Recursively deleting all protected related objects in Django

When debugging Django applications, it’s often useful to delete objects so that you can try the thing you’re working on again and recreate them. This isn’t always trivial though, because related objects that have on_delete=PROTECT can prevent you from doing so.

This is a great safeguard when the application is running in production, but not so much when you know what you’re doing and just want to test something in your own environment.

I was surprised to find that there were no StackOverflow answers or gists for a quick way to just let me do that, so I provided my own. Here it is:

I need to reinforce this - this isn’t a good thing to use in production. Relationships aren’t always obvious and if something is protected, it’s probably for a reason. I’d only use this to help with debugging in one-off scripts (or on the shell) with test databases that I don’t mind wiping.

in case the gist is down, click this text to see the snippet
def recursive_delete(to_del):
    """Recursively delete an object, all of its protected related
    instances, those instances' protected instances, and so on.
    from django.db.models import ProtectedError
    while True:
            to_del_pk =
            if to_del_pk is None:
                return  # unsaved object
            print(f"Deleted {to_del.__class__.__name__} with pk {to_del_pk}: {to_del}")
        except ProtectedError as e:
            for protected_ob in e.protected_objects: