Skip to main content

Rocky: How to watch the Rocky / Creed franchise in release and chronological order

Want to get started on watching the Rocky films? Here’s how to do it!

Rocky Balboa still
Image credit: MGM Studios

“Trying hard now/”

When it comes to inspiring movies, it doesn’t get much better than the Rocky film series. Rocky is about victory, failure, sportsmanship, friendship, love, redemption, rebirth, and good old-fashioned boxing! The original 1976 film followed an underdog fighter named Rocky Balboa who had dreams of becoming a heavyweight champion. The film captured the hearts of audiences around the world, and it wasn’t long before a franchise was born. The films also launched the career of Sylvester Stallone, who has become an award-winning actor and director.

In 2015 Ryan Coogler brought the franchise to a new generation when he directed Creed. Michael B. Jordan starred as Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s fallen friend Apollo Creed. Like Rocky before it, Creed has also become an audience favorite, spawning numerous sequels.

The Rocky film series is similar to Rocky itself….against all odds, the franchise has had a longer life than anybody expected.

If you’re looking to start the Rocky and Creed films, but aren’t sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered! This guide will tell you everything you need to know about watching Rocky in release and chronological order.

Let’s step into the ring and begin…

How to watch Rocky in release order

Rocky 1976 still
Image credit: United Artists

Are you ready to begin your training? Watching Rocky (and Creed) in release order is fairly simple, since most of the films are numbered. To get started, simply follow this list… (By the way, you might notice a comic book on this list. More on that later...)

How to watch Rocky in chronological order

Rocky Balboa still
Image credit: MGM Studios

If you want to watch the Rocky films in chronological order, it’s the same as the release order. This isn’t like Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where different releases jump around the timeline. However, it’s worth noting that some of the Rocky films don’t take place in the same year as when they were released. This section breaks down when each of the Rocky (and Creed) films take place. Please note, we're only including canon projects for this list, hence Creed: Shinjidai's absence. For more on Creed: Shinjidai, please refer to its section in this guide.

(Keep in mind, some viewers have noted that the timeline and scripts have contradictions)

  • 1975: Rocky
  • 1976: Rocky II
  • 1980-1982: Rocky III
  • 1985: Rocky IV
  • 1990: Rocky V (note: this chronology is really tricky, due to lots of anachronisms with the age of Rocky’s son, and the timeline in relation to Rocky IV. Just go with it)
  • 2004: Rocky Balboa
  • 2015: Creed
  • 2018: Creed II
  • 2025: Creed III
  • 2035: Creed: The Next Round

We haven't included unreleased projects that were mentioned in the release order, as until they're released we don't have a firm conclusion on where it takes place in Rocky's chronological order.

Will there be a Creed 4?

Creed III still
Image credit: Outlier Society
Speaking to IGN in February 2023, Michael B. Jordan confirmed that there are plans for Creed IV. Creed producer Irwin Winkler was quoted as saying, "We think we have a really good story". No word on what that story is yet, and what the production timeline will be. Either way, it seems that Adonis Creed’s story is far from over…

What’s the deal with Creed: Shinjidai?

Creed anime title card
Image credit: Outlier Society

Believe it or not, the Rocky film franchise has dipped its toes into anime. Creed: Shinjidai is a sci-fi anime short that focuses on the interplanetary adventures of 3 boxers. The short was included in the end credits of Creed III, but only for Japanese audiences. American audiences were given a brief chance to view the short when it was given a limited engagement at the Los Angeles Alamo Draft House. As of this writing, there hasn’t been a worldwide release.

Judging by the synopsis, I’m going to guess that this isn’t canon.

Is Creed: The Next Round canon?

Creed: The Next Round
Image credit: Boom Studios

In 2023 Boom Studios published Creed: The Next Round, a four-issue limited series starring Adonis Creed’s daughter Amara. Like her father, Amara hopes to become a boxing champion. The comic series is set 10 years after the events of Creed III. The comic dives deeper into the Creed family legacy, as Apollo’s daughter Artemis steps in to train Amara.

