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♫ Gonna fly now! ♫

ĒIt ainít about how hard you hit. Itís about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward—how much you can take and keep moving forward. Thatís how winning is done!Ē
Rocky, Rocky Balboa

Rocky is a franchise created by Sylvester Stallone revolving around a series of sports drama films about the favorite (fictitious) son of boxing and Philadelphia, Rocky "The Italian Stallion" Balboa (played by Stallone). The franchise has grossed a total of $1.7 billion worldwide.

The idea for the first film was inspired by a Muhammad Ali bout against Chuck Wepner on March 24, 1975, for which Stallone (at the time a down-on-his-luck-actor) was in attendance. Wepner was a tough fighter with a lot of heart but little skill and a bad record, and he was most famous for frequently bleeding profusely during his bouts. The bout was intended to be a breather — an exhibition for Ali after his unbelievable (and hard-fought) victory over George Foreman less than six months earlier — but to the astonishment of all, Wepner managed to knock Ali down in the ninth round (video replays showed it was actually more of a trip; Wepner happened to be standing on Ali's foot when the blow landed, which caused Ali to lose his balance when he tried to move).

Although an incensed Ali made Wepner pay dearly for that — and eventually knocked Wepner down and out for the only time in his career — the roar of the crowd as an everyman knocked down the greatest athlete in his sport inspired Stallone, who went home and spent the next few days writing furiously nearly around the clock. The end result? Rocky was born. (However, that's slightly mythologized, too. When Stallone was asked how he managed to write the screenplay in three days, he replied, "I didn't write the screenplay in three days, I wrote a screenplay in three days"; his shooting script was the product of many rounds of rewriting.)

The success of the franchise led to a Spin-Off series focusing on Apollo Creed's (Muhammad Ali's stand-in) son, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), who becomes a fighter against the wishes of his family, eventually seeking out Rocky (Stallone once again) to be his trainer. Creed, the first film centered on Adonis, was released on November 25, 2015note . The success of the film spawned a sequel, Creed II, which was released on November 21, 2018. A third film, Creed III, was released on March 3, 2023. Ryan Coogler co-wrote and directed the first Creed as well as co-wrote the story of Creed III, which notably marks the directorial debut of Jordan (who Coogler had previously directed in Fruitvale Station).

Developments on a seventh Rocky film as well as a spinoff film about Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), Rocky's main opponent in Rocky IV, are in progress as of this writing.

The films in the series are:

There were also a handful of video games that were made based on the series:

Comic Books:

