Director John Avildsen wanted to kill off Rocky at the end of 'Rocky V'

Rocky VI has been scientifically proven as the worst Rocky film, thanks largely to its lengthy dialogue scenes and minimal action. Now, though, we find out it wasn’t even supposed to exist in the first place, given that Rocky was supposed to die at the end of Rocky V. 

Director John Avildsen stopped by 94WIP this morning to talk about the movies, letting it slip that the original plan for Rocky Balboa was to have him die peacefully in Adrian’s lap following the vicious beating he suffers at the hands of Tommy Gunn. That was the plan until about two weeks into shooting, when Avildsen says a studio head told him that “these people don’t die.”

As Avildsen told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi:

“First of all, in five, Rocky was supposed to die. At the end of the movie he is on the way to hospital, his head is in Adrian’s lap and he dies because he’s taken this great beaten from Tommy Gunn


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“And the last scene of the movie, Adrian comes out of the hospital and there’s the world press assembled because Rocky then is a big deal and she announces that he is dead, but as long as people believe in themselves Rocky spirit will live forever. And when I read that I said, wow what a great way to go out. What a beautiful ending! So we started shooting the movie and a couple of weeks into the shooting I get a call from the head of the studio and they said, ‘Oh by the way Rocky’s not going to die. Batman doesn’t die, Superman, James Bond, these people don’t die.’ 

“So Rocky didn’t die, but the movie died because that was the point of the movie.”

Ultimately, Rocky V nabbed $119 million in the box office—not chump change, but still the lowest grossing installment of the series. The original, by comparison, earned $225 million and an Academy Award. Rocky VI pretty much just got a pat on the back for coming out.

Still, though, there’s plenty of good memories from the other films. But, then, Rocky was always one to go out on his back.