These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
On top of Rose, Winry has also been on the receiving end of anger from Yaoi Fangirls because of this trope - although the fact that she's close to both Elric brothers means some of them will just ship her with the other one instead.
Mostly subverted with Riza, perhaps because her relationship with Roy is close enough to the line between platonic and romantic (in the manga/Brotherhood - it doesn't get elaborated on much at all in the 2003 anime) that fanfic writers can easily shift her into the former role if they'd rather Roy be with Ed or Hughes.
Memetic Sex God: Roy Mustang often has this effect in fanfiction, which, to be fair, is not that dissimilar from his character in the actual show ( although, it gets subverted in the manga/Brotherhood). The difference is in fanfiction, he tends to have this effect regardless of gender, whereas in the anime we only see it happen to women (and in fact, many of the men around him can't stand him for stealing their girlfriends).
Moral Event Horizon: Shou Tucker turning his daughter and the family dog into a chimera. Some even believe he had already been past the MEH back when we first met him, as he had already done the same thing to his wife.
Only The Creator Does It Right: Some fans of the manga feel this way about the 2003 series; conversely, part of the 2003 anime's fanbase considers it the far superior work. The majority falls somewhere in the middle, but the flame wars tend to drown them out.
Portmanteau Couple Name: Royai for Roy Mustang/Riza Hawkeye, Edwin for Edward Elric/Winry Rockbell, Royed for Roy/Edward, Hyuroi or Hyuroy for Roy/Maes Hughes, LingFan for Ling Yao/Lan Fan and AlMei or AluMei for Alphonse Elric/May Chang.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Royai vs. Royed, Edwin vs. Royed, Edwin vs. Alwin, Royai vs. Hyuroi...let's face it, it's all over this fandom. But particular mention goes to Edwin vs. Ed/Rose, the mother of all FMA ship wars coming off of the 2003 anime.
4 Koma Theater. Scar. Winry’s Parents. Will never be able to look at Scar the same way again. We need a “Crowning Moment of Ridiculous” page, but “Funny” will do for now.
Was Miles actually right about Grumman planning to let Roy and Olivier take the heat as traitors, while he swooped in to take over the government?
It's generally agreed from The Reveal about his spy network that Roy Mustang is exaggerating his reputation as The Casanova at least somewhat. But the degree to which he is - whether he's actually completely hopeless with women who aren't Riza (or even not into any women at all), or he just dates about the same amount as a typical affluent, attractive, single 29-year-old - is a question that's caused a surprising amount of Internet Backdraft among the fandom. Roy's sex life is apparently Serious Business.
It goes beyond just "War is Bad", however. Once the Briggs arc starts, Edward and Alphonse became walking anvils. It gets to a point where adults rarely if ever get upset when Ed and Al lecture them, and those lectures often result in convincing those adults to see things their way. (See: the chimeras in the Briggs arc.)
For a few more of the non-so-subtle morals-of-the-story, there's: "being cynical is bad", "falling into despair after tragedy is bad", "killing is bad" and "revenge is bad". The last one is taken to particular extremes, when Roy's pursuit of revenge on Envy is portrayed as morally equivalent to Scar's killing random State Alchemists. Which it arguably is (Envy was the one who killed Hughes, amongst a whole bunch of other shit, State Alchemists in general destroyed Ishval), but still.
There's the even bigger issue, which has recently become a hot topic among the fandom on Tumblr, about how Scar's Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the State Alchemists is arguably framed as "just as bad" as what the State Alchemists themselves did in Ishval. Obviously, that's full of Unfortunate Implications, if you agree that that's what the narrative is saying.
Is Brotherhood's animation style bold, crisp, and original, or ugly, washed out, and far too cartoony?
Was the manga's ending incredible or did it feel like fanfiction?
Is Brotherhood a better adaptation of the manga or not? Somewhat of a separate question from the "which canon is better" debate, since even a lot of people who preferred the manga found things to dislike about Brotherhood adaptation-wise.