The Rocky film series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Rocky Legends on Xbox and PS2 sheds light on the smaller details for Apollo, Lang, and Drago. Apollo fought Duke right before he decided to retire and train him. Lang was in prison when they held a boxing match prison event, before Lang would be released to pursue his own boxing career. Drago was a USSR soldier before being hand picked to become a fighter.
    • Also, depending on which version of the game you get, the PS2 version has Paulie as a playable character, and the Xbox version gives us Ludmilla Drago as a playable character as well.
  • Alternate Continuity: In Rocky Legends, it is possible to play through Ivan Drago's campaign and defeat Rocky in the exhibition match.
    • Apollo Creed's campaign ends with him confident of his victory over Rocky and indifferent to the idea of a rematch, negating the premise of Rocky II and the subsequent sequels. It's entirely possible for Apollo to win this fight with an early knockout, denying Rocky the chance to "go the distance".
    • Averted with the other two campaigns. Rocky's matches with Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang go straight to the rematch, and the final fight with Tommy Gunn takes place on the streets, like the fifth movie. Respectively, Apollo and Clubber's campaigns end with their first match against Rocky.
  • Always Someone Better: Rocky is this for Apollo.
  • Artistic License Ė Sports: In both rules (fighting after the bell) and tactics.
    • Rocky and his opponents usually have massively swollen eyes or are badly cut and pouring buckets of blood by the end of a fight. In real-life boxing, if swelling or a cut interferes with a boxer's sight and isn't able to be controlled by the boxer's cornermen, then, depending on the severity, it may well result in a technical knockout. That said, the decision to stop the fight is often made by the referee and/or ring doctor, and some will let the action go for longer than others.
    • Then there's the actual boxing, which is less of a boxing match (they might want to try keeping the gloves up, for a change) and more of a take-turns-getting-clean-roundhouses-to-the-face matches. (Aside from the Rocky Balboa, which does strive for realism.)
    • The fighting after the bell type mayhem which may even involve the cornermen of both fighters does happen in real boxing matches on occasion when things get too heated or a referee loses control of the fight. See the mid-fight skirmish during the Floyd Mayweather vs Zab Judah fight for an example. That said, you're generally less likely to see it in a high profile real life bout than what one would assume from watching Rocky fights, and in real life it will generally result in the boxers being penalized and losing points. Losing said points can cost a fighter a close match that goes the distance, or result in a disqualification, which is one reason why it doesn't happen often.
    • The 5'8 Stallone weighs between 160 and 180 pounds in most of the movies.note  As such, even by standards of the late 70s and 80s (when heavyweights were generally lighter than they are today), he would not have qualified as a heavyweight. He definitely wouldn't have been allowed to fight 220 pound Carl Weathers, 213 pound Mr. T, or 245 pound Dolph Lundgren. The third film seems to acknowledge this in the bout between Rocky and Clubber, when the announced mentions that the former weighs 191 pounds- just enough to qualify for heavyweight at the time,note  and much heavier than he looks (indeed, it was nearly thirty pounds above Stallone's actual weight at the time). The announcer also comments that Rocky is "so slimmed down he looks like a middleweight" and indeed, Stallone was just a couple of pounds over the limit for a middleweight (Stallone's statement is that he was 163 pounds, the cutoff for middleweights is 160) which seems like another lampshading of the fact that Stallone is awfully small to be playing a heavyweight boxer.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Rocky's boxing style.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: "Going the Distance" from the first film, "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III, and "War" from Rocky IV all count. "Going the Distance" mixes in Orchestral Bombing, while "War" plays this trope bombastically straight.
  • Bespectacled Cutie: Adrian, Rocky's love interest. Even after she loses the glasses and starts doing her hair, she retains the sweet shyness inherent in the character type.
  • Book Ends: The series begins and ends with Rocky technically losing, but still winning a moral victory.
    • Now, Rocky is going to help a Creed, the son of his original rival turned friend, to have his own shot at boxing greatness (and his fight goes the same way as Rocky's first bout against Apollo).
  • Broad Strokes: Rocky V is the only film not referred to in Rocky Balboa, but some light elements such as concern over Rocky's health and his return to poverty remained.
    • Except for the brief, almost too fast to see flash on "Get up, you son of a bitch, 'cause Mickey loves ya!"
