"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy's First Law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world's one, and only, truth."
This page covers the loose 2003 adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist. For tropes related to Hiromu Arakawa's original manga and its direct anime adaptation, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, see Manga.Fullmetal Alchemist.Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric live in a world where alchemy is possible, although governed by the law of Equivalent Exchange ("to obtain, something of equal value must be lost"). As young boys, the Elrics — who showed promise in alchemy at an early age — lost their mother, and in their grief, they attempted to bring her back to life via the forbidden practice of human transmutation. Ed and Al paid a steep price for their hubris: the former lost an arm and a leg (which were replaced with mechanical limbs), while the latter became a soul attached to an empty suit of armor. The Elrics seek to return their bodies to normal by pursuing the Philosopher's Stone, an artifact believed to allow alchemists to perform any form of alchemy (including human transmutation) without the necessary Equivalent Exchange. In order to make real progress in their search, Ed becomes a State Alchemist, working for the government to help solve their problems while he and Al research the Stone's existence. During their adventures, Ed and Al discover startling truths about their world, alchemy, the Philospher's Stone, their own family, and the forces working to manipulate the Elrics' search and lead them towards the Stone (for a much more sinister purpose than what the brothers have in mind).This show Overtook the Manga about halfway through its run, but rather than running numerous filler episodes to make up for it, the anime's writers consulted with Hiromu Arakawa to craft a wholly different ending to the story. The approach makes this show a Pragmatic Adaptation, but one made with approval from (and the encouragement of) the original mangaka. A theatrical film — Fullmetal Alchemist The Conqueror Of Shamballa — resolved a number of plot threads left hanging after this show's conclusion.Fullmetal Alchemist can be watched in its entirety on YouTube and Hulu., and the first half on Netflix.
Alphonse has his blood seal which bind his soul to his armour. He is especially vulnerable to water as it will wipe it away. When he becomes a living Philosopher's Stone he loses this weakness but gets a new in the form using the stone - which happens even when Al does regular alchemy - drains his life-force.
The homunculi can only be defeated by the remains of the person they were created to replace. Wrath is an exception because he was created with the aforementioned remains.
Adaptation Expansion: The show either worked in or expanded numerous scenes imported from the manga. Episode 13, "Fullmetal vs. Flame", combines two side stories (Ed vs. Roy and Fury finding a home for Hayate), a 4-koma ("MINISKIRTS!!!"), and Ed's search for information regarding Dr. Marcoh.
Hughes also received an expanded character arc, which turned him into a more prominent character prior to his death. His death scene also ended up far longer and more dramatic.
Aerith and Bob: One of these names does not sound very European: Ed, Al, Roy, Izumi. Can you spot it?
Aesop Amnesia: Played for Laughs. In the episode Truth Behind Truths, Edward gets many reminders that being small isn't so bad. At one point he even beats himself up for saying it. Yet when it seems he's finally absorbed the lesson, only a couple of scenes later his height is commented upon and he goes ballistic as usual.
All Deaths Final: Alchemy cannot revive the dead. Those who try to do so end up making homunculi — and end up losing at least part of their body as Equivalent Exchange.
The only subversion to this rule occurs after Envy kills Ed, since Al — at this point, a walking Philosopher's Stone — performs the world's first perfect human transmutation.
All-Loving Hero: Both of the Elrics (despite Ed's typical demeanor) are definitely this. Especially evident in episodes where the brothers visit Adventure Towns to find leads on the Philosopher's Stone; they go there looking for a lead, but the minute something bad happens to someone, they drop everything and rush to help that person for no other reason than the fact that it's the right thing to do.
Animated Armor: Al, of course. And Barry the Chopper, as well as several others in Lab 5 such as The Slicer Brothers.
Animation Bump: The series as a whole is animated quite well, but the larger action scenes and key dramatic moments such as the failed transmutation, the death of Hughes and the discovery of Shou Tucker's chimera and the subsequent confrontation definitely get a boost.
