The term Downer is commonly used by Wellies to accuse people who hasn't taken their Joy yet, suggesting that the person is willingly turning into one.
Because of Wellington Wells' fanatic devotion to happiness, Downers are greatly despised and feared by Wellies, who chase them out as to prevent them from turning more people into Downers.
Going off of Joy makes the Downer remember the past, which in turn makes them a threat to the Executive Committee who is desperately trying to cover up all the awful things from their devoted citizens, as they can potentially remind the Wellies of "The Very Bad Thing" and other unpleasant truths.
Downers are not to be confused with Wastrels, who are people who have become immune to the 'positive' effects of Joy and instead get sick from it, while Downers are those who can still take Joy just fine, but refuse to. And while everyone who has taken bad batches of Joy are referred to as Downers at first, most of them become Wastrels after having spent some amount of time in the Garden District.
"Skippers" are Downers who attempt to escape Wellington Wells, or rather, "skip town."
On Britannia Bridge are posters that have rules on for the Constables to follow when they catch Skippers.
- Any unauthorized person is attempting to leave Wellington Wells
- It's a clear sign of mental derangement
- Skippers complain of hunger, it's evidence of psychosis induced from Joy Withdrawal.
- After subduing skippers, they should be brought to Dr. Verloc, as they are now custody of him.
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 by any means necessary. A mechanic in the game for each of the characters is picking up forgotten memories that are scattered across Wellington Wells.
While these don't reveal major secrets, they allude to many major events of the character's past, most of which hint at the truth that comes up later in the Act, or reveal information regarding certain character's personalities.
Sometimes memories may come up during scripted events after progressing to a certain point in the game.
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 at all.
Joy Doctors will know that the player isn't taking their Joy, and eventually become hostile towards them.
In addition to having to avoid raising suspicion with people, Wellington Wells contains Downer Detectors, Spankers, and Headmistresses who will detect and immediately know if the player is not on Joy. Taking Sunshine can fool the detectors.
- Ollie Starkey represents a more severe version of a Downer, for 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 exhibit symptoms of being a Downer, though it's never directly stated. Prudence Holmes, who tried to escape Wellington Wells before Arthur did. Gemma Olsen, a reporter who attempted to expose Anton Verloc's crimes only to be captured and used for human experimentation, but eventually escapes.