In more recent years, a big debate has sprung up over whether the manga (and Brotherhood by extension) are truly deserving of their "feminist" cred. The results have been... explosive, to say the least.
Being an Ensemble Darkhorse has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations!! Both the Major and his sister are definite favorites of the fandom.
Amongst the bara fans, Scar is a big time example. Darius and Heinkel were also popular enough in fanart to get a doujinshi.
Greed is probably the most popular Homunculus behind Envy, especially considering how minor of a character the former is compared to the latter.
In the manga poll, Greed I and II were ranked the 12th and 13th most popular characters respectively (the highest ranked Homunculus, only behind Envy). If they were both ranked as a single character (since they are the same person), then Greed would have scored higher, maybe even higher than Envy.
There's Wrath. A guy who can do all those feats of implausible awesome should have been here by default. He took down a tank. With a sword.''
Most of the Homunculi, then.
Evil Is Sexy: Lust, obviously. And this canon's version of Kimblee has a huge number of fangirls.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In one of the omake after Pride consumes Kimblee, Pride is seen spitting him out in disgust. A few volumes later Kimblee ends up depowering Pride from within and allowing Ed to reduce him to his true form.
Genius Bonus: Van Hohenheim is named after Paracelsus, a.k.a. Phillippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. In-story, the dwarf in the flask i.e. Father names him Van Hohenheim but initially suggests he take on the name Theophrastus Bombastus.
The scene in Brotherhood where Ed and Al see Bradley while talking with his wife and son is already quite unsettling for them because they know that he’s a homunculus, but it gets even worse if you know that his son is a homunculus, too. One has to feel sorry for Mrs. Bradley.
In a flashback to Xerxes, the king ordered a "waterway" to be dug around the kingdom. One of the workers comments "Nothing less to be expected from the King of Xerxes, he even thinks about commoners like us!" Eeeeugh.
Ed mentions that if he ever went to see God, he'd probably get sent right back to earth. Guess what he does twice; once to escape certain doom, and again to save Alphonse in the final chapter. And that's without accounting for the very start of the story in the first place, meaning he's secretly speaking from experience and then it happens again.
Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey, who are the dub voices of Roy Mustang and Lust respectively, are now married. With that knowledge, just try to watch episode 19 without laughing at some point. This also makes Mustang talking about bringing Lust onto her knees into a whole 'nother context...
Idiot Plot: The homunculus Envy is eventually reduced to a powerless form and May Chang has to return to her home country. Trouble is, the plot requires them both to be in Central for the climactic battles. Arakawa's solution is to have the older and wiser people around May put manipulative, sadistic Envy in a jar so that May can get the secret of immortality from him... the hideously nasty secret that they have all refused to use. Envy talks her into going back to Central in about five minutes.
Major Armstrong's Catch Phrase "X HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!"
Misaimed Fandom: Roy'scurbstomp of Envy was enjoyed a little too much by the fandom. Envy, from the 2003 series, was a massive Karma Houdini who managed to get away with a lot of atrocities without any real retribution, so many saw his torture at the hands of Mustang as belated Laser-Guided Karma.
Now that the anime has come out, Roy's mad rage and Envy's pain and fear are easily evident in their voices, so this is less of a problem.
Bradley not only headed Amestris during the rebellion, but rejected Loug Lowe's proposal to sacrifice his own life to end the violence, saying one life is only equivalent to one life (and presumably intending to kill all the Ishvalans).
Envy killing Hughes and almost getting Maria Ross executed for it, and starting the Ishval rebellion by killing a child and framing an innocent soldier for it (who got court-martialed and presumably executed) and if the later wasn't enough, when Ed and Al find out this from him, he proudly gloats about this act.
After Father swallows Hohenheim, he looks like he's pregnant. This is offset by the fact that Father's One-Winged Angel is absolutely terrifying.
Father's appearance before swallowing a god also qualifies. How ridiculous it looks only makes the shit that much crazier.
