© 2022 Elsevier Ltd and Techna Group S.r.l.Sintered carbides are promising materials for surfaces that are exposed to extreme wear. Owing to their high service load, ceramic-based thin films are coated on carbides using different techniques. In this study, non-toxic and cobalt-free powder metallurgy-sintered carbide samples were coated with TiN, TiAlN, CrAlN, and TiSiN ceramic-based thin film coatings by cathodic arc physical vapor deposition. The microstructure (phase formation, coating thickness, surface roughness, and topography), mechanical properties (hardness, modulus of elasticity, and plasticity indices), and tribological properties (nanoscratch and wear behavior) of the thin film coatings were investigated. No cracks or defects were detected in these layers. The ceramic-based ternary nitride thin film coatings exhibited better mechanical performance than the TiN coating. The TiN thin film coating had the highest average surface roughness, which deteriorated its tribological performance. The ternary nitride thin film coatings exhibited high toughness, while the TiN thin film coating exhibited brittle behavior under applied loads when subjected to nanoscratch tests. The wear resistance of the ternary nitride coatings increased by nearly 9–17 times as compared to that of the TiN coating and substrate. Among all the samples investigated, the substrate showed the highest coefficient of friction (COF), while the TiSiN coating exhibited the lowest COF. The TiSiN thin film coating showed improved mechanical and tribological properties as compared to other binary and ternary nitride thin film coatings.