ZnO is a fundamental wide band gap semiconductor. Especially, doped elements change the optical properties of the ZnO thin film, drastically. Doped ZnO semiconductor is a promising materials for the transparent conductive oxide layer. Especially, Zr doped ZnO is a potential material for the high performance TCO. In this paper, ZnO semiconductors were doped with Zr element and microstructural, surface and optical properties of the Zr doped ZnO thin films were investigated. Zr doped ZnO thin films were deposited thermionic vacuum arc (TVA) technique. TVA is a rapid and high vacuum deposition method. A glass, polyethylene terephthalate and Si wafer (111) were used as a substrate material. Zr doped ZnO thin films deposited by TVA technique and their substrate effect investigated. As a results, deposited thin films has a high transparency. The crystal orientation of the films are in polycrystal formation. Especially, substrate crystal orientation strongly change the crystal formation of the films. Substrate crystal structure can change the optical band gap, microstructural properties and deposited layer formation. According to the atomic force microscopy and field emission scanning electron microscopy measurements, all deposited layer shows homogeneous, compact and low roughness. The band values of the deposited thin film were approximately found as to be 3.1-3.4eV. According to the results, Zr elements created more optical defect and shifted to the band gap value towards to blue region.