

Played by: Talia Shire
Appearances: Rocky | Rocky II | Rocky III | Rocky IV | Rocky V | Rocky Balboa (flashback)

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.


  • Beautiful All Along: Even before the end of the first film, it turns out that the mousy and shy Girl Next Door had been a beautiful woman all along.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • 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 second film forbidding Rocky to take up the rematch against Apollo. She was quite unsupportive at first until her water broke and she gave birth to Robert (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.
    • We see this again in IV, where her very reasonable fear that Rocky will be killed in the ring at Ivan Drago's hands just like Apollo spurs her to plead with her husband to reject the fight with the towering Russian. To punctuate her protest, she refuses to travel with Rocky to Russia. But somewhere during his training, Adrian suddenly pops up, having made the trip after all, to fully support her husband.
  • Happily Married: Despite she and Rocky being very different people, the sequels make it clear that their marriage is a deeply loving one.
  • Lost Lenore: Following her death before the events of Rocky Balboa, she's become this to Rocky.
  • 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. Halfway in, after spending the night with Rocky, she stands up to her brother the moment he starts getting aggressive.
  • One True Love: Rocky is the only man who ever looked at Adrian. Adrian is the only woman Rocky ever loved.
  • Power of Love: Rocky's love for her can make him accomplish miracles. Adrian!
  • Phrase Catcher: “Yo, Adrian!”
  • Progressively Prettier: Goes from dressing and styling herself in frumpy, unattractive ways to more and more flattering styles with each passing movie.
  • Shrinking Violet: At first, she was a painfully shy woman, used to being domineered and controlled by her brother. That didn't last long.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: She dies of cancer four years before the events of Rocky Balboa. This was enforced, as Stallone and Shire both agreed that having Adrian’s death would add more drama and be more empowering for Rocky to be in mourning.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: In every Rocky film (except III) Adrian is strongly against Rocky engaging a certain foe. But considering the nature of Rocky's opponents (Apollo, Clubber, Drago), this could very well be seen as an example of..
  • Women Are Wiser: Often portrayed this way.
  • 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.

    Paulie Pennino 
Played by: Burt Young
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rocky_paulie_3120.jpg
"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 great success and popularity, but eventually Rocky's always being there for him turns Paulie into a true friend.


  • Adaptational Badass: He is a secret character in Rocky Legends.
  • The Alcoholic: Peaks at the start of the third film; afterwards the focus on it dies away.
  • Big Brother Bully: He's not the best brother to Adrian when he's first introduced, taking her for granted and insisting that "she owes him". However, as the films progress, Paulie subverts this trope and shows that he really does care about her.
  • 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 confiding in each other despite some differences.
  • Catch Phrase: "I don't sweat you!"
  • 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 stayed on the defensive (easily dodging or just side-stepping Paulie's wildly telegraphed swings), Rocky told him that he "fought good". Attempting to take on Thunderlips in Rocky III while trying to get him to let go of Rocky is another great moment. And another moment in Rocky V. See Shut Up, Hannibal! below.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If he's not saying something stupid, he's making snide jokes at someone's expense.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: A look at the counter in the first movie shows Paulie wearing some sort of an officer's uniform. Possibly an Actor Allusion, since Burt Young served in the Marines in Real Life.
  • 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": Rocky Balboa gives Paulie's (and Adrian's) last name as "Panina'. However, for years it was said their surname was "Pennino", based on Talia Shire's grandmother's surname. To make matters even more confusing, Creed uses "Pennino" on Paulie's headstone.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Passes away a few years before the events of Creed.
  • 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 nobody 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 me.

    Mickey Goldmill 
"You're gonna eat lightning and crap thunder!"
Played by: Burgess Meredith (1976-82, 1990) note 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mickey-goldmill-burgess-meredith_1162.jpg
"Get up, you son of a bitch!"

A former fighter and 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 a 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.


  • Brooklyn Rage: He's certainly got the accent, and the old man grouchiness and sudden bursts of anger (see Suddenly SHOUTING! below) certainly covers the rage part.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's been part of the boxing world for decades, and still has that certain something that inspires youngsters and makes them love him like a father.
  • Cynical Mentor: He starts the first film, all but openly antagonistic towards Rocky and all but kicking Rocky out of his gym because of Rocky's mob ties and loan sharking. The sequels turn this into a subversion, as he and Rocky become very close.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mickey makes quite a number of witticisms mixed with the occasional Stealth Insult.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Takes on this role from I through III, as he's training Rocky for big fights.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: "I love ya, kid."
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Shows elements of this, as he tells Rocky "women weaken legs", and bans all females (except Rocky's wife Adrian) from Rocky's workout sessions.
    Now get yer little chicken asses outta here!
  • Informed Judaism: There are no real clues about him being Jewish until he receives a proper Jewish funeral.
  • 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He is a gruff and cynical mentor who makes it clear that he doesn't like how Rocky is a collector, but he proves to be very loving and protective father figure towards people he cares about, especially Rocky.
  • The Mentor: Older, wiser figure who knows better than the protagonist, has become too old for the sport and imparts skills and knowledge that allow the protagonist to become The Hero and fulfill his destiny? A big check to everything.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: In the third movie he shows signs of heart trouble and failing health and then suffers a heart attack just before Rocky's first fight with Clubber Lang.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • 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.
  • Red Baron: He was apparently called Mighty Mick, judging by the name of his gym.
  • Retirony: Mickey plans to retire from being Rocky's manager after his fight with Clubber Lang. On the night of the bout, Lang just so happens to accidentally and indirectly cause cardiac arrest, which later claims 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.
  • Training from Hell: Or at the very least, very unorthodox. Not only does he drive Rocky to surpass his physical and mental limits (greatly increasing his strength, toughness and stamina), he forces Rocky to develop speed by having him chase a chicken(!).

    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, Creed II, 2018)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/milo_ventimiglia-rocky_balboa_1945.gif
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, causing them to drift apart. Robert attempts to win his father back, even deciding to learn how to fight (with Paulie's help) so he can stand up for himself against bullies, but gives up when even THAT didn't get his father's attention. In the end, Rocky makes it up to Robert, and the two get close again. But Rocky Balboa sees that they've ultimately become quite distant from each other, with Robert pursuing a career in business, and attempting to escape his father's huge shadow so he can build his own life.


