I was always confused with something in the original (2003) Fullmetal Alchemist anime.

When Elric brothers have helped the Hughes' when Alicia was born, that happened around the same time when Edward have become a State Alchemist. If I know well, he was 12 in that time. It was in episode 6.

Most of the following episodes (Barry incident, the Chimaera, etc.) seems to cover a relatively short time. However, later it was mentioned that Ed is 14-15 years old. And also, I'm absolutely sure that it was true at the time when Hughes was murdered.

Which is the exact timeline order of the event in the episodes? First episode is obviously an introducing one, and second is the beginning of everything, and then?

Also, how is it possible that Edward looks totally the same in Episode 6 (where he was 12) and in Episode 50, for example (where he was 15)?

2 Answers 2


Please note: Much of this information does not apply to Brotherhood.

The order of episodes goes something like this:

  • Episode 1 flashback
    • Transmutation of Trisha
  • Episode 28 flashbacks
    • Initial alchemy training under Izumi
    • Pre-automail for Edward
  • Episodes 3 through 9
    • Barry the Chopper
    • Shou Tucker and Nina
    • Etc.
  • Episodes 1, 2, and 10 through 51 (not counting flashbacks)
    • Main story
  • The Conqueror of Shamballa

I have missed a few brief flashbacks here, but this is the general idea. You can use Edward's age, somewhat, as a marker of time passing. He is ~11 in the flashbacks of their mother, 12 during his State Alchemist qualification, and turns 15 prior to the main story (the incident in Lior, etc.). He is 18 during The Conqueror of Shamballa. (This is shown by 14-year-old Al reverting to being 10 years old, then aging to 13 when Eckhart starts breaking into Amestris. Since he is one year younger, and would be 17, Ed is about 18.)

Here is a handy chart for a full comprehensive view of the series (click to enlarge, or click here for the spreadsheet). Note that Edward does have a birthday in the main timeline, when he turns 16.

Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 timeline
(Orange = pre-anime; yellow = flashbacks; green = anime series; blue = post-anime)

To address your point about Ed's appearance: Edward doesn't actually look the same at 12 as he does at 15. At 12, his eyes are slightly larger and his face is a bit rounder, save for his chin, giving him an overall slightly younger and more innocent look. It's not generally noticeable in the more zoomed-out shots, but it's there. (Also remember that, to perpetuate the "shorty"/"chibi" jokes, he couldn't grow much, so all the changes are facially.)

Comparison of 12yo and 15yo Edward
(Left: 12-year-old Ed, episode 4, 6:45; Right: 15-year-old Ed, episode 10, 13:50)

  • Wait, wasn't Episode 2 also a "memory"? I mean, if i can remember well, that wasn't the part of a main story, but just the events before the transmutation. (but in fact, I haven't seen 2003 anime for ~5 years, so I may be wrong :P) Also, thanks for the chart and for the comparison! Indeed, while watching the whole series, the difference isn't so noticeable, but in these pics, it's perfect. Surprising fact anyway, good to know.
    – Z..
    Oct 14, 2013 at 16:49
  • 1
    Episode 2 has some events in Lior ("present day") as well, but it is comprised largely of flashbacks, yes.
    – Cattua
    Oct 14, 2013 at 16:50
  • 2
    OFF: as I watch your most upvotes answers, I start to miss an additional letter "l" from your username ;)
    – Z..
    Oct 14, 2013 at 16:54
  • @ZoltánSchmidt lol! I like that!
    – Cattua
    Oct 14, 2013 at 16:56
  • @Eric wasn't episode 2 the continuation of Episode 1 in Lior cause i remember episode 1 ending with Cornelo saying "You are the Fullmetal, the Fullmetal Alchemist!" and episode 2 Ed learns the stone is a fake, Cornelo confronts Lust before being eaten by Gluttony and Envy arriving as Cornelo and pull off some trick to make it look like he brought them back to life, quite sure episode 3 starts off present day but goes onto flashbacks when Al shows ED a beginners book on Alchemy
    – Memor-X
    Oct 14, 2013 at 21:16

The series starts three years after Ed became state alchemist. That means he was twelve when he became state alchemist and was around 15 or 16 when the manga/anime starts. At the end of the main story, he was 18 and twenty in the epilogue (when they start traveling around).

Here is a timeline for the 2003-anime: http://64supernintendo.deviantart.com/art/Fullmetal-Alchemist-anime-timeline-321323200

  • Here is also a (rough) timeline for the manga/2009-anime: fma.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_Manga_/_Fullmetal_Alchemist_(2009)
    – looper
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:14
  • A couple of things: What do you mean by the prologue? You mean the Shamballa movie? Also, that deviantArt timeline isn't entirely accurate: It assumes that 1923 in Germany is the same as 1923 in Amestris, which can't be accurate; in Shamballa, when the Armstrongs are at Lior, Alphonse is 13 years old, after being 10 at the end of the anime. Yet, it states that those things happen 6 years apart (1917, 1923).
    – Cattua
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:42
  • Prologue was wrong, it's an epilogue, I didn't notice ... And I mean the part before Ed and Al leave Resembool again to study alchemy (I think it it's only in the 2009-anime).
    – looper
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:54
  • Yes, that is only in the 2009 anime.
    – Cattua
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:54

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