Nation States (the actual nation-building simulator) contains examples of:
Anti Poop Socking: Taken to the extreme. Issues cannot come up faster than two per day, and it only takes a few minutes to read each issue and make your decision. Same goes for your occasional World Assembly votes. Beyond that there is nothing to do in this game (well, if you don't count forum RPs).
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the table indicating your nation's leading causes of death, it can sometimes appear as this trope. You might have a list detailing, say, 86% old age, 5% murder, 3% accidents...and 2% bungee jumping.
Additionally, recent events in a country's description can appear as such.
In many eyes, the best one of all is (up to ~1/4 of all deaths throughout the nation, if you choose the correct options) "Ritual Sacrifice".
Anarchy Is Chaos: Played straight. An anarchist nation is described as "in a state of perpetual fear, as a complete breakdown of social order has led to the rise of order through biker gangs." Averted by many roleplayers though.
Artistic License - Economics: A somewhat simplistic economic engine leads to oddities such as nations with the strongest possible economy ratings having 100% tax rates (but sometimes higher for the wealthy), no private sector, and no government funds spent on economic production. And that's before we get into the economic models some players propose their nations run on. Some nations even deliberately fail economics to avert Mary Suetopia. Or become one.
Author Appeal: The name of the nation, the type of government and its leadership (Monarch/President-for-Life/Sporting Superstar/Chief General/Jedi/Sith) is all named after the creator. It's their nation, after all.
Author Avatar: Pretty much the premise of the whole thing. Not all players though. Many people use it to play as different characters than themselves.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: One of the issues is soldiers complaining about sergeants forcing them to crawl through muddy minefields and climb grease-coated walls. You can side with the grunts or the sergeants, or eliminate training altogether and send out troops who don't know how to shoot, or start raising children from birth to fight.
Our citizenry nowadays don't know what's good for them. They're too busy milling around at the mall and buying sneakers WITH LIGHTS IN THEM.
Follow the Leader: New nations will sometimes have a striking similarity to movies that have come out recently (and some old nations take from popular culture as well, without much alteration in many cases).
Gambit Pileup: See the NS entry on the TXP page. Roleplays tend to turn into this once they've been alive for long enough. Regional political structures often do it right from the start. There are numerous players trading favors and outmatching each other to get World Assembly resolutions passed or killed. Most regional alliances are set up as growing space for these. The more branches of the Broken Base one is familiar with, the more it appears that the entire game is one big Gambit Pileup that's been building up for eight years.
You can pick your national animal and currency, which appears in the description like this (and may also appear in some of the daily issues you are given):
[Nation]'s national animal is the [animal], and its currency is the [currency].
For example, every time an issue involves animals they insert the name of the national animal, even if it wouldn't work with the given situation.
The nation's capital city, leader, and national religion (if you want them) can be unlocked when your population reaches a high enough level (250 million, 750 million, and 1 billion respectively; it takes about 6 months to get to 1 billion).
Also, full nation names follow the format of The [Nation classification (e.g. Federation)] of [Nation], and you can make your own custom classification when you reach 500 million. Some have made weird or amusing names using this, such as The Water Bottles are Full of H2SO4*
I'm a Humanitarian: One of the issues gives you the option to legalize cannibalism in your nation.
Hypocritical Humor: A general in the "Budget Time: Accountants Excited" issue supports increased military spending with a warning that "tinpot dictatorships" will invade otherwise, which can come off as a little awkward if you yourself are playing as a dictatorship.
Impossibly Low Neckline: Referenced in the issue "Tiara Sign of Oppression, Declare Feminists"; the second option has a Moral Guardian supporting a nationwide dress code for women, with "necklines that never drop below the base of the neck".
It Makes Sense in Context: Probably three-quarters of the forum-related stuff on this page, especially nation-specific examples, fall under this.
Non-Entity General: Originally played straight, now merely optional with the addition of nameable leaders.
"Following a public safety disaster of unimaginable magnitude - so extreme that members of your government only mention it in hushed voices, and only then in the vaguest of terms - [Nation]'s tourism industry has hit the rocks."
The same issue goes on to mention within the options:
Privately Owned Society: With the graphs, you can see your nation's economic division between private and public companies.
Ret Gone: The highest possible punishment the moderators can dole out is to outright delete the nations of rule violators.