  • Always Someone Better:
    • In Rocky V, Robert resents Rocky when he's training Tommy Gunn, giving him more attention than his own son.
    • In Rocky Balboa, he is always compared to his father, causing him to resent him (again if you count V).
  • The Cameo: Shows up at the end of Creed II when Rocky heads to Vancouver to mend their relationship.
  • 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 decides to quit his job after taking his dad's words to heart; he comes 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, he takes up training, and can punch as well as he can think.
  • I Am Not My Father: In Rocky Balboa, he becomes incensed when people bring up his father in relation or comparison to him, feeling he's suffering in Rocky's considerable shadow. He blames his father for Robert's having it easy in life, and yet never really being able to make a name for himself, and even goes so far as to give Rocky "The Reason You Suck" Speech. But Rocky turns it around on him, telling his son that he's looking for someone to blame because he couldn't make his own way. By the end Robert comes through by taking responsibility for his own failures, realizes Rocky was right, and learns 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 shines through, and the youngsters become friends afterward.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: While his dad was a high school dropout who had to fight for a living, Jr. grows up in what appears to be an upper middle class household, is an honor roll student from grade school, graduates from a presumably good university, and works as an accountant at a big firm in his adulthood. This was enforced by his parents.
  • Morality Pet: To Paulie in Rocky III. Paulie may still be a Jerkass for the most part, but he clearly loves his nephew and enjoys babysitting him.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: He comes to feel this way about his father, as his father's legend will always be hanging over him and he'll always be compared to his dad and, he's sure, found wanting. These issues finally appear to be dealt with in Rocky Balboa, and healing begins between father and son.
  • 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...
  • Put on a Bus: In Creed, he is mentioned to have moved to Vancouver with his girlfriend.
  • "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.
  • Training Montage: In Rocky V, even Robert gets one.
  • "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 of Rocky Balboa, Robert gives Rocky a prep talk before the final round, telling him that people thought of both of them as a joke, but nobody is laughing now.

    Apollo Creed 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ApolloCreed_2964.jpg
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 January 1, 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, 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.

A previously-unknown liaison with another woman between III and IV conceived his illegitimate son, Adonis, who would go on to be the protagonist of Creed


  • The Ace: Apollo is considered by many the single greatest boxer in the entire franchise, with Rocky himself calling him a "perfect fighter". His record in the first movie? 46-0, with 46 knockouts. Note that Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman all fought in his era, and thus likely are among those knockouts. Creed even reveals that Apollo won his secret rubber match against Rocky, establishing Apollo as the superior boxer.note 
  • All-American Face: Taken to a hilariously awesome and ridiculous extreme in IV.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: He believes that no one can defeat him, and takes Rocky so lightly that he doesn't even bother to train in the lead-up to their fight. To be fair, he WAS the world heavyweight champion going up against a no-name and reportedly won all of his previous matches with ease, so his arrogance is not unwarranted.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: APOLLO CREED. You can't do more awesome than that.
  • Badass Mustache: Sports a pretty nice 'stache and is considered even years later as one of the best boxers of all time.
  • Bash Brothers: After seeing Rocky suffer a humiliating defeat, and a lot of emotional turmoil, he goes to his aid and helps him become badass again.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Becomes this to Rocky in the third film.
  • Captain Ersatz: Of Muhammad Ali. Ali himself suggested to Stallone that Apollo would also be called the Master of Disaster. An announcer says just that in Rocky II.
  • Casualty in the Ring: Takes a fatal beating from Drago.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After being defeated in II, he befriends Rocky and co. in III.
  • Expy: of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. He has the showmanship, charisma, outrageous nicknames, floaty style, and rivalry with the Frazier-equivalent of the former, combined with the patriotism, unstoppable reputation, brawling style, and knockout power of the latter.note 
  • Famed in Story: In the Creed movies, he's held up by sports commentators and other athletes as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
  • Fatal Flaw: Pride is Apollo's biggest weakness. Every time he has gotten in trouble or found himself defeated, it was a direct result of his pride.
    • In Rocky I he underestimates Rocky's tenacity and how hard he's training. His trainer Duke picks up on it immediately when he sees Rocky training in a meat locker, noting that Rocky looked "serious". Apollo dismisses Duke's concerns which leads to Apollo getting downed by Balboa in the first round and afterwards Rocky becomes the only fighter to ever go the distance with Apollo.
    • In Rocky II Apollo is obsessed with the need to beat Rocky decisively. He even states that he while he won their first fight, he didn't feel as though he beat Balboa (knocked him out), and relentlessly seeks a rematch, training hard this time. During the bout, while he is more serious, his desire to knock out Rocky makes him fight in close quarters rather than just maintaining his distance and taking points using his longer reach and obviously superior jab. Apollo was good but there was no way he could avoid all of Rocky's hits at close range and slowly gets severely beaten over the course of the fight. In spite of his trainer, Duke, pleading with him to stay away from Balboa, Apollo is so intent on knocking Rocky out that he won't listen. This costs him the second fight in the end.
    Duke: You got him beat on points now just stick and move! This man is breaking you up inside! Stick and move!
    Apollo:(hurt and exhausted) He's gonna fall, he's gonna fall. Ain't gonna be like last time, ain't gonna be like last time.
    • When he challenges Russian fighter Ivan Drago (despite being older and out of his prime) he believes his skill can let him outclass the Russian. Tragically, this leads to Creed's death after it becomes painfully apparent that the former champ seriously underestimated Drago. This mistake is particularly egregious because considering Ivan's size and power alone, it was unlikely that Apollo would be able to knock him out, meaning that Creed would need to win by decision. And even a layman would realize that the odds were greatly against the older and out of condition Apollo to last 12 full rounds against someone so powerful and younger, with an overwhelming advantage in height and reach to boot.
  • 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 an entire business empire based around himself.
    • He is wearing a stylish business suit and sitting behind a desk in his office when we first see him in I.
  • Glass Cannon: Apollo is strong, fast, and has decent stamina but can't take lots of punishment. A downplayed version in that he doesn't really have a glass jaw, however his ability to take damage is merely average. Given the weight class he's in and how powerful some of the fighters are (like Rocky), he can't really afford to let his opponent land many solid shots. Tellingly, every fight he had before Rock he won by knock-out, implying that Rocky is able to outmatch him by withstanding his blows long enough to start outlasting him. Apollo does fine in his rematch with Rocky until about Round 6, when Rocky manages to get in a few solid shots to his body. From Round 7 on Apollo starts taking more and more damage, and by Round 12, he can't use his footwork and his face is severely swollen. He even needs to hold the ropes in the final round to throw some punches. This has fatal results come part 4, where he's badly hammered by Drago and dies in Round 2.
  • Graceful Loser: At the end of Rocky II he raises Rocky's hand after the latter beat him fair and square in their rematch.
  • Heel–Face Turn: A mild example, as he was never really a villain, just Rocky's opponent, before becoming Rocky's trainer in the third film.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: After their relationship had previously consisted of considering each other a Worthy Opponent, the time they spend together in the third film upgrades it to a true, close friendship and this trope.
  • Honor Before Reason: A fatal example from part 4. Even sadder after seeing the salute he gives his wife; Apollo knows damn well what's coming.
  • Hot-Blooded: "It's time to go to SCHOOL!"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cocky and arrogant, and even goes as far as to berate Rocky publicly to goad him into a rematch, but underneath it all he's not really a bad guy.
  • Large Ham: Actively cultivates this as part of his image.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The plots of Creed and Creed II hinge upon his death in the ring early in Rocky IV.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: While it's understood that Apollo is far, far out of Rocky's league, Apollo treats the fight very much as a joke and spends his entire entrance showboating to the crowd. In the first round Rocky actually manages to knock him down (the first time this has ever happened to him) and gets him literally on the ropes. Apollo decides to quit playing around and easily breaks Rocky's nose.
    "He doesn't know it's a damn show. He thinks it's a damn fight."
  • 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.
  • Only in It for the Money:
    • His main reason for promoting the first match with Balboa. His original opponent had to back out, and rather than lose the payday from a big fight, he dreams up the "give a title shot to a nobody" match as a ticket-selling gimmick.
    • Averted for the rematch, when it's more personal. He's getting hate mail and death threats from people thinking the first match was rigged, and he wants to prove to the world that he's still the real champ. Money doesn't come up at all in his decision to set up a rematch.
  • Papa Wolf: He's somewhat okay with the fans giving him grief and sending him hate mail (claiming he didn't beat Rocky fairly and/or decisively in the first bout), and he's even willing to risk truly earning the public's ire by goading and insulting Balboa as a means of getting him back in the ring. However, what really pisses him off is when he finds out his kids kids are getting picked on over the whole thing.
    Apollo: There's a lot of people out there accusing me of having the fight fixed, accusing me of being a fake, and insulting my kids at school.
  • Present Absence: He's talked about constantly throughout the Creed movies.
  • Pride: Apollo puts on quite the theatrics before and during the first match, but the next movie shows that his pride was seriously wounded by the outcome, to the point where he changes his mind about the no-rematch and demands (as the champion!) an immediate rematch with Rocky. Sometime later, the hate-mail starts to pour in and he becomes obsessed over fighting and cleanly beating Rocky. The next time they're in the ring, he's no longer putting on a show.
  • Red Baron: "The King of Sting, the Doctor of Destruction, the Count of Monte Fisto, 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.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Killed in the ring by Drago in IV.
  • Training from Hell: Puts Rocky through a particularly grueling regimen in III to get back that "eye of the tiger" for his rematch with Clubber Lang. It's also heavily implied that this is the same way Apollo trained to become as good as he is.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Was guilty of this against both Rocky and Drago.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: His trademark shorts.
  • The Worf Effect: Seeing a master fighter like Apollo get utterly destroyed in the ring hammers in just how dangerous Drago is.
  • Worthy Opponent: More than any other opponent, he has this relationship going on with Rocky.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Cheated on his wife sometime before his death in Rocky IV, resulting in Adonis' birth. In the novelization for the first movie, it is also implied that he's been cheating on his wife with a so-called "official biographer".
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    Tony "Duke" Evers 
Played by: Tony Burton
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tonyduke_1764.gif
"No pain. No pain."