    • And there's the reference to Rocky and his son being the "home team", which is the only explicit Call-Back to Rocky V.
    • Both Rocky V and Rocky Balboa have a joke where Rocky and Robert play fight, only for Rocky to make a joke about being brittle.
    • Paulie is missing a tooth in Rocky Balboa, likely because it was knocked out when Tommy Gunn decked him in Rocky V.
  • The Cameo: There are a truly astounding number of cameos from boxers or people involved in boxing. Just a few examples include Joe Frazier being introduced before the fight in Rocky (and he and Apollo trade insults and threats just as Frazier and Ali did), the legendary Roberto Durán having a brief appearance as a sparring partner in Rocky II (where he seems to thoroughly enjoy pushing around and bullying Stallone), sports announcer Brent Musberger in Rocky II, artists known for painting boxing pictures have appearances as ring announcers, boxing commentators play well, boxing commentators, and nearly all of Stallone's family have had at least cameos, and sometimes actual roles. Mike Tyson even got a cameo before the climactic fight in Rocky Balboa!
  • Captain Ersatz/No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Rocky Balboa = Rocky Marciano mixed with Joe Frazier and inspired by Chuck Wepner.
    • Apollo Creed = Muhammad Ali (showmanship, charisma, outrageous nicknames, floaty style, and rivalry with the Frazier-equivalent) mixed with George Foreman (prolific patriotism most notably shown in a bout against a Soviet boxer,note  reputation as an unstoppable wrecking ball, and high knockout power).note  The real Ali even appeared on stage with Stallone at the Oscars, and once said he wished he had thought of Creed's nickname, "The Master of Disaster". Though, Rocky Balboa reveals that Muhammad Ali and George Foreman actually existed in the Rocky universe and fought in the same era as Apollo; which was implied in the first film as well, given it established Joe Frazier existed. Given that Apollo was introduced in the first film as the undisputed world champion with a 100% knockout record, well...
    • Clubber Lang = a mix of Sonny Liston and the young George Foreman. He is sometimes viewed as a Mike Tyson analogue by contemporary audiences, given the similar personalities, but the third movie hit theaters several years before Tyson first turned pro.
    • Mason Dixon = Has elements of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mike Tyson, Michael Moorer, and Middleweight/Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. Stallone tried to convince Jones himself to play Dixon, but negotiations with Jones fell through. Eventually Stallone enlisted Antonio Tarver, another boxer and a Light Heavyweight champion. Funnily enough, Tarver also defeated Jones in real life when Jones returned to fighting as a Light Heavyweight after capturing the Heavyweight title.
    • George Washington Duke = Don King.
    • Tommy Gunn = Mike Tyson. Both were young and talented fighters who came from rough upbringings and abandoned the men who made them successes in favor of greedy businessmen. Although in Tyson's case, Cus D'Amato died instead of being abandoned.
    • Ivan Drago = Max Schmeling. Schmeling was a German boxer who fought Joe Louis in two fights that were seen as conflicts between the United States and Nazi Germany, the same way Drago's fights with Apollo and Rocky were Cold War conflicts. And like Schmeling, Drago dramatically won the first fight and received a vicious beating in the second, the major difference being Joe Louis was avenging his previous loss instead of the death of a friend. Max Baer, another fighter from the same era as Louis and Schmeling, may have been another influence, as Baer killed a man in the ring in a rather similar manner to how Drago killed Apollo.
    • Union Cane (the guy Tommy beat for the title in Rocky V) may be one for Michael Spinks. Spinks was a light heavyweight champion who in 1985 became the first light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight championship since Tommy Burns did it in 1908. Afterwards, Spinks rarely fought and went into semi-retirement, abandoning the title. During that period of semi-retirement Tyson destroyed all other competition until Spinks was the only conceivable obstacle left, much as Tommy cut a swath through the heavyweight ranks until Cane seemed the only obstacle left. Both Tommy Gunn and Mike Tyson eliminated any doubts about who was the champion by easily knocking out their respective opponent in the first round.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Rocky's eye injury in Rocky II and his brain damage in Rocky V. Both injuries were supposed to retire him, but were ignored by subsequent movies.
    • It's implied that with a 10-15 year gap between V and Rocky Balboa, Rocky's concussion syndrome either recovered during his retirement, or that he was misdiagnosed to begin with by the medical technology at the time.
  • Champions on the Inside: Despite his losses, Rocky is still shown to be a moral champion, which earns him respect from his opponents and allies alike.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Rocky actually is one himself, or at least gives off the vibes of one when trying to make small talk.
