Deleting protected branches is hard

Not long ago I requested Branch Protection on multiple branches, and that works great (thanks github!). However, there is one fatal flaw with it:

Removing stale protected branches is really hard.

For example, say my branch protection pattern is release-?.?, once I’ve released release-4.0 I want to delete release-3.0, but in order to do so, I have to remove my branch protection, delete it, then quickly add the branch protection back.

It would be great if I could delete a protected branch as an admin with some kind of confirmation.


Why not leave the protected branch up on GitHub? It’s always nice to have some kind of back-up to see where things come from.

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We have tags for backup. The branch is just added noise and can confuse engineers creating new PRs.


This is interesting and you’re being impacted as we are too (but for a different reason). Please see my recent post:

I agree, this is a problem for us too. A lot of our protected branches only need to exist for a time, and then we remove them. It’d be nice to at least have admin delete rights on the branches list


The issue affects us, as well.

Admins should have the right to delete protected branches, maybe with extra confirmation checkbox, like “I want to use my admin priviledges…”


We have a similar problem, we were trying to follow a similar development pattern as described here on stackoverflow and introduced branch protection and hooks for the story branches however they can’t be removed once the story is complete and merged in master.

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I have protection on feature/* branches. Sometimes feature fail during development and I want to delete this branch. Can’t do this. It there any solution for deleting them?


I just temporarily amended the Branch protection rule so that it applies to 0 branches, removed the desired branches, then reverted the rule.

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I’ve done this too. It works but it’s not ideal

Hello @clphillips and everyone else in this thread!

I’m very sorry for the delay, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve compiled all of this great feedback into a feature request and have sent it off to the product team. I can’t say if or when this feature might be implemented, but when it is implemented, it will be announced in the GitHub Changelog.




We also need to be able to delete protected branches without being a developer for “feature/*” branches for instance that once merged into master cannot be deleted easily.

We have to ask to an admin (me) and this doesn’t scale way or we have to change the branch policy, delete the branch, then re-set the branch policy again… this is annoying right ?


Enabling deleting branches for administrators, overruling it with a checkbox like PR’s can, would be a big help

Any update on this?

I don’t see why delete protection must be a default for all branch protections. Can you not just have it as an extra tick box and let us decide whether we need this functionality?

Eg. we might want to use branch protections only to enforce status checks for feature branches that need to be deleted after a PR. Currently, not even GitHub can delete those branches following a merged PR even if the  Automatically delete head branches  option is selected.

For those who join this thread late or who have been waiting, I checked my branch protection rules today and found the feature implemented!

You can find the new force push and branch deletion rules at the bottom of the branch protection rule page for the branch name pattern you would like to apply rule to:


This is really a great addition


I dont see this aywhere, is this improvement not added in for Github enterprise?

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