In the TV anime Mobile Suit Gundam's spinoff model series, MSV, was one of the many pilots who fought for the Principality of Zeon during the devastating One Year War. His nickname was originally said to be the , but this was later retconned into the .
Even though he is assigned one of the first Gelgoogs, Ridden questions whether one new mobile suit is enough to change the fate of Zeon. He is one of the few aware that the Zeon forces are short on experienced pilots.
In October, Ridden was assigned to the elite Chimera Corps and upgraded to the MS-14S Gelgoog prototype. At the Battle of A Baoa Qu on December 31, 0079, Ridden was overwhelmed by the Earth Federation's onslaught. With time running out for the beleaguered base, he fought desperately to protect Kycilia's escape via a Zanzibar warship, unaware that she had already been assassinated by Aznable. Ridden was officially listed as missing in action following the battle, but was assumed dead and promoted posthumously. (In the last cutscene of the Ridden Ace mode in Encounters in Space, it shows a floating crimson Gelgoog head.) It has been recorded that in his final battle, he shot down a staggering one hundred eighty-five enemies in all. It was said that Johnny Ridden was so feared at the battle of A Baoa Qu that a full rank promotion was offered to anyone who was able to shoot the ace down.
Ridden was thought to have survived A Baoa Qu, in Gundam Evolve 9, one of the three MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam units that appeared (Red Zeta) was designed to be piloted by Johnny Ridden, but since Johnny is missing, it was instead piloted by Yurii Ajissah. Another of those Zeta units was hinted at being piloted by Shin Matsunaga under the code-name Grey Wolf.
Ridden's nickname was originally said to be the Red Blitz, from an RB that was found on the model kit of his customised Gelgoog by Bandai. In recent games and material, he is clearly stated as being the Crimson Lightning. It is possible this change was because Red Blitz was too close to Red Comet, the nickname of Char Aznable. Crimson, on the other hand, is often mistaken for red and could be seen as a metaphor for Ridden's own misfortune in being misidentified as Aznable.
Ridden's Gelgoog is known to not carry a shield so that its maneverability is slightly better then the of normal Gelgoog.
Despite his success as a pilot, Ridden is often overshadowed by the more famous Aznable, and sometimes it is jokingly said that his Zaku is more famous than he is. In fact, in the Playstation 2 version of the strategy game Gihren's Greed, he has the following conversation with fellow ace Shin Matsunaga.
Ridden: "Hey, I've heard of you. The White Wolf, right? Nice to meet you."
Matsunaga: "Oh, this is a pleasure. I didn't expect to meet with the famous Red Comet."
Ridden: "! I'm not the Red Comet; I'm the Crimson Lightning!"
Matsunaga: "Oh, I'm terribly sorry. Then, I'm counting on your support, Crimson Lightning Char Aznable."
Ridden: "... Forget it..."
Matsunaga: "Hm? What's wrong, Char?"
Furthermore, Char Aznable himself has heard of him, but is confused as to his nickname, referring to him as the Crimson Nightmare or the Red Nova. Needless to say, Ridden is less than amused.