The aforementioned eyecatches actually manage to come off as pretty badass in episode 44, where they're played just after the title character's triumphant and unquestionably awesome reentry into the series after being missing for an episode.
Nightmare Retardant: If something terrified you in a volume, chances are the omake will make fun of it in a such a way you'll never be able to take it seriously again.
The Scrappy: The gold-toothed doctor is also not well liked, often being referred to as a "bastard".
Superlative Dubbing: Like its predecessor before it. Possibly moreso as nearly all the original cast is brought back and have experience for the roles. Even the newcomers for Al, Scar, etc. manage to capture the spirit of their characters.
They Just Didn't Care: A criticism frequently leveled at Brotherhood, mostly on account of the rushed early episodes, which are an unfortunate side effect of trying to cover all the events of the manga covered in the 2003 anime to catch new viewers up to speed, without staying on them long enough to bore people who saw the first anime.
Miles is an even more extreme version of the latter. He joins the military that tried to wipe out his people, and the messed-up implications of that are never really examined. And during the Briggs Arc, he's contrasted with then-pre-redemption Scar (who cant join the military anyway, since he's a full-blooded Ishvalan) in a very "good minority, bad minority" sort of way. Once again, Miles's goal as a part-Ishvalan in the military - join them completely and by doing so, change their attitudes toward his race - is something that rarely works to enact widespread change in Real Life, but happens to coincide with what a lot of actual racists think oppressed minorities should do.
Garfiel, particularly in the omakes, where he's frequently the butt of jokes about how gross effeminate men are, and is portrayed as a sexual predator for laughs.
Grumman slapping Rebecca's rear being played for laughs. In the manga, she at least gets to yell at him for it, but not in the anime.
Wangst: Al's serious consideration that he might just be a fake-soul-in-armor that Ed created, and Winry and Pinako are in on the joke.
What an Idiot: When the heroes, after long enmity and a fight, finally reduce Envy to a mostly-helpless larval green thing, they... put him in a jar and give him to May Chang so that she can save her family's fortunes with the secret of immortality. There are several problems with this.
Although May, Ed, and a reforming Scar are not the kind of people to kill a helpless opponent, the soldiers and Yoki should have fewer reservations, particularly as Envy has been incredibly dangerous, and immediately demonstrates that he is only mostly helpless.
The secret to immortality that Envy knows involves some really nasty, evil things and there's no good reason to think that he knows a better method. Edward has already refused to use a Philospher's Stone because of it, as has May herself, not to mention how most of Scar's people were literally killed for it. Thus, none of them should be okay with it being given to an Emperor who May had said earlier wouldn't hesitate to use it. If Envy did know a better way, it's doubtful he'd tell her because he likes nothing better than to see people tearing each other apart.
They're sending Envy off with an unsupervised kid. May can handle herself in a fight, yes, but she is soft-hearted and Envy is an excellent deceiver.
In conclusion, nobody at all should be surprised that Envy talks May into a nest of zombie-like abominations that he uses to regain his full power. It's an Idiot Plot to ensure that both May and Envy will be in Central in the final arc.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Several Christianity references in the manga, most obviously the names of the homunculi. Even so, Arakawa says that "Christianity doesn't exist in that world".
Averted, When Roy is talking about how all his loyal men (and woman) have been taken away, while going over the chess pieces representing them, the bishop in the panel is tipped onto its side. Definitely symbolic.
The Woobie: Half of the sympathetic portion of the cast need hugs.
Woolseyism: Xing's answer to alchemy (renkinjutsu) is rentanjutsu. This word refers to Chinese alchemy, but actually using something like "Oriental alchemy" or "Xingese alchemy" would get pretty stale and unwieldy after a while. The rentan refers to the goal of Chinese alchemy, the elixir of life. Drawing off of this, Funimation dubbed it as "alkahestry", after alkahest. As a universal solvent, alkahest was another hypothetical goal of alchemy and would have had valuable medicinal applications; if you understand the reference, "alkahestry" manages to convey Chinese alchemy's greater concern with medicine than with gold and sounds exotic next to "alchemy". The substance was supposedly invented by Paracelsus, whose birth name was Von Hohenheim, and the fictional Von Hohenheim was the inventor of Xingese alkehestry.
