The origin of Rocky has been told time and time again, but it bears repeating:

In 1975, little-known actor Sylvester Stallone penned a script based around an underdog boxer given a chance to toe-to-toe with the champ. Studios turned the film down, due mainly to Stallone’s insistence he’d play Rocky Balboa. Eventually, United Artists agreed to make the picture, approving a small budget to get Rocky greenlit. The rest, as they say, is history. Rocky earned more than $225 million at the global box office, launching Stallone to stardom and spawning one of the most recognizable franchises in movie history.

In total, there have been eight films within the Rocky universe, including the two spin-off Creed movies. More also seem to be on the way, as a third Creed picture is already in the works. Thus far, the franchise has grossed more than $1.7 billion.

Still, the success of the Rocky films goes far beyond the bottom line. Fans of all ages still run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, thrusting their hands in the air to mimic the Italian Stallion’s famous pose. The Rocky theme song, “Gonna Fly Now," was a chart-topping hit, peaking at No. 1 in 1976. It remains one of the most recognizable tunes in cinematic history, a triumphant anthem that continues to echo throughout sporting arenas all over the world.

Much like the fictional fighter’s life, the Rocky films have experienced both highs and lows. In their best moments, they’ve delivered cinematic moments which have stood the test of time. At their worst, they’ve threatened to derail the entire franchise.

Here’s our ranking of all eight Rocky films.

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