Anti-Villain: While many of the villains receive a lot of humanization, Scar ends up so sympathetic that he nearly qualifies as an Anti-Hero toward the end. Lust also becomes more sympathetic toward the end. On the other end of the spectrum, Kimblee and Barry the Chopper are far more unambiguously villainous in this version than they are in the manga/Brotherhood.
Artificial Limbs: Ed of course being the main example, but many people show up who have them.
Ascended Extra: Rose, General Hakuro, Basque Grand, Shou Tucker, Lust, Sheska and Marta are all given larger roles in comparison to the manga. Lust in particular is given substantially greater Character Development in this version.
Every single alchemist. The two main requirements for performing alchemy are knowledge of what we know as chemistry and being in good shape. Shou Tucker and Izumi are the exceptions. Tucker turns up with his torso practically bent backwards on the back of a bear that walks on two legs. Izumi, Incurable Cough of Death aside, can beat Al in a straight fight without alchemy or half of her internal organs, but isn't much of a bookworm.
Berserk Button: Don't EVER call Ed short. Or imply it. It hurts his feelings, pisses him off, and may end with you being hospitalized and humiliated. And then you'll be ashamed for being beaten by a shrimp.
A more dramatic, one-time example: Ed does not take Tucker'sNot So Different speech well.
Don't ever insult Winry's skills as an automail mechanic. (Or break it. She'll throw a wrench at your head.)
Don't get in the way of Envy killing Hohenheim or make fun of him for it. Just mentioning Hohenheim in front of him will piss him off.
If you're a State Alchemist, do not get in Scar's way. This changes after his Character Development, but he will make an exception for Kimblee.
Big Screwed-Up Family: Al loses his body when he and Ed botch an attempt to revive their mother, creating a villainous duplicate and the new Sloth instead, Ed hates his father, Dante is technically the Elrics' Evil Stepmother, another homunculus is one of her former lovers, and two other homunculi are Ed and Al's half brother and Izumi's son.
Bishōnen: Several of the characters, most notably Ed, Roy, and Scar, are given less rounded faces and (in the case of Ed and Scar) pronounced jawlines to hike up the pretty.
Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Dante is defeated and Amestris is free from her manipulation of the government through King Bradley, but Ed is stuck in the world on the other side of the Gate apart from Al, and Al has lost the memory of his travels with Ed. Hawkeye and Mustang survive and have each other, but Mustang's dream of taking over from Bradley and righting the wrongs of his regime are crushed.
Book Ends: The "Humankind cannot gain" speech is narrated by Al throughout the series to reflect what has been learned over the course of the story.
Conqueror of Shamballa, after a Batman Cold Open, we're shown a scene of Edward in our world, hitchhiking on a cart full of familiar characters. The film ends the same way, though with Alphonse and Noah joining Ed.
Breaking Speech: Dante deconstructs Ed's belief in Equivalent Exchange by showing him the many ways it doesn't work in real life.
Breather Episode: The "Flame Alchemist" Lower Deck Episode, featuring the zany hijinks of Mustang and his crew (and no Ed or Al), came right as the series was doubling down on the darkness, but before it would be too much of a distraction from the main plot.
Call Back: Just like its source material, this series loves its Call Backs. Expect nearly everything that happens in the first half of the series to be referenced at least once at some point in the second, if not sooner. Even a filler episode. (See Chekhov's Gunman)
Cerebus Syndrome: The anime starts out pretty lighthearted but eventually becomes dark. Just when it seems like it's going to get lighthearted again, it goes back to being dark and just gets worse from there until there are little to no comedic moments.
Cheerful Child: Nina and Elicia, although the latter is a lot more subdued after her father's death.
Chekhov M.I.A.: Hohenheim, the father of protagonists Edward and Alphonse Elric, and a very skilled alchemist. He returns just in time for the start of the third act of the story.
Chekhov's Gunman: Lyra, a wind-using alchemist and Yoki's lackey, is a seemingly innocuous addition to the anime's Youswell episode; she later becomes the container for the Big Bad via Grand Theft Me.
City of Canals: Aquroya, which much like its inspiration, Venice, is sinking into the mud it's built on. Unlike Venice, which has several hundred years left without intervention, Aquroya has a mere five.
