The term Downer is commonly used by Wellies to indicate a person who is not under the effects of Joy and thus, as the name suggests, is in a bad mood. Because of Wellington Wells' fanatic devotion to happiness, Downers are hated and hunted by Wellies who wish to get rid of them by any means necessary. Going off of Joy also makes Downers begin to remember their past, making them a threat to Wellington Wells and its hidden past, as they can potentially remind people of "The Very Bad Thing" and other traumatic experiences, compromising the Joy-induced happiness of the city.
Downers are not to be confused with Wastrels, who are people who have become immune to the effects of Joy and get sick from taking it. The key distinction between the two is that Downers consciously refuse to take Joy but are not directly prevented from doing so while Wastrels are physically unable to take Joy as it makes them sick.
Events of We Happy FewEdit
All three of the main characters, Arthur, Sally, and Ollie, are Downers. Though they are Downers for different reasons, they all have one thing in common: they need to escape from Wellington Wells and need to avoid taking Joy in order to accomplish that. A mechanic in the game for each of the characters is picking up "lost" memories that are scattered across Wellington Wells. While these don't reveal major secrets, they allude to many major events of the past, hinting at the main characters' guilty feelings. Also, in certain scripted events, Arthur, the first playable character, will experience flashbacks once making progress in certain areas. For much of the game these Downers deal with self-discovery, which is a far more painful process than they had realized.
The playable characters can be impaired from taking too much Joy, affecting their skills and abilities to do things and Ollie Starkey downright gets sick from taking Joy. Wellies, Bobbies, and most especially Joy Doctors, will also notice a character who is not using Joy and become hostile to them if they do not take the drug. Wastrels, however, do not mind when people are on Joy.
In addition to having to avoid raising suspicion with people, Wellington Wells contains Downer Detectors, Headmistresses and Joy Doctors who will automatically notice if the player is not on Joy. No amount of faking is going to allow one to bypass these obstacles without either disabling them or taking Joy.
There is, however, a drug in limited circulation in Wellington Wells named "Sunshine" that allows a resourceful Downer to hide their condition.
- Ollie Starkey represents a more "severe" version of a Downer as while he can take Joy and will experience the desired high, he also becomes sick from it.
- Many characters mentioned and met in the game besides the main characters exhibit symptoms of being a Downer. Prudence Holmes is one such Downer, who tries to escape Wellington Wells but gets killed in a collapsed underground tunnel. Another is Gemma Olsen, a reporter who exposes Anton Verloc's crimes only to be captured and used for human experimentation, and eventually escapes.
- While not explicitly stated that they are Downers, these characters act as though they are remembering things and are off their Joy.