Merely a setback is a catchphrase originated by Kael'thas Sunstrider in Magisters' Terrace. It has become a common utterance and a sort of running gag whenever there is the perception that a boss who was previously defeated is merely being recycled, and has appeared multiple times in World of Warcraft as a result.
List of NPCs using the quote
- Kael'thas Sunstrider in Magisters' Terrace yells Don't look so smug! I know what you're thinking, but Tempest Keep was merely a set back[sic].
- Prince Valanar in Icecrown Citadel yells Naxxanar was merely a setback!
- Sylvanas Windrunner in says You can assure Garrosh that this is a minor setback. Our victory in Gilneas will be absolute.
- Hogger in the Stockades yells Forest just setback!
- Crusader Lord Valdelmar in Tyr's Hand yells The Scarlet Crusade is not over! Undeath is merely a setback!
- Before shattering Thrall into the four elemental essences, Fandral Staghelm says Not so fast, Son of Durotan. You and your allies have certainly set us back. But the Hour of Twilight CANNOT be averted!
- Analynn in Ashenvale when defeated says You do not understand. I have not been defeated, merely set back.
- The announcer of the Brawler's Guild introduces Millhouse Manastorm by saying We have a special guest today: the always-endearing, ever-resilient, Millhouse Manastorm! Stonecore was merely a setback!
- Upon freeing Izal Whitemoon during , she says A slight setback. I assure you it will not happen again.
- Raimond Mildenhall at the Mildenhall Meadery during says Ha ha! Don't worry my dear Ancel, it's merely a setback! We'll be back up and running in no time.
- Taelia upon completion of the world quest says This could have been a huge loss for the Proudmoore Guard. Thanks to you, it was merely a setback.
- Commander Mallamort, one of the potential quest bosses of the in on Perdition Hold says A minor... setback.
List of setbacks
The Burning Crusade
This section concerns content related to The Burning Crusade.
- Dar'Khan Drathir three times. Once in the Sunwell Trilogy, once again in Blood of the Highborne, and once more in Deatholme.
Wrath of the Lich King
- Archmage Arugal in Shadowfang Keep and Bloodmoon Isle
- Baron Rivendare in Stratholme and Naxxramas
- Kel'Thuzad in the original and new Naxxramas
- Anub'arak in Azjol-Nerub and Trial of the Crusader
- Prince Keleseth in Utgarde Keep and Icecrown Citadel
- Prince Valanar in Naxxanar and Icecrown Citadel
- Prince Taldaram in Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom and Icecrown Citadel
- Rimefang in the Pit of Saron and Icecrown Citadel
- Sicco Thermaplugg in Gnomeregan and during Operation: Gnomeregan
- Princess Theradras in Maraudon and during the Elemental Unrest
- Hogger in Elwynn Forest and Stormwind Stockade
- Lord Godfrey (as well as fellow nobles Ashbury and Walden) in Gilneas and in Shadowfang Keep
- Crusader Lord Valdelmar in Tyr's Hand
- Ranger Lord Renthar Hawkspear in Eastern Plaguelands
- Malor the Zealous in the original and new Stratholme as Commander Malor
- Crimson Hammersmith in the original and new Stratholme as the Risen Hammersmith
- Cannon Master Willey in the original and new Stratholme as Willey Hopebreaker
- Archivist Galford in the original and new Stratholme as Instructor Galford
- Balnazzar in the original and new Stratholme
- Baron Geddon in Molten Core and the Circle of Cinders
- Garr in Molten Core and near Sulfuron Spire
- Ragnaros in Molten Core, the Inner Spire and the Firelands
- Nefarian in Blackwing Lair and Blackwing Descent where he yells Oh, I do hope this 'raid' will amuse me more than the last!
