Undoped and lead (Pb)-doped gallium nitride (GaN) thin films have been deposited by a thermionic vacuum arc (TVA) method. Glass and polyethylene terephthalate were selected as optically transparent substrates. The structural, optical, morphological, and electrical properties of the deposited thin films were investigated. These physical properties were interpreted by comparison with related analysis methods. The crystalline structure of the deposited GaN thin films was hexagonal wurtzite. The optical bandgap energy of the GaN and Pb-doped GaN thin films was found to be 3.45 eV and 3.47 eV, respectively. The surface properties of the deposited thin films were imaged using atomic force microscopy and field-emission scanning electron microscopy, revealing a nanostructured, homogeneous, and granular surface structure. These results confirm that the TVA method is an alternative layer deposition system for Pb-doped GaN thin films.