Reality Refracted talked about inspiration and its sources a while ago and since then, I've had myths, legend and fairy tales rattling around in my head. Those are great because they have a lot to teach about how stories work, how they make their way into our minds. Fairy tales and legends have a certain rhythm that is immediately recognisable (it may differ from culture to culture, but you will know it).
Ulysses 31 is a great example of using myths to tell a new story. It's a 1980s anime series, a French-Japanese co-production and it's based very loosely on the story of Odysseus. I'm not sure how many kids knew the myth of Odysseus before watching it, but I did and I loved it. I bought the whole series on DVD years later and it does hold up. Yeah, okay, I could do without annoying sidekick-robot Nono, but other than that, it's brilliant and I have no idea why it's not more widely known.
The series takes characters from Greek mythology and nicely transforms them to fit into a science fiction setting - often, they do fit with very little alteration. The effect is often very creepy and dark and it creates some unique locations.
Here's the first episode on Youtube: