Nodes and scene instances

This guide explains how to get nodes, create nodes, add them as a child, and instantiate scenes from code.

Getting nodes

You can get a reference to a node by calling the Node.get_node() method. For this to work, the child node must be present in the scene tree. Getting it in the parent node's _ready() function guarantees that.

If, for example, you have a scene tree like this, and you want to get a reference to the Sprite2D and Camera2D nodes to access them in your script.


To do so, you can use the following code.

var sprite2d
var camera2d

func _ready():
    sprite2d = get_node("Sprite2D")
    camera2d = get_node("Camera2D")

Note that you get nodes using their name, not their type. Above, "Sprite2D" and "Camera2D" are the nodes' names in the scene.


If you rename the Sprite2D node as Skin in the Scene dock, you have to change the line that gets the node to get_node("Skin") in the script.


Node paths

When getting a reference to a node, you're not limited to getting a direct child. The get_node() function supports paths, a bit like when working with a file browser. Add a slash to separate nodes.

Take the following example scene, with the script attached to the UserInterface node.


To get the AnimationPlayer node, you would use the following code.

var animation_player

func _ready():
    animation_player = get_node("ShieldBar/AnimationPlayer")


As with file paths, you can use ".." to get a parent node. The best practice is to avoid doing that though not to break encapsulation. You can also start the path with a forward slash to make it absolute, in which case your topmost node would be "/root", the application's predefined root viewport.

Syntactic sugar

You can use two shorthands to shorten your code in GDScript. Firstly, putting the @onready annotation before a member variable makes it initialize right before the _ready() callback.

@onready var sprite2d = get_node("Sprite2D")

There is also a short notation for get_node(): the dollar sign, "$". You place it before the name or path of the node you want to get.

@onready var sprite2d = $Sprite2D
@onready var animation_player = $ShieldBar/AnimationPlayer

Creating nodes

To create a node from code, call its new() method like for any other class-based datatype.

You can store the newly created node's reference in a variable and call add_child() to add it as a child of the node to which you attached the script.

var sprite2d

func _ready():
    var sprite2d = # Create a new Sprite2D.
    add_child(sprite2d) # Add it as a child of this node.

To delete a node and free it from memory, you can call its queue_free() method. Doing so queues the node for deletion at the end of the current frame after it has finished processing. At that point, the engine removes the node from the scene and frees the object in memory.


Before calling sprite2d.queue_free(), the remote scene tree looks like this.


After the engine freed the node, the remote scene tree doesn't display the sprite anymore.


You can alternatively call free() to immediately destroy the node. You should do this with care as any reference to it will instantly become null. We recommend using queue_free() unless you know what you're doing.

When you free a node, it also frees all its children. Thanks to this, to delete an entire branch of the scene tree, you onl