How to Stop All Tests from Inside a Test or setUp Using unittest in Python

How to Stop All Tests from Inside a Test or setUp Using unittest in Python

21 May 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

When extending the Python 2.7 unittest framework for functional testing, you may encounter situations where continuing to run tests after a significant failure is impractical. In such cases, it is beneficial to have a mechanism to stop all tests from within a test or a setUpClass() method.

Using pytest to Exit Test Runs

A practical approach to this problem is utilizing pytest, which provides a straightforward way to exit a test suite. Here’s a concise example demonstrating how you can make a decision to stop the test run cleanly:

# content of
import pytest
counter = 0

def setup_function(func):
    global counter
    counter += 1
    if counter >= 3:
        pytest.exit("Decided to stop the test run")

def test_one():

def test_two():

def test_three():

Running the above script will stop the test run after three tests, as shown below:

$ pytest 
============== test session starts =================
platform linux2 -- Python 2.6.5 -- pytest-1.4.0a1
test path 1: ..

!!!! Exit: decided to stop the test run !!!!!!!!!!!!
============= 2 passed in 0.08 seconds =============

You can also place the pytest.exit() call inside a test or a project-specific plugin. Additionally, pytest supports the --maxfail=NUM option to stop after a specified number of failures.

Alternative Approach: Custom Exception

Another approach is to implement a custom exception to halt the test run. Below is an example:

class StopTests(Exception):
    Raise this exception in a test to stop the test run.

class CustomTestCase(unittest.TestCase):
    def assertStopTestsIfFalse(self, statement, reason=''):
            assert statement            
        except AssertionError:
            self.result.addFailure(self, sys.exc_info())
            raise StopTests(reason)

    def run(self, result=None):
        self.result = result
            super(CustomTestCase, self).run(result)
        except StopTests:
            result.addFailure(self, sys.exc_info())

This method allows any test to halt the entire test suite, ensuring no further tests are executed, providing flexibility and control over the test execution flow.

Modern Python Versions

For Python versions 3.1 and above, the unittest framework has enhanced its capabilities. You can use the failfast option to stop all tests after the first failure or use decorators and conditionals to skip tests dynamically.

Below is an example of skipping all tests in a class if a condition is met within the setUpClass method:

import unittest

class ConditionalSkipTest(unittest.TestCase):
    def setUpClass(cls):
        if some_condition:
            raise unittest.SkipTest("Skipping all tests in this class")

    def test_method(self):

This approach provides a clean way to manage test execution based on initial conditions.


Choosing the right approach to stop tests in Python’s unittest framework depends on your specific requirements and constraints. Whether using pytest for its simplicity or custom exceptions for more control, understanding these methods can significantly enhance your test automation strategy.

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