Creator Cameo: Director Seiji Mizushima makes a blink-or-you'll-miss-it appearance in episode 13; manga author Hiromu Arakawa's bovine self-caricature makes several stealth appearances throughout the series.
Culture Chop Suey: At least one scene has Ed eating rice out of bowls with chopsticks in what is otherwise a setting based on early twentieth century Europe.
They tend to sit and bow in a Japanese manner, despite being European. You can see Japanese flags in early episodes, despite Japan being non-existent, and the modern flag not even having been thought of yet, assuming the dates given correspond to a real world calendar.
In one episode, Breda is playing shogi with several of Mustang's men, explaining that it's a game from "a country in the east". So yes, the Fullmetal Alchemist world does have a Wutai (which presumably is where Izumi hails from).
Edward's automail, Steam Punk prosthetics which offer full mobility but presumably require constant maintenance. They give him an advantage in combat, as they are sturdy, disposable, transmutable and throw off opponents, but they are still prosthetics—meaning he had to lose his right arm and left leg to begin with—and a constant reminder of the price he and his brother paid for trying to resurrect the dead.
Scar's right arm, which is tattooed with a transmutation circle, but which can only take apart things, whereas a normal alchemical circle deconstructs something and puts it back together in a desirable shape. Scar dislikes it due to how the arm is a transplant from his brother, who thus sacrificed himself to save Scar, and how it utilizes alchemy which is taboo to Scar's people, the Ishbalans.
The homunculi, who are practically immortal and possess amazing superpowers, yet bitterly resent their existence and supernatural forms. Likewise with Al and the other souls-bonded-to-suits found in Laboratory 5, who are likewise, almost immortal and yet, with the exception of Al, see themselves as not-human. Lust even compares the two situations when trying to explain to Ed why she wants to become human.
Cute Kitten: The episode "Fullmetal VS Flame" features them.
Cut Song: "Melissa" (the first opening song) and "Undo" (the third) were unused in the North American airings of the series; "Ready Steady Go" (the second opening) replaced them instead, with the opening finally changing once "Rewrite" (the fourth) comes along in the final stretch of the series.
Death Is Cheap: The fact that it is not cheap (in a literal sense) is the reason Ed and Al are missing body parts. They didn't pay enough when trying to bring their mom back.
Deliberately Monochrome: A subtle example. Scenes set in our world are decidedly more muted and faded, emphasizing how mundane and realistic Ed's new home has become. This is in contrast to the more fantastical and radiant trappings of Amestris.
Depending on the Writer: Some of the episodes written and/or directed by staff outside of the core team have odd visual/setting/plot/tonal inconsistencies. The most egregious example is likely episode 10, which feels like it belongs to a different show altogether.
Determinator: Ed is going to figure out how to make The Philosopher's Stone no matter what. And when he realizes the price it takes, he will take down the conspiracy made to create the stones by any means necessary.
Disappeared Dad: Hohenheim, who left the family while Ed and Al were in the single digits because his body was starting to decay and he refused to let his wife and the children see.
Disconnected By Death: Hughes is killed by Envy after the homunculi discover he knows too much about their plans.
Distant Finale: The (non-canon) Kids OVA shows Ed in 2005 in our world, having just turned 100 years old.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Obvious allusions to Nazism, Catholicism, imperialism in the Middle East, and to colonialism tout court. Ishbalans even offer striking parallels with Native North Americans. The Ishbalans were originally based on the Ainu, but also seemed to have allusions to the Middle East and Islam (Ishbalans are monotheists and have similar beliefs). Odds are that they were based on several different Truth in Television parallels. Despite the similarity of certain Amestrian religions to Christianity, it is mentioned that Christianity ceased to be practiced in Amestris several centuries ago, presumably around when alchemy first became successful, causing the split between their timeline and that of the world on the other side of the gate—that is, early-20th-century Europe.
Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Which causes a Broken Aesop in the final episode: Ed is said to be "not dead for long" rather than Only Mostly Dead, meaning Al succeeds at the task that he and Ed had spent the whole show learning to accept was impossible.
