Maes Hughes was an Amestrian State Military officer stationed in the Investigations Office in Central City and Colonel Roy Mustang's best friend, as well as the closest supporter of Mustang's secret bid for the position of Führer. A devoted family man and exemplary soldier, Hughes was generally well-liked by the other characters (unless he was pushing his love of his wife or daughter on them) and his murder served as the major starting point for the story to unfold.
For the most part, Maes' personality is decidedly amicable and cheerful, even to the point of being considered annoying by his closest acquaintances. He nearly always appears randomly, jovially butting in while something important is being discussed, and is rather well known in Central for shirking his many duties just to have a chat with friends, even while griping gleefully about how much his paperwork is piling up. Hughes is also a rather forcefully hospitable person, never taking "no" for an answer when offering a position under his authority or a night's stay in his house and even going so far as to physically drag people behind him without waiting for their consent - prompting the Elric brothers to call him a "kidnapper" on more than one occasion.
Of course, his biggest and most noticeable character trait is the idolatrous infatuation he has with his wife, Gracia, and his three-year-old daughter Elicia. Never without one or more pictures of them on hand, Maes makes quite a nuisance of himself by bragging about them to peers and friends and offering up glances of their photographs as either a motivational tool or as reward for a service well rendered. As such, he is constantly advising his friends Roy Mustang and Edward Elric to hurry into marriage themselves, much to Roy's annoyance and Edward's embarrassment.
Behind this behavior, however, is a markedly trustworthy, serious, and particularly intelligent military officer who always goes the distance to look after the people close to him. As a soldier involved with investigations and court-martials as well as a veteran of the Ishval Civil War, part of Hughes' buoyant demeanor may actually be a shield to protect himself and his loved ones from the darker aspect of his profession. He is a realist, decisive and shrewd, who is able to cut out what is unnecessary and focus on the most important aspects of a given situation. With his great eye for detail, Hughes is often the first to notice unfavorable patterns in a given situation and can plan accordingly, often calling for a strategic retreat or a change in tactics moments before anyone else realizes it is necessary. He is calm and analytical, not even flinching when a situation calls for him to deal with dead bodies or even deal out death himself, and he acts sharply even in high-pressure conditions. As a realist, he also understands and accepts that some situations cannot be rectified cleanly or honestly. Even so, he retains a soft spot for idealists like Roy and is prepared to burden as much of the darkness as it takes to ensure that idealists can shape the world into a better place.
Maes, despite all his goofball antics, is a rather wise man for his age and is prone to doling out sagely advice to the people he has invited into his extended family, including Roy, the Elrics, and even Winry Rockbell, in order to make sure they take the correct path to the happy future.
Tall and lean, Maes Hughes offsets his sharp military uniform with a thin chinstrap of scruffy beard and his jovially spiky hair ending in a characteristic forelock as well as the rectangular spectacles framed in front of his hazel eyes. Though his hair is black, the 2003 anime gave a green hue to it (coincidentally the same shade as Envy), suggesting that it could have been dark green.
Gracia Hughes - He and his beloved wife seem to have a good relationship, shown by the fact that she is hardly annoyed with his tendencies. He is shown to be, though to a much reduced extent than with his daughter, a bit obsessed with his wife. His love for her is shown when Envy takes her form right before killing him. Maes hesitates to attack despite knowing that his opponent is a shape-shifter.
Elicia Hughes - He loves his daughter to an really really obviously obsessed level, often showing off pictures of her to everyone he meets. In the 2003 anime (episode 13), as well as in a side story in the manga, he even displayed a 12 foot tall picture of her to the crowd before Ed and Roy's duel. He usually is berated for talking about his daughter so often, to the point that Roy asked Maes if it was possible to incinerate someone through a phone line as an annoyed joke. After Maes' death, Elicia seems to have trouble accepting (or really realizing, considering her age) his death, showing just how close he was to his daughter.
Roy Mustang - Close friends since their shared days at the military academy, Hughes is very supportive of Mustang's secret bid for the position of Führer, promising to work below his friend in order to push him to the top. As such, Roy frequently receives advice and secret communiqués from Central City via Maes' phone calls or unannounced visits. Aware of the difficulty of Roy's position and as an active deterrent against the Flame Alchemist's often gloomy disposition, Maes spends a great deal of their time in communication speaking happily of his family life and advising his friend to settle down soon himself. Though Roy often receives Hughes with disdain and annoyance, when Maes is mysteriously murdered, Roy is overcome with grief and rage to the point that he becomes scarily obsessed with avenging the killer. In the 2003 anime, after Maes’ death, Roy targets the corruption and institution that got Maes murdered in the first place.