Apollo's trainer and friend, he also trains Rocky for the bout with Drago in the fourth movie and returns to train Rocky again in Rocky Balboa.


  • Ascended Extra: In the first movie, he is a secondary character who goes unnamed in the film. In the sequels, he gains a more prominent role and is the only character besides Rocky and Paulie to appear in every movie, not counting the Creed films.
  • Badass Boast:
    • In IV: "No pain. No pain. NO PAIN.
    • In Balboa: "Let's build some hurting bombs!"
  • Bald of Awesome: Very wise, very cool, and very bald.
  • Big "NO!": When Drago lands the fatal punch on Apollo in IV.
  • Blue Oni: To Apollo's red.
  • Brutal Honesty /Cassandra Truth: He was one of the few people (in Apollo's camp or out of it) who realized just how serious a potential threat the previously unknown underdog Rocky really was, and tried to warn Apollo not to take the challenger lightly. And in II, when Apollo is relentlessly pursuing a rematch against Balboa, Tony tells his protege' that in no uncertain terms a Creed victory in the second bout would by no means be certain:

    Apollo: What are you afraid of, Tony?
    Tony: Honest?
    Apollo: Yeah, honest.
    Tony: I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before...and the man kept coming after you. We don't NEED that kind of man in our life!
  • The Bus Came Back: In Balboa, he may have returned half way in, but man does he leave an impression.
  • Bus Crash: He dies in-between Creed and Creed 2.
  • Cool Old Guy: His moustache has turned grey by the time of Balboa, and he retains his sage awesomeness.
  • 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.
  • Honest Advisor: To both Apollo, and to Rocky in III, IV, and Balboa.
  • Like a Son to Me: Duke confines with Rocky in IV that Apollo was like a son to him.
  • Older and Wiser: In Rocky Balboa.
  • Only Sane Man: In both Rocky I and II. While neither Apollo nor anyone on his team is insane, Duke is the only one who sees how dangerous Rocky is. He's trying to do his job as Apollo's manager (protect Apollo and plan his schedule very carefully so that there are no surprises). Throughout I and II, Duke tries to warn Apollo about the dangers that Rocky will give him, to no avail.
  • Retired Badass: Former professional boxer turned trainer.
  • Smart People Play Chess: IV sees Duke beat a Soviet handler in a game.
  • Training from Hell: In IV, he acknowledges to Rocky that his training will be tougher than ever, and is happy to provide such.

    Clubber Lang 
Played by: Mr. T (1982)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/clubberlang_6561.jpg
"I want Balboa!"