Envy, who looks almost perfectly female (and has a female, albeit androgynous-sounding, voice actress) save for his lack of breasts. His outfit doesn't help matters.
Barry the Chopper when he was human.
Early-Bird Cameo: Barry the Chopper (is dealt with by the Elrics in the flesh well before they encounter him as a possessed armor at Lab 5), and Lyra (shows up as Yoki's lackey in Youswell and later becomes Dante's servant...and body).
Easier to miss: Izumi and Sig can be spotted with their backs to the camera at a train station in an early episode, Frank Archer can first be seen as one of many soldiers at Hughes' funeral, and Envy's dragon form and Haushofer show up in the final episode before going on to play larger roles in The Movie.
Early Installment Weirdness: For the first dozen episodes or so, the writers don't all seem to be on the same page regarding the laws of alchemy and particulars of Amestris, leading to such oddities as alchemy being used on remote targets, Ed knocking Al into a river without concern for his blood seal, signs appearing in Japanese, a reference to alchemy use causing physical exhaustion that is never mentioned again, and Ed transmuting flowers out of snow. One particular error in the broadcast version, wherein Ed discovers he can use alchemy without a transmutation circle by punching his fist, was even modified for the DVD release (to a shot of Ed clasping his palms together).
Earn Your Happy Ending: In the last episode, Hohenheim tells Ed that this is what he and his brother have been doing all along.
Engineered Public Confession: Used to take down Cornello as he admits his religion is nothing but a sham in a concealed microphone. All of Lior hears it.
Equivalent Exchange: The foundation of alchemy and what Edward and Alphonse believe as a philosophy: to make something, something of equal value must be paid in return.
Esoteric Motifs: All the homunculi have Ouroboros tattoos. In the movie, Envy, the last homunculus, becomes a literal one when transformed into a serpent.
Even Evil Has Standards: When Dante erases Gluttony's mind, turning him into a creature of pure hunger, even Envy looks a little bit horrified.
Evil Mentor: Dante, the elderly pharmacist introduced as Izumi's alchemy teacher, turns out to be the Big Bad.
Expy: The police inspector in Episode 10 is an obvious Shout-Out to Inspector Zenigata of Lupin III. Long gray coat, long bearded face, old-fashioned hat, preference for handcuffs - Ed even calls him "Ossan" in Japanese.
Extreme Omnivore: Gluttony, a homunculus who is not only always hungry, but is seemingly capable of eating anything.
Eyepatch of Power: King Bradley, the Fuhrer of the country the series takes place in. Roy Mustang gains one near the end of the series as well.
Foreshadowing: In regards to the manga version. Example 1: Mustang's defeat of Pride in the final episode has a lot in common with his defeat of Lust in the manga (both homunculi impale him with their respective weapons during the battle, and both are ultimately killed by Mustang burning them with his bare hands until their regenerative abilities are exhausted). Example 2: At the end of the anime, Mustang loses an eye. In the manga, he goes completely BLIND. Example 3: Hawkeye emotionally shoots Archer to death after thinking Roy is dead. She does the same in the manga to Lust, but it doesn't work in the latter case.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In episode 3 "Mother," if you pause the screen as Ed reads A Beginner's Guide to Alchemy and read the page, it reads like the review of an RPG book, complete with a mention of a "d20" and a "Prestige Class."
Gecko Ending: It diverges from the manga in many aspects, some from the very beginning, and divorces from the source entirely about halfway through.
This isn't frequently recognized, but plot points from the manga continue to show up in the anime right up until the last few episodes, the final definitive points they have in common being Ed and Al meeting Hohenheim in Risembool and Ed exhuming his mother's grave. The context of these points is merely altered more significantly in the second half of the series than the first.
Gentle Giant: Al and Armstrong: the former has a very sweet heart (since he is a kid), but he's bound to a giant set of armor that can intimidate others; the latter is more than willing to fight for the side of good and he has the large, muscly build to prove it.
