Between Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood the two series share a number of differences that totally change the structure of the story. The plotlines relatively hold the same essence, both feature Ed and Al trying to find the Philosopher’s Stone to get their bodies back.
Many of the Homunculi and their stories are vastly different between the two shows, sometimes even having different characters completely. The endings of the two shows are also incredibly different, one ending in a film after the initial series and the other ending the same as the manga. After the initial show’s vast variation, the author of the manga decided the show should be revived to be heavily based on the manga. Many of the scenes in Brotherhood are near identical to some of the manga panels as well. Here are some of the major differences between the 2003 series of Fullmetal Alchemist and Brotherhood.
As mentioned, the Homunculi take up the largest percentage of differences within the two series. Pride, the strongest Homunculus in both series are two totally different characters. King Bradley takes on the role in the original 2003 series, while his “son,” is Pride in Brotherhood. Pride was made by the Father as the first Homunculus. In both series, he is one of the first main antagonists and is incredibly strong, testing Ed and Al more than almost anyone else.
9 Wrath & Sloth
In the original series, Homunculi were actually made by people who tried to bring someone back from the dead. Wrath and Sloth are the resurrected Son of Izume and the mother of Ed and Al. The two create a strange mother/son relationship with one another and affect the characters of the show immensely due to their resemblance to their original bodies. However, in Brotherhood, neither of these characters exist. Izumi’s child and Ed’s mother both stayed dead after their attempted resurrections failed. Instead, King Bradley took up the mantel of Wrath and Sloth was a hulking monster who didn’t really know how to speak.
8 Greed’s Story
Greed was always a special Homunculus, he never really got along with his brothers and sisters and instead spent most of his time alone. While Greed’s initial story in both the original series and Brotherhood are very similar, Brotherhood decides to continue it. After his initial body is killed, the spirit of Greed takes over Ling Yao. The two share the body, Ling allowing Greed to take over when they’re in a fight or he needs to say something. The two have a strange yet special bond that actually makes Greed one of the good guys as he ends up helping the Elric brothers throughout the second half of the show.
7 Lust’s Story
Like Greed, Lust’s story between the two series is vastly different, but unlike Greed, she strives more in the 2003 series rather than in Brotherhood. In the 2003 series, the show decides to take an interesting route with Lust, by having her remember some pieces of her past life. She gains morality and has a hard time choosing between good and evil once she meets her past life’s lover.
By the end of the series, Lust acts as one of the good guys even with all the bad that she has done. In Brotherhood, Lust stays pretty vile and sadistic the entire time. She is killed fairly early on in the series (episode 19) after nearly killing Riza Hawkeye, by Roy Mustang.
6 Scar’s Redemption
While Scar has redemption in both takes of the series, his redemption in Brotherhood is a lot more impactful. In the 2003 series, Scar was always seen as more of an anti-hero. He did some bad that opposed the brothers, but fans got to see that he was just troubled all along. In Brotherhood he acted as one of the main villains throughout the majority of the series and was found out to be the killer of Winry’s parents. His redemption took a lot, including being forgiven totally by Winry, as the two became almost friends and trusted in each other to help Ed and Al in one of their schemes.
5 Rosé’s Involvement
Rosé is definitely a side character of the manga and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. She is part of one of the first major arcs in both series but, as far as Brotherhood is concerned, that’s pretty much it. In the 2003 series, she was used a lot more and even became relevant to the final arc of the series. She was manipulated by Dante and nearly used as Dante’s next body. She also somehow had a weird relationship with Ed that many fans understood to be romantic. However, in Brotherhood Rosé seems older than the brothers and becomes their friend over anything else, and was only seen in the series two or three times after that with very minor roles.
4 General Armstrong’s Sister(s)
While Catherine Elle Armstrong makes appearances in both series, she is the only sister the Major has in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003). The show left out a character that later becomes one of the most vital characters in the series, Olivier Mira Armstrong.
Known as the Ice Queen, Olivier Mira Armstrong’s official title is Major General and is the heir to the Armstrong family. She is the oldest out of the three siblings and can definitely take her brother in a fight. She is one of if not the strongest female character (perhaps character overall) within both series.
3 Ed & Winry
Ed and Winry always seemed to have special and deep feelings for one another within both series. He cared for her unlike he cared for anyone else, defended her when she needed it, and would constantly hide his feelings with his teasing and arguing. However, in the original series, the couple didn’t really get too much screentime. They were always busy doing their own thing, and while fans knew it was there, it never really came to light. At the end of the series, the two share a deep hug that may imply their emotions for one another but nothing is ever really said about the matter as Ed goes his own way.
In Brotherhood, however, Winry becomes vital to the story in a number of moments. She acts as Ed’s main automail mechanic and helps the boys in a number of their plots to get their bodies back. Ed proposes to Winry at the end of the series as well and can be seen in a picture holding their two children, happily married.
2 Ed’s Growth
In both series, Ed was always very self-conscious about his height. He was shorter than nearly everyone he knew (including Winry). In the original series, he stayed the same height and just overcame his insecurity about it. However, in Brotherhood, as Ed’s character matured and developed, he began to grow taller. It was a gradual growth and wasn’t fully noticed by fans until this scene he shared with Winry. The two glare at each other waiting for the other to budge. Winry notices that she now needs to look up to Ed, while Ed has to look down. By the end of the series, Ed is almost an entire head taller than her. This is also a cool addition when fans remember that Ed was only 15 when the show began and ended when he was around 18, leaving lots of room for growth and puberty.
1 The Ending
While the series has a vast number of differences, one of the main things that needed to be changed from the original series was the ending. The 2003 series didn’t end in the show, but rather in the following film, Conqueror of Shamballa. At the end of the series, just before the movie, there was a bit of a back and forth between Ed and Al’s body. Al finally gets placed in his own body again but is 10 years old and has no memories of their journey. Ed then gets sucked into the gate and thrown into Germany in our world. It truly doesn’t make a lot of sense. In Brotherhood, Ed fights for his brother’s body back and succeeds. The entire cast shares a happily ever after.
Between Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, there are a number of differences that change the story…