Why Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Isn’t In Creed 3

Creed 3 didn’t feature Rocky Balboa, which has had viewers asking why isn’t Sylvester Stallone in Creed 3. The film continues the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s friend who was killed by Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Stallone’s famous boxer played a pivotal role in the spinoff franchise, acting as Adonis’ coach through Creed and Creed 2. The character, however, didn’t return for the series’ third installment. His absence was accentuated by the first trailer for Creed 3, which, aside from featuring a brief mention of Rocky, focused solely on Adonis, his family, and his backstory.


Creed 3 has a time jump of seven years when Adonis Creed at the highest and most successful point of his career. The boxer couldn’t have a better home life either, that’s until his childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian Anderson, returns to the fold after his jail sentence finally comes to an end. The final fight between Damian and Creed has the highest stakes of any Creed movie yet. Yet again, Creed unsurprisingly reigns supreme, though the childhood friends do end up reconciling. However, regardless of what happened in Creed 3, this time, Sylvester Stallone was nowhere to be seen and Creed didn’t have the support of his mentor.

RELATED: Why Rocky Isn’t Rich In The Creed Movies (Despite His Millions In The 1980s)

Why Sylvester Stallone Isn’t In Creed 3

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky on the street in Creed 2

This marks the first time Stallone isn’t featured in a Rocky-universe film since the franchise’s start in 1976. Stallone explained his absence in Creed 3 during an interview with Metro UK, explaining “[I] bowed out of [‘Creed 3’]. I just didn’t know if there was any part for me. But I hear it’s really interesting. It takes it in a different direction. I wish them well and keep punching.” The actor’s decision not to return makes sense from a storytelling standpoint, as Creed clearly shifts its focus solely to its titular character. It’s also understandable considering what happened to Rocky Balboa at the ending of Creed 2.

What Happens To Rocky In Creed 2

Split image of Rocky and Creed in Creed with gloves on in Creed 2

Though they only featured him in a supporting role, the first two Creed films offered an extensive character arc for Rocky. The first film saw him struggling with the idea of taking on Adonis as his protégé while also dealing with cancer. Throughout the film, though, Adonis gave the seasoned boxer a new perspective on life. By Creed 2, Rocky had recovered from his illness, but he was forced to relieve the traumatic loss of his friend, Apollo Creed, when Ivan Drago came back into his and Adonis’ life alongside his son, Viktor. Creed 2 presented a heavy emotional challenge for Rocky, as he dealt with the possibility of losing Adonis the same way Apollo Creed died in Rocky 4.

Rocky agreed to train Michael B. Jordan’s character once again to fight Drago’s son. Adonis beat Viktor in their final fight, after which Rocky approached him. Extending his hand to knock fists with Adonis, Rocky told him, “It’s your time.” It was a touching moment that served as a passing of the baton for Rocky. The scene signaled that his time as a protagonist had come to an end, and that it was time for Adonis Creed to take the spotlight. It was also a sign that Rocky was at peace, knowing that Adonis was experienced and fit enough to continue on his own.

Can Sylvester Stallone Still Appear In Creed 4?

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa screams at Creed in the gym In Creed

Creed 3 confirmed that Rocky is still alive and is spending time with his son in Vancouver. While there’s a clear explanation of why isn’t Sylvester Stallone in Creed 3, that doesn’t mean his appearance in Creed 4 isn’t out of the question. Unfortunately, according to Stallone, it is, as Stallone isn’t interested in Creed 4. However, while the Creed series is undoubtedly part of the Rocky universe, its universal themes of overcoming adversity and searching for identity allow it to exist in its own storytelling bubble. Though the absence of Rocky is a significant status quo shift, Creed 4 can thrive without having the character as a central figure.

However, Sylvester Stallone is interested in returning to the universe, even though it might not be Creed 4. Stallone wants Rocky 7 to happen, and the actor has even developed his own story for Rocky 7, which could potentially be more exciting than another Creed movie. In fact, Rocky 7 could even lead into the events of Creed 4, as the legacy sequel could see Rocky training his son, and what boxing match would have higher stakes in Creed 4 than Rocky’s son vs. Creed? Either way, regardless of where and when he shows up, it doesn’t seem like Sylvester Stallone is done with the Rocky universe.

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