Geometric Magic: Alchemy requires tracing shapes and diagrams into a flat surface to perform spells.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The anime in general is quite dark and violent for a shonen series, but more specifically some of the later episodes sneak in some rather heavy sexual innuendo, such as Hawkeye'sdream in episode 37 (wherein the dub is only too happy to play up the suggestive subtext), and later more seriously in the form of the not-so-subtle implication that Rose was raped and impregnated by Amestrian soldiers during the rebellion in Liore.
As an aside: During the series' run on [adult swim], the final episode (and only the final episode) aired with a special disclaimer warning of "extreme violence". The episode in question is not significantly gorier than many previous ones (such as one, for example, in which a character appears to have their throat slit quite graphically onscreen, which was aired unedited and with no disclaimer); the reason for the additional disclaimer is suspected to be the scene in which Bradley throttles his own son to death.
There's also an episode where Ed and company stumble across a young girl being cornered by a gang of thugs in the forest, and save her. From the predatory expressions on the men's faces and the way the girl clutches her clothing to herself, it's quite obvious that it was an attempted gang rape.
Government Conspiracy: The homunculi have infiltrated the upper echelons of government in order to conduct large-scale experiments and incite conflicts in the hope of obtaining more and better Philosopher's Stones for Dante. They even caused the Ishbalan war.
Grand Theft Me: Dante. Hohenheim used to do this, but apparently stopped after meeting Trisha Elric and having kids.
Green Rocks: Red rocks, actually: the red stones. Their abilities include healing injuries, amplifying alchemical power (temporarily bypassing equivalent exchange, though not without the risk of a rebound; the alchemic equivalent of a backfire), and giving the homunculi extra "lives".
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Armstrong and Sig Curtis have a "flex off" in the episode Assault on South Headquarters.
He Who Fights Monsters: Scar went from a victim of genocide by alchemy to hunting down and killing every state alchemist he could find; with alchemy. He eventually becomes aware of this.
...which does not stop him from murdering 7,000 Amestrian infantrymen as his dying act.
He Will Not Cry, so I Cry for Him: Ed irritably asks Winry "What are you crying for?" after she admits to having opened his pocket watch. She replies "Because you won't, neither of you will! So now I'm crying for you both!"
Historical Hilarity: Fritz Lang shows up in The Movie and acts as a genial comic relief mentor to Ed. He correctly guesses that Ed is not a native of Earth and discusses the subject of parallel words with him at one point, wondering what his otherworldly double would be like. Ed gives him a sideways look but doesn't let on his counterpart is a genocidal war criminal dictator: King Bradley aka Pride. Makes sense, given that Lang was Jewish and his counterpart is basically the alternate universe version of Adolf Hitler.
Dante, in trying to get Gluttony to get over Lust and help make the Philosopher's Stone. She transmutes away all his reason, turning him into a mindless monster. When the Elrics ruin her plan to create the stone and she tries to escape, Gluttony eats through the floor of the elevator she's on and goes after her despite her trying to reason with him.
Also when Bradley reveals his most treasured possession (the skull of the man Dante created him from) to his son Selim, imparting its importance, but not its meaning on the boy. Selim later rescues it from the family safe and brings it to his father during Roy's attack on the Fuhrer's mansion. Bradley freezes up in the presence of the skull and loses his regenerative capabilities, allowing Roy to immolate him.
Mugear. He tried to get red stones processed so they could be used as alchemic modifiers and killed Nash Tringham when he objected. He's killed in a cave-in after the mining of the red stones causes the cave to collapse.
Housewife: And God knows Izumi won't let you forget it!
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Sig and Izumi. She is of average size, but Sig makes up for it by being utterly enormous.
Iconic Item: Ed's watch, red coat and armblade, Roy's gloves, and Al's armor.
The Earth versions of several Amestristan characters: Fritz Lang (King Bradley), Maes and Gracia Hughes, Alfons Heidrich (Alphonse Elric), Noa (Rose) and the two gypsies driving the truck that pick Ed and Al up at the end of the movie (Scar and Lust).
Heidrich's coworkers are human versions of Greed's chimeras, and one of them bears a strong resemblance to Yoki.
