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Find dead code

Project description

Vulture - Find dead code

Vulture finds unused code in Python programs. This is useful for cleaning up and finding errors in large code bases. If you run Vulture 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  # from PyPI
$ pip install .        # from cloned repo


$ vulture  # or
$ python3 -m vulture
$ vulture mypackage1/ mypackage2/
$ 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 used code that is reported as unused to a Python module and add it to the list of scanned paths. We collect whitelists for common Python modules and packages in vulture/whitelists/ (pull requests are welcome). If you want to ignore a whole file or directory, use the --exclude parameter (e.g., -exclude *,docs/).

Marking unused variables

There are situations where you can’t just remove unused variables, e.g., in tuple assignments or function signatures. Vulture will ignore these variables if they start with an underscore (e.g., _x, y = get_pos()).

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 sorts unused classes and functions by their lines of code. This helps developers prioritize where to look for dead 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.


0.22 (2017-08-04)

  • Detect unreachable code after return, break, continue and raise (thanks @RJ722).
  • Parse all variable and attribute names in new format strings.
  • Extend ast whitelist.

0.21 (2017-07-26)

  • If an unused item is defined multiple times, report it multiple times.
  • Make size estimates for function calls more accurate.
  • Create wheel files for Vulture (thanks @RJ722).

0.20 (2017-07-26)

  • Report unused tuple assignments as dead code.
  • Report attribute names that have the same names as variables as dead code.
  • Let Item class inherit from object (thanks @RJ722).
  • Handle names imported as aliases like all other used variable names.
  • Rename Vulture.used_vars to Vulture.used_names.
  • Use function for determining which imports to ignore.
  • Only try to import each whitelist file once.
  • Store used names and used attributes in sets instead of lists.
  • Fix estimating the size of code containing ellipses (…).
  • Refactor and simplify code.

0.19 (2017-07-20)

  • Don’t ignore __foo variable names.
  • Use separate methods for determining whether to ignore classes and functions.
  • Only try to find a whitelist for each defined import once (thanks @roivanov).
  • Fix finding the last child for many types of AST nodes.

0.18 (2017-07-17)

  • Make –sort-by-size faster and more accurate (thanks @RJ722).

0.17 (2017-07-17)

  • Add get_unused_code() method.
  • Return with exit code 1 when syntax errors are found or files can’t be read.

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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