    Rocky: You know, these numbers almost add up to nine here, I like that, that's a good omen!
  • Contrived Coincidence: How Apollo decided to give Rocky a shot instead of any other fighter in the world: when reading a list of local fighters, he decided that he liked Rocky's ring nickname.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Apollo Creed after the end of Rocky II.
    • Also in Rocky V, the bullies that Robert eventually stood up to.
  • Determinator:
    • The essence of Rocky's fighting style.
      Tony "Duke" Evers:[to Apollo Creed] I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before and the man KEPT COMING AFTER YOU.
    • Apollo and Clubber are this in II and III, respectively, as both are obsessed with beating Rocky.
  • Expy Coexistence: Apollo Creed obviously borrows heavily from Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, and Rocky Balboa takes inspiration from several figures, including Joe Frazier and Rocky Marciano. However Frazier appears in the first movie As Himself, Marciano's picture is on Balboa's wall (Marciano also gets mentioned several times during the films, including Mickey using Marciano's training methods to train Balboa), and Rocky Balboa mentions both Ali and Foreman, establishing that they exist in the film's universe and were still active fighters during the events of the first two films.
  • Fighting Series: A series of boxing flicks.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • Rocky himself, though not particularly well-educated, is extremely streetwise (he wouldn't have lasted long as Gazzo's collector otherwise) and has a natural talent for assessing a boxer's strengths and weaknesses during a bout. He's able to successfully throw off Apollo's rhythm to win the title in II by switching from right to left-handed punches; and in III he notes that Clubber, while more physically powerful than Rocky, tires quickly and can't go more than a few rounds. These achievements are even more remarkable considering that Rocky is usually getting the crap knocked out of him when he's making these assessments.
    • Mickey also qualifies. Although we never see Mickey actually fight, he is a good judge of boxing talent and has enough business savvy to recognize when Rocky is getting played (or when he's been able to seize the main chance).
    • Apollo Creed can sniff out a chance to sell an event like a shark can smell blood. He's more than savvy enough to grab every chance to make himself a dollar and can play a crowd like a fiddle. While not the strongest fighter, he was also clearly the most skilled.
  • Heroic Resolve: Rocky fights for his honor and to put food on his family's table.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rocky and Paulie's relationship grows into this over the course of the series. By the final movie, each one is really the only person left whom the other can truly open up to.
  • Hollywood Healing: One moment there's blood on the boxer's face, the next it's completely gone.
  • Hot-Blooded: Apollo, Duke, and Clubber.
  • Iconic Sequel Song: "Eye of the Tiger", one of the most commonly-associated songs with the series, which makes its debut in Rocky III.
  • Japanese Spirit: As noted in this video (which explicitly compares Rocky to Dragon Ball), the franchise makes for one of the best Western examples of this trope, such that an anime adaptation would have to change little beyond the setting and the characters' names for it to be a perfect example of such. Rocky's talent, resolve, and persistence are his defining characteristics, and what's more, the villains of the franchise, most notably Apollo Creed, exhibit the flip side of this trope in how cockiness becomes their downfall and they ultimately become friends with him after losing.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Apollo Creed. Though cocky and arrogant, he's also an awesome badass and gradually becomes more likable and protagonistic throughout the series without losing his edge, culminating in a sympathetic tragic death.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Rocky's major opponents got their own Training Montages, which often told viewers something about their character: Clubber Lang's dungeon-like basement emphasized his monstrosity and relentlessly singleminded focus, while Ivan Drago's almost clinical routines (and his steroid use) showed his lack of "heart".
  • Lightning Bruiser: Most of the boxers are this from a realistic standard, but Apollo Creed really stands out, as prior to his first bout with Rocky he had knocked out every man he'd faced and has the best hand and foot speed in the series. What's more, when Rocky trains under Apollo in Rocky III, he goes from an Unskilled, but Strong hard puncher to a fast Lightning Bruiser himself, and he shows the result of his training by dancing circles around Clubber Lang, despite being a smaller man with a shorter reach than Lang.
  • Loan Shark: Gazzo, who Rocky works for as an enforcer in the first movie and Paulie works for in the second.
  • Made of Iron: Rocky himself can take loads of punishment, and still dish a lot in return.
