© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Monolayer TiCN and multilayer TiCN/Ti coatings were deposited on the surface of Ti using the Filtered Arc Deposition System (FADS). Nanoindentation tests were performed on both coatings. The multilayer TiCN/Ti coating exhibited better ductility than the monolayer TiCN coating. The lattice constants of the coatings were characterized by X-ray diffraction. Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) was used to investigate the fracture behavior of the coatings. Inter-columnar, inclined and lateral cracks were found to be the dominant crack modes in the monolayer TiCN coatings while small bending crack and radial crack were the dominant crack modes in the multilayer TiCN/Ti coatings. The Finite Element Method (FEM) was used to simulate the indentation process. It was found that the Ti interlayer in the multilayer TiCN/Ti coating could efficiently suppress the fracture, which is responsible for the improved ductility of the multilayer TiCN/Ti coating.