JavaScript methods to remove an element from an array

Learn JavaScript methods that you can use to remove an element from an array. Examples included.

Posted on January 28, 2021


Removing one or more elements from an array is one of the most common JavaScript tasks that you may find as you code your web application. This tutorial will show you 7 ways you can remove an element from an array, with snippets that you can copy to your code.

Remove the last element with pop method

The pop method is a built-in JavaScript method that will remove the last element from an array:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
animals.pop();
console.log(animals); // ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant"]

This method also returns the last element, so you can also use it just to grab the last element:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
let lastElement = animals.pop(); // "Monkey"

But in real projects, it’s more common to use pop simply to remove the last element. The second use case is nice to keep in mind though.

Remove the first element with shift method

The shift method behaves exactly like pop method, except that it removes the first element instead of the last:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
animals.shift();
console.log(animals); // ["Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"]

shift also returns the first element like pop:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
let firstAnimal = animals.shift(); // "Lion"

Using delete method

You can also use delete method to remove an element in a specific index from an array:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
delete animals[2];
console.log(animals); // ["Lion", "Tiger", empty, "Monkey"]

When you log the array after delete operation, the array length is not reduced and the element that you deleted will leave an empty slot. But although the empty slot is not removed, any array method like map and forEach will skip over that empty slot:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
delete animals[2];
animals.forEach((val) => console.log(val));
> "Lion"
> "Tiger"
> "Monkey"

Now if you want to remove the empty slot and reduce the length, you need to use another method.

Using splice method to update the index

The splice method is used to remove and add new elements at the same time, depending on what arguments you passed into it. The method itself has three parameters:

  • startIndex where splice will begin its operation, beginning from 0
  • deleteCount - an integer representing how many elements to delete from the start index. You can pass 0 as well.
  • ...elements - elements that you want to add to the array beginning from the startIndex
let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
animals.splice(2, 1);
console.log(animals); // ["Lion", "Tiger", "Monkey"]

If you want to add new elements, you can simply pass the elements after the deleteCount parameter. The following example will delete "Elephant" at index 2:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
animals.splice(2, 1, "Bird", "Fish");
console.log(animals); // ["Lion", "Tiger", "Bird", "Fish", "Monkey"]

The element at index 2 will be replaced with "Monkey", then new elements "Bird" and "Fish" will be added before "Monkey".

But if you just want to remove elements, then you only need to add the first two arguments.

Removing elements with filter method.

You can use the filter method to remove elements from an array. The key is you need to return only elements that don’t match the element you want to remove:

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];

let filterAnimals = animals.filter(function (currentElement) {
  return currentElement !== "Elephant";
});

console.log(filterAnimals); // ["Lion", "Tiger", "Monkey"]

Creating your own custom functions

To avoid repeating yourself when deleting elements from an array, you can create your own custom functions for deleting an element:

function arrayRemoveOnce(array, element) {
  elementIndex = array.indexOf(element);
  if (elementIndex >= 0) {
    array.splice(elementIndex, 1);
  }
  return array;
}

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey"];
let filteredAnimals = arrayRemoveOnce(animals, "Tiger");
console.log(filteredAnimals);

Or you can remove multiple elements with the filter method:

function arrayRemoveAll(array, element) {
  return array.filter(function(value){
     return value !== element
  });
}

let animals = ["Lion", "Tiger", "Elephant", "Monkey", "Tiger"];
let filteredAnimals = arrayRemoveAll(animals, "Tiger");
console.log(filteredAnimals);

You can use any of these methods as you see fit.

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