    • Surprisingly, even Paulie himself can take a few good hits.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Mickey Goldmill > Rocky Balboa > Tommy Gunn (who later turns on Rocky in one of the classic plotlines associated with this trope).
    • Ignoring Rocky V, we've now got Mickey Goldmill > Rocky Balboa > Adonis Creed.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago.
  • Old Master: Mickey is the boxing equivalent of the classic martial arts film sensei to Rocky.
    • Once Mickey dies, Apollo steps in as the Big Brother Mentor version for Rocky III and IV. Apollo may or may not be older than Rocky (Carl Weathers is actually about a year and a half younger than Sylvester Stallone), but he is certainly more experienced as a professional-level boxer, so the trope holds.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Tony "Duke" Evers and George Washington Duke are two unrelated characters.
  • Opposing Sports Team: All of Rocky's opponents except Apollo Creed and Mason Dixon fall into this — and even Creed seems to show some of the traits in Rocky II and Rocky IV (towards Drago).
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Rocky regularly gets pitted against opponents who tower over him.
  • Power of Love: "Adrian!"
  • Protagonist Title: Rocky is the protagonist of the first six films.
  • Punny Name: Tommy Gunn, Mason "The Line" Dixon.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Stallone has generally said that every film was written to parallel some period of his life, just with acting switched out for boxing.
  • Re-Cut: There exists a workprint cut of Rocky V online, with some key differences.
    • A few key things in the final scene
      • Rocky was more reluctant to fight Tommy, despite instigating the fight, only because he still cares for the guy.
      • After Rocky gives Tommy quite a beat down, he offers him his hand, where Tommy practically accepted his defeat and ended the fight on good terms with Rocky. He even starts getting the respect he always wanted.
      • Rocky doesn't punch Duke in the face. However, he still denied him the satisfaction of profiting off a fight with him when taking Tommy on. It's also safe to say that Tommy knew better by this point.
  • Redemption Quest: The premise of both Rocky and Apollo in numerous films. Apollo's own quest ends with his death after his match with Drago.
    • In a sense, the first three films are Mickey's quest as well: he was a good fighter, but not good enough to win a title in his own right. He sees Rocky's natural boxing talent and feels Rocky is throwing away a gift Mickey never had by not pushing hard enough. Rocky doesn't take too well to Mickey's criticism but ultimately comes around and fulfills his mentor and father figure's quest:
      Rocky: [to Mickey] At least you had a prime! I never had no prime!
  • Retired Badass:
    • Mickey at first, Rocky in later pictures.
    • Apollo becomes one after losing the title; his trainer, Duke, is also a retired boxer.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The franchise has never been shy about borrowing from real life boxing and translating it to the screen. Almost every film has some aspect to its plot that is heavily inspired by events that took place in real life boxing. See each individual film for further details.
  • Series Continuity Error: Starting with Rocky III the timeline becomes very inconsistent. Rocky won the championship on Thanksgiving in 1976, and the dialog in Rocky III refers to that as three years prior, yet the stated year is 1981. At the end of Rocky III it's said that Rocky intends to retire whether he wins or loses, but in Rocky IV he is still the active champion and gives up his title to fight Drago, only to still be the champion at the beginning of Rocky V, when he finally retires for good. Rocky IV is also implied to pick up directly after the sparring match with Apollo, but it opens with Rocky and Adrian's ninth wedding anniversary, placing it squarely in 1985. And finally, it's said that Apollo had been retired for five years, which would place Apollo's retirement in 1980.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Adrian in the sequels, who goes from Bespectacled Cutie to a more traditional beauty as the Balboas live the good life.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous ones to real boxing, including various boxers (including Roberto Duran) being part of various training sessions or having cameos.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The plot of the first movie, and therefore most of the events of the entire franchise, are put into motion when Mac Lee Green (a character who isn't even depicted onscreen) breaks his hand while training for the championship bout with Apollo.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Xbox version of Rocky Legends features Ludmilla Drago as a playable character, making her the only female boxer in the Rocky universe (at least in the video game adaptation).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the first movie, when the fight bout with Apollo begins, we see just how much of a difference there is in skill between Apollo and Rocky. Apollo's offense and defense is smooth and he switches back and forth between them very naturally while Rocky's is very sloppy and wild, so whenever they're not fighting at close quarters Apollo can pick Rocky apart due to the holes in Rocky's defense. At the end of the day Rocky (in the first movie at least) is just a low level boxer whose greatest attributes are his toughness, ability to take a punch, and determination, while Apollo is an undefeated heavyweight champion. Rocky never was expected to actually beat him and while Rocky ultimately goes the distance and even knocks down Apollo, Apollo still wins the fight via decision because he still out-boxed Rocky and controlled the fight whenever they were at a distance.