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. Mickey 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.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: His arrogance is off the charts, and he seems to truly believe that no one can possibly defeat 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.
  • Badass Beard: He's plenty badass and a major jerkass, and that beard only enhances both of those traits.
  • Berserk Button: Being stared at.
  • The Brute: Much like Rocky, except much stronger and very relentless.
  • Catch Phrase: "I pity the fool." Mr. T would keep using this long after Clubber Lang
  • Captain Ersatz: Of a young George Foreman and Earnie Shavers. To an extent the first bout between him and Rocky is 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; while unlike the film Frazier did better and lasted longer, Foreman once again knocked him out. By complete coincidence, he'd also have a stunning similarity to Mike Tyson, both in his background and his fighting style. As for Shavers, not only does Lang's style and skill bear more resemblance to Shavers' than Foreman's,note  but Shavers was originally supposed to play Clubber Lang. Can't get any closer than that.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: He is focused solely on getting fast knock-outs with left hooks (he rarely uses any other punch and throws a bare handful of jabs). 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.)
  • Curb-Stomp 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.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The novelisation gives Clubber Lang a backstory. As an orphan at an early age, he spent most of his childhood on the streets of Chicago's Southside, as well as time in orphanages and juvenile facilities. Later as an adult, Clubber was sent to prison for five years, for one possible count of a felony and/or assault charge. During his time being served he discovered boxing as a way to let out his frustrations and find his true talent.
  • Dumb Muscle: He's 220 pounds, heavily built, and hits like a truck, but he's really a rather bad fighter. After Rocky starts exploiting his weakness, he has no counter and is easily defeated. He also chooses to train alone and not even try to patch over his weaknesses with a skilled instructor. Outside of the ring he's shown to make some poor decisions and clearly has poor impulse control (see for instance him snubbing Apollo before the match for no reason); it's implied that this is because of his upbringing, as he dropped out of school and lived in various orphanages and juvenile halls for most of his life.
  • 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.
  • Evil Virtues: Clubber is not a pleasant fellow to be sure, but the film makes it clear that he took his training seriously for his first bout with Rocky, while his overconfident opponent squandered his preparation with a glorified circus with endless distractions.
  • 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. See also: Uniquely among Rocky's opponents, he actually knocks the Italian Stallion out, in the second round. In their rematch, rather than a dramatic fifteen-round battle, Rocky manages to fell him in three.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: A Mohawk.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Consistently angry and violent.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: According to Stallone he became an evangelist in the aftermath of his defeat (another parallel with George Foreman). He would have mentioned this had he appeared in Rocky Balboa as planned.
  • Jerkass: Arrogant, cocky, and disrespectful to just about everyone he comes across throughout the film. Not only that, he violently assaults both a seventy year old man (resulting in the latter's death) and a former heavyweight champ who was just trying to be polite to him, nearly starting a brawl in the ring. He's just about the only person who can make the cool Apollo lose his patience.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lang may be a massive jerkass, but he was indeed right about initially being denied his title shot. He fought his way to being ranked #1, and was deserving of the same chance that Rocky got (and Rocky didn't even have to fight for his first chance). Meanwhile, Rocky, while he wasn't fighting tomato cans, was fighting hand-picked boxers that Mickey figured would not win. Mickey outright admitted to protecting him to keep him champion. Which was not only unfair to Rocky, but also to Lang. Like him or not, Lang earned his title spot fair and square.
  • Large Ham: "I'm gonna crucify him! Real bad."
  • Lightning Bruiser: His entire fighting style - he throws brutal, hard punches and relies on power and speed over endurance.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: CLUBBER LANG! He also has quite a personality to match. Even Mickey doesn't want to mess with him. (According to sources outside of the movie, his birth name is James.)
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Apollo implies this is the case when he tells Rocky that Lang only beat him because he didn't have the "eye of the tiger" he possessed in their fight. Notably, the announcer in the first fight also describes Rocky as having "slimmed down so much that he looks like a middleweight", implying he was much weaker when fighting Lang than he was against his other opponents.note  When Rocky does regain a bit of the "eye" (while still being smaller and less muscular than he was in any other movie), he puts Lang down in three rounds. Tommy Gunn put up a better fight.
  • Nothing Personal: While he is an all out Jerkass to Rocky, he doesn't really hate him.
    Clubber: I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool. And I will destroy anyone who tries to take what I got.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: He has this when he keeps clubbing Rocky but can't knock him down.
  • Scary Black Man: Absolutely plays this role to the hilt, as an ex street fighter turned ruthless, knockout machine of a boxer who trash talks and attacks anyone around him on a moment's notice.
  • 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."
  • Tough Act to Follow: invoked The fans like him nowhere near as much as his two predecessors, Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa. Nor do his boxing skills measure up to theirs, given his defeat when Rocky goes through another Training Montage to recover lost ground.
  • Trash Talk: 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.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Fittingly enough as an Evil Counterpart and foil for Rocky, he also starts as this, but never progresses further, whereas Rocky does.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: How he got outclassed in the rematch. See Unskilled, but Strong and especially Crippling Overspecialization above.
  • Villain Has a Point: He's outraged that Rocky won't allow him a shot at the heavyweight championship title and publicly accuses him of only ever taking easy matches. He's actually right: it turns out Mickey has quietly been refusing all challenges to the title except those he knows Rocky can beat. Not pushovers, but nobody in the same class as Apollo or Clubber.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He has a minor one in the rematch after getting floored by Rocky in the first round.
  • What Could Have Been: An In-Universe example, he would have been The Unfought had Rocky decided to retire.
  • 0% Approval Rating: During his brief tenure as World Champion it's clear nobody likes him. The audience boos him, the commentators are unflattering and someone even tries to heckle him, due to a combination of his jerkass personality and having knocked out the extremely popular Balboa.

    Ivan Drago 
Played by: Dolph Lundgren (1985, 2018)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/20110605181422ivan_drago_2041.jpg
"I must break you."

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 touted as a potentially awesome but unproven boxer. Apollo sees this and is convinced he can defeat him, and challenges Drago to an exhibition fight. After Apollo loses, Rocky challenges Drago to an unlicensed bout in Russia that is not recognized as legitimate by boxing authorities.

An older Drago shows up in Creed II, with his son Viktor being the rival boxer Adonis Creed faces.


