The power ballard remains Tyler's most successful song, peaking at No. 1 in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. At its peak, it sold 60,000 copies per day, and approximately 6 million copies in total. It won the Variety Club award in the UK for best single of 1983. The song also made number 82 of VH1's top 100 love songs.
According to Meat Loaf, Steinman had given the song, along with "Making Love (Out Of Nothing At All"), to Meat Loaf for his album Midnight at the Lost & Found; however, Meat Loaf's record company refused to pay for Steinman and he wrote separate songs himself. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was then given to Bonnie Tyler and "Making Love (Out of Nothing At All)" to Air Supply
The song's melody originally appeared as part of the soundtrack for the 1980 film A Small Circle of Friends.
The music video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was directed by Russell Mulcahy. It was story-boarded by Jim Steinman and drew inspiration from the 1976 film Future world. The Gothic-themed video features Bonnie Tyler clad in white, apparently having a dream or fantasy about her students in a boys' boarding school. Young men are seen dancing and participating in various school activities such as swim team, karate, gymnastics, football, fencing, soccer, and singing in a choir. The video was shot at Holloway Sanitorium, notable for its Gothic architecture and distinguished for the multi-arched grand entrance as seen at the end of the video.