Several other movies and other media have portrayed fictional high-numbered sequels of the Rocky franchise:

Given that there already were plenty of other movie franchises with numbered sequels, why has Rocky been singled out for parody of its large number of sequels? I am looking for evidence from parody producers, writers, or directors; not your own speculation unless reasonably backed.

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    @Tetsujin And I remember "Rocky V plus Rocky II makes Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge!". ;-) (But yes, I remember the Death Wish parody, too.)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 15:42
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    The Rocky "sequelitis" was parodied because it was an easy and (importantly) well-known target. And sure, other movies had sequels, but usually they told new stories, whereas Rocky's isn't exactly that original to begin with, and then it gets repeated over and over again in movies that are written and directed by its lead actor. Plus Stallone was a massive star.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 16:24
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    IMHO you're not gonna find any interviews or other "evidence" explaining these minor throwaway jokes. They were making fun of a popular phenomenon, that's all.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 16:27
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    Note that all those references are from the 80s, when pretty much the only franchise with more than three films in it was James Bond. Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 21:25
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    Weird Al referencing a Rocky sequel in a song made famous by the Rocky franchise isn't that strange. I would argue that it would be weird (pun intended) if it referenced another franchise. Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


Numerous reasons, but mainly because of the Rocky franchise's popularity in the time frame you are looking at.

Rocky was hardly the first franchise with lots of sequels when it began releasing them in the 1980s, but it was perhaps the most popular. Unlike other franchises which experienced fast diminishing returns, Rocky took a slight dip with its first sequel, but then its third and fourth films each did better at the box office than the original. This popularity increased its cultural relevance and made it a preferred target for parodies.

Other franchises with lots of sequels--more than Rocky--went under the radar. For example, the Friday the 13th series was up to eight sequels (compared to Rocky's four) by the time Back to the Future II came out, but slasher horror movies are not generally a reference that will be enjoyed by the broad family audience targeted by the Back to the Future franchise. In addition, Friday the 13th was not ever the force at the box office that Rocky was, and it wasn't until 2003 that a Friday the 13th movie made as much at the box office as the first one did (and they had to combine it with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise to achieve that). More people will recognize Rocky and its many sequels than would recognize Friday the 13th--it's simply more universal. The same could be said for the Police Academy franchise, which was up to six sequels by 1989, but the box office for everything after 2 was incredibly low.

In addition to going after the franchise that was most broadly recognized, the parody writers may also have chosen to go after Rocky because it was so iconic in the culture. It's easy and not very sporting to kick around the Police Academy movies. Taking on Rocky gives a parody more gravitas.

The James Bond series was up to 12 movies by the time Rocky's first sequel was released, but people tend not to look at those films as sequels of each other. The movies are pretty independent of one another, each one a stand-alone story featuring the same characters, but not in any kind of arc.

The other thing to consider is the dates of your parody sampling. Very popular franchises that are just as relevant and lucrative and popular as Rocky--Fast and the Furious, Avengers, etc--all came out long after the 1980s, where you selected your parodies. I suspect someone looking to make a similar joke now might make it a Fast and Furious joke.

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    Worth mentioning is that Back to the Future II actually used another "horror" movie franschise even more prominently. Jaws 19 has a huge holographic shark coming down to bite Marty. I couldn't find the Rocky poster mentioned though, so I'm not sure what the number of that movie was or if OP is mixing it up with the spoof in the teaser trailer for Jaws 15 from the commemorative edition from 2015 where Jaws battled a Russian shark named Ivan Sharkovsky (spoof of Rocky IV (1985). Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 8:09
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    Good point, I assumed I'd just missed the poster. Jaws is another 70s-80s franchise with a lot of sequels and it was as big or bigger than Rocky (at least the original was). And while it is a horror movie, it's still more accessible to a family audience than a slasher horror movie, with all the sex and alcohol implied by the subgenre.
    – ruffdove
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 19:37

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