Adaptation Displacement: Before the Brotherhood adaptation, this was probably what many western fans immediately thought of when someone mentioned "Fullmetal Alchemist" rather than the original manga. And for many, it still is.
Angst? What Angst?: Being kidnapped and nearly killed by a serial murderer would traumatize most people for life, but Winry seems to bounce back pretty quickly.
Envy, Wrath and Rose are among the most polarizing characters. In the case of the latter, this is probably why she suffers Die for Our Ship more often than Ed's other love interests (with the exception of her double in Conqueror of Shamballa).
Dante as a Big Bad is often a lightning rod for the debate over which anime is better. Some fans of Brotherhood believe that she's less interesting and imposing than Father; however, just as many prefer her over Father, praising her abhorrent selfishness and her role as Edward's Shadow Archetype. Most fans seem to agree that each fits their respective continuities, and that which one you prefer ultimately comes down to personal tastes.
Was the 2003 anime's ending excellent, passable, or an awful convoluted mess?
Contested Sequel: Some fans view The Movie as a touching send off to the characters that ties together most of the loose ends left over from the series. Others see it as a kick in the junk that resolves nothing and simply screws everyone over worse than they were screwed in the series.
Deader Than Disco: Has sadly become this among many anime circles that prefer Brotherhood. Averted for the most part, though, as Brotherhood didn't get the high ratings or the status as a Gateway Series that the original did in the West.
Draco in Leather Pants: Envy gets even more of this than he does in Brotherhood, likely due to his more sympathetic motivation of being the failed transmutation of Dante and Hohenheim's son, and resenting his father and half-brothers. But it's to the point where some fangirls seem to forget that he's so evil; some of them even ship him with Ed!
In episode 22, Envy asks Ed if he wants him to turn into a taller version of Ed. Then comes episode 50 and we find out Envy was Hohenheim's first son and looks a lot like a taller version of Ed.
Selim Bradley. A human boy in the first anime and King Bradley (Pride)'s adoptive son. Bradley kills him in a fit of rage in the finale. In the manga and the second anime, Selim turns out to be Pride (Bradley is the manga's Wrath), oldest and deadliest of the Homunculi, and Bradley works for him.
In one of the flashbacks, a young Ling Yao can be seen, wearing sunglasses similar to Greed; while he has no important role in this anime, he becomes the new Greed in Brotherhood and the manga.
At the end of the (non-canonical) OVA "Kids", there is a prominently displayed photograph of an elderly Ed shaking hands with an important-looking, formally dressed man who bears a moderate resemblance to Barack Obama. (The OVA was made more than three years before he was elected President of the United States.)
Incest Subtext: There's significantly more of this in this version than in the manga/Brotherhood, which is a large part of the reason that Ed/Al is as popular of a ship as it is (probably the second most popular slash pairing after Roy/Ed).
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Envy was a big one for this series, despite being even more evil here. Ed in particular is even more of a "fandom bicycle" among the 03 fans, since he never got a canonical love interest in this version.
Envy, of all characters, seems to be this among certain parts of the fanbase.
Moral Event Horizon: Crossed by both Scar and the Homunculi. Envy crosses it with the murder of Hughes and enjoys dancing over it again and again. Depending on who you ask, Bradley's came with either Marta or Selim's murder, or The Reveal that he engineered the Ishvalan War to try to make a Philosopher's Stone, and wants Lior to be a repeat of Ishval.
Narm: Scar standing up to an absurd amount of punishment in his swan song episode, until it starts to feel like Monty Python. Plus he apparently carries Kimblee's body to a rooftop in his teeth.
Cyborg Archer. The design is ridiculous, and it stretches Schizo Tech to the absolute breaking point.