On the other hand, the letter Ed is writing to Winry in episode 7 actually does consist of him boastfully describing his exploits in the State Alchemy Exam (albeit in slightly questionable English) and reveals quite a bit about his character at that point in the story.
Image Song: In order; Ed, Roy, Al, Winry, Hughes. There's also a few group songs, two with all five.
Imposter Forgot One Detail: Pointed out to Envy by Hughes when the former is trying to imitate Maria Ross. Hughes is able to realize she is fake because Envy's version of Ross does not have a mole underneath her right eye.
In Medias Res: The story begins in the middle of Ed and Al's search for the Philosopher's Stone and Ed's career as a State Alchemist. The next several episodes are a flashback to show how they got there, building up to the time period of the first two episodes.
Karma Houdini: General Hakuro. You can infer what happened to him after the fall of the dictatorship, but we're never shown what happened to him.
Shou Tucker as well. He turns himself into a chimera and loses whatever sanity he may have had, but doesn't get any punishment past that.
Kill It with Fire: Roy Mustang, codenamed the Flame Alchemist. Go on, guess what he does with his alchemy.
Killed Off for Real: Trisha (illness), Cornello (eaten by Gluttony), Majahal (fell on his own sword), Nina (Mercy Kill via Scar), Basque Grand (via Scar), Mugear (cave-in), the younger Slicer Brother (suicide), the older Slicer Brother (seal destroyed by Lust), Marcoh (eaten by Gluttony), Yoki (stabbed by Lust), Barry the Chopper (via Scar), Maes Hughes (shot by Envy), Law and Dorochet (killed by Lust and Gluttony), Lujon (stabbed by Lust), Lyra (body taken over by Dante, eviscerated by her in her body), Greed (impaled by Ed), Marta (impaled by Pride), Kimblee (via Scar), Scar (gunshot wounds), Lust (stabbed by Wrath), Sloth (evaporated by Ed), Selim (strangled to death by Pride), Pride (burned by Mustang), Archer (gunshot wounds from Hawkeye), Dante (eaten by Gluttony) and in the movie, Izumi (succumbed to illness), Wrath (sacrificed by Al), Gluttony (sacrificed by Al), Envy (sacrificed), Hohenheim (suicide), Heidrich (shot by Rudolf Hess), and Eckhart (shot by a Hughes Expy). Basically, this is a show where Anyone Can Die.
"I LOVE DOGS!!!" and "All female officers will be required to wear...TINY MINISKIRTS!" Travis Willingham refers to this incarnation of Mustang as "Armstang" - a mix of Mustang and Armstrong (a role he also auditioned for but didn't get).
Laser-Guided Karma: Perhaps a case of Sidewinder Karma - Wrath kills Lust, the only person the manchild-like Gluttony ever cared for. Then Dante inadvertently turns Gluttony into a mindless monster and he gets trapped in the sunken city beneath Central, supposedly never to be seen again. Between the end of the series and The Movie, Wrath pulls a Heel-Face Turn and helps Al to get back to the last place The Gate was seen: the sunken city. Upon their arrival, they're attacked by a monstrous and mutated Gluttony, who's out to kill Wrath for what he did to Lust. Gluttony inflicts a mortal wound on Wrath, but that was Wrath's plan all along. While Gluttony munches on Wrath like a chew toy, Al transmutes both of them to summon the Gate, and Wrath freely accepts his fate.
Even more so is the fact that all of the energy for alchemy is souls from beyond the Gate, i.e. our world.
A Light in the Distance: Edward and Alphonse's mother, Trisha Elric, would light a lantern to use in order to help guide her sons home.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: If The Movie and Kids OVA are anything to go by, it's implied that either the Elric brothers eventually had their experiences made into a movie in our world or their story inspired Arakawa to make the franchise in the first place. Alfons in the movie even lampshades it by suggesting to Ed that he become a novelist.
Meaningful Name: The Fuhrer is named King Bradley although in his case it's justified. There's also sharpshooter Riza Hawkeye and, on a subtler level, Roy (Roi means "king" in French. Guess who wants to replace King as Fuhrer?). Scieska is Polish for 'path', and she is a living path to lost documents.
