How to watch the Rocky movies in order: the Rocky and Creed timeline explained

Rocky fights Apollo Creed in his self-titled 1976 movie, which kicks off our Rocky movies in order guide
The Rocky-Creed franchise has been running since 1976. (Image credit: United Artists)

Want to know how to watch the Rocky movies in order? You've come to the right place.

Below, we'll explain the correct order to watch the Rocky films in, as well as the Creed movies, which are spiritual successors to the Rocky flicks. First, we've outlined how to stream all nine films in timeline order, starting with 1976's Rocky, and ending with Creed II, which arrived in theaters in 2018. Happily, they're pretty easy to find – they rank among the best Amazon Prime Video movies. Well, the good ones do, anyway.

After that, you'll find individual entries for each sports-drama flick, including their theatrical release dates, cast details, and plot synopses. Finally, we've listed each film ranked by their Rotten Tomatoes score – because we all know how important movie rankings are, right?

So, ahead of Creed III's theatrical release – read our spoiler-free Creed III review while you're here – here's how to watch the Rocky and Creed movies in order. Mild spoilers follow for both film series.

Rocky movies in order: Quick list

Adonis Creed prepares to box in the ring in Creed 3

The Creed movie series follows on from the Rocky franchise. (Image credit: Eli Ade/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Want a quick rundown of how to watch the Rocky movies in order? Check out the list below, which orders them by year of release. It also includes the two Creed films to release so far:

  • Rocky – 1976
  • Rocky II – 1979
  • Rocky III – 1982
  • Rocky IV – 1985
  • Rocky V – 1990
  • Rocky Balboa – 2006
  • Creed – 2015
  • Creed II – 2018

Rocky movies in order: where to watch

Rocky celebrates at the top of some Philadelphia-based steps in his first film

Every Rocky and Creed film is available on Amazon's streaming service. (Image credit: United Artists)

You can stream the Rocky movies in order on Prime Video worldwide. The first two Creed films are available on the same platform, too.

Why Prime Video? Amazon bough MGM Studios – the owner of the Rocky-Creed franchise – for $8.5 billion in March 2022. Subsequently, Prime Video became the one and only home to all eight movies to date, meaning you'll have to purchase a subscription if you want to watch them for free on one of the world's best streaming services.

All six Rocky films are also available to rent and/or buy on digital stores including Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, and Sky. Creed I and Creed II are rentable on Rakuten, Sky, Apple TV and the Microsoft Store. You can buy both Creed movies on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, Sky, and the Microsoft Store, too.

Rocky movies in order: full timeline


Close up of Rocky Balboa in his self-titled 1976 movie

Rocky made his movie debut in 1976. (Image credit: United Artists)

Release date: December 3, 1976

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Joe Spinell, Pedro Lovell

Plot: The eponymous movie (and surprise 1977 Oscar Best Picture winner) that kickstarted the beloved franchise. Here, we're introduced to working class Philadelphia citizen Rocky Balboa (Stallone), the debt collector for a Mafia loanshark who moonlights as a small-time boxer. But, when heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed (Weathers) offers him an unlikely shot at the world title, Rocky's infamous journey to the top of the sport begins in bruising and thrilling fashion.

Rocky II

Rocky and Apollo Creed square off in Rocky II

Rocky II saw a rematch between Balboa and Apollo Creed. (Image credit: United Artists)

Release date: June 15, 1979

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Sylvia Meals, Joe Spinell, Paul J Micale

Plot: In something of a retread of its predecessor, Rocky II pits the titular boxer against Apollo Creed once more. This time, though, Rocky is forced to contend with becoming an overnight sensation – he narrowly lost to Creed in 1976's Rocky, but earned the respect of his peer and gained his own mass fan following – and the celebrity lifestyle that follows.

Rocky III

Rocky punches Clubber Lang in the side in Rocky III

Rocky faced off against Clubber Lang in his third movie. (Image credit: MGM)

Release date: May 28, 1982

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Mr T, Ina Fried, Hulk Hogan

Plot: Rocky III marked the first time that the legendary fighter came up against someone other than Apollo Creed in a major bout. Mr T's Clubber Lang proved to be a formidable adversary for Balboa, too, the latter losing their first encounter before the duo engage in a rematch for the ages. Rocky III also proved to be an emotional affair for its main characters, with Burgess Meredith's Mickey Goldmill – Rocky's trainer – dying after suffering a heart attack following the first fight. We love ya, Mick.