The Scrappy: Noah from The Movie. It turns out it's a pretty good thing the writers didn't create the Ed-Noah-Alfons love triangle originally planned for the film; hardly any fans like her, and instead they ship Ed and Alfons together.
Squick: The scene where Izumi Curtis eats that crumb off of the the island boy's face was done in a manner that suggested it was supposed to come off as sweet, but it ended up more gross then anything.
How about the episode with Psiren, where she repeatedly unzips her outfit in front of Ed, and makes some decidedly seductive remarks? Remember - Ed is a teenager.
Stoic Woobie: Lust. Mustang can give off this impression sometimes, considering his guilt over his part in the Ishvalan war.
Strawman Has a Point / Hannibal Has a Point: The lecture Dante gives Ed and Al about how Equivalent Exchange (in terms of being a principle for life, outside of its use in alchemy) is crap. The fact is that, yeah, she's right that there are a lot of times in life where the effort you put into something is disproportionate to what you get out of it (for example, she talks about how Ed, as a Child Prodigy, passed the State Alchemist exam with flying colors on his first try, while others had been slaving away and repeatedly failing it for years). Hohenheim later gives Ed a more optimistic take on it.
Superlative Dubbing: Formal reviews of the series rarely pass up mentioning the overall quality of the voicework in the English version. It helps that all of the actors involved loved the series to death and put their hearts into it.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: It's notable that many (though certainly not all) of the complaints about the series come from fans of the manga, rather than from fans who saw it as a stand-alone series. Conversely, it's not unheard of for those exposed to the franchise through the 2003 anime to sometimes have this attitude towards Brotherhood.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Psiren. Meant to be a Classy Cat-Burglar with sympathetic motives for her crimes...except each and every time those motives are shown to be lies, and she even tries to murder Ed. Her motivation for wanting to give the town visibility (and even then, it's ambiguous whether she actually cares about that) is kind of drowned out by that.
Claus, the girl who dresses like a boy in episode 4, stops doing so after she gets over the death of her sister. The implication being that dressing as the opposite sex always stems from something negative, and is "just a phase" that people grow out of when the negative thing is resolved.
Barry the Chopper being a Villainous Crossdresser, once again reinforcing the idea that there's something wrong with those who dress as the opposite sex.
Rose getting an obliquely-presented, but obvious, case of Rape as Drama offscreen, which she never gets to actually discuss (because her trauma turned her mute). Her treatment in the show is pretty excessively sadistic overall, but this is the worst of it.
Values Dissonance: Izumi's domestic violence against the Elric brothers; Ed and Al abusing each other.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Envy. Although, unlike in the manga/Brotherhood, he does get a canonical gender at the end.
Wangst: Some people find it excessive the way this version handled Al's identity crisis after his confrontation with Barry the Chopper. In the manga and Brotherhood anime, Winry gives him a stern talking-to and he quickly snaps out of it. Here, he gets an additional episode to stew over it and even when he comes to his senses, it has lingering effects on his later Character Development.
Wrath takes Ed's sample of Mrs. Elric's remains into himself to deny Ed using them on Sloth. Wrath fuses with Sloth. Ed and Sloth figure out what is very stupid about this immediately.
Pride when he strangles Selim for bringing in his Achilles' Heel - giving Mustang the chance to use it against him - rather than telling Selim to run away with it.
Rose in the 2003 anime had a lot of those moments. A priest says he can bring her BF back to life. She believes him. She later sees the disturbing, horrid, disgusting body that was clearly made out of parrots (who had all their feathers plucked out) that's going to be used to make a replacement for her dead boyfriend and she's still on the fence about it.
Al has two of these in the final third, like stopping Martel from killing Kimblee, thus making him responsible for everything Kimblee does afterward, holding on to the idea that Sloth is his mother long after it's clear that she's trying to kill both him and Ed. To be fair on the second one though, even though he knows it's not his mother, Sloth still looks and has memories of her. She even acts like her to toy with the Elric brothers and it happens to work far better on Alphonse.