Hiromu Arakawa's self-caricatures (in which she depicts herself as a cartoon cow) make cameo appearances in a couple of late episodes.
The Napoleon: Ed, and he is not happy about it. He does get visibly taller over the course of the series, and in the The Movie, he's only slightly shorter than average-sized characters.
Necromantic: Trying to bring back the dead with alchemy is a bad idea.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Scar's arm. It's initially introduced as simply having the power to deconstruct matter but it also has other functions such as decoding information and feeding it into Scar's brain. Justified as in this adapation it is an incomplete Philospher's Stone, so it's more complicated than Manga!Scar's arm.
The homunculi a couple of times.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The first half of the series is all about Ed and Al unwittingly doing the legwork for Dante and the homunculi, the second half is about them trying to undo all the damage. Examples include creating Sloth; overthrowing Cornello and causing a civil war in Lior; shitcanning Yoki, which leads to Lyra going to work for Dante; encouraging Hughes to look into Lab 5/the homunculi; accidentally setting Greed free; finding Dr. Marcoh and exposing him to the homunculi; finding Wrath and letting the homunculi get their hands on him; ect.
Nigh-Invulnerability: Homunculi are not impervious to damage anymore than a normal human is, but can regenerate it right away. (Though the rate of regeneration seems to vary between them, e.g. Pride is able to regenerate almost instanteneously, while Wrath's regenerative abilities seem considerably less developed, and Lust falls somewhere in between.) They don't have great armor, just tons and tons of Hit Points, with the specific exception of Greed, whose special trick is turning his body into super-armor.
No Fourth Wall: One of the OVAs casts the audience as a new alchemist.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Although Mustang and Hawkeye have a brief Ship Tease at the end of the series when Mustang talks about how the imperfect nature of the world makes it beautiful.
The Earth scenes in The Conqueror of Shamballa, where everyone speaks without an accent (despite taking place in the Weimar Republic). Possibly justified in that having the cast speak with German accents might distract from the plot and that it could be a case of Translation Convention.
Though it's averted with the ending of the series, which does have Dr. Haushoffer speaking with a clearly German accent.
Not So Different: This happens often throughout the first part of the series. In order: Cornello, Majhal, Bald, Tucker, Barry the Chopper, and Psiren. Ed eventually lampshades it. Wrath also invokes this trope a few times, gleefully pointing out how he wound up with Ed's sacrificed arm and leg and how Izumi more or less took him (and Al) on as surrogate sons and Replacement Goldfishes for Wrath—her actual son.
Opening Narration: There are two different ones; the first is by Alphonse, the second is by Edward (in the dub at least, Al did the second narration originally).
Out of the Inferno: Pride does this several times during his final battle against Mustang. He even states he's invoking the trope on purpose to test his Healing Factor, since he's never had an occasion to do so before.
Overtook the Manga: A somewhat unusual case, in which the creator of the manga specifically asked the people making the anime to do this, since the manga was nowhere near being completed at the time the anime came out.
Phlebotinum Breakdown: If you don't know your stuff, alchemic reactions can backfire on you pretty spectacularly. Even if you do know your stuff, alchemic reactions can backfire on you pretty spectacularly. As ANYONE who committed taboo can attest...
Roy Mustang forgets he can't make fire in the rain when he first encounters Scar, and another character has to jump in with pistols to save him.
Piggybacking on Hitler: In The Movie, the Nazis and Thule Society seem to be piggybacking on each other. The former see their Thule comrades' plans to open Shambhala/Amestris as a key in forging their thousand-year Reich while the latter generally considers them a grand distraction preventing the outside world from interfering with their scheme.
Public Domain Soundtrack: The old chestnut, the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth, is used to surprisingly great effect for The Reveal of what's on the other side of the gate. It really gives you the feeling that you've suddenly been transported from the fantastic world of the anime to the "real" one.
Chopin's "Tristesse" shows up in the denouement of the final episode.
Sacrificial Revival Spell: Ed is killed by Envy, then Alphonse transmutes his own life into Ed's, then Ed transmutes his life and body into Al's life and a new body for him, to boot. Alphonse can't repeat the process after that because Ed gets stuck in a parallel universe.
Conqueror of Shamballa is a fairly accurate portrayal of the political climate in 1920s Germany. Although there were some obvious deviations from the actual history, they were clearly intentional. The Munich scenes were based on photos taken from the city itself. Also, the firearms used in the same scenes are models that were more or less available in 1923.
The World War I scenes towards the end of the series are likewise based on the fact that Zeppelins did bomb London at the time. In fact, Ed's "Earth-death" is based on a historical account of one of the airships crashing in the city.
Shout-Out: The Gate heavily resembles "The Gate of Hell" sculpture minus some of the Biblical figures.
Theme Naming: Most of the military characters are named after weapons, vehicles, and companies from around World War II. The homunculi, meanwhile, are named after the seven deadly sins, and their master Dante is named after Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: Warehouse 13 is fodder for a ghost hunt episode. It actually turns out to be Warehouse B, and Mustang's men are just a bunch of panicky idiots.
Those Wacky Nazis: In The Movie. Taken to disturbing levels by Earth's Hughes, who's simultaneously a comic relief character and a Nazi supporter.
Envy flies into a homicidal rage after Dante sends Hohenheim through the Gate, depriving him of the chance to kill him.
Wrath flips out after Edward kills his "mother", Sloth (with his help, no less). Gluttony falls into a depression when Ed tells him Wrath killed Lust.
In The Movie, Eckhart just loses it all together once she crosses over to Amestris and has her paranoid delusions "confirmed".
Dante, the main villain, has one after the final confrontation while trying to flee the scene. She rants angrily about how the Elrics have squandered the Philosopher's Stone, knowing full well that she most likely won't have enough time to create a new one before her current body rots away. To her credit, though, she manages to restrain herself well, even when a mindless Gluttony decides to pop in for a visit...
Pride gets into a rage after his adopted son, Selim, brings his remains to him when he was fighting Roy. He proceeds to strangle him, and breaks his neck.
Villainy Discretion Shot: During the several centuries he lived with his lover Dante, Hohenheim joined her in killing people and stealing their bodies in order to remain young. He did repent, though, and planned on dying of old age in his current body.
Villainous Crossdresser: Barry the Chopper in his first appearance. It's really creepy. Also played with with Envy.
Welcome to the Real World: Near the end of the series, it is revealed that on the other end of the Gate can be found our world, from which the souls of the dead flow to power alchemical transmutations.
Maes Hughes' death in episode 25, which plays out similarly to the same scene in the manga, but with different dialogue, marking it not only as an important event in the story, but also as an important point of story divergence.
Episode 40: Ed learns that Scar is planning on luring the military to Lior to transmute them into a Philosopher's Stone and that Rose was captured and gang-raped by a group of soldiers sometime during the previous raid (impregnating her and traumatizing her to the point that she can't speak). Lyranote actually Dante using her body as a vessel returns and plans to help Scar and Rose with the endeavor. King Bradley is revealed to be a Homunculus (Pride, specifically) and kills Marta. Yeah, this is the point where things start looking really grim...
Episode 50, simply because Ed DIES. So far in this anime, anyone who has died stays dead, period. So when Ed gets stabbed by Envy, a lot of people thought he was really dead. The scenes shortly before that are also a huge game-changer, as they finally reveal what's at the other side of the Gate: our world. Specifically, London in World War I.
The blue rose petal on the old woman from episode 4, proving that she's actually the presumed dead Corrine.
King Bradley's secretary killing a man with a jet of water formed from her hand, signaling to the audience that she isn't actually human.
In episode 50, Envy's true form, which looks like Hoenheim.
What Happened to the Mouse?: With Envy, Pride and Greed as the only unambiguous exceptions, a lot of the Homunculi are alluded to be "replacements" for previous ones; Envy refers to Wrath as "the new Wrath" and Lust informs Greed that she's the second among them to bear that name. Greed also implies that there used to be another Sloth, and Envy even states that if Edward kills any of them "you-know-who" will just replace them. We are never shown how the previous ones died.