Riddick was born on Furya. Before Riddick's birth, a Necromonger officer named Zhylaw consulted an Elemental seer, who told him that a male Furyan (only a child at the time of prediction) 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 umbilical cords. He strangled Riddick with his umbilical cord and believed him dead, but Riddick actually survived, and would always remember the attack on his homeworld.
In later life, Riddick repressed all of his memories of Furya, including the massacre, and came to believe that when he was born, his mother attempted to kill him by strangling him with his umbilical cord and dumping him in a trash bin. Despite this, he periodically received visions and messages from a Furyan survivor named Shirah, which he believed to be signs of mental instability.
According to Riddick, while in Butcher Bay he received eye surgery, or a "surgical shine job", as he calls it, from a doctor that gave him superlative night vision in exchange for "20 menthol KOOLs". This surgery made his eyes more sensitive to light, requiring him to wear welding goggles to protect them from bright light. In The Chronicles of Riddick, it is implied that the story may have been made up as Kyra says, after recounting the many prisons she's been to, "...only there wasn't any doctor here who could shine my eyes, not even for twenty menthol Kools. Was there anything you said that was true?".
Riddick gets the eyeshine to avoid disadvantage following an encounter with humanoids called "shiners" (who refer to Riddick as darkeye) who already have the same operation to see in the dark bowels of the Ursa Luna prison where the guards do not tend to go. The eyeshine surgical procedure seems to be performed by a bovine veterinarian on board a prison facility at which Riddick arrived only a few hours before and from which he is already in the process of escaping. Riddick elects to have no anesthetic despite the procedure involving cutting the cornea and drilling through the eye to inject a reflective substance behind the retina. The cost quoted to Riddick is 1000 creds. Having no cash, Riddick offers down payment of a pack of Kool cigarettes which he earlier took from a guard. He also takes welders goggles from the facility.
Riddick's eyeshine is more than just something he picked up in a prison. After helping a character called "Pope Joe" retrieve his "blessed voice box", a radio that picks up religious programming, Riddick goes into a den to get stitches for an injury. After he is finished receiving stitches, Joe tells him how to escape, and, perhaps coincidentally, warns Riddick not to "trust his eyes"; at that moment, a ghostly voice informs Riddick that he has "been blind for far too long..." and that he is to receive a gift. It is at this moment that Riddick receives his eyeshine.
The mysterious voice belongs to a character named "Shirah", who serves as a sort-of "spiritual" guide to Riddick, helping him awaken the Furyan abilities that lie dormant within him. Shirah also allows Riddick to unleash a sort of energy wave. It is shown in the director's cut of The Chronicles of Riddick after she lays her hand on Riddick's chest, leaving a glowing blue hand print, and says, "this mark carries the anger of an entire race... but it's going to hurt". After either receiving a shot from Vaako's energy handgun or a fraction of a second before the discharge of said weapon, she immediately emits a large blast of blue energy from Riddick, leaving the group of surrounding Necromongers knocked down. These abilities are also displayed off screen in Escape from Butcher Bay.
Aside from his more supernatural skills, Riddick is in excellent physical condition and is an exceptional fighter with or without the use of his eyes. Whether as a result of his Furyan heritage or simple training, Riddick is stronger, faster, more agile, tougher, more resistant to damage and injury, possessing more acute senses, immense stamina, and superior healing when compared to most humans; he is shown on more than one occasion dislocating his limbs for brief moments with only slight signs of discomfort. In general, Riddick possesses an abnormally high pain threshold and psychologically channels what pain he does feel into anger and confidence.
Riddick's abilities at hand-to-hand combat are particularly formidable, confronting one of the night-creatures of Pitch Black with only his bare hands and a shiv he had made, breaking its neck, as well as defeating one of the Lord Marshall's best Necromonger warriors in a matter of seconds in Chronicles. Also, he was able to hold off the Lord Marshall and even injure him which the Lord Marshall admitted hadn't happened in a long time. While Riddick was no match for him in speed, he was able to hold off the Lord Marshall for several minutes.
Despite his harsh upbringing and violent attitude, Riddick has been shown to have a certain knack for deduction, rapidly deducing what had happened to the original inhabitants of the mining base where he and the other crash survivors had been staying, as well as finding the creature's blind spot in Pitch Black and swiftly deducing what had caused the firefight between the wardens and Toombs' men in Chronicles. He has also been described as having "a knack for escape", surviving not only the Lord Marshall's purge of the Furyans when he was an infant but subsequently escaping from various prisons over the course of his life. He is also able to quickly judge the quality of, and find even seemingly minor flaws in most weaponry, down to very specific details. In one case, Riddick concluded that the prized dagger of a Necromonger was "a half gram too heavy on the back end" after an inspection lasting all of a couple of seconds. His only weakness (other than light sensitivity, leaving him in pain when in daylight without his goggles), as stated in the Pitch Black DVD, is his soft spot for children and anyone who really grows on him (those people become his friends), which resulted in his capture by the bounty hunter Johns (Cole Hauser). While he may be a ruthless killer when necessary, Riddick has been known to help people in need only if they don't slow him down or make him vulnerable. The only exception to this was when, in Pitch Black, he returned with Carolyn to help the others, after she pleaded with him. He also mentions on board the Dark Athena that people he helps often end up dead.
In addition to raw analytical power, Riddick is generally an astute judge of character, especially in the dark side of human nature. A killer himself and resident of almost one hundred maximum security facilities, he is often able to predict an individual's negative impulses before they act on them. He has been known to be surprised on occasion, such as when Carolyn Fry in Pitch Black altruistically gave up a fast escape to save Jack (Kyra) and Imam from the alien creatures. Riddick was also surprised when he underestimated Jack's (Kyra's) affection toward him between Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, only learning of it after she had become a mercenary and resident of a maximum security slam in order to see him once again. Otherwise, he correctly predicted which of the group in Pitch Black would turn on each other (in particular that Johns would try to double-cross Fry), and that the mercs and guards on Crematoria would turn on each other prior to his escape attempt.
One major characteristic of Riddick is his indomitable will. Despite finding himself in situations where the odds of survival and/or escape would seem insurmountable, Riddick always pushes forward and never gives up. Faced with several creatures far more powerful than himself, or any other human for that matter, he has shown himself to be capable of evading, killing, or even taming them. He has escaped out of prisons when most prisoners would resign themselves to captivity. When Riddick was mentally probed by the Quasi-Dead of the Necromongers, he not only resisted them, but also retaliated, the Quasi-Dead's containers actually exploding from the strain of trying to process Riddick. Given the Necromongers' apparent faith in and respect for the power of the Quasi-Dead, this is a very impressive feat. Perhaps even greater was his ability to resist the Lord Marshall's attempt to steal his soul. The one time his will seemed to break was when Kyra was killed, sacrificing herself to save him.
Riddick is well trained with any kind of weapon that he can get his hands on, but his weapon of choice is undoubtedly a knife. Silent, quick, and deadly, in Riddick's hands the knife is a weapon that is a swift ender of lives. However, Riddick's most famous weapons are the Ulaks that he is seen using during his escape from Crematoria and the knives that the player receives in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
This is not to say that Riddick can't or won't use anything else. On the contrary he has been known to use anything from pistols, rifles, necromonger gravity cannons, teacups, and anything in between. But it should be noted that Riddick is an efficient killer even if he doesn't have a weapon.
All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I **** like you wanna ****, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.