Node.removeChild()

The Node.removeChild() method removes a child node from the DOM and returns the removed node.

Syntax

var oldChild = node.removeChild(child);

Or just:

node.removeChild(child);
  • child is the child node to be removed from the DOM.
  • node is the parent node of child.
  • oldChild holds a reference to the removed child node, i.e., oldChild === child.

The removed child node still exists in memory, but is no longer part of the DOM. With the first syntax form shown, you may reuse the removed node later in your code, via the oldChild object reference.

In the second syntax form, however, there is no oldChild reference kept, so assuming your code has not kept any other reference to the node elsewhere, it will immediately become unusable and irretrievable, and will usually be automatically deleted from memory after a short time.

If child is actually not a child of the element node, the method throws an exception. This will also happen if child was in fact a child of element at the time of the call, but was removed by an event handler invoked in the course of trying to remove the element (e.g., blur.)

Exception

NotFoundError DOMException

Thrown if the child was in fact a child of element and so existing on the DOM, but was removed.

TypeError DOMException

Thrown if the child doesn't exist on the DOM of the page.

Examples

Simple examples

Given this HTML:

<div id="top">
  <div id="nested"></div>
</div>

To remove a specified element when knowing its parent node:

let d = document.getElementById("top");
let d_nested = document.getElementById("nested");
let throwawayNode = d.removeChild(d_nested);

To remove a specified element without having to specify its parent node:

let node = document.getElementById("nested");
if (node.parentNode) {
  node.parentNode.removeChild(node);
}

To remove all children from an element:

let element = document.getElementById("top");
while (element.firstChild) {
  element.removeChild(element.firstChild);
}

Causing a TypeError

<!--Sample HTML code-->
<div id="top"> </div>

<script type="text/javascript">
  let top = document.getElementById("top");
  let nested = document.getElementById("nested");

  // Throws Uncaught TypeError
  let garbage = top.removeChild(nested);
</script>

Causing a NotFoundError

<!--Sample HTML code-->
<div id="top">
  <div id="nested"></div>
</div>

<script type="text/javascript">
  let top = document.getElementById("top");
  let nested = document.getElementById("nested");

  // This first call correctly removes the node
  let garbage = top.removeChild(nested);

  // Throws Uncaught NotFoundError
  garbage = top.removeChild(nested);
</script>

Notes

Unlike Node.cloneNode() the return value preserves the EventListeners.

Specifications

Specification
DOM Standard (DOM)
# dom-node-removechild

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also