The idea of originality is a myth. What most people are thinking when they mention it, I think, is original characters, who will make a lasting impression on them, that didn’t previously exist. Every story has been told and retold a million times. Break down any story, any “original” story, and you’ll discover that it’s basically something you’ve seen before. Guaranteed. And there are too many ways to explain that.
But the funny thing is, the oldest stories we have, the ones we keep telling, we want to remain the same, despite constant retellings. Who wants a Robin Hood story where he isn’t butting heads with the Sheriff of Nottingham? But you can see where the story continues to evolve anyway. I’m not sure, but the concept of Robin having a Moorish companion originated in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and that’s a relatively recent development that’s cropped up in a very old story, and it’s stuck to the extent that it’s turning up again in this year’s latest remake, which is itself leaning more heavily on the “hood” concept than any other version I can think of. So again, something new despite a very familiar story.
Who wants to see Peter Pan fight anyone but Captain Hook? What would be the point of Harry Potter battling something that had nothing at all to do with Voldemort? And that’s really why Star Wars always seems to be telling the same story, because if it isn’t, it isn’t really Star Wars. That’s not a lack of imagination, it’s what Star Wars is, inextricably. Any other story, and it is any other story. It isn’t really Star Wars anymore. So when you have fans complaining that it’s the Skywalker saga again…!, you can tell that they have no concept of what Star Wars is, and what originality means.
History will tell you all about this, too. I can guarantee you that most Americans have a flimsy grasp of most presidents in their country’s history. Most of them are “presidents” in the generic sense. Regardless of what Rutherford B. Hayes meant at the time, to Americans today he’s just a dude with a colorful name. That’s not a poor grasp of history, but rather the fact that to stand out, you have to really be memorable. That’s what you’re looking for, something that stands out, that doesn’t compete with your old favorites so directly. You don’t want the pesky problem of having to put aside an old favorite for a new version of the same story. You want to be able to continue cherishing that old favorite, and have something else to love, too.