The series follows the adventures of antihero character Riddick (either portrayed or voiced by Vin Diesel) in the 28th century. The Chronicles of Riddick fictional universe was initially created with the release of Pitch Black, which was written by director Twohy, Ken Wheat, and his brother Jim Wheat. Since then Twohy has written and directed the two live action sequels and was involved in the development of the storyline of a number of the franchise's offshoots.
The first installment of the franchise, Pitch Black, was a lower budget production compared to the later ones. The story involved Riddick being transported to prison on the Hunter Gratzner, a commercial cargo ship. When the spaceship is damaged in the wake of a comet and makes an emergency crash landing on an isolated desert planet, Riddick escapes. However, when flying creatures begin attacking all the survivors, Riddick joins forces with the others to escape the planet. After the release of the sequel titled The Chronicles of Riddick, in the hopes of building a franchise, this film has often been referred to as The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black in subsequent home video re-releases. It received mixed reviews but today is considered a cult classic.
The second feature film in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick was a considerably more expensive production and was more action oriented than its predecessor. It takes place five years after Pitch Black and involved Riddick's meeting with Jack and Imam, survivors from the first film, his escape from the prison planet Crematoria, and his battle with the Necromonger fleet, which ended with the defeat of the Lord Marshal and Riddick taking his place. Critically it wasn't received as well as the first film in the franchise, but the release of a director's cut DVD received strong sales and a cult following.
Encouraged by high DVD sales and Vin Diesel's newly restored box office success, David Twohy wrote a script for a third film in the Riddick series. The film was produced by Media Rights Capital and distributed by Universal, and was released on September 6, 2013. Karl Urban returned to reprise his role as Vaako from The Chronicles of Riddick. Katee Sackhoff and Matt Nable also joined the cast of the film. Reviews were mixed, but it was considered a moderate success at the box-office and an improvement over the previous film.
In January 2014, Diesel announced on his Facebook page that Universal wishes to develop a fourth Riddick film, again prompted by robust DVD sales of the most recent film in the series. They were looking into Media Rights Capital or Legendary Pictures to co-finance it. Diesel announced on his Facebook page that the fourth film is titled Furia and will have an R rating.
In April 2016, Vin Diesel confirmed that he and writer-director David Twohy were developing a fourth Riddick movie titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Furia. In May 2016, he explained that production on The Chronicles of Riddick: Furia may begin in early 2017. In a video, Vin Diesel asked: "Are you guys excited to hear about Furia? Do you want to know where it all began with that dark character Riddick?". David Twohy confirmed that the new film would be rated R.
Diesel announced on his Instagram account that both he and Twohy developed a TV series titled Merc City that will follow the Mercs and Bounty Hunters of the Riddick Universe. The posts did not elaborate on how, if at all, Merc City would be connected to the upcoming film.Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), more commonly known as Riddick, is the protagonist of the series. He is shown to be a highly skilled predator, extremely mobile and stealthy, has a vast knowledge of how to kill almost any humanoid in a variety of ways, is an extreme survivalist, and is notoriously hard to contain. He is also self-admittedly a dangerous convict and murderer, yet despite this, he is sometimes shown to perform moral or even atypically heroic actions, usually against his own better judgment and survivalist nature. Riddick is a Furyan, a member of a warrior race obliterated by a military campaign that left Furya desolate, and is one of the last of his kind. One of his most defining features are his eyes, a characteristic inherent in a certain caste of his species (The Alpha-Furyans), although he implies in Pitch Black that they were "shined" by a back-alley surgical operation. This allows him to see in the dark with no difficulty at all, but also renders his eyes incredibly sensitive to concentrated light, therefore he wears tinted welding goggles for protection. Riddick was once a mercenary, then part of a security force, and later on a soldier. He is also an experienced pilot.
William J. Johns (Cole Hauser) is a war veteran and mercenary who was trusted to track down Riddick after he escaped from Slam City and the primary human antagonist of Pitch Black. He captured Riddick and brought him to Butcher Bay, but upon discovering that he could not get as much of a reward as he wanted, helped Riddick escape. The Johns Chase Log on the Pitch Black special features tells of the events afterward: Riddick stabs Johns and leaves him for dead. Johns becomes a morphine addict after having it prescribed to him because of the wound, and then chases Riddick down while also avoiding other mercenaries on Riddick's trail. He eventually catches Riddick on the planet Aquila Major (featured in the opening scene of Chronicles of Riddick) by killing two children and threatening to kill two more unless Riddick surrenders. He gets a seat on the transport vessel Hunter Gratzner, which crashes onto Hades in Pitch Black.
Abu "Imam" al-Walid (Keith David) is an Imam who was looking for New Mecca when the Hunter-Gratzner crashed in Pitch Black. He was traveling with three young boys and despite everything he went through, including the deaths of the boys, he never lost his faith and believed there was goodness in Riddick. Imam was one of the three survivors of the first movie along with Jack and Riddick.
Jack B. Badd/Kyra (Rhiana Griffith and Alexa Davalos) is a character from the first three Riddick movies (See above). In Pitch Black she went by the name Jack after the crash of the Hunter-Gratzner and pretended to be a boy so that everyone would take her seriously. Jack befriended Riddick and was enamoured by him. In Chronicles of Riddick, it is revealed that Riddick left her with Imam behind on Helion Prime. Wanting to find Riddick, she joined a mercenary crew, got caught and got sent to one of the worst prisons in existence: Crematoria. According to what she told Riddick later, she did what he said in an attempt to get the eye-shine like him: she killed a few people, got sent to a prison where it's said you can never escape from but couldn't find a doctor that could do an eye-shine.