    • Also from the first film is Rocky's first days of training. He has never trained full time for a match before so his conditioning and training practices are not up to snuff and he tires easily running around, hurts his knuckles and needs to lie down after every try. He gets better in time for the proper Training Montage.
    • In Rocky II, despite making major bank from his match with Creed, it does not take long for Rocky to lose his money since he spends it recklessly - someone who has spent his whole life living hand to mouth is rarely equipped to know how to carefully manage money.
    • In Rocky III, as powerful as Clubber is, relying on just power punches will eventually become a disadvantage since it will wear you out quickly, and when you go up against someone that can withstand it long enough, avoid you, or defend against it properly like Rocky did it won't be hard to beat him.
    • Rocky V makes it clear that despite it being a effective strategy against his opponents, Rocky has gotten brain damage after years of taking constant blows to the head. The head can only take so much damage before eventually repercussions occur from all of it.
    • Also in Rocky V, Tommy gets arrested after his fight with Rocky. This is bound to happened since not only did he start the fight, Tommy attacked several civilians before and during his fight.
    • In Rocky Balboa, despite being a highly regarded boxer, understandably a 60 year old Rocky Balboa deciding to fight again after at least 20 years is met with disbelief, disdain, and concern by pretty much everyone.
    • Another for Rocky Balboa is that Rocky's training has to rely far more on power than any other attribute or technique since there is no way he can use speed at his age and with his previous injuries. Most especially not against the much younger Dixon, who is faster than Rocky ever was in his prime.
  • Tantrum Throwing: In a fit of anger, Rocky throws a helmet at his statue. Paulie impotently throws a liquor bottle at a "ROCKY" pinball machine during an drunken fit of resentment, feeling like Rocky has left him out in the midst of his success.
  • Technician vs. Performer: In the first two films, Rocky (a "hungry" journeyman) is the Performer and Apollo (a seasoned veteran who specializes at outfighting opponents) is the Technician. Once it's evident that Rocky is taking the fight more seriously than expected, Apollo immediately switches into Combat Pragmatist mode, and Rocky's willpower, determination, and seemingly supernatural ability to tank devastating defense-breakers are the only things that keep him from getting squashed. By the third film, Rocky is the Technician to Clubber Lang's Performer: Clubber is largely self-trained and overly dependent on using raw power to take down opponents quickly. In the fourth film, Ivan Drago is the Technician: Quiet and stoic, with training sessions that could easily be mistaken for clinical routines. During his fights with Tommy and Mason, Rocky is the Technician again, as advanced age and career-ending injuries necessitate him fighting smarter, though he still needs his legendary stamina and a little luck to see him through.
  • Theme Music Power-Up
  • Time-Compression Montage: The birth of the famous training montage that stretched over the course of a week.
  • Trade Your Passion for Glory: The Trope Namer.
  • Training from Hell: The films are some of the most famous users of the training montage of all time, so it's natural there'd be elements of this. Most notable are Rocky IV, where Rocky toughens up doing heavy work in a rural Russian winter, and Rocky III, where Lang is shown to do his training alone in a dim, slightly-hellish basement, using his own rage to increase his drive.
  • Training Montage: Former Trope Namer when under the name "Gonna Fly Now Montage".