Rocky IV

Rocky celebrates with a US flag in Rocky IV

Rocky IV saw the iconic boxer fight Ivan Drago in a bruising contest. (Image credit: MGM)

Release date: November 27, 1985

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Dolph Lundgren, Brigette Nielsen, Tony Burton, Rocky Krakoff, Sylvia Meals

Plot: With the US and Russia locked in a bitter Cold War in the real world, Rocky IV effectively used the "West versus East" narrative to pit Balboa against his most intimidating enemy yet: the towering, muscular Russian fighter Ivan Drago (Lundgren). We won't reveal why Rocky ends up fighting Drago – doing so would reveal a major story spoiler – but it's a match that has huge ramifications for the Rocky and Creed series.

Rocky V

Rocky prepares to fight Tommy in the street in Rocky V

Rocky V is the weakest entry in the boxer's film franchise. (Image credit: United Artists)

Release date: November 16, 1990

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Tommy Morrison, Sage Stallone, Richard Gant, Tony Burton, Paul J Micale, Michael Williams

Plot: After four films spread across nine years, the arrival of the 1990s almost proved to be the death knell for the Rocky movie series. Rocky V is easily the worst flick of the bunch, though it does pit a financially struggling Rocky against his protégé Tommy Gunn (Morrison), laying the foundations for Rocky's change of profession – from fighter to boxing coach – in Creed.

Rocky Balboa

Rocky prepares to throw a punch in 2006 movie Rocky Balboa

Rocky Balboa arrived 16 years after its predecessor. (Image credit: MGM/20th Century Fox)

Release date: December 20, 2006

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver, Milo Ventimiglia, Geraldine Hughes, James Francis Kelly III, Tony Burton, Pedro Lovell

Plot: 16 years after Rocky V nearly laid the franchise to rest, 2006's Rocky Balboa proved there's life in the old dog yet. An emotionally-charged movie, the film – also referred to as Rocky VI – sees an ageing Rocky come out of retirement for an exhibition match against the hotheaded Mason Dixon (Tarver). It marks the first time Talia Shire doesn't appear in a Rocky movie. The reason why becomes clear when you watch it, and only adds to the nostalgia, poignancy, guilt felt by Rocky and company, and eventual personal triumph that follows.

Rocky movies in order: Creed timeline


Rocky and Adonis Creed celebrate in 2015 movie Creed

Creed kickstarted the spiritual successor movie series in 2015. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Release date: November 25, 2015

Cast: Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish, Wood Harris, Ritchie Coster

Plot: The second film directed by future Marvel helmer Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), 2015's Creed revived the Rocky movie series in spectacular fashion. Amateur boxer Adonis Creed (Jordan), the son of Apollo, seeks out Rocky Balboa to train and mentor him as he bids to follow in his father's footsteps and become the undisputed champion of the world. A superb start to the Creed film series that honors the legacy of what came before.

Creed II

Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago stare at each other in Creed II

Creed II pitted Adonis Creed against Viktor Drago. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Release date: November 21, 2018

Cast: Michael B Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, Russell Hornby, Milo Ventimiglia, Andrew Ward, Brigette Nielsen

Plot: Like Rocky II, Creed II retreads old ground narratively and thematically. This time around, Adonis faces a championship fight with Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan from Rocky IV. There's plenty riding on this bout – revenge, living up to your father's legacy, and more besides – but it's the more personal and intimately dramatic moments that make Creed II shine as a spectacle. 

Movingly, it also marks the final appearance from Stallone in the franchise he created. The legendary actor refused to return for Creed III for two main reasons: the direction the movie series is going in, and his ongoing feud with the Winkler family (producers on the whole franchise) over who owns the rights to the Rocky films.

Rocky movies in order: all films ranked

Adonis Creed fights Ricky Conlan in Creed 3

Creed III will make it onto our best Rocky/Creed movies ranked list shortly. (Image credit: MGM/Warner Bros. Pictures)

Ranking the Rocky movies in order is a subjective matter. One person's favorite film is another's least enjoyable, so there's no definitive ranking of all eight movies to date.

We can use review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, though, to get an idea of which Rocky and Creed flicks are viewed as the best and worst at large. Below, we've ranked every Rocky and Creed movie by their Rotten Tomatoes audience score (from best to worst), which gives us a decent overview of which ones people enjoy the most.

  • Creed – 89%
  • Rocky II – 82%
  • Creed II – 80%
  • Rocky IV – 79%
  • Rocky Balboa – 76%
  • Rocky III – 74%
  • Rocky – 69%
  • Rocky V – 31%

For more movie ranking-based articles, read our best Marvel movies, best Batman movies, best Harry Potter movies, and best Ridley Scott movies guides.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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