The episode Yellow Fever (4.06) illustrates the difference between Dean and basically every other human being. Look at the first picture. This is Dean’s fear. He’s afraid of going back to hell, all of the monsters he hunts, etc., but most of all, he’s afraid of not being able to take care of his brother. He doesn’t want to leave Sam, one of the few people he has left, to become a monster. His first concern, is others, his whole life is others-centered. He saves people by hunting things, their family business.
Now take a look at the second picture. This is a pretty decent representation of the majority of the human race. The sheriff is afraid that Dean and Sam are going to rat him out to the world about what a horrible person he is, and he’s willing to kill them to prevent that. When fear takes control of him, his first reaction is to protect himself at all costs. He says: “Frank O’Brian was my friend. So he made a mistake. So I didn’t bust him, so what?! You’re gonna bring me down over THAT?! No sir.” Dean proceeds to overcome his intense fear to try to save this man from himself. But the sheriff is so bent on destroying Dean that he doesn’t give him the chance. A normal persons’ instinct is to put up their defenses to protect themselves, Dean is one of the few heroes who protects everyone in his ability- no matter the personal cost.
This is why Dean is the righteous man.
Credit to: [X] for the pictures.