|The subject of this article was removed from World of Warcraft in patch 5.0.4.
- "Only a paladin would be foolish enough to run into combat blindly. Then again, only a paladin would be that brave." - 
Righteous Defense is a method for Paladins to temporarily taunt NPCs. When cast on a friendly target, it randomly selects up to three enemies attacking that target and casts the Righteous Defense taunt on them.
Like a Warrior's , this effect not only forces the enemies to attack the Paladin for 3 seconds, but also brings the Paladin's threat up to that of the rescued target's, allowing the Paladin to hold aggro if he or she continues attacking. If 1, 2, or 3 enemies are attacking the target, Righteous Defense will taunt them all. If 4 or more enemies are attacking the target, it will taunt 3 of them at random.
Again like a Warrior's Taunt, Righteous Defense can also be cast on an enemy mob, and will have the same effect as if cast on a party member: if the enemy that is taunted is attacking another player, up to three enemies that are attacking that player will be taunted - but not necessarily the one initially targeted. If the enemy is already targeting the Paladin, or not targeting anything, the spell will not be cast or trigger its cool-down.
As of Patch 3.0.8, the addition of Reckoning has made Righteous Defense as a single-target taunt somewhat obsolete, as Hand of Reckoning not only taunts but also generates additional threat. Unlike Righteous Defense, Hand of Reckoning is also usable on mobs that are not targeting anyone (or are targeting the Paladin, although with no effect). Righteous Defense is nevertheless a very powerful taunt, and you should not hesitate to use it if others pull aggro.
Tips and tricks
Based off testing on and post Patch 4.0.1, Righteous Defense no longer suffers from miss chance against level ?? raid bosses. Prior to Patch 4.0.1 it had a 17% chance to miss, well above the melee hit cap of 8%. could help to cover this (removed in Patch 4.0.1). Since failing to taunt on some bosses can result in deaths or even a wipe (especially when tanks need to alternate aggro), this glyph was indispensable.
Righteous Defense's inability to be cast on oneself can be useful. Righteous Defense can be pressed repeatedly while targeting a mob without fear of wasting its cool-down. If it is cast, then it must have found a target other than the Paladin to taunt off of.
With the help of certain add-ons, Righteous Defense can be used to pull mobs off of allies faster than most other tanks are capable of, particularly when multiple mobs are involved. Some UI's, such as Grid, will mark party or raid members that currently have aggro from a mob. Using a macro or a click-to-cast add-on such as Clique, one can pull enemies back simply by clicking on a player's name, without having to target the player or the mob(s) in question.
Using a macro, Righteous Defense can be cast on a target underneath the mouse. This is useful if the Paladin wishes to taunt enemies without needing or wanting to switch targets:
#showtooltip /cast [@mouseover] Righteous Defense
- Patch 5.0.4 (2012-08-28): Removed.
- Patch 4.0.1 (2010-10-12): Removed miss chance of this effect. (Untested, based of testing on and )
- Patch 3.2.0 (2009-08-04): Righteous Defense's cooldown is reduced to 8 seconds.
- Patch 3.0.2 (2008-10-14): Righteous Defense is no longer on the global cooldown. It also no longer costs mana. Its cooldown is reduced to 10 seconds.
- Patch 2.4.0 (2008-03-25): Can also be cast on enemy mob.
- Patch 2.0.1 (2006-12-05): Added.