Ripped from the Headlines: Quite a few of the issues; one referring to a particular Supreme Court case was written in less than a week. A lot of the time, when a real life tragedy occurs a whole bunch of copycat RPs emerge with similar things happening to their nations.
Running Gag: Until late 2010, "Repeal "Condemn NAZI EUROPE" " and "Victory for gatesville!" were extremely common, and slightly annoying.
Speaking of the WA, we might as well mention Christian Democrats' various and futile attempts to ban abortion via WA, and promptly getting laughed out by everyone else.
Shout Out: The "What's in a Name?" issue directly references The Prisoner, with a suggestion that the nation's children be given numbers instead of names.
"A Grave Problem" references Soylent Green, by having an option to put corpses in fast-food burgers.
"The Sky Is Falling": "A particularly bad spate of bombings, hijackings and snakeattacks aboard airline flights has crippled the air travel industry in (your country name here)."
The "Please read: A personal appeal from Nation States founder Max Barry" banner promoting Machine Man is a pretty obvious reference to the "Please read: A personal appeal from Wikipedia founder Jim Wales" banners on The Other Wiki.
The unit of measuring how Atheist a nation is is the "Dawkins".
During the Genetic engineering issue, the super soldier project is mentioned as Project X.
One of the other issues you can get is called "Eminent Domain: Inherent Right Or Daylight Robbery?" Basically, citizens are complaining about their houses being unwillingly demolished for, among other things, a bypass. Sounds like the start of a certain Sci-Fi series.
Skeleton Government: No one wants to make up and explain all government ministries and offices.
Strawman Political: The entire game runs on this trope, and unless you dismiss all or most of the issues that come up, your nation will inevitably become this. Even the forum guide to creating new issues states explicitly that all solutions to all issues must be wrong in some way, and the results of your decisions usually sound like they're straight out of a corrupt-a-wish game.
Super Soldier: Selecting the right answer for a certain issue will result in your soldiers becoming this.
Take a Third Option: Even when you feel an issue could only have two logical solutions, there's often another option that may or may not make sense. Example: allow public nudity, ban public nudity, or ENFORCE public nudity. Others are just a nonstandard extreme/ideal that would be really hard to bring about in real life. Not to mention you can just dismiss the issue altogether if it appears to be Failure Is the Only Option.
Teens Are Monsters: If your nation is hard enough on youth crime or has big enough problems with it, that gets a special mention.
Videogame Cruelty& Caring Potential: You can either make your nation the aforementioned Utopia, or a "Psychotic Dictatorship" where you refer to your citizens as "Your Little Playthings" and the phrases "Political Freedoms" and "Civil Rights" do not exist in your vocabulary.
Zerg Rush/Voted Off The Island: You can't go to war with other regions in the actual simulator. However, you can get a large group of nations on your side to join a region, have them vote your nation the one in charge, then kick out the original members. It's cruel, but not against the rules.
Which gives rise to the entire raider (who do this) versus defender (who prevent this by either giving additional support to the original members, or by voting the raiders out before handing the control back to the natives.
Zombie Apocalypse: 2013 April Fools gag was a giant zombie apocalypse, with nations having to either kill, cure, or export the zombies in their country.
The region & forum-based roleplaying form of Nation States contains examples of:
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Both played straight and subverted by many people in future tech roleplay.
Alternative Calendar: Many nations run on alternate starting dates, or even alternate systems of timekeeping entirely.
Anyone Can Die: Varies from one nation to the next, but most of them have killed off their national leader at least once.
Sadly, this is becoming far too common in the form of either sad plots or bad Role playing.
In 2010, Max Berry addressed the complaints of "bias" in the system by rotating the site between "conservative" and "liberal" versions throughout the day.
In 2012, he supposedly gave all players 1 share in the "Nation States" company for every million citizens their nation had. He himself kept 250,000,000 shares. Within minutes, there was a new section to the forum where players sold their nations for shares, demanded embarrassing favors for shares, set up lotteries for shares, and one or two threads where people debated whether it was a joke or not.
Banana Republic: Various nations fully embrace the cliche of a third world nation with the corruption, good weather and banana plantations you would expect. Or insist that their nations are second world nations with pretty much the same characteristics.
Cool Boat: Many people design their own ships which leads too...