  • 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 (which one is not specified), 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. Creed II would Retcon this, as his life was basically completely ruined by that defeat.
  • Arch-Enemy: Drago casts a long shadow in Rocky's life. From killing Apollo Creed in the ring, to causing Rocky severe and lasting brain damage, Ivan Drago has the biggest claim to being Rocky's most personal enemy. Highlighted in Creed II:
    Drago: Nice pictures.
    Rocky: Yeah, they're okay.
    Drago: No pictures of me?
    Rocky: No, there's no pictures of that.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Gets this at the end of Creed II when Viktor is getting his ass handed to him by Adonis, leading Ivan to throw in the towel for his own safety.
  • Badass Boast:
    • To Apollo: "You will lose."
    • And the most famous of them all, towards Rocky: "I must break you."
  • Berserk Button: When his handler pushes him too far (striking him across the face), it sends Drago into a rage.
  • Blood Knight: He's revealed to be one when he knocks his Soviet handler on his ass. As this is the first time Drago has shown something resembling respect for an opponent, this is something of a Pet the Dog moment.
    "I fight to win for me! For ME!!"
  • Break the Haughty: After the events of Rocky IV, his life imploded spectacularly; he lost the respect and support of his country and his wife, and eventually wound up destitute on the streets of Kiev with a young son to take care of by the time of Creed II.
  • Bullying the Dragon: When he starts losing to Rocky, his livid handler lays into him, even shoving him in the face. He gets about two seconds to realise what a big mistake this was before getting thrown across the stadium by the neck. In fact, "Drago" is Italian for "dragon", making this a near literal example of the trope!
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Clubber Lang was an angry loudmouth. Drago, on the other hand, is quiet and stoic.
  • 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.
  • Extreme Doormat: By the time of Creed II. He's become desperate to get back in the good graces of his country and, most critically, his wife, even though his fans all abandoned him and his wife left him to raise their child after he became disgraced. Viktor angrily calls him out on this halfway through the film in the only scene where he's ever anything but deferential towards his father.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He's married to Ludmilla Drago. However, he seems to love her a damn sight more than she ever loved him. He has much better luck with this trope when it comes to his son Viktor.
  • Evil Counterpart: While "evil" is a stretch, he's very reminiscent of Rocky when you think about it. We meet him as an up-and-coming fighter and something of an underdog pitted against the established Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, with the opposition really not taking him seriously. Apollo even enters the fight with an over-the-top patriotic performance, much like he did with Rocky when they first fought. However, Drago surprises everyone by giving Creed a serious fight, and while Rocky lost the fight but gained the respect of everyone, Drago wins the fight (in the worst way possible) and finds himself reviled by the American public. The film plays this up even more in the training montage by contrasting Drago's and Rocky's methods, both pushing themselves to the very limit despite the differences in their training. There's also a sharp contrast with their personalities; while Rocky is a very warm, kind individual, Drago is mostly silent, cold as ice, and doesn't seem to have much empathy for his opponents (at least, until Rocky earns his respect in their fight). Drago even has his own Adrian in the form of his wife Ludmilla, but while Adrian is a loving and supportive wife who's always at Rocky's side, Ludmilla deserts him as soon as he shows any weakness.
    • Their similarities are compounded in Creed II, where both are broken men, far removed from their glory days, and who have lost almost everything but are still clinging onto life. The only thing they both have left are their sons (in Rocky's case, son-like figure in Apollo) who are second generation boxers, whom they have difficult but ultimately loving relationships with.
  • Good Parents: It takes a while, but Ivan reveals he truly, deeply loves his son Viktor far more than he cares about Viktor winning. When Viktor loses against Donnie, Ivan embraces him warmly regardless. He is last seen running alongside his son, to Viktor's joy, showing he is making steps to improve their relationship.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Downplayed, 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 does still fight Rocky, he turns against his trainers (and to an extent, his own country) with the following words.
    Drago: I fight to win, FOR ME!!! FOR ME!!!!
  • Heel Realization: In Creed II, Drago realizes how he's prioritizing revenge and his own pride over his son Viktor's life, which finally makes him realize that Viktor is far more important than either.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Ivan’s reputation never recovered from his loss to Rocky, which resulted in his wife Ludmilla divorcing him, leaving Ivan to raise his son Viktor in poverty in Kiev. Ivan hopes that he can restore both his reputation and his marriage through Viktor.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With his wife. Until you remember that Brigitte Nielsen is about 6 feet tall, to give you an idea about how huge he really is.
  • Husky Russkie: Standing at 6'5, which almost lost Lundgren the part because he was just too tall.
  • Jerkass: Though he shows a bit of honor in the end.
  • Kick the Dog: Shows no remorse for killing Apollo, but what prevents him from crossing the Moral Event Horizon is that he's doing it all for his country and that he shows respect to Rocky in the end of the fight. Still, when he meets Apollo's son face to face in Creed II, he mocks him for being physically smaller than his father was.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Among the franchise's antagonists, he leaves the darkest impact — namely, Apollo's death and Rocky's Career-Ending Injury.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When the second fight between Adonis and Viktor turns in Adonis' favor and Viktor loses the will to fight, he decides to throw in the towel.
  • Lack of Empathy:
    • In Rocky IV, his reaction to Apollo's death in the ring with him is "If he dies, he dies."
    • In Creed II, this is averted. While Drago is cold, he slowly realizes how deeply he loves his son Viktor and has a true respect for Rocky in the end.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: His karma for killing Apollo is losing a boxing match to Rocky Balboa... on the soil of the Soviet Union. As Creed II reveals, the results disgraced Drago and he proceeded to lose everything in the following years, including his wife and country. He now lives in Ukraine in poverty, a shadow of his former self. He seeks to redeem his name by having his son take up the mantle.
  • Made of Iron: Until Rocky managed to cut him. Ironically, he later describes Rocky as this:
    "He's not human. He's like a piece of iron."
  • Meaningful Name: Twofold. "Ivan" means "soldier", specifically a Russian soldier, and "Drago" is Italian for "dragon", an apellation which suits this fearsome, gigantic, near inhuman beast to a "T".
  • Megaton Punch: He wields a punch force of over 2000 psi.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: This is the Soviet PR about him, but it's not just Mother Russia at work, judging by the syringes he's injected with during training...
  • Not So Different: Neither Rocky nor Drago recovered from their fight. The former ended up losing his fortune, outlived Adrian and Paulie, and became estranged from his son, while the latter became disgraced by his country for his defeat, resulting in his wife Ludmilla leaving him and leaving him in poverty on the streets of Kiev. Both men are also seeking to gain redemption through their protege, Rocky with Donnie, and Drago with his son Viktor.
  • Not So Invincible After All: He initially has the better of Rocky during the first round of their match, seemingly unfazed by Rocky's punches... until the second round, when Rocky lands a punch that cuts him below his left eye- after which things even out.
  • Old Master: In Creed II, he's shown to still be in good shape, sporting a muscular build and exercising every morning in Kiev. This contrasts quite strongly with the worn down, brain-damaged, cancer-recovering Rocky.
  • Papa Wolf: When he saw that Viktor lost his motive to fight, he threw the towel to keep his son from getting hurt.
  • Playing with Syringes: With lots of steroids... possibly.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Despite his Jerkass qualities, he's a pawn of the Soviet government rather than deliberately vicious (unlike, say, Clubber Lang or the villains in Rocky V).
  • 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. He speaks a lot more in Creed II.
  • Reality Ensues: As a living Soviet propaganda weapon, his loss to Rocky on Russian soil completely ruined him, costing him everything.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: His loss to Rocky essentially destroyed his reputation and his life.
  • Silent Antagonist: He's a man of very, very few 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.
  • So Proud of You: He is last seen embracing his son Viktor with pride and warmth as a father, regardless of Viktor winning the match.
  • The Stoic: Until he's in the ring.
  • Super Soldier: His intense super-sciencey training mixed with heavily implied steroid use.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: At the end of Creed II, he decides to put his family over his pride and desire for revenge.
  • 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 the last bout of Drago's that Apollo saw.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Drago's inability to break Rocky steadily wears at his psyche until he assaults his handler and roars at the Politburo that he only fights for himself.
  • Villainous Valor: After a series of devastating rounds in which he and Rocky go toe to toe with nothing held back, Drago, at the start of the final round, salutes Balboa with a sincerely respectful "To the end".
  • World's Strongest Man: He is said to be the strongest puncher in the world, which is demonstrated early on with his 2,100-pound-force punch, claimed by his promoter to be nearly three times the heavyweight average.note  He is also considered to be by far Rocky's toughest adversary, as proven by his demolishing of Apollo and being the only other fighter to cause Rock permanent injury. In fact, it's later revealed that Drago took no lasting injuries from the fight despite losing, while Rocky most definitely did.
  • Worthy Opponent: He quickly comes to respect Rocky's toughness and determination during their bout, ("He's not human. He is like a piece of iron") and shows that respect near the end of their bout.
  • You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!: His expression for most of the rounds in his fight with Rocky, when Rocky gets back up, knockdown after knockdown.