Siberius Vaako (Karl Urban) is a Necromonger Commander from The Chronicles of Riddick, serving as Zhylaw's right-hand man. Though sent to kill Riddick, confused of his leader's sudden fear, Vaako uses it as an excuse to get close enough to assassinate Zhylaw to become Lord Marshal. However, once the chance to kill Zhylaw presents itself, Riddick beats Vaako to the punch and becomes Lord Marshal. But when Riddick eventually renounces the title and gives it to him in exchange to for an escort to take him to Furya, unbeknownst to Vaako, instead of Furya, his lieutenant takes Riddick to the planet where Riddick takes place and tries to assassinate him as the lieutenant disagrees with what he perceives to be a weakness on the part of Vaako.
Alexander Toombs (Nick Chinlund) is the mercenary from Chronicles of Riddick and Dark Fury. Toombs is shown to be highly arrogant and incompetent, failing to capture Riddick and having his ship stolen from him, and once again being humiliated during Riddick's escape from Crematoria. Toombs was last seen locked inside the Crematoria kennels surrounded by vicious guard dog-creatures. His current status is unknown, but it can be assumed that he was never rescued and is most likely dead.
Zhylaw or Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) is the main antagonist of Chronicles of Riddick. Before Riddick's birth, Zhylaw consulted an Elemental seer, who told him that a Furyan male would be born that would kill him in the future. In retaliation, Zhylaw attacked Furya in an attempt to massacre all male children, going so far as to personally strangle newborn infants with their own umbilical cords. He strangled Riddick with his umbilical cord and believed him dead but Riddick actually survived. At some point, he traveled to the Underverse and afterwards returned not completely human. He is referred to by the Necromongers as the "Holy Half-Dead" and possesses powers such as incredible strength, the ability to pull souls from bodies and to separate his soul partially from his body and then pull his body where his soul is, resulting in a kind of super-speed that makes him hard to hit.
Shirah (Kristin Lehman) is a Furyan seen in the Director's Cut of The Chronicles of Riddick. and the video game The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
Purifier (Linus Roache) was a member of the Necromonger fleet. It is revealed that he, too, was Furyan like Riddick, before being converted. When Riddick falls unconscious after fighting the Necromonger soldiers chasing him, the Purifier pulls him into the safety of the hangar and tells Riddick, "We all began as something else". Regretting what he has done under a faith he did not believe in, the Purifier tells Riddick that the Furyan in him hopes that Riddick goes after the Lord Marshal, before committing suicide by walking into the sunlight of Crematoria.
Pope Joe is a hermit, and former Bovine Veterinarian, that lives in the sewers of Butcher Bay. After Riddick retrieved his radio from the sewers, he heals Riddick, and is credited with giving him his "eyeshine" that he uses throughout the franchise to see in the dark, but is not believed to be the actual source.
Slam City is a short flash film prequel to Pitch Black by animator Brian Murray with David Twohy which had been available for download at the Pitch Black website. Slam City is in the form of an official, confidential prison record detailing Riddick's arrival and escape from the Ursa Luna Slam City facility, in eleven hours and twenty-two minutes. Notably, it shows Riddick undergoing the surgery that gives him "eyeshine" — the ability to see in the dark — and paying for this with a pack of Kool cigarettes, as mentioned in Pitch Black. William J. Johns is seen at the end of the film and is charged with capturing Riddick.
Into Pitch Black is a Sci-Fi channel special which aired before Pitch Black, and was about lawmen investigating Riddick's past as well as an investigation into the crash of The Hunter Gratzner. It shows several inconsistencies with the official storyline of the other films and video games. There are five different sequences, that of the investigator, a psychiatrist evaluating Riddick, the alleged doctor who gave Riddick his trademark eyeshine, the team that investigated the disappearance of the Hunter-Gratzner, as well as various clips of the actual movie Pitch Black.
Dark Fury, a made-for-DVD animated film, acts as a bridge between the live-action films of Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. It takes place shortly after Pitch Black and involves Riddick and the other two survivors of Pitch Black, Jack and Imam, and their run-in with a mercenary ship, as well as its captain who wishes to keep Riddick frozen as part of her collection of warriors from around the universe. It received mixed reviews.
Riddick: Blindsided is a motion comic based on storyboarded scenes of the third film that didn't make the theatrical cut. It takes place shortly before the events of Riddick and bridges that film with the previous one. The director's cut of Riddick reinserts most of the material covered in Blindsided back into the film. It was released online a month before the release of the third film to generate buzz and it is also included with the movie's home video release.
Escape from Butcher Bay is a video game based on the Riddick series, released for the Xbox and Windows PC. It acts as a prequel to Pitch Black, and involves Riddick's escape from the eponymous prison, Butcher Bay. The game was very well received and it is often listed among "the greatest Xbox games of all time".
Assault on Dark Athena is a video game for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, and Mac OS X computers. It includes an enhanced remake of Escape from Butcher Bay, and covers events between the previous game and Pitch Black. Reviews were mostly positive.
Riddick: The Merc Files is a touch-based stealth action game for Android and iOS devices. It was developed by Gaming Corps, a game developer founded by some of the original developers of the previous Riddick games.
Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick have received novelizations of their scripts, by Frank Lauria and Alan Dean Foster respectively. These expand on elements of the films, most notably Pitch Black providing character backstory for Riddick and The Chronicles of Riddick describing the Necromongers and their religion in greater detail.