Zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films without a buffer layer and with Al-, Co-, Cu-, and In-doped ZnO buffer layers were prepared by using the sol-gel spin-coating method. For the first time, the effects of the ZnO buffer layers doped with different metal materials on the structural and the optical properties of the ZnO thin films are investigated. The surface morphologies of the ZnO thin films having wrinkle structures significantly depended on the type of buffer layer. The largest crystallite size and the highest c-axis orientation were observed for the ZnO thin film with a Co-doped ZnO buffer layer. However, the transmittance for the ZnO thin films with metal-doped buffer layers was slightly decreased compared to that without the buffer layer, and metal-doped ZnO buffer layers hardly affected the optical band gap of the ZnO thin films.