    Ludmilla Vobet Drago 
Played by: Brigitte Nielsen (1985, 2018)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/415299-ludmilla_vobet_drago_3806.jpg

Ivan Drago's wife, who basically acts as manager and mouthpiece for Ivan Drago, helping to guide her husband's career.


  • Adaptational Badass: It says something when being a playable fighter in Rocky Legends means she can take on Rocky or her own husband in a fair fight. See for yourself.
  • Ascended Extra: In the X-Box version of Rocky Legends, she is a playable character, making her the only female boxer in the game.
  • Blatant Lies: In response to widespread rumors that her husband obtained his inhuman power via doping and steroids, she denies this vehemently and jovially tells reporters that "Drago is naturally trained"... right before Drago exhibits a punch three times more powerful than the boxing heavyweight average. And Drago is shown being injected with something during his later training montage....
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While it was a clear lie and that Ivan did take steroids, Ludmilla does encourage healthy eating to become strong, even making a joke about Popeye with it.
  • Fair Weather Friend: To her own family. She abandons her husband and son when Ivan loses to Rocky, and only returns when their son Viktor, (who she hadn't seen or spoken to in years) becomes a successful boxer, and then abandons him again when its clear he will lose.
  • Gold Digger: Strongly implied, with how Creed II revealed that she ditched her husband post-victory and remarried someone successful later.
  • Happily Married: Whatever else, she and Drago appear to care for each other. Subverted in Creed II where it's revealed she abandoned him and their son Viktor after his loss.
  • Hate Sink: In a series full of good parents, Ludmilla not only left Ivan due to losing to Rocky, but abandoned their son, then only returned when it seemed that Viktor may be successful again, only to ditch Viktor for good, even when he seems poised to take serious damage in the ring, all without a care.
  • Informed Ability: She is labeled early on as a Soviet Olympic Swimmer, but this is a series about boxing, and as such this isn't shown.
  • Parental Abandonment: Walked out on Drago and their young son Viktor after Drago's disgrace. She walks out on them again after Adonis starts laying the smackdown on Viktor during their second fight.
  • Statuesque Stunner: A given as she's played by the 6'1'' (185 cm) Brigitte Nielsen.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: While she and Ivan were already antagonists in their first appearance in Rocky IV, in their re-appearance in Creed II it's revealed that she turned on Ivan himself. Turns out that after Ivan was publicly disgraced by his defeat at Rocky's hands, she abandoned him and their infant son. She later remarried a rich guy and, while she came back to meet Viktor again and tell him she's proud of him in between his two fights with Adonis, she walks out again when it's apparent he's about to lose the second fight.
  • Voice for the Voiceless: Subverted. It's not that Ivan never speaks, but she speaks for him when she needs to, mostly when in front of the press.

    George Washington Duke 
Played by: Richard Gant (1990)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/287151443c.png

Appears in Rocky V. A powerful and extremely unprincipled boxing promoter who is trying to capitalize on getting current Heavyweight Champion, Union Cane, into a match with the legendary ex-champion, Rocky Balboa. Due to Rocky's injuries, both he and Adrian decline to take the bout, but Duke tries anything, and everything, he can to coerce Rocky into it.