- Onyxia in her original, her new lair and Blackwing Descent
- Valiona in Grim Batol and Bastion of Twilight
- Sintharia in Night of the Dragon and the Bastion of Twilight
- High Priest Venoxis in the original and new Zul'Gurub
- Bloodlord Mandokir in the original and new Zul'Gurub
- Zanzil the Outcast in Stranglethorn Vale and Zul'Gurub
- Jin'do in the original and new Zul'Gurub
- Akil'zon in the original and new Zul'Aman
- Nalorakk in the original and new Zul'Aman
- Jan'alai in the original and new Zul'Aman
- Halazzi in the original and new Zul'Aman
- Hex Lord Malacrass in the original and new Zul'Aman
Mists of Pandaria
- Bloodmage Thalnos in the original and new Scarlet Monastery
- High Inquisitor Sally Whitemane in the original and new Scarlet Monastery
- Jandice Barov in the original and new Scholomance
- Rattlegore in the original and new Scholomance
- Darkmaster Gandling in the original and new Scholomance
- James Vishas in the original Scarlet Monastery and the Brawler's Guild
- Millhouse Manastorm in the Stonecore and the Brawler's Guild
- Gara'jal the Spiritbinder in the Mogu'shan Vaults and the Throne of Thunder
- High Priestess Mar'li in the original Zul'Gurub and the Throne of Thunder
Warlords of Draenor
- Garrosh Hellscream in the Siege of Orgrimmar and at the Stones of Prophecy
- Teron'gor in Auchindoun and in Hellfire Citadel as Gorefiend
- Shadow-Sage Iskar in Spires of Arak and in Hellfire Citadel as Shadow-Lord Iskar
- Socrethar in Talador and in Hellfire Citadel as Socrethar the Eternal
- Patch 6.2 PTR, Mannoroth's Hellfire Citadel placeholder Adventure Guide entry read: "[PH] Don't look so smug - I know what you're thinking, but the cinematic was merely a setback." During the
- Archimonde in Hyjal Summit and in Hellfire Citadel
- Gul'dan in Hellfire Citadel and the Nighthold
- Illidan Stormrage in the Black Temple and the Nighthold
- Xavius five times: he was killed as a night elf in The Well of Eternity, returned as a satyr but got transformed into a tree in the The Demon Soul, killed again in Stormrage, returned in Legion and defeated as a shade in Darkheart Thicket, and finally killed once more in the Emerald Nightmare.
- Cordana Felsong in Talador and the Vault of the Wardens
- King Ymiron in Utgarde Pinnacle and the Maw of Souls as Ymiron, the Fallen King
- Helya in Maw of Souls and Trial of Valor
- Kil'jaeden in Sunwell Plateau and Tomb of Sargeras
- Vagath in Shadowmoon Valley and Nath'raxas Hold
- Varimathras during the Battle for the Undercity and in Antorus, the Burning Throne
- Taerar has been defeated three times, at the dream portals in Classic, in Feralas and in the Emerald Nightmare.
Battle for Azeroth
- Zalazane in the Echo Isles, during Zalazane's Fall and The Shadow Hunter questline
- Zul in Zuldazar and Uldir
- Grong, the Jungle Lord in the Battle of Dazar'alor and Grong, the Revenant later in the same raid
- Priscilla Ashvane in the Siege of Boralus and the Eternal Palace
- Vexiona in the Twilight Highlands and Ny'alotha, the Waking City
- Il'gynoth in the Emerald Nightmare and Ny'alotha, the Waking City
- Nathanos Blightcaller in Eastern Plaguelands during Classic and in the Shadowlands pre-patch.
- The Black Knight five times: He was killed as a human at the Argent Tournament, as an undead, as a skeleton and as a ghost during the Trial of the Champion dungeon and once more in Icecrown when he was reanimated by the Mawsworn.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider in Tempest Keep, Magisters' Terrace, and Revendreth
- Despite popular belief, Kael'thas was not the first character to use the catchphrase. It was actually Illidan Stormrage during the Alliance Campaign finale - Kil'jaeden's Command in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Illidan explained his failed attempt to destroy the Lich King with these words:
- "Kil'jaeden! I was merely set back. I was attempting to bolster my forces. The Lich King will be destroyed, I promise you!"
- One of the possible quotes from the removed glyph (as well as its replacement, the ) is: "This is just a setback."
- The achievement is a reference to the meme.
- The phrase is referenced in Smokywood Pastures Presents: A Winter Veil Carol.
In other games
The phrase has carried over into other Blizzard games:
- In StarCraft II, a mission in the campaign features a Protoss/Zerg Hybrid that repeatedly spawns and attacks the player. One of the quotes he utters upon killing one of his incarnations is "merely a temporary setback".
- In Heroes of the Storm, when your character is killed for the first time as part of the tutorial, Uther will tell them that "death is merely a setback." In addition to this, Kael'thas makes a variety of references to the phrase, including simply stating "Merely a setback" upon being resurrected after death.
- When Deathlord Nazgrim is summoned by Uther of the Ebon Blade's Hero Power in Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne, he will proclaim that "Death was merely a setback!"
- Kael'thas Sunstrider's flavor text in Hearthstone: Ashes of Outland is "Descent of Dragons was merely a set back!", referencing how Descent of Dragons was the card set preceding Ashes of Outland. Additionally, his death quote is "Merely a setback."