How do I terminate a script?


How do I exit a script early, like the die() command in PHP?

Asked By: Teifion



import sys

details from the sys module documentation:


Exit from Python. This is implemented by raising the
SystemExit exception, so cleanup actions specified by finally clauses
of try statements are honored, and it is possible to intercept the
exit attempt at an outer level.

The optional argument arg can be an integer giving the exit status
(defaulting to zero), or another type of object. If it is an integer,
zero is considered “successful termination” and any nonzero value is
considered “abnormal termination” by shells and the like. Most systems
require it to be in the range 0-127, and produce undefined results
otherwise. Some systems have a convention for assigning specific
meanings to specific exit codes, but these are generally
underdeveloped; Unix programs generally use 2 for command line syntax
errors and 1 for all other kind of errors. If another type of object
is passed, None is equivalent to passing zero, and any other object is
printed to stderr and results in an exit code of 1. In particular,
sys.exit("some error message") is a quick way to exit a program when
an error occurs.

Since exit() ultimately “only” raises an exception, it will only exit
the process when called from the main thread, and the exception is not

Note that this is the ‘nice’ way to exit. @glyphtwistedmatrix below points out that if you want a ‘hard exit’, you can use os._exit(*errorcode*), though it’s likely os-specific to some extent (it might not take an errorcode under windows, for example), and it definitely is less friendly since it doesn’t let the interpreter do any cleanup before the process dies. On the other hand, it does kill the entire process, including all running threads, while sys.exit() (as it says in the docs) only exits if called from the main thread, with no other threads running.

Answered By: pjz

Another way is:

raise SystemExit
Answered By: Vhaerun
from sys import exit

As a parameter you can pass an exit code, which will be returned to OS. Default is 0.

Answered By: cleg

While you should generally prefer sys.exit because it is more “friendly” to other code, all it actually does is raise an exception.

If you are sure that you need to exit a process immediately, and you might be inside of some exception handler which would catch SystemExit, there is another function – os._exit – which terminates immediately at the C level and does not perform any of the normal tear-down of the interpreter; for example, hooks registered with the “atexit” module are not executed.

Answered By: Glyph

A simple way to terminate a Python script early is to use the built-in quit() function. There is no need to import any library, and it is efficient and simple.


#do stuff
if this == that:
Answered By: j.m.g.r

You can also use simply exit().

Keep in mind that sys.exit(), exit(), quit(), and os._exit(0) kill the Python interpreter. Therefore, if it appears in a script called from another script by execfile(), it stops execution of both scripts.

See “Stop execution of a script called with execfile” to avoid this.

Answered By: Space cowboy

I’m a total novice but surely this is cleaner and more controlled

def main():
        Answer = 1/0
        print  Answer
        print 'Program terminated'
    print 'You wont see this'

if __name__ == '__main__': 

Program terminated


import sys
def main():
        Answer = 1/0
        print  Answer
        print 'Program terminated'
    print 'You wont see this'

if __name__ == '__main__': 

Program terminated Traceback (most recent call last): File “”, line 12, in
main() File “”, line 8, in main
sys.exit() SystemExit


The point being that the program ends smoothly and peacefully, rather than “I’VE STOPPED !!!!”

Answered By: Floggedhorse

I’ve just found out that when writing a multithreadded app, raise SystemExit and sys.exit() both kills only the running thread. On the other hand, os._exit() exits the whole process. This was discussed in “Why does sys.exit() not exit when called inside a thread in Python?“.

The example below has 2 threads. Kenny and Cartman. Cartman is supposed to live forever, but Kenny is called recursively and should die after 3 seconds. (recursive calling is not the best way, but I had other reasons)

If we also want Cartman to die when Kenny dies, Kenny should go away with os._exit, otherwise, only Kenny will die and Cartman will live forever.

import threading
import time
import sys
import os

def kenny(num=0):
    if num > 3:
        # print("Kenny dies now...")
        # raise SystemExit #Kenny will die, but Cartman will live forever
        # sys.exit(1) #Same as above

        print("Kenny dies and also kills Cartman!")
    while True:
        print("Kenny lives: {0}".format(num))
        num += 1

def cartman():
    i = 0
    while True:
        print("Cartman lives: {0}".format(i))
        i += 1

if __name__ == '__main__':
    daemon_kenny = threading.Thread(name='kenny', target=kenny)
    daemon_cartman = threading.Thread(name='cartman', target=cartman)

Answered By: eaydin

In Python 3.5, I tried to incorporate similar code without use of modules (e.g. sys, Biopy) other than what’s built-in to stop the script and print an error message to my users. Here’s my example:

## My example:
if "ATG" in my_DNA: 
    ## <Do something & proceed...>
    print("Start codon is missing! Check your DNA sequence!")
    exit() ## as most folks said above

Later on, I found it is more succinct to just throw an error:

## My example revised:
if "ATG" in my_DNA: 
    ## <Do something & proceed...>
    raise ValueError("Start codon is missing! Check your DNA sequence!")
Answered By: David C.