  • 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 Chessmaster: The man has schemes on top of schemes, and there's always a fall back option when one of those schemes doesn't work out. Until his attempts to get Rocky and Tommy so angry at each other that they'll do anything to fight each other winds up in them getting into a street fight rather than a boxing match.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Of the fight promoter variety. He's a greedy boxing promoter, and is notably the only villain in the Rocky series (Creed included) that is genuinely hate-able and lacks any redeeming or sympathetic qualities.
  • 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 Tommy Gunn away from Rocky, with promises of fame and fortune. He even intentionally stages the championship fight just so Tommy can garner ridicule, driving him to challenge Rocky, as Duke knew that a "master versus apprentice" battle is much more profitable than a regular title bout.
  • Expy: Damn near a clone of (in)famous real life boxing promoter Don King.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He acts friendly but it's all an act.
  • Jerkass: And how!
  • Karma Houdini: His punishment for turning Tommy against Rocky and ruining Tommy's career is... to be punched by Rocky onto the front of a car. Though this feeling is somewhat softened by the fact that he has presumably also lost Tommy's trust and respect. Also Rocky and Tommy having the street fight at the end of the climax ruined Duke's chance of making money off a boxing match between the two which had been his primary motive through out the second half of the movie.
  • Large Ham: A larger than life attitude is all part of the game for a fight promoter.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He's willing to ruin the lives and careers of fighters by ignoring pesky issues like "health risks". At the end of the movie he gets a little taste of what fighters go through, and all his wealth and legal maneuvering didn't help him much. Doubly so if you believe the theory that he was responsible for Rocky losing his fortune, which is exactly what makes his threat to sue Rocky ineffective.
    Duke: Touch me and I'll sue.
    Rocky: *uppercuts Duke, launching him onto his car* Sue me for what?!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: He was based on Don King, right down to using his Catch Phrase "Only in America".
  • Non-Action Big Bad: The sole Rocky antagonist with no fighting ability at all.
  • 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. Sometimes, he's so open about his greed and the pursuit of money that he sounds like a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Riches to Rags: It's implied that he was the cause of Rocky losing his fortune.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: As far as he's concerned, money is more powerful than rules any day, and he assumes that everyone else thinks this way too.
  • Smug Snake: Cocky enough to threaten Rocky to sue if he gets hurt. Rocky wipes the grin off his face.
  • Villain Has a Point: Tommy should have listened to Duke when he warned that Rocky has more experience in street fighting than him.
  • Villainous BSoD: His one humanizing moment in the whole thing is when the aged Rocky makes a comeback against his champ in the street, and while everyone else is cheering, he reacts with a stunned, "God-damn... only in America." For once, he sounds like he means it.

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    Tommy "The Machine" Gunn 
Played by: Tommy Morrison (1990)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tommygunn_8294.jpg

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.


  • Abusive Parents: His father used to beat him and his mother until he grew up and left his home. This is where all of Tommy's aggression and rage comes from as he pictures his opponents as his father to unleash all of his wrath upon.
  • Always Someone Better: At first he is delighted to be Rocky's pupil and the two become friends, but when he finds Rocky gets more attention than he does and the media always compares the two (infavorably in his case), he begins to resent Rocky... see also Dude, Where's My Respect? below.
  • 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.
  • The Berserker: During his first sparring session, he literally beats the crap out of his sparring partner. His fighting style is extremely aggressive; he also goes into Unstoppable Rage during his fights. Rocky compares his boxing style to that of a street fighter.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: He may be aggressive, but at one time he was a genuinely nice guy who just had some personal issues that needed to be ironed out. Then GW Duke got ahold of him. Paulie even saw this coming.
    Paulie: The ship's sinking, Rocko.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The news media relished making him out as if he's Rocky's puppet. Even after winning the title, everyone still berated him for a variety of reasons, almost all of which Rocky related (he can never measure up to Rocky, leaving Rocky for GW Duke, etc.); this eventually fuels his need to take Rocky on.
  • Face–Heel Turn: From humble, eager, and respectful 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."
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: From a poor kid with daddy issues alone on the streets of an unfamiliar city to World Heavyweight Champion to a crazy aggressive punk willing to attack his former father figure, (and anybody that tries to help said father figure) in public.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Tommy easily loses his temper and can never really control it.
  • Hot-Blooded: His passion for fighting and to become champion makes him an aggressive fighter.
  • Lonely at the Top: Thanks to Rocky, hebecomes a contender for the heavyweight belt, but dumps Rocky for GW Duke just so he can get the fame and money he wants faster. He gets his title, but gains no respect from anyone, mostly because he abandons Rocky. When he takes on Balboa 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 afterwards also doesn't help his case.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: His critics in-universe contend that he wouldn't have been particularly special in Rocky and Apollo's era, and that he only ascends to the heavyweight championship of the world because Union Cane was a Paper Tiger of a champ compared to the former. This is proven more or less right by the end of the film, where a middle-aged Rocky decks Tommy in a street fight, with the bout only being close because Tommy throws a sucker punch to Rocky's back after he was knocked down the first time.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Duke encourages Tommy to get angry and get Rocky to fight him. Punching Paulie in the face gets Rocky angry all right; angry enough to get a street brawl going on. Not quite the type of fight Duke had in mind...
  • Only in It for the Money: A big reason why Don King ersatz George Washington Duke convinces him to dump Rocky as his manager is because Duke can get Tommy much more cash than Rocky.
  • Paper Tiger: Like Rocky, Tommy doesn't really bother defending himself during fights. Unfortunately for him, he's nowhere near as durable as Rocky.
  • Passing the Torch: Rocky provides Tommy the same shorts Apollo gave him later in his career.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Tommy casting Rocky aside in favor of sleazy promoter George Washington Duke gets him fame, the heavyweight title, and presumably money, (although considering that the man Duke is an analogue of is absolutely notorious for cheating and ripping off his fighters, that last one probably shouldn't be automatically assumed) but Tommy's fame is short lived; betraying Rocky makes the press and fans alike turn on him, and getting arrested after losing to an aging Balboa in a street fight probably means that Tommy won't profit from his actions nearly as much as he expected to, if at all.
  • Punny Name: Referring to the Thompson submachine gun, or tommy gun as it's often called.
  • 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.
  • Red Baron: Tommy "The Machine" Gunn.
  • 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.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: To be fair, the media hasn't been making this easy on him...
  • Unskilled, but Strong: His natural approach is to simply brute force his way through fights, though he gets a bit more skilled after Rocky starts training and managing him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The first time we see him fight, he is shown to be overly aggressive and gives a sparring partner a 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 out all lead to him wanting to draw Rocky's blood.
  • Walking Spoiler There's only so much you can say about him without spoiling his Face–Heel Turn, and subsequent actions.

