Did Rocky Pass Away In Creed 3?

by Barbara

The “Rocky” franchise has long held a place in the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. From the original “Rocky” film in 1976 to the more recent “Creed” spin-offs, the series has continually drawn audiences with its compelling characters and gripping boxing drama. One of the most beloved characters is, of course, Rocky Balboa, portrayed by Sylvester Stallone. However, with the release of “Creed 3,” fans are left wondering: Did Rocky pass away in Creed 3? This article explores this pressing question and delves into the nuances of Rocky’s role in the latest installment of the “Creed” series.

Rocky’s Journey in the Creed Series

Introduction to the Creed Series

The “Creed” series, starting with “Creed” in 2015, shifts the spotlight from Rocky Balboa to Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. Adonis is the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s friend and rival from the earlier films. In these new films, Rocky transitions from being the central fighter to a mentor and father figure for Adonis. This shift allows the series to explore new themes and character dynamics while still honoring the legacy of the original films.


Rocky’s Role in Creed 1 and Creed 2

In “Creed,” we see Rocky Balboa living a quiet life in Philadelphia, running his restaurant, Adrian’s, named after his late wife. His life takes a turn when Adonis seeks him out, asking for training and guidance. Despite his initial reluctance, Rocky agrees and takes on the role of a mentor. Throughout “Creed,” Rocky battles his own demons, including a bout with cancer, while helping Adonis discover his potential.


“Creed 2” continues this narrative, further developing the bond between Rocky and Adonis. The film brings back Ivan Drago, a key figure from “Rocky IV,” and introduces his son, Viktor Drago, as Adonis’s opponent. Rocky’s wisdom and experience play a crucial role in preparing Adonis for this challenging fight. The movie ends on a hopeful note, with Rocky reconciling with his estranged son and watching Adonis’s success from a distance.


Sylvester Stallone’s Announcement and Speculations

Stallone’s Exit from the Creed Series

Before the release of “Creed 3,” Sylvester Stallone announced that he would not be reprising his role as Rocky Balboa. This announcement fueled speculation about Rocky’s fate in the new film. Stallone expressed his gratitude for being part of the “Rocky” and “Creed” series but mentioned that it was time for the character to move on. His exit raised questions about how the filmmakers would handle Rocky’s absence.

Speculations About Rocky’s Fate

Fans and critics alike speculated on whether Rocky Balboa would be killed off in “Creed 3” or if his absence would be explained in a different way. Some believed that killing Rocky would provide a dramatic and emotional moment, serving as a pivotal point for Adonis’s character development. Others argued that it would be more fitting to have Rocky simply retire and live out his remaining days peacefully, honoring his enduring legacy.

Plot of Creed 3

New Challenges for Adonis

“Creed 3” focuses on Adonis Creed as he faces new challenges both inside and outside the ring. Michael B. Jordan, who also directed the film, aimed to explore deeper aspects of Adonis’s character and personal life. With Rocky no longer in the picture, Adonis must navigate his career and personal issues on his own, relying on the lessons he learned from Rocky.

Adonis’s Development and Rocky’s Influence

Throughout “Creed 3,” Rocky’s influence is still felt, even though he is not physically present. Adonis often reflects on the advice and training Rocky provided, using those memories to guide him through difficult moments. The film portrays Adonis’s growth as he steps out of Rocky’s shadow and establishes his own legacy.

How Rocky’s Absence is Addressed

Explanation Within the Film

“Creed 3” addresses Rocky’s absence by explaining that he has retired and moved away to spend time with his family. This approach allows the character to remain alive within the universe of the film, preserving the possibility of a future cameo or involvement. By choosing this path, the filmmakers avoid the potential backlash that might come with killing off such a beloved character.

Impact on the Storyline

Rocky’s absence in “Creed 3” significantly impacts the storyline, pushing Adonis to rely more on himself and his support system, which includes his wife Bianca and his trainer. This shift adds depth to Adonis’s character, showing his resilience and ability to grow without his mentor constantly by his side. The film emphasizes the importance of legacy and the way Rocky’s teachings continue to shape Adonis’s actions and decisions.


Fan Reactions and Critic Reviews

Initial Reactions to Rocky’s Absence

When “Creed 3” was released, fans had mixed reactions to Rocky’s absence. Some long-time fans of the “Rocky” series felt disappointed that they wouldn’t see Stallone reprising his iconic role. Others understood the necessity of allowing Adonis’s character to evolve independently. Overall, the decision to keep Rocky alive but retired was seen as a respectful way to handle his character’s exit.

Critical Reception

Critics praised “Creed 3” for its bold storytelling and Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut. The film was commended for exploring Adonis’s personal journey in a more profound way, highlighting his struggles and triumphs without relying on Rocky as a crutch. The absence of Rocky was noted, but many critics felt that it allowed the film to stand on its own merits and provided a fresh perspective on the “Creed” series.

The Legacy of Rocky Balboa

Rocky’s Impact on the Franchise

Rocky Balboa’s impact on the “Rocky” and “Creed” franchises cannot be overstated. From his humble beginnings as a small-time boxer to his rise as a world champion, Rocky’s story has inspired generations of viewers. His character embodies themes of perseverance, determination, and the underdog spirit, which resonate with audiences around the globe.

Honoring Rocky’s Legacy

“Creed 3” honors Rocky’s legacy by ensuring his presence is felt throughout the film, even in his absence. Adonis’s journey is a testament to the lessons and values Rocky instilled in him. The film also pays homage to Rocky through subtle references and moments that highlight his lasting influence on Adonis and the sport of boxing.

Future of the Creed Series

Potential Directions for the Series

With “Creed 3” establishing Adonis Creed as a strong, independent character, the future of the series looks promising. There are several potential directions the series could take, including exploring new opponents for Adonis, delving into his personal life, or even introducing new characters who could carry on the legacy of the Creed family.

Possibility of Rocky’s Return

Although Sylvester Stallone has announced his departure from the series, there is always the possibility of a return in some capacity. Whether through a cameo, a mentorship role from afar, or even flashbacks, Rocky Balboa’s character could still find ways to contribute to future films. Fans would undoubtedly welcome any opportunity to see Stallone reprise his iconic role, even if briefly.

Final Thoughts

Rocky’s Place in Cinema History

Rocky Balboa remains one of the most iconic characters in cinema history. His journey from an underdog fighter to a boxing legend has left an indelible mark on the film industry and popular culture. The “Rocky” and “Creed” series continue to inspire audiences with their powerful storytelling and memorable characters.


“Creed 3” marks a significant chapter in the ongoing saga of the Creed and Rocky legacy. While Rocky Balboa does not pass away in the film, his absence is poignantly addressed, allowing the story to focus on Adonis Creed’s growth and development. The decision to keep Rocky alive but retired respects the character’s legacy and provides a fitting transition for the series. As Adonis steps into his own, he carries forward the lessons and spirit of Rocky Balboa, ensuring that the legend of the Italian Stallion lives on in the hearts of fans and the annals of film history.

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