The intent of this article was to study the failure mechanism of thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) induced by buckling. The main content included the following two parts. The first part investigated the thermal residual stresses fields in TBCs with thermal cycles, which induced by the non-linear coupled effect of temperature gradient, thermal fatigue and creep strain of TBCs. One found that the residual stresses in ceramic coating were compressive and accumulated with thermal cycles, which may be high enough to induce the buckling failure of ceramic coating. The second part studied the critical buckling failure loading of the ceramic coating in TBCs under the condition of the compressive loading by use a theoretical model. Finally, a buckling plane, i.e. s T n − plane, was obtained by combined the above sections and applied to predict the buckling failure of the TBCs system. In this plane, it was divided into the two parts, i.e., non-buckling region and buckling region.