    Union Cane 
Played by: Michael Anthony Williams (1990)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/unnamed_254.jpg

Appears in Rocky V. A heavyweight champion who claims the belt shortly after Rocky retires. He is eager to challenge Rocky, but the fight never happens due to the health problems Rocky developed after the fight with Drago in Rocky IV. He eventually takes on Tommy Gunn, only to be knocked out 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 does in the movie.
  • Flat Character: If you thought Ivan Drago was one dimensional, just wait til you see Union Cane. This guy barely has any screen time or characteristics shown.
  • Paper Tiger: He became a top contender for the world championship before Rocky retired and becomes champion once Rocky is no longer in the way, so you'd think he'd be able to put up a good fight. Tommy Gunn floors him in the first round after dominating him. (This could be a bonus intended for boxing fans, as Duke's real life counterpart Don King frequently used his influence to get his fighters titles and spots as contenders ahead of more deserving fighters.) The reporters lampshade this when they're deriding Tommy's achievements in the ring.
    "The guy's a paper champion!"
  • Red Herring: The next villain in the Rocky film? Nope.
  • 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 get to face him. Ouch.

    Mason "The Line" Dixon 
Played by: Antonio Tarver (2006)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/masondixon_1791.jpg

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: He's the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, meaning that he either defeated all the world champions before him and unified the belts or defeated the guy who did it. He's so good that 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. There's also some Michael Moorer in there; Moorer was an undefeated 35-0 (30 knockouts) champion of multiple weight classes when he fought George Foreman, an aging ex champion who came out of retirement in an event initially seen as a joke, only to surprise everyone by winning against Moorer (albeit, with one good Megaton Punch after getting dominated for ten rounds). This parallels Rocky's own comeback against Dixon, except Rocky was older than Foreman and merely put up a good fight instead of winning. Even their physiques and records are similar- Dixon's record is given as 34-0 with 30 knockouts, and he's played by a light heavyweight and cruiser boxer who has the same build he always had (Antonio Tarver), which could imply some of those fights were held at a lower weight class before he went up to heavyweight (like Moorer).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Apparently every single one of his fights, which the audience finds boring.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The fight with Rocky is only challenging because he accidentally breaks his hand early on with a poorly-thrown jab in a freak accident.
  • 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 received plaudits 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.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mason spends much of the movie bitter about being disrespected by the general public due to constantly never having gone up against someone who could really challenge him. After achieving exactly that against Rocky the crowd finally gives him the respect he deserves.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: In rewrites to the script, it's fairly clear that the writers didn't know what direction to take his character. Throughout the movie, he pinballs back and forth between an egotistical athlete looking out for his legacy, to an honest boxer fed up with the chicanery and politics in the boxing promotion world, to a prima donna with no respect whatsoever for Rocky and his accomplishments. Surprisingly, it accidentally develops a very three dimensional character.
  • Hero Antagonist: He's only really the film's antagonist by virtue of being Rocky's opponent and is otherwise just a guy trying to make his way in the boxing world. Rocky and him ultimately end the film on good terms.
  • Invincible Hero: The exhibition fight against Rocky goes down largely because Dixon's winning streak against perceived weak opposition has boxing fans bored.
  • 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.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Played With. In-universe, he is seen as such, as his extreme talent has made him an unsympathetic wrecking ball whose fights are never even close - yet put up against Rocky, with a broken hand and completely out of shape, he proves as much a Determinator as the titular underdog and wins the respect of the crowd in doing so.
  • 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.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Not really a villain, but we first see him playing basketball with some friends.
  • 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.

    Thunderlips 
Played by: Hulk Hogan (1982)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thunderlips_1.png

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.
  • Atrocious Alias: 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.
  • The Big Guy: In the mid-ring staredown, Rocky is at eye level with his nipples.
  • Heel: He antagonizes the crowd before his charity match with Rocky, and acts like a dangerously violent lunatic in the ring.
  • 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.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He' a full head taller than Rocky and able to pick him up and throw him around with ease, yet as Rocky himself notes, very fast for his size.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: He spends the entire match playing the Heel to the hilt, but afterwards he breaks Kayfabe to shake Rocky's hand, congratulate him on a good match and take some promotion photos, and goes to great length to ensure that there are no hard feelings. There's also the fact that the match was a charity bout that raised nearly $75,000.
    Rocky: Yo why were you so rough out there?
  • Red Baron: The Ultimate Male, A Mountain Of Molten Lust.
  • Unfortunate Names: No, honestly, Thunderlips? Face Palm.
  • Wrestling Monster: Oh hell yeah.

    Marie 
Played by: Jodi Letizia (I, 1976), and Geraldine Hughes (Balboa, 2006)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/68540_16186.jpg
Marie in I

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rb_geraldine_hughes.jpg
In "Rocky Balboa"

Marie is the young girl in Rocky I who has been hanging out with other juvenile delinquents. Rocky tries to guide her away from them, and it seems he is unsuccessful at first. But as it turns out, she did turn her life around, getting married and having a son. Years later she becomes friends with Rocky and catches up on old times. When we see her again in Rocky Balboa, she is working in a bar to support herself and her teenage son, having broken from her husband. She eventually becomes a hostess at Rocky's restaurant, as well as his moral support.


  • The Not-Love Interest: She and Rocky clearly have feelings for each other, and there are a handful of instances where it appears they will kiss, but their relationship never graduates to a romantic level.
  • Progressively Prettier: In Rocky Balboa, she becomes less shy and a little more prettier as the movie progresses. Crosses over with She Cleans Up Nicely.
  • Random Smoking Scene: The first and last time we saw her in a Rocky movie, til 30 years later...
  • Shrinking Violet: In a deleted scene, she is implied to be one towards Rocky until the guy in the wheelchair (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...

    Steps 
Played by: James Francis Kelly III (2006)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/006ryb_james_francis_kelly_iii_003.jpg

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 Rocky him train when Balboa decides to fight Mason.


    Spider Rico 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/604433-604432-spider_rico_pedro_lovell_large_4870.jpg
Left: Rocky Balboa. Right: Rocky I
Played by: Pedro Lovell

The first opponent we see Rocky take on in the first movie. We don't see him again until Rocky Balboa, where he is an employee and friend of his old opponent.


  • Ascended Extra: He goes from being a fighter irrelevant to the story that goes uncredited, to being Rocky's old friend.
  • Cool Old Guy: Even though Rocky beat him long before, he's still the only guy to backtalk Rocky without getting hit.
    Spider: Don't make me fight you again. Last time you got lucky.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: By Rocky Balboa, he appears to be a devoted Christian and prays with Balboa before his match with Mason.

    Tony Gazzo 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tony-gazzo-foto_2821.jpg
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 even gives Rocky extra cash when he feels that Rocky needs 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. And while he offers Rocky his job back later, he takes zero offense when Rocky refuses.


Alternative Title(s): Rocky Film Series

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