In Django, a related object is a model instance used in the one-to-many or many-to-many context.

For example, let’s look at the built-in User model, which has a many-to-many relationship with the Group model.

class User(models.Model):
    groups = models.ManyToManyField(Group, related_name="groups")

For any given User object, all linked Group objects are called “related objects”. Here are 5 ways to fetch all User objects with at least one related Group object.

Iterate over each object in Python

users = []
for user in User.objects.prefetch_related("groups"):
    if user.groups.exists():

Probably the most popular approach but there are two problems:

Let’s see some other query count examples with prefetch_related:

User.objects.all()                                           # 1 query
User.objects.prefetch_related("groups")                      # 2 queries
User.objects.prefetch_related("groups__permissions")         # 3 queries
User.objects.prefetch_related("groups", "user_permissions")  # 3 queries

All other methods in this list make only one database query.

isnull field lookup and distinct()

users = User.objects.filter(groups__isnull=False).distinct()

Be sure to remember to use distinct(). Without it, each User is duplicated n times, where n is the number of groups the user belongs to. Definitely a little hacky. I wouldn’t recommend using it in practice but it’s an interesting approach to understand.

queryset.annotate() and Count()

from django.db.models import Count

users = (

Readable and makes a single database query. The only con is it’s slightly slower than the next two solutions because it counts all groups instead of stopping at the first one.

queryset.annotate() and Exists() subquery

from django.db.models import Exists, OuterRef

users = (

Very fast. Exists() will stop once a single record is found. Per the Django documentation:

Exists is a Subquery subclass that uses an SQL EXISTS statement. In many cases it will perform better than a subquery since the database is able to stop evaluation of the subquery when a first matching row is found.

Exists() subquery

users = (

Same solution as above but slightly better if we don’t want to return the has_group field. This is called the conditional filter:

When a conditional expression returns a boolean value, it is possible to use it directly in filters. This means that it will not be added to the SELECT columns, but you can still use it to filter results

May your Django queries be clean and performant.