Why is it impossible to change constructor function from prototype?

You cannot change a constructor by reassigning to prototype.constructor

What is happening is that Rabbit.prototype.constructor is a pointer to the original constructor (function Rabbit(){...}), so that users of the ‘class’ can detect the constructor from an instance. Therefore, when you try to do:

Rabbit.prototype.constructor = function Rabbit() {
    this.jumps = "no";

You’re only going to affect code that relies on prototype.constructor to dynamically instantiate objects from instances.

When you call new X, the JS engine doesn’t reference X.prototype.constructor, it uses the X as the constructor function and X.prototype as the newly created object’s prototype., ignoring X.prototype.constructor.

A good way to explain this is to implement the new operator ourselves. ( Crockford will be happy, no more new 😉

// `new` emulator
// Doesn't reference `.constructor` to show that prototype.constructor is not used
// when istantiating objects a la `new`
function make(ctorFun, argsArray) {
  // New instance attached to the prototype but the constructor
  // hasn't been called on it.
  const newInstance = Object.create(ctorFun.prototype);
  ctorFun.apply(newInstance, argsArray);
  return newInstance;

// If you create a utility function to create from instance, then it uses the
// inherited `constructor` property and your change would affect that.
function makeFromInstance(instance, argsArray) {
  return make(instance.constructor, argsArray);

function X(jumps) {
  this.jumps = jumps;

// Flip the constructor, see what it affects
X.prototype.constructor = function(jumps) {
  this.jumps = !jumps;

const xFromConstructorIsGood = make(X, [true]);
const xFromInstanceIsBad = makeFromInstance(xFromConstructorIsGood, [true]);


Inheritance in JS

Libraries that help with JS inheritance implement inheritance and do rely on prototype.constructor with something in the spirit the following:

function extend(base, sub) {

  function surrogateCtor() {}
  // Copy the prototype from the base to setup inheritance
  surrogateCtor.prototype = base.prototype;
  sub.prototype = new surrogateCtor();
  // The constructor property is set to the base constructor
  // with the above trick, let's fix it
  sub.prototype.constructor = sub;

You can see that in the above code, we have to fix the constructor property because it’s sometimes used to create instantiate an object when you only have an instance. but it doesn’t affect the actual constructor. See my post about JS inheritance http://js-bits.blogspot.com/2010/08/javascript-inheritance-done-right.html

How to redefine a constructor
If you really want to redefine a constructor, just do

// If Rabbit had any custom properties on it 
// (or static properties as some call it), they would not be copied, you'd have to do that manually using getOwnPropertyNames

// See https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Reference/Global_Objects/Object/getOwnPropertyNames
var oldProto = Rabbit.prototype;
Rabbit = function() {...};
Rabbit.prototype = oldProto;
// Don't keep the old constructor
Rabbit.prototype.constructor = Rabbit;

Note that this would not affect code that had already copied that reference, for example:

const myRefRabbit = Rabbit

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