Cr doped ZnO thin films were prepared onto glass and polyethylene terephthalate ( PET) substrates using thermionic vacuum arc. XRD patterns show the polycrystalline nature of the films. Cr, Zn, ZnO and Cr2O3 were detected in the layers. The mean crystallite sizes of the films were calculated about 20 nm for the films onto glass and PET substrates. The maximum dislocation density and internal strain values of the films are calculated. According to the optical analysis, the average transmittance and reflectance of the films were found to be approximately 53% and 16% for glass and PET substrates, respectively. The mean refractive index of the layer decreased to 2.15 from 2.38 for the PET substrate. The band gap values of the Cr-doped ZnO thin films were determined as 3.10 and 3.13 eV for glass and PET substrates.