Cool Plane: Played straight by damn near everyone in modern tech roleplays, most of whose Air Forces include the F-22, F-35, YF-23 or Sukhoi PAK FA.
Some people go out of their ways to design new aircraft, in case real planes just aren't cool enough. Especially in Sci-Fi RPs.
Sometimes subverted by communist and eastern bloc nations, who may well still have Mi G-21s and the like in their air forces.
Cool Ship: The FT RPers wouldn't be caught dead without them.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Played straight and averted, sometimes within the same nation. Sometimes it seems that this is all some nations are. There are even certain regions to cater to these nations.
Crapsack World: Perpetual war, nuclear and chemical exchanges, and genocide a go-go, baby!
Improbable Weapon User: The invasion/defense community. The game doesn't have an officially supported war system, and so a niche population of players hacked together a combat mechanic out of what amounts to bureaucratic white noise.
Informed Ability: Although almost everyone claims to have competent politicians and generals, many do not succeed in making this believable. Probably because they're not competent politicians and generals.
Informed Flaw: If there is supposed to be a notable flaw, then there is pretty damn good chance that it will not get in the way when things get serious.
Patchwork Map: People will slap together a map with disregard for their climates. Or for national borders, in the case of nations that lay claim to the same real estate on Earths' continents. Amusingly, this has led to dozens of different versions of Earth for people who insist on having their preferred chunk of land.
President Evil: It is more fun to Role Play a completely evil leader than a nice democratically elected president, thus many nations are ruled by mindbendingly evil dictators. Most nations fail at it, and just seem like a 12-year-old just finished playing Grand Theft Auto.
Considering the demographics of this game...
Well, F7 anyways. The average NSer is in the 18-30 demographic, I believe.
Retcon: More likely than you'd think. This happens quite a bit when someone gets bored with a roleplay and wanders off without bothering to finish it, or when someone doesn't like the way a role play is going. Given that players are allowed to ignore anything they don't like by the site rules, this can be a source of frustration for some, as there are no permanent consequences unless a player is willing to allow them.
The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: It is rare that any kind of political or economic turmoil, not matter how trivial it may seem, does not end up turning into some form of armed conflict.
Roma: Traditionally the Butt Monkeys of the real world, Gypsies seem to have come into their own on Nation States... there are several Roma-ruled nations.
Rouge Angles of Satin: Sadly, happens quite a bit. Though there are some really good writers on this site's forums, there are some very bad ones too. Rarely will a bad writer on NS improve, and most good RPers were already good from the get-go.
Shout Out: There are many, many nations that copy things from various fictional works. The Celsan Vextra being a Shout Out to the Opel Vectra, albeit with the "X" factor of its name.
Shown Their Work: A substantial number of players have put quite a lot of thought into their nations, and it shows. To a smaller extent, some people spend months and months designing tanks, ships, planes, and other items for their fictional militaries to use.
Tank Goodness: Many players design their own tanks, practical or not. Some also like using tanks from their favourite games and movies. If it's been on paper or screen, it's probably shown up here at some point.
Lyras stands far above everyone else in this department.
Technology Levels: A nation can be PT (Past Tech), MT (Modern Tech), PMT (post-modern tech), FT (Future Tech), Fan T (Fantasy Tech or Magitek), Alternate Tech (e.g. Steampunk), or even a combination.
And taken to new heights by the FT roleplaying population. Care for a weapon that can drive a sun into supernova? Hows about a wormhole weapons ala Farscape? Of course you know there will be exaton level explosions and weapons capable of dishing out that same sort of damage.
Those Wacky Nazis: All Nazi-based Nations and Regions. There are a lot, and most are incredibly stupid. Some have even been condemned by other nations. Most characters in character RPs have this, although not all are successful in playing it straight. Or well.
Utopia: Many non-evil nations are the vision of the player of a perfect government. Some of the evil nations are also their player's version of a perfect government, even if it horrifies other players. See Dystopia.
War Is Glorious: What everyone would like to believe. Thanks to state propaganda, many populations believe in this absolutely. Most bad RPers will often play this straight and make a nation full of chest-beating nationalists.
War Is Hell: Corps sized formations wiped out in under 10 minutes by artillery bombardment, mass use of nerve gas, napalm and landmines, aerial bombardment that lasts for weeks. God help you if you survive and get captured.