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Find dead code

Project description

vulture - Find dead code

Vulture finds unused classes, functions and variables in your code. This helps you cleanup and find errors in your programs. If you run it on both your library and test suite you can find untested code.

Due to Python’s dynamic nature, static code analyzers like vulture are likely to miss some dead code. Also, code that is only called implicitly may be reported as unused. Nonetheless, vulture can be a very helpful tool for higher code quality.


  • fast: static code analysis
  • lightweight: only one module
  • tested: tests itself and has complete test coverage
  • complements pyflakes and has the same output syntax
  • sorts unused classes and functions by size with –sort-by-size
  • supports Python 2.6, 2.7 and 3.x


$ pip install vulture


$ vulture
$ vulture mypackage1/ mypackage2/
$ vulture whitelists/
$ vulture

The provided arguments may be Python files or directories. For each directory vulture analyzes all contained *.py files.

After you have found and deleted dead code, run vulture again, because it may discover more dead code.

Handling false positives

You can add false positives (used code that is marked as unused) to a python module and add it to the list of scanned paths (see whitelists/ for an example).

How does it work?

Vulture uses the ast module to build abstract syntax trees for all given files. While traversing all syntax trees it records the names of defined and used objects. Afterwards, it reports the objects which have been defined, but not used. This analysis ignores scopes and focuses only on object names.

Sort by size

When using the --sort-by-size option, vulture will sort the unused items by the relative sizes of their syntax trees, which is a proxy for the amount of code. This feature helps developers prioritize where to look to remove code first.

Similar programs

  • vulture can be used together with pyflakes
  • The coverage module can find unused code more reliably, but requires all branches of the code to actually be run.


Please visit to report any issues or to make pull requests.


0.16 (2017-07-12)

  • Differentiate between unused classes and functions (thanks @RJ722).
  • Add –sort-by-size option (thanks @jackric and @RJ722).
  • Count imports as used if they are accessed as module attributes.

0.15 (2017-07-04)

  • Automatically include whitelists based on imported modules (thanks @RJ722).
  • Add –version parameter (thanks @RJ722).
  • Add appveyor tests for testing on Windows (thanks @RJ722).

0.14 (2017-04-06)

  • Add stub whitelist file for Python standard library (thanks @RJ722)
  • Ignore class names starting with “Test” in “test_” files (thanks @thisch).
  • Ignore “test_” functions only in “test_” files.

0.13 (2017-03-06)

  • Ignore star-imported names since we cannot detect whether they are used.
  • Move repository to GitHub.

0.12 (2017-01-05)

  • Detect unused imports.
  • Use on Python >= 3.2 for reading input files, assume UTF-8 encoding on older Python versions.

0.11 (2016-11-27)

  • Use the system’s default encoding when reading files.
  • Report syntax errors instead of aborting.

0.10 (2016-07-14)

  • Detect unused function and method arguments (issue #15).
  • Detect unused *args and **kwargs parameters.
  • Change license from GPL to MIT.

0.9 (2016-06-29)

  • Don’t flag attributes as unused if they are used as global variables in another module (thanks Florian Bruhin).
  • Don’t consider “True” and “False” variable names.
  • Abort with error message when invoked on .pyc files.

0.8.1 (2015-09-28)

  • Fix code for Python 3.

0.8 (2015-09-28)

  • Do not flag names imported with “import as” as dead code (thanks Tom Terrace).

0.7 (2015-09-26)

  • Exit with exitcode 1 if path on commandline can’t be found.
  • Test vulture with vulture using a whitelist module for false positives.
  • Add tests that run vulture as a script.
  • Add “python test” command for running tests.
  • Add support for tox.
  • Raise test coverage to 100%.
  • Remove

0.6 (2014-09-06)

  • Ignore function names starting with “test_”.
  • Parse variable names in new format strings (e.g. “This is {x}”.format(x=”nice”)).
  • Only parse alphanumeric variable names in format strings and ignore types.
  • Abort with exit code 1 on syntax errors.
  • Support installation under Windows by using setuptools (thanks Reuben Fletcher-Costin).

0.5 (2014-05-09)

  • If dead code is found, exit with 1.

0.4.1 (2013-09-17)

  • Only warn if a path given on the command line cannot be found.

0.4 (2013-06-23)

  • Ignore unused variables starting with an underscore.
  • Show warning for syntax errors instead of aborting directly.
  • Print warning if a file cannot be found.

0.3 (2012-03-19)

  • Add support for python3
  • Report unused attributes
  • Find tuple assignments in comprehensions
  • Scan files given on the command line even if they don’t end with .py

0.2 (2012-03-18)

  • Only format nodes in verbose mode (gives 4x speedup).

0.1 (2012-03-17)

  • First release.

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