Inheritance And Prototype Chain in JavaScript

Inheritance And Prototype Chain


JavaScript has positioned itself as an integral part of web development, fueling both client-side and server-side operations. Among JavaScript’s various concepts, inheritance and the prototype chain are two critical yet often misunderstood paradigms. This blog aims to shed light on these two aspects, enabling professionals and enthusiasts alike to leverage them effectively and elevate their JavaScript mastery.

Understanding Inheritance in JavaScript

Inheritance is a fundamental principle of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). It facilitates code reusability, enabling one class to inherit properties and methods from another. JavaScript, unlike class-based languages like Java or C++, employs a prototype-based model. The critical question arises – how does JavaScript implement inheritance? The answer lies in the Prototype Chain.

The Magic of Prototype Chain

To comprehend the prototype chain, we must first understand what a prototype is. Every JavaScript object has a link (or a reference) to a prototype—an object from which it can inherit properties. This relationship creates a chain-like structure— the Prototype Chain.

Here’s a simple example. Consider a Person object with properties name and age. We create another object, Student, that needs the same properties. Instead of redefining them, Student can inherit from Person, linking it in the prototype chain.
function Person(name, age) { = name;
this.age = age;
function Student(name, age, grade) {, name, age);
this.grade = grade;
Student.prototype = Object.create(Person.prototype);
let student1 = new Student('John', 16, '10th');

Here, student1 possesses properties of Person through the prototype chain.

The Process of Property Lookup

When we access a property on an object, JavaScript first checks if the object has that property. If not, it moves up the prototype chain. If the property still isn’t found after reaching the top (null), JavaScript returns undefined.

This process underpins JavaScript’s dynamic property lookup, making prototype inheritance efficient.

The Benefits of Using Prototype Chain and Inheritance

  1. Code Reusability: Through inheritance, objects can reuse properties and methods, reducing redundancy and improving efficiency.
  2. Performance Optimization: The dynamic property lookup process reduces the memory footprint of your application, as objects share properties instead of having separate copies.
  3. Flexibility: JavaScript’s prototypal inheritance provides greater flexibility than classical inheritance. For example, an object can inherit from another at any time during its lifecycle, not just at instantiation.

Best Practices for Implementing Prototype Chains

Understanding JavaScript’s prototypal inheritance is the first step. Applying this knowledge optimally requires some best practices:

  1. Keep the chain short: Long prototype chains can lead to slower property lookups and more complex code.
  2. Avoid mutable shared state: As objects share properties through the prototype chain, changes to a shared property affect all linked objects.
  3. Use hasOwnProperty method: It helps check if an object has a property itself, rather than through the prototype chain.


Inheritance and the Prototype Chain form the bedrock of JavaScript’s prototype-based model. They not only promote code reusability and memory optimization, but they also provide flexibility that sets JavaScript apart from its class-based counterparts. Like any other tool, prototype chains should be used wisely. With the best practices mentioned, you’re ready to leverage JavaScript’s prototypal inheritance to its fullest potential.

From understanding JavaScript’s inheritance to mastering prototype chains, we hope you’ve found this guide enlightening. Feel free to explore these concepts further and, most importantly, continue experimenting. After all, true knowledge comes from practice and experience. Happy coding!


  1. JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford
  2. You Don’t Know JS: Scope & Closures by Kyle Simpson
  3. ECMA-262 specification for ECMAScript language

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