Gonna Fly Now: The Rocky Family Tree

By Andrew Koch Premium

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Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed have a long history. They're friends in addition to rivals, and Rocky has helped mentor Apollo's son.
1976: American actor Sylvester Stallone, as Rocky Balboa, punches American actor Carl Weathers, as Apollo Creed, during a boxing match in a still from the film, ‘Rocky,’ directed by John G Avildson. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Audiences will soon flock to see Creed II, the eighth installment in the Rocky franchise. Over the years, the films’ cast of characters has expanded to include “the Italian Stallion” and a handful of his friends and relatives. Let’s take a look at the Rocky family tree behind all the training montages and emotional speeches.

The "Rocky family tree" includes the Creed and Drago family trees as well.
This Rocky family tree shows how the next generation of boxers (Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago) will take to the ring in the franchise’s future films.

Yo, Adrian!

The original Rocky film centers around Rocky Balboa’s conflict between his boxing career and his blossoming relationship with Adrian Pennino. Throughout the series, Adrian worries about Rocky’s safety, but also supports his decision to fight. The two marry, and their son, Rocky Jr., is born prematurely in Rocky II. Junior and Adrian appear in several subsequent films, but Adrian passes away between Rocky V and Rocky Balboa.

Adrian’s brother, Paulie, is also an important character to the Rocky franchise. Despite his quick temper and alcoholism, he remains a loyal friend to his brother-in-law, Rocky. Like Adrian, he dies offscreen, between the events Rocky Balboa and Creed.


Apollo’s creed

The films also explore the family of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s opponent in the first two films and rival-turned-friend in Rocky III. Apollo dies in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, leaving behind a widow, Mary Anne.

Creed, set thirty years after Apollo’s death in the ring, follows Apollo’s illegitimate son, Adonis. Ashamed of his parentage, the troubled Adonis uses the name “Donnie Johnson” in his fledgling boxing career. With help from Rocky, Adonis embraces his heritage and defeats the reigning light heavyweight champion in a fight that echoes the original film’s match between Rocky and Apollo.

Apollo Creed’s manager and trainer, Tony “Duke” Evers, also makes several appearances throughout the series. He becomes Rocky’s friend and mentor, and his son, Tony Jr. (or “Little Duke”), helps Adonis train in Creed.


Reigniting old rivalries

In the newest film, Creed II, Adonis Creed squares off against Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago. This sets the stage for another battle of generations: Adonis wants to avenge his father’s death, while Viktor fights to avenge Ivan’s high-profile loss to Rocky.

Want to learn more about famous families from film? Check out the Skywalker and Harry Potter family trees, or see how another set of blockbusters (the Avengers) “relate” to each other.