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I don't quite understand the question, but I'll do my best to answer based on my interpretation of it.

Copying a set of PID gains from a tutorial will not in general work for you, unless your robot is similar to the one in the tutorial (ie. its dynamics and desired performance). It might be that your model has lower inertias or damping than the tutorial example, and the gains are too high, which make the simulation unstable. A consequence of an unstable simulation can be NaNs in the /joint_states topic, which causes things dependent on it like tf or some Rviz plugins to not behave.

Things not blowing up when you set zero gains confirms this hypothesis.

I would suggest you to try tuning the PID gains to your specific setup. This is a non-ROS subject with plenty of literature out there, but can be tricky to get right in practice.

If there's something else that I did not cover, please consider rewording the original question for better clarity.