TypeScript error: Not assignable to type ‘never’

Updated: January 8, 2024 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


When working with TypeScript, you might encounter the not assignable to type 'never' error. This can be a puzzling message if you’re not familiar with TypeScript’s type system. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this error and provide practical solutions to fix it.

Possible Causes

The error springs up in contexts where TypeScript’s compiler deduces a variable type to be never, which is a type that represents the absence of any value and is typically assigned when a function never returns. When you assign a value to a variable that TypeScript deduces should be of type never, you get the error.

Common scenarios include:

  • Improper use of type narrowing or type guards.
  • Function return types in situations where a function never returns.
  • Issues with complex union or intersection types.


Solution 1: Check Type Narrowing Logic

Incorrectly implemented type narrows can lead to never type assignments.

  1. Identify the scope where the never error is reported.
  2. Analyze type narrowing logic such as if blocks and type guard functions.
  3. Ensure conditions are not contradictory or overly restrictive.
  4. Adjust the logic to correctly reflect the possible types.


function example(value: string | number) {
  if (typeof value === 'string') {
    // String logic
  else if (typeof value === 'number') {
    // Number logic
  // Make sure there's no else block implying 'never'

The main advantage of this approach is the avoidance of potential runtime errors due to safer type checking.

Solution 2: Expand Union Types

Expand the union type to include the type you are trying to assign.

  1. Locate the union type causing the issue.
  2. Include the type you intend to assign to the union.
  3. Refactor any associated logic that might be affected by the update.


let value: string | number;
value = 'Hello, World'; // No error

This ensures proper type settings. However, widening types could cause issues if values aren’t correctly handled at runtime.

Solution 3: Utilizing Type Assertions

Explicitly define an expected type using type assertions.

  1. Pinpoint where the error occurs.
  2. Use a type assertion to specify the expected type.


let value: never;
value = 'Hello, World' as unknown as string; // Type assertion

Type assertions offer more control but come with the risk of bypassing TypeScript’s safety checks if used improperly.