Michael B. Jordan served as creative director for the comic series. In addition, Jordan’s production company Outlier Society helped produce the comic. It is considered canon, but the issue may be revisited if Creed 4 contradicts the events of the mini-series.

Where else has Rocky appeared?

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in a Facebook groups Superbowl commercial
Image credit: Facebook

Rocky Balboa is an iconic character, so it’s only natural that he would make some guest appearances outside of his film series. In 1997 Sylvester Stallone reprised the role during a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live. The episode featured Rocky clubbing with the Night at the Roxbury duo, Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. The comedic duo are surprised to learn that Rocky doesn’t know how to dance.

In 2020 Stallone reprised the role for a Super Bowl commercial about Facebook groups. Yes, it’s an odd choice, but it certainly got everyone’s attention. The commercial was themed around the word ‘rock,’ so it was only natural for Rocky Balboa to show up.

Interestingly, Rocky Balboa isn’t the first Rocky Sylvester Stallone portrayed. In 1975, one year before the release of Rocky, Stallone portrayed Elmore ‘Rocky’ Caddo in an episode of the crime drama Police Story. Rocky was the younger cop in one of those ‘grizzled veteran and naïve newcomer’ police partnerships.

It should be obvious, but none of these appearances are canon to the Rocky film series.

Is Creed connected to the Rocky series?

Adonis Creed and Rocky Balboa talk in Creed
Image credit: MGM Pictures

Yes, Creed is part of the Rocky film series. As you can see in our watch order above, Creed is the 7th installment in the Rocky film series. Creed and its sequels star Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the son of Rocky’s rival-turned-friend Apollo Creed. Stallone reprised his role as Rocky Balboa for the first two Creed films.

Should I watch the Rocky films before starting Creed?

Rocky and Adonis train in Creed
Image credit: MGM Pictures

You don’t need to watch the Rocky films before starting Creed, but I would recommend it. The Creed films focus on Adonis Creed, a character not seen in the original Rocky films. The film does a pretty good job at bringing viewers up to speed on the legacy of Adonis’ late father Apollo, and his relationship with Rocky. You will still enjoy Creed if you haven’t seen the Rocky films, but if you have then your experience will be enhanced. Seeing the rise of Adonis Creed hits differently after following the life and death of his father in the Rocky films. Plus, you will catch more of the callbacks and Easter eggs.

Is Rocky based on a true story?

Still image of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky
Image credit: United Artists

The first Rocky film is loosely based on a 1975 boxing match between Chuck Wepner and Muhammad Ali. Wepner was and up-and-coming boxer from New Jersey, and Ali was a boxing legend who had reclaimed the heavyweight championship from George Foreman. Nobody thought Wepner had a chance, and it was expected to be a quick and easy victory for Ali. Despite the 10-1 odds, it took 15 rounds for Ali to knock Wepner out. Not only did Wepner hold his own, but he was also able to briefly knock Ali down, something that had only happened 3 other times in Ali’s career.

Wepner may have lost the fight, but audiences were entranced by his underdog story. The boxing match inspired Stallone to write the film Rocky, and the rest is history. Rocky was based off Wepner, while Apollo Creed was based on Ali. In 2003 Wepner sued Stallone for royalties from the film, and the matter was settled outside of court for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to Wepner, Stallone has claimed that he based some of Rocky’s characteristics on former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. The rest of it was Hollywood storytelling.

Where can I watch the Rocky films?

Rocky IV still
Image credit: United Artists

Now that you know how to watch Rocky, here is where you can watch Rocky. As of this writing, Rocky I-V and Rocky Balboa can be found on the streaming service Max. Creed I-III are no longer available on Max, but they may return to the service in the future. In the meantime, you can watch the Creed films digitally by renting or purchasing them from a variety of video-on-demand platforms, including Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu. Due to licensing agreements, some films may change streaming services, so keep your eyes open.

Now you have everything you need to begin watching the Rocky series! Step into the ring and enjoy!

Featured events