Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained

When we talk about movies based on boxing, the first one that most of us think of is the Rocky franchise. Brought to life by Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa is undoubtedly one of the most iconic fictional characters ever created.

Ever since the first Rocky movie in 1976, the franchise has become a cultural phenomenon. Even the sequel series based on Rocky’s protégé, Creed, has carried on the legacy of the original movies, making the entire series one of the most popular sports dramas.

The Rocky and Creed films put together currently have 9 installments, spanning almost 50 years; and the franchise is still growing.

If you’re a loyal fan who’s seen every single movie, it might be a little confusing to understand all the time jumps. But if you’re someone who hasn’t finished the series yet, I’d recommend you watch all the films and then come back to this article.

Either way, I’ve got you covered. Here is a timeline explaining when the events of each of the Rocky and Creed movies took place.

SPOILERS AHEAD! This page contains spoilers from Rocky (Film Series).

1. Rocky (1976)

The first movie takes place in 1975.

Apollo Creed chooses Rocky Balboa at random to fight for the title of World Heavyweight Champion. Rocky then trains with Mickey Goldmill to prepare for the fight. Finally, Rocky knocks Apollo down and goes the distance with him.

Rocky also meets Adrian Pennino, his future wife, in the same year.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
Rocky and Mickey

2. Rocky II (1979)

The second movie takes place the following year, in 1976.

Rocky and Adrian get married and soon after, Adrian announces that she is pregnant with their child.

After Apollo faces criticism from his fans for his previous fight with Rocky, he publicly taunts Rocky into a rematch. Rocky accepts the challenge and starts training with Mickey again.

After a long and gruesome fight, Rocky knocks Apollo down and he is crowned World Heavyweight Champion.

By the end of the year, Rocky’s son, Robert Balboa Jr. is born.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
Rocky and Apollo

3. Rocky III (1982)

Rocky III takes place between 1982 and 1984.

In 1982, just as Rocky is getting ready to retire, James “Clubber” Lang publicly challenges Rocky for the title. However, Rocky loses this fight as he is distracted by Mickey’s heart attack. Mickey dies soon after the match is over, and Apollo steps in to train Rocky.

In 1983, Rocky and Clubber have their rematch where Rocky regains the world heavyweight championship from Clubber. Clubber retires after the fight.

In 1984, Apollo calls in his “favour” for training Rocky. The two of them have a secret third fight in the gym and Apollo finally gets a win against Rocky.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
A still from Rocky IV

4. Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky IV takes place in the year 1985.

A new fighter from the USSR, Ivan Drago, challenges Rocky to an exhibition match. Apollo fights in Rocky’s place; however, Apollo dies at the end of the match as he isn’t able to survive Drago’s punches.

To avenge Apollo’s death, Rocky challenges Drago to another match and he begins an intense training regime in Siberia with help from his friends and his wife, Adrian.

On the day of the match, Rocky takes the worst beating of his life. But with perseverance, he manages to knock out Drago in the last few seconds.

5. Rocky V (1990)

Rocky V takes place between 1986 and 1990.

Rocky retires in 1986, due to brain damage. He reopens Mickey’s old gym to train boxers. There, he meets a young boxer names Tommy Gunn. Rocky helps Tommy rise to fame and win several matches.

However, after almost 4 years of training, in 1990, a fight promoter convinces Tommy that Rocky is holding him back and hence gets Tommy to leave him.

Despite winning a championship title, Tommy is still insulted for leaving Rocky and not being as good a boxer as him. In a rage, he challenges Rocky to a bare-knuckle street fight, which ends with Rocky winning.

6. Rocky Balboa (2006)

Rocky Balboa has a time of jump of 16 years from the previous movie. It takes place in 2006 and Rocky is now 60 years old.

We find out that Rocky’s wife, Adrian, passed away in 2002. Since then, he has opened a restaurant named after her and is unfortunately not on speaking terms with his son.

