How to Resolve Kubernetes Pods Stuck in Terminating State

When working with Kubernetes, one error you might encounter is the "Pods stuck in Terminating state." This issue occurs when a pod takes an unusually long time to terminate, or it remains in the terminating state indefinitely. This can cause disruptions in your deployment pipelines and affect application availability. This guide will walk you through the steps to diagnose and resolve this issue.

Step 1: Describe the Pod

The first step is to gather more information about the pod stuck in the terminating state. Use the kubectl describe pod command to get detailed information about the pod.

kubectl describe pod <pod-name>

Check the "Events" section for any clues or error messages that could indicate why the pod is not terminating.

Step 2: Check for Finalizers

Kubernetes uses finalizers to ensure that resources or processes are cleaned up before the pod is deleted. Sometimes, a finalizer might prevent the pod from terminating. List the pod with the output in JSON to check for finalizers.

kubectl get pod <pod-name> -o json

Look for the finalizers field in the JSON output. If specific finalizers are blocking the deletion, you might need to remove them manually.

        kubectl patch pod <pod-name> -p '{"metadata":{"finalizers":null}}'

Step 3: Check for StatefulSets and Persistent Volumes

Pods that are part of StatefulSets or use Persistent Volumes might take longer to terminate due to the cleanup processes involved. Ensure that all associated resources are correctly released.

        kubectl get pvc
        kubectl get pv
        kubectl describe statefulset <statefulset-name>

Ensure that the pods have successfully released their Persistent Volume Claims.

Step 4: Force Deletion

If the previous steps don't resolve the issue, you may need to force delete the pod. This should be done carefully, as it could lead to data loss or inconsistency. Use the kubectl delete pod command with the --force and --grace-period=0 flags.

        kubectl delete pod <pod-name> --force --grace-period=0

Step 5: Check for Kubernetes Bugs and Patches

Sometimes, the issue might be caused by a bug in the Kubernetes version you are using. Check the Kubernetes release notes and issues on their GitHub repository. Upgrading to a newer version might resolve the problem.

        kubectl version

Make sure your Kubernetes cluster is up to date with the latest patches.


Dealing with pods stuck in the terminating state can be challenging due to the numerous factors that can cause this issue. However, by following a systematic approach—describing the pod, checking for finalizers, examining StatefulSets and Persistent Volumes, applying force deletion, and keeping your Kubernetes version updated—you can diagnose and resolve the issue effectively. A well-maintained Kubernetes environment ensures the smooth orchestration of your containerized applications.