Understanding ‘Never’ type in Python 3.11+ (5 examples)

Updated: February 22, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


Python 3.11 introduces a variety of exciting new features and improvements over its predecessors. Among these, the introduction of the ‘Never’ type stands out as a significant addition for type hinting. This tutorial aims to demystify the ‘Never’ type through detailed explanations accompanied by practical examples.

The ‘Never’ type, as its name suggests, indicates that a certain code path should never be expected to return. It can be particularly useful in functions that intentionally do not return a value (not even None) because they raise an exception or enter an infinite loop. This offers more precision in type annotations, improving the assistance provided by type checkers and enhancing code readability.

When to Use the ‘Never’ Type

  1. For functions that always raise an exception: If a function’s sole purpose is to raise an exception and it will never return a value, it should be annotated with ‘Never’.
  2. Infinite loops: Functions designed to never return because they loop infinitely can also be annotated with ‘Never’.
  3. Unreachable code paths: In scenarios where a code path is logically unreachable, using ‘Never’ can make this explicit. This is less common but can be helpful in complex logic.

Examples of ‘Never’ Type Usage

Let’s delve deeper with practical examples to understand how and when to use the ‘Never’ type in Python 3.11+.

Example 1: Raising an Exception

from typing import Never

def raise_error() -> Never:
    raise ValueError('This function always raises an exception')


This function is annotated with ‘Never’ to denote that it will never return normally. It’s a clear indicator to developers and tools that its execution path ends with an exception.

Example 2: Infinite Loops

from typing import Never

def wait_forever() -> Never:
    while True:

This function uses an infinite loop and is annotated with ‘Never’. It serves as a very clear documentation that the function is intended never to exit under normal execution paths.

Example 3: Unreachable Code

from typing import Never

def example_function(x: int) -> int | Never:
    if x % 2 == 0:
        return x
        raise Exception('Only even numbers are accepted')

In this example, ‘Never’ is used to indicate that, for some inputs, the function does not return normally. This is somewhat advanced usage, demonstrating ‘Never’ for code that might not always execute.

Example 4: Type Checkers’ Best Friend

from typing import Never

def always_fail() -> Never:
    raise Exception("This function always fails")

Here, the function always_fail explicitly raises an exception to indicate failure. This aligns with the use of Never as the return type, clearly signaling to anyone reading the code that this function is not expected to return normally under any circumstances.

Example 5: Complex Use Cases

from typing import Union, Never

def process_data(data: Union[str, int]) -> int | Never:
    if isinstance(data, str):
        return len(data)
        log_and_exit('Only strings are allowed')

def log_and_exit(message: str) -> Never:
    raise SystemExit

This example combines several concepts. The log_and_exit function, annotated with ‘Never’, is designed to log an error and then terminate the program. The process_data function can either return an int or, in case of invalid input, never return because it calls log_and_exit.


The introduction of the ‘Never’ type in Python 3.11+ enriches the language’s type hinting capabilities. By accurately marking functions that are not expected to return, developers can write more explicit, self-documenting, and safer code. While it might not be needed in everyday code, understanding ‘Never’ broadens your Python arsenal, enabling more precise typing in complex projects.

If you’re looking to deepen your Python expertise, integrating ‘Never’ into your type hinting practices could be a valuable next step. Remember, the best way to understand and remember new concepts is by applying them. So, consider where ‘Never’ might make your code more robust and self-explanatory, and experiment with it in your next project.