When a computer-simulated fight between a young Rocky and the current champion, Mason Dixon, gets circulated on ESPN, it reignites Rocky’s spirit to fight. He decides to fight Dixon to prove himself again.

In an exhibition bout, Rocky goes the distance with Dixon, similar to the fight we saw in the first film.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
A still from Rocky Balboa (2006)

7. Creed (2015)

The sequel series’ first movie has another time jump from the last Rocky movie. Creed takes place in 2015.

Adonis “Donnie” Johnson tracks down Rocky and asks him to become his trainer. Rocky declines at first but eventually agrees. We later find out that Donnie is Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son.

The handlers of world light heavyweight champion Ricky Conlan, who is about to start serving in prison, offer to let Donnie be Conlan’s last challenge, if he changes his name to Adonis Creed. Donnie accepts and starts training for the fight.

Donnie is able to go the distance and he pushes Conlan to his limit. Although he doesn’t win, he earns the respect of Conlan and the audience.

In the same year, Rocky also discovers that he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After being persuaded by Donnie, he decides to seek treatment and start chemotherapy.

8. Creed II (2018)

Creed II takes place in the year 2018.

Since Donnie’s loss to Conlan, he has won the world heavyweight championship (in 2017) and has also proposed to his girlfriend Bianca Taylor.

Meanwhile, three decades since Apollo’s death and his loss to Rocky, Ivan Drago has been training his son, Viktor Drago, to challenge Donnie to a fight and reclaim their honour.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
Rocky and Donnie

In the first match between the two, Donnie suffers serious injuries and Viktor is disqualified. Thus, Donnie retains the title. But Viktor is dissatisfied with the result and so he challenges Donnie to a rematch.

Rocky, who initially declined to train Donnie in fear of him ending up like his father, agrees to train him and this time, he puts him through an intense routine in the Southern Californian Desert.

After a brutal fight, Drago eventually throws in the towel for his son before things get worse. Donnie retains his title once again. Rocky also reunites with his son, Robert, and meets his grandson at the end.

9. Creed III (2023)

Creed III takes place between 2020 and 2023.

In 2020, Donnie defeats Ricky Conlan in a rematch, after he is released from prison. Donnie then retires from boxing to focus on his family. He opens Delphi Boxing Academy with his friend, Tony “Little Duke” Evers Jr., and starts training Felix Chavez, who goes on to become world champion in 2021.

In 2022, Donnie reconnects with a childhood friend, Damian “Dame” Anderson, after Dame gets out of jail. Meanwhile, Chavez starts getting ready to fight Viktor Drago. However, after an unknown assailant attacks Viktor, Donnie asks Dame to fight in Viktor’s place.

Rocky and Creed: When Do The Movies Take Place? Timeline Explained
Donnie and Dame

Dame fights dirty, wins the match and gets the world championship title. It is later revealed that Dame intentionally sabotaged the original fight and manipulated Donnie so that he could get the title.

Dame then starts defaming Donnie by calling him a fraud. In 2023, Donnie comes out of retirement to challenge Dame. He trains with Duke and Viktor and is finally able to regain the championship title. In the end, Donnie and Dame reconcile with each other.

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10. About Rocky (Film Series)

Rocky is an American sports drama multimedia franchise created by Sylvester Stallone, which began with the eponymous 1976 film and has since become a cultural phenomenon, centered on the boxing career of Rocky Balboa. The franchise has been expanded into various films, and with a total worldwide gross of $1.7 billion, it is currently one of the highest-grossing media franchises.

The original film (Rocky) was written by Stallone and directed by John G. Avildsen, and was followed by the sequels Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), and Rocky Balboa (2006), all of which were written and directed by Stallone and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. After the sixth film, which was envisioned as the conclusion of the franchise, the spin-off and sequel films Creed (2015) and Creed II (2018), starring Michael B. Jordan as boxer Adonis Creed, were released; they were directed by Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. and also starred Stallone.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

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