  • Unbuilt Trope: The series is frequently bashed for creating a genre of sports movies in which an underdog protagonist wins against a far superior opponent based on sheer willpower alone, with little consideration given to real skill and strategies. This ignores the fact that in the original film, Rocky lost the match against Apollo, despite his hard work, and prior to being chosen for the promotional bout, he was a loser who had to break the law to put food on the table. He initially refused to go back to the ring in the second film because he was exhausted and preferred to settle down with Adrian despite calls for a rematch with Apollo. He only chose to return because of the family's need for money when his new son was born. When the fight itself occurs Apollo dominates Rocky through out most of the match and in the end had Apollo not gone for a knockout victory and instead just kept his distance, Apollo would have won the match via decision. Rocky actually loses in the third film, which shows the consequences that success has on a Determinator, and the rematch is not decided by willpower alone, but by a strategic approach based on avoiding the opponent and wearing him out gradually. While the fourth film would repeat the underdog and willpower tropes, it deconstructs them in the first half when Apollo (a fighter whose physique was designed for agility and maneuvering, not for ground-and-pound like Rocky's own) fights the antagonist of the film and refuses to throw in the towel, later dying from his injuries. The fifth film deconstructs the trope further, as a doctor's appointment shows that Rocky has serious injuries as a result of the damage cause by boxing and will not be able to box anymore. His obsession with trying to revive his boxing career via proxy through Tommy Gunn, who he adopted as a foster son, strains his relationships and backfires. In the sixth Rocky film, he loses a fight once again despite showing even more resilience than in the first film because age is catching up with him. Creed almost averts the film's Determinator reputation when Rocky refuses to go into treatment for cancer since he has nothing left to live for. It is only the begging of his new apprentice, Adonis Creed, that ultimately makes him seek treatment.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Averted in the first and last movies where a moral victory is deemed to be more significant (in the first, Rocky going the distance with Apollo, in the last, Rocky ridding himself of his demons), but aside from that, if you're an in-story underdog, it's physically impossible for you to lose in the Rocky universe. Even the antagonist benefits from this in Rocky III.
    • No such luck for the challengers Rocky knocks out before meeting Lang; they also avert the trope.
    • Apollo vs. Drago arguably plays it straight and subverts it at the same time. Drago had imposing height and reach and was clearly in better shape than the long-retired Apollo, so any objective viewer would back him to win the match. Most Americans, though, (including Apollo himself) would instead peg the beloved ex-champion for an easy win against the amateur foreigner.
    • Whenever someone tells Rocky in a movie "You can't win!", he's going to win. Sometimes not the first fight (as the case in III), but he will.
  • Virile Stallion: Invoked, Rocky is called "The Italian Stallion" because of his Italian-American heritage. Rocky had to work hard to be a champion, he trains in a barn, and he returned to the ring in the 2006 film in order to prove himself yet again.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Apollo's trademark ring getup, and the one he's wearing when slain by the Russkie from Hell, Drago. Rocky wears his friend's boxing shorts to symbolically avenge him — and the U.S.A.
    Rocky: [upon seeing Apollo's outfit for the first time] He looks like a flag!
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Robert feels that Rocky sees him this way and resents his father; in reality (ultimately acknowledged by both men), it's a consequence of Rocky's difficulties in communicating with his son (possibly as a consequence of Rocky's less-than-desirable upbringing, hinted at in the first movie).
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Tony Gazzo, the Loan Shark from Rocky I and II, is never seen again after the second film. Though in Rocky III, Paulie is unemployed, and Gazzo is briefly mentioned in Rocky V, and in a deleted scene of Rocky Balboa.
      • Rocky might consider working for Gazzo an Old Shame that he'd rather not have anything to do with, especially after Mickey's death considering how strongly Mickey disapproved of it. Rocky's past association with loan sharking killed his commercial endorsements and wouldn't do his restaurant any favors either.
    • In Rocky, Rocky befriends a dog named Butkus in the pet store and actually adopts Butkus in Rocky II. Butkus is never seen or mentioned again for the rest of the movie, or the rest of the series.
      • If the films occur in real time, and given that the average age of a bull mastiff is 8-9 years, it's pretty clear why we don't see him in Part III or beyond.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In the first film, set in 1975, Mickey mentions that he's 76 years old, which would put his year of birth in 1899. However, in the third film, Mickey's gravestone gives his lifespan as 1905 to 1981. Interestingly, this would make him 76 at the time of his death, so it seems they did remember the age quote, but didn't take into account that several years passed in between the first and third film.


Video Example(s):


Rocky calls his son out

Rocky tells his son to toughen up if he wants to withstand the blows of life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / CallingTheYoungManOut

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