My two cents.

Python 3.8.1, Windows 10, 64-bit.

sys.exit() does not work directly for me.

I have several nexted loops.

First I declare a boolean variable, which I call immediateExit.

So, in the beginning of the program code I write:

immediateExit = False

Then, starting from the most inner (nested) loop exception, I write:

            immediateExit = True
            sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 0.')

Then I go into the immediate continuation of the outer loop, and before anything else being executed by the code, I write:

    if immediateExit:
        sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 1.')

Depending on the complexity, sometimes the above statement needs to be repeated also in except sections, etc.

    if immediateExit:
        sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 1.5.')

The custom message is for my personal debugging, as well, as the numbers are for the same purpose – to see where the script really exits.

'CSV file corrupted 1.5.'

In my particular case I am processing a CSV file, which I do not want the software to touch, if the software detects it is corrupted. Therefore for me it is very important to exit the whole Python script immediately after detecting the possible corruption.

And following the gradual sys.exit-ing from all the loops I manage to do it.

Full code: (some changes were needed because it is proprietory code for internal tasks):

immediateExit = False
start_date = '1994.01.01'
end_date = '1994.01.04'
resumedDate = end_date

end_date_in_working_days = False
while not end_date_in_working_days:
        end_day_position = working_days.index(end_date)

        end_date_in_working_days = True
    except ValueError: # try statement from end_date in workdays check
        end_date = input('>> {} is not in the list of working days. Change the date (YYYY.MM.DD): '.format(end_date))
        print('New end date: ', end_date, 'n')

    csv_filename = 'test.csv'
    csv_headers = 'date,rate,brandn' # not real headers, this is just for example
        with open(csv_filename, 'r') as file:
            print('***nOld file {} found. Resuming the file by re-processing the last date lines.nThey shall be deleted and re-processed.n***n'.format(csv_filename))
            last_line = file.readlines()[-1]
            start_date = last_line.split(',')[0] # assigning the start date to be the last like date.
            resumedDate = start_date

            if last_line == csv_headers:
            elif start_date not in working_days:
                print('***nn{} file might be corrupted. Erase or edit the file to continue.n***'.format(csv_filename))
                immediateExit = True
                sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 0.')
                start_date = last_line.split(',')[0] # assigning the start date to be the last like date.
                print('nLast date:', start_date)
       # setting the cursor at the beginnning of the file
                lines = file.readlines() # reading the file contents into a list
                count = 0 # nr. of lines with last date
                for line in lines: #cycling through the lines of the file
                    if line.split(',')[0] == start_date: # cycle for counting the lines with last date in it.
                        count = count + 1
        if immediateExit:
            sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 1.')
        for iter in range(count): # removing the lines with last date
        print('n{} lines removed from date: {} in {} file'.format(count, start_date, csv_filename))

        if immediateExit:
            sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 1.2.')
        with open(csv_filename, 'w') as file:
            print('nFile', csv_filename, 'open for writing')

            print('nRemoving', count, 'lines from', csv_filename)

        fileExists = True

        if immediateExit:
            sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 1.5.')
        with open(csv_filename, 'w') as file:
            fileExists = False
    if immediateExit:
        sys.exit('CSV file corrupted 2.')

Answered By: Matthew


In my practice, there was even a case when it was necessary to kill an entire multiprocessor application from one of those processes.

The following functions work well if your application uses the only main process. But no one of the following functions didn’t work in my case as the application had many other alive processes.

  • quit()
  • exit(0)
  • os._exit(0)
  • sys.exit(0)
  • os.kill(os.getppid(), 9) – where os.getppid() is the pid of parent process

The last one killed the main process and itself but the rest processes were still alive.


I had to kill it by external command and finally found the solution using pkill.

import os

# This can be called even in process worker and will kill
# whole application included correlated processes as well
os.system(f"pkill -f {os.path.basename(__file__)}")
Answered By: Artyom Vancyan

Just put at the end of your code quit() and that should close a python script.

Answered By: ChanceMeteor515

In Python 3.9, you can also use: raise SystemExit("Because I said so").

Answered By: jimh
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