Edward and Alphonse Elric - Hughes is especially kind to the Elric brothers throughout the series. In the 2003 anime, he invites them to his home to celebrate Edward's birthday, one of the few moments of domestic bliss enjoyed by the Elric brothers outside of their earlier lives with their mother. Because the Elric brothers had helped deliver Hughes' baby Elicia in the 2003 anime, it may be one of the reasons why he displays kindness toward them. Both he and his wife Gracia continue to be kind towards the brothers, as well as to their friend Winry Rockbell. Hughes also seems to be Edward's most trustworthy ally in the military, as Hughes manages to convince Edward to describe to him what he saw while in Laboratory 5 and also occasionally supplies them with useful information. Major Alex Louis Armstrong also seems to have a similar role like this to the Elrics. When the two brothers learn of Hughes' death, Edward instinctively holds Mustang responsible for the death although as time passes, he drops this accusation. Edward also blamed himself for being partly responsible, as he was the one who led Hughes into that investigation in the first place. Alphonse is also affected, but since he was in his armor form at the time, it is hard to see him expressing emotions physically.
Winry Rockbell - Accepting her as a surrogate member of his family unit, Maes rather enjoys Winry's company and her youthful spirit. Respecting her position as the Elrics' source of comfort and support, he is more than willing to offer her advice on how to deal with their stubbornness. Seeing the fondness both Winry and Ed have for each other, Hughes has told Ed "she'll make you a fine wife one day" much to Ed's embarrassment.
Sheska - Taking her on as his subordinate, Lt. Colonel Hughes takes an unreasonable deal of pleasure in teasing the timid Sheska and putting her remarkable memory and intelligence to work in his office, earning him the distinction among others as a bit of a sadistic slave-driver. His doing so, however, is well-intended and good-natured and he pays her quite well. In the 2003 anime, Sheska also became involved in solving the mystery of Hughes' death, and played a key role in discovering the last bit of information Hughes uncovered before his death, which was regarding the Führer's secretary Juliet Douglas.
Hughes was initially assigned to the Investigations Division in Central. He is more involved with police work than he is in actual battles. He has displayed his skills with his push knives, with very precise aiming and through the use of his reflexes. Hughes was well known for his strength, as it took a duo of Homunculus to take him down, he was able to fight off one homunculus, and scare a second one. After receiving his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, Hughes is placed in charge of the Investigations Division. He also possessed very good deductive skills, noticing the pattern of the locations of major fights to match the points used to make the Transmutation Circle given to him by Edward. He was very durable, as even after fighting off one Homunculus, and being shot in the heart by a second, he was still able to give an apology before dying.
- In the OVA "Kids" on the Conqueror of Shamballa DVD another police officer resembling Hughes can be seen giving directions to Edward Elric's grandchildren.
- As a running gag, Hughes would always talk about his daughter (mainly to Roy and Ed) shoving a picture of her in their faces and exclaiming, "Look at my beautiful daughter Elicia! Isn't she adorable?!" In the 2003 anime, as well as in a side story in the manga, before Ed and Roy's duel, he unveiled a large picture of his daughter, angering the crowd. Despite this habit, many people were very upset at his later death.
- Maes' death is somewhat changed from the manga.
- Hughes' military identification number is USO-800.
- In Episode 30: The Ishvalan War of Extermination, it is revealed on a letter marked to Maes Hughes that he was stationed with the 27th Infantry Battalion during the Ishval Civil War.
- The Hughes' house in Central City is located on a street called Mayflower.
- Like all military personnel in the series, Maes Hughes is named after a military vehicle, the Hughes H-4 Hercules heavy transport plane (also known as the "Spruce Goose").
- In a little picture in Volume 22, Arakawa states (while holding a FMA volume with no visible number) that she didn't get to draw Hughes, or Lust, on the back spine on that printed manga volume, meaning she was planning to have him and Lust somewhere on the back spines along with the other main characters but apparently didn't get the time to do so.
- In the splash page of Chapter 107, where the protagonists place their fists towards to center, the reader can see his hand holding a picture of Elicia.
- His first name is pronounced quite differently in the original Japanese compared to the English dub. In the dub, it sounds like "Maze" but in the Japanese version, his name almost exactly as it's spelled: "Mas."
- In regards to Maes' career as part of the Amestrian State Military, he has held four separate ranks over the span of the franchise. He held the rank of Captain during the Ishval Civil War in the manga storyline and was introduced as a Major in the 2003 anime storyline. In both stories, however, he holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel up until his death and is posthumously promoted two ranks to Brigadier General (Major General or Commodore in the Viz translation of the manga) after being killed in action.
- During his scene in "In Memoriam," he is shown forcibly showing the Slicer Brothers a picture of his daughter as they are both ascending to heaven.
- Hughes participation in the Ishval Civil War is different in the 2003 anime, as during the events of Episode 25: Words of Farewell, it was revealed that Hughes did not serve on the front lines during the Civil War. Instead he chose to stick to a desk job in the military. This was due to the fact that the 2003 anime had already ended before this fact had become known when the manga chapters for the Ishval Civil War were serialized.
- He was injured by Lust before his murder by Envy by taking form of his wife, which may have been a reference to Lust being called an excessive love for others, and which also is how he meets his end at the hands of Envy using the same tactic.